Today on In Case You Missed It: Strap a neurosignaling device onto your forehead and control your mood from an app ; Amazon delivers deals on wheels via a new ‘Treasure Truck;’ and a new Super Mario World record has been set by a speedrunner who did it all blindfolded.
Nintendo has a rocky past when it comes to same-sex relationships in its games, but the upcoming Fire Emblem Fates for its 3DS handheld should change that. There are a few different options to choose from, as Polygon reports. If you want to play as a male character who can marry a male party member, you should grab the Conquest edition of Fates. And if you want to be a female warrior who weds another lady, then the Birthright edition is the one for you. There’s also a third downloadable storyline that’ll let you do both. The marriages don’t come easy from the sounds of it, either: you need to bond with your partner in battle before you can tie the knot.
It’s a rather surprising about-face from Nintendo considering its history, but the company’s statement to Polygon makes it pretty clear that the company’s learned its lesson. Check it out:
“We believe that our gameplay experiences should reflect the diversity of the communities in which we operate and, at the same time, we will always design the game specifications of each title by considering a variety of factors, such as the game’s scenario and the nature of the game play. In the end of course, the game should be fun to play. We feel that Fire Emblem Fates is indeed enjoyable to play and we hope fans like the game.”
A picture paints a thousand words. A video does even more again. A gif… well, somewhere in the middle. So let’s join the cosplayers, tour some of the elaborate booths and dodge around the people-in-suits-that-didn’t-want-to-be there. E3 2015 is all about The Business, but it also has to be fun.
Onward into E3 2015! Our week in Los Angeles has left us wild and crazed. We interviewed the director of the Final Fantasy VII remake. We played Star Fox Zero. Now we’re going to give you a chance to talk to the developers of some of E3’s biggest games right here on JXE Streams. Join us starting at at 12:30PM ET/9:30AM PT on Twitch.tv/Joystiq for a chance to chat with developers like Epic Games, Elite: Dangerous creator David Braben, and a special early look at Volume with Mike Bithell.
Where can you watch these streams? Right here in this post! Want to chat with us? Go to Twitch.tv/Joystiq.
If you want to follow along with our E3 streams, here is our complete schedule for Thursday, June 18th:
12:30PM ET/9:30AM PT: Fortnite with Epic Games. The creators of Unreal and Gears of War have spent four years making this crazy blend of Minecraft and tower defense.
2PM ET/11AM PT: Skyhill with Daedalic Entertainment. Part roguelike and part noir, Daedalic’s Skyhill is an intriguingly stylized random mystery.
[We’re playing all games in 720p via OBS.]
I am not what you would call a “hardcore gamer.” I don’t enjoy shooters; I don’t have the time for RPGs; and my last dance with open-world gameplay was a 45-minute joyride through the faux-LA of Grand Theft Auto V. But, oh, do I love me some Yoshi’s Woolly World. The upcoming, cutesy Wii U title, due out this Fall, has a shared DNA. It’s a hodgepodge of past Yoshi’s Island games and the Wii title Kirby’s Epic Yarn. That last bit of pedigree makes complete sense when you consider that the game’s being developed by Good-Feel, the very same studio behind the aformentioned Kirby title.
Yes, the beauty of Yoshi’s Woolly World lies in its stunning, yarn-spun aesthetic, but the same can be said for the gameplay. As with most of Nintendo’s beloved franchises, the mechanics feel familiar, though not stale. When I demoed the title at the company’s E3 booth, I was able to immediately pick up and play without any coaching from the nearby rep — a factor CEO Satoru Iwata said the company would be stressing with the majority of its games.
For those not well-acquainted with the series, Yoshi’s Woolly World replaces the eggs that’ve long trailed Yoshi for balls of yarn. With the help of a wandering cursor, triggered by depressing the ZR button, players can set the angle of attack with ‘Y’ and let loose a yarn ball attack. This results in delightful animations, like a thread encircling and sealing shut the mouth of a piranha plant. Of course, players can always default to either jumping atop enemies or using Yoshi’s tried-and-true elastic tongue to suck them in and “transform” them (through digestion) into additional yarn balls.
It bears repeating that the game, unlike Star Fox Zero, is gorgeous. Nintendo’s Wii U may not be on par with the silicon juggernauts that are the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but the art style of Yoshi’s Woolly World more than makes up for it. The environments, characters and enemies all have a storybook quality and truly look as if they were spun from yarn, replete with telltale frayed threads.
The game also includes helpful support in the form of amiibo. By placing the made-from-yarn Yoshi amiibo on the GamePad’s NFC receiver, players can add a duplicate Yoshi into the world; one that’ll mimic your every movement. You can even ingest this amiibo Yoshi for an extra ball of yarn should you need it. What’s more, the game also supports a handful of other amiibo that’ll give your in-game Yoshi a makeover. So, for example, if you tap a Fox McCloud amiibo on the GamePad, Yoshi will adopt a Star Fox-themed look. It’s a thoughtful touch that should lend the game extra appeal and also give amiibo collectors something to do with all those figurines.
Yoshi’s Woolly World’s visual appeal is both a blessing and a curse. It runs the risk of condemning the game to a kiddie corner when, in actuality, the game boasts some difficult platforming elements. If you own a Wii U or plan on picking one up in the near future, you won’t want to miss this adorable spin on the platformer.
Last E3, Shigeru Miyamoto, the famed Mario and Zelda creator, made it known that Nintendo was well underway with a new Star Fox game for the Wii U. So when the company kicked off its bizarro Muppets-themed E3 Nintendo Direct earlier this week with the reveal of Star Fox Zero, it wasn’t much of a surprise. The reimagined game, which adheres closely to the initial Wii U mantra that two screens are better than one, is quite simply overwhelming. To say this installment in the Star Fox series requires a steep learning curve would be to grossly understate the complexity of the control scheme. There’s just so much to absorb; so many different controls thrown at you at once.
For anyone that’s ever played any game in the franchise’s history, Star Fox Zero feels immediately familiar. The Arwing’s back and along with it is the anthropomorphic crew of galactic space animals led by Fox McCloud. Corneria, that war-torn planet from the original game, sets the stage for one of two missions Nintendo made available for play on the show floor. The other is an all-range boss battle dogfight that takes place in outer space. But before the rep on hand let me jump into battle, I was entered into a training simulation set within the cockpit of the Arwing.
Before I dive into a rundown of the gameplay, it’s important I start with the ideal “posture” Nintendo recommends for play. On the advice of a nearby rep, I loosely locked my elbows to my sides — just above my hips — and held the GamePad a short distance in front of me. I’ll admit I was initially confused as to what I was supposed to be doing and where I was supposed to be looking. The GamePad is pretty much your “turret” and moving it doesn’t translate into moving the Arwing onscreen; you control that with the left thumbstick. Acceleration and braking are handled by pressing up or down on the right thumbstick, respectively. Meanwhile, the ZR trigger fires off a stream of laser blasts and ZL can be used for a loose lock-on that merely shows you where your target is located.
As if that weren’t enough to juggle, simultaneously pressing down on the left thumbstick and up on the right one initiates a somersault that’ll place your Arwing behind an approaching enemy. Additionally, pressing down simultaneously on both thumbsticks will cause your ship to make a U-turn. Both of those actions are also mapped to the GamePad’s lettered buttons; in this case “X” and “Y.” But wait, there’s more: As you can imagine, your reticle will need (constant) recalibration, so a quick press-in of the left thumbstick will do the trick. As a result of this control scheme brain dump, I pretty much flubbed the training. It was just too much to take in while juggling between screens, tracking enemies and recalibrating my reticle. So the obvious next step for was to jump right into Corneria.
Here is where things started to slowly click into place. As this Corneria battle is set in a land-based, sandboxed area, I had more time to practice using the various control techniques and pick off enemies. With each kill, Star Fox Zero became less daunting and more enjoyable. Soon, I was out-maneuvering rogue ships and picking off enemies from a distance. But then the nearby rep threw another curveball my way: By pressing “A,” you can transform into a bird-like land vehicle with the ability to hover. I didn’t spend much time in this form, but it came in handy when taking out targets placed atop spider-like robots.
It wasn’t until the all-range space dogfight that I realized I was having a lot of fun. Sure, I’d been (politely) cursing non-stop while getting to grips with the controls before, but now I was littering the room with expletives from the intensity of the deep space combat. Free of any landlocked targets, Star Fox Zero makes the most sense. I was at liberty to accelerate and brake at will; to initiate constant U-turns, somersaults and lock-ons. And, most importantly, I felt comfortable shifting between the TV screen and GamePad to chase and successfully take out the Piggy boss.
Whether my sudden comfort with Star Fox Zero‘s controls was a result of my extended playtime (about 10 minutes), I can’t say for sure. Though, the on-hand rep seemed to think that was the case. What I can tell you with certainty is that Star Fox Zero will make you mad, and then it will make you wonder why it took so long for Nintendo to get this classic-in-the-making out on the Wii U.
[Images credit: Nintendo]
Check here for everything happening at E3 2015!
So many games. So much Mario. So much to cram into just three official days of E3 2015. We’ve already seen Sony and Microsoft’s opening salvos from Day Zero, but today Nintendo and big-hitting game makers like Square Enix joined the fray. What do you need to know? All this. We’ll be recapping each day, short and sweet… so we can play even more games. All things E3 can found right here. Don’t worry, Slippy’s here.
We’re at the halway point of E3 2015 and the hits keep coming. We’ve got an awesome interview with Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida covering everything from Morpheus to Shenmue 3. We even chatted with Keiji Inafune about ReCore, his new Xbox One exclusive. That’s cool and all, but wouldn’t you like the chance to talk to the creators at E3? JXE Streams has your back. Join us starting at at 2:30PM ET on Twitch.tv/Joystiq for a chance to chat with the developers behind Divinity: Original Sin and Cosmic Star Heroine.
Where can you watch these streams? Right here in this post! Want to chat with us? Go to Twitch.tv/Joystiq.
If you want to follow along with our E3 streams, here is our complete schedule for Wednesday, June 17th:
2:30PM ET/11:30AM PT: Divinity: Original Sin with Larian Studios. Larian’s RPG was a cult hit on PC in 2014. It’s making its way to PS4 and Xbox One this year.
3PM ET/12PM PT: Cosmic Star Heroine with Zeboyd Games. Zeboyd’s been making classically styled RPGs for years, but Cosmic Star Heroine looks like its most ambitious work yet.
[We’re playing all games in 720p via OBS.]
It’s been eight years coming, but Nintendo has a new Metroid Prime game. However, it’s a little bit unusual — at least that’s what a lot of people (including us) took away from the teaser trailer revealed during E3. The controls look pretty “Metroid”, but where’s Samus? Why are there multiple (albeit color-coded) stocky protagonists? And what the exactly is Metroid Prime: Blast Ball? Armed with questions, 20 minutes playtime on the aforementioned sporting spin on Metroid, we talked (with some translation help) to Nintendo’s Kensuke Tanabe, who heads up development on the Prime series.
What is Metroid Prime: Federation Force?
Kensuke Tanabe: The last game in the Prime series was in 2007. It’s been a while. When I heard about the New 3DS, with the C-stick, it would be ideal for a shooter. I thought: “It’d be great to have a Prime title to launch alongside the new hardware.” In Metroid Prime 2, we included multiplayer, but here we wanted to focus on the co-op aspect. But then, if we have four “Samuses”, that would be odd. And that’s where the Galactic Federation came in. Controlling the game, and in terms of how it feels, it feels like a Metroid Prime game.
“We tried to create a balance with these load-outs that would decide your role in a squad, similar to a role-playing game, with wizards, warriors and healer”
However this time there’s a “load-out” system: players start with a basic mech [the controllable robot suit in Federation Force] But before a mission starts, you can choose what weapons to load into it. There are certain powerful weapons you can bring, like a “super missile” which comes with a heavy weight penalty. We tried to create a balance with these load-outs that would decide your role in a squad, similar to a role-playing game, with wizards, warriors and healers. [As you play, you can collect] mods for these mechs. Even if you fail in a mission, you’ll receive some of these upgrades.
That makes the game sound easier, or at least pretty forgiving. Is aimed towards younger players?
KT: It’s not that we’re directly aiming at a younger audience. In Japan, first-person shooters lack the popularity of other regions. That’s where Blast Ball comes into it… reducing the skill barrier to get into the game for beginners or gamers not typically interested in first-person shooters. That said, the main story will certainly not feel easy!
So it’s not two games?
KT: Federation Force is the focus of the game, while Blast Ball forms a part of the Federation’s the training. Instead of complicated tutorials, it’s an enjoyable way to teach the controls, how to play the main game and to generally improve the skills of beginners.
“If I’m honest, we did look into a Wii U version”
A lot of fans may have been hoping for a Wii U version. Why did it come to the 3DS?
KT: The idea to develop a new Metroid Prime title came along with the New 3DS, with controls suited to the title. Ideally, the plan was for the game to arrive alongside the hardware but, well, it’s a little late! If I’m honest, we did look into a Wii U version. However, we had to consider the resources it would take, what teams to devote for a Wii U game. [It’s worth noting that Nintendo tasked developers Next Level to make the game. The team’s previously worked on both Mario Strikers and Punch-Out!!]
The character design and atmosphere of the trailer seems a little bit different to prior Prime games. What happened?
As far as character design goes, the 3DS screens are relatively small. This means there’s limitations to where cameras can be placed. A tall character or enemy could be difficult to be display, while a stockier character, like the mech, fits the hardware and fits the game better. It makes it better to play. I’ll admit, I thought at the start that it might lose the seriousness of the Metroid Prime series and become a little comical, but once I played it, I believe it delivers on the feel of the other game.
Why hasn’t there been a co-op mode until now?
KT: We tried to fit a multiplayer Metroid game into the DSi, but the power of system was lacking – it didn’t quite work as expected. But with the 3DS we had the power to make that capable.
Is there a specific part of Metroid Prime: Federation Force that you love?
KT: I love all of it! But compared to prior games where you played alone, now you’re fighting alongside others. That offers a different kind of sensation. I’m looking forward to people enjoying Metroid this way. (Oh and of course, you can still play it alone.)
Is there any co-op modes in any other games you’ve particularly enjoyed?
KT: To be honest, while I’m a game maker, I don’t play games that much. I don’t know that many games. Who knows, maybe there are some concepts that overlap. [There’s a pause in conversation] Ah! But there is one thing: I love Splatoon. Now that’s interesting. Even mid-development, it was already fun. The artwork, music, it doesn’t even feel that much like a Nintendo game. My three daughters all take turns playing it all the time.
This interview has been translated, condensed and edited.
Perhaps it’s that all the levels have simple, left-to-right objectives, or maybe it’s just that they’re so iconic, but for some reason older Mario games have long been a target for those interested in AI and machine learning. The latest effort is called MarI/O (get it?), and it learned an entire level of Super Mario World in 34 tries.
Unlike other AI programs, MarI/O wasn’t taught anything before jumping into the game — it didn’t even know that the end of the level was to its right — instead, some simple parameters were set. The AI has a “fitness” level, which increases the further right the character reaches, and decreases when moving left. The AI knows that fitness is good, and so, once it figures out that moving right increases that stat, it’s incentivized to continue doing so.
Mirroring actual evolution, MarI/O didn’t actually change its behavior with any forethought. Every generation introduced new ideas, but it was simply trying different things, not doing what it “thought” would work. When an idea was a success, it was remembered, when it wasn’t, it was discarded and learned from. Over the course of 34 evolutionary steps, MarI/O ended up working out jumping though the entire level would do the trick. If its creator Seth Bling were to run it again, the AI would almost certainly find a different, but no less successful path through the level.
This learning style is called NeuroEvolution of Augmenting Topologies (or NEAT, for short), and it’s nothing new, but it’s interesting to see it used so effectively. While it’s a good demo, there’s a long way to go before machine learning like this could ever hope to challenge a more functional algorithm. Check out the A* path-finding bot below, which won a Mario AI competition back in 2009, to see what we mean.
Source: Seth Bling (YouTube)