Shacknews - Steve Watts

Ever reluctant to accept changes in the industry, Nintendo finally announced its plans for mobile game development this morning. It has been a long time coming, with pressure coming from investors and industry-watchers for the storied publisher to follow the shifting market. While the move makes financial sense, and Nintendo could certainly be successful by following the well-worn path created by other mobile publishers, it will lose a piece of its identity if it fails to break from conventional mobile norms.

Nintendo has always prided itself on custom-fitting its own hardware to its software. The synergy between its systems and games has been a selling point, and one reason why fans have known they can count on Nintendo for a rock-solid gameplay loop. For all the calls for Nintendo to put their games out on other systems, including mobile, the hesitance makes sense. Nintendo's strength has always been bolstered by the hardware equivalent of home field advantage.

Stepping into the mobile market, then, marks a big step outside of Nintendo's comfort zone. The risk it runs now is letting the company's discomfort with this new platform influence it into utilizing some of mobile gaming's bad habits.

Almost a year ago, Nintendo received what was possibly the worst advice ever given to it. In a well-meaning letter from Oasis Management's Seth Fischer in February of 2014, the hedge fund manager expounded on the potential to tap the free-to-play market. "We believe Nintendo can create very profitable games based on in-game revenue models with the right development team," Fischer wrote, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. "Just think of paying 99 cents just to get Mario to jump a little higher."

(Take a moment to collect yourself after reading that last sentence.)

Mr. Fischer isn't a game designer, and so it's hard to blame him for giving input that so callously discounts the precision with which Nintendo balances its mechanics. Until very recently, it would have been easy to shrug off his bad advice. Nintendo's experiments with free-to-play had largely bucked the anti-consumer trends that define the term. That is, until the release of Pokemon Shuffle. 

Both Rusty's Real Deal Baseball and Steel Diver: Sub Wars shared one vital characteristic: there was a limit to how much you could spend. Even if you purchased all of Rusty's mini-games without earning a single discount coupon, you would eventually unlock them all and be done spending money. Sub Wars was even more straight-forward, with a single purchase. It was a demo version in all but the name. In both cases, to whatever extent you enjoyed the free content, you could play it to your heart's content. 

Pokemon Shuffle went a different and altogether unwelcome direction, relying on an energy mechanic. In fact, the F2P hook paired with the familiarity of a rather typical match-three game makes it practically indistinguishable from thousands of games on the iOS and Android App stores. It's the vanilla ice cream of video games: plain, easy, uncreative, inoffensive. In fact, Nintendo had previously announced a partnership to make a themed Puzzle & Dragons game, a series which has historically been another match-three with energy gates.

Energy mechanics have been unpopular in the mobile space, specifically because they're so clearly targeted towards monetizing compulsion. "You enjoyed your time with the game? That's nice, but now you have to stop and wait," they seem to say. "Or, well, you could pay us a little money." The barriers feel more artificial and arbitrary, based entirely around the monetization scheme. There has been such backlash against it that it was strange to see Nintendo adopting it at all, much less on one of its dedicated hardware platforms.

That kind of compromise is uncharacteristic of Nintendo, and raises some concern regarding today's news of mobile development. The company's step into mobile games means it will be in unfamiliar territory, and especially susceptible to following the trends of other mobile publishers. If it relies too much on the conventional mobile hooks, its efforts will inevitably be lost in a sea of the same-old. Given its willingness to try a monetization scheme that was already unpopular when Pokemon Shuffle came out, it may even be behind the curve of mobile trends.

Nintendo's entrance to the mobile games business is rife with possibilities. It could breathe new life into series like Pokemon and Pikmin, or revitalize underused ones like WarioWare or Elite Beat Agents. However, in entering a market that is already so crowded, Nintendo needs to keep its independent streak alive, and be a leader rather than a follower.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is coming back with another Adventure, and that means it's time to pass judgment on the new slate of cards. This time the full set will include 31 new cards in all, and we'll be taking a critical eye to each and every one of them. All of the cards are being categorized as Winners or Losers, which are self-explanatory, or "Oddballs"--cards with unique effects that could be useful with some creative deck management.

On the whole this expansion looks to add some new tools for existing deck types, revive some underutilized classes, and give better tools all around. Blizzard generally knows what it's doing, so the vast majority of these are either good (Winners) or could be (Oddballs). Still, you can't have a deck expansion without some clunkers. Check out the full gallery below, and then dive into our reviews to see what we think.

Winners

Blackwing Corruptor - The Shaman's Fire Elemental is so good, why not make a neutral version? That seemed to be the mindset behind Blackwing Corruptor, which sacrifices 1/1 worth of stats for one mana. At the same time, it carries the new "holding" requirement, so it's really only at home in Dragon-based decks. Still, Fire Elemental is extremely versatile, so letting other classes have a crack at the removal-minion combo value is great.

Blackwing Technician - Just like Tinkertown Technician is a staple in Mech decks after the release of Goblins vs Gnomes, expect Blackwing Technician to be a regular in Dragon decks. The stats are decent for the cost, but the added bonus if you're holding a Dragon makes it a must-play on turn three for sheer value alone.

Chromaggus - Like all 8-mana minions, this needs a strong ability to compensate for the cost. Fortunately, Chromaggus' ability is a strong one. Assuming he survives at least one turn, he'll provide a duplicate card. Holding him back until you're fairly certain to draw a Legendary means you'll get two copies of them instead of just one. It is vulnerable to overdrawing, but clever play will let you copy a few cards, and use him to remove a big threat. The Dragon synergy, and not being weak to Big Game Hunter, are just bonuses.

Demonwrath - A clear staple for Demon Warlock decks, this is essentially a cheaper Consecration if used correctly. It will help the recently popular Demonlocks stay competitive against aggressive rush decks while they work on getting their demons out, or in a pinch it can be used to activate your own Deathrattle minions.

Dragonkin Sorcerer - This isn't a class card, but it might as well be for Priest or Paladin. It's very clearly focused on classes that lend themselves to buffing minions, by giving you some additional stat power whenever you do. A Priest's Power Word Shield, for example, would immediately make it a 4/8 at relatively low cost. The Paladin's Blessing of Kings becomes a 5/5 buff, making this thing a hulking 8/10 on turn five. 

Dragon Consort - While Paladin already has competition for a strong five-drop with Quartermaster, that one is very situational and relies on Silver Hand Recruits already in-play. The Dragon Consort is more forward-facing, with decent vanilla stats and a benefit that activates the next turn. Paired with a strong 8-drop Dragon like Chromaggus, the Paladin will be uniquely suited to swing the board advantage in their favor on turns five and six.

Drakonid Crusher - There's lots of utility to this card, as it answers two persistently difficult classes. The "Handlock" style of Warlock is easy to get towards critical damage, but hard to finish off. Big taunts, Antique Healbots, and the ever-present threat of Jaraxxas makes it a race against time to finish the job. Drakonid Crusher answers all of those easily. Control Warrior also tends to hit low health, but makes up the deficit with huge armor gains. That armor doesn't count towards health, though, so the Crusher would still be activated to knock off some of that armor. It's vulnerable to Big Game Hunter and Silence, but on the whole it's very versatile and even offers decent vanilla stats without the effect.

Emperor Thaurissan - Expect some big tempo swings with this guy. 5/5 for 6 mana makes for bad stats, similar to Sylvanis, but like Ms. Windrunner his ability more than makes up for it. You're guaranteed right from the start to reduce the cost of every card by 1 mana. If you have four cards in-hand, that's 4-mana worth of cost-savings by trading 1-mana worth of stats. Pretty worth it! More importantly, the ability stacks, so if your opponent can't kill him immediately your cards will just get cheaper and cheaper.

Fireguard Destroyer - Shaman is at a shortage of big beefy minions, especially on turn 4. If you take the Overload cost into account, this thing is at minimum a 4/6 for 5 mana, which is decent. The extra attack boost, though, makes it a must-play, and it's likely to become a staple in Shaman decks. Imagine staring down a 7/6 on turn four, and being forced to take the damage or burn a Big Game Hunter or Silence.

Hungry Dragon - With excellent stats for the cost and the benefit of a Dragon label to boot, this seems like a must-have for Dragon decks. The drawback adds a bit of randomness, but as long as you have at least one minion out, you'll probably be able to deal with whatever it spawns. At worst, you'll spawn a high-attack minion like Flame Imp and your Hungry Dragon is the equivalent of a 5/3 for 4 mana--which is still pretty decent.

Imp Gang Boss - This is a card we'll see in lots of Warlock decks, because it plays so well with both the popular Zoo type and the recent resurgence of the Demonlock. The Gang Boss gives Warlocks a hearty body to play on turn three without bringing out their Void Caller prematurely, and it assures leaving behind an annoying imp even if it dies in a single hit. Imps are weak, but as Imp-losion showed, they can get out of hand when they flood the board.

Lava Shock - Some cards lend themselves to really thoughtful, complicated plays. Shaman has always been a class that requires some level of foresight, since his Overload ability gives overpowered benefits at a cost the next turn. Lava Shock puts an even deeper wrinkle in it by letting savvy Shaman players plan not only their Overloads, but also when exactly to unlock those overloaded mana crystals to use them again. It will be hard to use correctly, but players who can manage it will be extremely powerful.

Quick Shot - This is a gift to the aggressive "Face Hunter" style of play, giving yet another cheap damage-dealing tool. 2 mana for 3 damage puts it on-par with the Dark Bomb, which has become a staple for Warlock decks. Plus, it has an added benefit of cycling for itself if your hand happens to be empty. Since it's cheap, it's much more likely to be playable on an empty hand than Core Rager (see: Losers.)

Revenge - As if the Warrior didn't already have enough Control tools. This fits right in with the current meta, giving the Warrior a nice versatile card to act as both removal of the opponent's minions, and activation for cards like Armorsmith and Grim Patron. The special ability, similar to Mortal Strike, lets you swing things in your favor if you're low on health and acts as a beefed-up Consecration. The only drawback is that if you're already low, it will do some serious damage to your side of the board too, so say goodbye to all those lovely Grim Patrons.

Resurrect - Priest isn't generally very minion-heavy, and Resurrect seems aimed at giving it more board-presence without so much reliance on stealing the opponent's cards and minions. At only 2-mana, it at least pays for itself with everything but 1-mana minions. If you happen to revive a great card like Sylvanis, or even one with a Battlecry drawback like Injured Blademaster, it's a ton of value for the cost.

Solemn Vigil - Paladin's card draw has always been situational. The class mostly relies on Divine Favor, which is an outright dead card if playing against aggressive decks, or Lay on Hands, which is so expensive you essentially spend a turn on it. Solemn Vigil is a nice middle-ground, giving versatile card draw that can give you a cheap card refresh after making trades, or a more expensive one in the late-game when you may have more mana to spare.

Twilight Whelp - Aw, what a cute little dragon! Priest gets an early game minion that isn't just a card-draw engine, by essentially giving it a Zombie Chow without the drawback. You'll need to be holding a Dragon to activate it, and most of them are higher-cost so you may not want to keep them in the Mulligan phase. But if you happen to be holden a Fairie Dragon or Hungry Dragon, this Whelp is a huge swing. 

Volcanic Drake - Like the Mage's Dragon's Breath card, the Volcanic Drake is overbudgeted for the stats and relies on minion trading. However, while Dragon's Breath only delivers one-time damage to a target, Volcanic Drake puts out board presence. It would be so-so as a five-mana card, and really excellent for four, so if you make just one even minion trade it pays for itself.

Volcanic Lumberer - Druids are already filthy with big taunts, and Volcanic Lumberer just adds to the pile. It relies on trading to really be worthwhile, but even a single trade (two minions down) would make the stats better-than-vanilla. This would be a great fit for Control decks, delaying your opponent until you draw that all-important Savage Roar combo.

Losers

Core Rager - At first glance, Core Rager is insanely powerful. It's potentially a 7/7 for 4 mana, and its card ability seems to play well with the aggressive rush-style decks so popular with Hunter right now. On top of that it's a Beast, which makes for nice synergy. However, its stats are awkward. Having an empty hand on turn four is extremely unlikely, even for aggro decks, especially because of the common use of Webspinner in the early game. That means Core Rager will be relegated to a later play, when your opponent will already have tools to deal with it. It's a card that represents a big swing if you get it out early, but it will be nearly impossible to get it out early without buliding a deck around sub-optimal cards like Wisp. It's just not worth that sacrifice for one card.

Dark Iron Skulker - This isn't necessarily a terrible card, but not a very useful one. The Rogue already excels at board control, especially in its currently popular "Oil Rogue" incarnation. The Skulker is targeted squarely at regaining control after being overrun by small minions, as in a Zoo or Rush deck, but Rogues are doing fine without. Meanwhile the effect is very conditional, only hitting minions that aren't already damaged, and it would trigger the Deathrattle effects of minions that are popular in Zoo decks anyway. The stats are weak for the cost and the effect isn't necessary.

Dragon Egg - Without some buffing, at best this will summon two 2/1 whelps. Those may be helpful for certain Dragon synergies, but they're easy enough to remove across all classes. Plus, since it has 0 attack, you don't get to determine your own targets or remove a target while spawning your whelps, so whatever enemy minion triggers the effect will still be around to remove it.

Druid of the Flame - This card may seem versatile, but neither of its forms have much use. A 5/2 is far too weak on turn three, since it can die to even most 1-drops. A 2/5 is slightly better for small token removal, but without Charge or Windfury it just sits on the board and gets taken down without much trouble. Plus, since Shade of Naxxramas is a staple in Druid decks, playing this card instead is never going to be preferable.

Rend Blackhand - Any 7-drop with only 4 health is too weak to start with, but Rend's problems don't end there. He's also vulnerable to Big Game Hunter, which is in heavy use right now thanks to the prevalence of Dr. Boom. His effect requires two separate conditions to line up at once. And since the card text doesn't read "enemy Legendary," if you have a Legendary out and your opponent doesn't, you won't be able to play Rend without sacrificing your other card. This might be useful in a meta that's very heavy with hard-to-remove Legendaries like Ysera or Kel'Thuzad, but even then it's hard to imagine him seeing regular use. 

Oddballs

Axe Flinger - Warrior has been pigeonholed into a Control deck archtype, and Axe Flinger aims to change that. This would be right at home if some intrepid player figures out how to make a proper Warrior Aggro deck. Like Grim Patron, the class' tendency to damage its own minions means this could do serious damage to your opponent. At worst, it's the Warrior equivalent of a Hunter's Explosive Trap. You can remove the minion, but it's going to cost you.

Dragon's Breath - At its base stats, this card has an awful cost. However, the ability seems aimed at minion-heavy mages like the current Mech Mage archtype. If you just save it for a turn with lots of trading, either in the mid-game with low-grade minions, or in the late-game with a card like Dr. Boom, it can be practically free. It could provide great value in the right deck, but consistently having it in-hand when you happen to be trading could prove difficult.

Gang Up - Rogue decks aren't usually minion-heavy, instead relying on a handful of burst damage from weapons or charged minions. That makes Gang Up an odd duck. Like Faceless Manipulator, you really need to rely on copying your own minions since you can't count on your opponent's.  That said, Rogues do tend to draw their entire deck with cards like Sprint, so shuffling into the deck isn't itself too much of a drawback. Plus, at the very least, it will make opponents wary of playing really strong cards, since the Rogue will be able to get three of them in response.

Grim Patron - It has awful stats for the cost, but the effect is sure to make for some interesting plays. This seems right at home in Warrior decks, which get a lot of mileage out of damaging their own minions. The synergy with Bouncing Blade, which never found a proper home from GvG, is through the roof. Other classes might get use out of it, too, like a Priest running Wild Pyromancer. We're sure to see some experimentation with this one.

Flamewaker - This might have been a great card before the release of Goblins vs Gnomes, but now it's filling a niche that's already taken. The spell ability plays so well with Spare Parts you would really need to use it in a Mech deck, and if you're running Mechs anyway there's no reason not to play Tinkertown Technician for much better stats. That said, some intrepid Mage player could probably find a way to make this work, and the card itself isn't outright bad. It's just hard to see where it fits right now.

Majordomo Executus - A neutral card that acts similarly to Jaraxxus is just what Hearthstone fans have been waiting for, and this one does look fun to play. However, it will be extremely hard to use well. Jaraxxus' effect takes place immediately, which means it's useful to gain back health quickly when you're on the ropes. The Handlock archtype relies almost entirely on this. Executus, on the other hand, is much harder to control. Since he summons Ragnaros as a Deathrattle, your opponent will usually get to pick when that happens. Ragnaros only has 8 health, so it will almost never work in your favor. Against classes that have plenty of burst damage, they can just make sure to take out Executus the same turn they have 8 points of damage. 

Nefarian - Nine mana is always going to be hard to justify, and Big Game Hunter is so popular that an 8/8 is extremely vulnerable. That makes its ability the real benefit, which essentially costs 1 mana for a much more specific version of the Priest's Thoughtsteal ability. Instead of stealing any cards, you're taking random spells. Additionally, the spells are randomized from the class, rather than from your opponent's deck, so you have a chance at grabbing just about anything. Time will tell if Nefarian gets widespread use, but the ability is so unique it will be fun to play around with, at the very least.

Shacknews - Steven Wong

There's nothing like the thrill of competitive multiplayer, but sometimes it's better to kick back and play alongside your friends and family instead of against them. With Co-Optimized, we highlight and discuss games that are best played together.

When it comes to tough games, few match the brutality of Bloodborne. Repeatedly dying is a big part of the game, until you can gather the experience, equipment, and knowhow to defeat the boss--all so that you can be pummeled by the next one. But, as it turns out, you don't have to face these challenges alone. Bloodborne has a cooperative mode where up to three adventurers come together to battle a boss. However, forming a co-op party is no straightforward task. Also, participating in a co-op game comes with more than a few strings attached.

Hosts can invite two other players to join their game by spending an Insight Point (acquired by completing various tasks) to sound the Beckoning Bell. You'll have to ring the bell twice if you want two players to join. Joining players must be in the same area as you, and reply by ringing a Resonant Bell. The catch is, there's no guarantee that there will be anyone in the area when you ring the bell, or if they'll respond if they are. So, there is a slight chance that you'll ring the bell and no one will join. One way to get around this is to set up a password protected game with a friend, but that friend must be at the same point in the game (or further) than you, or else they can't join.

Fortunately, the Bloodborne becomes pretty straightforward after that. They party of players set forth to defeat the boss. There are no group strategies to consider, nor do powers build up to greater effect. All players simply do their best to pile on the damage until the boss is defeated. If you're having a lot of trouble with a boss, one way of getting past it is by inviting a player who has progressed further than you. They might have the power and equipment to quickly dispatch the boss for you.

Bloodborne's cooperative element is tied specifically to a boss. Once it is defeated, the party disbands and hosts will have to ring the bell again if they need more help. Similarly, players return to their individual campaigns if the Beckoner is killed in battle. This being the case, Bloodborne isn't really a social multiplayer game. Co-op players don't share health, nor do can they revive fallen players.

Its cooperative gameplay is almost completely functional. But even though the game doesn't really have a cooperative campaign, hosts can game the system a little by ringing the Beckoning Bell far in advance, which allows players to fight together until the boss fight.

Players that join a host to help defeat a boss receive Insight Points and Blood Echoes for their efforts, which can be spent on upgrades and equipment. But joining a host is mostly for that player's benefit. Helping another player kill a boss that you haven't defeated yet does not apply to your game. The creature will be alive and well again once you return to your game, and you can either use the Blood Echoes you earned to upgrade and face him alone, or ring the Beckoning Bell for yourself. 

Bloodborne might not be a shining example of cooperative play at its best, but given how tough its bosses can be, it's a well-appreciated feature. Ringing the Beckoning Bell can be a shot in the dark, especially later on down the road when many players have moved on to advanced areas. At the same time, joining a game is a matter of convenience, and depends on whether or not you happen to be nearby when a Beckoning Bell is sounded. Even fighting alongside others can feel like a somewhat solitary experience, since everyone pretty much looks out for themselves. You're either helping to pile on damage, or you're acting as a decoy so that someone else can. Still, the one major benefit of fighting alongside others is learning new strategies, which can help you in your own game.

There's also plenty of loot to be had by helping others. When it comes to games like Bloodborne, you need every advantage you can pick up.

For more information about how to start a Bloodborne Co-op or PvP Multiplayer game, check out our handy guide.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

In many ways, Croteam's The Talos Principle explores frontiers that the developer had never venture to before. There's philosophy, puzzles, and questions about the nature of the world. It's definitely a far cry from the mindless running and gunning of their previous franchise, Serious Sam. But what happens when Devolver Digital and Croteam puts peanut butter in their chocolate and crosses these two streams? Well, they wind up with the Serious Sam voice pack, of course.

The latest DLC completely replaces The Talos Principle's main character, Elohim, with ultra macho mascot Serious Sam. As expected, voice actor John J. Dick is along for the ride, recording all-new dialogue for Serious Sam's breach into a world that is not his own.

Devolver and Croteam insist that this is not an April Fools gag and note that the Serious Sam voice pack will be available for free until April 7. Afterwards, the DLC will run for $2.99. Those looking to pick up The Talos Principle on PC for the first time will be able to pick it up for half-off on Steam from now until April 6.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

The hotfix Sony and From Software announced would be released for Bloodborne to combat a potential progression-breaking bug has officially been released.

In addition to the progression bug, Bloodborne version 1.02 also squashes a number of other unspecified bugs, one of which was the item duping exploit. Unfortunately, this patch isn’t the one players have been waiting for that would hopefully speed up the game’s brutally long loading times. Sony says that patch is still being worked on, although no release date has been announced yet.

If you’re unaware of what the progression bug was, it involved using either the Small Resonant Bell or Sinister Resonant Bell in the Forbidden Woods. Doing so would cause Hunters to not be able to receive the Lunarium Key after completing a number of objectives within the area. Now that version 1.02 has been released, you should be able to invite co-op partners or attempt to murder random Hunters at your leisure.

Need help figuring out how to initiate a co-op or PvP session? Head on over to your guide where we tell you exactly what you need to do.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

It's hard to know just what to make of BoxBoy at first glance. The black-and-white palette and no-frills presentation put the focus squarely on the mechanical underpinnings. The concepts are simple, but it quickly starts to stack on itself, and it grabs hold with seemingly endless inventiveness and iteration. BoxBoy is a proving ground for indie-style minimalism that serves to show an idea we may overlook. The indie spirit is well and alive in Nintendo, because so much of the indie community imitates Nintendo's impeccable design philosophy.

Squaring Off

BoxBoy is the latest from HAL, the studio best known for its Kirby games. Kirby has been Nintendo's laboratory recently, with wide latitude to use the pink puffball to try different play and art styles. Given that pedigree, it's easy to see where BoxBoy fits. The cute, simplistic character design is the square equivalent to Kirby's more rotund physique, and if not for the lead character's shape it's easy to see how BoxBoy could have become a Kirby game itself.

It stars Qbby, a surprisingly expressive little character considering he's just a square with legs and eyes. Qbby can make other boxes extend from him to create platforms, and at its most basic form, that's what BoxBoy is about. You help Qbby navigate stages by using his power to create objects, with a limited number of boxes in each of the bite-sized stages. 

That premise is deceptively simple, though. It isn't long before BoxBoy becomes a smorgasboard of creativity, using the simple mechanics to press buttons to open doors or transport through a gap. The stages are kept relatively small, with each puzzle distinctly separated and generous checkpoints in-between each one. Through more than a dozen worlds, we're introduced to a brand new twist with each one. Every world plumbs the depths of a concept, and then moves on to the next.

The puzzles slowly get fiendishly difficult, requiring quite a bit of trial-and-error as you sort out the solution. Fortunately, if you're just hopelessly stuck, you can use a Play Coin to receive a brief glimpse at the shape that will solve the puzzle. Even then, though, I sometimes found myself staring at the shape I had created and puzzling out how to actually use it. It's a puzzle game, but knowing the solution isn't always enough.

To the extent that it tells a story, it's a light one. BoxBoy stumbles upon some other characters, and making his way through the worlds has an impact, but it's treated more like a fable than a plot. The details are hazy, and it imparts a simple (if somewhat obvious) metaphorical lesson.

Game Boy Memories

The combination of a monochrome aesthetic and simple gameplay conjures memories of the original Gameboy. Qbby would be right at home there, and nothing about the game would be particularly impossible on that system. In fact, the constant reinvention reminded me of Donkey Kong for the Gameboy, another devious puzzle game from Nintendo that repeatedly introduced new ideas throughout.  

That's really the highest praise I can pay to BoxBoy. It expresses such a purity of design that it captures that breezy magic that defined Nintendo's golden era. It's a game that revolves around play and discovery, and it does it so well it doesn't need to rely on the company's well-loved stable of characters. This debut is so good, Qbby may become one himself.


This review is based on a 3DS download code provided by the publisher. BoxBoy will be available on the Nintendo eShop. The game is rated E.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Sony has announced its latest wearable technology that builds on the success of Remote Play, Share Play, and Project Morpheus called PlayStation Flow. Before you submit your pre-orders, you should know this is the company's April Fools' Day joke.

PlayStation Flow helps enhance the gameplay experience during levels where a character would need to swim to their objective. During these moments, players would pause their game, put on their PlayStation Flow, which is a combination of VR goggles and sensors for your arms and legs, and continue their game where they left off at the local swimming pool.

Don’t have a swimming pool? You won’t need one as you could also enjoy PlayStation Flow from the comfort of your living room, kitchen, or even your bathtub.

Once you’re done swimming, the PlayStation Flow can return you to your game quickly through the use of a body dryer, which is said to dry the player in seconds. Considering how crazy loud the original PlayStation 3’s fans would get when playing games, we could see where Sony may have gotten the idea of their body dryer.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will take players over 200 hours to finish if they want to do everything the game has to offer, said senior game designer Damien Monnier on Twitter.

Monnier revealed the game’s possible length when he was asked how long he thought the game would be with all side quests completed. He admitted it’d be hard to say, but his guess would bring it to the 200+ hour range.

We already had an inkling just how massive The Witcher 3 would be based on a number of factors, such as its 36 possible world states as well as how wide and vast its open frontier will be. To hear the game is potentially over 200 hours has us wondering if the game might be too long for comfort, although it should be able to keep us entertained during the inevitable summer lull gaming season. Either way, we're still excited about the game, but we'll be cautious when it comes to side quests and additional content, or else we'll find ourselves in an extremely deep hole.

Shacknews - Steven Wong

DomiNations, a free-to-play real-time strategy (RTS) game for mobile devices, lets players take a small tribe from the Stone Age to a full-blown civilization in the Space Age. If that theme sounds familiar, it might be because Brian Reynolds and Tim Train are involved; both of whom worked on Civilization II and the RTS game Rise of Nations. So, having rival nations battle each other for control of history should be pretty familiar territory for them. DomiNations is not only a new history themed game for the two, but it represents a comeback for the development studio Big Huge Games, which the two originally founded and re-founded when it became collateral damage after 38 Studios' collapse. DomiNations could bring the challenge and thrill of historical strategy to millions of mobile gamers worldwide.

While speaking with Tim Train, we went hands-on with an early build of DomiNations for iOS. In it, you start with a small tribe and a handful of buildings. It's up to you to gather resources, clear away the surrounding forest, construct buildings, purchase upgrades, and raise an army. There are two main resources, Gold and Food, which are used to purchase buildings, upgrades, and perform some actions. Gold is generally acquired through structures or mining, while Food can be gathered from trees, farmed, or you can hunt the various animals that roam the forests. You can also acquire significant resources by attacking and pillaging neighbors. Ultimately, DomiNations is a game about war.

The only thing pacing your expansion is the number of workers you have at your disposal and time. Every task, from hunting rabbits to building Wonders, requires a fixed number of resources, workers, and time. Players have the option to spend Crowns (real world currency) to speed up construction and replenish resource stocks faster, but you can get plenty of Crowns for free (at least you can early on). However, the game does reach a bit of a standstill when you have your workers assigned to long tasks, leaving little else to do except watch them hammer away. There's no way to pause construction, only cancel or pay to accelerate it. 

Animations and graphics are pretty cute, and DomiNations takes on a certain SimCity feel, as you move structures around and plan out your road network. Eventually, you'll work your way to the next Age, which provides you access to a host of new structures and technological improvements. Evolving also make you vulnerable to attack by other players, just as you can attack them. So, you'll have to spend quite a bit of time thinking about defense. Fortunately, the game balances out by only allowing cities within certain eras to attack each other, so you never have to worry about modern soldiers killing your medieval knights in a hail of gunfire. This also means that you could technically stay in the Stone Age forever and be safe from attack, but you won't be able to grow. There are a number of ways the game encourages you to move on to the next age, which are mostly found in expansion and technological limitations and how animals don't respawn until the next Age.

As stated earlier, with all things considered, DomiNations is a game about war. You can choose to ally with friends to share resources and gain bonuses, but hunting and gathering can't match up against sending soldiers to raid your neighbors. Barracks and garrisons hold a fixed number of soldiers, and can be upgraded to hold more. When invading an enemy town, you tap to drop soldiers onto the field and they'll attack the first thing they see. You start with only one special ability, but you'll get more as you progress through the game and choose a nationality.

There are currently seven nationalities to choose from: China, Japan, Rome, Greece, England, France and Germany. Each feature a different aesthetic, unique unites, and different bonuses. For example, the British--with its long history of imperialism--gains extra loot when raiding enemy towns in addition to having unique ranged units. Greeks, thanks to the leadership of Alexander the Great, have a cavalry unit and can build Wonders at a reduced cost. As players move up the ages, they'll be able to build more sophisticated armies that include siege units. So they'll be able to roll catapults into battle and lay waste to walls and structures. Although the feature won't be ready for the iOS release, I was told players would eventually have the option of inciting a revolution to switch nationalities, so they'll be able to experience how other nations play.

It takes a lot of time and resources to work your way through the Ages of history, so it's a good thing DomiNations is free-to-play. The game is available now for Android and launches for iOS on April 2nd. Players on one device can link their account so that their games can carry over to another, even across platforms.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

In the spirit of April Fools’ Day, Capcom has announced Dog Ace Attorney, which serves as a spoof for its extremely popular Ace Attorney series.

Dog Ace Attorney came about as a pun from the Japanese name for the next Ace Attorney game that’s set in the Meiji era, called “Great Gyakuten Saiban.” If you change the first character of the Japanese characters, it becomes “Dog Gyakuten Saiban,” which is why we now have a Dog Ace Attorney.

The trailer features a number of canine investigators, such as Sherlock Hound and Inu hodou Ryuuichi as well sound effects that feature dog barks throughout the trailer.

As much as we realize this is an April Fools’ Day prank, we would totally consider playing a Dog-themed Ace Attorney game. Players could look for buried bones and try to solve the mysteries involving feline adversaries.

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