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    Why is Pokemon Go suddenly becoming so popular again?

    News Matthew Byrd
    Jun 27, 2018

    Surprisingly, Pokemon Go's player count is on the rise in a big way. 

    According to a report by Superdata, Pokemon Go recently hit its highest number of active players since the game's launch in 2016. Pokemon Go reportedly made about $104 million in May 2018, and the game's revenue is rising at an astonishing rate of 174% since last year. 

    This news will certainly come as a shock to many. After all, we're far removed from the months (weeks?) in which Pokemon Go was a bonafide cultural phenomenon that had millions taking to the streets to try to catch Pokemon close - and not so close - to them. However, many of those who bought into the initial hype of the Pokemon Goexperience eventually walked away from the game. 

    So why the resurgence? Superdata believes that the game's recent popularity resurgence can be partially attributed to a change in seasons. Simply put, more people are willing to walk around and catch Pokemon when the weather is nicer. Of course, 2017 didn't see nearly as big of a popularity boost in the summer as we've seen in 2018. 

    To help understand what makes this year special, you also have to consider that developer Niantic Labs has been adding a ton of new content to Pokemon Go over the last couple of years. If you haven't booted up Pokemon Go since around the time that it launched, doing so now will probably come as a bit of a shock. The initially clever mobile title is now a fully-fleshed out experience that is much closer to a real Pokemon game in terms of features. 

    While we're not yet convinced that Pokemon Go will ever be quite as popular as it was when the game launched in 2016, it's clear that the game is still incredibly successful and that its developers are doing everything they can to ensure that it remains a popular mobile title. It remains to be seen whether the Switch release of Pokemon Let's Go Eevee and Pikachu helps or hurts the popularity of Pokemon Go


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    Here's everything you need to know about Fallout 76, including latest news, release date, trailers, and more!

    News Matthew ByrdJohn Saavedra
    Jun 28, 2018

    Fallout 76is the next entry in the Fallout series from Bethesda Game Studios. Based on a brief teaser, the game is set in 2102 and centers around a survivor from Vault 76. The story takes place in the hills of West Virginia. You play as one of the first survivors to leave a vault in the aftermath of the nuclear war that turned the planet into a wasteland. It'll be your job to rebuild civilization.

    This sequel is actually an online survival RPG in the same vein as Rust and DayZ. The game, which reportedly began as a multiplayer mode for Fallout 4, will feature quests and a story as well as base-building mechanics. Bethesda confirmed at E3 2018 that the game is four times the size of Fallout 4.

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Fallout 76 News

    Bethesda has dropped a new gameplay video previewing the base-building element of Fallout 76. Check it out below:

    Fallout 76 Release Date

    Fallout 76 will arrive on Nov. 14, 2018. The game is coming to XBO, PS4, and PC. 

    Fallout 76 Trailer

    A new trailer debuted at E3 2018. Check it out below:

    Check out the announcement trailer:

    Fallout 76 Details

    According to an interview with Todd HowardFallout 76 will not feature an offline single-player option. 

    What that means is that there is no way to play the game without other people somehow being involved in your experience. Why you don't technically have to interact with them, they can theoretically interact with you whenever they'd like. However, there will be private servers meaning that it is possible to host a server for yourself or a small group of people. 

    Additionally, it seems that the game will not include any NPCs that are not robots. This does raise some questions regarding how, exactly, quests in the game will be given out. Our guess is that most of the game's quest will be very simple fetch and enemy elimination affairs. 


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    The next Overwatch hero is the game's strangest champion yet.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Jun 28, 2018

    Overwatch's 28th hero appears to be a hamster. 

    Details are few and far between at this time, but Blizzard has sent out a teaser on Twitter that seemingly confirms that Overwatch's next champion is a hamster in a robotic death ball. We don't know what his abilities will be, or even what his name is, but there is plenty of evidence out there that seemingly answers many of those questions. 

    In all likelihood, the next Overwatch hero is named Hammond. The legend of Hammond dates back to current Overwatch hero Winston's backstory. Videos and other in-game material referencing that story featured several mentions of a companion- and a fellow animal experiment - named Hammond. Since Winston is a giant talking gorilla, many figured that Hammond would also be a gorilla or something similar. 

    However, Reddit user stmaurer accurately predicted just one day ago that Hammond is actually a hamster. His prediction was based on certain clues that Blizzard leaked ahead of Hammond's unveiling. For instance, it was revealed that Hammond was able to roll through ventilation shafts and there were a lot of references to a ball in various teasers. 

    Of course, Hammond's ball isn't just a plaything used for exercise. It actually resembles one of those robotic rolling soldiers from the opening scenes of The Phantom Menace. If indeed the Twitter teaser above is our first look at Hammond, then it feels safe to say that he might be an agile "dive" tank that will play similar to how D.Va and Winston currently do. 

    There are other Overwatch fans who are just wondering why a hamster in a robot is ok but the fabled jetpack cat was apparently a step too far. 


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    The upcoming re-release of Mega Man X5 alters some infamous boss names.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Jun 28, 2018

    The upcoming Mega Man X Legacy Collections feature a strange change to an equally bizarre pop culture reference featured in Mega Man X5.

    For those who don't know, many of Mega Man X5's original bosses were all named after Guns N’ Roses band members. For instance, you had Axle the Red, Izzy Glow, Duff McWhalen (great name), and Grizzly Slash. Even those who didn't know at the time that the game's bosses were named after the members of Guns N’ Roses have long noticed that Mega Man X5features some of the strangest boss names in the entire franchise. 

    As it turns out, the decision to name X5's bosses after rock stars can be traced to the wishes of Alyson Court. Court is probably best known amongst Capcom fans as the English-language voice of Resident Evil’s Claire Redfield, but she also helped her husband localize some of the text of Mega Man X5. It turns out that Court's husband was a big Guns N’ Roses fan, and the pair seemingly decided to have a little fun with the boss names. 

    However, their fun won't make the leap to the upcoming Legacy collection. As spotted in the game's latest trailer, the X5 bosses seem to have different names. For instance, Reploid Mattrex's name has been changed to Burn Dinorex. While you might think this is due to some odd legal issues, Capcom says that their decision to change the X5 boss names doesn't stem from anything that complicated. 

    "In our mission to make these collections an authentic Mega Man X experience, we took the opportunity to better align the naming of the Mega Man X5 Mavericks across all regions for better narrative cohesion across the series, making the names more aligned with the original Japanese version release," said Capcom in a statement to Gamespot. "We hope that fans appreciate our intent to unify the Mega Man X Maverick-naming convention all these years later.”

    Their reasoning makes sense, but we can't help but feel a little sad that the infamous X5 boss names will soon be historical footnotes. 


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    The studio known for epic experiences like Anthem wants to pivot to make more experimental games.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Jun 28, 2018

    BioWare general manager Casey Hudson and Anthem executive producer Mark Darrah recently spoke with Game Informer and expressed their desire to make smaller, stranger games. 

    "I think some of the things that are coming, in the way that we're doing things in BioWare and the way that EA is working and the industry is going, I think it is starting to afford the opportunity for us to do some things that are more experimental," said Hudson. "I would like to get to a place where, yes, we're doing our big next thing, but maybe we're also kind of doing a few experiments. I want to get to where we can kind of do the equivalent of getting short films out there to people and saying, 'Hey, we got a bunch of things we want—creative ideas we want to get out. And so try this piece and have a look at this thing.' And kind of see what people like." 

    Darrah believes that triple-A publishers like EA will soon "start diversifying the scale of their games" in order to produce smaller experiences that are "intended to be consumed more quickly." While he doesn't put a name to the kind of projects that the team would like to work on, his suggestions hint at BioWare's desire to move away from ensuring that every one of their games is a 50 hour+ epic and to focus on producing more indie-like experiences. 

    Hudson expanded on the studio's wishes by referencing games like Rockstar Table Tennisand Blood Dragon as the kind of off-the-wall projects that BioWare wants to work on at some point. As for whether or not he truly feels those titles are viable in the modern age, Hudson references the popular belief that there is a new breed of indie titles emerging in the industry. 

    "I think there's middle ground," said Hudson. "I've heard it called 'triple-A indie,' which is that sort of high production value, but still smaller scale, smaller budget." 

    Whether or not BioWare is able to make such games may depend on whether Anthem is a financial success. 


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    The closure of Visceral and the cancellation of Star Wars "Ragtag" resulted in Hennig going indie.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Jun 28, 2018

    When EA shut down Visceral Games, and effectively killed the high-profile Star Wars game they were working on, many wondered what lied ahead for Amy Hennig. The former creative director of Naughty Dog had become the face of Visceral Games and the now-canceled Star Warsproject but some speculated that she might remain an EA employee after the closure of the studio. According to Hennig, though, she has moved on from EA. 

    "I'm not, I have not worked at EA since January, technically, legally," said Hennig in an interview with Eurogamer. "This is the problem, it was hard enough for them, but people were immediately asking them 'is Amy working with you?' and the answer was 'well, we're in negotiations...' like, hmm. It was, sort of the soft pedal answer."

    While the closure of Visceral and the cancellation of the "Ragtag"Star Wars project was not well-received by fans, Hennig insists that there isn't much bad blood between her and EA and that the delay in her revealing she had departed the company was just one of those things.  

    "I haven't been in, but look - I get along with all those people, I consider even the guys on the exec team friends," said Hennig. "But it made it awkward because it was like, 'I never got the chance to announce that I'm not at EA so I need to just pull off that band-aid at some point - but also had nothing to announce. It makes it sound like I just went home! But I'm doing all this stuff, working on all kinds of things."

    Hennig also spoke briefly about what became of the Star Wars game she was working on by noting that EA Vancouver is working on something "pretty different." She says that once the project moved in an open-world direction, it became "such a different game to the one we were making." While Amy would love to see that project resurrected, she insists she's not working on anything Star Wars related at the moment. 

    "I'm working independently and staying independent," says Hennig. "I just started my own small little independent studio and am consulting with some people. I'm hoping to bring some people on board, I would love to have a little company of about six to eight people, 15 at the most, and do some more projects, do some VR stuff - I'm consulting with some VR companies and doing a ton of research because I haven't played a lot to immerse myself in it."


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    Get ready for Fortnite season 5! Here's what we know about it...

    NewsJohn Saavedra
    Jun 28, 2018

    Epic Games has announced that Fortnite season 5 is set to arrive on July 12 at 4 am ET. With it will undoubtedly come tons of new loot to earn. While it hasn't been confirmed, expect the new Battle Pass to cost 950 V-Bucks (roughly $10). The season is expected to last 10 weeks like the last few seasons, although none of this has been confirmed by Epic. 

    For those still trying to earn those final Season 4 rewards, Epic is also launching a 100 percent bonus XP event that will allow you to get those last few trinkets faster. That event runs from June 29 at 4 am ET and ending on July 2 at 3 am ET. 

    As for what fans should expect from the new season of Fortnite, that remains a mystery. Season 4 introduced new areas of the map after a meteor hit the play area and left behind a zero-gravity crater. It also added new skins, emotes, perks, and much more. Some fans suspect that the new season might kick off with the launch of a missile that could destroy another section of the map (fans are hoping that the Wailing Woods will be wiped from existence). 

    Season 5's potentially explosive entrance comes just weeks after Fortnite arrived on the Nintendo Switch, opening up the game to a whole new group of gamers. Best of all, you can now play the game on the go without having to deal with a tiny smartphone screen or touch controls. I, for one, am much happier with the Switch version.

    More news on Fortnite season 5 as we learn it!


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    The creator of The Binding of Issac is taking the series in a bold new direction.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Jun 28, 2018

    The Binding of Isaac creator Edmund McMillen has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a card game called The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls

    Four Souls is a bit of passion project for McMillen. He informed IGN that he was initially approached by an outside company who wanted to make a card game based on The Binding of Issac. However, McMillen wasn't interested in letting someone else develop that concept.

    “If I ever did something like that it would have to be something that I made,” said McMillen. "I would have to be into the design and I’d want full control over it.”

    About a year after he was approached with that idea, McMillen began working on a Binding of Issac card game of his own design. Based on the information included in the Kickstarter campaign, Four Souls isn't quite like any other card game on the market. It sees players taking turns to collect items and beat bosses in order to gather four important souls. Along the way, players will be able to expand their decks and barter, trade, and buy better items. 

    While the core gameplay described in the demonstration video makes it sound like Four Souls is trying to replicate the roguelike experience of The Binding of Issac, it doesn't seem like Four Souls is going to impose the permadeath system featured in that genre. Death is present in Four Souls, but dying doesn't necessarily mean that you lose everything. 

    It seems that McMillen's main goal is to ensure that every aspect of Four Souls - from the gameplay to the art - captures the spirit of The Binding of Issac. The result is a fascinating concept for a card game that captures the adventurous spirit of titles like Slay the Spire but doesn't draw any immediate comparisons in terms of its similarities with other card games.

    The Binding of Issac: Four Souls has already surpassed its $50,000 pledge goal (it's currently at over $500,000) and still has 28 days left to go. 


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    The Halo TV series is finally happening at Showtime, helmed by Steven Spielberg and Rupert Wyatt!

    Den of Geek Halo
    News John SaavedraMatthew Byrd
    Jun 28, 2018

    The Halo live-action TV series is a go at Showtime. The network has ordered 10 hourlong episodes, which will begin production in 2019. The series comes from Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt, Awake creator Kyle Killen, and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment. 

    Wyatt is set to direct multiple episodes of the series. We don't know yet when the series will take place, although there's plenty of material to borrow from a franchise that's spread from games to books, anime, and comics. What is clear is that there's A LOT of Halo on the way. On top of the new TV series, the next video game, Halo Infinite, was just announced a few weeks ago. 

    Halo is our most ambitious series ever, and we expect audiences who have been anticipating it for years to be thoroughly rewarded,” said David Nevins, President and CEO Showtime Networks. “In the history of television, there simply has never been enough great science fiction. Kyle Killen’s scripts are thrilling, expansive and provocative, Rupert Wyatt is a wonderful, world-building director, and their vision of Halo will enthrall fans of the game while also drawing the uninitiated into a world of complex characters that populate this unique universe.”

    Microsoft first announced at E3 2013 that they'd reached a deal with Spielberg and Showtime to produce a series based on the legendary game franchise, Halo. Since then, updates on the status of that series had been few and far between until now. 

    This isn't the first time Halo has been up for the live-action treatment. You may also recall that Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp also tried to get a Halo movie off the ground, but a creative war between several studios ended the project before it could truly begin. Elements of Blomkamp's Halo project can be seen in several of his movies, such as the African setting in District 9 and the ring-shaped spaceship in Elysium. 

    Ridley Scott produced a poorly received webseries called Halo: Nightfall starring Luke Cage's Mike Colter back in 2014. Hopefully, Showtime's series fares much better.

    We'll keep you updated as we learn more!


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    Bethesda knows where the next Elder Scrolls game is set, and the answers might be in the teaser trailer.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Jun 28, 2018

    Bethesda executive producer Todd Howard says that the studio knows exactly where the next Elder Scrolls game will be set, but he's not ready to tell anyone else. 

    "The first thing we do is the world so we've known for a while where it's set," said Howard in an interview with Eurogamer. He went on to say that the region of The Elder Scrolls VI was decided a while ago. Howard also said that it's possible that fans could tell where the next Elder Scrollsgame will be set based on the teaser trailer, but that it won't be obvious to most people. 

    "I obviously would say yes," said Howard in regards to whether fans would be able to identify the region from the trailer. "but you can't - it's intentionally... You can rule some things out. And you can rule some things in.

    Eurogamer tried to ask whether or not the game is set in Hammerfell - a largely arid region that is the most popular guess regarding where the next Elder Scrolls will be set - but Howard refused to take the bait. 

    As for why Bethesda revealed The Elder Scrolls VI so far ahead of its possible release date, Howard said that it really came down to a desire to let fans know that they are working on games that people love and to take some of the pressure off members of the studio. 

    "We're going to E3 and showing a new Fallout game [Fallout 76] which is very different than we usually do, and then we're going to show you an Elder Scrolls game [Blades - the mobile game] that is very different than we would usually do, and if we leave it just at that, our fans are like, '... - Are you still going to do the things I love?" said Howard. "It's better to say we're making it. It makes life a little bit easier for us. [If we didn't say anything] they would be disappointed and they'd still ask 'What about Starfield?' and 'What about THe Elder Scrolls VI?'. But it's also exciting! We're excited; we want to share it with everybody."

    Of course, Howard noted that it might be a while before we actually get to play The Elder Scrolls VI or even see more of it. In other words, try not to pressure the team too much. 


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  • 06/28/18--17:05: Mario Tennis Aces Review
  • Mario Tennis Aces serves up the series' best gameplay, but is that good enough? Here is our review...

    Release Date: June 22, 2018
    Platform: Nintendo Switch
    Developer: Camelot Software Planning
    Publisher: Nintendo
    Genre: Sports

    In a perfect world, copies of Mario Tennis Aces would be shipped out to Switch owners everywhere like those America Online trial discs that everyone used to receive in the mail. That way, the conversation around the game could be entirely focused on the game that developer Camelot has crafted.

    That might sound like an odd request, but the biggest problem with Mario Tennis Aces is that it has a $60 price tag attached to it. If we could just buy the world a Coke, then maybe Aces could just be the entertaining game that it was seemingly designed to be. Instead, Aces finds itself as the most recent centerpiece in the roundtable discussion of video game value relative to the value of other video games (and other forms of entertainment) in 2018.

    Of course, Mario Tennis Aces wouldn’t be in that discussion at all if it weren’t entertaining in the first place. Since the N64 edition of Mario Tennis - let’s forget the Virtual Boy title of the same name - Mario Tennis has been this fundamentally entertaining and traditionally over-the-top take on the sport. Even when the series was at its most disappointing (you know what you did, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash), it usually offered fun gameplay.

    The thing that makes Mario Tennis Aces so impressive is that developer Camelot was brave enough to use the game as an excuse to make some major changes to the Mario Tennis formula, and the studio has come away with what is indisputably the most fascinating tennis gameplay a Mario Tennis game has ever featured.

    Mario Tennis has always emphasized a kind of rock/paper/scissors duel of varied shots and strategies, but Aces turns the series into what is essentially a fighting game. The addition of the charge meter and all the new mechanics it allows for makes it more difficult than ever to get a shot past a skilled opponent. Rather than just “hitting it where they ain't,” you must now carefully consider your opponent’s ability to use their power meter to counter your strategies as well as their position on the court and how they may react to your shot.

    Timing and shot selection still matter in Mario Tennis Aces, but the resource management elements that the power meter introduces means that you must also consider how efficiently you are using your abilities. The reason the whole thing works is that every ability can be countered in some way. It might be difficult to block a character’s special move - and you run the risk of breaking your racket and losing the game in the process - but it all just contributes to the dance.

    At its best, Aces offers the kind of back-and-forth duels that few other games outside of the fighting genre can offer. That’s a comparison complemented by the various characters, who all have different playstyles and even variations on similar playstyles. We’re already seeing character tier-lists emerge (Hint: Pick Yoshi).

    The difference between Aces and the many fighting games, though, is that Aces is accessible enough to make you feel like you’re having fun even before you really learn what you're doing. It then scales with your experience and skill level to offer a different kind of game than you could have imagined when you were just a rookie, but one that is just as much fun. That’s a trick that games like Destinyhave never managed to properly pull off.

    However, some have raised some fair questions regarding just how accessible Mario Tennis Acesreally is. For younger gamers, or even gamers with memories of old Mario Tennis games dancing in their heads, the more complicated mechanics of Aces might simply not be what they are looking for. Aces offers a simple mode that offers more traditional Mario Tennis gameplay, but whether because it pales in comparison to the new mechanics or it just wasn’t tweaked properly, the mode feels like cold leftovers. The same can be said of the game’s motion control options, which sadly don’t offer a Wii Sports alternative.

    Ideally, this is where the game’s adventure mode would come into play. Mario Tennis Aces features a single-player mode built around a typically absurd and simple plot that, in this instance, sees Luigi teleported to another dimension courtesy of a magic tennis racket. It’s all just an excuse to send Mario off to exotic locations to complete a series of tennis-based challenges.

    Here again, Mario Tennis is burdened partially by expectations. For the most part, Mario Tennis Aces’ adventure mode is fine. Some of the mini-games are far more annoying than they are clever, but Camelot does a great job of utilizing the game’s core mechanics and finding ways to use them to create puzzle-like scenarios that play out across a variety of creative and well-designed environments.

    The problem is that Aces isn’t Mario Tennis: Power Tour. Power Tour featured a surprisingly brilliant RPG campaign similar to the one we’ve seen in games like Mario Golf: Advance Tour and Golf Story. Gamers have been begging for a Mario Tennisgame to revive that concept, and Camelot made the unfortunate decision to flirt with that idea by giving Mario stats and teasing those RPG elements without fully committing to them. Even without the comparisons, Aces’ campaign ultimately doesn’t offer enough content.

    This is where the question of Aces’ value becomes the game's identity. Without a meaningful solo adventure, substantial casual play options, or even motion control gameplay that feels like it was supposed to be a standalone feature, you’re pretty much left with the game’s multiplayer.

    While that multiplayer is absolutely incredible from a gameplay standpoint, not everyone is going to be able to get their friends together often enough to justify a purchase. The game’s online tournaments ensure that you’ll always be able to find someone to play against, but even that option is hindered by a seemingly non-existent skill-based matchmaking system and the possibility of connection errors impacting your game in a very serious way. 

    Even in its ideal format, Aces’ multiplayer suffers from a lack of customization options. Much has been made of the fact that you can’t play a proper game of tennis against a human opponent, which sounds silly - this is Mario Tennis after all - until you realize that the real issue is that Aces customization is so bare bones that you can’t even pick which court you play on when you play against human opponents.

    It's why I wish for that ideal world in which everyone owns a copy of Mario Tennis Aces. In that world, you could just play a round of multiplayer whenever it suits you, appreciate the game’s astonishingly good core gameplay (and, for that matter, fun visual and sound design), and never worry about value.

    We don’t live in that world, though, and in the one we do live in, it’s unacceptable that one of Nintendo’s biggest releases of the year is so light on even the most basic features and fails to realize the potential of certain concepts that developer Camelot is so bold to hint at without really building upon them. Mario Tennis Aces features the absolute best gameplay we’ve seen from a Mario Tennis game and some of the best gameplay we’ve seen from a sports title of any kind in quite some time. Unfortunately, many will find it hard to justify paying $60 for a major release that feels like it is shortchanging fans on features for no other reason than just to do it. 

    3/5
    ReviewMatthew Byrd
    Jun 28, 2018

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    The GameCube may have been one of Nintendo's biggest commercial disappointments, but it had some stunning games. Here's our top 25...

    FeatureAaron Birch
    Jun 29, 2018

    Like Sega's ill-fated Dreamcast, the Nintendo GameCube may have failed commercially, but today it's held in high regard by gamers, and many of its titles have a cult following. The GameCube's legacy isn't merely limited to retro, cult appeal, though, and many games on the platform have survived and have been continued on later Nintendo platforms. It also played host to some people's all-time favourite entries in long-running Nintendo series, with its incarnations of some iconic Nintendo franchises beating those on the more successful platforms from the Japanese giant.

    We're big fans of the GameCube here at Den of Geek, so we're going to take a look at our top 25 titles to grace the GameCube's tiny discs. We can't pick all of the platform's best games, of course, so feel free to chip in in the comments section with your own personal favourites....

    25. Animal Crossing

    It may not be considered a real game by many (it certainly is by us), but there's no denying Animal Crossing's popularity, and although you spend much of your time performing fairly mundane tasks with cutsey animals, there's just something so appealing and addictive about it.

    About as stressful as a picnic on a sunny day, there's no danger of anger or irritation here, and simply playing the game for a while can ease those daily troubles, all the while you're building your little cartoon life, and there are few games more suitable for young kids. Charming, to say the least.

    24. Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean

    The GameCube wasn't exactly well-endowed with RPGs, and although overlooked by many, this is one of the best on the system. Developed by MonolithSoft, of Xenoseries fame, it was a unique RPG that featured an interesting card-based combat system, and put players in the role of a guardian of the protagonist rather than the hero himself. There was also a very interesting camera function that let players take pictures of enemies. These photos could then be sold to raise money.

    Now considered something of a cult classic, Baten Kaitos is a thoroughly different RPG that's well worth your time if you're a JRPG fan, but want to try something that doesn't follow the same strict design as many similar titles in the genre.

    23. Viewfitul Joe

    Capcom may like to play it safe most of the time, sticking with tried and tested franchises like Resident Eviland Street Fighter, but occasionally it works outside of the envelope to deliver some great, new titles, and Viewtiful Joe is a prime example.

    Developed by Clover Studios, which would go on to create classics likeOkamiand God Hand, Viewtiful Joe was a side-scrolling scrapper that introduced fast-forward, slo-mo, and zoom mechanics alongside vibrant, cel-shaded visuals.

    It was a stylish and impressive fighter with platform elements that played almost as well as it looked, and the mixture of Joe's VFX powers and challenging combat on a 2D plane produced a striking, stand out release for the GameCube.

    22. Battalion Wars

    Battalion Wars mixed cute characters and tactical combat to create a fusion of real time strategy and third person shooting, evolving the gameplay seen in Advance Wars on handheld. Players could control single or groups of units, and instruct the AI with basic commands. These units featured soldiers and various vehicles, and the tactical combat, although clearly aimed at a younger audience, was surprisingly deep.

    The game didn't skimp on variety, and you had full control of all types, including aircraft, and the control system, whilst it could be a little clunky at times, handled things well, always keeping that all-important fun factor. What's more, the feeling of achievement that came from a successful manoeuvre, and using your own tactics to win a battle made it all the more rewarding.

    21. Ikaruga

    Treasure's polarity-shifting shooter is found in many lists, and for good reason – it's a superb, old-school shooter that brought a unique twist to the traditionally simple formula. It used an uncomplicated but effective black and white polarity system that allowed players to switch from one to the other at will. Enemies also utilised this colour system for projectiles, and if you switched to the corresponding colour of enemy bullets, you could absorb them, able to fire off powerful homing blasts when charged up. Your projectiles also changed colour, doing more damage to the enemy if the opposite polarity was used.

    Alongside this unique system the game bore the standard 'bullet hell' style shooter play, and threw in some impressive boss battles to create a retro classic, and one of the finest shooters ever produced.

    20. Luigi's Mansion

    As a GameCube launch title, Luigi's Mansion was a bit of a surprise. When people wanted Mario, they got his brother instead. Not only this, but the game eschewed the usual platformer genre, instead opting for a Ghostbusters-style, cartoon survival horror.

    Luigi goes looking for Mario, who's gone missing in a strange mansion, and finds it haunted by ghosts. Using his ghost catching vacuum, Luigi has to roam the mansion, finding and catching the various ghosts, uncovering the fate of his sibling.

    Although the game wasn't initially considered by many to be a great title, it's one that's aged well, and the unique and different style of play for a Mario Bros. title makes it stand out. Add to that some excellent presentation and Nintendo charm, and you have a brilliant little game that shows how well Nintendo can inject new life into its long-running franchises.

    19. TimeSplitters 2

    Viewed by many as the swansong of the talented developers of GoldenEye 007,TimeSplitters 2 wasn't a GameCube exclusive, but it was, without a doubt, one of the best FPS titles on the platform, or any other format for that matter, and the strongest entry in the series.

    Heavily multiplayer-focused, but with a unique, and brilliant campaign mode that oozed style and challenge, this is a veritable tour de force of game design. Even after all these years, TS2 is one of the most fluid and addictive FPS titles ever made, and when it comes to split screen local multiplayer, this is one of the finest examples you can find.

    18. Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition

    Not to be confused with the Wind Wakerpre-order bonus disc, this was only officially available within a special GameCube bundle (and special registration offers). This may not actually be a GameCube title per se, but regardless, it's one of the best discs you can find on the platform. To do this, you'll need to trawl second hand stores and sites like eBay, but it's well worth it.

    The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition is a special compilation disc that includes several earlier Zeldatitles, all playable on the GameCube. The titles include the original Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Ocarina of Time (with the remixed, Master dungeons option), Majora's Mask, a Zelda retrospective, and a 20-minute demo of Wind Waker. It should be noted that the pre-order disc for Wind Wakeronly featured Ocarina of Time.

    With four Zeldagames, including the legendary Ocarina of Time, on a single disc this is a must for any Zelda fan.

    17. Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat

    Another Nintendo heavy-hitter, Donkey Kong has starred in many different titles, and this is arguably one of the most original. On the surface it's a standard DK platformer, but this changed when you consider the main control method – a pair of bongo drums.

    Using these drums, you controlled DK by hitting left, right and both to jump. Tapping the sides caused DK to clap. You could also use a standard GameCube pad, but the drums were by far the most fun.

    Heavily score-based, it was a different take on the usual DK title, and with the bongo drum controls it was a GameCube classic that can be quite hard to get hold of now, so if you get chance, go for it.

    16. Killer7

    A game that seems to pop up in quite a few of our lists. Suda 51's stylish classic was available on the PlayStation 2, but it was the GameCube where the group of crazy assassins began, and it's this version that's superior, with better visuals and no slow down (which plagued the PS2 version).

    On rails gameplay was merged with shooting gallery action and a deep, bizarre and multi-layered story to create a truly unforgettable adventure, the real answers to which are still debated by fans today. Suda 51 has made more bonkers titles since, such as No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned, and Lollipop Chainsaw, but Killer7is still the best of his stable.

    15. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

    One of the best launch titles for the GameCube, Rogue Leaderwas a superb space combat title that was spread over multiple levels, seeing the player put in the shoes of Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles, and even Darth Vader.

    Various mission types were implemented, including escort missions, search and destroy, and outright dogfights, and there was a selection of craft to fly, including the iconic X-Wing, Y-Wing, Snow Speeder, Millennium Falcon, and Vader's TIE fighter.

    It was an early showcase for the power of the GameCube, and this visual flair, solid gameplay, and the Star Wars name made it an instant hit, and a system seller.

    14. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

    Mario has dabbled with RPGs a few times, and this GameCube outing is one of the best in our opinion. Set in a flat, 2D paper world, The Thousand Year Door has a very different feel to it than most Mario games, and the turn-based combat, while very similar to many JRPGs, is interesting, and engaging, with timed button press abilities adding to the challenge. Add in the battle audience that reacts to the action, the badge-based ability system, and the paper-folding powers, and you've got a classic example of Mario's flexibility above and beyond simple platforming.

    Mario explores a range of locations and meets up with various ally characters. There are secrets aplenty and some challenging boss fights, some of which truly up the difficulty curve, more so than you may expect from such a friendly-looking RPG.

    13. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

    It may have been a port of an already existing game, one that made one of its rivals, the Sony PlayStation, a major threat, but this update of the original Metal Gear Solid was a brilliant GameCube release nonetheless.

    It repackaged the original game with updated visuals and better cut scenes, and also introduced some of the elements from the PS2 sequel, Sons of Liberty. In truth, this was the MGS2 engine running MGS on GameCube, and it worked.

    All aspects of the game were tightened, such as Enemy AI and controls, and although the core game and the areas were exactly the same as the original, Twin Snakes felt like a very different experience thanks to the new game engine.

    12. Super Mario Sunshine

    Oddly, the GameCube was a Nintendo platform that didn't have a traditional Mario game, at all. Instead, the closest the system came to a standard Mario game was Super Mario Sunshine. This was a 3D Mario that saw the plumber attempt to clean up the Delfino holiday resort after it was attacked by a dark doppelgänger, leaving Mario to take the blame.

    To clean up the island, Mario used his backpack-mounted FLUDD system (Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device), which could spray water to clean up slime, and also allowed Mario to hover in the air.

    The game was very reminiscent of Super Mario 64, but the addition of the FLUDD system and the clean-up gameplay added a unique twist to the series, one that went down very well with critics. It featured the usual impeccable design for which Nintendo is unequalled, and is one of the best Mario games around.

    11. Beyond Good and Evil

    Like Killer7, this is a game that ends up on a lot of lists, partly due to its multi-platform nature, but mostly as it's just brilliant, and a game that everyone should try. The GameCube got in on the action alongside the PS2 and Xbox, and although there wasn't anything particularly unique about this version, it was still every bit the classic game it was on other systems, and one of the best games on the GameCube.

    Its a testament to the game that it could actually rival, and even better the world-beating game design usually only demonstrated by Nintendo itself, but it did, and the end result was a fantastic third-person adventure, and one that oozed both character and playability.

    10. Pikmin 2

    The original Pikmin was a great title, but Nintendo expanded and improved upon the first game with this direct sequel. Featuring the same real-time strategic play, Pikmin 2 added new types of Pikmin and the ability to control more than one group of critters at a time, opening up new gameplay possibilities.

    Using the titular Pikmin, players has to command hordes of the cute critters to find and retrieve objects, and to defeat foes. Pikmin could also be used to build structures, and the ability to separate groups of Pikmin allowed for more advanced tactics and puzzling elements.

    Single and multiplayer modes were included in the game, and it also packed in some great co-op play. A definite GameCube classic, and one that improved upon the already great original in almost every way.

    9. Resident Evil

    The GameCube remake of Resident Evil, the game that thrust the survival horror genre into the limelight, was stunning at the time. Although the game still used pre-rendered visuals for the environments, the quality and attention to detail of these, with subtle animations bolstering the visual style, produced by far the best version of the original Capcom horror.

    Everything from the original game was overhauled and recreated, including visuals, audio and cut-scenes. The mansion itself was remodelled, with various differences to keep long-time fans on their toes, and new enemies and whole sections of the mansion grounds were added in, including those terrifying crimson zombies and the unsettling Lisa Trevor.

    Whilst most remakes are happy to simply upscale the visuals, or add in a couple of extra features, this reworking of Resident Evilwas a master-class in how to breathe new life into an old classic, and developers should look back on this and take notes when working on the seemingly endless slew of HD re-releases we see today.

    8. Mario Kart Double Dash

    The Mario Kart series has been a massive seller and huge success ever since its inception on the Super Nintendo, and the GameCube outing, Double Dash, was no exception. Gaining critical acclaim and selling well, the game continued the addictive kart racing formula, adding a new dual character system for the karts. One character was the driver, whilst the other threw weapons, and they could switch around at any time. This wasn't such a big thing for single-player, but multiplayer made it a unique and interesting feature, as both players could co-operate on the same kart.

    The game utilised the power of the GameCube, presenting the best looking Mario Kartto that point, and the tight track designs and mixture of power ups coupled with the best racing multiplayer around made it a classic, if not the most revolutionary step Nintendo has ever taken with a major series.

    7. F-Zero GX

    F-Zero was one of the undisputed classics of the Super Nintendo era, even with the mighty Mario Kart also on the scene. Its return to the GameCube was equally important, as it was responsible for one of the hardest, and fastest racing titles you're ever likely to play, and that's if you can find it. It's rare.

    It finds itself here above Double Dash in the list as, unlike the GC Mario Kart, F-Zero GXwas a major departure from its previous incarnation, and totally changed-up the game, adding all sorts of crazy track configurations, a slew of vehicles and power ups, and some fantastic multiplayer racing, the likes of which we've yet to see anywhere else, even with Sony's Wipeout coming close (which, of course, GX takes plenty of inspiration from).

    Tracks were filled with loops, twists and other, roller coaster-esque designs, and the title also had a story mode, as well as various game modes, such as grand prix, battle, and a customisation tool set.

    The high difficulty put many players off the game, but for those looking for a real racing challenge on the GameCube, look no further.

    6. Skies of Arcadia Legends

    Sega's Skies of Arcadia is one of the best JRPGs around, and some would say it's even better than the likes of Final Fantasy, it's that good.

    It started out on the Sega Dreamcast, but was later ported to the GameCube in the form of Legends. This version retained everything from the original and added in extra content and tweaked gameplay. This new content included more discoveries, a couple of new story lines, including optional (and difficult) battles with a female pirate hunter, and the new wanted system. This introduced a list of increasingly difficult boss battles with wanted pirates, battles that were far more challenging than any in the main story.

    The mix of on-foot exploration, turn-based battles, and epic ship-to-ship confrontations madeSkies of Arcadia a brilliant RPG, and the GameCube got the best version, even if the audio was butchered by compression so the game could fit onto a single GC disc.

    5. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

    A commercial failure on release, Eternal Darkness is one of the most original survival horror titles around, and a genuine underrated gem of a game.

    The story revolves around Alexandra Roivas, who, after finding strange book, is thrust into a nightmarish struggle against all sorts of supernatural forces. This struggle spans various time periods, and the player takes control of multiple characters in each of these.

    The stand out feature of the game was the sanity system, which employed a range of tactics to scare the player. As sanity dropped, various effect were used, such as camera distortions, audio hits, and graphical glitches. Many effects even fooled the player by breaking the fourth wall, such as blue screen error messages and threats of save game corruption. It was different, and brilliant.

    Above and beyond this, the multiple characters and ever-shifting temporal story spanning hundreds of years created a totally absorbing take on the genre, one that's simply never been duplicated.

    4. Super Smash Bros. Melee

    Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series has become one of its major series, not surprising really, as it combines all of its series into one, fast-paced fighting mash-up.

    Picking one of a collection of Nintendo stalwarts, such as Mario, Donkey Kong, Samus and Link, players engaged in frantic 2D battles on precarious platforms adorned with power ups and hazards. The goal was to damage your opponent enough so that you weaken their resistance to being smashed out of the arena's boundaries. It was a simple premise, but one that was, and in later versions still is, fiendishly addictive.

    The game was great solo, but it really came into its own in mutliplayer, where it could destroy friendships, and cause plentiful nerd rage. Simple controls belied the deep and complex combat, and few Nintendo games promote such heated rivalry.

    3. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

    While Ocarina of Time and A Link to the Past usually get most of the attention, the GameCube'sWind Waker is one of the best outings of the Zeldaseries, and certainly one of the most original and ambitious.

    The new, cartoon look and the ocean-navigating play encapsulated all that made the series great, but the island-laden world and sailing mechanics made for one of the most memorable in the Zeldatimeline. This formula also made rooting out the game's many secrets and hidden areas even more rewarding, and sailing the seas often lead to discoveries of cool little diversions and instances.

    You may be wondering why Twilight Princessisn't here instead, or even on the list. TPis a superb Zelda, to be sure, but as it's pretty much a port, and little more, it's the platform's own Wind Waker that takes this space.

    2. Resident Evil 4

    Resident Evilis a series that's been flagging of late, and even serious fans of the survival horror admit that its seen better days, perhaps no better than its fourth major outing on the GameCube. Resident Evil 4 was, and still is considered by most to be the best in the series, and it represented a huge turning point in the whole genre.

    Starring Leon S. Kennedy, RE4 followed on from the events seen in Raccoon City, and took place in a rural Spanish village. This village was inhabited by some truly strange people, which we would learn were infected with an ancient parasite, worshipped by a dangerous cult.

    The gameplay of RE4 was a departure for the series, moving to a third-person shooter view, but it kept all of the same RE mechanics, including ammo conservation, puzzles, tricky boss fights and all sorts of crazy, out of control experiments.

    Visually it was very impressive, and it played fantastically, with a great control scheme, a long and varied story, and had a selection of extras, including the Mercenaries mini game and Ada missions, although not the Separate Ways campaign that found its way into later versions.

    If you only ever play one Resident Evil game, then this could well be the one to pick (although Resident Evil 2 makes the choice difficult).

    1. Metroid Prime (inc. Echoes)

    Our number one spot has to go to Metroid Prime, and we're cheating a little by including Prime 2: Echoes, as it's essentially more of the same with some tweaks.

    Back when Nintendo revealed Metroid Prime, which was being developed by Retro Studios and not Nintendo itself, fans expressed a lot of concern, especially when it was revealed that the game would be a first person shooter. However, any worries soon vanished when the game was released, and what Retro produced was a stunning Metroid title that managed to effortlessly incorporate classic Metroidfeatures and feel with new, first person gameplay.

    The world Retro created just oozed the atmosphere Metroid is known for, and the heavy backtracking and power-up collecting play was perfectly balanced, with the various world areas offering unique challenges and barriers players couldn't bypass without the right equipment, often acquired by careful exploration and/or defeating massive bosses.

    Metroid Prime is simply one of the best games ever made, and is, in our opinion, the best game on the GameCube. If Nintendo want to make up for the disappointment that was Metroid: Other M, we'd strongly suggest giving Retro another crack. You know it makes sense.

     


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    Google is reportedly jumping into the video game business in a big way!

    News John Saavedra
    Jun 29, 2018

    If Google means to take over the digital world, entering the video game market is one way to do it. According to a report from Kotaku, the powerful tech company is jumping into the gaming business with a new console and a streaming service codenamed "Yeti." The outlet describes Google's video game plans as a "three-pronged approach" that also includes recruiting or acquiring studios to develop titles for the company. 

    Google reportedly met with several big gaming companies at GDC last March and E3 a few weeks ago to promote Yeti. It's unclear at the moment as to who Google met with at those shows, although it's worth noting that the company has collaborated with at least one gaming publisher this year: Bandai Namco, whose Dragon Ball Legends PvP mobile game is hosted on Google Cloud.

    According to the report, Google's Yeti service will allow gamers to play high-end games on even the most basic PCs. The goal is to create a gaming platform for consumers who don't have computers with beefy graphics cards or high-count RAM -- which are currently barriers to entry for those who don't have the flashiest gaming PCs. The hard work of rendering current-gen (and perhaps next-gen) graphics would instead be offloaded to Google's servers. Ideally, Google would have a streaming service that allows players to quickly jump into a game with the click of a mouse without worrying about hardware restrictions. As one source put it to Kotaku: "Imagine playing The Witcher 3 within a tab on Google Chrome."

    Of course, the reality is that Google would need a crazy amount of bandwidth to pull off something as demanding as jump-in-jump-out high-end game streaming. But with services like Google Fiber, an admittedly still niche broadband service only available in select cities, the company could potentially solve its speed problem. 

    Meanwhile, the other big component in Google's video game strategy is hardware. Little is known about Google's rumored machine. Whether it's being designed to utilize Yeti or use discs and digital downloads is unclear. And could Google be building the console to compete with the next-gen Xbox and PlayStation machines? Your guess is as good as ours. 

    There's much we still don't know and these reports should, as always, be taken with a grain of salt. One bit of news that could be indicative of Google's big gaming plans is the hiring of Phil Harrison, a former exec at both Xbox and PlayStation, to serve as both a vice president and general manager. Harrison could be heading up both the development of Yeti and the Google console as well as recruiting top-notch studios to work on games under the company's umbrella. 

    We'll keep you updated as we learn more!


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    A potted history of VR from its video gaming roots in the 90s through to where we are today...

    FeatureDan Cooper
    Jun 29, 2018

    This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

    The nineties. What a decade it was. Cyberspace, the wistfully conceived ideal of a shared digital domain that the entire world could interface with, was finally birthed properly into reality, despite seeming like a pipe dream when cyberpunk author William Gibson first conceptualized it a decade earlier. Information shed its physical form, digital cameras and MP3s appeared. For the first time, humanity began to seriously wonder, as the millennium drew closer, if one day we too might divest ourselves of these limited fleshly raiments and enter an eternal digital nirvana where we would live forever, with our every whim satisfied with but an electronic pulse of our messianic minds.

    Plus, there were shell suits and Global Hypercolor t-shirts, too. What a time to be alive.

    The advent of digital media, the proliferation of the world wide web, and clothing that actually turned your pubescent sweat pangs into neon tie-dye weren’t the only harbingers of a revolution that would change the face of the world. The early '90s also witnessed the first real consumer-facing virtual reality products, and while the impact of VR cannot yet be considered in the same league as the other three innovations, its refusal to lie down and die, despite being written off as a gimmicky flight of fancy more times than you can count (or at least, more times than you could wash a Hypercolor t-shirt before it became a mushy brown mess) means that as of right now, VR’s profile has never been higher.

    Recently showing the world over and prompting all manner of interesting conversations (if perhaps, not a great deal else), Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player Oneexposed the masses to the idea of a future where VR hasn’t just become an important part of people’s lives, but has transformed into something that people measure the importance of their lives by. That’s a dystopian twist that, let’s be honest here, doesn’t seem all that much of a stretch given how the video gamers among us are prone to eschewing the real world in favor of grinding out hours within a virtual space to attain a shiny new bauble for our beloved avatars. And yes, I am speaking from experience there. Far too much of it in fact.

    So, with the uninviting future that Ready Player Oneposits looming darkly on the horizon like that portentous storm at the end of The Terminator, we thought we’d cheerfully bury our heads in the sand (metaphorical, not virtual) by instead looking backwards, providing you with a potted history of VR, before it teams up with AI to form a humanity-enslaving supergroup with an unpronounceable acronym. 

    Despite existing notionally in various forms throughout the twentieth century, virtual reality as we know it was first fully realized in the 1980s. Although work in the field had been developing for decades, with the first head-tracking goggles created in the 1960s, it wasn’t until the mid-1980s and the proliferation of powerful personal computers, alongside the emergence of Silicon Valley, that the technology evolved to the point where it fully resembled the consumer-facing tech we recognize today. Predecessors to the haptic gloves and suit sported by Wade Watts inReady Player One reached the market at this point too, and despite being prohibitively expensive (a single glove cost $9000!), the technology began to gain a foothold in the market. Presumably, because they thought cyberspace was an oddly-named corner of the cosmos that they’d somehow missed, NASA was one of the biggest proponents of the new tech, along with it being used for medical applications and flight simulators.

    But what of the games? If anything, it’s VR’s potential in the video game sphere that has most often reanimated the technology’s oft-cooling corpse and set it shuffling once more from the hypothetical towards reality. With its oh-so-cool holodeck, if Star Trek: The Next Generation taught us anything during that halcyon era, it was that one day holograms or some sort of technology would improve to the point where we’d be unable to distinguish entertainment from reality, sort of like Westworld but with less robot slavery.

    The '90s wave of VR games really kicked off with the rise of Virtuality, a UK-based company that pioneered the tech and carried it into arcades. Although looking back at the tech now makes it seem amusingly clunky, one has to remember that creating this level of three-dimensional immersion was pretty impressive given that some of us were only just jettisoning our two-color ZX Spectrums by this point.

    Games included Dactyl Nightmare, a competitive multiplayer first-person platformer where you could get picked up and swooshed off by a pterodactyl at any given moment; Total Destruction, a stock car racer; and even Pac-Man VR as later iterations of the hardware improved. I remember trying the tech out for myself at GamesMaster Live at the NEC in 1994, queueing for what felt like hours to play some kind of WWI-era flight simulator for a scant few moments, but I’ll never forget the experience of being able to turn around 180 degrees and look at my co-pilot in the bi-plane, a quite singular moment that has never left me. Sure, the graphics were basic and the controls clunky, but in an era where home systems were struggling to faithfully recreate the noise and bombast of arcade coin-op experiences, the technology that could actually replicate reality, no matter how nascent it might be, had more than a whiff of sorcery about it.

    Despite firing the public imagination and spawning movies like The Lawnmower Man (1992), the first VR boom didn’t last. Sudden and rapid advancements in home console technology, such as Sony’s first PlayStation console, offered high-end gaming experiences from the comfort of your own home and so the arcade, the fabled Shangri-La of gaming, fell into history (as we wrote about recently) taking the emergent VR tech with it. The situation wasn’t helped by Nintendo and Sega, the major industry giants of the era, both taking a giant swing at establishing home-based VR systems and missing wildly. Nintendo’s Virtual Boy is considered to be one of the greatest hardware misfires of all time, while Sega’s imaginatively-titled Sega VR never even really made it to market, canceled eventually because the company claimed the experience was too realistic. Of course it was, Sega. With rumors of motion sickness and splitting headaches circulating, and genuine concerns as to what effects long-term use of the device could engender, that excuse seemed to borrow more from the virtual than from the reality if you ask us.

    After that, things went quiet for over a decade. Virtual reality, it seemed, had enjoyed its moment and continued only as a sci-fi construct, spawning clever concepts like The Matrix and Existenz (both 1999). But ideas, as they say, are bulletproof, and this one refused to die. As technological leaps between home console iterations began to slow down towards the end of the last decade, Joe Q. Public it seemed was once again hungry to experience something more than an increased pixel count and the promise of a faster processor. When Palmer Luckey launched a Kickstarter campaign back in 2012 to raise $250,000 with the aim of bringing virtual reality back to the market in the form of Oculus Rift, the response was overwhelming. The project was backed to the tune of over $2.5 million and a few years after that, Facebook paid billions to acquire the startup company. HTC, Sony, Google, and a host of other companies followed suit, and suddenly VR was an overnight phenomenon thirty years in the making.

    Perhaps a case of the possibilities of technology finally being able to better align with the power of imagination, VR’s second coming seems to have created experiences that finally prove the validity of the medium. My second VR experience occurred twenty-three years after my first, in a VR tent at the Edinburgh Fringe, and it was one of the most moving storytelling experiences that I’ve ever encountered. Hooked up to an Oculus, watching (for the want of a better word) a short VR film entitled Dear Angelica, I encountered the transcendent power of virtual reality. Experiencing a story unfold around me in three hundred and sixty degrees was not only more immersive than most films I’d ever seen but in itself presented new modes of spectatorship.

    Film theory has posited the concept of body mimicry before - that the viewer physically mimics the actions on screen, tightening their muscles in tension or flinching in terror - but experiencing a film in VR goes beyond simple replication into so much more. Immersion. Choice. Tactility. As the story unfolded around me on all sides, the power to decide where to look was intoxicating, as was the film’s ability to create moments of such imagination, such levels of childlike wonder that I was left breathless, both laughter and a few tears escaping me in a dizzying, cathartic rush.

    With virtual reality very much part of the mainstream consciousness again, developers are doing more and more to push the boundaries of what a VR experience can be, so much so that already the technology sported by Wade Watts inReady Player One is very much here. Most VR developers are already developing wireless technology (HTC’s has already arrived) and shedding systems of those immersion-breaking cables. 4K displays are not too far away and the haptic suits that give real-time physical feedback are already on the market, as is something resembling the omni-directional travel mat that replicates the feeling of unimpeded movement.

    And what of the games? The interactive experiences that have driven much of VR’s evolution continue to become more and more ambitious. While gaming on home systems such as the HTC Vive and PSVR continue to offer a wealth of experiences (some abject, some unmissable), it’s the rise of destination-based gaming experiences that has really raised the bar for the medium, offering experiences that are moving steadily closer to that fabled holodeck experience that was once but a distant dream.

    Ironically enough, for a medium which lost vital momentum the first time around due to the sad demise of the amusement arcade, these VR gaming experiences have now become entertainment destinations in themselves, places that people venture to experience the types of gaming encounters that they cannot reproduce in their homes. The recent Star Wars: Secrets of the EmpireVR installation in London was one of these hotspots, attracting curious Star Wars pilgrims from across the nation to experience A Galaxy Far, Far Away in a form offered almost nowhere else (there are only two of these attractions worldwide).

    Developed by ILMxLAB (Lucasfilm’s VR and AR division) and The Void (an American bleeding-edge VR company), the game is set in the Rogue One timeline and markets itself as "hyper reality" and with good reason: in the same fashion that cinema’s 4DX augments what’s happening on the screen with artificial wind, rain, heat, and lightning, hyper reality is VR that assaults your senses in blistering fashion.

    Let me give you an example: early in the experience, you and three other hardy rebels are disguised as stormtroopers, charged with bluffing your way into the Imperial base on Mustafar to acquire a top-secret weapon that could aid the fledgling rebellion. As you leave the relative safety of your stolen Imperial shuttle, the four of you board a small skiff and speed over a vertiginous drop, with the bubbling lava (that makes Mustafar the ideal destination for holidaymakers and Dark Lords of the Sith alike) radiating a terrible heat from below. Put simply, it is masterful game design. The perilously small dimensions of the skiff mean that the four of you are never comfortable as it hovers over the deadly expanse of liquid magma. You have to keep looking down to ensure you aren’t about to fall off… and looking down means seeing the very thing you don’t want to see: scorchy red death sea. It’s guaranteed to make your stomach flip, more so because the intense heat that’s actually being radiated upwards further fools your senses, telling your brain that the peril that your eyes are encountering (in crisp 2K graphics) may just be real because the touch department has just been on the blower and confirmed that yep, they can feel it too.

    It’s a great moment in an experience packed full of them. More than that, it’s suggestive of just where the long-term future of gaming may lie. With this console generation seen by some as something of a disappointment thus far, one wonders just how far the current model of incremental improvements can sustain hardware manufacturers before there’s a market decline, especially in the face of growing competition from other platforms like VR and mobile gaming. Once they figure out how to bring an experience like Secrets of the Empireto your living room (and they always do, eventually), then it might be TV-based gaming that goes the way of the arcade cabinet.

    Imagine it: one day far in the future we’ll put down our 8K visors, turn off the OASIS (or whatever fancy name it might have), and travel out to a sparsely occupied amusement arcade to enjoy the quaint pleasures of the PlayStation 7, all the while commenting on how positively archaic it all feels. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? Far from it. With VR coming back from the dead more than once, there’s a good chance that, like zombies or Hypercolour T shirts, world domination is less of a likelihood and more of an eventuality.


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    New documents suggest the Xbox team are working to help more console games support mods.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Jun 29, 2018

    Microsoft may be looking to expand the Xbox One's mod abilities. 

    That information comes from Windows Central who claim that they have received internal documents from a recent presentation that reveal Microsoft's desire and intentions to implement platform-wide mod support for the Xbox One. 

    While games like Halo 5, Skyrim, and Fallout 4 support mods to a degree, those mods are based on systems created by the developers of those titles. What Microsoft is reportedly considering is a system-wide mod platform that would allow developers to more easily utilize Xbox One mods without having to create a mod system of their own. It would also theoretically allow for users to more easily find mods once developers have implemented support for them using this new system. 

    To make a long story short, it really does sound like Microsoft is planning on adding a Steam Workshop-like platform to the Xbox One that will open up many more games to mods. Much like Workshop, the idea seems to be that mods will be viewable via a game's store page and that there will be some kind of "commerce support" for mod creators. 

    The idea is brilliant and pretty bold when you consider that the closed nature of console designs has historically meant that mod support for console games has been limited to a select few games made by studios willing to put in the extra effort to allow users to create additional content for a game after its release. Given that mods have been proven to expand the lifespan of a game and help even single-player titles achieve consistent sales figures after their release, this could be a bit step forward for Microsoft's Xbox platform if they are able to pull this off. 

    It looks like the plan is for Microsoft to release some version of this mod system sometime later this summer, but Microsoft has not confirmed their intentions at this time. 


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    Spider-Man and developer Insomniac is the best team-up since The Avengers. Here's everything we know about Spider-Man PS4.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Jun 29, 2018

    Insomniac's take on Spider-Man isn't just one of the PS4's biggest upcoming exclusive, it's one of the biggest titles in Marvel's new approach to game releases. Spider-Man will not be directly associated with the MCU or a particular film, but will instead tell a unique story of the studio's design. 

    Spider-Man will focus on young Peter Parker's battles against a still unconfirmed roster of classic comic book villains. As this game seems to take place relatively early into his superhero career, Parker will need to learn how to balance being the hero that NYC needs with the daily pressures of young adult life. 

    From what we've seen of Spider-Man thus far, we're expecting a high-octane superhero experience that doesn't skimp on the cinematic but also gives us the freedom we need to truly feel like we are Spider-Man. Call it a fantasy, but Insomniac looks to deliver on the seemingly impossible by gifting the world with a Spider-Man game that captures every aspect of this incredible character. 

    Here's everything we know about Spider-Man:

    Spider-Man PS4 News

    Spider-Man's E3 2018 gameplay trailer sheds a little light on the game's full roster of villains. It ends with a tease of one Spider-Man foe that Insomniac isn't ready to show yet. 

    Spider-Man PS4 Release Date

    Spider-Man will be out on September 7, 2018. The game is coming exclusively to the PlayStation 4.

    Spider-Man PS4 Trailer

    Insomniac has confirmed that you'll be able to wear various iconic Spider-Man outfits in their upcoming game. While we don't know the full roster of outfits Spider-Man can wear, this new trailer confirms that the Iron Spider armor that Spider-Man wears in Infinity War will be in the game. Furthermore, it seems that each Spider-Man suit will be upgradeable with custom powers. 

    Check out the announcement trailer!

    Game Informer had previously debuted an exclusive story about Insomniac's Spider-Man coming out and have released some new gameplay footage from the title to celebrate the occasion. 

    This footage reveals a great deal of Spider-Man's combat system and exploration mechanics. Spider-Man's combat will seemingly utilize a kind of multi-man system featured in titles like the Arkham games, but Spider-Man's gadgets and abilities will allow him to dispatch of the city's baddies with considerably more flair. Navigation is also bolstered by Spider-Man's inherent abilities. We don't get a full feel for how swinging around the city works, but it looks like players will be asked to target where their next navigational web is going. 

    Insomniac and Sony also showcased a trailer for Spider-Man at the Paris Games show. This preview focuses on Peter Parker's role in the story and expands the game's little mythology twists more than previous previews have done. 

    Another arrived for Insomniac's Spider-Man game at D23 2017. Check it out below:

    These trailers were preceded by the huge E3 2017 showing of the game which gave us our first good look at what we can expect from the most high-profile Marvel game in years. 

    Finally, have a look at the debut trailer that got the world buzzing about what happens when a great developer like Insomniac works on one of the most beloved comic book characters ever. 


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    The legendary actor is in talks to play Sonic's most famous villain.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Jun 29, 2018

    Jim Carrey is reportedly in negotiations to play Eggman/Dr. Robotnik in the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog film adaptation. 

    In what has to be the most '90s story that you'll hear all day, Deadline is reporting that Carrey and his representatives are currently working with Paramount films executives in order to secure the villainous role. It doesn't seem that the deal has been finalized quite yet, but it appears that Carrey and Paramount are close to finishing the negotiation process.

    If the deal is finalized, then Carrey will join James Marsden and Tika Sumpter as the leads in this Jeff Fowler directed film. While Fowler doesn't have much experience as a feature film director (his only directorial credit thus far is the 2004 animated short, Gopher Broke) the shockingly good cast that has assembled to bring Sonic to life on the big screen has some wondering just what it is about this movie that has so many big names rushing to join it. 

    While Carrey is far from retired as a film actor, it's safe to say that he's not nearly as prolific of a performer as he used to be. He most recently played the leading role in Kidding, a Showtime series, but so far as film appearances go, he hasn't been in a movie since 2016 when he starred in Dark Crimes and The Bad Bunch. Otherwise, Carrey has spent much of his time working on his art and other side projects. 

    Despite the fact that Carrey isn't quite as big of a draw as he was in the '90s when he netted a then-record $20 million contract to appear in The Cable Guy, his name will certainly increase the notoriety of this already intriguing adaption. 

    Unfortunately, we don't know much about the Sonic the Hedgehog film's actual plot. Of course, it's hard to imagine that this movie will stray too far from the simple story formula established in the Sonic the Hedgehog games. That is to say that you can expect Sonic to take on Robotnik while running unusually fast and collecting some gold rings along the way. 


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    Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime confirms that work on Metroid Prime is still ongoing and "proceeding well"...

    News Ryan Lambie
    Jul 2, 2018

    Nintendo gave the world its first look at Metroid Prime 4at E3 2017, and while its grand unveiling consisted of nothing more than a logo slowly looming into view, it caused an understandable ripple of excitement.

    It's been more than a decade since the release of Metroid Prime 3, the last in a trilogy of games that successfully turned Nintendo's Metroid games series into a first-person shooter. All three games were, it's fair to say, fabulous, and a new edition for the Switch would be a more than welcome development.

    There were high hopes, then, that E3 2018 would bring us more details about Metroid Prime 4 to mull over. With the expo now long since over, it's pretty clear that Nintendo isn't in a hurry to show us anything new.

    Perhaps sensing the frustration among fans, Nintendo boss Reggie Fils-Aime has provided a short update to Game Informer (thanks, Nintendo Life).

    "This year, with so many games launching effectively between [now] and the first half of next year, we wanted to focus on those games," Fils-Aime said. "Rest assured, Metroid Prime 4 is still in development and proceeding well."

    That's good to hear, certainly, but it's also a quiet indication that we shouldn't be expecting Metroid Prime any time soon, either: if Nintendo's focusing on games coming out between now and, say, June 2019, then Prime 4 probably won't emerge until the autumn of next year at the earliest.

    We'll keep you updated as we learn more.


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    The studio responsible for Left 4 Dead is hiring for an unnamed project.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Jul 2, 2018

    Turtle Rock Studios, the team behind Left 4 Dead and Evolve, is working on a new entry in a "globally-known franchise." 

    The users over at ResetEra first spotted Turtle Rock's job listing for a Senior Level Designer with a "strong portfolio that demonstrates experience creating level layouts in a competitive first-person shooter." They must also have "experience working with modern FPS engines" and "experience working on competitive FPSs." The studio is also looking for an Environment Artist who preferably has "experience with AAA First Person action titles."

    The wording of these job listings comes as a bit of a surprise. First off, you've probably heard that Turtle Rock is no longer working on Evolve. For that matter, nobody is working on Evolve. As such, we know that this job listing has nothing to do with that game. Furthermore, Turtle Rock had previously mentioned they were working on a fantasy co-op game set in a new universe, which doesn't seem to apply to a game set in a "globally-known franchise."

    So what is the team working on? Many fans are already hoping that it's Left 4 Dead 3. While there's no shortage of people jumping to that conclusion, we've got to be the ones who throw a little cold water on that idea. It's possible that Turtle Rock is working on a new Left 4 Dead game, and Valve has stated that they intend to work on new games. However, you'd have to stretch the meaning of their official statements find any clues that they are referring to a new Left 4 Dead title. 

    Instead, we believe that Turtle Rock might be working to revive an otherwise dead franchise (possible), is working on a franchise that is globally-known outside of the world of video games (even more likely), or is going to be assisting with the development of an ongoing franchise that utilizes yearly (or semi-annually) installments. 

    If money were on the line, we'd bet on them developing a game based on a franchise from another medium or contributing to an ongoing series. However, anything is possible. 


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    Den of Geek takes a look back at the best, worst, and strangest Transformers games ever made!

    The Lists Luke McKinney
    Jul 2, 2018

    The Transformers are toymaking's greatest idea and video gaming's greatest shame. Giant robots turning into vehicles and always firing lasers at each other: they're every perfect video game idea combined into one kickass concept, and sometimes several Transformers combine into a giant superbot to kick even more ass than that.

    They're not even human, so you can blow them up no matter which country or age group you're selling to. The fact Transformers isn't already the best game on every system is the worst atrocity in virtual history. Developers couldn't drop a ball harder if it fell through spacetime to kill their grandparents on their first date.

    But there have been a few good Transformers games. And there have been some crazy attempts to shake the curse of suckiness. Which is why we're looking at the worst, weirdest, and most wonderful simulations of these robots in disguise.

    Worst

    Tranformers: The Game

    2007 | Traveller's Tales & Savage Entertainment | X360, PS3, PS2, PSP Wii, DS, PC

    Transformers: The Game was based on the live-action movie, which is the first and worst mistake modern technology can make. And it makes it perfectly.

    The game had great graphics, but suffered from a disorienting camera, pointless repetition, and combat significantly less exciting than a good back massage (and about as challenging). It couldn't have represented the movie more accurately if it featured Shia LaBeouf. Because it did feature Shia LaBeouf. And it still found a way to be even worse, because if you can think of anything more pointless than providing Megan Fox's real voice for a low-quality simulated body, Activision will apparently hire you as a desginer.

    They also missed the point of transformation, with vehicle sections which felt more like drunk-driving on novocaine. This was every terrible movie license we ever played growing up, given millions of dollars and not spending a single cent on improving the gameplay.

    The Transformers: Mystery of Convoy

    1986 | ISCO | NES

    Transformers: Mystery of Convoywasn’t just a waste of the name Transformers. With a Japanese launch title of "Fight! Super Robot Life-Form Transformers: Mystery of Convoy," it may be the greatest waste of a game title in recorded history. That should be the name of a game that wins the Nobel Prize for Video Games.

    They missed the point so hard they misspelled the game's name as "Comvoy." Never has one letter said so much: "We can't even be bothered to fix errors on the label, so just imagine what the code's like." Most of the bosses are just floating Decepticon symbols. Not flying. They don't move. They just float there, saying, "See, some of your stupid Transformer stuff."

    This is an entire game programmed by annoyed parents pretending to care about what their kids like. Playing this game was a mistake so terrible even the game tried to prevent you from making it. You died in one hit, you could die in the first ten seconds from a swooping enemy, and if you made it to the last level, the game accepted your dedication to pointlessly wasting your time by sticking you in an infinitely looping maze.

    Mystery of Convoy would have shown more effort if Takara employees had just gone out and stolen children's birthday money themselves.

    Transformers: The Headmasters

    1987 | Takara | Famicom Disk System

    The Headmasters are the dumbest idea Hasbro ever had, and they once designed a microscope that could transform into a boring teacher for a kids' cartoon show. The Headmasters were people who could turn into robot heads. It's hard to think of what they were doing with this idea, possibly because this idea just replaced your head with a tin-plated idiot.

    If you're going to imagine being a Transformer, you just imagine it. Experimental surgery based on metallurgical contortions doesn’t make it any easier, just suckier, because you're imagining giving up your humanity and your genitalia for the ability to just turn into a head. So you're still as helpless as any other human if there are no real Transformers around. Unless your enemy is terrified of staring contests.

    Transformers: The Headmasterscould only be played on the Famicom Disk System, as if the hardware industry was working to reduce the number risk of anyone making that mistake. Because this was a Transformersgame where you couldn't transform. Instead, you alternated between walking and vehicle levels. By that logic, James Bond has been a Transformer. 

    Weird

    DreamMix TV World Fighters

    2003 | Bitstep | PS2, GC

    DreamMix TV World Fighters is a Smash Bros-style game where you have Optimus Prime fight Solid Snake and Simon Belmont on Adventure Island.

    Transforming mid-fight to fishtail Prime's cargo container through Bomberman is one of the most satisfying things you'll ever achieve. But it's not technically a Transformers game, which is why it's here under "Weird" instead of "Best game ever that we played for a week instead of writing the rest of the article."

    Transformers: Cybertron Adventures

    2010 | Next Level Games | Wii

    The only point of Transformers games is transforming and kicking ass, and Activision missed both of those targets and every other thing they ever aimed at with this Wii light gun game.

    This on-rails shooter only lets you control your robot's right arm as it automatically staggers through preset paths while apparently suffering from shaky cam syndrome. Wiimotes were great for detecting that you'd moved, but their best guess at exactly where you'd moved was shrugging the cursor. Though this aiming system would explain why nobody in the cartoons was ever able to hit anything.

    The final indignity was preset vehicle sections where the game specifically reminded you it knew what Transformers were and then refused to be any good at it.

    It's technically a worst game, but the fact someone decided to do this, on purpose, is what makes it weird. It's hard to imagine a weirder design decision.

    Transformers: Human Alliance

    2013 | SEGA | Arcade

    If Cybertron Adventures missed the point, Human Alliance sanded it down to a smooth featureless surface and then choked on the dust. The title tells you everything you need to know.

    Transformers: Human Alliance might as well be Mario: One of those clouds in the background. You're playing a Transformersgame as a wimpy human, and even worse, it's an original character human created just for the game.

    Try to understand the magnitude of this failure: you're not even Shia LaBeouf.

    That's the sort of failure where your atoms forget to obey conservation of mass and you simply disappear from existence. Which might actually be what happened to the first part of the designer's brain to come up with this idea, leaving the left of their empty skull to stagger through this incomprehensibly weird decision.

    Best

    Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

    2012 | High Moon Studios | X360, PS3, PC

    War for Cybertron finally let people turn into giant robots to blast multiplayer chunks out of each other, then transform into vehicles to do it even harder and faster. As such, it's one of the greatest things to ever happen to the franchise.

    Then Fall of Cybertron made it a bit better.

    It's not the highest-scoring multiplayer game ever made, but when your game's classes are tanks and jet fighters, YES IT IS. The Infiltrator class even made invisible cars look cool, and that's a task both Bond and basic physics proved should be impossible.

    Transformers: Devastation

    2015 | PlatinumGames | XBO, X360, PS4, PS3, PC

    Transformers: Devastation is a love letter written in code. This is the game eighties kids could only dream of.

    PlatinumGames put more effort into perfecting the cartoon colors than the cartoon's animators. They put more person-hours into adjusting the lighting than Vermeer. They hired the original voice actors for Optimus Prime, Megatron, Soundwave, Grimlock, and lots of other Transformers we're sure somebody cares about. Add Vince DiCola, original composer for 1986's Transformers: The Movie (aka Transformers: The Only Good Movie).

    The game disc could have been an audio CD and it still would have been worth the nostalgia-money. The kick-ass hack-and-slash-and-transform-and-ram game is a brilliant bonus.

    It's not perfect. There are some problems with the camera, and if you get bored of robots beating each other up you're going to get bored pretty quickly. But those flaws only make it more faithful to the source cartoon.

    And at least the game can remember which Transformers can fly and what color they are. But the only thing anybody needs to know is that is a game where a jet will turn into a tank and also a robot and all three will try to kill you, but you can fight back with Optimus Prime.

    And since 1984, that's all their target market has ever wanted.

    Transformers G1: Awakening

    2008 | Glu Mobile | Mobile

    Awakening knows what geeks love, and that's Generation 1 Transformers and Advance Wars.

    Transformers G1: Awakening is so authentic to the source of Transformers, it's even been awoken from years of being trapped in an obsolete vehicle. Just as the Transformers lay dormant in the Ark for millions of years, Awakening started as a feature phone game before being upgraded for iOS and smartphones.

    Just look at the video above. The game obviously adores the original cartoon. You'd play this even if it was a battle of blue and red squares. It's a game so good that Optimus Prime is just a bonus.

    Transformers 

    2004 | Melbourne House | PS2

    It's based on Armada, so some of your favorite 'formers have been replaced with tin-plated teenagers from an alternate universe. We've got Hot Shot for Hot Rod, Red Alert for Ratchet, but you can still be Optimus Prime and kick enormous amounts of ass.

    The cartoon's "minicons" might have been appallingly obvious Poke-clone kidbait, but in this game they work as customizable upgrades, allowing you to turn your Transformer into an armored brawler or an accelerated infra-red vision sniper.

    Solid game mechanics, energon-tastic explosions, and the "Transform Right Now Whenever I Want" button, incomprehensibly absent from so many other games, allow you to accelerate through a group of Decepticreeps, off a ramp, transform in mid air, and blaster-cannon a bunch more before you even hit the ground.

    In case any of that isn't enough, this is the game that finally lets you re-enact the best bit from the best Transformers movie ever made:

    Luke McKinney is a freelance contributor. 


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