Sega, a company that helped define the video game industry in the early 90s, has announced plans to restructure with a series of cuts that will see the company withdraw from the console gaming market.
Around 300 jobs are likely to be lost as the firm shifts its focus towards the flourishing mobile market and merchandising of the iconic Sonic brand.
The cuts will also see the closure of Sega’s San Francisco base. The company stated: “In the U.S., Sega of America, based in San Francisco will be relocated to Southern California by this summer and its existing office in San Francisco will be closed thereafter, which results in reducing fixed expenses, mainly in corporate functions. In addition, the Sonic and merchandising businesses will be reinforced to establish a structure which can generate stable profits.”
It’s no secret that both Sega and the Sonic franchise has been in the doldrums for over a decade; Sonic ’06 is one of the most derided games in recent memory, and Sonic Team somehow managed to find new lows with 2014’s Sonic Boom. Combine that with the circumstances surrounding the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines, and it’s easy to see how Sega has managed find itself in the mire.
But Sonic is an icon of the industry, and a company mascot that once went toe-to-toe with the portly plumber himself. It’s a sad day when an industry monolith has to step back from the platforms and experiences that it helped define in favour of a mobile market that lacks the nostalgic affection that console gamers undoubtedly have for the fast blue hedgehog.
Here’s hoping the likes of Nintendo will be able to purchase some of Sega’s better properties – most notably the Bayonetta franchise – although it’s unlikely we’ll see Sonic himself moving to pastures new anytime soon.
Two top games reviewed in 24 hours. Here’s a review round-up for Resident Evil mastermind Shinji Mikami’s latest game, The Evil Within. While the reviews aren’t as overwhelmingly positive as they were for Bayonetta 2, The Evil Within certainly seems like a game worth picking up for fans of the survival horror genre and Shinji Mikami’s previous work.
“Horror fans shouldn’t let the disappointing story deter them one bit, however. Few Paranormal Activity fans care how these malevolent demons come back again and again – what truly matters is that the audience’s nerves are frayed until they’re raw. The Evil Within excels at keeping your palms sweaty while delivering a harrowingly rewarding gameplay trial. Watching the credits roll with a sigh of relief doesn’t feel like winning; it feels like surviving.”
“The Evil Within is a brutal, challenging, and remarkably fun game. Its eerie world and imaginative enemies are genuinely frightening, and the scares are heightened significantly by the scarcity of resources at your disposal. It keeps the odds stacked against you to the point that they often feel insurmountable, yet it’s finely tuned to ensure that they never really are, as long as you can keep a cool head and a steady aim in the face of building panic. While its story ends up buckling under its own ambition, there is little here that takes away from the joy of experiencing survival horror under the steady hand of a master of the craft.”
“Evil Within just plain doesn’t give you a fair chance to succeed. It doesn’t provide enough information for you to make good decisions and it handicaps your ability to fight well. It requires so much repetition that it can’t possibly maintain any sense of tension or unease, and its story is told so aimlessly that you’ll likely forget the plot between scenes. It manages a few moments of inspiration, but their scarcity makes them feel like fortunate accidents rather than deliberate elements of the overall design. It’s covered in blood, but the only thing truly horrifying about The Evil Within is how disappointing it is.”
“I’m still questioning whether I’ll make that second pass, though. The Evil Within has great moments where the excellent combat and creepy environmental design come together. But those moments are fleeting, inevitably sapped of their delightful terror by design choices that feel trapped in the glory days of a decade ago. There’s something to be said for respecting your past successes and building off of them, but The Evil Within is only ever completely successful at half of that equation.”
“At its controller clutching best, The Evil Within evokes memories of Silent Hill’s high points – but it’s the Resident Evil comparisons that are most consistent throughout. Unfair difficulty spikes swap out the title’s pervading sense of fear for outright frustration at times, while technical issues undo the developer’s outstanding art direction. Thankfully, legendary director Shinji Mikami doesn’t disappoint in the gameplay department, forcing you to get creative with your plentiful combat options due to an unending absence of resources. It’s here that developer Tango Gameworks finds the breathless brilliance within.”
“Despite borrowing a lot of well-worn themes from other games and movies (Hello, creepy shop mannequins from Silent Hill), The Evil Within feels fresh and exciting. It’s easy to recommend to fans of the original Dead Space and the earlier Resident Evil games.”
“At times it feels like a Mikami megamix: it has the village with the chainsaw-wielding dude, another mansion, etc. But Mikami does this so well it’s difficult to get annoyed. It’s not unusual for directors in either film or games to recall past glories, and few do it better than Mikami. Even though this isn’t his best, The Evil Within has enough magic to make it a worthy investment.”
“Yes, The Evil Within is a determinedly old-fashioned game (even the washed out, near-monochrome visuals don’t exactly scream “next-gen” at you). But it’s a rare treat in a fast-twitch world for those who view themselves as survival horror aficionados.
“And beyond the gameplay, it serves up a more than respectable helping of pure, if at times rather off-the-wall, horror. If that’s what you seek, and are prepared to accept a bit of clunkiness as a trade-off, you will love it.”
“Rather than the future of survival horror this is merely a retread of its defining moments, and even then it rarely manages to equal what has gone before – let alone exceed it.”
“While certainly not reaching the great heights that this wonderful director has reached in his past, he has certainly taken the elements that have worked for him over the years and placed almost all of them into The Evil Within. The result is a very enjoyable, terrifying albeit muddled experience which I would still highly recommend to fans of horror games or of the world of the great Shinji Mikami.”
“Evil Within grafts Resident Evil 4’s gold standard survival action to a far less forgiving world. That it even comes close to matching Capcom’s masterpiece is cause to celebrate. And sweat. And quiver.”
The Bayonetta 2 reviews are now surfacing ahead of the game’s October 24th release, and the verdicts seems to be overwhelmingly positive, receiving numerous 9s and 10s from some of the industry’s biggest outlets.
“Bayonetta is is a must buy for any action gaming fans. It’s fast, intense and ridiculous, all with an entertaining story and a protagonist that is forever subverting and playing with her audience. It’s pure Platinum Games, too, which means it’ll likely be adored by its converts and ignored by too many — we hope that won’t happen, as what we have here is one of the Wii U’s best games, and a rare arrival on the system that’s unashamedly violent, gory and mature, while still mischievously winking at the watching world. Bayonetta 2 is brilliant, brash and impossible to ignore.”
“Bayonetta 2’s combat design remains robust enough to be a very strong main attraction. But any emotions stirred up during my time with Bayonetta wound up feeling shallow. I’m glad for those times when I kicked ass in a stylish manner but still found myself bemoaning the terrible storytelling I endured to do that. If Platinum somehow manages to shore up those failings, the next encounter with Bayonetta won’t just be a pantomine of lust. It might turn into love.”
“When Bayonetta came out in 2010, I thought it was nearly perfect. Four years later and Platinum hasn’t lost its edge with Bayonetta 2. It’s just as stylish and as fun as ever, and a must-buy for action fans who own a Wii U.”
“Bayonetta 2’s combat is so expertly constructed, and its presentation so joyously insane, that you’d have to try so very hard to get bored of it all. In a year filled with the promise of ever more elaborate experiences on all the shiny new hardware, that Bayonetta 2–a homage to classic game design and escapism–should be the most fun I’ve had playing a game all year is unexpected. But maybe it shouldn’t have been. After all, its predecessor still stands as one of the finest games of its genre. To have surpassed that with Bayonetta 2, and to have created a game that will be remembered as an absolute classic, is nothing short of astonishing.”
“We didn’t need a Bayonetta sequel, we needed this gracious evolution of style and execution, an injection of loving new content into a game that always felt as though it deserved more, even after we’d rinsed it clean. It might be an expansion pack, but it’s quite possibly the best one ever made.”
“The rhythm of combat remains the same, though it’s hard to complain when it’s riffing off such a heady beat, where chimed enemy attacks are lithely dodged into slo-mo pugilism, where impossible combos culminate with a 20-foot boot weaved from hair crashing from the heavens and where spinning amidst the avalanche of colour and cartoon violence is Bayonetta herself, stopping only briefly to wink at a player exhausted by the unrelenting joy of it all. Bayonetta 2’s biggest disappointment may be that it’s an iterative sequel, but it’s not such a problem when it’s iterating on genius.”
“Bayonetta 2 is sheer class. Yes, it takes a little too long to get going, given its length, but the final four hours are relentlessly, breathlessly exceptional. Granted, it’s all just ‘more of the same’ with a shorter haircut, but we’re talking about more of one of the best games ever made. And seeing as the Special Edition of Bayonetta 2 comes with a Wii U conversion of that gorgeous original, Nintendo certainly has the ultimate Bayonetta experience in its portfolio. And that’s something it should boast about as loudly as possible.”
“Sure, it’s a sequel, but it’s a sequel to what has stood, for almost five years, as the best game of its type ever made. Until now, that is. Sega’s loss is Nintendo’s gain: Bayonetta, twirling away from a gigantic demon’s maw and smacking the highest choir of angels on the nose, has just given Wii U its first true classic.”
“I won’t guess why the blatant over-sexualization is still there, often more intensely than before. But it causes an otherwise great game to require a much bigger mental compromise to enjoy.”
“Bayonetta 2 is the perfect action game. It oozes style and boasts gameplay that’s both refined and lacking in excess. The combat is so purely entertaining that it’s easy to lose yourself in the almost-zen flow of dodging, countering and kicking enemies to death. Bayonetta 2 rewards a player’s drive to look as cool as possible in combat with gameplay designed for exactly that – and with the acrobatic violence of a winking heroine who is as legitimately endearing as she is completely ludicrous. Even if Bayonetta 2 did not include an enhanced remake of its predecessor, it would launch as one of the Wii U’s best games, but this generous inclusion pushes Platinum’s first sequel into no-brainer territory for anyone with even the slightest affection for action games. If you bought the Wii U months ago explicitly in anticipation of Bayonetta 2, congratulations, your decision has paid off in spades.”
“Bayonetta 2 is amongst the most refined and dynamic action games to appear on any console, taking the best parts of the original game and building upon them. It is crazy, chaotic and characterful and a genuine pleasure to play. Whether it can be a system seller for Nintendo is questionable as its delights are possibly not entirely mainstream, but for fans of the original and the genre it should certainly make a Wii U a very tempting proposition.”
“Bayonetta 2 is a system seller. It’s a Nintendo-published game that is rarely seen, and a game that will legitimately make non-Wii U owners jealous. It’s everything I want from a hardcore Nintendo title, offering genre-leading combat and eye-popping visual spectacle. The fact that Bayonetta 2 delivers the goods is no surprise. Nintendo being the firm behind its continued survival, however, is a surprise we should be very grateful for.”
“Creating a sequel to an already-polished game is a challenge, but Platinum Games’ approach ultimately succeeds. Bayonetta 2 is rooted in its past while taking steps (but not strides) toward the future. Though I was disappointed by some of the familiarity, I was usually having too much fun to care.”
“Bayonetta 2 is surprising. Some of that is because it is an M-rated Wii U exclusive. It’s also because it is a good game in a genre that doesn’t seem long for this world. With everything moving open-world and online, Platinum is still sticking to it’s area of expertise. And it’s working.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever need a Bayonetta 3, but I’m certainly glad that I got to play Bayonetta 2.”
“A fantastic sequel, whose improvements may be relatively subtle but are more than enough to confirm Bayonetta 2 as one of the greatest action games ever made.”
“Every aspect of Bayonetta 2 feels polished and focused. At times, the writing feels ridiculous, but I still love how it plays. The superb pacing and combat are just that good. By the end I was convinced: This sequel builds on everything that made the original great, and delivers one of the most satisfying action games I’ve played.”
“Bayonetta 2 doesn’t drastically change the already wacky formula that the first game introduced, but it’s a bigger and more nuanced version of its predecessor. It’s also the best game of its kind in years. If you’ve ever enjoyed this breed of reflex-heavy, hyperactive, ludicrous action game, Bayonetta 2 is a no-brainer.”
2014 is undoubtedly the year of Smash Bros, with two brand new installments in the franchise, the series’ first foray onto handheld consoles, unprecedented hype, and the largest roster of any Smash Bros. title. All it took was a simple demo release to see all avenues of the internet light up with Let’s Plays and analysis of Nintendo’s next big fighter.
‘The Smash Brothers’ is a 9 nine-part documentary series created by East Point Pictures and follows the competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee community, highlighting the myriad of interesting personalities, the drama, the East Coast / West Coast rivalry and the struggle to get Melee featured on the grand stages of Evo and MLG.
It’s a wonderfully produced series, and quite possibly one of the best eSports / video game documentaries available (alongside Valve’s ‘Free to Play’ DOTA 2 documentary), treating its subject matter with a respect and understanding that probably wouldn’t be afforded by a mainstream media outlet
Highlights for me have to be KDJ’s introduction in the first episode, Isai’s story, the rise of Mango and the general history of Nintendo’s flagship fighting franchise.
So what better time than now to delve into the history of the franchise and the community of people that have kept an aging GameCube game relevant 13 years after its release?
Between Nintendo’s overzealous Nintendo directs and general promotion, the release of the 3DS demo, and a number of leaks, we now have a full list of characters that will be appearing in the upcoming Smash Bros. games for 3DS and Wii U. Needless to say, look away now if you’d prefer to experience the game
All the usual names are there, along with a plentiful selection of new additions. One of the poster boys from Pokemon X & Y – Greninja – makes his Smash Bros. debut, Pac-Man’s sure to eat his way to the top, Mega Man finally joins the roster after much clamouring from fans, and (bizarrely) the Duck Hunt Dog has been included, leaving me baffled as to how Nintendo are going to shoehorn a moveset onto a character that never did anything other than collect dead ducks and laugh.
- Princess Peach
- Game & Watch
- Donkey Kong
- Diddy Kong
- Princess Zelda
- Toon Link
- Zero Suit Samus
- King DeDeDe
- Meta Knight
- Captain Falcon
- Dr. Mario
- Bowser Jr.
- Little Mac
- Duck Hunt Dog
- Wii Fit Trainer
- Dark Pit
- Mega Man
Despite the hefty total of 49 fighters, some characters from previous installments have still been left out in the cold, most notably Star Wolf (though not particularly surprising considering his similarities to Fox McCloud and Falco Lombardi), fan favourite Ice Climbers, the oft-requested Mewtwo, and Snake of Konami’s Metal Gear Solid series.
Super Smash Bros. launches for 3DS on the 3rd of October in the UK, with a release date for the Wii U version yet to be announced.
Microsoft today announced the purchase of Minecraft creator Mojang for the hefty sum of $2.5m.
Rumours began circulating a week ago that the two companies were in discussions over a possible acquisition by the computer software giant, but considering that the Minecraft developer has been one of the poster boys of independent gaming ever since Minecraft’s phenomenal success thrusted the company it into the limelight, joining forces with a company that seemed to be the antithesis of the image people had projected onto Mojang seemed pretty far from the truth.
The majority of the company’s significant personnel will be leaving the company, including founder Markus Persson (Notch), allowing him to focus more of his time on the smaller projects that he was unable to pursue due to the massive responsibility that Minecraft had become.
Mojang’s own Owen Hill commented: “As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that.”
Fortunately, Microsoft have committed to supporting Minecraft across all platforms, including Xbox, PlayStation, iOS, Android, and (of course) PC – which addresses some of the primary concerns voiced by the larger gaming community following Minecraft’s recent PS4 and Xbox One releases. Whether Mojang’s new overlords hold the much anticipated PS Vita edition in limbo remains to be seen.
Update: Markus ‘Notch’ Persson has issued a statement on the Mojang acquisition via a post on his personal website.
Persson states: “I don’t see myself as a real game developer. I make games because it’s fun, and because I love games and I love to program, but I don’t make games with the intention of them becoming huge hits, and I don’t try to change the world. Minecraft certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either. It’s certainly flattering, and to gradually get thrust into some kind of public spotlight is interesting.”
The article concludes with the simple line: “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”
Strider is the latest release from Amazon acquired developer Double Helix Games, and an attempt to revitalise one of Capcom’s most unloved heroes.
For the duration of this hack and slash adventure you play the role of Hiryu Strider – a futuristic, sword-wielding techno assassin – as he hacks and slashes his way through hordes of Russian robots. As far as story goes, that’s about as deep as it gets; there are no Metal Gear Solid style cinematic cut scenes, no Mass Effect inspired dialog trees, and no game changing choices, you’re simply presented a hero, a villain, and then thrown straight into the action without any unnecessary dialogue.
Strider follows a tried and tested formula that harkens back to the NES days of 2D Metroid and Castlevania. You’re left to your own devices to navigate a sprawling world, defeat bosses and acquire upgrades that unlock previously inaccessible areas (sound familiar?). The game’s controls feel tight, with Hiryu’s sword swipes feeling fast and satisfying, while his signature cart-wheels and slick maneuverability allow for some rapid acrobatic destruction that gives you a great sense of power while throwing enough enemies at you to maintain the challenge of the game.
Stylistically, the game looks good without ever being beautiful. The colourful 3D character models pop against the backdrop of blue and grey, but the areas just aren’t varied enough to ever make them particularly interesting, and screen after screen of cold futurism quickly grows tiresome. One or two infuriatingly cheap boss battles may also sour the experience, but that’s also kind of the point. The elation you feel that one time you’re victorious is enough to offset the frustration of countless deaths leading up to it. Much like Capcom’s iconic Mega Man series, you’re encouraged to hone your skills and memorise enemy attack patterns in order to progress.
Strider is a game that combines old school mechanics with modern aesthetics, which ultimately makes for a fun experience. It’s not revolutionary by any stretch of the imagination, and it has its fair share of flaws, but if you’re looking for a challenging 2D side-scroller to tide you over until Shovel Knight or Mighty No. 9, then you can’t go far wrong with Hiryu’s latest adventure… Especially considering it’s free via PlayStation Plus throughout July.
No Man’s Sky – with its infinite procedurally generated, massively multiplayer universe – was undoubtedly one of the biggest hits of this year’s E3 conference.
Developed by a small group of UK based developers, No Man’s Sky managed to steal the show without any of the pomp and bluster that typically accompanies E3 announcements; there were no booth babes, no flashing lights or theatrical displays… They didn’t even have a booth.
The core idea of No Man’s Sky was what resonated with so many people and propelled this ambitious indie game to the forefront of the video game industry.
This brief video covers the inspiration for the game, the obstacles Hello Games managed to overcome, and how a tiny team of UK based developers outshone the likes of Ubisoft and EA:
Nintendo just casually dropped a bomb shell in the form of Star Fox on the Wii U.
In the midst of E3 2014 it seems that Time magazine have mistakenly published an interview with acclaimed video game producer, Shigeru Miyamoto, confirming details of an upcoming Star Fox game on the Wii U.
The game is clearly still in the early stages of development, with Miyamoto claiming to have spent 6 to 10 months experimenting with the concept: “We originally began working with Star Fox back on Wii, and we had a small group of people experimenting with it for many years, maybe about six years, but we didn’t find an idea that really brought that together for the Wii. So instead we moved experimentation to the Wii U using some of the same assets.”
“… When we were developing a game, I wind up playing it for many hundreds of hours, and so because of that, I tend to get a little further away from the experience people have when they’re playing it for the first time. But that’s something we always pay attention to when we’re developing the game, and in this case I think Star Fox will be a game you spend a little bit of time getting used to the controls, but that once you do, then you’ll understand what’s fun about that experience.”
Miyamoto then explained some of the proposed control concepts of the newly announced title, with the Wii U’s unique (but often underused) GamePad and motion controls being a clear priority this time around: “… I also think that for a lot of people, they don’t have experience playing this sort of dual-screen gameplay, where you’re aiming with motion control and playing across two screens at once, so that also is maybe taking people a bit longer to get used to. But I look at video games as something that people who play them… One of the thing they enjoy is learning the controls, learning to master the game. And once they do, that sort of opens it up for them, they’re thinking about, “Oh, what’s this play style?” And then as they get deeper and deeper into the game and get better at it, they feel that sense of accomplishment having mastered it.”
“And then once you get used to the play style… I didn’t go into this detail the other night because it starts to get a little bit complicated, but once you get it, you’ll also be able to press a button to switch the view from one screen to the other. So you could play with the cockpit view on the TV and the fighter view down on the GamePad screen if you feel like that’s a better way to play.”
Miyamoto concluded with a suggestion that Star Fox Wii U could take the form of a series smaller bite-sized games (presumably similar to the episodic structure popularised by recent Telltale Games releases) rather than one long standalone AAA title, comparing the approach to a TV series: “… One thing I’m thinking is that with this Star Fox we may take a different approach, so that rather than one big title we have multiple releases that are connected through different missions. If I was to describe the Star Fox series up until now as being sort of a movie series, I guess I’d describe this new approach as something that’s more like a TV series for Star Fox.”
Alongside F-Zero and Metroid, Star Fox is one of the key Nintendo franchises that die-hard fans have been clamouring for since the divisive Star Fox Adventures and disappointing Star Fox: Assault on the Nintendo GameCube somewhat tarnished the franchise’s reputation.
The bad reception that those two titles received certainly contributed to Star Fox being left out in the cold throughout the Wii’s life cycle but – with the Wii U struggling for exclusive games and third-party support – Nintendo is seemingly listening to its customers and looking toward its most recognisable characters to address some of the Wii U’s problems.
Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U will be compatible with Nintendo GameCube controllers, courtesy of an adapter revealed by Nintendo today in a promotional video for E3’s Super Smash Bros. Invitational Tournament.
The adapter will seemingly occupy two USB ports on the front of the Wii U system, allowing players to connect up to four wired Nintendo GameCube controllers to play the upcoming Super Smash Bros. title.
This is big news for competitive Smash Bros players, with the Nintendo GameCube controller being widely considered as the definitive Smash Bros control option, especially considering the Wii U Pro Controller’s questionable button layout.
Nintendo declined to comment on whether this peripheral would be compatible with other games, or if wireless Wavebird controllers will also be supported.
The announcement of GameCube controller super has also lead to speculation that Nintendo could be adding some much-requested GameCube games to the Wii U’s Virtual Console library.