Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fanservice For The Pirate Manga At It's Best - The Take Your Time One Piece: Unlimited World Red Review

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Quick Note: For fans of One Piece, there isn't a better adaptation of the tone and feel of the characters and the world. The combat can get stale outside of boss fights, but between the all new story, the ability to play your favorite pirates, and the extra content there's plenty of game here. Never heard of One Piece? You probably should stay away.

Anime translations to games don't always work out the way fans want them to. You would think that taking the impossible battle sequences or outlandish powers and bringing them to a medium where players can interact with them would be simple, but often times the transition leaves behind something special, making the game feel like it's glossed with the anime inspired coat of paint, but missing the heart of the source material. One Piece: Unlimited World Red is the opposite: as an adaptation of the anime/manga, it feels and looks amazing; as a game, it leaves me wishing there was just a little bit more there.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Gamers Source #10 - Take-Two Sells Millions and Pre-E3 News

Image courtesy of Rockstargames.com
Welcome to the Gamer's Source, your weekly destination for gaming information! Take-Two is selling millions in Borderlands, Evolve and Grand Theft Auto V and Sony is opening up a study dedicated to Morpheus development. So, without further ado, your news...



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Time To Fix Nintendo's Membership Program

Image courtesy of PureNintendo.
Earlier this year Nintendo announced that the company would be ending it's Club Nintendo program and replace it with a newer, better program. This announcement came tied with the reveal that Nintendo would be developing mobile games, and the reason for ending the Club Nintendo program was to create a program that will work cross platform. Fast forward to today, and Nintendo still hasn't given too many details on what this program will look like, despite the fact that Club Nintendo's end is quickly approaching. So let's break down what would be the best changes Nintendo needs for Club Nintendo's successor. 

True Cross Platform Usage

Nintendo has already announced that the new program will be cross platform with not only the current Nintendo consoles, but PC and mobile as well. Aside from this fact, no other details have been announced, such as what this actually means. What Nintendo needs to do is make this a true cross platform experience that includes purchases that span multiple devices and saved data that can be accessed from multiple devices.

This is the start of Nintendo's vision. (Image courtesy of NintendoLife)
For years Nintendo fans have paid and repaid for the same game every time a new piece of hardware is purchased. On Wii, I purchased Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. On my 3DS, I have purchased Super Mario Bros. 3 and plan on purchasing the original Legend of Zelda. All of these games are trapped on the devices I have downloaded them on, despite the fact that all of these games are playable on multiple devices I own. 

This is the number one problem that Nintendo needs to address. The excuse at the moment is that Nintendo wants to keep the value of games up rather than discounting continuously to try to aim for more sales. It's a noble excuse, and one that has some merit, but it can only be used so much before it looks like a thin veil to not give up something that is making the company money. If the upper management feels that handing out multiple copies on multiple devices will bring down the value of the game, there could always be a cheaper license purchase for players who own the game on a separate device. So rather than paying $5.99 for Legend of Zelda on my Wii U when I already own it on my 3DS, I could pay $.99 to buy a license and utilize it to re-download the game on this new device. It's silly that players have to re-buy these games over and over again and, honestly, it feels a bit like a let down, as if Nintendo doesn't care that it's consumers have to re-purchase these games.

Having to purchase these separately is silly and kind of outrageous. (Image courtesy of Engadget).
The ability to carry over save files between devices is also something that needs to be addressed. As more of these games become available on multiple devices, the ability to pick up and play on the go only to come home and move to the big screen is important. Sony has mastered this with the PS Vita and PS4/PS3, and has even left it up to developers to implement into their games, requiring Sony only to ensure that there is a back end that works well. Even mobile games have cross save play so players can move from mobile to tablet to PC without having to worry about anything in between. This feature is a no-brainer and there really is no excuse anymore.

Keeping Score

Hate them or love them, Trophies and Achievements are important to PlayStation and Xbox owners. Not only is there evidence that games with these features sell better, these games often have longer retention, depending on how the feature is implemented. Nintendo won't create a similar system, nor should they. Keeping score between friends isn't really Nintendo's style and creates a competitive nature that sometimes leads to hostilities that Nintendo does not want to deal with in it's online community. However, creating a unique system to show off accomplishments and compare with friends online is some thing Nintendo needs to implement. 

This is a start, but keep it going Nintendo! (Image courtesy of games.niooz.fr)
The funny thing is, Nintendo has already started this system with the 3DS: the badge collection system. This is a system that is perfect for Nintendo, because players can earn badges by completing challenges within games without placing a score to it. The system isn't so much competitive with your friends as it is more about competing with yourself and showing off your cute little achievements to your friends. It is the core of what the Trophy and Achievement systems started as but have left behind for this score chasing game. Badges can be cute, customizable for your devices (including your smartphone) and can be shown off through a friend profile and street pass. I mean, how cool would it be to collect all 8 gym badges in a Pokemon game and be able to show them off on your gaming profile? It would be amazing! The ability to show off and compare these badges with friends can go a long way and keep the positive online environment Nintendo cherishes.

And if Badges aren't what Nintendo wants to do then something similar, such as Stamps or a Garden to collect plants that relate to these systems. Anything is better than nothing, and knowing Nintendo, the company can create some system that is not only creative, but undeniably charming and cute at the same time. Having this system to span all devices and Nintendo games would be fantastic.

Maintain the Miis

The biggest thing Nintendo has over Sony and Microsoft when it comes to social gaming networks is the Mii system. Miis can be kind of a joke, but ultimately they are the best solution to keeping Nintendo unique and can help maintain a social network specific to Nintendo games and products.  And unlike the Avatars that Microsoft uses for Xbox, Miis are utilized for Mii Plaza and other social areas. 
 
This is a start, but make it a little bit more interesting (image courtesy of Nintendo wiki).

Keeping this concept and expanding on it will create a creative and interesting gaming social network that can do the same thing as PSN and Xbox Live, but also create a social area to interact with other players. Sony tried this with PlayStation Home, but ultimately it was too separated from the gaming space that players start in. To get to PlayStation Home you have to go out of your way. It is too ambitious. Keeping it simple, but building on Mii Plaza, Nintendo can capture this social area interaction while keeping players close to the games they want to play.

Taking this concept to mobile and PC platforms would be simple as well. A Mii app for mobile phones that would allow players to customize Miis, chat with friends and even compete in mini games and show off their Badge Collections (SEE HOW IT ALL COMES TOGETHER NINTENDO!) would be perfect. Sony has it's own PlayStation App, which works well, but Nintendo could implement this and expand on it with it's own unique twist to create an experience players want to be a part of.

Online Essentials 

The final thing Nintendo needs to address is it's own mentality towards the internet and it's features. There are plenty of essentials that PSN and Xbox Live continue to build on that Nintendo refuses to utilize, namely communication. Voice Chat and better Messaging needs to happen. 
 
Let me talk with my friends while playing games, Nintendo! (image courtesy of zeldainformer)

Yes, the internet can be vitriolic. And yes, not every player is going to be nice to other players, but in order to make the Mii system expand and incorporate a trophy-esque system, the online social features need to be expanded to match that of the competition. Party matchmaking and social media integration is also a plus, but the voice chat and messaging are where Nintendo needs to start. Limit the usage or offer the option to turn these features off for specific games that are being aimed at a younger audience, but don't make everyone suffer to 'protect' the younger audience. 
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These are the starting blocks that need to be addressed. For years the company has taken hits for it's refusal to upgrade this system of online features and usage. From being unable to tie everything to one ID to the inability to use the gaming systems to communicate with friends online easily, it's time to change. If these features listed above can be implemented appropriately, Nintendo could not only catch up to Sony and Microsoft, the company could supersede it's competition as the leader in how to build a positive social structure within it's gaming world.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Gamers Source #9 - Nintendo Is Making Money And New Membership Program Details

Image courtesy of Forbes.
The Gamer's Source is taking a different direction in the form of a podcast Check it out below. Nintendo had a direct specifically for Splatoon, so lots of details have emerged as well as some small details on Nintendo's next membership program. So, without further ado, your news...



Sunday, May 3, 2015

Gamers Source #8 - Free May Games And Yooka-Laylee Excitement

Image courtesy of IGN.
The Gamer's Source is taking a different direction in the form of a podcast Check it out below. Xbox and Playstation have announced the free games for the month of May and the spiritual successor of Banjo-Kazooie has been announced! So, without further ado, your news...