Amiiqo Device Lets Gamers Emulate Amiibos…

Potentially without having the original figurines, reducing the whole ‘toys to life’ gimmick more than a tad pointless.  Sold for £49.75 on pre order by an unknown company (the website was registered in secret with very little info provided about who operates it), the Amiiqo device lets you store data for up to 200 different Amiibos, and comes pre loaded with the data for 10 of them.  So in other words, a convenient bit of tech that tricks the Wii U into thinking its communicating with an Amiibo while actually providing data from its own software instead.

amiiqo

Above: A concept for the device, from the official website

And here’s a demonstration of it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Em7JzkzE6I

Either way, it’s an interesting concept.  But what do we think of it?

To be honest, we’re conflicted about the idea.  On the one hand, the whole ‘paying money to collect figures to get content in games’ idea has become a real annoyance in the last few months or so, with a lot of major Nintendo games (especially the likes of Mario Party 10) being significantly less usable without them.  Add a very limited supply of Amiibos and Nintendo not being willing to restock them quickly, and something like this could be more convenient for those of us without tons of money to spare or time to go searching through eBay sales due to the figurines selling out within five minutes.

On the other?  This does rather kill the whole business model for Nintendo, and you could argue quite well that this is basically the toys to life version of a flash cart and ROM downloads.  All it’d take would be a significant portion of Nintendo’s fanbase to buy one, and there goes Nintendo’s Amiibo sales in the blink of the eye.

But what do you think?  Is the Amiiqo a good idea?  Or something that goes against the whole concept and that Nintendo should probably do something about?

Source:

Third Party Amiiqo Lets Users Spoof Amiibo Data – Games Industry.biz

Fired For Giving an Interview; Treehouse Localise Chris Pranger Sacked by Nintendo

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest Nintendo related news recently, you’ve probably heard of the interview with Chris Pranger that the Part Time Gamers Podcast did. Covering everything from localisation to the word ‘new’ in game titles to the Wii U’s hardware and marketing, it was an interesting discussion about how the Nintendo Treehouse and the staff there operate and the ways that Nintendo views the gaming industry differently to the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, someone at Nintendo apparently didn’t like this quite as much.

The result? Mr Pranger has been sacked by Nintendo and no longer has a job on Nintendo’s localisation team. Here’s his announcement about it on Twitter:

So, my thoughts on this?

It’s pretty disturbing to be honest. Interviews with people working in the industry are meant to be ways to get to know how it works, and to gain an insight into the processes behind making those games we all love to play. You’d think as a result of that, companies would appreciate it when their employees are asked about the company and its products; it’s free marketing!

Yet Nintendo decides that this is enough to sack someone. That’s just kind of sad really, since it just terrifies people into not wanting to speak to the media in case they get chucked out the door.

But what do you think about Chris Pranger’s firing from Nintendo? Was it right to fire him just because he did an interview about Nintendo’s localisation team and their companies processes?

Four Great Nintendo Arcade Games That Need Home Console Ports

For pretty much ever since the company released games outside of Japan, there has been much talk of all the great games that never left those shores.  Whether it’s Mother 3 on the GBA, Captain Rainbow on the Wii or The Legend of Zelda Tetra’s Trackers for the Gamecube, quite a few promising look titles never ended up getting officially localised for various reasons.

But do you know what’s perhaps even more annoying?  When a great game never leaves the arcades.  When you’ve got an amazing title based off a classic Nintendo franchise and a concept that could sell millions of copies… yet the game never gets released on a proper console like the Wii U or 3DS.  Or worse still, it stays exclusive to Japanese arcades, in case you thought a game couldn’t become even more annoying to find and play.

So here are four great Nintendo arcade games that desperately need an official console release.  Ideally as retail games for the Wii U, though an eShop release would also work just as well.

4. F-Zero AX

Let’s start off the list with an obvious one.  F-Zero AX, was an arcade counterpart to F-Zero GX that was released for arcades in 2003.  Designed as part of a set of games built around the Gamecube based Triforce arcade board, it was meant to be played alongside the console version with shared save data unlocking content in the GX version of the game.  Here’s a video showing the title in action:

Unfortunately, the game was not particularly popular in this format.  Indeed, less than TWENTY arcade machines for the game can apparently be found in the US, according to a fan compiled database of machine locations.

So the game needs a real release, ideally on the Wii U’s eShop as part of the Virtual Console lineup.

But hang on, why is it so low on the list you may ask?  Isn’t this potentially a more interesting game than Luigi’s Mansion Arcade or Pokken Tournament or whatever else?

Perhaps, but…

You can play the entire game within F-Zero GX

Hence given how playing the game is a matter of using a few hacks or Action Replay codes, it’s perhaps not as necessary to release it for home consoles yet.

3. Pokken Tournament

Next on the list, a Pokemon fighting game we’ve probably all read about in the news recently.  Starring a bunch of different Pokemon (fighting types and otherwise) and a gameplay system that seems to be a mix of Pokemon and Tekken (complete with mega evolutions), Pokken Tournament is a very promising looking 3D fighting game that just desperately needs a Wii U release.

After all, Blaziken vs Lucario in a 3D fight to the death (or perhaps KO)? Who wouldn’t want to play that?

Still, there have been quite a few calls for it to be released on home consoles already, and enough hints that that could become a reality at some point, so at least it’s got better luck than our next two games…

2. Luigi’s Mansion Arcade

Next up, a game that pretty much no one expected before a couple of weeks ago.  Luigi’s Mansion Arcade is, to put it simply, a cross between Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon and traditional light gun games like Time Crisis and House of the Dead:

Continue Reading…

Mighty No. 9 Delayed until 2016

It’s been pretty obvious for a while, but today it was officially confirmed that Mega Man successor Mighty No. 9 has been delayed until 2016.  So what’s the reasoning for this?

MightyNo9

Above: Why is this game delayed?

Well, as the company puts it themselves, “there are still bugs and issues pertaining to the online features that are included in the game.”  There’s also a bit of a longer explanation on the Kickstarter page, if you prefer reading that:

Mighty No 9 Delayed – Kickstarter

Either way, the game will now be targeting a Q1 release, with no specific date being set as of this point.  Hopefully that means we should see it sometime between January and March 2016.

What do you think of Mighty N0 9’s delay?

The 3D Platformer Comparison; Yooka Laylee, A Hat in Time or Lobodestroyo?

For a rather long period of time, 3D platformers were not a particularly popular genre. Okay, they were big in the days of the N64 and Playstation 1, but with Rare’s decline and the FPS genre taking off, the days of 3D mascot platformers seemingly came to an end.

But as with everything else, Kickstarter came to the rescue. Inspired by classic collectathon platformers like Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64 (among others), three different teams have funded new projects in the style of the N64 games we all know and love. Those being? A Hat in Time, Lobodestroyo and Yooka Laylee. What’s more, all three have at least some involvement from ex Rare staff (often Grant Kirkhope). Here are the Kickstarter trailers for the three:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x10k9nq_a-hat-in-time-kickstarter-trailer_videogames

But which one is best? Which of the three big 3D platformers of the 2010s is going to be the true spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie? Let’s find out, in the 3D platformer comparison!

The Story and Characters

Time is falling apart, and the brave interstellar travelling Hat Kid has to collect the pieces and put them back together away. All while racing against the evil Moustache Girl and her wishes of using time for evil purposes.

Above: The basic trailer for A Hat in Time, showing some of the story and levels.

Lobodestroyo’s plot on the other hand, is a tad more complicated. Probably better to let them explain it to be honest:

The legendary Lobodestroyo is the sentinel of Costa Lucha. His wolf pack protects its citizens by locking away villains who threaten the peace, and maintain order from high atop Mt. Justice! At least he did…

Mutt, the runt of the wolf pack litter, wakes up to find Mt. Justice in ruins; His wolf pack brothers missing; and the Lobodestroyo’s championship belt strewn across his destroyed temple. To top it off the maximum security lockup has been breached and the 10 members of La Liga de Los Villanos have escaped. Determined to avenge his brethren and prove his worth, Mutt dons the championship belt and takes up the mantle of his fallen hero.

Tag-teaming with the luchador spirit Dorado, who dwells in the mystical belt, Mutt explores the hub city of Costa Lucha and unlocks new areas, while he attempts to track down and unmask the evil villains who have overrun each game world.

And what’s the plot for Yooka-Laylee? That’s actually a good question, since the Kickstarter page and official website don’t really give away the plot. All we know is that Yooka and Laylee (the chameleon guy with no pants and the bat with the big nose respectively) are trying to collect Pagies in a bunch of worlds loosely based around books.

Yooka-Laylee_artwork

Above: Pretty much what we currently know about the plot of Yooka-Laylee, in one picture.

So what’s the best plot here? Depends on whether you want a simpler excuse to go jumping on heads or a complex excuse to save the world. Lobodestroyo has the more thought out storyline, A Hat in Time has the easier to explain one. We’d probably go with Lobodestroyo ourselves, though the lack of a complete Yooka-Laylee storyline/plot summary means it’s not a fair comparison at this point.

Art Style

So now onto the art side of things. To make it a bit fairer, we’ll divide this section into two parts; the concept art and the in game graphics. This is because the quality of in game graphics depends on heavily on far the game is into development, whereas the concept art gives an idea about what the team are going for aesthetically.

On the concept art level then, what game does better? Well, that’s a difficult one given how all three games have a different style going on. A Hat in Time seems to be inspired more by the cel shaded art of The Wind Waker and Jet Set Radio, whereas Lobodestroyo takes influence from comic books and Yooka Laylee flat out goes for an updated Banjo Kazooie vibe for things. They all look fantastic too:

Yooka-Laylee Art

Above: Yooka-Laylee’s concept art looks absolutely gorgeous.

But honestly? On this count, we’d probably go for Lobodestroyo. Why? Because it seems more original in terms of the style it’s going for. Sure, the other two look good, but they also seem a bit… well, safe. Like they’re trying to take as much inspiration from Banjo and co as possible without really building on it in any way.

 

On the other hand, there’s something about Lobodestroyo’s style that stands out a bit more, at least in terms of the concept art. Look at this stuff:

Lobodestroyoart2 Lobodestroyoart1

You’ve got a luchador fighting wacky animal villains from the ‘La Liga de Los Villanos’ in the style of Mega Man. Add a bunch of quirky and surprisingly ‘dark’ settings (like a high security prison and a theme park castle filled with cheering minions of the villain) and stuff like the tank shown above, and you’ve got a game which would have been a highly original title even back in the days when collectathons were two a penny.

In game on the other hand? That’s a hard one. All three have decent enough graphics (even for games that are in alpha or early beta stages). But we’d probably give it to A Hat in Time, simply because of some of the awesome aesthetics in its later levels. I mean, look at this mansion level:

That’s creepy as hell to be honest. And the art style with all the shadows and dynamic lighting is done in such an amazing way that I just have to give this one to the game. Will Yooka-Laylee or Lobodestroyo come up with something equally as great for their future levels? They most probably will, all three games seem like they’ll have all manner of creative looking levels and graphics. But for now, A Hat in Time wins this one.

Music (featuring Grant Kirkhope)

What?

Out of all three projects, all of them feature music by Grant Kirkhope. Given that he composed the soundtrack for the Banjo Kazooie games and Donkey Kong 64, that very likely means they’ll retain the feel of Rare’s classics just fine.

Above: Some songs he previously worked on  You should recognise all of them even without the pictures

And while Lobodestroyo will only be getting one song by Grant, that song (the boss one) will be remixed by Gooseworx into a whole bunch of catchy themes.  It will also be accompanied by a bunch of (likely equally good) music by Gooseworx.

But we’re probably going to have to give this one to Yooka Laylee. Why? Because not only does Grant Kirkhope compose music for it, but so does David Wise. You know, the guy who brought us such classic Donkey Kong Country songs as Stickerbrush Symphony and Aquatic Ambience. So while all the games have at least classic Rare styled soundtracks and Grant Kirkhope provides songs for multiple projects, we think the game with multiple members of Rare’s music staff composing for it is probably going to do better on the music front.

Gameplay and Level Design

And now, the most important part of these games. Which one is better in terms of gameplay?

Well, we can’t really say much yet, since we haven’t played it. So let’s look at some of the videos showing the game being played by other (slightly luckier) testers:

For A Hat in Time, we have two full levels showed off. The mafia filled beach town, and the creepy haunted mansion shown earlier:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwPbcz2cIRA

It looks pretty good, though the game feels a bit more like Mario Sunshine than a Nintendo 64 era game. Not bad, just a bit different.

For Lobodestroyo, we don’t have another footage online to show what it really looks like. I mean, I came across this test area tech demo:

But that doesn’t really say much. You get a bit of the walking animation in a test room. Nothing else seems to exist yet, outside of concept art and things.

For Yooka-Laylee, we’ve got a small amount of gameplay footage that was shown off earlier this year:

It looks surprisingly good (for about three months of development), though we can’t really judge much in the way of level or game design from it, since the tech demo type stuff shows no real missions or standard gameplay.

We’re not to going to judge this yet, because we only have full levels for one of the games.

Nostalgia

Well, all three came with fake Nintendo 64 cartridges and boxes for the people longingly wishing to be taken back to those days. For instance, here are the retro boxes and cartridges for the games (given out as Kickstarter rewards):

HatInTimeNintendo64 YookaLayleeN64 LobodestroyoN64

Granted, the Nintendo 64 cartridges provided aren’t functional, since none of the games would ever actually run on a Nintendo 64. But hey, it is a nice retraux touch to have, right?

Kickstarter Results

A Hat in Time raised $296,340 on Kickstarter, Lobodestroyo raised $43,831 on Kickstarter and Yooka-Laylee raised £2,090,104 ($3,265,160.47) on said service. So based on that, Yooka-Laylee is obviously the one out of the three that people showed most interest in financially.

Either way, it’s still good news all around. All three games met their funding goals and are hence currently in development. Regardless of which one you want to play most, it’s been a good result.

Console Platforms

Here are the consoles supported by the three titles:

SystemA Hat in TimeLobodestroyoYooka-Laylee
PCYesYesYes
MacYesYesYes
LinuxNoYesYes
Wii UYesYesYes
PS4NoYesYes
Xbox OneNoYesYes
OuyaNoYesNo

As you can see, Yooka-Laylee and Lobodestroyo are available on pretty much the same console platforms (or in other words, all of them that have any real market share at the moment). The latter is also available (or at least being made for) Ouya, despite said system failing miserably and not really being all that important at this point in time.

Ouya

Above: The now failed Ouya system whose owners will now also be able to play Lobodestroyo

On the other hand, A Hat in Time is seemingly PC and Wii U specific, with support for other console platforms being currently unplanned. So it loses out a bit on that front, given how its competition will also be available to buy for the Xbox One or PS4 (for those people who aren’t really major Nintendo fans).

So while it’s extremely close, we’d give this one to Lobodestroyo. Yes the Ouya isn’t exactly a relevant system any more, but hey, it is technically going to support one more system than Yooka-Laylee.

Thought the real winners are probably Wii U owners, given that they’re getting three full-fledged 3D platformers around the same time, on a system that’s otherwise mostly of devoid of games and that’s been near completely abandoned by third parties.

Continue Reading…