Shacknews - Cassidee Moser

Smartphones have been a disruptor in many facets of our daily lives. They’ve offered a more convenient (and often more affordable) alternative to physical media, streamlined communication, and have created a vast market of developers and designers dedicated to creating apps for everything from grocery shopping to managing the number of hours one sleeps in a night.

They’ve especially been troublesome for game manufacturers, particularly for those companies who still produce dedicated portable gaming systems like the 3DS and the PlayStation Vita. With our insistence on rolling all of our needs up into one device, the relevance for a separate device dedicated solely to gaming has slowly inched toward irrelevancy, declining as our dependence on smart devices continues to grow.

But with the Switch, Nintendo may have just proven something huge: it may have found a way to both compete with and dominate the mobile market, a have-your-cake-and-eat-it play unlike anything we’ve seen before.

You know the Switch. It was revealed yesterday, the official name of the long-rumored Nintendo NX, the handheld/console hybrid system so many had predicted it to be. Using a docking station connected to a television, the console has the capacity to be both a home system and, by attaching controller peripherals to the side of its removable screen and system, a portable machine with seemingly impressive visual fidelity.

The Switch is more than just a system for long flights or drives, however. It also is easily adaptable for local play with others, appears to have a similar fidelity to the home console unit, and is assumed to play everything the console can. It’s fulfilling the dream of Sony’s ill-fated PlayStation Vita by being a truly anytime, anywhere gaming console.

This is huge, and if the marketing is done right, it could prove to be a very successful step forward on Nintendo’s part. If they’re able to sell the Switch to their target users, they’ll be on their way toward completely dominating the mobile market.

And I don’t just mean with a new console. Since early this year, Nintendo has been moving things gradually toward mobile, enjoying breakout success with Miitomo and Pokemon Go. The recent announcement of a Mario game on smartphones was also a massive reveal that could potentially continue its long-running success streak on mobile when it releases over the next few months. With Mario on the horizon and talk of an eventual Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem game coming to mobile, Nintendo is slowly growing its footprint on the market in an unprecedented way.

The brilliance of all of this is found in the way that Nintendo has essentially both asked and answered the question of how a dedicated handheld system can survive in today’s market and gaming environment. How will something like the 3DS maintain relevancy as smartphones iterate and adapt, and how will it continue to bring in new users to their platform?

The simplicity of their approach is something beautiful. They don’t want to compete with it. Instead, it’ll just step in and take up a large slice of both pies. It’s a crazy notion, but it makes so much sense in practice. Nintendo has long been a company focused on delivering products to both the enthusiast and casual markets, releasing approachable Mario games and hardened JRPGs on the same system. It is the exception, the rare rebuttal to the long-held belief that you “can't please everyone.”

Not long ago, hyperbolic cries of mobile being the death knell of portable and console video games were the source of many think pieces, Tweetstorms, and forum posts. With the rise of smaller, more affordable apps capable of playing games on this small all-in-one device, how could game publishers and manufacturers possibly compete?

Nintendo’s answer is simple: it doesn’t have to.

Shacknews - Asif Khan

The Gears of War 4 launch Invitational consists of eight teams from four regions competing in a two day double elimination event for $250,000 at the MLG Columbus arena. It is our first time to see the best players in the world duke it out for cash prizes and bragging rights. 

Watch live video from Gears of War on

Feel free to chat in our Shacknews Twitch channel if the walls of text or dank memes in the official channel are overwhelming.

Here is the tournament bracket:

Follow the action today and tomorrow to see who is the Fastest A Button this side of the Mississippi!

Shacknews - Asif Khan

Adam Fletcher, Director of Community for Gears of War at The Coalition, just posted an update to the Official Gears of War Forum.

Hi all - We have pushed out a change to Gears 4 this evening that affects the credit and XP earn rates in Gears of War 4 Horde modes (Public and Private matches). Below is a rundown of what to expect:

Credit earn rates have increase across all difficulties. Players can expect to earn more credits in Horde mode now.

We have shifted total credit earn rates to tie a bit more in with finishing the waves and less on finishing consecutive waves. This is to help players not feel as if they are being punished for trying higher difficulties and not always making it to 50.

We have also increased the Level XP earn rate on classes.

We are still looking at other changes for the future but wanted to get this update out before the weekend. Thanks, The Coalition

For more great videos, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews on YouTube.

Are you playing Gears of War 4? What do you think of the new Horde Mode? Let us know in the comments section.

Shacknews - Asif Khan

Shuhei Yoshida, President of Worldwide Studios at Sony Interactive Entertainment, took to social media this evening to announce that Sony has completed development of The Last Guardian.

The Last Guardian has been victim to multiple delays and originally began development as a Playstation 3 title. Multiple delays alongside the departure of the game's creative director, Fumito Ueda, and executive producer, Yoshifusa Hayama, have tarnished some of the hype surrounding this title. It remains to be seen if the extra time allocated to development will prove to be worth it.

Are you still excited for The Last Guardian? Do you think the delays and transition from a PS3 to PS4 title will hurt the overall quality? Let us know in the comments section.

The Last Guardian finally launches on December 6th exclusively on Sony PlayStation 4.

Shacknews - Greg Burke

This week we look at the Top 10 Oculus Touch games that we think best showcase Oculus' brand new controllers. 

Games mentioned in the video: The Unspoken, Arktika.1, Dead & Buried, Superhot VR, VR Sports Challenge, Lone Echo, Dead Hungry, Ripcoil, Robo Recall, and I Expect You To Die. You will have to watch the video to see who we think is #1!

For more great videos, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews on YouTube.

If you have a suggestion for a future episode of Shack's Top 10, please let us know in the comments section or tweet @shacknews & @GregBurke85 with #Top10.

Shacknews - Josh Hawkins

Civilization 6 released earlier today, and while this is a major release, there isn’t a Shacknews review anywhere to be seen. We are actually planning to cover the game (we'd be silly not to), and because our review is going to be delayed, I wanted to reach out and let you guys know what is going on.

The reason that we don’t have a review ready to go yet is because we didn’t get our press copy until yesterday afternoon. This meant that I was only able to put in a few hours with the game last night, which wasn’t nearly enough time to even write up a review in progress. Because of how big this series is, and because of how much it means to fans (including myself), I wanted to be sure that I gave the game plenty of time before putting any of my thoughts about it on paper. That’s why I’m going to be spending the majority of this weekend tinkering with it, and investigating every nook and cranny that the developers have included in it.

So, that's why we don't have a review up just yet. It is coming, though. So, keep a look out for our review to go up next week, where you’ll be able to see my initial thoughts on the game, how I feel about the new changes, and just how everything fits together. For those who aren’t as patient as others… I can tell you that so far, I am a very big fan of some of the changes made in the game.

Shacknews - David Craddock

Battlefield 1 goes on sale and unlocks for everyone today, and EA celebrated by rolling out a meaty launch trailer.

BF1's launch trailer highlights some of the core gameplay features and action you'll be privy to on the battlefield—pun intended—as launch trailers are wont to do. Soak up the action while you wait for your copy to unlock on Xbox One, PS4, or PC, then join up and ring in shooter season.

Shacknews - David Craddock

Nintendo confirmed that its upcoming Switch console/handheld duo is not compatible with physical 3DS cards or Wii U discs. Japanese gaming publication Famitsu sent the company a number of questions and posted its responses as an FAQ (via GameSpot).

Given that the Switch has been shown using cartridges—more palatable for portable use, as cartridges don't skip and scratch while in use—it should not come as a surprise that the console won't support Wii U discs. Running 3DS cards seemed a possibility, but Nintendo gave Famitsu a definitive answer on that topic as well.

Nintendo's decision is not only pragmatic, it makes good business sense. While nothing has been confirmed, the eShop storefront will likely make the jump to Switch, giving Nintendo the perfect opportunity to sell digital copies of classic and/or remastered software made for legacy platforms.

Shacknews - Shack Staff

It's that time again for another Shack Ten, our bi-weekly breakdown of the ten most somethings in video games. This week, fresh off the announcement of the Nintendo Switch, we dream of what could be. As always, we forced the Shacknews staff to listen to a very passionate gluten-free food enthusiast until they could agree on the ten most wanted features for the upcoming hardware. This week, though, we aren't ordering them, because all of these are tied for first place.

As always, we had a little help with suggestions from the Chatty, so check out their suggestions for these and many more ideas.

Unified Purchases

Nintendo launched the Virtual Console in 2006. It's added a number of golden oldies to its eShop over the last decade, from coin-op games and Sega Genesis to Nintendo 64 and DS games. The problem is that buying a classic title from one platform's eShop doesn't give you the option to play it on all the others—a feature Xbox and PlayStation platforms have been doing for years. In the Switch, Nintendo has the opportunity to unify its eShops by collecting all your digital purchases under a single account. I should only have to buy Super Mario World once between my Wii U, New 3DS XL, and Switch, not once for each system I want to play it on.

Smartly Priced

Perhaps more than anything, the success or failure of the Nintendo Switch will rely on hitting a pricing sweet spot. As derelict515 put it, the system needs to either be powerful enough to serve as a primary console, or priced low enough to be a secondary one. The former seems unlikely–we don't know the power level yet but we're speculating that at best it will match the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One models–so that makes it vital to fulfill the latter goal. Ideally it would undercut the higher-priced consoles by $50 or so, putting it easily into impulse-buy territory for enthusiasts and striking a middle-ground for parents looking for the next 3DS to buy their kids.

Priced like a secondary gaming system or else powerful enough and compatible enough to be a primary one. -derelict515

Software Favorites

No Nintendo fan worth his or her amiibo collection will turn down a new installment in the Super Mario Bros. or Legend of Zelda series, but Nintendo's got a Disney Vault's worth of other properties it could tap. Exhume long-buried franchises like F-Zero and Golden Sun, and put a new spin on familiar series like Mario Kart with outside-the-box options like Mario Kart Maker.

Honestly, just lots and lots of high quality games. -atom519Remember it's the games that matter, not the hardware. -watcherxp

Robust Online and Friends Lists

Nintendo hasn't always had the best track record for seamless online functionality. Thankfully, the Switch marks a new beginning and an opportunity to amend their past mistakes. Things like a more centralized friend system across platforms, purchase transfers, and even social media and streaming integration could go a long way toward making the Switch a more well-rounded and connected console.

Simple Cross-Platform Development

I'll put Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, and Pikmin 3 up against the biggest and best exclusives on PS4 and Xbox One. In terms of third-party support, though, Wii U came in dead last. There's a reason for that: third-parties like Ubisoft and Capcom didn't give the Wii U its due because the hardware was outdated long before it launched in 2012. The Switch's launch trailer teases games like NBA 2K17 and Skyrim Remastered, which gives me hope that Nintendo has simplified cross-platform development between the Switch and its peers. The easier it is for developers to bring past and future titles to Switch, the more options players will have to choose from. More players will buy the Switch, which means third-party support will only get stronger as hardware adoption grows. Everybody wins.

Something simple to develop cross platform titles for, so more third party developers get on board. This means drop the odd controllers. -whippedcracker

Mobile Phone Connectivity

The Nintendo Switch is obviously meant to be taken with you and used while you're out and about, but if it wants to truly flourish it should have some way to connect with smartphones and other mobile devices. With games like Super Mario Run coming in the near future and Nintendo's push in the mobile gaming space, it would make sense to see this sort of interactivity between console and mobile phone.

Backward Compatibility

Despite the fact that the Switch will be using cartridges, it would be a boon for users who previously sprung for the Wii U and Wii to be able to bring the games they already own to the system, or at the very least an analogue of the game in digital format. One of the reasons some consumers shy away from adopting a new console is the lack of games for it, plus the fact that their games aren't playable on the new equipment. It's probably a pipe dream, but it would make a lot of fans happy.

Remasters of some Wii U games. It has some of their best games ever, certainly the best first party games of this current gen, but way too many people missed out of them because they didn't buy a Wii U. -Serpico74

Battery Performance

The Wii U's GamePad is an absolute treasure, but it has one of the most abysmal examples of battery life in the whole of video game consoles. You get to play for a few hours, but then the controller, which feels great in your hands and looks fantastic, by the way, dies a horrible death. You've got to sit tethered to a wall charger while finishing up Bayonetta 2. That's no fun. With the Switch meant for true on-the-go play, it's almost a guarantee that it will have better battery life, because, well, it has to.

Virtual Console Subscription

When the Virtual Console launched on Wii, it was a great idea. Like Apple and iTunes, it appeared Nintendo would give us a simple, low-cost option to buy older games instead of pirating them. Like music, we hoped the adage would prove true that the public would rather pay a nominal fee for a convenient option than get something for free in a more morally dubious way.

Since then, though, the Virtual Console hasn't really kept competitively priced, and it's become of minor concern to Nintendo. It could revitailize the service by following the PlayStation Now model and offering VC games as all-you-can-eat for a monthly fee, again similar to the current direction of the music market.

Affordable Peripherals

The brief Switch trailer showed a dizzying array of control options, from controllers docked to the screen to individual handheld controls to attached to the "Grip" accessory to flipping sideways for two-player control. That looks great, but how much do we have to drop to have all those options at our fingertips? If Nintendo wants the Switch to have all the get-up-and-go utility it needs to fulfill the concept, it needs to make sure the various controller parts and accompanying accessories are affordable and readily available.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

To help conclude its 20th anniversary year, Pokemon is headed on a tropical vacation. Pokemon Sun and Moon marks something of a different motif for the tried-and-true monster-collecting RPG, taking players on a trip across a series of Hawaii-inspired islands. But aside from the scenery, there are a couple of other noticeable differences that can be seen on this new journey. Prior to the release of the game's demo on Tuesday, Shacknews had the opportunity to learn some more about what will make this latest entry to the main Pokemon franchise something a little different from The Pokemon Company and Game Freak's previous efforts.

Sun and Moon retain the 3D character models used in the previous generation of Pokemon games, but the game's developers have a new goal in mind with this set of games. Realizing this is now a post-Pokemon GO world, the goal isn't just to put players into a world of Pokemon. The goal is now to help bring the game's world to life and help players feel closer to their Pokemon than in previous games. Part of that involves a tweaked presentation, featuring an overworld map of human characters that are now proportional in size to the world's Pokemon. Humans will tower over Meowth and Pikachu, for example, but will stand toe-to-toe with a Machamp, as seen in the game's demo.

A bigger part of that also involves customizing a player's trainer, a feature revealed earlier this year. On top of choosing between a boy and girl trainer, a selection of premade character options will be made available. The idea, noted during the presentation, is to help appeal to a younger audience and help draw them closer to the world.

And with the younger gaming audience squarely in mind, Pokemon Sun and Moon is also built around the idea of accessibility. While there are many 20 year veterans out there, there are just as many players with no previous knowledge of Pokemon that may find the games intimidating. For the latter set, battles are going to be much more simplified. Those using the Sun and Moon demo may have already noticed instances where available moves in battle will come along with helper text, indicating whether the move will be "Super Effective" or "Not Very Effective." While those looking to build strong Pokemon with a varied move set will still be able to do so, newcomers just looking to go with what they have will have an easier time battling and knowing which moves work and which will not.

There are also a few new interface changes that will benefit veterans. Pokemon that have been affected by stat-affecting moves, like Sand Attack or Swords Dance, will be able to see just how many times the Pokemon has been affected by the move. This will make planning around stat boosts easier or even give players a cue to change to a different Pokemon.

Changes will also extend into the main overall quest structure. Anyone that has played a main Pokemon game in the last 20 years knows the routine: Find Pokemon, catch Pokemon, conquer eight Gyms, defeat the Elite Four, become the Champion. That structure has been thrown out the window in favor of Kahunas. Kahunas will operate similarly to Gym Leaders, but with a few key differences. First off, players will need to complete different Trials before earning the right to face the Kahuna. The Trial operates similarly to a standard RPG side quest, with certain ones tasking players with defeating a certain number of a certain Pokemon species, taking pictures with the new PokeFinder item (similar to the Nintendo 64 classic Pokemon Snap), or answering trivia about the area. If nothing else, just hearing that a main Pokemon game is mixing up the usual routine is a breath of fresh air in itself.

But for veteran players, the biggest change will be the elimination of the dreaded Hidden Machine. For those unfamiliar, Hidden Machines would teach Pokemon moves that would be required to traverse the world. Since the HM move is permanent and cannot be deleted, it would often require teaching the weaker moves (like the 40-damage Cut) to a weaker Pokemon. While the HMs themselves will still be available for their moves (like the stronger Surf), the idea of teaching HMs to Pokemon for getting around the world has been eliminated. Instead, players will be utilizing PokeRide, which will have trainers call upon a Pokemon to take them around the islands. Examples include calling a Charizard to Fly, a Lapras to Surf, or a Machamp to plow through boulders with Strength and each of these instances will feature new animations.

Finally, there are the Pokemon themselves. In addition to new Pokemon species, the last few months have seen the debut of a number of new Alola variants of familiar Pokemon species. The developers have been hard at work designing the remixed creatures, as well as crafting backstories for why they've undergone their mutations. As of now, the plan is to only offer Alolan variants to the Generation I (Red/Blue/Yellow) Pokemon. Newer generation Pokemon, like the ones in Pokemon Gold and Silver, are not getting Alolan variants for this game, but the concept of newer Alolan variants was not ruled out.

Those looking to get a look at the brave new world of Pokemon can get a small taste through the free Sun and Moon demo that was released on Tuesday. Those players will also get to carry over its Greninja, which includes the Ash-Greninja ability, the first anime tie-in to hit a Pokemon game in many years. Everyone else looking to see how much Pokemon has changed will be able to get Pokemon Sun and Moon on November 18.


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