We’re not usually so blunt with our headlines, but there’s no beating around the bush this week: What is Tomodachi Life? Will anyone over here buy it after the Internet outrage a couple of weeks ago? Looks like folks may have already figured out how to have same-sex relationships in the game.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Murdered: Soul Suspect releases this week. I haven’t heard a thing about this game since last year’s E3, so I’ll be curious what the reception is like. Were they holding back info in fear of negative press? You can’t hide a bad game you plan to release, but you can stop promoting it.

With this year’s E3 right around the corner, it’s a good a time as any to talk about pre-release hype, promotion and expectations. How are you influenced by the PR and marketing machine?

Wednesday, 1:49 pm – Gavin

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Mario Kart 8 is incredible.

I started it up last night for the first time and played through three of eight trophies.  It is, of course, animated mayhem glory, but where it really shines is its frame rate.  Everything is so smooth, and even when it’s complete bedlam on-screen, there is no perceptible drop in frame rate.  The tracks feel long and substantial, and all have many obstacles that will shake up the game-play.  The gravity inversion is obviously the biggest change, and it’s absolutely seamless.  Sometimes the camera doesn’t catch up to the player’s speed, which is an intentional design decision and adds a terrific new element.  Plus, the gravity inversion has been added into the retro tracks as well – they aren’t just HD updates of old tracks.

The new viewing angles and heft of the cinematography gives a certain significance to the track, making it feel like an accomplishment when you actually do finish a race.  A bit of motion sickness did set in for me after about the eighth race, but I had the same problem with Mario Kart 7, and it passed quite quickly – I’m sure it’s just a perspective thing.

I only raced at the beginner level, just to get a feel for the game and to see the tracks for myself without worrying about too much in the way of contest, but this is something that will surely absorb a lot of my time, and it is an absolute gem for multiplayer.  I can’t wait to give it a try this weekend, as Ricky will be coming over, as will friend-of-the-‘cast Ash.

No official word on console sales over the last five days, but Nintendo has sold 1.2m copies of MK8, which bodes well for the company as a whole.  MK8 is the first mass-market system-seller (in my opinion), so we’ll see if that translates into actual cash-on-the-table sales.

Tuesday, 9:43 am – Gavin

Nintendo eventually pledged to allow same-sex marriage in Tomodachi Life, but their initial response was very dismissive, and it’s not like homosexuality is some sort of obscure lifestyle choice – it’s pretty goddamn mainstream, about as mainstream as interracial marriage, which was allowed by design in this game. I can completely understand why many would feel disenfranchised or offended by Nintendo’s choices.  There was no reason to exclude it except as an intentional decision, which went over about as well as pork chops in Iraq.  It’s not like Nintendo is being asked to add in all sorts of paraphilia to appease the dendrophiles, the coprophiles, the sadists, or the zoophiles.  It’s entirely their right to design their games in a certain way, but if they didn’t expect this reaction, then they’re remarkably out of tune with the zeitgeist.

That trailer is interesting!  I’m probably done with most fighting games now – a few of those sequences made me a bit uncomfortable – but it’s interesting to see how far they’ve come.  Long gone are the days of MK2.  I do notice that it was entirely bullshot though – I need to see some gameplay in a trailer before I can get excited about a game these days.  I’ll probably be giving it a pass.

I just finished Mass Effect 1 last night.  33 hours total (plus an extra 2 for a save file that I restarted), so it ranks third overall on my Steam list of games for most played, behind Skyrim at #2 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution at #1.  I don’t have any immediate desire to replay the game – I went full Paragon, and Renegade does not seem like a particularly attractive option for me.  I got as close to 100% as I was going to get – I spoke with every NPC, did every side quest (except for finding all of the minerals and League of One medallions, and one side quest at the Citadel before you leave for Ilos), opened every crate and just did my best to get the fulsome experience.  I went with the female Shepard, partly to get away from “White male hero saves the day” and partly because I’m not a huge fan of Mark Meer’s voice – I didn’t want to have to listen to that, not when the other option was Jennifer Hale.

End result?  The game was quite enjoyable, and I’m glad I went through it, rather than jumping straight into ME2.  There were lots of quirks, and planet exploration was fairly monotonous.  The dialogue was pretty cheesy in a lot of parts, and the dialogue options didn’t fully flesh out what you were going to say, nor your tone, so I never really felt as though there was any benefit to choosing the Renegade option for a dialogue tree.  I chose Paragon every single time.

I can find enough fault with it that it’s not going to crack my favourite games list anytime soon, but I’ve been told repeatedly that it’s just a warmup for ME2, the real gem of the series.  I started up ME2 last night just to make sure that my save file transferred properly and that the game recognized the decisions I made.  I’m going to take a break from it for a bit though, because it is now time for MARIO KART!

I picked it up on Friday, haven’t had a chance to dive into it just yet but will be doing so this week.  The game sold 1.2m copies in its first weekend, which is huge for the big N, and so far, everyone seems to really love it – Metacritic has it ranked at 88.  It’s a start, and hopefully Nintendo can maintain a bit of momentum throughout the rest of the year.  We’ve got E3 coming up, and hopefully there are some substantial announcements coming down the pipe.  We expect to hear more about Smash Brothers, and I believe we’re set to hear about the next Zelda game.  I wouldn’t mind a Metroid announcement.  I’m hoping for Mario Galaxy 3 as well, but I do acknowledge that it has barely been six months since 3D World, a game which was well-received by everybody.

Tuesday, 9:00 am – Ricky

Nice trailer! Hope we see more at E3 next week! I’m always down for a good fighting game, even though I suck at them and constantly have to look-up button combinations.

Yeah, that was an interesting discussion on Tomodachi (sorry, forgot to link to the Cnet article I was referring to in the opening salvo). I think that it’s unreasonable to expect a game company to be able to program for any and all beliefs/lifestyles/choices. Nintendo’s response to the outrage – which amounted to “*shrug* Deal with it” – was what gets me. In the age of the instant spread of information, a company as large as Nintendo should know to filter this kind of stuff through the appropriate PR people.

Anyway, the game is coming out, and I won’t be playing it. Most of the west will probably stick to Mario Golf.

I’ve played about 5 hours of Watch Dogs (no underscore for me!!), and it’s a pretty fun game. Not super new or different, but fun. I really don’t have much more to share beyond that – it’s an open world game, the characters stink, the world is super detailed and it all looks pretty. There you go. I also started the tutorial for Tropico 5, but had to cut my time with it short as my newish video card is acting up. I’ve submitted an RMA, so hopefully I should get it back in a couple of weeks. Sadface…

In the meantime, I still have TLoU to play through. I will get this thing done before the PS4 version releases. Oh god I hope I finish this before the PS4 version releases…

Monday, 3:21 pm – Albert

Tomodachi Life is just… weird. I understand that it’s probably the next logical step with creating little Mi (Wi) characters but I guess I am just not that ingrained with the Nintendo lifestyle. I thought the whole debacle over the same-sex marriage in a game has been interesting. On one hand its important to show equality among all people in every game. There are definitely some games that may have been racist, gender-biased, misogynistic, and now homophobic. But on the other hand… it’s a game. If certain aspects of life get left out should we just incorporate them and go down the checklist of pre-approved by all groups in all future games? I’m torn.

Y’know what? My answer is to just watch the Mortal Kombat Trailer below…

Monday, 9:59 am – Ricky

I’ll be playing the “what’s wrong with my video card” game this week.