This is truly going to be an interesting console generation. The Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3 are all still dominant players in the marketplace and in people’s living rooms. And since the generation has been around for so long, there are a lot of developers who’re familiar with the console architectures. 

What this means is, we’re not done seeing games for these “old” systems. Sony’s exclusive racer is set to make a big splash this week – Gran Turismo releases on the 6th, and I for one can’t wait to see what they bring to the last-gen party. Couple that with the many cross-gen, multi-platform releases we’ll see next year, and it’s tough to argue that the gaming world is ready to move on.

Friday, 10:29 am – Gavin

Super Hexagon in an Oculus Rift.  THINK ABOUT IT.

Cavanagh also developed VVVVVV.  He’s really good at developing simple games that are deceptively deep.

I played Gone Home last night.  Perhaps “played” is the wrong word, because it is little more than an interactive story without much meaningful choice.  But man, what an environment.  The story isn’t anything ambitious, but the execution is fabulous.  I can’t say much about what you actually uncover while playing, because every simple detail is deliberate and shapes the experience.  It is achingly familiar and everything feels amazing.  Setpieces are artfully crafted and every item, every piece of furniture, every room feels like it was actually taken from a real house in 1995, not just designed.  About the “gamiest” thing about it is the fact that the house you explore is MASSIVE.

The story, as I said, is simple, but the way it is told, the details from the notes and voice logs, the voice acting itself, and the details from seemingly innocuous-but-actually-extremely-relevant setpiece decorations, it’s incredible.  I can’t say what the nature of the notes and logs is, but it tells a story that is fundamentally relatable and resonant, especially if you came of age in the mid-90s.  The game encourages (and indeed requires) exploration, and in doing so, it really feels like you are walking through a house that belonged to real people.

Gameplay is simple – walk around, interact with things, uncover a story about your family that is apparently not known to the avatar, and definitely isn’t known to the player.  It resonated well with me on many different levels.  It’s very much a similar type of game to Dear Esther, but lacks any sort of pretension, whereas Dear Esther bathed in pretension, wallowed in it, made it its lifeblood.  The story is simple but beautiful and touching, and so I highly recommend it.  I’m not certain I could recommend it at $20 – I picked it up for $10 on a daily deal.  I probably wouldn’t pay more than $10 as it’s not a long experience (I finished it in just over two hours, after exploring everything well and thoroughly).

I missed one item in the game because I had to change my graphics settings and I couldn’t always tell what was what.  I will go back to it and try to find out what I missed.  That’s probably the biggest complaint I had – it doesn’t run desperately smoothly on my laptop, despite not being a desperately intense game.  I set it to high detail, 1920×1080 and the frame rate was poor and noticeably choppy.  Detail at low, things were fine, but it was hard to tell at that detail what was a set piece and what was an item with which I could interact.

It’s not something you’ll likely play again and again – if you didn’t rush through the game (or have details set to be very low, like I did), you probably saw all that you can see.  But definitely take your time with it, and be prepared for the game to pick at subtle notes in your history.

Thursday, 8:43 pm – Albert

Who is going to play this game with me? I know Ricky will. But then again Ricky promises to play games like The Last of Us and never does. So I need commitment people!

Thursday, 2:40 pm – matt

Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are starting to wrap up, but those that are still going on continue to make electronic purchases even more tempting. I already purchased a yearly subscription to PS+ for half off and Marvel Superheroes. last night I purchased, to paraphrase ricky, “a seizure in game”, which is quite fitting. Apparently the Gamentary crew met the creator, Terry Cavanagh during a game thing in Toronto, here a clip to show you what I bought / the cause for my second seizure:

Wednesday, 1:02 pm – matt

Yeah 3DS XL seems like the best choice. The 2DS is pretty neat but the screen size and clamshell design are certainly selling points. plus isnt there also a Zelda bundle?

I had to set up a twitch.tv/vdubhero account and everything streams through. i dont have any kind of following on twitch but it looks like people can comment on your videos, it unfortunately doesnt log anything after play – it will stream video in real-time but wont keep a record of it for later viewing.

still looks and works as promised. pretty neat.

Wednesday, 9:36 am – Gavin

To clarify my comments on the highly-ranked games available for each system, it was not a comment on platform-exclusive games or on third party support for a system, but rather on the need to own a new system in order to play those games.  It may be difficult to convince someone to part with $400 or $500 immediately, if the majority of the current playable library is playable on their current system as well.  Meanwhile, how many of the titles on the Wii-U are also available for the Wii? That’s not to suggest that someone interested in a Wii-U likely only owns a Wii, obviously.

I would note that Nintendo is in the unique position of not competing directly with Sony or Microsoft – the average player experience on a Wii U is markedly different than the average player experience on a PS3 or Xbox 360.  Nintendo exists it its own gaming universe.  Sales numbers now for the PS4/XBO are great, but let’s not forget that the immediate sales numbers for the Microsoft Surface were extremely positive as well. Obviously I do not expect either system to fall down that path, but sales will slow down, as they always do.

I would also note that the number of Nintendo exclusive games at 80+ is 7:

  • Monster Hunter 3
  • Lego City Undercover
  • NSMBU
  • Super Mario 3D World
  • Wind Waker HD
  • Pikmin 3
  • Mighty Switch Force

Eight if you count Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Director’s Cut: Colon, which critics suggest has an entirely different experience on the Wii U to other platforms.

Anyway, moving on because it seems that all I talk about is the Wii-U library, what precursor steps do you need to be able to take in order to broadcast from the PS4 to Twitch.tv?  Do you need to set up your own account in advance?  Does it also have the ability to record your voice when you play?  In addition to streaming, can you simply record video for posting to other sites?  If so, that could make it significantly easier for users to develop their own Let’s Play videos for future download.  Of course, this will inevitably result in a bunch of teenagers LPing the next modern military shooter and bombarding it with HILARIOUS RAPE JOKES, but you take the chaff with the wheat, I suppose.

After consideration, I’ve decided that the 3DS XL is the only handheld system I can buy.  The 2DS has a form factor that I actually quite like, and I appreciate the lack of moving parts in it (reviews frequently comment on its build quality), but at the end of the day, the screen is still open to damage and it’s not as portable.  The 3DS has the clamshell design, but the screen is too small.  I was able to use my phone (Samsung Galaxy S2) as a comparison, and that sold it for me.  It’s not going to fit in my pocket anytime soon, but it’s still the right system.  When dealing with handhelds, screen size is critically important to me – a great system can be let down by the screen you’re looking at.  I’m going to hold off until after Christmas, barring some amazing sale.  I’m in no rush, and I need to pick up a new router for the house.  By the way, anyone know anything about routers?

Tuesday, 5:48 pm – matt

Seems like the Wii-U is picking up some steam around here with Ricky’s curiosity continuing to grow. I was on the fence about getting a Wii-U but after the glorious week I’ve had playing the PS4, there’s no looking back for me now (especially since I have more friends that live OUTSIDE of my city than in it). I downloaded Marvel Legoand have begun playing co-op with my girlfriend, even broadcasted gameplay to twitch.tv which was pretty cool to share with Ricky. I also stayed up way too late finishing up the downloadable title Contrast – without spoiling anything, that game really hit a high note in my book, it easily overcomes a few technical issues and is a very fun game to play. FIFA is absolutely amazing co-op and looking forward to picking it up, hopefully a late birthday gift!

The PS4 and Xbone launch titles were very similar, with numerous cross platform games between the two and the even the PS3 and Xbox. However Nintendo is just as much to blame with your 25 listed titles over 80, only 5 of those titles aren’t available on another platform. we all know the issues Nintendo has in attracting 3rd party games but that shows that they are available, the question is whether the ports are enough to convince someone to buy the Wii-U as opposed to sticking to the same game on PS3 or Xbox.

Ive seen some great deals on 2Ds here in Montreal, but I haven’t kept an eye on 3DS models, regardless im sure the sales are coming. Nintendo knows their business model is in selling high volumes of low profit, so im sure they will take a small hit on profit in order to sell millions of new units.

the thing that would worry me as a Wii-U owner is of the 25 best games Gavin had mentioned, 11 of those were launch titles, so it took over a year (November 2012-December 2013) for 14 more titles with a score over 80 to be released. I am the first to admit its quality over quantity, Id rather play a single great game over 5 mediocre, however if the titles being released don’t excite a Wii-U owner they don’t have many options to play something else.

Tuesday, 11:18 am – Gavin

Such price.  Many affordable.  Very deal.  Wow.

To contextualize those images, I paid $350 plus tax for the deluxe model, and then Target gave me a $50 gift card, which I then applied towards a $60 copy of New Super Mario Bros. U.  So all in all, those people who waited a year to buy their system rather than the six months that I waited for mine, they paid 50% of what I paid.  BOMB JAPAN.

Sony and Microsoft rocked it with their opening week sales, but Nintendo has the software lineup in their court.  Obviously they’ve been out for a year longer so you would expect that, but Nintendo has 25 titles, either AAA big titles or eShop titles, sitting at 80 or above on Metacritic.  Some of the titles are definitely a year old (Assassin’s Creed III, for example), but it’s still worth considering when looking at the PS4 and Xbox One (9 titles at 80+, and 3, respectively, and I have to point out that most of the titles for those systems are also available on the PS3 and 360).  Those two systems are definitely representative of unbridled potential, but the Wii U is hitting its stride and has no fewer than three AAA titles waiting in the wings (Mario Kart 8, SSBU, DKC: TF).

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m also trying to convince myself that I don’t want a 3DS, but I think I’m failing.  I’ve spoken with or otherwise heard from so many different adult gamers who are in the same situation as me – love games, but don’t have as much time to play anymore.  And as such, so many of them end up going to the handheld well to feed their needs.  The Vita is a solid piece of hardware but I’m not invested in the Sony ecosystem and the library of the 3DS speaks for itself.  I missed the Black Friday deals (US buyers had an insane deal on the Zelda ALBW 3DS XL bundle), so I’ll just wait for Boxing Day and see if anything comes up.  At the recommendation of the entire Internet, I will search for a 3DS XL rather than just a vanilla 3DS.  I’ve decided that my magic number is $170 for the system and one bundled game.  The positive reviews for ALBW are really what drove me to want this system.  A Link to the Past stands as my favourite Zelda game and one of my favourite video games of all time, so a direct sequel with such positive reviews can only drive that need higher.

I said earlier this year that I really liked the look of the 2DS as a piece of hardware.  I got to see one in person not too long ago, and it feels great in the hands, but it’s not the system for me.  I like the clamshell design too much – it’s much more portable, and it doubles as screen protection when the system isn’t in use.  I’m not going to abuse it at all, but I want my goods to last a long time.

I have to admit that I started out the year with a bit of a tempered expectation of Nintendo.  I was still high on my Wii craze and had been fishing at that well for years.  The 3DS didn’t register at all and I was still confused about the Wii U and whether or not it would actually work for me.  Flash forward to today when my Wii U library is significant and I’m ready to pull the trigger on a 3DS when the right price comes along.

Tuesday, 10:16 am – Ricky

Back!

Good to hear Nintendo has their system-seller in order. I really enjoyed my (admittedly short) time with the game.

I’m not going to lie, when I saw this image, and then THIS IMAGE last night, I was combing the internetz looking for a Superstore flyer selling a Wii U bundle so I could price match it at Best Buy and get a $50 gift card on top. When I couldn’t find it, I looked again at the amazing Zelda 3DS XL bundle and contemplated ordering one of those… I think Nintendo is going to have a pretty spectacular holiday season/Q1, simultaneously preying on our nostalgia, releasing awesome games and sitting in price-tag sweet-spots. I’m basically mentally committed to the system next year, what with Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze and Super Smash Bros. all dropping into our laps.

What this year has taught me follows: Those 3 games? That’s probably enough to last me at least 6 months of play. I don’t play games often any more, and I certainly hop from game to game when I could instead focus on completing more games.

Add on to that this “short” list of my most anticipated titles in 2014, and next year is already shaping up to offer more than I’d ever be able to handle:

  • The Walking Dead: Season 2 (Episode 1 comes out this month, but still…)
  • Infamous: Second Son
  • Titanfall
  • Destiny
  • The Division (maybe?)
  • The Crew

Add in the “dependables” – another Assassin’s Creed, for example – and there’s going to be too much to play. Maybe that means I shouldn’t consider a Wii U or a 3DS XL when the platforms I already own will offer more than enough for me to play. But I still feel like there are the right “times and places” where some games will be better suited than others. My wife loves Mario Kart, and we’d undoubtedly get a kick out of the new game. Having buddies over means couch gaming, and FIFA or Super Smash Bros. would get play, but playing online means that Destiny, The Division and The Crew are more likely in rotation. If I’m in the mood for single-player gaming, Infamous, Donkey Kong and TWD have me covered. This doesn’t even include unannounced games…

For every job, there is a tool. It’s just a question of how well-stocked you want your toolchest to be.

Monday, 3:47 pm – Gavin

I have come up for air!  It’s been a pretty crazy couple of weeks here.  Anyway, as you would expect, I acquired Super Mario 3D World on launch day and have been enjoying the heck out of it since then.  The reviews are not hyperbolic – it is a fabulous, phenomenal, absolutely gorgeous game.  The level design is immaculate and it’s just fun.  And of course, everyone wants to know about multiplayer – it is amazing and adds a whole new dimension of fun to the game, bringing new challenges and opening up different play styles.

It’s not without its minor downfalls though.  The levels in 3D World are immaculate and so much fun. Nothing feels gimmicky and everything feels like it has a purpose. But the levels themselves just sort of exist without a frame of reference. It doesn’t feel like part of a bigger world beyond the world map. Meanwhile, in Galaxy, just simple details like when you start a level, you have the animation of Mario flying from the ship or the observatory to the new planet, and you get a “full tour” of the planet before you land, sort of contextualizing it.

3D World is beautiful and fun, and easily the best game I’ve played this year, but it feels to me like it’s missing the X-factor.  Sounds like complaining for the sake of complaining, I suppose.  Could it be better?  Yes.  Is it amazing as it is?  Also yes.  It’s 99.9% amazing, 0.1% disappointing.  I like those odds.  Ricky and I played it co-op last week and had a blast with it, even though I’m only midway through the third world by now.

I’m also trying hard to convince myself that I don’t want a 3DS.  All the retailers were having big sales this past weekend and I had to force myself not to pull the trigger.  I want one but I just can’t justify it, try as I might.

Monday, 8:36 am – Ricky

No time just now to chat, brb!

Advertisements