August 21, 2016

Why Sony Releasing 3 New Products At The PlayStation Meeting Makes Sense

Posted on August 21, 2016 by Rae Michelle Richards

Sony’s PlayStation Meeting is scheduled for just two and a half weeks from now, the world will finally know what Sony’s R&D department have been quietly working on for the past few years and get a fresh look at the upcoming PlayStation VR as well as the confirmed PlayStation NEO. Not only has the PlayStation Slim’s final production design been leaked but rumors are suggesting that Sony may unveil a mysterious third product. Here is why that makes a lot more sense than you think.

PlayStation 4 Slim Confirmed In The Wild


Prior to the PlayStation NEO’s official confirmation fans speculated that a ‘PlayStation 4 Slim’ and ‘PlayStation NEO’ could indeed be one in the same. This has now been confirmed false as the PlayStation 4 Slim’s final production model & retail packaging have leaked. At least one person has a retail unit in their hands at this very moment and comparisons to the 2013 PS4 are popping up all over the place.

According to The Verge the production PlayStation 4 Slim originally appeared on an online auction. The soon to launch configuration would include a 500GB hard drive, one Dual Shock 4 and the newly redesigned console. Ideally this would replace the existing larger PlayStation 4 launch model from 2013 rather than exist alongside it, there is no need for three separate SKUs + holiday bundles on the shelf. Now would be the perfect time to phase out the launch model and offer the re-design to consumers who don’t want to spring for the premium NEO experience.

Here is a look at the retail packaging thanks to Twitter:


What We Know  About ‘PlayStation NEO’


PlayStation NEO is an iterative version of the PS4 architecture that will offer players a ‘premium experience’ thanks to several pieces of upgraded hardware under the hood. Not only will it provide support for 4K media & Ultra-High-Definition Blu Ray disks but it will also offer a specific ‘NEO Mode’ for games launching as early as this October. The hardware was initially rumored for months before being confirmed by Sony’s Andrew House back in June.

So what has changed under the hood? Given that this is not the PS5, don’t expect anything too radical, instead think of the NEO as the difference between a game on Medium or High graphics settings on a PC versus Ultra.

Here is a quick run of some of the rumored changes, it should be noted that multiple outlets have vetted these changes through development sources:

  • Base clock speed increase from 1.6GHZ to 2.1 GHZ
  • GPU clock frequency upped from 800 MHZ to 911MHZ
  • GDDR5 Memory BUS speed upped from 176 GBS to 218 GBS

 Unanswered Questions Surrounding PlayStation NEO

a General booth shot of the upper level where PSVR was being Demoed

While we have a detailed breakdown of the specs on offer by the upcoming PS NEO there is still a lot of things we simply don’t know.

First off is how much of a boost that the NEO specific mode will give players, with only a 100MHZ~ boost on the GPU this jump is very similar to the increase is similar to the one that Microsoft included with the Xbox One S, and digitally foundry found it only meant a few frames per second in select titles. Really the core improvement will be in the memory transfer speed and processor clock speed, let’s hope they give devs enough headroom to improve beyond the base PS4 model.

How will PS4 NEO interact with the PlayStation VR which is set to launch this October? It has already been confirmed that the PlayStation NEO does not exist because the PS VR experience on the original PS4 was subpar – this rumor was swiftly and officially debunked. PSVR requires an external processing box, about half of the size of an original PS4 console, in order to provide the processing needed to render two simultaneous images for the headset.  Will NEO’s updated specifics mean that the processing box will not required? Hopefully we will find out at the PlayStation Meeting!

Lastly – what kind of fabrication process and AMD APU architecture does the NEO use? The original PS4 utilized AMD’s Jaguar Core, which originally made its debut on store shelves in 2012. Graphics card technology & processor tech have come a long way in the past four years, with AMD’s own Radeon 480 (based around the long in development Polaris core) not only setting the standard for price point but also enabling mainstream to enter VR at an affordable $200 USD. Polaris has been so successful that retailers can barely keep the cards in stock – could AMD pack in the latest version of their GPU technology into the NEO?

Here Comes A New Challenger


This is the part where things go off the rails completely with absolutely no factual basis whatsoever. Notice how one particular Sony platform was not only absent from this article so far but also missing from Sony’s E3 press conference? Yup, the PlayStation Vita seems to be missing in action for the past few months – especially after a Sony Exec referred to the platform as a “Legacy Platform” cast a shadow of doubt on the 4 year old handheld.

Today on NeoGAF someone reiterated rumors that sprang up in June – that Sony would announce 3 products at their next big reveal including a “PSP like device”. It seems that the leak of the PS4 Slim spurred the resurfacing of these unsubstantiated rumors but with Sony recently patching a Kernel Exploit on the console within a matter of days perhaps there is hope for a PS Vita revival.

It doesn’t seem likely that a PS Vita successor would be announced at the PlayStation Meeting, word about this would have simply leaked from development sources unless Sony is going to chock both the general public and the development community with an early teaser – the same way that Microsoft did with the Project Scorpio announcement at E3.

Fans have stated they’d an all new handheld with a lot more power – perhaps something in line with what Nintendo is planning for its unannounced NX Handheld. Others have speculated that Sony may embrace an open source platform like Android to power a PS Vita successor.


Realistically we are more likely to see a new PS Vita SKU sometime in 2017 rather than this holiday season. Not only does Sony have two large products launching this October – PS Neo & PSVR but PS Vita and Sony is already going to have their hands tied to selling consumers on VR and iterative hardware. With the Vita continually losing retail shelf space, developer support and facing an all-digital future perhaps a refreshed hardware SKU could include often requested like triggers for use with remote-play and HDMI out port.

The Choice Is Yours


Even if a potential PlayStation Vita successor or upgraded SKU does not appear there is a lot to be excited about. This wrap-up is over 1200 words and doesn’t mention any GAMES, you know the things that you own the multi hundred $ box for. Sometimes it can be hard to get wrapped up in specs and the future of technology but there is a lot to be excited for in the near term.  Sony is going to have a bit of a challenge selling console owners on VR given how niche VR experiences are on the PC – which has had access to high-end VR for months. With the availability of the NEO potential owners will have a new choice to enter the 8th generation of games and it should drive down the cost of second hand launch PS4s, making the platform even more accessible.

We will see what Sony has in-store on September 7th!


Momodora Is A Metroidvania Worth Exploring

Posted on August 21, 2016 by Les Major

Momodora First Boss

It’s been a little while since Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight was released on Steam, but it’s definitely a title Metroidvania fans should take a look at. The game is even currently on sale at just $6.99 USD! I’ve been quite the fan of titles like this over the years. The Castlevania DS games really drew me into the genre and I’ve been playing them ever since. This entry in the Momodora series really scratches that itch. There’s goodies to find, bosses to fight, and items to purchase.

That and really, what other game do you play as a skilled archer who beats enemies down with a leaf melee weapon? It’s a good adventure to go on and took me about seven hours to wander through, get up my gear, and take down the final boss. The only thing I would have wanted is leveling up, which isn’t in the game, but that’s just because I’m a nerd for stuff like that. I got stuck the rare time, but with enough persistence and mixing up tactics I made it through.

Give the trailer a look and see if it’s a title you’d enjoy. I love the visuals!


Batman: a Telltale series episode 1- Realm of Shadows review

Posted on August 21, 2016 by Meghan Kass

Telltale is at it again with their newest episodic adaptation of Batman. Batman: The Telltale series episode 1- Realm of Shadows puts the decisions, detective work and adventures of the caped crusader and puts it in the hands of the player using their signature mix of point and click gameplay and quick time events. Being a long term fan of the development team and publisher, could I be impressed yet again by their newest series, or would this be a miss in a long line of home runs?

36190303grapplinggun1920x1080-1469035581177_largeAnyone who is familiar with a Telltale series, such as: Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Wolf Among Us or even Minecraft: Story Mode, will find themselves at home with the gameplay and style of Realm of Shadows. The game doesn’t waste any time starting the game with a series of quick time events that put us as Batman stopping the snarky, quick witted Catwoman from committing larceny. Throughout the episode, the gameplay involves the player alternating between Bruce Wayne’s life as the playboy philanthropist and “The World’s Greatest Detective”. You need to interact with other characters in Bruce’s life and make decisions that determine how characters feel about you, how the media feels about you and who is your ally and involved in your life. You also interact with your environment and investigate crime scenes, make connections between pieces of evidence to determine what has happened and even get into a quick time fight or two while wearing the iconic suit all while your trusty friend and butler, Alfred, guides and chides you about finding balance in your life.


There are no shortages of well-known Batman characters in this game. You interact with the likes of Vicki Vale, Harvey Dent, Catwoman and even Oswald Cobblepot. While some of their backstories are taken creative liberties with, their personalities shine through and will put a smile on any Batman fan’s face. I know I had a huge grin on my face whenever I met and had conversations with a different Batman character I have loved since my childhood watching the animated series and reading the comics.  It helps that the look is very much stylized and resembling that of a comic book.

The only point in the gameplay I did not enjoy was the use of the “batputer” codex system. I see how it would be useful for someone who is not familiar with the universe or characters of Batman, but other than that, I felt it was mostly unnecessary. This feature did not ruin or take me out of the experience, though. I used the codex when prompted and moved on as quickly as the game allowed to get me to the next part of the story.  Cowl_1920x1080

The story is where Telltale has always and continues the shine. Because the story is the most important part of the game, I won’t explain too much about the story, but it had me biting my nails and shouting by the end because I just wanted more. Without spoiling the story, you are Bruce Wayne and you must balance your life as Batman and Bruce as best you can while making discoveries about the past and deciding how you will effect other’s futures. Will you be a good friend to Harvey Dent? Will you reunite with your old school friend? Will you trust Vicki Vale? Will you disappoint Alfred? All of these plot points and more are in store for your play through of Realm of Shadows and more.

Overall, this is a strong entry in Telltale’s resume. I was deeply immersed in the story and enjoyed the gameplay and style enough to want more. While this is not as strong as The Walking Dead: Season One, it is still a must play for loyal Telltale and Batman fans alike.


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