Poi; Another Great New 3D PLatformer for the Wii U

Just a day ago, we compared Yooka-Laylee, Lobodestroyo and A Hat in Time, but guess what?  Just earlier today, yet another new indie 3D platformer had a Kickstarter campaign announced!  Behold Poi 3D, a new 3D platformer by developer Polykid:

As you can see, it’s a bit different to the others we’ve covered recently.  With a human protagonist and a much different style of world design, the game seems to be going for the Super Mario Sunshine type of design; open and content packed levels that sometimes link off to linear and mission centered secret ones.  Except with a water powered jetpack and an acapella version of the Super Mario Bros theme.

So what’s the story?  Well, we’ll let the Kickstarter page explain that one:

One day, a young and rambunctious runaway was napping under a tree when suddenly something heavy landed squarely on his forehead. Rudely awoken, he discovers the culprit to be a mysterious and worn book with the words “Explorer’s Log” printed in large gold letters on the cover.

Flipping through the old pages, the boy discovers notes and sketches of wondrous far off lands. Curiously, he also finds a page titled “How to be a Master Explorer.” Reading further, an overwhelming sense of adventure ignites and he decides right then and there to become a master explorer. Quickly grabbing his backpack, he turns around and is startled to see an old man standing in front of him. To the boy’s surprise, the figure tells him the book belongs to him and that he is the Master Explorer.

“So you want to be a master explorer, eh? Travel the world and find explorer medallions! Maybe then you’ll be worthy of that title.” -The Master Explorer

Amused by the child’s reckless enthusiasm, the Master Explorer decides to take the child aboard his airship and bring him along in his journey to uncover the many secrets scattered across the world of Poi.

And here are some other pictures of the title, as per the campaign page:

Poimaincharactersmasterexplorer

mountmagma cozycanyon

The ones above are the main characters (you can choose a male or female main protagonist) and the Master Explorer mentioned in the story.  The levels shown are the explorer’s airship, Cozy Canyon and Mount Magma.  Which look a tad rough around the edges (hey, it is still in development), but do seem promising regardless.

Either way, to become a reality, Poi needs to gather $80,000 before September the 3rd.  And for console platforms?  It’s currently planned for the Wii U and Steam, but additional stretch goals exist to have the game also released on the PS4 (and maybe Xbox One down the line?)

It’s a pretty nice looking game in our opinion, and one we’d definitely recommend backing for those 3D platformer fans out there. Let’s restore the genre to the glory days of the Nintendo 64 and Playstation 1!

Source:

Poi – A 3D Adventure Platformer – Kickstarter

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…

Universal Working on Third Theme Park with Nintendo Rides?

Well, ever since the company’s deal with Nintendo was announced earlier this year, it’s been speculated.  But now it seems things might finally be coming around.

An ‘insider’ has stated that Universal is working on a new theme park in the US, complete with Nintendo theme rides and attractions!  They then go on to say that not only is a Mario Kart rie a certainty, but that talks about both Pokemon and Zelda themed attractions are also underway, with the new park having multiple areas themed after different Nintendo franchises (due to the kids section of the park not having room for all the Nintendo attractions on its own).

Mario Kart 8Zelda Majora's Mask Cast

Above: Mario Kart and Zelda may be getting theme park rides and attractions at a new Universal Orlando park

It also talks of World of Warcraft, and the possibility that Universal has gotten a deal going to open up rides and attractions based on that famous game as well.  So if you’ve a MMORPG fan wanting to live out your fantasies in real life… that seems like it could be a very real possibility too.  Perhaps the whole concept will tie into your online characters as well, like stuff you buy actually affecting your virtual avatars?

WoW_Box_Art1

Above: World of Warcraft is apparently represented in this theme park as well.

So that’s apparently a glimpse into Universal’s plans for a video game based theme park.  It’s an interesting sounding concept if it is true (and the idea of Mario Kart and Zelda themed rides makes us excited just thinking about it), but take it as hearsay so far, since it’s based on an ‘exclusive’ that hasn’t got a lot of evidence behind it.

What do you think about Universal’s possible plans for a new theme park?  Does the talk of Nintendo and World of Warcraft themed attractions make you interested?

Source:

Universal Orlando working on Third Park with Heavy Video Game Influence – This is Infamous

Opinion; Why I Don’t Want Paid Video Game Mods

If you’ve been reading the gaming news recently, you’ve probably seen all the articles about Valve’s failed ‘paid video game mods’ controversy.  Put simply, they added a feature to Steam that let video game modders charge for their work, and then caused such a split in public opinion that the feature was then canned after literally less than 24 hours.

But while this tale was an interesting one to read about, I’m going to come out and say it now:

I do not like the idea of paid video game mods.  And I really, really don’t see much good coming from being able to pay for fan made modifications of existing games.

Now, some may ask why I feel this way.  Indeed, some may especially ask it given my involvement in the ROM hacking and fan game scenes for the Mario and Zelda franchises.  Heck, if I was playing a ton of PC games, I would probably be making video game mods all the time, given my involvement in the console game equivalent scenes.

But even with all that in mind, I don’t want to see paid modifications of video games.  Or for the modding scenes to go all ‘professional’ like some people seem to advocate.  Why?  Well, here are some reasons…

1. Charging for Mods Disincentives Sharing Resources

Firstly, have you seen how many great websites exist to share resources for game mods?  You’ve not only got general ones like Nexus Mods, but also game specific ones like various ones for Doom wads and others for games as obscure as Jurassic Park Trespasser.

trespassermods

Above: Yes, this actually exists.

Add in the ROM hacking and fan game scene sites, and that’s a lot of great free resources you can find after just a minute or two using Google.

But do you know why they’re so common?

Because people are involved for reasons involving a passion for the subject. Because the people involved in this scene want to help people, and with no money involved, do so by making it easier for other people to make their own games.

But what happens if the scene starts going paid?

Answer?  The potential loss of all these free tools and resources.  After all, why give out for free what you can sell for a large amount of money?  Or for that matter, why give out stuff free if people are only going to use it in paid releases and give you zero credit in the process?

The idea of paid mods disincentives people from sharing things like tools, models, textures and other resources for use within the modding scene.  And given that these things existing is one of the elements that makes such scenes so successful in the first place…

2. Many Great Mods aren’t ‘Above Board’

Another reason I don’t trust the idea of paid mods, is because it could theoretically stop the release of the super successful mods that are based around referencing other works.

For example, Skyrim had a Lord of the Rings mod, one that basically changed the entire setting to Middle Earth.  Think either the Tolkien estate or Warner Brothers gave permission for that?

Above: Many good examples

Or how about the old Doom wad based on Batman?  That was fantastic, yet it’d never be something you could release in a ‘paid’ environment.  The copyright and trademark lawyers would smash it to pieces within hours…

And the list goes on.  Super Smash Bros?  Has tons of custom characters, stages, songs and other things that the original owners likely never gave permission to include in the game.

And outside of those types of game mods, you get the ROM hacking world.  Brutal Mario is pretty much 99% crossover content:

None of that was licensed by anyone.

So why is this a problem?  Why is it an issue to have ‘crossover’ mods and content if they’re not sold?

Because if other mods are sold, various legal issues could crop up about what the developers are responsible for.  If that leads people to believe they ‘encouraged’ the Lord of Rings mod for Skyrim, someone involved with the IP could go after the developer for it.  And then there’s the dangerous possibility that they could force ALL mods to be released only via some ‘official’ platform, which would then kill these mods off altogether.  Do we really want to lose all the great wish fulfilment crossover/total conversion game mods that are out there just so more minor stuff can sold for a couple of bucks?

Continue Reading…

Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures 2 Announced for PC and Console Platforms

Liked the original Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, a somewhat creative retro style platformer that took inspiration from the old school games in the nerd’s videos?  Well if so, it seems you’re in luck.

Developer FreakZone Games has announced a sequel is currently in development, with a logo and a first glimpse of the game being shown off in their Twitter feed.  Here are the original tweets showing the game in action at SCG:

All in all, it should be a nice little ‘retraux’ game experience for anyone wanting something in the style of a classic NES title.  Or for that matter, someone wanting to actually play a major new game on a Nintendo system, since the title has been announced for Nintendo consoles and the original one was on both the 3DS and Wii U.

But what do you think about the prospect of another video game starring the Angry Video Game Nerd?