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Our Predictions for the Gaming World in 2017

2016 was a mix of extremes. There were some great games and announcements, like Pokemon GO and the Nintendo Switch. There were terrible failures, like Mighty No 9 and No Man’s Sky.

And with the political firestorm that was the 2016 US Election and Brexit, it’s been a year that’s certainly divided opinions. Heck, some might even say it’s the most controversial year on record! For both gamers and non gamers alike.

But hey, let’s look towards the future shall we? Because as per the norm, we’ve decided to write up our list on predictions for what could be happening in the gaming world in the coming year. And so here is our list of predictions for the gaming world in 2017!

Here are our predictions for the gaming world in 2017!

Nintendo Switch Related

Starting with a couple about the Nintendo Switch, the company’s new hybrid system coming in March 2017…

1. The console will do better than the Wii U, but will not become a phenomenon like the NES or Wii

Yeah I know, a bit of controversial given we haven’t seen a lot of the system and its games yet. But either way, I predict it won’t do amazingly. It’ll do well, and it’ll certainly blow the Wii U out of the water (a decent name will do wonders here), but I just don’t see it revolutionising the video game industry.

2. It will not get a lot of third party games

And just like the Nintendo 64 onwards, I don’t see it doing too well with ‘triple A’ developers. It’ll probably get a few games (mostly ports in its early lifecycle), but these companies seem to care more about tech and ‘power’ than they do about interesting mechanics and gameplay opportunities. And hey, they know that their audience is likely not going to be on a Nintendo system any time soon.

3. Super Mario Switch will be a Super Mario 64 style 3D platformer, with less linearity in its level design. It’ll also have an ice theme

This is all based on that early footage we saw, which shows areas with lots to see and do (like in Mario 64 and Sunshine) as well as suspicious traces of ice and snow in what should otherwise be a desert environment.

4. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild does really well in terms of review scores and sells excellently for a Zelda title (I’m guessing about 5-6 million plus).

As for Breath of the Wild, I see it doing well. However, I’m not sure how much the actual Zelda fanbase will like it, given that it seems very different from the typical ‘modern Zelda formula’ and dispenses with any heavy plot focus.

5. Mario Kart is announced for Nintendo Switch, and is based on Mario Kart 8.

Yeah, this is pretty obvious too. However, I do fully believe that we’ll get an ‘ALL NEW’ Mario Kart game as far as tracks and battle areas go, just one minus any new major ‘gimmicks’ or introductions. Maybe a bit like how Super Circuit was basically Super Mario Kart 1.5?

6. Splatoon sequel announced and released

It’s a successful new IP, and was hinted at in the Nintendo Switch trailer. Nothing more to be said.

7. Super Mario Maker gets a Nintendo Switch port.

As for this game, I suspect it’ll just get a port rather than a sequel or major reimagining. The special costumes will probably all be on disc by default, and it’s possibly a few other minor additions might be made too. Like the Challenge Mode from the 3DS version.

8. Gamecube games are announced for eShop.

Again, it’s pretty obvious isn’t it? Every new generation brings more classic Nintendo games to the eShop, and the Nintendo Switch seems like the perfect system to bring Gamecube games over.

9. Super Mario Sunshine gets a HD port/remake.

I don’t know why, but I can really see this getting a port or remake at some point. Probably because they could both fix a few minor flaws with the game and use all kind of modern shaders and lighting effects and what not to make it look truly gorgeous on the new hardware.

10. Pokemon Stars is announced as a Pokemon Sun/Moon sequel

It will have Necrozma as a main part of the story, and involve a new villainous team (since the last two both got reformed/disbanded). I can sort of picture Faba turning to the new villains, given his somewhat arrogant personality after generation 7, and I can also picture a lot of the older characters becoming trial captains and kahunas this time around. Like Hau standing in for Hala. Or Guzma getting a new kahuna type role.

11. Pokemon anime quickly changes to integrate new storyline

God, you almost feel sorry for these guys, don’t you? Not only do they have to adapt a brand new game every three years or so, but they’ve recently had the series throw more and more curveballs in their face mid generation. The gen 5 and 6 anime seasons both had to be completely retooled in how they presented Team Plasma and Team Flare…

12. Necrozma gets a new form, like Zygarde did.

And talking of Pokemon stuff, I think it’s pretty obvious by now Necrozma is getting a new form. Trio legendary with base stats of about 600? Design that looks like a dragon’s head? Yeah, this guy isn’t at his most powerful at all.

13. Retro’s game isn’t Metroid Prime 4. Fans sob.

But hey, enough Pokemon for now. I’ll bet anything that Retro’s next project isn’t either Metroid or Donkey Kong related.

14. Super Smash Bros for Switch port gets announced, with more ‘comprehensive’ Smash game promised for the future. Inklings are main new characters, with Ice Climbers returning.

No Source Gaming, they’re not just gonna release ports of old games and pretend they’re sequels. But it is quite probable some sort of Smash for Wii U port will be done to get some quick interest going, and that it’ll have a few minor additions made.

15. Mario RPG/Rabbids game is officially announced too.

Nothing more to be said here. It’s predicted by everyone at this point.

16. But Mario & Luigi will still get a game

Probably with more original content like Dream Team, given that Nintendo considers this the ‘canon’ Mario RPG series now, and given that AlphaDream is willing to tell Miyamoto where to stick his ‘suggestions’.

Unlike Intelligent Systems.

17. Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door comes to Virtual Console, does really well.

Still, at least Paper Mario fans will probably get this much. And like the original Paper Mario, it’ll sell really well on the eShop.

18. Fire Emblem announced for Nintendo Switch

Because hey, it’s gonna get another game after the success of both Awakening and Fates. Wonder if any censorship controversies will follow it?

19. Pokken Tournament gets Switch port with new characters from arcade version.

Forget the Wii U owners, you’ll need to pay out for a new version of the game if you want to play as Empoleon kids!

20. Analysts Proclaim Console Doomed

Finally, someone will claim the console is doomed and Nintendo is going to go bankrupt because of it. This ‘someone’ may or may not be Michael Pachter.

So yeah, those are the Switch related predictions out of the way. But how about the general Nintendo ones?

General Nintendo Related

Such as Super Nintendo World, the theme park deal they’ve got going with Universal Studios? Well, we’ve got predictions for that stuff too…

1. Super Nintendo World will not just have a Yoshi, Donkey Kong Country and Mario Kart ride.

Yeah, those will be obvious inclusions. But here’s the thing; the concept art may have been referring to the Japanese park.

And do you know what the obvious difference between the Japanese and American parks is?

The latter are much, much bigger. How much?

Well, Universal Studios Japan is apparently 108 acres according to Wikipedia.

Universal Orlando (with its theme parks, hotels and other stuff)… is apparently 840 acres.

They have eight times as much room for Nintendo attractions in North America. So it’ll get quite a few more rides and attractions there than in Japan.

2. It’ll blow ‘Avatar Land’ out of the water

I mean, really Disney? You now decide to make an area based on Avatar?

That was 7 years ago. You’re basing a whole theme park land on a popular movie that was a fad for a couple of months 7 years ago.

Either way, it’s pretty obvious that Nintendo’s theme park attractions will prove the more popular ones. No one gives a toss about Avatar in the long run.

3. Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem will be free to play on mobile

With money being used to buy in game items and abilities. This will partly be in response to Super Mario Run’s criticism and investor expectations for their games.

4. WarioWare will get a mobile game

Come on, the very format just screams ‘this will be awesome on smartphones’. It’s a very safe choice for a possible third Nintendo smartphone app.

Continue Reading…

The Ten Most Annoying/Poorly Done Aspects of Pokemon Sun and Moon

As I made clear in my recent review, Pokemon Sun and Moon are generally good games. They’ve got a decent art style and soundtrack. The story is a lot more interesting than previous games in the series. And well, a few of the new additions here (like the Island Trials and Ride Pokemon) work really well. Indeed, they may well be some of the best Pokemon games in the last few generations!

However, as you can tell by the title, they’re not perfect. So here are their more annoying/poorly done aspects, in one easy to read list!

10. The constant screen reloading

So hey, let’s start with a small issue that becomes apparent about 10 minutes into the first island. Basically, Pokemon Sun and Moon has no idea how to animate your character doing anything.

Why? Because every action he or she takes, reloads the screen. Crawled through a hole in the wall? That’ll be a full screen reload with fade out. Opened a gate? Same deal, despite the fact the area on both sides on the wall is part of the same map.

Heck, even a character leaving a conversation causes the screen to reload. Because hey, apparently Game Freak don’t like animating someone walking away into the distance. It’s pretty ridiculous, and it slows the game down to a halt for no logical reason whatsoever.

Still, that’s nothing compared to…

9. The Complete Lack of a Rebattle Option

Cause damn, it is a PAIN to level grind in this game. Why? Because aside from the Elite Four, Battle Buffet and that guy from Game Freak, there are NO real ‘high level’ battles you can repeat for EXP here.

No, the Battle Tree and Royal don’t count. Those give no experience at all. The wild Pokemon? Okay, but they’re pretty useless for grinding when you reach about level 60 or so. And heck, even two of the things I mentioned (the Game Freak staffer and the Battle Buffet) are once per day deals. So for the most part, your only level up method is to fight the elite four almost endlessly.

But what would fix this?

Well, being able to rebattle other trainers for EXP. Like say, recording their phone numbers in the menu and calling them up for another battle with higher level Pokemon. Or say, having a general option to rebattle the Trial Captains and Kahunas, or to revisit the Island Trials at will. You know, like in Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal and just about every generation prior to generation 6.

But no, it doesn’t exist. So hey, enjoy doing the same five fights over and over again!

8. The Aggravating Battle Royal/Battle Tree Systems

Still, as bad as levelling up may be, the Battle Royal and Battle Tree are another level of frustration entirely.

Why?

Because dear god, it seems like the AI is cheap as all hell.

Seriously, they seem to know exactly what you have planned, and have prepared a perfect counter for it despite all the odds. Got a bulky water type, like I had up first recently?

Well then, enjoy a ‘free for all’ where the other three teams all coincidentally happen to be leading with either grass or electric types!

Picked a Pokemon that’s really fast but with glass cannon stats? Well, your opponent will just happen to be one that’s even faster with a good type match up and maybe a mega form thrown in for good measure.

And hey, let’s not even talk about the accuracy and other stats! Those seem to go every way except yours, with otherwise near perfect accuracy moves missing far more times than seems probable and the opponents low accuracy moves somehow nailing it every time.

It’s an aggravating pain in the ass.

What’s more, it gets worse still. Want a special item to power up a certain Pokemon? To hold for a trade evolution? To activate its mega form?

Then you’ll need to slowly plod through these matches for the tiny BP payouts you get as a result. 64 BP for a Mega Stone? Are you having a laugh man? That’s either a crap ton of attempts or a 64 win streak without a single mistake.

Makes me long for the days of Pokemon Stadium and that games simple format. Even that bullshit worked far better than these modes do.

7. The Constant Cutscenes

Still, moving on from the Battle Tree now, we then get to perhaps the biggest issue with the single player mode of this game:

The constant cutscenes, handholding and railroading.

Seriously, that first island is pretty much entirely ‘go follow the dotted line’ without even the slightest bit of meaningful exploration involved. You have Kukui telling you where to go, Hau telling you where to go, Hala telling you where to go… and hey, even the most basic things (like gates) are locked away behind a message saying “Warning, wet paint” or a random barrier/object/Tauros blocking the road.

It’s just annoying, especially when you’ve actually played another Pokemon game in the last 20 years and would rather be left to figure things out for yourself. And here’s the other thing:

Even on island 2 and 3… the game still seems it tries to tell you where to go and what to do at all times. Dude, give it a break already! We’re not three, we do actually know where we want to go here!

It reminds me of Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon and Mario & Luigi Dream Team, where your ‘partners’ (Professor E Gadd, Starlow, etc) just never learnt when to shut up and leave you alone for three minutes of your time. Still, at least they learned their lesson with Zelda and Mario & Luigi, so maybe Pokemon will follow suit with the Nintendo Switch instalment…

6. The New Fishing System

But it’s not just the cutscenes and handholding they need to look at. Oh no, the fishing system here needs to be scrapped entirely do.

Why?

Because for whatever reason, they decided to take a perfectly good system that worked fine for six generations… and completely toss it in the rubbish bin. Remember how before, you could just go up to the edge of a lake, press A and start fishing?

Well, that’s too simple apparently. So now you can only fish at certain holes.

But hey, it gets worse! Because not only are you now limited in where you can fish, but you also don’t have multiple rods to choose what Pokemon you encounter either! So where you used to be able to say, use an Old Rod to get Magikarp and a Super Rod to get decent Pokemon, now you have a chance of getting crap like Magikarp from every body of water in the game!

Did I mention it’s now super common too? So about 70% of your fishing encounters are now Magikarp encounters, with another 20 or 30% being the same common Pokemon like Wishiwashi?

Cause that’s the case too.

Which means you then have about… 1% chance of finding something good.

Like say, Dhelmise in Seafolk Village. Corsola in any area of the game. Or Sharpedo on Poni Breaker Coast.

Now admittedly, this then goes up to 10% or more if the water is bubbling. However, this too doesn’t make up for it, since the water only bubbles in one specific spot on every route. Which goes away if you move too fast near it. Or once you find absolutely anything in said spot (including your common Pokemon of choice).

And then if that happens, it means you’ve got to exit the area, re-enter the area, find another bubbling spot and try again.

Which is made no better by how you can also fish up bloody items too. Cause hey, I’m sure you really wanted that bubbling spot to give you a Pearl, Big Pearl or Pearl Necklace, right? No? Me neither. Those items literally exist to be sold and have absolutely sod all use in game.

So yeah, let’s hope the next game just scraps the ‘new’ system and replaces it with the one that worked fine for the last 6 or so generations instead. Additionally, let’s also hope it scraps the concept of…

5. Collecting Zygarde Cells

Cause dear god, these things are a pain in the ass to collect.

Firstly, if you don’t have a Zygarde already, that means you need to collect a massive ONE HUNDRED of them to get its final form. This means one hell of a scavenger hunt across all the islands and locations, looking for tiny (and rather hard to spot) green glowing spots.

But hey, don’t expect it to be too easy there! Cause it turns out some Zygarde cells only appear at certain times of day. So not only do you have to scour the whole region for cells, but you have to do it at least twice; once in the day and once at night.

And well, you’d better not miss any here either. Why? Because for whatever stupid reason, the game gives you no checklist at all to help you figure out which ones you have and which ones you don’t have. No, not even a hint to which ISLAND you’re missing cells on. So that last one cell will mean scouring the whole region again. Likely twice to be sure.

Finally, you then have to remember where the lab is so you can assemble the perfect Zygarde. Turns out it’s on the third island (route 16 in fact), somewhere between Tapu Village and Po Town. Yeah, nice if we had that written down somewhere convenient. Or if flying actually put you next to it rather than a fair distance away.

Still, Zygarde isn’t the only Pokemon that’s a pain to deal with here…

4. Various Unintuitive Evolution Methods

Cause actually getting some of your other Pokemon to evolve is a pain in the neck to. For example, how do you evolve Charjabug or Crabrawler?

By levelling them up at a certain location of course.

Where are these locations? Well, Great Poni Canyon and Mount Lanakila of course.

Or for those who haven’t played the game… the fourth island and the equivalent of Victory Road respectively.

For Pokemon you get about 20 hours earlier and who seemingly have no real connection to the location. Real smart move there guys! I’m sure I would have realised my Pokemon would only evolve minutes before the final boss rather than at a reasonable point in the story!

No, no I probably wouldn’t.

Nor would I realise that Steenee only evolves if it levels up while knowing Stomp as a move. Or that Rockruff’s evolution is actually version based rather than time based, and completely pointless given how both forms are catchable on their own in Great Poni Canyon.

Salandit needing to be female to evolve is pretty annoying to figure out too.

Really, you pretty much need a guide to 100% complete this game’s Pokedex. Though hey, I guess that is a running theme with this franchise…

3. The Rarity of the New Pokemon

And it’s a theme that’s not helped by how damn rare the new Pokemon in this game are. I mean, I already said how rare Dhelmise is earlier, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Mimikyu? 5% spawn in the Abandoned Hypermarket. Mareanie? Chance SOS battle encounter (more on that hell later). Drampa? 10% encounter rate in last area in the game.

Basically, if it’s not Yungoos, Wishiwashi, Pikipek or Salandit, it’s far rarer than it should be in this game.

That’s ridiculous, and it means that 90% of your time will be spent using Pokemon you’ve encountered throughout the 6 generations before this one. And for a new game where the new species are the focus? It’s really disappointing.

But hey, there are two more annoying aspects, and they are really, really aggrevating…

2. Hyper Training

Like the promised Hyper Training, which lets you ‘IV train’ your Pokemon.

Sounds good, right? You can overcome Pokemon genetics and give them better stats than otherwise possible. Nothing wrong there, right?

Well, no, in theory.

In practice however, it (and the IV stuff that goes with it) is a genuine pain in the backside.

I mean, for starters, you can’t even tell your Pokemon’s IVs without getting the option from a man in the Battle Tree in the postgame. Who… wait for it, needs you to hatch at least twenty eggs before waking up and giving you the option. Thanks Mr Guy. I never would have figured that one out. Especially given how maybe about three Pokemon in the Alola Dex require breeding to get…

And once you do know, you then have to actually train them. Which requires:

1. At least one bottle cap per stat, or a gold bottle cap for all stats. These are super rare and only available in certain places at random.
2. Said Pokemon to be level 100 beforehand. Which means working with the awful lack of levelling up possibilities in the generation as a whole (read, endless Elite Four fights).

As a result, what could have been a fun and useful option is now a massive guide dang it/pain in the ass, with the results only being viewable by another guide dang it on top of the first one.

But hey, it could be worse. Like say, the old SOS Battles…

1. The SOS Battle System in General

Because this very mechanic is equal parts frustrating and confusing all at once.

For instance, it means if your Pokemon can’t one shot the opponent, they can keep calling it reinforcements and prolonging a simple, easy battle. Sounds bad enough?

Well yes. Yes it is.

But it gets far worse.

Why?

Because what the game never tells you… is that certain Pokemon are ONLY found during SOS battles. As in, they only appear when a completely different species calls for help.

For instance, that rare Mareanie I mentioned? Oh, it only appears if a Corsola calls for help in battle. But wait, there’s more!

Because Corsola itself… is a rare spawn with a 1% encounter rate. So you have to encounter a super rare Pokemon, then have it call for help, then hope a species it’s opposed to spawns at random. Sound painful? It sure is. And it gets more annoying.

Cause not only do some Pokemon only spawn in SOS battles, but some require certain WEATHER to be present before they appear. Want a Gabite? Well, you have to be in a sandstorm in Haina Desert and have another Pokemon call for help… and it’s still rare. Goomy? Then hope a Pokemon in Lush Jungle calls for help… while it’s raining. You might have to set up the last one by the way, since it only sometimes rains in the area (unlike in the desert, where there’s always a sandstorm at night). Similarly, Castform only appears if you change the weather in a certain area and have a Pokemon call for help.

Yes, it’s annoying.

Yet guess what?

There’s STILL more to the mechanic! Indeed, let me introduce you to this mechanic called ‘SOS Chaining’.

What’s SOS Chaining?

Well, basically, every time a wild Pokemon receives backup, the counter goes up by one. So by having it call for backup and knocking out any that appear, you can raise the counter up to different levels.

And based on how high it goes, the Pokemon has either different abilities, better IVs (read, genetics) or a higher chance of being ‘Shiny’ (this is usually 1/8192). So the more Pokemon you call and knock out, the better the Pokemon that show up will be (stat wise), and the more likely they’ll be to be Shiny (aka have a different colour palette).

Which means to get the best outcome, you need to have the wild Pokemon call/then quickly knock out… more than 70 Pokemon in a single battle. Did I mention that there’s only a certain chance it’ll successfully call in a new Pokemon at any point in time? Because it will, and that chance goes up the lower its health is. Or if you use the Adrenaline Orb. Which only works once in a battle for three turns.

So yeah, it’s an utter pain to figure out, and is hence perhaps one of the most awkward, annoying additions to the entire franchise.

And that concludes my list of gripes with Pokemon Sun and Moon. For the most part, they’re more features that annoy completionists than anything else (since hey, you don’t need to complete the Pokedex or take on the Battle Tree), but they’re still aggravations that Nintendo and Game Freak could have fixed/changed if they wanted to.

But what do you think? Are you annoyed by these elements in Pokemon Sun and Moon? Or do you somehow think the SOS Battle System, Zygarde Cell Hunting and Hyper Training were actually implemented well?

Post your thoughts on the Gaming Reinvented forums or on social media today!

Verifying News and Rumours for Gaming Journalists

As everyone knows, standards for news sites and outlets haven’t been at their best recently. We’ve seen questionable rumours posted as truth, without nary a piece of decent evidence to back them up. Hoaxes have ended up all over the media thanks to tabloids taking anything a random user on Twitter or Reddit says at face value (and without actually checking if the story makes sense). And despite the complaints about ‘fake news’ in recent years, it’s been fairly common to see such articles actually used as reliable sources by the very publications complaining about them!

So here’s how to prevent that. Here’s a simple guide for gaming journalists to verify news and rumours before posting them!

1. Check if the story sounds reliable

Such as by starting with the obvious. Ask yourself the question “is this something I can realistically see happening?”

Because if not, you should be extremely sceptical of the story. New Mario or Zelda game on PS4? New character found in Pokemon Red and Blue 20 years after its release? Arcade game used as part of a government conspiracy to brainwash kids into secret agents?

Yeah, it’s not likely. As a sceptic once said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It’s the same reason they’re not inclined to believe in demonic possession, alien abductions or ancient astronauts being responsible for building the pyramids.

So if the news or rumour sounds unlikely, you should be immediately sceptical of it, and require only rock solid evidence before running it on your site.

2. Verify the source and its reliability

But let’s say you’ve decided you want to run the story anyway. Well at this point, you need to verify the source behind the story and how reliable they are.

And there are numerous tricks that can help here.

For starters, look at the site where the story was originally published. Is it a free blog on WordPress.com or Blogger.com? Then it’s probably unlikely to be true, since absolutely anyone can set up a site there.

Same goes for social media sites and forums. Anyone can register a Facebook or Twitter account, and anyone can post something on Reddit. So if that’s your primary source, you should be very sceptical of its accuracy.

Just like you should on Medium. Yeah I know, it looks professional. The fonts are nice, the styling looks clean and things like images and videos are well represented.

But again, it’s just a content hosting platform. No one at Medium verifies if anything written there is true, in the same way no one at a vanity press checks if a book is accurate or grammatically correct before publishing it. So don’t be fooled into thinking it’s some super secret writer’s club where people verify everything beforehand.

And there are plenty of other sources you should be sceptical of by default as well. These include:

  • Any and all internet forums, since anyone can register and post content there.
  • Wikis, especially those on free wiki hosts like Wikia.
  • Chat services (Discord, Slack, Skype, etc)
  • Video hosts like YouTube, Daily Motion and VidMe
  • Image hosts (Imgur for example)
  • Audio hosting services like Soundcloud

Etc. This also goes for foreign equivalents, like 2channel and Nicovideo. Yes, you may not understand them. But no, an internet forum or social network in Japanese is no more reliable than its English equivalent.

Either way, that’s the first step. But it’s not enough to merely discount free blog sites and social networks.

Cause actually setting up a new site (on a real host) is about as easy and painless as posting something on Twitter. It’s slightly more expensive yes, but not really to the point a determined hoaxer can’t manage to figure it out.

So you’ll then need another way to verify the source. And that is called history checking.

What’s that mean?

Well, exactly what you think it means. You look and see how long the site has been around, and what kind of reputation it had beforehand.

And that’s useful because a lot of fake sites/questionable news sources… are fly by night operations. They set up about a week before the content gets posted, and then usually shut down fairly soon afterwards if it doesn’t become as big a story as they thought.

So a good way to catch out fakers is to go back through their work and look for signs of that. Did they post any content before the big story? Was the domain registered (as seen via WHOIS) more than a week before the post went up? Before the current year?

And how often were new posts being added anyway? Because if it turns out the site was mostly dead before a major new story hit, that should set off alarm bells as well. It could be someone banking on last popularity/reputation to ‘make a name for themselves’.

But what if both of these add up? The site looks credible and it’s been around a while with a decent reputation. What next?

Well, you try and find information about the author. This for a couple of reasons:

A: So you can figure out whether the person SHOULD have the information they’re reporting. If a random guy who’s never worked with Nintendo is talking about games they’re gonna release in the far future, that’s suspicious.

B: As a way to see what the author’s reputation is like elsewhere. Are they known to be a liar? Have they been provably wrong about similar stories in the past? Has their work made it into respected media outlets and sites with actual standards prior to this incident?

Because all those things give a picture about whether someone should be trusted. I mean, think of it like this. Which of these two figures do you trust more with Nintendo news?

PushDustIn, of Source Gaming?

Or Michael Pachter, of Wedbrush Securities?

If you’re a Nintendo fan/long-time gamer, you’d choose the former. Because he’s been running Source Gaming for years, has proven accurate with his information (including translations of Masahiro Sakurai’s regular column) and generally has credibility. On the other hand, someone like Pachter (who’s been wrong about Nintendo for decades and has a very bad track record with predictions) is an unreliable source.

Either way, check everything about the author you can get. Check if their social media accounts look legit. Put their photo into Google and see whether it’s from a stock photo site or something (that’s a pretty good hint they’re a liar, especially if a ‘real’ looking name is used along with said dodgy picture).

Above: This Abby person looks pretty suspicious…

If all comes back clear? Then move onto the next point. Where you…

3. Examine the actual source content for inaccuracies and reliability

Or in other words, you have to work out whether the article supports its own conclusions and follows every statement in a rational way.

So start by looking up who THEIR source is. Is it a dodgy site you wouldn’t trust? Like one of those ‘satire’ ones you see posted on Facebook every now and again? If so, you can pretty much drop the subject right there. After all, even ‘experts’ and mainstream media journalists fall for hoaxes, gossip and ‘fake news’ every now and again.

While you’re at it, also make sure the page being linked existed at some point in time. Aka, put the address into Google or the Internet Archive and see what comes back.

Why? Because there’s another awful (and somewhat recent) trend of hoaxers actually making up non existent sources and giving broken links to ‘authoritative’ websites to back up their claims.

For example, they may link to a non existent BBC page and say it’s an interview with Nintendo that got lost a couple of months back or so.

That’s how the ‘Harry Potter GO’ news story caught on so much. Because the fakers linked to a broken page on IGN and claimed it was an interview with someone at Niantic Labs. Everyone else then just assumed it must be accurate because ‘IGN.com’ was in the source link.

Then, go through the article and ask yourself ‘does this feel like something written in the language it says it’s in?’ This is because a lot of low quality articles are either written by people with English as a third language, poorly machine translated from somewhere else online or entirely written by special software that takes existing content and tries to ‘spin’ it into something new. So by checking the readability of the piece, you can work out whether it’s from a content mill, lazy hack or someone with an actual passion in the subject they’re discussing.

And don’t leave out the images here either! After all, it’s pretty easy to fake those, especially with modern hardware letting you stream pre recorded footage onto a TV or monitor.

So check up on whether any embedded media looks real as well. Obvious signs it aren’t are:

A: The photo or video being ‘recorded on a potato’. This is suspicious given the much better camera quality of modern smartphones and tablets, and usually hints that the creator of the image or video is trying to hide how bad their editing or special effects are. That used to be a common trick in old school Doctor Who, where the BBC would add a crap ton of ‘gaussian blur’ to a shot to hide how bad some of the costumes were.

B: Certain aspects of the system aren’t shown. Like say, the lower screen on a DS/3DS or the GamePad in a Wii U picture. This could be to hide how it’s merely a photo or video opened in a camera app. Or in the Wii U’s case, pre recorded footage played on a TV.

C: Reused art from other places. If it’s official art, be suspicious, since companies don’t (usually) use the same concept art over and over. If it’s fan art, be even more suspicious, since legal reasons mean most companies will never use fan works or suggestions for their games and media.

D: The image can be found elsewhere on the internet under a different name/description. This is very common with ‘fake news’ articles, where gross looking pictures of criminals (usually busted for drug related crimes) are tied to terrorism, Satanism or various horrific rapes/murders. Either way, you can search this by sticking the image in TinEye or using Google’s ‘search by image’ functionality.

E: It’s an image showing just a piece of paper with text on it. News flash: an image of some text is no more reliable than the text itself.

Additionally, you can also try some of the advance forensics tips mentioned in articles like these ones:

Or by using tools like FotoForensics and ‘Image Edited?’.

However, this is a fairly advanced field (which is formally called ‘Image Forensics’) and so getting it right may take longer than is practical for many journalists and reporters. Still, if you’re real determined and absolutely want to avoid any errors whatsoever, it’s another useful tool in the box you can use.

Either way, a bit of analysis here can go a long way in figuring out whether a source is being truthful or not.

Which brings us to the last tool in a journalist’s toolbox. Where you…

4. Check who else is running the story

Because the general credibility and number of other news sites and sources running a story can also give you a faint idea about how credible it is.

Are only fringe sites running it? Then take it with a pinch of salt, since it’s clear that the mainstream media is (for whatever reason) avoiding the topic perhaps due to the questionable evidence the story is based on.

And what if only one or two sites are running it? Well, that can be evidence that the story wasn’t convincing for most media outlets, and that the one or two outliers were fooled by something dodgy. Which given that gaming sites like to parrot everything and anything, paints a pretty damn bleak picture of your story in general. I mean, what kind of crap is seen as so questionable that no one runs it in a world where ‘video games cause alien abduction’ theories would probably end up on Kotaku? One that’s pretty damn questionable that’s for sure!

So that will stop most misinformation from getting posted to begin with.

But what if it gets through anyway? If despite best practices, you post misinformation on your site and the word gets around that you’ve been duped?

Then what?

Well, here are some tips for that too…

How to respond to mistakes in news reporting

1. Don’t panic

Seriously. You made a mistake, but it’s not the end of the world. Everyone makes mistakes, and in this case, it’s only a mistake relating to the video game industry. No one’s life is in danger, and it’s very unlikely anyone is getting sued as a result.

2. Correct the mistake

Because again, that’s what professional journalists do. They update the original article with a correction pointing out how the original post was wrong, along with a link to an update that explains the situation and what went wrong. It’s like how print magazines and newspapers run corrections near the front of the next issue to clear things up for their readers.

3. Do not lash out at critics or commenters

People calling out your mistakes is not a ‘personal attack’, nor a reason to go ban happy on your forums or social media accounts. That just leads to things getting much worse, and a growing number people (wrongly) thinking you’re at the heart of a global conspiracy.

Instead, courteously reply that yes, you know you made a mistake, and give a link to the correction/update.

4. And be more careful next time

Since hey, if you can fooled once, you can be fooled again. And the more times you’re fooled/fool your readers/viewers, the more people will distrust you as a result. So learn from your mistakes and fix how you verify sources to avoid making the same mistake again.

And that concludes the article. Hopefully, by following these steps you can stop reporting on unreliable sources and hearsay, and work towards a press that people respect and trust once again. Let’s make the gaming media great again!

One for the Season; The Best Christmas Themed Games for the Holidays!

Hey it’s Christmas Day! A time of goodwill. Of family. Of giving and receiving presents supposedly brought to you by a fat guy in a red suit with a white beard.

In other words, not a time for reading articles on gaming websites. But hey, you’re here now. And based on that title, I’m gonna assume you want some suggestions for Christmas themed games to play. Something that really gets into the spirit of the holiday season, right?

Yeah, I thought so. Well, a quick tip before we begin:

Do not buy any Christmas games on the Wii or Wii U. With maybe one or two exceptions, they’re gonna be crap. Something like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer isn’t worth the cost of the disc it was printed onto.

Nor is that Christmas themed ‘find the hidden objects’ game that’s likely going around the eShop by now. Santa Claus Jr and Santa Claus Saves the Earth are pretty crap too.

Instead, here are some real suggestions for enjoyable games to play on Christmas Day. Starting with the inevitable Christmas themed platformers.

Such as Daze Before Christmas on the SNES and Mega Drive. Yeah, you knew this was coming. After all, a game where you actually play as Father Christmas and then collect/deliver presents while defeating the various evil bosses out to stop your journey? That’s about as obvious a Christmas themed game as you can get.

And it’s quite good too. Not amazing, but decent, with some nice graphics and music to get you in a festive mood.

Also on the same systems, you’ve got James Pond II: Codename Robocod. Starring a secret agent fish who’s very clearly a pastiche of James Bond, he has to stop the evil Dr Maybe, who has taken over Santa Claus’ workshop and attempted to ruin Christmas in the process.

Again, it’s a 16 bit platformer, albeit one a hell of a lot more competently designed than Daze Before Christmas was, with an interesting mechanic where Pond can stretch his body upwards to view or reach new areas. And hey, he can fly a plane around too!

Another notable one to try is Santa Claus in Trouble, a neat 3D platformer that has Santa Claus collecting presents in a weird Croc like world. Interesting, it’s part of a series of 2 games, with the first being entirely free to download and the second being a paid, much higher budget follow up to it. Both games are solidly designed with decently done game mechanics and lovely graphics, and they work about as you’d expect them to.

However, it’s not just platformers here! Oh no, Christmas stealth games are surprisingly good too! There’s Merry Gear Solid, a decent Christmas themed parody of Metal Gear with Santa Claus as the main character:

As well as the old Grinch video game based on the movie. Yeah, that movie. The home console one is a mediocre platformer/action adventure thing, but the Game Boy Color one is actually a really good stealth game in the style of the old Metal Gear titles! To the point IGN gave it a 9/10 review score!

But what if you want something a tad more familiar?

Like, an expansion of an existing game?

Well you’re in luck here too. Because quite a few great old school games have Christmas levels and episodes too!

For example, Jazz Jackrabbit had plenty of nice Christmas levels to play. Like Holiday Hare 94 and 95 for the original game:

And the similarly named Holiday Hare 98 version for the sequel:

Which were then redone and rereleased as Jazz Jackrabbit 2: Christmas Chronicles. Either way, all the levels are very nice, very festive affairs filled with Christmas trees, twee looking houses covered in snow and lights and a whole multitude of snowmen.

Other games with interesting Christmas versions include Christmas Nights into Dreams, which has you collect items while flying through a beautiful Christmas night while a frantic remix of Jingle Bells plays in the background:

Duke Nukem: Nuclear Winter which has you stop a feminist elves and evil snowmen in your quest to free Santa from his brainwashing by alien forces and take back the North Pole:

Saints Row IV: How the Saints Saved Christmas. Where your gang has to fight to save Santa from an evil alien warlord called Clawz.

Christmas Lemmings, which is exactly what you’d expect it to be.

The Christmas mission in Hitman. Where you have to kill the robbers from Home Alone (and maybe get a Santa outfit in the process).

Plus a Christmas themed level for Viscera Cleanup Detail, where you have to clean Santa’s Workshop after ‘jolly’ old Saint Nick when on a homicidal rampage.

And a Christmas themed version of The Escapists called The Escapists – Santa’s Sweatshop. That one has you playing as an elf who has to escape the workshop after suffering through Santa’ cruel regime for the last 20 years of his life.

Yes, both of those are real:

And both make for very different takes on the whole ‘holiday season’ affair.

Which brings us to the final set of games. Namely, the fan games and mods. Did you ever want a Christmas version of Super Mario World?

Well, no problem! There are tons and tons of these online. For Super Mario World hacks alone you’ve got the likes of SMW Christmas Special, A Haunted Christmas and Mario’s Christmas Adventure among many others.

Older games don’t have as quite Christmas versions, but they definitely exist all the same. Like Super Mario Bros 2 Christmas Edition:

Or Super Mario Xmas, based on the original Super Mario Bros for NES:

Other possibilities here include Holiday Hex, a really interesting Earthbound mod that has two Christmas loving kids team up to save it from evil, Pokemon Christmas (which is basically Pokemon Gold and Silver Christmas edition) and the Christmas themed chapter of Fire Emblem 7 Chaos Edition. Yeah, Santa in Fire Emblem.

Okay then:

And there’s always Super Mario Blue Twilight DX. The game that was actually meant to be Halloween themed Mario (and which only lets you play its final level on October 31st), but that also comes from Christmas and April Fool’s Day themed side stories:

It’s not amazing (at least, compared to the main storyline), but it does a competent enough job of providing some fun Mario platforming on Christmas Day. Short too, in case your only allowed playtime is between Christmas dinner and your favourite TV show starting.

So yeah, I hope that gives you some ideas of what to play this Christmas Day. Just avoid the shovelware, okay?

10 More Underrated Gaming Channels to Check out in 2016

Back in July, we wrote an article about underrated gaming channels on YouTube. Listing everyone from BlueJackG to Slopes Game Room and Boundary Break, the article showcased some of the best unknown video creators on the site in order to help them get a bit more attention and a few more views.

And oh damn did it succeed. Ever since that article, we’ve had:

  • Slopes Game Room hit the bigtime and reach a massive 22,000 subscribers!
  • Boundary Break… well, break out and bring its creator an even more insane 50,000+ subscribers!
  • Arlo make it to more than 70,000 subscribers

Plus a whole lot more besides! Basically, everyone featured became a YouTube celebrity since their inclusion in the list, to the point many of them actually got their videos posted on big name gaming sites Nintendo Life and Kotaku!

And so we’ve decided to write another article, with ten more underrated gaming channels you should check out and subscribe to right now. Let’s see if these guys can become as popular as the folk on our first one, shall we?

Starting with…

Game Sharks

Current Subscriber Count: 934

This interesting, yet depressingly obscure video game discussion channel. Named Game Sharks, this channel has some very interesting videos about game design in Nintendo titles. Like this recent one about Paper Mario Color Splash’s battle system:

Yeah, it’s a bit more low rent than say, Extra Credits. But the ideas are good, and the presentation is decent enough that I do consider it worthy of a bit more attention. So give Game Sharks a chance, because the creator has some great ideas that I think more people need to hear for themselves.

But it’s not only game design channels that need your support here. Oh no, quite a few Let’s Play creators need a bigger fanbase too.

FeatherGame555

Current Subscriber Count: 1,006

Like this guy, whose videos I first found while looking for a Super Mario 64: Last Impact walkthrough. Yeah, he’s another LPer making Let’s Players of video games, but there’s an awful lot to really like about his work. Such as the unique subject matter (he records lots of Mario 64 ROM hacks):

The good picture quality, which provides for a nice clear view of the game being played, as well as the decent commentary that keeps the whole thing interesting. It’s just a decent Let’s Play channel, and one I feel could become the next big thing if a few more people subscribe and share his work.

But you don’t even need to provide commentary to make some great YouTube videos…

Skawo

Current Subscriber Count: 22,934

Just ask Skawo, aka one of the best LPers without a microphone that I’ve ever came across.

Sounds odd doesn’t it?

Yeah, I thought so. The assumption nowadays tends to be that a Let’s Play involves voice commentary. But they don’t have to, and in fact text LPs used to be a huge deal in the olden days of Something Awful. Like this one here.

And that’s what Skawo does. He plays games like Color Splash, while making amusing text commentary and jokes about it in the form of ORLY owls and counters.

Which is then made better by how ‘meta’ most of his commentary is. For example, is the game trapped in a time loop like the Dark Bloo Inn in Color Splash? Then his commentary will initially loop as well, before suddenly realising he’s already said this part and something funny is going on in the background. Did a hurricane suddenly chuck Mario into a giant hole while Huey says something obvious? Cue the owl appearing… before getting blown off the screen.

Heck, you even had a credits sequences with the owls in! Like the one at the end of this Paper Mario Color Splash video:

It’s an amusing gimmick, and provides an otherwise low key video format an edge that keeps it interesting in every episode.

But text Let’s Plays aren’t the only thing on this channel. Oh no, you’ve also got ROM hacking videos too. Because you see, Skawo is also a pretty well known ROM hacker. He’s working on Newer Super Mario Bros DS and Newer Super Mario Bros U on the DS and Wii U respectively, as well as projects involving games like Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon.

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