Category Archives: Gaming

Nintendo to Release Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem on Smart Devices



Nintendo logoNintendo revealed that it will be releasing its popular Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem games on smart devices. This news was part of a Financial Results Briefing for Fiscal Year ending March 2016.

Nintendo is planning to release both Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem as their next steps in their smart device business. Both are popular games and are anticipated to do well on smart devices.

Fire Emblem is described in the Briefing as “a pioneering role-playing simulation game series, combining the tactical elements of a simulation game with the character customization elements of a role-playing game.”

Fifteen titles have been released in the Fire Emblem series since 1990. Nintendo notes that “the series has many passionate fans, particularly among gamers in their 20s and 30s.”

“We are currently developing an application for smart devices based on Fire Emblem. We expect that many consumers will experience Fire Emblem for the first time on their smart device, so this application will offer a more accessible style of gameplay compared to the titles for dedicated video game systems. At the same time, we still aim to provide a fully engaging experience as a role-playing simulation game.”

Animal Crossing debuted in 2001 and is described in the Briefing as one of Nintendo’s “evergreen titles”. In the Animal Crossing series “your avatar is the main character and you can live as you please, experiencing life in real time and enjoying events across all four seasons with delightful animal companions.” Nintendo notes that Animal Crossing is popular with female and young consumers in particular.

“We are currently developing a new application for smart devices based on the characters and world of Animal Crossing. As I mentioned before, the Animal Crossing series for dedicated video game systems is well-loved for its long-term playability, so we want to offer a connection between the smart device application and the world of Animal Crossing on dedicated video game systems. This will make it even more fun to play both ways, while offering a new style of play for smart devices.”

In the Financial Results Briefing, Nintendo said it plans to release both of these applications in the fall of 2016.


VRGO Moves in VR at Gadget Show Live



VRGO logoAR and VR are lining up to be the next big thing and the headset space is filling out with plenty of competitors from Oculus Rift to Google Cardboard. Less obvious in the space are the motion controllers and other gadgets helping to make VR an immersive experience. Into this category falls the VRGO Chair, a hands-free motion controller that takes advantage of what we humans often do all too well – sitting down. Joe from VRGO gave me a demo of the VRGO Chair.

Originally a Kickstarter campaign, the VRGO was successfully funded back in December 2015, and won the second prize in the British Inventors’ Project at Gadget Show Live. Looking not too dissimilar to a flat-topped Weeble, the idea is that the VR player sits on the VRGO and controls their movement in the VR world by tilting or rotating the VRGO. It’s pretty cool and totally intuitive after only a few seconds.

VRGO Chair

The VRGO chair uses low latency Bluetooth to communicate with VR headsets, PCs, tablets and smartphones. The VRGO can mimic both analogue (joypad) and digital (keyboard) controllers, and simplistically the further you tilt, the faster you move. Sitting on the chair leaves the player’s hands free for other controllers.

The VRGO will be delivered to Kickstarter backers within the next month or so before going on sale at around GB£250. A lower cost version is in the works, aiming for a price of about £100.


GameStop Launches Game Trust Publishing Division



Game Trust logoGameStop has launched a full video game publishing division called Game Trust. Some see this move as a way for GameStop to improve its bottom line, as the companies that create video games shift from physical discs to downloadable digital releases. Anyone who has ever shopped at GameStop knows that the company relies on its sales of physical discs of new and used games.

GameSpot posted on their blog about Game Trust. The new publishing division has already signed new games from independent studies, including Ready at Dawn (maker of The Order: 1886), Tequila Works (maker of Deadline and Rime), and Frozenbyte (maker of Trine).

In March of this year, GameStop announced that it was working with Insomniac, the company that made Ratchet and Clank, on a new game. That new game is called Song of the Deep, and will be coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on July 12, 2016. MCV reports that Game Trust is in discussion with 20 other developers.

The GameStop Corp. verified Twitter account (@gamestopcorp) posted some information about Game Trust. They describe it as: “a new way for indie devs to create and introduce IP to a broad gaming audience and for gamers to discover new video games.”

The above tweet is a succinct example of how Game Trust is different from many other game publishing divisions. It isn’t creating brand new video games on its own. Instead, it is acting more like a games label. The indie developers who work with Game Trust will retain full rights to their properties, and GameStop has no involvement in the creative side of the game’s development.


The Art of Atari Book is Coming in October



Atari logoReady for some some nostalgia? Those of us who look back fondly on the artwork and design style that accompanied Atari games have something to look forward to. The Art of Atari is coming! The book will be released in October of this year.

The Art of Atari was announced at Emerald City Comic Con by Dynamite Entertainment, the publisher of the book. The hardcover edition has a total of 352 pages and is being sold on Amazon for $30.56. It is available for pre-order.

The book was written by Robert V. Conte and Tim Lapetino. Conte is a pop culture historian with a vast memorabilia collection. (His author page on Amazon shows him standing next to a table filled with old boxes of Atari games). Lapetino is the Executive Director of MOVA, the Museum of Video Game Art. The book also has a forward by Ernest Cline, author of Ready Player One.

The Art of Atari includes art that was featured on the boxes Atari video games were sold in, as well as the original artwork that was specially commissioned to enhance the Atari experience (and entice people to buy the games).

The Art of Atari is the first official collection of this artwork, which spans 40 years of Atari’s unique illustrations used in packaging, advertisements, catalogs, and more. The artwork in the book was sourced from private collections around the world. You can see some of the artwork on The Art of Atari official website.


Playbrush Brings Fun to Toothbrushing at Gadget Show Live



Playbrush LogoGood oral hygiene is important for everyone but getting children to brush their teeth can be a bedtime battle. Playbrush should help win the war, bringing fun into the bathroom. I get the toothpaste out with John to find out more about Playbrush and continue coverage of the British Inventors’ Project.

The Playbrush is small bulbous gadget that slips over the handle of a manual toothbrush and turns the toothbrush into a game controller. Communicating via Bluetooth, the toothbrusher plays a game “Utoothia” on their tablet or smartphone, encouraging correct brushing technique and duration. The Playbrush can be shared among a family with game apps supporting up to six people. It’s rechargeable and will last around four-to-six weeks on single charge, depending on use. The games are in both the Apple and Google app stores.

Playbrush with app

Originally a Kickstarter Project, the Playbrush launched back in November and is available now from the Playbrush store for GB£31 (says the store). There’s a bathroom kit for an extra £8 which is a vinyl pocket to hold the smartphone during brushing and keep it toothpaste free. It sticks to tiles or a mirror using suction cups.

I think this is neatly executed idea that’s very affordable, especially as it can be shared with more than one child, though I think Playbrush need a neutral colour that’s not blue or pink!


Rust Now Assigns a Permanent Gender to Characters



Rust logoRust is a survival game on Steam. It is created by Facepunch Studios. The game is currently an early access game and is in active development. A recent update randomly assigns a player a permanent character gender.

Rust is multiplayer game where players attempt to survive through awful conditions “where humanity has been reduced to cavemen”. There are several things that can cause your character to die including falls, prolonged exposure to radiation, starvation, and being killed by another player. That player can then take your stuff. Players can decide if they want to survive by killing the other players or if they want to make friends and band together with other players.

Players cannot, however, choose the gender of their character. When the game first became available, the only option was to play a white, male, character. Later, the game arbitrarily assigned players with unchangeable skin tones and faces. Recently, an update to Rust added female models to the game. As before, the game assigns the character’s gender and appearance. The gender of your character is assigned by your Steam ID.

As you may have expected, this has caused some players to complain because they do not want to play a female character. Some have gone so far as to state that they will quit playing the game if they have to play a female character. Others wanted to play as a female character, but were assigned a male character, and were disappointed. A quick read through the Rust Forums also reveals that there are some players who are very happy to have been assigned a female character (for a variety of reasons).

The Rust blog post about the update includes the following:

We understand this is a sore subject for a lot of people. We understand that you may now be a gender that you don’t identify with in real-life. We understand this causes you distress and makes you not want to play the game anymore. Technically nothing has changed, since half the population was already living with those feelings. The only difference is that whether you feel like this is now decided by your Steam ID instead of your real life gender.

The blog also notes that this is the first pass of an ongoing rework of the player model. This means that “you’re probably not stuck with your new face forever” (as the blog post explains). There is no indication that players will ever be allowed to customize their character themselves, though.


Xbox One Consoles Getting Full Development Kit Support



xbox one controllerDeveloping new games for Microsoft’s Xbox One console is about to get much easier. During today’s Build 16 conference, Microsoft announced it will soon offer a software update that will turn any Xbox One into a full development kit. Previously, dev-ready Xbox Ones were provided on a limited basis. This change will make the full Xbox One development kit available to all Xbox One owners.

This move is taking place as part of Microsoft’s strategy to bring Windows 10 to multiple platforms, including computers, tablets, phones, and Xbox consoles. Dev kits are already made easily available for these other platforms, so it seemed like the right time for the Xbox One to fall in line.

This change should give a real boost to independent game developers. Under the limited distribution system previously offered by Microsoft, some Xbox One developer kits were made available to independent developers. But kits were usually made more readily available to larger AAA-level game developers. Turning all Xbox Ones into dev-ready kits levels the playing field and also opens up the process to hobbyists and others who want to learn more about game development. (It was possible to unlock some of the Xbox One developer kit prior to this update. That process wasn’t officially supported by Microsoft and it didn’t grant access to the full kit.)

The new Xbox One development kit is currently available as a free preview. It will be officially released this summer and will require a $19 fee along with a Microsoft Dev Center account.


BenQ at 2016 CES



Todd CochraneBenQ Zowie interviews Ronald Kim from BenQ. They discuss BenQ’s new line of Zowie line of competitive gaming accessories. BenQ brings in professional gamers to help them validate their gaming accessory designs.

Ron shows three models (they offer a total of seven models) of gaming mice that are specifically designed to give the end user the best possible gaming performance. They include the ZA Series, the EC-A Series, and the FK Series mice. Top-level professional gamers still prefer wired mice over wireless mice for the best possible lag-free performance. BenQ Zowie mice offer the ultimate in adjustable precision.

The mice are all priced at $59.99 each and are available now. The BenQ Zowie mouse pads are priced from $25 to $45 dollars on Amazon.

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dreamGear Retro Arcade Gaming at 2016 CES



DreamGearNakia Mann interviews Oliver Tesoro, product manager for dreamGear, a manufacturer of a variety of video gaming accessories.

They discuss dreamGear’s latest retro plug and play 8-bit and 16-bit retro games that sell at a variety of prices for under $40. Some are designed to look like miniature versions of old-style video arcade games that used to eat quarters.

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View the Future With Vuzix iWear Video Headphones



Vuzix logoVuzix is a leading developer of smart glasses and video eyewear. Their products are designed to let you view the future. They make watching a video, or playing a video game, more portable and exciting than ever before.

Daniel spoke with Director of Consumer Sales for Vuzix, Mike Hallett at CES 2016. They talked about the amazing Vuzix iWear Video Headphones. They come in two versions: an HDMI version and a wireless version.

The newest version is the iWear Wireless Video Headphones. They are the second generation of the iWear Video Headphones that Vuzix released last year. The new version is completely wireless.

Both versions of the iWear Video Headphones offer a virtual, private, personal, home theater that you can take on the road with you. They each give you a virtual 125 inch screen as viewed from 10 feet. They have full 3D capabilities, full headphones, and video. One unique thing about them is that they have been designed so the weight of the product rests on the back of your head (instead of on your face like other products do). This provides users with a more comfortable experience, whether they are using the product to watch a movie or to play a video game.

The iWear Video Headphones are available on the Vuzix website for $499.99. The new version of the iWear Video Headphones will be available in the summer of 2016.

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