2016 is set to be the year that technology finally makes good on one of cinema’s age old promises - the virtual reality headset. With many still sceptical of whether this future is one worth investing in, I’m here to share my thoughts following a brief hands-on experience.
After plunging from your precarious position, you’ll be pulled into and down a spinning whirlpool. I was half dreading it upon approach for fear of it inducing motion sickness, but it didn’t - nothing did. Writing some notes on the journey home had a more adverse affect. The demo handler informed me that Ubisoft had taken steps to ensure people shouldn't suffer motion sickness, and whatever they did, it worked.
The absence of any motion-tracking latency, or inaccuracy, when looking around helped greatly on this front and made taking in the virtual landscape feel perfectly natural. There were points of interest wherever you looked, which makes for added replayability, as it’s physically impossible to see everything in one run. This level of perspective has me particularly excited: imagine something as small as a game in which you’re betrayed, then on a subsequent playthrough you keep an eye on the offender throughout and quite literally see things unfold in a totally new light.
Unfortunately, it was somewhat immersion breaking to be able to see the edges of the headset in my peripheral vision, rather than being entirely enveloped by the product on-screen. The resolution also wasn't amazing, which birthed noticeably fuzzy and soft visuals. Again, this is based on the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 and not the final product, so this hopefully won't be as big an issue - if an issue at all - come launch.
Despite those visual niggles, my lasting impression is a hugely positive one; one which justified my PlayStation VR pre-order and has me eagerly awaiting its arrival in October. VR seemingly brought joy to everyone at the event - I overheard excitable parties discussing how “amazing” it was, observed users with unflinching smiles, and even saw my previously sceptic brother converted in a matter of minutes.
I asked my brother how he’d describe the experience, to which he replied: “Totally immersive and exciting to see where it can take the industry.” A sentiment I’ll end by echoing.
Remember when you used to eagerly await Saturday mornings for SMTV Live, only to be disappointed when either Ant, Dec or Cat had gone on holiday and been temporarily replaced by Louise Redknapp/some other early 2000’s celebrity?
That’s basically me this week, as I’ve been tasked with providing the community round-up while regular writer Sam is off gallivanting around PLAY it! and trawling through a mountain of reviews for your reading pleasure.
So with Sam away, does that mean this week’s round up will be a little SMITE-lite? Let me answer that question with a visual aid.
SMITE regular Metalrodent wondered whether the game would suffer a graphical downgrade to compensate for the snazzy new framerate, while Plasma wing had a slightly more drastic theory as to how they managed the technical breakthrough: “I thought they might have nerfed Loki so hard, he was removed from the game to make room for the framerate improvements."
If I may be so bold as to move away from SMITE news, it’s worth noting that Max returned from Uni for SPRING BREAK WOOOOO! (sorry, half term), and immediately set about reviving the Tabletop RPG’s and LARP thread. I’ll be honest, I had no idea there was such a thing lurking in the PTC archives in the first place.
My occasional foray into travel Ludo seems quite tame in comparison to Max’s adventures.
“We played private detectives operating in Paris, and the game started off by killing our boss in a fire. This we investigated and it led us to discover strange groups and strange people and strange things happening. As it turned out, we were in fact Mages ourselves, just not yet awakened. We were then awakened, allowing us to better deal with the Wild Hunt, who we had found to be the Big Bads.”
Sometimes I play Ludo with two colours at the same time, that’s impressive… right?
It seems like LARPing (that appears to be the acceptable verb for it) is a favourite pastime of Uni folk, with Confused Johnny spotting some students over at Lampete campus on their way to LARP it up, leading to some questioning of reality.
“I looked across the field and saw a green elf carrying a halberd or summin, followed by a Viking looking dude with a broadsword! Had to confirm with my friends that they could see it as well, which thankfully they could.”
Always best to confirm these things.
The Indefinite E3 Thread for Every Year Forever and Ever got a resurgence with the largest expo in gaming only a few months away, and speculation has already begun as to what will be the biggest announcements.
Confused Johnny is taking rumours of a sequel to Red Dead Redemption with a “handful of salt”, while Timmeh555 reckons “it’s a pretty safe bet” that it will be announced and notes that it’s never too early to speculate, advice Johnbhoy69 took to heart, adding that it will “be great to hear something about Dragons Dogma 2, especially if it's happening or not”, as well as hoping to see some footage of the Resident Evil 2 remake.
As usual, a healthy dose of procrastination took place. Sam now appears to be receiving post from the strangest of places: “Got a letter today with a return address on Catbrain Lane - dafuq?” Before the show One Born Every Minute committed the cardinal sin of TV and broke the (Sam’s) fourth wall.
"Just seen an advert for tonight's One Born Every Minute and I know the couple on it. Once again - dafuq?"
Dafuq indeed, Sam.
PTC Crisco will also be seeing a familiar face (and a lot more besides) on the tube: “I may know someone who will be appearing on some naked dating show on Channel 4. I feel compelled to watch it.” A naked dating show? It’s certainly an ice-breaker I suppose…
Heavyarms_Kai notes that a copy of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 has been purchased and shipped, and promises us some “fruity stuff” is on the way to the screenshots thread soon. After googling the game to see what it was about, I can believe him. Yikes!
In the meantime, Heavyarms_Kai has been showing off some more family friendly screenshots from the recently released Pokken Tournament on Wii U… well, as family friendly as it gets when a giant mouse dressed in wrestling attire is laying the smack-down on some poor creature.
While Metalrodent shared a few images from the bizarre side of Fallout 4. To borrow a phrase from Sam - dafuq?
Finally, the Halo World Championships 2016 took place last weekend, and I was not surprised to hear that CLG were eventually crowned champions having seen them dominate the opposition during the few games I managed to watch.
Timmeh555 agreed that CLG were worthy winners, but notes that some big changes have taken place among the pro Halo teams and we might see some tougher opposition for CLG next time.
"Already some big roster changes as well so hopefully we can have a challenger for CLG next year"
New challengers you say? Well maybe I’ll give it a go.
Technically that footage is past the cut-off point for the latest Round-Up, but seeing as it was the winning point on a 3-2 comeback and I’m in charge this week, I’m going to allow it.
That’s it for this week’s round-up, hopefully you’ve enjoyed my take on it. Regular host Sam should be back next week for more PTC community goings on, and if you’d like to feature in the next issue then be sure to head on over to the forums and get involved!
We were fortunate enough to receive an invite to this year’s PLAY it! Manchester launch event, hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry - “rebooted, reloaded” and “better than ever before”, here’s what to expect if you’re thinking of heading down.
If that sounds just a smidge before your time, wrap your hands around an N64, PlayStation or Dreamcast controller and revisit the early days of 3D gaming. To answer your immediate and burning questions - yes, they have Goldeneye, and yes, there’s 4-player co-op. Continuing the march towards present day, you’ll find Master Chief hosting a Halo 3 LAN party on Xbox 360, League of Legends and Minecraft on PC, as well as an array of recent Xbox One and PS4 releases.
By splitting itself into themed sections, PLAY it! also offers a more specific look at developments made within genre and franchise. You can chart Sonic’s rise and fall, gauge Mario’s continued innovation, compare visuals and mechanics between racing and fighting games, shake, smack and strum an array of music peripherals - even play Disney games with some recognisable princesses.
Perhaps the highlight of the event is a look into gaming’s future, courtesy of Ubisoft’s Rabbids VR-Ride experience. Donning the Oculus Rift and a pair of headphones whisks you away to a world of trademark Rabbids insanity, whilst a hydraulic seat mimics your movement for added immersion. It definitely succeeds, as you’ll feel it in the pit of your stomach when the ride stops and allows you a moment to peer over the sheer cliff drop before sending you plummeting.
Take a look at an earlier version in the footage below, and keep an eye out for a more indepth analysis of the experience to come.
PLAY it! offers something for everyone, whatever their age. The event’s well organised, the room’s well dressed and a chiptune DJ station blasts out gaming classics to set the perfect backdrop. Everything amalgamates in a great family friendly day out during the Easter holidays, whilst if you don’t have anybody under 18 in your party, there are also adult-only sessions that’ll switch out the games for something a little more… violent.
Interested? You can find session times, pricing information and purchase tickets through the Museum of Science and Industry’s official website.
Escapism is one of the most often quoted reasons for why ‘gamers’ (if there is such a thing) play games. It’s also one of the biggest perceived dangers by those who don’t quite get what computer games are all about. With Virtual Reality poised to hit the market in a big way for the first time, do we need to be concerned that it will open the door to more stories of children forgetting to eat and sleep, or should we let ourselves get excited about the possibilities this new experience could offer?
Next is HTC and Valve’s Vive, which arrives in May for just under £750. It might sound like a steep price compared to the other two, but from what we can tell so far the Vive is made for much more full-room experiences, compared to the sit-down-and-move-your-head approach of the other two. On the software side it’s more limited compared to the Oculus, but the potential of everything Valve could bring to the table shouldn't be underestimated.
Finally there’s Sony’s PlayStation VR, coming in October, which may be a draw for current PS4 owners - though not bundling with the mandatory PlayStation camera could be seen as a bit of a ploy to make the price point seem more reasonable than it actually is. Sony has painful past experience of pitching their hardware at too high a price point (step forward the PS3) and so appreciate how important it is to get it right. That said, the camera is only £39.99, so you can get both the headset itself (£349.99) and the camera for under £400.
Of course, for the Oculus and Vive at least, you need to factor in the fact that you’ll need a very strong computer to run the hardware in the first place.
So it all sounds very futuristic and interesting, but does anyone actually need one? With all three companies putting their weight behind the technology with some serious investment, it definitely looks like we will see a lot released this year, and that competition is good for consumers.
The immersion is really the biggest draw, which is why the risk of the media flying off the handle is so much higher than it is in traditional gaming. The perception of gaming as an industry has improved in the last few years as its appeal has broadened, particularly in the mobile sector, but the stigma is far from gone, and the last thing we need is a story of someone who doesn’t know when to switch off overdoing it and spoiling the fun for everyone else. Hopefully, the copious health and safety warnings which are sure to be found in games’ start up screens will help to remind everyone to be sensible.
Chances are, you’re currently in one of three camps:
In all of these instances, if you aren’t quite sure, a ‘wait and see’ approach might be best this time. E3 will be right in the middle of all the VR excitement kicking off, and that will give a better idea of how the future software for each is looking, and by then those pesky, early teething problems will probably have been sorted as well.
Where are you leaning at the moment? Will you be shelling out some cash? Is it an optimistic one for the Christmas list? Let us know in the Forums.
Welcome back, one and all, to another weekly look at some of the PTC community's numerous shenanigans.
Myself, Metalrodent and Plasma wing dove back into SMITE this week - lets be honest, there's never a week we don't - when this happened:
"Immortal", you say? I wouldn't go that far, SMITE. I rock? Stop, you'll make me blush!
Let's move on.
Oh, stop it Graham! Now I really am blushing!
In fact, I think I might need to see a doctor - look at how much my ruddy head's inflated!
Whilst that played a part in deflating my head this week, nothing was more sobering than having a policeman mistake me for a thirteen-year-old boy. Yes, this really did happen. I was even wearing my new glasses, which the optician had told me helped to "offset my baby face" and "make me look like a man"...
Everyone shared a laugh at my expense, whilst Heavyarms_Kai and Confused Johnny suggested growing some facial hair might help. It may, but I avoid facial fuzz, lest I breakout in spots.
Bravely, Metalrodent and PTC l1am admitted they still get asked for ID whilst aged 22 and 27 respectively - Liam when buying alcohol, and Rodent when he buys entertainment products rated 12 and above. Wow. Perhaps even more bravely, PTC Hetty and MrkDhn10 revealed they never get asked for ID any more, for which we'll now permit them a moment of silence.
Sony announced the release date and price point for their PlayStation VR headset this week, which spawned a discussion thread on the forum, and naturally responses were split. I'm on board, if, as ever, they have the games to back-up the hardware (which is priced exactly as I had speculated), but most others definitely don't share that sentiment.
Bongmaster00 notes that if you don't already own them, by the time you purchase the components required for the fully immersive experience - both compulsory and optional - the price point falls closer to £450 than the touted £350. At that price, he's elected to go for the Oculus Rift. It is worth noting, as PTC l1am did, that there'll be a bundle including all the extra gubbins at a presumably discounted price.
Whilst bongmaster00 isn't interested in PSVR, he is at least interested in the VR experience, which can't be said for most others.
Yeah I remember the last time VR was the future of gaming. So no.
Quipped Kai, before crippyd would offer his thoughts:
I think this is the new 3D, which was a waste of time. I think it'll bomb hard and get comments along the lines of Kinect.
That remains to be seen, but there's undoubtedly an alarmingly poor success rate whenever something comes along to challenge conventional entertainment consumption.
ImmaturityRules is also certain in his diagnosis that VR will "fail hard".
Who's going to buy a peripheral that's more expensive than the console it's for? Games that support it are going to be few and far between... Then there's the whole motion sickness issue...
The models thread saw resurrection this week, as Metalrodent commented on Kai's size. The size of the most recent addition to his Gundam collection, that is.
He has got some girth to be fair.
Elsewhere, there was Hitman discussion, sparked by the ingenious "Real Life Hitman" advertising campaign, as well as both our review and second opinion companion piece. The highlight of the former was shared by Plasma wing, and saw the Chuckle Brothers make their long awaited comeback; catch it below if you happened to miss it.
That was amazing.
Quite right, Metalrodent. Quite right.
In evidence of how quickly things can change, Rodent went on to challenge the new games' value proposition - "£12 for two tutorials and a single level doesn't sound like great value to me." Quite wrong. Quite wrong. PTC Bezza soon set him straight, pointing out that the three endlessly replayable levels provide "hours upon hours of gameplay".
I can't stress enough that there's enough content for the price.
I think its pretty good value as, personally, [I've] replayed [levels] several times with many different methods of sociopathy...
Our final talking point this week is one of unity, of extending an olive branch to unite rival communities as one. Xbox Live opened its doors to cross platform play between Xbox and PC (outside of Windows 10) this week, whilst leaving an open invitation for other platforms (that's PlayStation 4) to join. Whilst people weren't opposed to the idea of being matched with a Sony pony/Xbot/console peasant/[insert fanboyism], the potential realities did prove to be a worrying point.
Some thought it might negatively impact their paid online service of choice, like Confused Johnny and PTC Crisco respectively.
Xbox Live is not very reliable lately, a crossover just increases the number of things that can go wrong!
I have trouble playing with other people on Xbox Live, I can imagine this being a nightmare.
Others (and Johnny again) thought the advantages afforded to each platform would serve to unbalance games. What if an Xbox player with an Elite Controller met a PS4 player without that luxury? What if a game runs at a higher framerate and/or resolution on PS4 than on Xbox? PC players would also just dominate all around.
PTC Hetty noted that this is indeed already a thing in Final Fantasy XIV, and she doesn't like it.
There is very much an increased dexterity in using a mouse and keyboard, therefore it's very easy for console players in a group to get left behind...
All very valid points, but as the feature's inclusion is down to the developer, we'll just have to trust they know what's best for their product, and that they would't include it if it could succumb to any of these pitfalls.
Have something to add to any of these conversations? We're an open book, so why not get involved by visiting our forum, Facebook or Twitter. We look forward to seeing you there!
Whilst Tom handled our full, official review of HITMAN’s opening chapter on the Xbox One, I've been sneaking my way through Paris’ fashion elite on the PlayStation 4. Here are my thoughts, with a focus placed upon areas less trodden in the full review.
Some Absolution systems were kept and tweaked to great effect - hand-to-hand combat, improved gunplay, instincts mode - but even more integral are the features they decided to drop. I really can’t exaggerate what a positive step it was to remove the obnoxious location-based, manually-triggered checkpoints and on-screen score tracking. They had worked in tandem to quell any semblance of fun, the former discouraging experimentation through the threat of lost progress, and the latter reminding you of your ineptitude at every turn - the visual equivalent of a condescending narration: “Ooh, you shouldn't have done that, -100 points for being a big moron."
The return of manual saves at any location, and relatively frequent autosaves for us console players that forget, mean you’re never scared to try something outlandish. Scoring remains, but it’s calculated behind the scenes, as it had been previously, to give you an idea of how you performed post mission. Perfect!
Absolution's most redeeming feature, the online Contracts mode, returns and is an absolute hoot. Not going into it too much, as the mode was covered extensively in our review, it make locales endlessly revisitable and accommodates all manners of player.
Unfortunately, maintaining connection to the server - and with it access to the mode - can be an issue, the game irritatingly booting you back to the main menu and negating any unsaved progress when you fall victim to random chance. It wasn't nearly as big an issue for me personally as it was for our reviewer, however, the load times I do take issue with. Paris is an impressively large and seamless location, which is reflected in the often near minute long wait to explore it, and whilst delays are understandable in this instance, the noticeable lag during menu transitions is not. It’ll be naught more than a slight niggle for many, but perfectionists that like to load their save whenever things go south and habitual intel checkers alike should brace themselves for some serious downtime.
Contracts is an ingenious inclusion as replayability is key here, thanks to the newfangled episodic nature of HITMAN; a model which was noted to potentially draw new players in with a very reasonable introductory price point. I’d go a step further and say the release schedule actually benefits the gameplay experience greatly. With previous Hitman games, I, and assumably many others, would simply play through the campaigns and be done with them. This time around, I've played each of the locations tens of times to complete every challenge, discover every secret, take advantage of every assassination opportunity and generally eek out every last morsel of content. As such, I've spent longer in the two tutorial locations alone than most fully fledged areas from previous games in the series. Less is certainly more, as you’re encouraged to engage on a much deeper level with what content is present.
Agent 47 is back at his best, starring in an already substantial game that offers a masterclass in catering to your fanbase. Don’t let Absolution’s downfalls, an episodic release format, or any small technical issues put you off donning his iconic red tie - things can only get better from here.
"Nighttime walks are so nice, aren't they?!" says this sweet little pooch in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, image courtesy of Heavyarms_Kai. Try telling that to either of my dogs, who stubbornly refuse to leave their leather thrones when it comes time for walkies - especially if it's dark.
They get dragged out for an hour every day regardless, much to their displeasure. No fair weather dog walking here, boys!
Looking "all style and no substance" to the Ninty loving Staff Writer, his thoughts weren't met with much opposition, Kai simply admitting rose-tinted glasses and a love for the Persona series play a part in his anticipation.
I'm looking forward to seeing the illusive NX for the first time, and desperately hoping it'll blow me away so that I can purchase my first Nintendo console since the GameCube. Expectations might be unreasonably high, mind, as I'm hoping for Zelda, Pikmin 4 and a new Metroid at launch. A guy can dream. Rob agrees it'll take something special after the Wii U to get people onboard; be it a similarly strong launch line-up, a "powerhouse" of a machine, or an "interesting concept". The latter seems most likely, definition of 'interesting' pending.
Editor James "Decent Jam" Parry's feature on fond Pokémon memories went live this week as part of the series' ongoing 20th anniversary celebration. Pokémon is always a popular subject, evidenced in the round-ups from last week and a fortnight ago, and this week was no different, as Jaime Rodriguez took to Facebook to share his favourite memory.
Moving away from The Big N, everyone shared in their shock and offering of well wishes following the news of Fable Legends' cancellation and developer Lionhead's impending closure. Promising indie studio Press Play would also fall victim to the Microsoft cull. Plasma wing sums up the feeling in the thread with an apt whilst oxymoronic statement.
Very unexpected and sad news, hopefully everyone at Lionhead and Press Play find themselves a new job soon.
Honestly not too bothered about the loss of Legends really...
Those of us with hands on experience of Fable Legends haven't been devastated to lose access to the pre-release game, instead looking ahead to where the Microsoft owned IP might go next. Unanimous decision goes to a proper RPG (no more dodgy spin-offs) developed by the folks at Rare in order to maintain the trademark British charm and humour.
Just as some community members had expressed concerns prior to Fable Legends' cancellation, they have for the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot. Conversation broke out in the films thread with the release of the first trailer, which you can catch below if you've missed it thus far.
Concern is too generous a term, actually, it was lambasted by users.
How bad must you suck when 30 year old effects are more convincing.
Said Heavyarms_Kai, whilst the ever articulate TippiestRook commented:
That trailer is pure shi*e.
Thanks for the contribution, Tippy.
Gaming feats of the week go to PTC l1am and bongmaster00. Liam hit a perfect bullseye in a game of prehistoric darts in Far Cry Primal (review here). Bongmaster, meanwhile, managed to tame a Giganotosaurus in Ark: Survival Evolved - as he notes, stood behind it are indeed a T-Rex and a mammoth to offer a sense of scale. Bloody hell.
Confused Johnny wraps us up this week by putting things into perspective to cure PTC Crisco's ailments.
My house is broken. My hoover won't hoover, I may have borked my kettle and my lightbulbs are melting.
As long as [your] Xbox and Internet work then your house is fine, nothing is broken!
We talk to former Rare and Retro Studios employee Rhys Lewis, about his new company Squarehead Studios, debut game Star Ghost, life as an independent developer, Wave Race, and using a certain console as a method of shelter.
Can you tell us about your team at Squarehead Studios?
Squarehead is currently just myself and I'm based on the edge of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. David Wise kindly provided the soundtrack and the voiceover was performed by Michelle Sundholm. I decided to form the company in 2014 after returning home from Texas, where I previously worked at Retro Studios.
How difficult is it for indie developers in this current market?
In many respects, it has never been easier to make games. We have a proliferation of tools such as Unity that remove a lot of the technical difficulty and up-front investment required. It's relatively straightforward to self-publish to the various app stores and even the console platforms have opened up and embraced indie developers.
This is very much a double edged sword of course. Over-supply of digital entertainment has become a significant problem and one that is unlikely to get any better. The best content will stand out but the vast majority of projects are destined to be drowned out in the noise.
What advice would you give to someone looking to work in the video gaming industry?
Probably the same kind of advice I would offer anyone thinking about doing anything, just do it. Experience is the best teacher, so try to get as many game development miles under your belt as you can. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and keep learning. Your path will unfold before you.
What game(s) have had the biggest affect on your life, and why?
Thats a tricky one, there have been so many that have influenced me over the years…
Arcade: Space Invaders, Pac Man, Asteroids, Commando, Track n Field, Defender, Scramble, Ikari Warriors, Star Wars, Space Harrier, Afterburner, Out Run, Double Dragon, Donkey Kong, Puzzle Bobble, Bubble Bobble, Ghosts N Goblins, Gauntlet, Centipede.
8-bit: Jetpac, Gridrunner, Thrust, Way of the Exploding Fist, The Last Ninja 2, Elite.
16-bit: Interceptor, Mercenary, Falcon, Another World, Sensible Soccer, Kick Off 2, IK+
PC: Chuck Yeagers Air Combat, Ultima VII, Wolfenstein, Doom / Doom 2, Duke Nukem 3D, Half Life, Civilisation, X-COM, Sid Meir’s Pirates.
N64: Turok, Wave Race, Pilot Wings, Mario Kart, Golden Eye.
In terms of life impact, I would probably say that Falcon on the Atari ST might have been the catalyst for me originally training to become a pilot. However, when I realised that flying wasn’t quite as stimulating as making games, it was my childhood memories of playing Jetpac on the Vic 20 that made me change direction and apply to Rare for my first job in the industry.
What are you hopes and plans for Star Ghost looking into the future?
I’d love to think that people are getting a kick out of playing Star Ghost. Hopefully, it can evoke fond memories for older gamers and create some great new ones for younger players. I have a big pile of ideas I'd like to explore with it but I'm going to put them on hold for a while and maybe revisit the IP at a later date.
What's next for Squarehead Studios?
I can't reveal anything specific about that just yet but there will be lots of prototyping to find the right idea to pursue.
If you were on a desert island (it has power) and could only take one console, what would you take, and why?
Both the PS2 and the Xbox 360 have impressive libraries but I think the N64 would just edge it for me. It was the first home system where I really felt that the games were significantly better than anything that could be found in the arcades. Even to this day, I’m not sure anything can compete with Wave Race. I also really like that it has four controller ports and provides some brilliant couch-based, multiplayer experiences.
If for some reason none of those were available, I’d probably take the original Xbox. That thing was so big, it could be emptied out and used as a shelter or possibly even a small boat to escape in.
Thanks to Rhys at Squarehead Studios for talking to us. Star Ghost is available on the Wii U eshop now!
As always, let us know your thoughts on the forums.
With Nintendo’s monstrous franchise celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, it’s a good excuse to talk about some of the memories which the games, TV shows and even cards have given us - so I thought I’d kick things off.
First there’s the premise itself, supposedly based on the popular pastime of insect collecting, the challenge of finding all 150 (or 151) was tense at times, with a careful understanding of tactical play built into the game’s turn-based battles. This was more than just rock/paper/scissors, you quickly gain an attachment to each of your bizarre pokémon creatures, and that affects how you throw them into battle. I maintain that Dugtrio is the best, but everyone has different pokémon which really struck a chord with them (they just aren't as good as Dugtrio).
On top of that, there was the introduction to many tropes found in plenty of Japanese games, which we’ve seen become increasingly mainstream over the years. Exploring the monochrome (as it was at the time) world of the Kanto region introduced a mixture of feelings, from the unsettling, haunted Pokemon Tower, to the various colourful taunts of the gym leaders. Years later, there are still key moments from the (admittedly basic) story which stick in your mind, like trying to wake up Snorlax or taking on the Elite Four. Because of the way the series has evolved (or not evolved, no pun intended), the distinct original list of pokémon has become a cast of hundreds, which range from things close to actual, real-world animals to worrying creations from the minds of crazy people.
It didn't stop with the games of course, which with the announcement of Pokémon Sun and Moon later this year we’re up to 27 core titles alone, but there was also the card game, which hit popularity just as I was going to secondary school. Lunchtimes in Year 7 were spent battling my ‘holo’ Charizard and Blastoise against a plethora of foes, but I never became a Pokémon Master and caught them all. Tragic eh?
Even back then, merchandise was massive, with electronic pokédex’s (which someone kindly picked me up from America) which included all the details you could ever need to know about the 150. The film and TV show too had their part to play in making sure this was a series which not only kept me gripped for years - though my attachment to the games themselves may have wanted - but also continues to captivate children all over the world.
It wasn’t long before the characters started to show up elsewhere, particularly in several Super Smash Bros titles, in which they were often a force to be reckoned with. Mewtwo in particular was a bit of a badass, he won me many a battle.
Of course the iconic theme song (which, incidentally has been changed awkwardly for the most recent animated series) was enough to ensure the tales of Ash and Pikachu stayed stuck in my head for an eternity, but really it was the challenge of that first game which really carved out a place in my heart.
Looking to the future, the potential of Pokémon Go in particular is incredibly interesting. In a nutshell, the mobile game will introduce pokémon into the real world by using augmented reality. Not too much is known about how it will all work just yet - though the trailer looks very promising - but there will be a fetching key fob-type device which will play a part in it. It’s more than enough to convince me that the potential to recapture that excitement in a completely new way is more than just tugging on the tried and tested heartstrings of nostalgia. Then again, I’ll probably pick up the anniversary edition of Pokémon Red anyway…
So there you have it, a whistle-stop tour of all the reasons Pokémon is a franchise which is, and always will be, very important to me. What do you think about it though? Is it all the same? Has it never interested you? Or are you wearing a Pikachu onesie as we speak? Let us know in the Forums.
PTC l1am shared a screenshot of the first wild animal he tamed in Far Cry Primal - a white wolf named Walter. Cute, eh? At least until you learn Liam killed and skinned him for an achievement. Actually... that's totally worth 20G. Sorry.
Whilst I personally enjoyed it, especially the ending, I thought the nature of the puzzles just begged for Pneuma to have been held back and released in virtual reality format.
With solutions based around perspective and line of sight, it would've been a perfect candidate for VR.
MrkDhn10 also enjoyed the experience, whilst things come full circle with the acknowledgement that he needs to head back to polish off the achievements, as does PTC Crisco. Meanwhile, Plas popped into the 100% Completed games thread to let everyone know he'd done exactly that. We got through a lot of lipstick this week, score whoring one and all.
Metalrodent also boarded the Pneuma train, pointing out just how picturesque it can be with a couple of screenshots.
Rodent shared a game clip as well, a Plasma wing fail (fast becoming a weekly segment) captured during a Grand Theft Auto V community game session. Outsmarted by pedestrian AI not once, twice, but three times, the video lives up to its name. Keep an eye on sabre wing2.
Words elude me following that clip, but I'll do my best to soldier on.
Forum newbie, Digital Infinite, posted a thread in which he asked (no doubt fuelled by excitement for the recently revealed Pokémon Sun and Moon): "What is the 'perfect' Pokémon game?" The replies were fairly uniform in echoing what most fans of the series have wanted for years - a fully fledged console adventure.
I always wanted to see a standard Pokémon adventure on home consoles.
PTC l1am replied, before Max elaborated.
I'd like a bigger version really... less linear, with more meaningful side quests and exploration.
Heavyarms_Kai has a seemingly unquenchable thirst for Warriors games, hoping to see Pokémon join the ever growing stable of franchise crossovers instead.
Pokémon isn't the only notable franchise celebrating its 20th anniversary this year; Capcom's Resident Evil also hits the lofty milestone. The news broke that RE 4, 5 and 6 would be making their way to Xbox One and PS4 in the coming months to celebrate, which prompted PTC Crisco to ponder if they were worth revisiting. The consensus was unsurprising - love for four, indifference towards five and hate for six, an "abomination" according to Johnbhoy69. I say they're all fantastic in their own right and recommend picking them up.
Jamie Rodriguez took to Facebook to comment on the news, which didn't surprise him following the ports of Resident Evil and Resident Evil Zer0.
Bananas indeed. The Xbox One & PS4 versions will be the seventh and eighth platforms Resi 4 is available on, following GameCube, PS2, PC, mobile, Xbox 360 and PS3.
*Edit: As Heavyarms_Kai pointed out on the forum, I somehow neglected to mention the Wii and recent Wii U Virtual Console versions. I even played the former...
On the opposite end of the shooter scale, Battlefield V was rumoured to be set during World War I this week and sparked conversation as a result. Having grown tired of modern shooter trends, the community would welcome the trip back in time with open arms.
I think WWI or WWII as a setting is the right choice - don't think I can stomach another modern shooter or anything else with jetpacks, wall-running, double jumps etc!
Confused Johnny made his stance clear, whilst fracturedrich shares similar feelings: "Not keen on MW or Black Ops of late."
Following concerns that the game might simply consist of potentially unexciting trench warfare, PTC l1am pointed out the opportunities for signature Battlefield vehicular combat.
... they've still got a few vehicles to chose from, such as the first ever tanks and biplanes. And I suppose they could even include cavalry if they wanted to go really left-field.
Cavalry would certainly be an interesting addition! Even more left field is PTC Bezza's idea, a sort of Battlefield collection featuring multiple eras based on their previous works.
... you could have [modern] maps... then Bad Company 2 style Vietnam era maps, some WWII maps like in BF 1942, futuristic 2142 style maps, and then the new WW1 era stuff.