Archive for the ‘Game Articles’ Category

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Keith Robinson (R) at Arcade Expo in California in March of this year. Photo: Intellivision

by Chris Kohler via Kotaku

Keith Robinson, the godfather of the Intellivision, passed away Wednesday at 61. Robinson designed games for the pioneering Mattel console, but that was just the beginning: He bought the rights to Intellivision in the 1990s and kept the games in print via the Intellivision Lives! collections, while documenting the history of the console and the people who made it. Retronauts has an extensive look at his work today.

 

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by Edwardo Maggio via Business Insider

Xbox chief Phil Spencer does not think of the PlayStation 4 Pro (PS4 Pro) as a direct competitor to the just-announced Xbox One X.

In an interview with Eurogamer (which we saw via The Verge), Spencer claimed that Microsoft’s new console is in “a different league” compared with Sony’s top-of-the-line gaming machine, because it is the only “true 4K console.”

If you compare the specifications of the two, the Xbox One X does have an edge over its rival. Spencer pointed out the 40% faster GPU as well as the Xbox One X’s bigger memory (12GB, as opposed to the PS4 Pro’s 8GB) as some of the main advantages Microsoft’s console has, but 4K gaming seems to be the biggest differentiator.

“When I think about techniques to somehow manufacture a 4K screen like what some other consoles try to do, this is different than that,” Spencer said. And, as a result, he sees the PS4 Pro as “more of a competitor to [Xbox One] S than I do to Xbox One X.”

When asked about how this difference will have an impact on multiplatform games and whether they will perform significantly better on Xbox One X, Spencer added: “The capability is in this box to make the difference extremely significant. I think about the consoles in the market today, whether it’s PS4, original Xbox One, S, Pro, it’s all kind of closer in spec. We’ve hit a performance spec with Xbox One X that should make those games the most definitive version of those games.”

Xbox One X will retail for $499 (£449 in the UK) this fall, which is $100 (£78) more expensive than the PS4 Pro. However — as my colleague Antonio Villas-Boas argued — hardcore fans may still find value in its hardware capabilities, and actually get a good deal that will hold up better in the longer term.

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by Reinier Macatangay via Nerd Reactor

May 11th marks the 22-year anniversary of the Sega Saturn launch. Time to celebrate? While the Saturn failed horribly after its release, all dead consoles become a little more appreciated over time. So it might be worth giving a short look again.

Sega meant to have the Saturn as their major console entry into the “32-bit era.” While Sega also released the 32X add-on for the Sega Genesis earlier, the Saturn was CD-based and more heavily anticipated.

What did 32-bit processing power mean? Most gamers had no idea. Back then, more bits simply meant a better, more powerful console. For developers though, the Saturn’s power came across as hard to tap into.

Sega Retro offers a nice technical summary of the console’s limitations.

One interesting line reads “Only a handful of developers were able to squeeze most of the power out of the second SH-2 CPU, and even fewer utilized the SCU DSP, as its assembly code was more complex than the SH-2.”

No one needs to be a jargon wizard to understand it had some poor internal design flaws.

Graphics are not everything when it comes to a console though. If quality games are made, gamers will come, right?

Unfortunately, third-party developers were caught flat-footed when the Saturn released in May. Most everyone expected the Saturn to launch in September. So the launch was not as strong as expected.

Keith Stuart of The Guardian wrote, “Sega had an autumn US release for the Saturn all planned out; its production line was in motion, retailers were ready. But Japan panicked. (Sega of Japan President) Nakayama believed that Sega had to get into the US market early and establish a presence before Sony.”

“But it was a shambles. The machines were expensive and in short supply; only a handful of major retailers got them, alienating the rest of the market.”

Still, the Sega Saturn came out with games such as Daytona USA, Panzer Dragoon and Virtua Fighter. Later on, critics applauded the unique Nights Into Dreams. The console just lacked a major-selling hit. Sonic X-treme, a planned 3D sequel to the classic Sonic games on the Sega Genesis, ended up canceled. Therefore, Sega’s major 32-bit console did not offer a proper Sonic title.

Eventually, the Sonic Team began work on a different Sonic game for the Saturn. It eventually got pushed back to the Dreamcast, and gamers know it today as Sonic Adventure.

According to Don Reisinger of CNET, sadly only two Saturn games sold over a million copies: Virtua Fighter 2 and Grandia.

He went on to write, “Aside from those, the Saturn quickly became the cesspool of gaming. After all, can anyone actually name 30 great games they played on the console?”

Oddly, the Saturn did see at least 600 games released worldwide. It is a number that surpasses the Nintendo 64. But as told on US Gamer, less than half of them ever made it to the United States.

The Sega Saturn died a dishonorable death in late 1998 (while fighting a little longer overseas). Sega’s Dreamcast turned in a better effort starting the following year but died prematurely too after a promising launch. Subsequently, Sega became a third-party developer and publisher, and these days, their games are literally on every platform.

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Hell hath no fury like a Peter Moore scorned.

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by Tamoor Hussain via GameSpot

Former Xbox and EA exec Peter Moore has recounted the opposition he faced in trying to make Sega come to terms with its declining relevance during the Dreamcast era. In the midst of his battles he even went as far as telling Yuji Naka, the creator of Sonic, to “f**k off” when evidence that Sega’s brand was fading was refuted.

At the time, Moore was Sega of America’s chief operating officer and, in an interview with Glixel, he described the challenges he faced in trying to make the company understand it was seen as the “grandad” of the industry.

“We did a focus group here in San Francisco, I’m trying to think what year this would be, probably late 2001, early 2002, because I needed to prove to the Japanese that our brand was starting just to fade away,” he explained. “And so we asked [a] focus group, a bunch of 18-, 19-year-olds, a classic question, ‘If a video game publisher was a relative or a friend, who would they be?'”

Rival company EA was described by the focus group as the “arrogant quarterback” and Rockstar was the “drunken uncle” that is “the life of the party for a little while, and then he disappears for a long time.” Sega, however, was perceived as “your grandad,” who “used to be cool, but even he can’t remember why anymore.”

Moore filmed the focus groups where these discussions were had and presented them to the Japanese side of the company, which included Naka and Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki.

“[Naka] and I have a love/hate relationship on a good day. And we show him this, and it’s subtitled in Japanese, and when it comes to that piece he just [slams his hand on the table], ‘This is ridiculous. You have made them say this. Sega is the great brand, nobody would ever say this, you have falsified!’ He just gets in my face.

“So I said to the translator, ‘Tell him to f**k off.’ And the poor guy looks at me and says, ‘There’s no expression in Japanese.’ I said, ‘I know there is.’ And that was it. That was the last time I ever set foot in there.”

Moore noted that he loved, and “still loves” Sega, but added that its most prominent developers weren’t able to see “the world was changing around them,” and therefore instigating a change in identity was difficult.

“I rarely get upset, but to be accused of doctoring a video, because there’s none so blind as those who will not see, right? I loved Sega, still love Sega, but it was dominated by the developers to the extent where Sega as a company couldn’t move if Suzuki, [Nights: Into Dreams developer] Nakagawa-san, [and Jet Set Radio developer, Kazuma] Iguchi weren’t into it.”

Moore’s desire to transform Sega’s identity came in light of shifting trends within the industry, which were steered by games like Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto 3 and Sony’s PlayStation, which courted maturer gamers.

“That was, to me, this inflection point. Once the tech started to get more powerful, the creative elements that would come over from Hollywood and from television all of a sudden–that was what gave us Rockstar, and what the Houser brothers, to their credit, did for games. I mean, you look back on the history of this industry, you can point to these moments and say, ‘That’s when everything started to change.'”

Shortly after his meeting with Sega, Moore was approached by Microsoft, which was looking into challenging Sony’s living room dominance. At the time, Microsoft had been working on Xenon, which would go on to become the Xbox 360. Moore agreed to join the company and was instrumental in the success of the Xbox 360.

Glixel’s interview with Moore is fascinating and well worth reading.

After his time at Microsoft, Moore joined EA, most recently serving as its chief competition officer. However, in February he announced he would be leaving the company, and the games industry, to take up the role of chief executive officer for Liverpool FC, the English football team that Moore has been a lifelong fan of.

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by Eric Chiu via International Business Times

The Nintendo Switch’s signal problems with the left Joy-Con controller have been well-documented, but Nintendo now says they’ve been solved.

In a statement Wednesday, Nintendo confirmed that some Switch controllers were affected by a wireless signal issue where the left Joy-Con controller would drop its signal from the console. Nintendo attributed the issue to a “manufacturing variation” and said it had already been corrected at its factories and it wouldn’t be present in future Joy-Con controllers. The company is also offering to fix controllers free of charge if they’re affected by the signal issue.

Via Kotaku, here’s Nintendo’s full statement:

There is no design issue with the Joy-Con controllers, and no widespread proactive repair or replacement effort is underway. A manufacturing variation has resulted in wireless interference with a small number of the left Joy-Con. Moving forward this will not be an issue, as the manufacturing variation has been addressed and corrected at the factory level.

We have determined a simple fix can be made to any affected Joy-Con to improve connectivity.

There are other reasons consumers may be experiencing wireless interference. We are asking consumers to contact our customer support team so we can help them determine if a repair is necessary. If it is, consumers can send their controller directly to Nintendo for the adjustment, free of charge, with an anticipated quick return of less than a week. Repair timing may vary by region. For help with any hardware or software questions, please visit http://support.nintendo.com.

In the run-up to the Switch’s launch, Joy-Con signal issues were documented by multiple game journalists and reports from new Switch owners continued after the console’s release. While Nintendo wouldn’t confirm the controller’s issues beyond it being a manufacturing issue, CNET found that Nintendo has installed a block of conductive foam in older Joy-Con controllers to eliminate signal issues.

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RIP PlayStation 3

Posted: March 18, 2017 in Game Articles

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by Mike Wehner via BGR News

Sony’s PlayStation 3 has had one heck of a life. Debuting as the most expensive console in ages, suffering early defeat in the face of huge Xbox 360 sales figures, but it eventually regained its footing and scored some fantastic exclusive titles. Now, its storied existence is finally coming to and end, as Sony has revealed that it will stop production of the console in Japan — which is always the first and most impactful nail in any PlayStation’s coffin.

Following the runaway success of the PlayStation 2, the PlayStation 3 was hotly anticipated leading up to its eventual reveal at E3 2005. Then, at E3 2006 gamers finally learned Sony’s pricing strategy for the device — a 20GB model for $499 and a 60GB version for $599 — and much of the early hype turned into shock. When the system debuted in a head-to-head battle with the Xbox 360, which launched with two models priced at $299 and $399, Sony’s struggles began in earnest.

Many price cuts and a couple of complete redesigns later, the PlayStation 3 today has reached sales parity with its longtime rival, but both the Xbox 360 and PS3 failed to match the sales of Nintendo’s Wii. Nevertheless, Sony’s third generation PlayStation is home to some of the most popular titles in gaming history, such as the Uncharted series, Gran Turismo 5, and The Last of Us.

Sony’s decision to finally wind down production of the PlayStation 3 in Japan means that the major markets will likely see supplies begin to wane. However, as popular game consoles often see continued life in regions where they launch many years after their original debut, such as Brazil, it’s likely that PlayStation 3s will continue to be produced for those areas for at least a little while longer.

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by IBT Staff Reporter

There is no video game series out there quite like Destiny: Bungie’s enormous and ambitious persistent online shooter. Released in 2014, every facet of the game’s existence pre and post-launch has been subject to immense scrutiny.

Few would disagree that vanilla Destiny (ie. the original version of the game) disappointed in terms of story and just how much there was to play, but mechanically it was sublime and quickly fostered a huge player-base.

Few shooters feel as good to play as Destiny, but it lacked in other areas and was slow to address its faults. It took a year and three paid (and expensive) expansions for Bungie to prove Destiny’s potential as more than a mechanically-satisfying shooter.

Following 2015’s string of expansions and 2016’s sole expansion, Rise of Iron, Destiny 2 is set to launch later this year. For Bungie, this is the game where it all needs to fall into place.

When was Destiny 2 announced?

The first official word of Destiny 2’s existence arrived in February 2016 during an investor call held by publisher Activision. A press release sent alongside the call stated that a “full game sequel” would arrive in 2017 following a sole expansion in 2016.

One year later, Activision confirmed the game was still on course for release later this year. Then, in early March, Bungie themselves referenced the sequel in official channels for the first time.

When will Destiny 2 be released?

All we know officially is that it will be released later this year, but given the release of prior games September seems very likely. Vanilla Destiny was released on 9 September, 2014, The Taken King expansion was released on 15 September 2015 and Rise of Iron on 20 September.

It’s likely to also be a worldwide release on a Tuesday, meaning it could be 5 September, 12 September, 19 September or 26 September.

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How will Destiny 2 link to the original game and its expansions?

In terms of an individual player’s progress in the first game, only the look of their Guardian avatar will carry over to the sequel. This was confirmed in the Bungie blog post which first referenced Destiny 2.

“We are going to recognize the dedication and passion you’ve shown for this world,” the post reads. “Specifically, the class, race, gender, face, hair, and marking selections for all characters that have achieved Level 20 and completed the Black Garden story mission* will carry forward.”

This means the leveling system will start afresh in the new game and players will lose all their weapons, ships and loot items in the transition.

*The Black Garden mission is the last story mission of vanilla Destiny.

In terms of story there’s no obvious jumping off point for the sequel. A direct follow-up seems unlikely if Destiny 2 is being conceived and pitched to a wider audience as something of a fresh start.

Will Destiny 2 be released on PC?

There’s been no official word yet, but a report from Kotaku published in September 2016 corroborated a rumor that the series would be coming to PC for the first time with Destiny 2.

What changes can we expect from Destiny 2?

That same Kotaku report states that Bungie wants the game to “feel like a proper sequel” with the plan, at that time at least, being for “Destiny 2’s planet areas to feel more populated with towns, outposts, and quests that are more interesting than the patrol missions you can get in Destiny.”

The base elements of the game, its co-operative play, mission structure, loot systems and Crucible multiplayer will most likely stay broadly the same, but with larger changes to hub areas and how Bungie presents the sequel’s narrative.

Generally it’s expected that Destiny 2 will approach story in a very different way in the hope of connecting with a wider audience in a way Destiny has not to date.

Will vanilla Destiny be switched off?

No. At least not immediately. Speaking to Gamesradar following the reveal of the Age of Triumph event that will be the final event before Bungie switches focus purely to the sequel, the developers’ community manager David “DeeJ” Dague said: “Destiny 1 is still a game that will be there for players.

“We’ve planned to support it for the foreseeable future, so while we do have a sense of finality and closure as the theme of this event, we are by no means turning the lights off on Destiny 1.”