Tag Archives: Gaming

Stop Playing the Same Game

Whether it’s Call of Duty, Destiny or Watch Dogs, at the end of the day, it’s all the same game.

Written by Logan Sharp

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Happy Birthday, N64! My Top Ten Nintendo 64 Games

From Doing Barrel Rolls to Throwing Shells At Friends, We Countdown the Top 10 Games on the Nintendo 64.

Written by Jonathan Steele

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Mario Kart 8 Review

The latest installment in the world’s #1 karting series is finally here. After decades of great racing experiences, Mario Kart 8 aims to be the culmination and perfection of all that came before it, and it surpasses that goal with ease. The core gameplay of Mario Kart 8 is as brilliantly fun as ever, and this eighth entry feels like the crowning achievement of the series.

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How Nintendo (might have) Just Revolutionized In-App Purchases

Last week during a new Nintendo Direct live stream, Nintendo announced a bunch of new games as well as more info on previously-announced titles. Most people are talking about the biggest news, like the confirmed release date for Mario Kart 8 (May 30th woo!) or the latest addition to the Super Smash Bros. roster. But something completely different caught my eye. It’s something I never really saw coming, but it has real game-changing potential in the realm of IAPs (In-App Purchases).

Before we go any further, let’s talk about IAPs briefly. In case you’ve been living under a rock, IAP is a rather brilliant idea that Apple started (or at least made famous) with the App Store. It actually started as a good thing. You download an app and it’s yours, but you can spend additional money within the app to unlock more features. It was all well and good until people figured out a way to warp it, so now there are two “types” of IAPs:

Type A) You spend real money to buy a permanent component of the game that becomes yours forever (level packs, bonus items, upgrades, etc.)

Type B) You spend real money to get fake money, and when you have spent all that fake money in-game, you have to go back and buy more fake money using more real money. And down, down, down the spiral you go.

In case you were wondering, Type B is total garbage and a dirty way to get people to spend their cash. Logan covers this very well in his most recent article. I wanted to stop and make this clarification because I believe Nintendo will never stoop as low as “Type B” IAPs. What they have done is revolutionized “Type A,” which was already a perfectly fair method.

“To be fair, it actually looked kind of fun and seemed to be a quality game, but it was what followed the initial explanation that really caught my attention.”

So enough about IAPs. The 3DS game that was announced is called “Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball.” When I heard that title, I started tuning out at first. Most sports-based video games just don’t interest me in the slightest. In Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, you play as some kid who goes around playing baseball-themed minigames. Rustys-Real-Deal-Baseball-HittingEach minigame has a very simple premise (hence the name “minigame” I suppose). You can pitch, catch, bat, ump, play outfield, etc. To be fair, it actually looked kind of fun and seemed to be a quality game, but it was what followed the initial explanation that really caught my attention. When you aren’t playing these little games, you go to a shop run by a seasoned old baseball player named Rusty Slugger. He will give you tips and hints as well as training. But you can also buy additional game types from him with real-world money. Boom, IAPs. But what’s so different about IAPs in this game?

Bargaining.

“… Rusty will initially charge you $4.00. However, you then have the ability to haggle with him.”

Yup. Bargaining. In Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, when you try to buy a new minigame, Rusty will initially charge you $4.00. However, you then have the ability to haggle with him. You can basically tell him, “I’m not paying that much! Here, how would you like this [insert item] that I collected earlier in the game?” Rusty will then take that thing from you and lower the price. The actual, real-world price. There may be other ways to haggle with him that I don’t know about, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can negotiate at all. It’s a brilliant idea. It gives the player the feeling that they have power over how much money they spend, and at the same time, Nintendo probably only planned for that thing to cost $1-2 anyway. They just started it at $4.00 so you feel good about it once you fight it down to a lower price. It also adds a bit of fun to the fact that you are spending your hard-earned cash. It turns the process into a minigame of its own, rather than just having a cold popup that says, “Are you sure you want to spend all that hard-earned cash? Click OK to confirm!”

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I understand that this could just turn into nothing and we all forget about it in a month. But nevertheless, it is a fantastic idea. If nothing else, it’s a sign that Nintendo continues to aggressively think outside the box. Could you imagine this concept extrapolated out to other games? How about Call of Duty DLC? “This latest map pack cost $15.00… unless you can convince us to drop it to $10.00 by killing 100 zombies in 5 minutes.” Suddenly, the dreaded prospect of having to spend more money has been alleviated by turning it into a game of sorts. A game where I can win back some of my money.

I believe this method is simultaneously beneficial to developers and fair to gamers. But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

My Top 5 Most Anticipated Wii U Games of 2014 (So Far)

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Written by Jonathan Steele

All-in-all, 2013 actually ended up to be a pretty good year for the Wii U. Toward the end of the year, there were several solid first-party releases, as well as plenty of third-party games to fill in the cracks. But 2013 has ended, and 2014 is well underway. So what delicious gaming morsels are Nintendo and its partners cooking up for us over the coming months? I’m positive that there are many games in the works that we don’t know about yet, but here are just a few confirmed titles I’m really excited about.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Release Date: February 21, 2014

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Retro Studios blew me away with their first attempt at bringing back Donkey Kong in 2010. It was a game that I revisited several times, and I am very much looking forward to the sequel. From everything I’ve seen so far, it really looks like this won’t just be a cheap cash-in that rides on the previous game’s success. There are new characters, new enemies, fresh gameplay experiences, and much more. I can’t wait to play this game. Check out the latest trailer revealing Cranky Kong as a playable character. (Scrooge McDuck’s bouncing cane, anyone?)

Mario Kart 8

Release Date: May 2014

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Everyone knows you pretty much can’t go wrong with Mario Kart no matter how you slice it, but Mario Kart 8 is shaping up to be the best that the series has ever seen. The most notable addition is an anti-gravity ability for the karts and bikes (yup, bikes are back!). Pair that up with the gliders and underwater-driving from Mario Kart 7, and things could become very interesting. I was afraid that this simple addition, while very cool, wouldn’t be enough to really make things fresh, but this latest trailer shows just how alive and varied the courses might be. Check it out. (I wonder what happens when you accidentally smack into that airliner head-on…)

Super Smash Bros. Wii U

Release Date: TBA 2014

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Ah good old Smash Bros. This game will probably be the single reason that many people buy the Wii U this year, and rightly so. It promises to be a great addition to the franchise. Possibly the most interesting thing about this iteration is the fact that it is being released for both Wii U and 3DS. This will mark the first time that Super Smash Bros. makes an appearance on a handheld. I’m excited to see what they do with that. Can I start a match on my Wii U and finish it on my 3DS? Can a 3DS owner join in a match being played on Wii U? We’ll find out soon enough. Character-wise, I personally am most excited about Mega Man (it’s about freaking time they added him), so check out this über-cool Mega Man reveal trailer. (You can see all the other awesome SSB trailers here)

“The Legend of Zelda U”

Release Date: TBA

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While we currently know next-to-nothing about this game (not even the title), we do know that it is coming for sure. Nintendo has confirmed that an HD Zelda title for the Wii U is currently in the works, and has been for some time. I dare say we can expect it to be nothing like the Wii U Tech Demo from E3 2011, since Nintendo has made it clear that they will be turning the Zelda conventions upside-down and rethinking the basic elements of the past games. I have a funny feeling that it will be so different that it will upset several fans at first (like Wind Waker did), but I can’t wait to see how they decide to shake things up. I think it’s safe to say Nintendo knows what they’re doing at this point, and we can trust them.

Hyrule Warriors

Release Date: TBA

Wait… what?? If you had told me a few months ago that Nintendo was going to do a mashup of the beloved Zelda franchise and Dynasty Warriors, I’d have laughed in your face. I bought a Dynasty Warriors game once. It was terrible. It was pretty much repetitive hack-n-slash. I didn’t last an hour before I returned it. And now Nintendo wants to let those guys make a Zelda-themed game? I have to be honest, I am pretty skeptical, but this game made my list because I believe that Nintendo is watching over this project very carefully. I’m trusting that they won’t let these guys ruin Zelda’s good name. And come on, there’s no denying that it just looks really freakin cool. Check out the reveal trailer to see Link on steroids.

So what about you, dear reader? Which Wii U games are you most excited about? Let us know by casting your vote below!

Nintendo is Weird

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Written by Jonathan Steele

A few months ago, my wife invited a good friend of hers to visit for dinner. We shall call her Melissa for the sake of the story. Melissa lives out-of-state and was in our area for a few weeks, so my wife thought it would be great to see her. We had a good time eating and talking and just relaxing in general. Later into the evening as we were sitting in our living room, Melissa pointed to my shiny black Wii U GamePad that was sitting prominently on our coffee table and asked, “Is that one of those new video game thingies?” Feeling rather like a nerd, I nonchalantly replied, “Oh yeah that’s the latest Nintendo console. It’s pretty cool. I play it every now and then.” She nodded politely and told me she’d never really been into that stuff, but that it looked cool. The conversation moved on.

Fast forward about a week.

We have Melissa over for dinner again, along with a few other friends of ours that live in the area. After good food and conversation, one of my friends said, “Hey! That’s that new Wii thing isn’t it? Do you think we could give it a try? I’ve never really played one.”

I was a little timid because I knew full-well that the Wii U is most definitely NOT the cool-kid console of today. The Wii U is for the weirdos that don’t play “real” video games for some odd reason, and are “stuck in the past” playing Mario games. I just happen to be one of those weirdos, but I never really cared to make a big deal out of it.

A little nervous, I said, “Well… sure if you guys really want to! Uh… We have this game called ‘Nintendo Land.’ It’s pretty cool. It’s like a series of Nintendo-themed mini-games.”

Dang it. Why oh why did I just suggest that?? I had played Nintendo Land a little bit by myself when I first got the console, and I thought it was so terrible that I wanted to sell it back. The games seemed childish and simple to me, and not much fun at all. But as I expected, they agreed to give it a try. It’s not like they could say “no” at this point. I was beginning to get a little terrified.  These people are going to wonder why a grown man like me even has this stupid game.

“So how does it work?”

“Well… there’s this one game where you… well it’s basically like tag… the person with the GamePad is being chased by everyone else. And there’s another game that’s in a ghost mansion and the person with the GamePad is the ghost and has to scare all the other people while they try to burn him with a flashlight… There’s some other games too.”

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I was feeling pretty dumb at this point. Video games these days are supposed to have big explosions and cool graphics and intense story lines. I was offering virtual tag. My friends were very nice about it though, and said they wanted to play. I could just hear them in five minutes, “Uh that was pretty cool I guess… Do you have any board games?”

Never in a million years could I have predicted what happened next.

It was mass hysteria. There was jumping, screaming, finger-pointing, and tons of laughter. I was in shock. They LOVED it. And keep in mind that the age range here is 22-27. After multiple rounds, Melissa said, ” NOW I understand why my brothers play video games all the time! This is amazing! How much does this thing cost?? I want one!” She had gone from non-gamer to completely enthralled in less than an hour. My other friend told me that next time I visit him, I had better bring this thing with me so he could show his girlfriend. He told me he couldn’t remember the last time he’d had that much fun playing video games.

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Since that day, there have been many other similar stories. I gained confidence in my Wii U and started suggesting it to other groups of visiting friends. They all loved it. One good friend of mine who is an avid Xbox gamer told me that he is seriously considering getting a Wii U based on his Nintendo Land experience alone. Yet another hardcore gamer friend got a taste of Super Mario 3D World and insisted that he continue visiting once a week until we beat the campaign cooperatively. And so he did.

It was in those moments that I realized something about Nintendo: they don’t seem to fully grasp what is “cool” at times, they don’t have the latest graphics, and they don’t really seem to be keeping up with the other major players that well. Nintendo is a little weird. But there is one thing they get right every time: fun. Simple, clean fun. The kind of fun that brings out the kid in you again. This is especially evident in their games that feature local multiplayer. In the age of online gaming, people have all but forgotten what it feels like to sit in the same room with friends and battle it out in a video game. There is something about trash-talking back and forth with your buddy who is actually physically there, or jumping up for a high-five when your team has won. Nintendo Land (which is just one example of many great Wii U games) is as simple and silly as they come. But I double-dog-dare you to play it with your friends without having way more fun than your last Call of Duty match. And Nintendo hasn’t even released Mario Kart 8 yet.