Nintendo detailed some of the celebrations upcoming in Fire Emblem Heroes, including some new daily maps, log-in bonuses, as well as a new tap mini-game called “Tap Battle: Illusory Dungeon” which will be available for a limited time.
Tap Battle: Illusory Dungeon looks to be a rhythm tapping game with approaching foes, complete with a boss battle. There are 20 levels to complete with five floors each, for a total of 100 floors to challenge.
Starting February 2nd at 2:00am ET the 1st Anniversary Log-In Bonus will start and there will be a double EXP & SP event. Plus there will be daily special maps.
Many of the events kick off on February 1st, but the next Legendary Hero Summoning Event featuring Ike: Vanuard Legend starts tonight at 2am ET.
It was announced last fall that Nintendo will close the Wii Shop Channel as of January 30th, 2019. With that impending closure the functionality of adding Wii Points as of March.
In preparation for the closure of the Wii Shop, Nintendo will remove the ability to add Wii Points with either a credit card or a Wii Points Card effective March 26, 2018 at 4:00pm ET. If you’d like to purchase Wii Points, you’ll need to do this before functionality is removed.
Once you’ve added Wii Points, you can redeem them for Wii Shop content until the Wii Shop closes.
In the future, Nintendo will be closing all services related to the Wii Shop Channel, including redownloading purchased WiiWare, Virtual Console titles, and Wii Channel, as well as Wii System Transfer Tool, which transfers data from Wii to the Wii U system.
After January 30th, 2019 it will no longer be possible to purchase content from the Wii Shop Channel. Refunds of Wii Points are not possible and it should also be noted that Wii Points cannot be used to fund a Nintendo eShop account or Nintendo Account.
Raids in Stormblood – Final Fantasy XIV’s latest expansion – have been split among the wings of Omega and an on going plotline involving the Garlean Empire, the land of Ivalice and a theatre troupe. Patch 4.2 “A New Son Rises” once again sees the Warrior of Light (player character), Cid Nan Garland, Nero Tols Scaeva and Alpha the Chocobo face off against the artificial creations of the fearsome Omega. Raids are released with each patch – odd numbered patches bringing a new Ivalice raid and even numbered patches bringing a new section of Omega.
Spoiller Warning: Mechanics for 2 of the 4 “Omega Sigmascape” fights are described in detail below.
Here are my general impressions after running the “normal” difficulty for two of the four “Sigmascape” encounters.
All Aboard The Phantom Train
Fans have been speculating for years now about when “Doom Train” (also known as “The Phantom Train”) would make its appearance in Square Enix’s latest online incarnation of Final Fantasy. As far back as 2014 players have joked about the train – some wishing for a smaller version of the train to become a mount and others hoping that Goldsmith GoldBert would end up suplexing the train.
Sadly neither of these things happen in the normal version of Phantom Train. What players do get is a bit of a wild ride though – things start off with the entire party aboard the backmost car of the titular train. It is here that the party must send volleys against the train itself while avoiding ghosts that spawn, train car wide AOEs, using searchlights to “put out” the spawning ghosts and the possibility of being sucked into one of the endless number of the Phantom Train’s passenger compartments.
The journey to the Phantom Train is probably the strongest opener to a raid tier that I can remember in sometime. After all is said and done, once the train crashes off the tracks and dissipates back into the aether, the Warrior of Light is left with a haunting ghostly vision of some of it’s occupants – referencing events that haven’t happened in Eorzea’s existence. The whole encounter feels other worldly and if you’re into FFXIV raiding – make sure to take a ride on The Phantom Train.
“I will destroy everything! I will create a monument to non-existence!”
Sigmascape is filled with references to Final Fantasy’s storied 16-bit history but the one encounter that sent chills down the spine of those who watched the pre-release “Final Fantasy 14 4.2 Patch Trailer” was only hinted at – a battle with the one and only, Kefka Palazzo.
The former court jester has already successfully destroyed an entire world during the second half climax of FF VI, and now he’s got his sites set on wiping the floor with the Warrior of Light and her comrades. Mechanically Kefka’s sigmascape encounter is probably one of the hardest normal difficulty fights ever included in FFXIV. To successfully bring the clown down you’ll have to deal with large line AOES, circle AOEs, knockbacks similar to Heavensward Sephirot aaaaaand – the off chance that Kefka is straight up messing with you and his mechanics are lying to you. Battling Kefka is interesting, challenging and when it’s not rage inducing to die to “lie” mechanic with less than 10% health left, a lot of fun.
There’s So Much More To See
Final Fantasy XIV Patch 4.2 has so much more to offer and I’ve barely done it all justice by describing the these two Sigmascape encounters. In addition to the continuation of the ongoing Main Scenario players can take part in the four Sigmascape raids – in a savage or normal difficulty. A battle with a brand new primal is included during the MSQ, where the Warrior of Light and her comrades face off against the Jade Stoah. Other improvements include new housing items, new fashion items, a whole new set of tomestone gear, new emotes and PVP adjustments.
Two gaming industry veterans – Double Fine’s Tim Schaefer and Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail – will be bestowed honors by their peers at the 2018 Game Developer’s Choice Awards this coming March. They’ll be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award and Ambassador Rewards respectively.
Nolan Bushnell during a Comic Con 2014 panel in San Diego, California. Photo Credit: Derek Hoffman – Licensed under Creative Commons.
Bushnell’s contributions to the gaming landscape need little introduction – as the founder of Atari, he helped usher in an age of home consoles the likes of which society had never seen before. With the introduction of the Atari 2600 in 1977 popular arcade games like Breakout and Pong without leaving their homes. Kick starting the home console market isn’t all that Bushnell is known for, he’s also the founder of over 20 different technology related companies including the children’s entertainment focused Chuck E Cheese chain of restaurants.
GDC officially decided to withdraw the presentation of the Pioneer Award to Bushnell after swift and justified social media backlash over Bushnell as their pick for the award. Published accounts, rumors and even statements made by Bushnell himself have left behind a public record of alleged sexual harassment, degrading comments and sexist behavior towards female Atari employees – beginning back in the 1970s. The documented behavior of Bushnell in 70s ranged from the widely circulated story of the sexist origins behind the codename ‘Darlene’ for the smash hit Pong – codenamed after a female secretary who worked at Atari at the time to holding board meetings for the company in a hot tub and trying to coerce female employees to join the all male board in said tub.
I’d highly recommend Gita Jackson’s lengthy post over on Kotaku for further reading regarding Bushnell’s behavior and why GDC decided to pull the award. Her write-up provides additional background information including statements from professors at Illinois Tech who teach about interactive entertainment.
The Game Developers Choice Awards Advisory Committee, who vote on the Special Award winners for each show, have made the decision not to give out a Pioneer Award for this year’s event, following additional feedback from the community. They believe their picks should reflect the values of today’s game industry and will dedicate this year’s award to honor the pioneering and unheard of voices of the past.”
Grim Fandango poster next to a promotional bobble head. One of the many games Tim Schaefer is known for. [Photo Credit: Cydog – Licensed under Creative Commons]
Grim Fandango, Broken Age, Psychonaughts, Full Throttle – these are just some of the hilarious and thought provoking games that have sprung from the creative mind of Tim Schaefer. Bringing his own uniqueness flavor to his games isn’t all Schaefer is known for – since founding Double Fine he’s worked to promote independent games through collaborations with organizations like Iam8bit and their annual; Day of the Devs events.
Rami Ismail gives a talk during the Game Developer Conference. [Photo Credit: Official GDC – Creative Commons]
Rami Ismail’s impact on game development goes far beyond his work on titles Nuclear Dawn, Super Crate Box or Serious Sam: The Random Encounter. He has worked on accessible development tools like PressKit() that help other indie creators distribute information about their upcoming projects. He has also worked with creators in fostering indie development communities in countries like Eastern Europe, The Middle East, South America and Africa.
These awards will be distributed on March 21st during the Game Developers Choice Awards in San Francisco, California. Staff members from Broken Joysticks will be attending GDC 2018 and may be in attendance for the awards.
Version Tested: PlayStation 4 (Played On a Launch PS4)
Team ICO’s titles have taken on almost a mythical status among PlayStation Exclusives. While The Last Guardian my stand as the example of a “once in a generation release” for a much anticipated title to be resurrected – Shadow of the Colossus wowed both players and critics back in 2005 with its larger than life beasts, minimalist design and sweeping soundtrack. Almost a decade and a half later – does BluePoint’s remake on the PlayStation 4 wow us yet again with technical feats of grand scale or crush us under the weight of SOTC’s long legacy?
Players take on the role of a young male protagonist known as Wander who has brings his significant other to an ancient temple within The Forbidden Lands in the hopes of resurrecting her. It is here that he is informed by the deity Dormin that resurrecting a human soul is difficult, if not impossible and highly frowned upon by society. By making a pact with this shadowy god, Wander is tasked with taking down 16 towering colossi before his request will be granted. SOTC’s story has never been the main draw for players, but it at least sets up the protagonist’s motivations in motion well enough. Returning players should take note that this remastered version does not include any additional narrative or lore and presents Wander’s struggle exactly the way you remember it from the PS2 release.
Shadow of the Colossus is a puzzle game hiding under the guise of an action adventure title. While Wander can sprint large distances, attack with his sword and leap across chasms, these aren’t player’s primary tool when dealing with the colossi. Having a keen eye, observing your surrounding and in some cases the structure of the colossi themselves can be the key to overcoming the obstacles in front of Wander. One encounter has you charging forward at full speed and hopping off of Wander’s horse to gain ground on the colossi and another has Wander hanging on for dear life as a serpent-like colossi emerges under the waves as he makes his way to the glowing weak points. Each colossi fight has its own unique presentation but most encounters can be boiled down to the formula of “find way onto to the colossi, expose the various weak points and then slash with your sword until dead”.
Controlling Wander’s movements while playing SOTC is simple and uncomplicated but there are situations where it can be unclear when you’ll regain control of your character again. This is particularly apparent when Wander is hanging off of the fur of a colossus and is shaken around like a ragdoll. Simple and responsive are unfortunately not words to describe the unpleasant experience of riding Agro the horse. While Agro can reach speeds that Wander could never dream of achieving, Agro will lose all of its momentum as soon as it collides with any object larger than a pebble. More modern games would have Agro simply side-step over small obstacles and continue at a brisk pace but time has not been pleasant to poor Agro and riding the pony express has more “stop start” than downtown at rush hour. This is made all the more agonizing with the realization that more than one colossus was designed specifically with the use of the horse in mind. While it is possible to complete this encounter without Aggro (we did during our review playthrough) – it is painfully slow and removes any tension or urgency from the battle.
Visually Shadow of the colossus can be breathtaking and jaw droppingly beautiful at times. BluePoint Games have successfully recreated Shadow of the Colossus‘ unique visual style and vibrant palate while both simultaneously staying true to Team Ico’s vision from the 2005 and updating model / asset fidelity for the HD era. Running across SOTC‘s vast green fields while stating at mountain ranges far off into the distance with waterfalls below you truly has to be seen in motion to be believed, static screenshots do not do BluePoint’s work on SOTC‘s revitalized visuals justice. If you’re looking for a title that will show friends who might not own a PlayStation 4 that capability of Sony’s latest system – Shadow of the Colossus is THAT title.
All of the work that originally went into the unique designs of the 16 colossi back in 2005 is preserved in the 2018 remake. If you get a chance while battling one of these towering stone monsters, stop and observe their movements. It shows that the original developers paid extra attention to how way each colossi would shift their body weight and position their limbs during movement. Whether Wander is facing off against the large stone serpent, the small boar-like creature or the bipedal first colossus – each one moves slowly, deliberately and uniquely. All of this attention to detail was unthinkable back in 2005 and 13 years later it still holds up as some of the best intricate creature design. Just don’t get Wander squashed as you marvel at the slow finesse of the colossi.
There was nothing quite like Shadow of the Colossus when it debuted on the PS2 and two generations later it still shines as one of the most unique PlayStation exclusives. BluePoint games did a tremendous job bringing Team ICO’s original game forward in time to 2018. SOTC on PS4 looks gorgeous, sounds great and at times feels just as epic as the original. Returning players may be disappointed to learn that this remake offers no additional content over either the PS2 release or the updated PS3 remaster. After completing the campaign players unlock New Game+, Mirror World Mode and Time Attack – just as they did in previous releases. If you haven’t played SOTC before and can stomach some minor control issues (especially with the horse) this is the definitive version to experience the 2005 classic. Returning players can expect a gorgeous trip down memory lane that plays exactly how they remember it – except in 4K and beyond.
Sony Interactive Entertainment Canada provided BrokenJoysticks with a digital pre-release copy of Shadow of the Colossus on PlayStation 4 for review. The game was reviewed in 1080p on a launch PlayStation 4 unit – although the game does provide PlayStation Pro specific enhancements that we could not test. Shadow of the Colossus is expected to retail for $49.99 CDN.