It’s a Battle of the Beards! Brett Pennings of BowlCut Studios casts a spell and enchants us with his indie game MageQuit! Nintendo makes the most out of its Mario Maker 2 Direct. The Switch overtakes PS4 sales!!!!…in Japan. And finally, The Hype Zone makes us rock hard. This is Nintendo Duel Screens: Episode 99!
Nintendo Duel Screens is officially on Patreon! With as little as $1, you can get access to NDSPodcast’s Super Secret Discord Channel and chat it up other fans as well the hosts…and perhaps with some of the best developers in the gaming industry. What are you waiting for?!
Sony has finally unveiled the list of 20 games included on the Playstation Classic on the Playstation Blog. While we knew that Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII and Jumping Flash were coming, the remaining 17 games were kept behind closed doors for quite a while, creating speculation throughout the community. Well now we know the Playstation Classic is coming on December 3rd for $99.99 and appears to leave something to be desired.
See the full list below
Battle Arena Toshinden
Cool Boarders 2
Final Fantasy VII
Grand Theft Auto
Metal Gear Solid
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Resident Evil Director’s Cut
Ridge Racer Type 4
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
20 games is not enough games for any classic system, but this list is leaving out many classics that people were hoping would be included. Two major mascots of the original Playstation, Crash Bandicoot & Lara Croft are oddly missing (although those remasters are out there now & Lara has moved on in a grand way). What do you think of the list? Is this a collection worth $100?
As a working father with two children under the age of three, the Nintendo Switch has been something of saving grace when it comes to getting in some time to game. Being able to to enjoy Nintendo’s offerings from the comfort of my sofa while the little ones partake in a viewing party of Little Baby Bum (do NOT Google that, you’ll thank me later), has been the sole reason for me being able to keep up with the current generation at all. So whenever I catch wind of a game I would have otherwise missed being ported over to the Switch, I get as excited as my kids do while they watch their god forsaken show. One such game is Cosmic Star Heroine.
Developed by Zeboyd Games, Cosmic Star Heroine is a JRPG-influenced title which recently made its way to the Switch after initially being released in 2017 on Steam and on the PS4/Vita. Right on the onset, you are introduced to Alyssa L’Salle, a no-nonsense API Agent who is known throughout the galaxy as an all-around badass. Her amusing banter is quite refreshing when compared to the cliche amnesia-ridden heroes of the JRPGs during the 16-Bit era. Over the course of the game, you are introduced to a motley crew of party members including: Chahn – a Gunmage and Alyssa’s closest friend, Dave – a top-tier hacker that scares easily, Arete – a leader of a terrorist organization, Lauren – an indie band singer (and yes, you will hear her sing and it’s magical), and many, many others along the way. At different points in the game, your party members will be swapped out, broken up, and reunited, allowing you to really experience each one without having to ignore anyone. No character felt like they were sidelined as Cosmic Star Heroine plays up on each party member’s build and moveset. Traditional JRPG jobs/classes take a backseat to allow for more fun and fresh abilities. Everyone just meshes so well together and their strengths are underscored by Cosmic Star Heroine’s greatest innovation – it’s combat system.
Inspired & Evolved
Unlike the JRPGs it was inspired from, Cosmic Star Heroine’s combat mechanics are unlike anything I have ever experienced. Instead of being able to spam “Attack” or “Magic”for example, each ability has a limited amount of uses before it needs to be recharged. Abilities can only be recharged by choosing the “Defend” option. So don’t expect to get by on the same ability when fighting a group of enemies. Cosmic Star Heroine is all about strategy and using the right combination of abilities and knowing when to defend. But the innovation doesn’t stop there. The game also employs a Hyper Mode and a Desperation Mode. As you pick and choose between your abilities, a Hyper Meter will fill up underneath your character’s Health Meter. Once it’s full, your next move, be it an Attack, a Buff/Debuff, or a Heal, will be more potent than it would normally be. Desperation Mode on the other hand is a mode your character enters when they have lost all health and have dipped into negative HP (yes, that’s a thing). In Desperation Mode you are have one last ditch effort to heal yourself before you say bye-bye. Oh, and did I mention Style? During combat you gain Style which is signified by a percentage above your Health Meter. The more Style you have, the more damage you deal. Pretty neat huh? All in all, party members can equip up to eight unique abilities and will constantly learn new ones as they level up (at an incredibly brisk pace, mind you). I found myself messing around with these ability permutations a ton over the course of my playthrough, which made late game confrontations all that more exciting.
Outside of swapping out abilities, you’ll constantly comes across new weapons and gear to try out. The game always makes it a point to provide you with the best equipment while also giving you enough options to play around with. Weapons come in a healthy variety and while some may be stronger than others, ‘weaker’ ones often have a few auto-buffs that make them worth taking into battle. Items are handled a bit differently here too. Instead of stockpiling a metric ton of potions to heal, Items in Cosmic Star Heroine also work on a recharge system adding yet another layer of strategy to the mix. It all blends so well with the game’s presentation and story.
Cosmic Star Heroine has a wonderful brisk pace about it. I found myself going from beat-to-beat, battle-to-battle at at incredibly satisfying rate. The game doesn’t force random battles on you (thankfully) and has all enemies laid out for you on the screen. It really helps keep the game moving along and doesn’t break up the story it’s trying to tell. Speaking of which, the story is really something. There is a buttload of drama to be found in this sci-fi meets spy thriller. Taking a cue from the likes of Phantasy Star and Lunar and a healthy bit of Blade Runner throw in for good measure, Cosmic Star Heroine starts off innocent enough with you and your team busting a few terrorists and saving a few hostages. All in day’s work, right? But what starts off as a typical day for Alyssa and her posse, quickly spins out of control when one of their superiors has hatched a sinister plot to gain control of the world. I got to give Zeboyd Games credit where credit is due – you really don’t see enough science fiction in a JRPG. Fantasy setting are cool and all, but stumbling into an abandoned factory that covered in streaks of blood and sprawling with mutated meshes of flesh and metal is really something special to behold. It also helps that soundtrack is of the highest quality and the expressions on the 16-Bit sprites communicate a wide arrange of emotions. Take all of this and add a decent amount of pixel-perfect cutscenes and you have an experience that shines brighter than any star in the galaxy.
Cosmic Star Heroine is a must-have title for both fans of the JRPG genre and newcomers alike. It is an atmospheric space opera with very clear influences of the Sega Saturn’s best role-playing games. With a combat system unlike any other, a gorgeous retro aesthetic and a stellar soundtrack, Cosmic Star Heroine is a product of pure passion. You can tell that the two-man team of Zeboyd Games gave this game their all. While there might be a few shortcomings when it comes to character development, Cosmic Star Heroine brings some much innovation to the JRPG formula while keeping the heart and soul of its 16-Bit muse intact.
Editor’s note: The score of 7/10 was accidentally put for this title. This was to be a placeholder, but was posted in error. The true score has been updated.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is the latest game from the folks over at Prideful Sloth. It takes cues from open world games like Breath of the Wild, Crafting games like Minecraft, and sprinkles in a little town building ala Dark Cloud. Yonder creates a wonderful, albeit flawed, whimsical adventure that’s worth every moment. It’s a beautifully crafted adventure that has you exploring vast landscapes with a massive smile sprawled across your face and sets the tone right from the start. After creating your character you will explore an open world to find Sprites (magical creatures that help you unlock mysteries of the world), gather resources, and help local inhabitants. You’ll do all of this with no combat nor any real sense of urgency. In this unique way Yonder allows you to focus on its most important aspect – Fun.
The Calm before for Mincraftian Storm
The games opens up with you on a ship heading towards the island of Gemea. Upon landing on the island you are given the simple task of harvesting some resources. Soon after you are set on task after task with more and more options at your disposal. That’s the main crux of Yonder: Resource harvesting and management. You will be building different tools to help you gather larger, rarer resources which in turn will help you discover and craft more items. That game play loop is ingeniously addicting and at times the amount of crafting recipes seems almost endless. It keeps progression from feeling tedious and makes it feel more like it’s own adventure. What’s problematic is that crafting can sometimes feel obtuse and never quite feels as intuitive as it should for a game centered around crafting and building. It’s strange considering that the game is clearly aimed at younger audiences and a more casual crowd. Despite that, it is quite easy to get lost in wanting to discover one more item or one more area.
Each area you unlock has it’s own progression associated with it. As you complete quests in a given area this percentage will slowly tick up toward that golden 100% mark. It gives Yonder that “checking boxes” feel of certain open world games like Assassin’s Creed.
A Helping Farmhand
While plugging away at helping townsfolk I came across a dilapidated farm. A young farmer tasked me with rebuilding the farm to its former glory. This portion of the game had me going back to my memories of one of my favorite games, Dark Cloud. Piece by piece you reassemble the farm and reap its benefits. While you have the creativity to build what you want and when. Where you build it on the farm is just as predetermined as Dark Cloud was, which is a slight bummer. There is something about wanting to have the farm flow my way as opposed to the way the game wants me to. It is a minor gripe, but a gripe nonetheless.
Do it Again and Again
What you do in Yonder doesn’t vary very much. Helping out townspeople and farmers is basically one fetch quest after another. Exploring the world and casually unlocking new items to craft is really what kept me pushing forward, even if I thought maybe it was time to put the Switch down and do something else. There is just something about the charm. As you move forward you clear some murky areas to reveal and unlock more portions of the map. Outside of that and helping the townspeople there isn’t much to do. As I had mentioned before, that didn’t really bother me. I was more focused on just plugging away and enjoying myself in a Animal Crossing/Minecraft kind of way, minus death and taxes of course.
Overall, Yonder is flawed in what it isn’t trying to be, but a master at what it is; an adventure of exploration. Here you will not find monsters to kill or starvation to stave off, just a beautiful word to discover and rebuild. Yonder is about peaceful exploration of a charming world where you learn little by little how you can create change one errand at a time. This game is perfect for sitting down with a little one and having fun. Those looking for action and challenge, or maybe something more stimulating, might want to look elsewhere.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles was provided by Stride PR for Prideful Sloth for review. Total Playtime approx 11 hours.
The current market for gaming headsets is flooded with choices. With all those choices, there are excellent headset and there are simply terrible ones. I am happy to report that the RIG 500 Pro might be the very best headset I have ever used. The RIG 500 Pro can be used on PC, PS4 and X-Box One with ease. Simply plugging in the 3.5mm jack into the controllers and you are good to go. To my surprise, this also works flawlessly with Nintendo Switch, which was key for me as I have yet to find a headset that was as comfortable as my Turtle Beach that I use on my other consoles. Lightweight, comfortable, and sexy, the RIG has the big sound to match its gorgeous looks.
Built for Comfort
One of the most important features to me when picking a headset is comfort. The thick padded ear pads fit over me ears with ease, which is an incredible feat because my ears are jerks. The head strap has a nice thick pad as well and the plastic top is flexible but stiff enough to hold form. Once the RIG 500 Pro is on your head, you forget it is there. That is the absolute best attribute of the device. To my delight, the headset also stayed on my head as I hop skipped and jumped all about my living room in anticipation of a Victory Royale (spoilers I lost as the final kill). I had not gotten to final 2 prior to this moment and I have a feeling that is all due to the incredible sound coming from this headset.
A Sound Foundation
A headset can be the most comfortable thing on Earth, but if the sound coming out of those ear muffs is all kinds of butt, that doesn’t matter. The RIG 500 sounds like I am in the recording studio recording the sound effects myself. Lows are low and highs are high. Mid range sounds stand out yet all these sounds blend together perfectly. Hearing that rocket in the aforementioned final 2 in Fortnite whiz passed my face was a sound to behold, even if the end result was my body being pulverized to smithereens. The fact of the matter is; every step, crack, bullet and click was heard loud and clear. I had an advantage, and it was due to the crisp, clean, and downright gorgeous sound coming out of the RIG 500 Pro. Just to be sure, I also tested the set for music and podcasts. I usually use Sony MDR-XB950B1 headphones and if I wouldn’t look like a total nerd on the train, I would swap them out for the RIG 500’s in a heartbeat.
A Clear Winner
The one thing I was worried about when I opened up the RIG 500 Pro was the stick mic it comes with. I had many issues with the mic on the RIG LX1 I reviewed last year and it spoiled my whole experience with the headset. Fortunately my apprehension was quickly overwritten with delight as my teammates heard me loud and clear. I also tested the mic using Audacity, to see just how clear I was. While I was nowhere near as clear as with a studio mic, it was absolutely serviceable for in-game chit chat. There was very little popping or spiking, which was very nice.
My New Headset
Being the most comfortable headset I have ever put on, and having crisp and clean audio, the RIG 500 quickly became my new gaming headset. The added control to mute and raise or lower volume with ease is a bonus. Being a 3.5mm jack, this headset’s biggest strong point is its diversity of use. When you buy the RIG 500 Pro, it could very well become your new headset for much more than just console gaming. The RIG 500 Pro retails for $89.99.
The RIG 500 Pro was provided by Plantronics for review.
Paranautical Activity, a 2014 game by Code Avarice, has finally made its way to the Nintendo Switch courtesy of Digerati. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Paranormal Activity is a rogue-like FPS with 3D voxel graphics which has you running around and shooting a bunch of shit up. Sounds pretty fun right? Well…not really. If you are wondering if Digerati’s efforts to bring this title to the Switch should even have been bothered with, the answer is a resounding no.
At the onset, you are immediately tasked with choosing character. I suppose at this point I would be going on about the pros and cons of each one but seeing as the game itself doesn’t clearly spell it out, whom you end up choosing is of very little consequence. Sure, one character has more health and another shoots farther, but during actual gameplay the differences are negligible. After you select your character you are dropped into and empty room and it slowly dawns on you that you should really be reevaluating your life choices. The empty room is literally just that – an empty room – with nothing but a door on the other side of it. Once you make your way to the door, you find yourself in another room but this time there is an enemy in it; WHAT FUN! I don’t think much of the little bugger so I blast…and I blast…and I blast some more, and then I die. Without enough time to even contemplate dying at what is an intro/tutorial level, my character re-spawns into a slightly different room, also with a door like the one before it. Gee…what could be waiting me on the other side? Surprisingly it was a completely different enemy…which proceeded to kill me in similar fashion as the previous one. Something was very, very wrong here. And eventually I realized that my bullets weren’t actually connecting with my target at all – I just thought they were.
Paranautical Activity’s most glaring flaw is its incredibly poor action feedback. Nothing in the game appears to have any real weight to it. Bullets chug out of your gun a tad too slow and float-y before completely disappearing off of the screen. Did they hit your target? You are never really quite sure. I found that the only way to really make sure I hit an enemy was to be extremely close to it. So close that – you guessed it – your whopping three health bars are sapped away from you almost immediately. Look, I get that the rogue-like genre has a reputation of being ‘challenging’ but the challenge shouldn’t in broken gameplay. What we have here is a just an obvious failure of game design. And it really sucks because Paranautical Activity does have a few good things going for it.
Do you ‘mined’!
Graphically speaking, the game is actually pretty nice to look at. Its Minecraft-like aesthetic while a bit off-putting at first slowly began to grown on me. The game’s rather creative and eye-catching enemy designs convinced me to press on just to see what I would be put against next. The constant struggle with the misguided gameplay/combat mechanics aside, Paranautical Activity has its share of unique monsters. The ‘blood splatter’ and elemental effects are wonderfully vibrant and colorful, and help give a lot of life to otherwise bland and dull level design. The soundtrack is a complete nostalgia-fest as well, tickling your earballs in all the right places. It very clearly that a lot of thought went into the game’s graphics and sound design (with exception to the actual levels themselves). If only the same can be said of Paranautical Activity’s gameplay.
Overall, Paranautical Activity is a fun concept that has moments of interest, but is too poorly implemented to really make it worth the time it takes to tolerate its frustrating mechanics. FPS gameplay should not be this poorly executed. And its a real shame because the monsters are an absolute blast to discover. If you are a fan of the genre, there might be something here for you to latch onto…maybe. But I were you, I might want to hold out until something with slightly tighter gameplay mechanics comes along. I hear Doom and Wolfenstein II are wonderful on the Switch…
Disclosure: Paranautical Activity Review Code for the Nintendo Switch was provided to Proven Gamer by Digerati.
In a blog post on the Playstation Blog by Mary Yee, Playstation has announced that 15 hit PS4 games will be getting the familiar “hits” treatment starting June 28th. The games will come in a red case as opposed to the PS4’s original blue case, and will cost $19.99 per game. The blog post reads:
If you missed out on some great PlayStation 4 games that came out a few years ago, we have exciting news! We’re introducing PlayStation Hits, a selection of incredible PS4 games that are easy on the wallet. From award winning epics to family friendly favorites, PlayStation Hits offers an awesome lineup of games for $19.99 USD (MSRP) each on PlayStation Store and select retailers across the U.S. In Canada, PlayStation Hits games will range in price, starting at $19.99 CAD (MSRP) each at participating retailers and PS Store.
At retailers, PlayStation Hits games will come in red packaging instead of our usual blue, and at PS Store the games will have red banners that’ll make it easy for you to identify which games are part of the Hits lineup.
Below are the list of games that will become available in this new program starting June 28 in the U.S. In Canada select titles will be available – check out the Canadian PlayStation Hits page for details.
The full list of games is as follows:
InFamous Second Son
Killzone Shadow Fall
Little Big Planet 3
Ratchet and Clank
The Last of Us Remastered
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Street Fighter V
Metal Gear Solid V
More games are going to be following, but so far this list is pretty great for those who are looking to play some titles they missed or those who have just purchased their PS4. What do you think of the list? What games would you like to see added?
Equal parts exhilarating and frustrating, INK is a puzzle platformer with a twist that has you coming back for more and more. You will run, jump and wall slide your way to victory & and feel that familiar rush of ultimate satisfaction – or the gimmick of INK will run its course and you will be looking to get your puzzle platforming fix elsewhere.
A Shot in the Dark
INK has you assuming the role of an unassuming white square that resembles a tofu block. You sit there in a completely dark space, with no light to guide you. Platforms lay in complete darkness waiting for you to explore them. You take your first leap into the emptiness only to splat against a wall once invisible to you and splash ink all over it. You now see the side and part of the corner of what appears to be the top of a platform. Everything you touch, gets splashed with bright multi-colored ink, revealing the platforms in front of you and allowing you to reach the end goal of the level. While trying to figure out where the platforms lie can be fun, it is often times a forced trial and error. This is ultimately more frustrating and less satisfying than you would hope, especially with a platformer with a nice balance of the two like Celeste still fresh on the mind.
Friend of Foe?
Just as you get used to the game’s floaty platforming controls, they throw enemies at you. At first, you don’t really know they are enemies, so you might go and touch them, and if you do, you die and go back to the beginning of the level to start over. Your next thought is to avoid them – but once you do that you realize you cannot go through the gate at the end of the level. It requires you to kill all of the enemies. You soon figure out that to kill them you must jump on top of them. This sounds simple enough, but imprecise hit detection has you landing on what you believe is the top, but is too much of the corner and you will die. You can string a few kills together and propel yourself forward, only to be stopped dead in your tracks by an invisible wall you have not splashed yet. Luckily when you do die, only enemies respawn, the platforms do not go back into darkness. When you do reach your end goal it is incredibly satisfying, especially when you reach a boss battle that really tests your skills. These battles are intense and brilliantly designed and had me wishing that the game was more of that and less guess-work platforming. Speaking of intense, you can play local co-op with a friend using split joycon. Seeing how you stack up against a friend is fun, but playing with split joycon, I can tell you first hand, is NOT recommended. If you have a pro controller you might want to use that instead.
Pleasure for Eyes and Ears
One thing that is evident here is that a lot of care went into the vibrancy of the visuals and the beautiful soundtrack. Each splash of color is a visual treat and bouncing around to the catchy beats ties everything together quite nicely. You almost catch yourself platforming rhythmically, even though the game is not designed to be played that way. Once you do get into a nice groove, especially when trying to do some speed runs, the presentation enhances the experience tenfold. It is a rarity these days to find a game that blends ambiance in such a cohesive way, but INK does it flawlessly.
Going in Blind.
Ultimately, INK has a bunch really great ideas. Clever level design, gorgeous visuals, and intense boss battles will have you coming back for more, but floaty controls and forced trial and error may have you looking to more polished experiences to scratch that puzzle platforming itch.. With 75 levels for you to explore, you will have plenty to enjoy.
Temtem was a game that caught our eye here at Proven Gamer and created a fervor. So much so that I found myself funding the game to get my hands on it a little early, and hoping that one day I can play it on my Switch. That goal is one step closer after Temtem not only hit their initial $70,000 goal, but they are now above the Switch threshold of $250,000 with 17 days to go. Obviously, any Kickstarter games can miss targets and in some cases never come out, but Temtem’s promising concept and design at this point cannot be ignored.
Temtem promises the players will be able to play along side their friends in a massively multiplayer world. Some call it the Pokemon MMO we always wanted, but it is promising to be much more than that. The game out of the studio Crema from Madrid, Spain features PVP, Co-operative play, breeding, and an incredible array of monsters to collect that span over 12 different types. The studio also created Immortal Redneck, which has garnered its own critical acclaim and proves the studio is no stranger to the Nintendo Switch hardware. The game’s final release is not scheduled until mid 2020, but the immediate support of gamers around the world is heard loud and clear; they want this game!
Check out the teaser trailer below:
So what do you think? Are you going to back the game on Kickstarter? Are you going to take a ‘wait and see’ approach? Let us know in the comments below.
The Pokemon Company set the internet into a frenzy on Wednesday when it announced Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee coming later this year, announced that a new “core” RPG was coming to Switch next year, and a new “free to start” game called Pokemon: Quest was out now on Switch. Eager to jump in and see what the latest Nintendo had to offer to Pokemon fans, I downloaded right away. Was I about to embark on a quirky yet fun Pokemon adventure, or was I going to get into a half baked mobile game with a Pokemon coat of paint? Unfortunately, Pokemon Quest is just that – a mobile game with Pokemon.
Tap Tap Tap it in…
The gameplay is simple; you have a team of three Pokemon, enter a level, your team auto runs the level and you smash the special moves buttons until your win or lose. That’s about it. Sure you might want to balance your team or load up on the appropriate type for the boss, but the actual gameplay is just a few taps here and there. Some of the attacks are area of effect attacks, some are massive punches, either way you will be spamming the buttons waiting for the next attack to cool down. As you plow through each level you will eventually reach a level with a power requirement higher than your own. That is when you go back and waste one of your precious battery charges to do some older missions. While you are battling you get cooking ingredients to make food that attracts new Pokemon to your camp, or you get stones to help power up your Pokemon. This seems attractive at first, but quickly becomes cumbersome as you fill up your box quickly and have to spend PM Tickets to fit more.
When you use stones to get some boosts to stats or attacks, the stones stay in your inventory. By the time you reach the teens in Pokemon level, each member of your team should be able to hold around 4 stones on average. That means 12 stones will be sitting in your box that holds 20. That leaves only 8 slots available to fill on expeditions. Don’t worry, you can spend an in-game currency to double the box space. Don’t have the currency on hand? You can spend real money to get more! And that, my friends, is where this game loses all its charm and is exposed for what it really is; a money pit.
Stephen Uses Play Game…it failed
The game has so many ways to try and get you to spend money. It is a classic mobile game in its predatory nature. This would be fine, if it weren’t a Pokemon game. Something tells me this one is going to cost parents a lot of money. It really is astounding how many ways they try and get you to spend in-game currency. Want to decorate your park to get some boosts? Pay me. Want to do more than 5 missions in a row instead of wait for your timer? Pay me. Want to keep your items when you die in mission? Pay me. Want to increase your bag size? Pay me. You want to increase your pokebox size? Pay me. If you were earning the PM tickets at a faster clip of 5-10 per hour I’d say this was a fine model to keep you engaged, but the fact that you can only do 5 missions before needing to wait a cool-down timer out just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I want to be the very best…
It may sound like I hate this game, but that can’t be farther from the truth. This game is stupid fun. It is charming and mindless. A perfect time waster while watching a show or riding the train. The addiction to collecting Pokemon is as strong as ever and upgrading my team is satisfying when I can do it. As much as a simply hate the micro-transaction model peppered all over this game, I cannot help but push to the next expedition or replay the previous boss battle to find better loot. If you can look through the brush in your way, a good time can be had here. Hearing the classic Pokemon’s battle cries while they battle all over with flashy moves can be highly entertaining.
Quest has a ton of charm, but has you waiting for timers to tick down, spending in game currency to speed things up or give you a boost, and questioning whether you should spend a few bucks to make things a little more fun. The mobile game “free to play” model hurts what is otherwise a fun, although mind numbing, Pokemon game. Only the hardest of the hardcore Pokemon fans will stick with this one past the first few areas, while others will stick to their 3DS until Let’s Go Pikachu comes out in November. If Nintendo decides to slap a $10 price tag and remove all the ridiculous artificial barriers and micro-transactions, this game could be a must own for Pokemon fans.
Bethesda had people waiting several hours in their Twitch stream as they teased an announcement. At one point, while I was in there, over 177,000 people were eagerly awaiting what would eventually become an announcement of a new installment in the Fallout franchise, Fallout 76.
Fallout 76 appears to take place a little further in the timeline as the music of the time is more modern. While the vault is called Vault 76, it could also be possible that the era we will be exploring could be more 70’s inspired. This is very exciting news, as Fallout New Vegas is a beloved installment which improved upon Fallout 3. Fallout 76 has an excellent foundation in Fallout 4 to build off of and promises to be exciting in its own right. Bethesda will show more of the game at their E3 conference on June 10th.
The Pokemon 2018 Video Game Press Conference was held last night and we finally know what Pokemon games are coming to the Switch. We were also given a treat in the form of a mobile/Nintendo Switch game called Pokemon Quest, which is out now for Switch with mobile to follow “soon”.
Pokemon Quest is being called “Free to Start”, which indicates some form of cost coming. Whether that is in the form of a one time payment or a stream of micro-transactions remains to be seen. Pokemon Quest has you collecting and battling cube-like variations on the classic 151 Pokemon in an action RPG-like battle system. You collect “power stones” that are used to directly power up your Pokemon. Stay tuned to Proven Gamer for more in-depth thoughts soon as we sink our teeth into it.
Also revealed is the moment we were all waiting for – Pokemon on Switch. It appears many of the rumors circulating the internet prior to this conference were mostly true as Let’s Go Pikachu and Lets Go Eevee are the two titles coming to Switch on November 16th 2018 world wide.
Lets Go! Pikachu & Eevee revisits the Kanto region with the original cast of 150 Pokemon at your disposal. There is a deep integration with Pokemon Go in the ways that you now catch Pokemon, but also that you can transfer Pokemon from Go to Let’s Go. For what those Pokemon will be used for remains to be seen, although they showed these transferred Pokemon in place called Go Park. You can play this version many ways, which fits the Switch’s gimmick to a T. Play with one Joy Con or even with a special pokeball peripheral. You can even take your Pokemon on a walk with you using this new pokeball (Pokewalker anybody?). We cannot tell if you battle wild pokemon or if you just need to throw pokeballs, which would be a real bummer.
Please stay tuned to Proven Gamer as more information is made available.
Wizard of Legend is the creation of Contingent99, a two man indie dev studio based out of Los Angeles, California. I have to admit I know nothing about the game prior to being reached out to by our partners at Humble Bundle, but upon playing through the action RPG this past week I can assure you, many people will hear about this one. Wizard of Legend has you taking the role of a Wizard with a simple dash and attack at your disposal. Soon after you start your journey you gather a few spells and it is off to the races. From there you are immediately tossed into a “trial” where you quickly learn that there is much to discover in your mastery of the mystical arts. Simply put, Wizard of Legend is a challenge.
Stick and Move.
Wizard of legend has you equip two spells in to go along with your face button slash attack and dash move. Spells can be found and purchased, but anything acquired in a level will be lost if you die. This has your spells changing just as much as the procedural generated levels themselves. There are three vendors in each level, but which vendors varies. Some sell spells, some sell artifacts, and there is even one that has you trade in a current spell to randomly pick a different one. The combat itself is frantic and impressive. Stringing spells together to create a spectacle of damage is incredibly fun, when it works. Too often I find myself using my more powerful spell and missing completely, needing to wait several seconds to use the spell again. Bouncing between the spells still remains fun, but not without some flaws.
Trial and Error…and Error.
This issue here is that you simply do not know what spells do, how they work, or if they will be useful in your current run. You will spend hard earned diamonds on new spells, but you are buying them somewhat blind. There is a short description, but until you buy it and equip it, you simple don’t know how that spell will feel. What’s more, each death resets the order of the levels you are attempting, thus spell weaknesses might be a moot point. Load up on fire attacks to take on the forest levels might work on turn one, but if you die and start over you may be thrown into the fire level. The random nature hinders player progression a bit much for my taste. With each failure, you hope to get better, but the order of the levels changing makes it so that what you learned may not be important on your next run.
The good part of death is that you do get to keep your earned diamonds, so that you can upgrade spells or buy new ones. Gold, however, is gone forever. Gold is really only used in-level to buy health upgrades and some other tools, so it is not missed as much as you would think. There is your classic loop. Fight-Die-Buy Stuff. Eventually you will find the right combo of spells and the perfect cloak to buy and victory will be yours! Well…Maybe…
Lend a Helping Hand.
Couch Co-operative play is a godsend for Wizard of Legend. Playing the game with a helping hand, being able to mix up different spells to find the perfect match, really helps get through the games tough challenges. The game never falters when the second player joins and slings spells all about the screen. If you have a buddy willing to play with you, I cannot recommend that enough. Just maybe sure they play with their own controller as to not…you know…risk them breaking one of yours in anger.
Aside from the bone crushing difficulty and lack of information, Wizard of Legend sets the bar for gorgeous pixel art and fluid movement. The combat animations are sharp and smooth and make the fact that you are getting your ass handed to you somewhat more palatable. Monster designs, although a little derivative at times, are stunning. From tiny ghost and blobs to massive God of War-like trolls, each design pops and moves gorgeously. There are some simple pallet swaps on some enemies, but the enemy designs are impressive nonetheless. Just when I thought I was tired of Pixel art, Wizard of Legend proves that great pixel art can make that fatigue vanish.
Wizard of Legend is a gorgeous action RPG with an engaging combat system and addictive gameplay loop. The game’s lack of information to help lead you through the early moments hold the player back from succeeding more than it should, but does not take away from the overall fun factor had. Playing with a friend is an added bonus that more games like this should explore having.
According to a thread on Reset Era, it looks like God of War gave a mighty boost to the Playstation 4 sales for the month of April. According to the supposed leak, and after some math that I will never understand, the PS4 topped around 364,000 units, with Switch at around 171,000 units and the X-Box One trailing at 134,000 units. Magipork has the leak below:
“The relative sales volumes of game hardware was:
XBox One: 0.79
While this is firmly in the “grain of salt” territory, it would not be a shock to see God of War provide such a boost in sales. We look forward to seeing official NPD Numbers on Tuesday. Stay tunes here on Proven Gamer for more information.
Gamers are mourning the possible loss of Best Buy’s Gamer Club Unlocked. What first started as a rumor from customers noticing not being able to purchase the program online, this rumor was later corroborated by employees of Best Buy. The employee noted that he was unable to run the SKU in the POS system any longer. Once more, the following image was posted on www.cheapassgamer.com:
It has been noted that current subscriptions will be honored but not renewable. Obviously we are still awaiting official confirmation from Best Buy, but this is a huge blow to gamers if proven to be true. You better get those pre-orders in now.
Early in the night here on the east coast, The Gentle Bros announced on twitter that Cat Quest II is the next project the independent developers are working on. Cat Quest is an open world RPG with dozens of hours of content including side missions, dungeons and excellent character growth.
Cat Quest was one of my favorite indie games to explore on the Nintendo Switch, so it is extremely exciting to know that this title will launch on the platform, as well as Steam, Android and iOS. Desmond Wong of The Gentle Bros was one of the first guests on Nintendo Duel Screens, where he talked all about Cat Quest, and even hinted at this project. You can listen to that episode here.
Keep it on Proven Gamer for all your Cat Quest II news!
Late last week, the official Bloodstained twitter dropped an 8-bit bomb that Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon would be coming to consoles and PC “soon”. How soon? Well Iga himself announced that the game is coming out May 24th for 3DS, PS4, X-Box One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Judging from the gameplay trailer introduced by Koji Igarashi, the players will be swapping between characters Zangestsu the sword and chain wielding demon hunter, Mirium the Knife throwing and whip cracking slayer, Alfred the spell wielding alchemist, Gebel the shape shifting human hater. All of these swaps will be on the fly which promises to lead to unique gameplay scenarios.
The world is still in anticipation of the release of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night hopefully coming later this year. Until then, it looks like we can look forward to this fully immersive adventure from Koji Igarashi and Inti Creates!
The freezing winter weather that seemed to have lasted 6 months here in NYC has finally ceased. Flowers are in bloom and the cars are covered in a green film, a reminder that spring is finally here. With spring’s arrival comes Playcrafting NYC’s Sping Play event at Microsoft in Time Square. This was my first time at an event by Playcrafting, but seeing some hidden gems was worth it.
The room is full of developers right here from New York and New Jersey looking to get people excited about their projects. After speaking to quite a few developers, most of them solo, it was obvious that these projects were more than that to them. These were their babies. One said developers caught my eye and his name was Matthew Alan Estock.
A Crowd Gathers…
A small crowd was gathered around an LCD TV with four excited people with X-Box controllers in hand. On the screen was the frantic action of a game called Kingdom Bash. The laughing, oohs and ahhs, and the playful threats shouted across the half circle of seats were sucking me in like a tractor beam. Once my hands were on the controller it was no surprise why the crowd had gathered. Kingdom Bash is just plain fun.
Inspired by games like Towerfall: Ascension , Kingdom Bash takes the 1v1v1v1 format and sets it on an isometric playing field. You take control of eloquently balanced archetypes; the Warrior, Ranger, Enchantress, and the Javelin throwing Dragoon. Each class has its own benefits and weaknesses. I chose the Enchantress for her homing fireball, even with her dreadfully slow footwork. The Warrior runs circles around her, but he needs to get real close to hit you. The Dragoon has a nice mid ranged attack and the Ranger can take you out from across the map but his arrows fly slower than other projectiles. I took a strategy of using the trees on the left side of the map as cover. I would pop out from one end and shoot a fireball that would seek out anybody close. Luckily for me, this was enough to keep the other players at bay killing each other. This was a good strategy to stay alive, but not very good for getting points. When speed boosts would spawn I was able to grab them and be much more mobile. This allowed me to dart closer to the action and take out a couple players at a time.
A Delicate Balance in the Kingdom.
The cool thing about each match is that everybody is so close together that the action is immediate. Power-ups drop in and out to give you an advantage like a speed boost or a shield and sometimes you get the power of invisibility. I found that the speed boost and homing fireball was a deadly combination as I could shoot and move quite effectively. Another cool feature is the ability to have monsters spawn and chase players around the map as they frantically try to kill each other. While this mode was still being fleshed out, it was really funny to see a stalemate between two players who could not stave off the monsters long enough to actually win the match.
As I mentioned before, Matthew is a solo developer that is taking this project on alone on purpose. This is his baby and it shows. A lot of care is going into the look, feel and balance of this game. Kingdom Bash is simple, yet complex in the way that it has you thinking about the character you choose and how you use the environment to your advantage. Don’t just take my word for it, you can play the alpha build in its current state in a pay what you want model here. Trust me, this game is going to dominate couches in living rooms around the world hopefully very soon.
Follow the game’s progress here and follow Matthew on twitter here.
Monster Crown is a special indie game where you train and breed monsters and go on a deep and dark adventure. While the game may look similar to Pokemon, and there may be monsters to collect, that is about where the similarities end. Once we had these two on Nintendo Duel Screens, I was sold. I had to back this game on Kickstarter. Since then they have smashed goal after goal and have a few days left to keep pushing.
A couple of weeks ago I sat down with Shad Shwark to talk about the artistic process behind his monster designs. This week I got to sit down with GameOnion & Alex Naveira, two composers working on this ambitious title.
Proven Gamer: First I want to thank you for agreeing to sit down for this interview. Monster Crown is shaping up to be something really special. So much so that I just HAD to become a backer! Before we get into the nitty gritty of music composition for this game, tell the Proven Gamer audience who you are , what are your roles, and how you two became involved in the project?
GameOnion: I’m a member of the music-team as a composer / arranger alongside Alex. It wasn’t always this way though, I actually used to do art for this project, but then I discovered music for myself. It’s just way more fun for me personally. Besides that, I’m also working on sound effects.
Alex Naveira: I’m also a composer and arranger for Crowns alongside Onion. I believe I started sometime in 2016, after onion had told me that there was a game he was doing art for that needed some music. The concept was pretty cool so I tagged along for it.
PG: So you guys had a previous relationship? How did you guys meet up?
Alex: I had heard of Onion in 2015 through twitter (I saw that he was a really good artist), but met him in 2016 through the comments of my YouTube remixes since he enjoyed a few of them. Him and I had worked together on WwwWario’s “Super Wario Land” in May of 2016 (although he was more focused on art at the time). We were pretty close back then and afterwards, he introduced me to the Monster Crown team. For the past year he’s gotten more into music production and I can safely say he’s one of my closest friends in the scene.
PG: Awesome. Now that all that getting to know you part is over with and I am all misty eyed, lets talk music shall we? Music in video games has started to become one of the most talked about aspects in gaming over the last few years. People are noticing a good soundtrack more and more. Some playlists of gaming soundtracks have tens of thousands of plays on YouTube. It wasn’t always that way, though. What do you think has changed?
Onion: Not sure, to be quite honest. I’d imagine it’s related to the increasing quality of music in the recent years. The appeal is much bigger these days.
Alex: I think that with the advent of the internet came the ability to find tons of other people that share your interests, and, I think a culture naturally appeared that celebrates video music – probably because lots of people play them, and because I don’t think you can have memories of your favorite childhood game without some sort of earworm-tune that stayed with you. Most people don’t think of Mario without the classic Level 1-1 theme, if you get what I mean. Nowadays people want to capture that “making of a classic” so a lot of it is based on nostalgia – probably why a lot of projects gain traction, since they want new things with the old coat of paint.
PG: What would you say is the most important aspect of music in games?
Onion: Themes in games are usually bound to specific characters, situations or areas. Usually, my goal is it to capture the atmosphere / personality of a theme or character. That can be done in various ways, instrument selection is an important factor, in my opinion.
Alex: Like onion said, atmosphere is incredibly important in regards to how I want a track to sound, but also, a good soundtrack (in my opinion) needs to trigger certain emotions as well. Certain songs (such as the “Fusion Facility” location track) were made with regards to the location that they play in, but to also have a melancholy vibe or nostalgic tone, as if you’ve heard it before – those kinds of tracks are my favorites in video games.
PG: So generally speaking, it seems like you are presented with a location or character and compose based on what is presented. With that being said – have you even come up with a track that dictated a location or character?
Onion: Not that I remember, no. If we did that, I wouldn’t be sure if it would fit.
Alex: Nah, so far it’s been the other way around every time. That would be an interesting way to approach creating a setting, though.
PG: So does coming up with a sound in your head happen right away or is it something you workshop a bunch?
Onion: For me personally, it’s kinda both. Sometimes I just make up stuff as I go along. Once you start working on something, a lot of ideas randomly come up.
Alex: Since the tracks are all chip-tune styled, I mostly think about how I can make a sort of hybrid of modern synth sounds and old GB-style sounds. Usually there’s more synth added on if I feel that the arrangement needs a bit more oomph. Ideas for mixing synth with chiptune usually come pretty fast, though.
PG: Chiptunes. I’m glad you brought that up. I’ve heard musicians say that working with chiptunes is very limiting, which breeds creativity. Have you found that to be the case?
Alex: I enjoy working with chiptune channels, as I feel like each individual channel (be it the square, saw, triangle, etc.) is sort of it’s own little song. Since there are only 4 base chiptune tracks I work with to start, I enjoy trying to push as much as I can into such a small amount of default channels.
Onion: I personally find it somewhat limiting, but you need to keep in mind that some of gaming’s greatest tunes were made with those limitations. If they managed to make it work, we can too. Something else to remember is that Monster Crown combines chip-tune and synth / orchestra. That definitely gives us a lot more freedom with instrumentation.
PG:This is a perfect transition into walking us through the process step-by-step. So we are going to debut a brand new track right here on Proven Gamer. Can you guys take us on a journey on how this track was made from conception to completion?
Onion: While I can’t say much about Alex’s workflow on that specific theme, here’s my usual process: I come up with either the melody or a bassline first. That original melody I come up with changes a lot through the creation of a song, usually because it doesn’t fit within a progression I would love to use or something like that. If you’re set on a melody, the next logical step would be to come up with a backing track / chord progression.
Onion (Cont’): As you can tell by Alex’s track right there, he used a piano for chords, which isn’t really a wave table-type sound you would expect in a game like this. That’s usually what I try to do too: Chords are played by more realistic instruments or a synth, it’s a nice contrast. Once I’m set on a progression, the next step would be to come up with something like a countermelody, of course. Striking the right balance between orchestral sounds, synths and wave table-synths is important here. Percussion is usually the last thing I do, but it varies. So that’s the general composition-process, but mixing and mastering is a whole different story. That is a big, complicated mess, which I can’t possibly cover in detail now. It usually takes longer than the composition itself for me.
Alex: For Mill Town, the first half was actually an older composition I did about a year before I arranged it again for Monster Crown. The second bit before the loop that counts as a ‘bridge” back to the beginning would be the second song. Sometimes I have little mini-songs that I match up with other ones I have in my head. I tend to start with a melody – since I prefer it to dictate what the chords are, not the other way around. I started with just the chiptune version and that was considered the final version for a while, but when I decided to try and define just what the “style” for Monster Crown was, I went back and added some of those synth elements – as I did to a lot of the tracks. I think onion’s workflow and my own are very similar when it comes to a composition. I’ve learned that mixing in mono actually helps a lot, so that’s one thing I’ve started doing that I could point out, but a lot of times it’s a whole mess of EQ bands and filters.
PG:Love the complexity in the layers there. Really catchy, but not too repetitive. Feels like I am in a laid back part of town with a sense of adventure. So we have established that music can set the tone for specific scenes. How can music in games tell a story? Do you have any favorite tracks from gaming past that tells a story?
Alex: Music can tell a story through emotions alone – this one really overlooked track from an already overlooked game, Island Life from The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, always gave me a feeling of “this is what life is now for the protagonist”, and sets a tone for the rest of the soundtrack too since it plays early on. It’s also an arrangement of the Fairy Fountain / File Select song that has been in the series since nearly the beginning.
Alex (Cont):When it comes to Pokémon, I love how bittersweet and melancholy New Bark Town from Gold and Silver sounds, because it represents the vibe that your character has been there for his or her entire life.
Onion: That’s a very difficult question for me to answer, considering how many games I’ve played and OSTs I’ve listened to, haha. Though, one soundtrack that has always sticked out to me was Pokémon Mystery Dungeon 2’s selection of music. The progression of the tone of the themes is quite interesting, they get pretty haunting for a Pokémon game near the end of the story. I connect a lot of memories with that game, and the music takes me back instantly. This OST manages to capture the atmosphere of each area incredibly well, the emotional themes still make me feel the same way as they did when I first played the game. Simply incredible.
PG: Thank you guys. This was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. Like that I will never be able to do what you two do. Good luck in the final days of the Kickstarter campaign!
Onion: Ha ha. Thank you for the support and thank you for having us!
One thing is certain this gaming generation: Sony and Nintendo are delivering first-party exclusives beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. In 2017, Nintendo released Game of the Year Winner The Legend of Zelda and the remarkable Super Mario Odyssey. God of War was released to critical acclaim and is well on its way to set records for Sony. Both companies have a very different approach when it comes to first-party titles. While Nintendo focuses on lighthearted games that are hardly ever taken too seriously, Sony has built its brand on mature, story-driven epics – with Nintendo-esque titles like Ratchet & Clank and Knack tossed in for good measure. So if Sony can deliver the occasional whimsical game, then why can’t Nintendo deliver a mature epic of its own? Better yet, what if Nintendo took a few of its existing IP’s game them created them with an eye for an older audience? Here are five Nintendo franchises that could potential rival Sony’s mature first-party titles.
While Star Fox has plummeted in quality over the years, the pedigree of the franchise is still largely remembered in good light. Nintendo can go back to the basics and focus on the story of Fox McCloud – a renegade pilot who knows no meaning of the word “limits”. Perhaps a telling of his origin as a young fox…man that was expelled from the academy and battled his way back up the ranks to prove himself. The game can take an Uncharted approach to humor and focus on third-person storytelling with kickass dog fighting capping off some levels. Nintendo could easily make a Warhawk-like online multiplayer component to go along with the rich single player experience. Maybe even add a Battle Royale Mode complete with mechs, tanks, and Arwing battles. Star Fox could again be a pillar franchise for Nintendo.
The most obvious franchise to potentially take on a more mature vibe, Metroid Prime could take its stellar FPS and exploration mechanics and craft a experience that is absolutely dripping with atmosphere. Two ways I would love to see this go down: a more reserved, isolated space-horror title similar to Alien: Isolation, or a more intense body-horror like Dead Space. Completely separating Metroid from Nintendo’s family-friendly batch of first-party titles could be a bold move that fans of the series would surely respond to.
Good ol’ Mike Jones. Good ol’…forgotten Mike Jones. If there was ever a Nintendo series ready for a comeback it would be Startropics. While many would be quick to dismiss the tale of a would-be boy adventurer searching for his missing uncle to be a derivative of The Legend of Zelda, Startropics (and its sequel) was a charming game that caught me surprise as a young gamer. Mike Jones is the closest thing Nintendo is ever going to get to a Nathan Drake-like character. You can still retain the off-beat sense of humor and an insane plot that involves an alien race but the overall tone would be a modern-day fantasy epic. And seriously, I DARE Nintendo to make Mike’s signature yo-yo as badass as Kratos’ Blades of Chaos.
The Greek myth brought to life of the NES (sort of…I still don’t know why Pit is fighting Medusa; that was Perseus!) has a bizarre past. While it’s true that Pit made a semi-ish comeback with a title for the 3DS in 2012, the star of Kid Icarus has seen more action on the Smash Bros. scene than in a game of his own. Transitioning Pit into a more mature narrative and taking a God of War/Horizon Zero Dawn approach to combat would be a refreshing take on this classic Nintendo franchise. The title could focus on the ranged combat ala Aloy’, but also throw in a healthy amount of melee options for good measure. Plus given the mythology the series is inspired from, Kid Icarus can explore a wealth of mature themes and plot points.
Mother is no stranger to adult themes. From missing persons and paranormal activity and psychic abilities to people being held captives in caves and an antagonist that wishes to doom all of reality to a horror of infinite darkness, Mother could easier transition to a dark RPG. Giygas’ character alone is worth taking this innocent looking series and running with its creepy undertones. It could legit be the RPG to rival the Persona series.
So what do you think? Are there any existing Nintendo IP that would would like to see get a mature reboot? Let us know in the comments below.