After several years years of hiatus, an official announcement, and the shockingly rapid decline of the music game market, Rock Band suddenly leapt back to life this month. Harmonix Music Systems — the studio responsible for the music game craze, and the studio that created Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Dance Central — announced new tracks heading to the Rock Band online store, which works with both Rock Band 3 and Rock Band Blitz. Why in the world is Harmonix releasing new tracks as paid, downloadable content for games that only exist on previous generation consoles? The official word is full of public relations obfuscation:
“We had an exciting opportunity to add new content to the already-massive Rock Band library with a song from Arctic Monkeys – a band that’s never been in a Rock Band title before! – as well as new music from fan favorites Avenged Sevenfold and Foo Fighters. We couldn’t pass it up. Also, we wanted to see if we could still do it. Turns out we can. It’s sort of like riding a bike.”
Great. That out of the way, what’s really happening? Companies don’t just casually release new content for years old games. That’s not a thing that happens. I’d call it “testing the waters.”
First and foremost, here’s an interesting, not exactly surprising fact: “hundreds of thousands” of people are still playing Rock Band every month. That’s what a Harmonix rep told me, and it refers to folks playing online on “all platforms where DLC is available” (there’s no way of measuring how many folks are playing offline, but let’s wager that it’s not a lot).
For those of you wondering who’s still holding onto all those plastic instruments, the answer is “a surprisingly large group of people.”
As for the rest of us, well, my house is purged of all the fake guitars, wireless microphones, and plastic drum kits that accumulated across the Guitar Hero / Rock Band years. The same goes for most of my friends, and I doubt you’re much different. Beyond the burnout that comes with releasing several junky, obvious cash-in games — Activision flooded the market with constant variations on the Guitar Hero franchise — many of us didn’t want to fill closets/basements/dorm rooms/etc. with clunky gaming peripherals.
Harmonix is actually trying to determine how you feel about those peripherals in a survey sent out via Twitter. More importantly, not only is Harmonix trying to determine if you still own old peripherals — the company is asking very specific questions about which aspects of a Rock Band game (local multiplayer? a robust on-disc song library? etc.) are most important to you. It’s also asking which current-gen game consoles you own.
Smells an awful lot like Harmonix is pretty seriously considering a re-birth of its biggest ever franchise — the franchise that both helped popularize music games and managed to get more than one Beatle on stage during a video game press conference.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that the company is being asked about Rock Band all the time. When Forbes‘ Jason Evangelho asked about “Rock Band 4″ back in October 2014 (a theoretical sequel to Rock Band 3), here’s what Harmonix publicist Nick Chester said:
“We love Rock Band, it’s in the company’s DNA. We own the IP. And when the time’s right we will absolutely come back to it. There’s a whole bunch of factors to take into consideration before jumping in that pool again, but there’s a desire for it, absolutely.”
So, given that, and Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos outright stating that Rock Band would return at some point this console generation, the question of Rock Band’s triumphant return isn’t a question of if, but of when.
Console fanboys, get ready to gloat — or mope. Actually, (nearly) everybody can be cheered by the latest data from NPD, which showed console sales up a cool 20 percent from last year to to over $5 billion. Leading the final charge was MIcrosoft’s Xbox One, which topped the charts in December for the second straight month. Its recent success can likely be chalked up to attractive holiday pricing, since Sony’s PS4 was consistently eating its lunch prior to that. Either way, it came at a good time for Microsoft, since the last two months of the year are far and away the strongest for consoles.
The news was more grim on the software side, however, as software sales were down 13 percent from last year to $5.3 billion. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was the top selling game of the year, with Madden NFL 15, Destiny, Grand Theft Auto V and Minecraft rounding out the top 5. Super Smash Bros was Nintendo’s bestseller of 2015 in sixth place overall. Finally, Microsoft had a piece of good news in its latest Xbox Wire report: thanks to a new promotion, the Xbox One will again be on sale for $349 (sans Kinect) starting January 16th. Oh, and screenshots are finally coming “early this year.”
[Image credit: Getty Images]
Source: Xbox Wire
The folks at Analogue Interactive know that making a good looking game console only goes so far, and that it’s what’s on the inside that truly counts. It’s with that in mind that the solid aluminum Analogue Nt — the outfit’s take on the original Nintendo Entertainment System — sports fancy innards in addition to its machined casing. As Polygon writes, the system’s motherboard is custom as well, sporting a fancy black printed circuit board, transparent solder mask and raised copper traces. We’ve embedded a picture after the break. Sounds pretty snazzy, right? Well, the outfit’s still promising audiophile and videophile quality out of their little aluminum box that could, and units still command a $500 starting price for pre-order. You might balk, but remember, this is the same company that charged $1,300 (minimum) for a wood-encased Neo Geo. Comparatively, this is a steal.
A photo posted by Analogue (@analogueinteractive) on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:36am PST
Source: Analogue Interactive (Instagram)
After this month, Nintendo will halt all direct sales in Brazil. According to UOL Jogos, the company’s leaving the country due to the exorbitant taxes it has to pay to continue its operations. Bill van Zyll, the company’s general manager in Latin America, said in a statement that “Brazil is an important market for Nintendo,” but the company had to make this decision, as its “current distribution model [is] unsustainable in the country.” Chances are, some unauthorized sources are already selling imported consoles and games in Brazil. But if you’d rather buy a 3DS or a Wii U from stores that get its supplies from Nintendo’s local partner, Juegos de Video Latinoamérica, you may want to do so soon.
Brazil is known for imposing high tariffs on international companies in order to protect local ones, forcing corporations to pull out, like what HTC and Durham did in 2012. Another reason is to beef up local employment, because one way to avoid paying those taxes is to build factories in the country — something Apple did in 2011, so it can continue selling iDevices. Nintendo probably thinks that’s not a financially viable route, though Van Zyll swore the company will monitor the Brazilian market and evaluate how best to serve its fans.
Via: Venture Beat
Source: UOL Jogos
This one is right in my wheelhouse! With more and more vintage games getting ported over to Android, the only thing missing is the authentic feel of gripping a Nintendo controller and mashing away.
The NES30 has the look and feel of a classic NES controller, but connects with Bluetooth or USB. Its rechargeable battery provides over 20 hours of use per charge and the re-programmable keys allow you complete customization. This controller is compatible with not only your tablets and phones, but any Bluetooth or USB-ready devices including Mac and PC. For just $29.99 you can load up an emulator and vintage roms (of games that you own, of course) and re-live your gaming past! Anybody want to get destroyed in Tecmo Super Bowl?
Check this deal out, and many others at deals.androidguys.com!
The post NES30: Bluetooth/USB retro gaming controller $29.99 [Deal of the Day] appeared first on AndroidGuys.
If you style yourself as a fan of Castlevania, you have nothing on Reddit user XsimonbelmontX. He’s created a board version of Nintendo’s classic NES game that looks like a hoot thanks to well-thought-out gameplay and stunning craftsmanship. It features 11 characters with upgradeable weapons, 100 items like special armor and over 100 monster cards. The board layout pays homage to the original version of Castlevania, with players battling together through five levels in order to resurrect (and then re-murder) Dracula himself.
XsimonbelmontX crafted the game using off-the-shelf gameplay items and an inkjet printer, though the board itself (above) was professionally made. Castlevania fans on Reddit are clamoring for their own (with one saying he’d pay up to $80), though it seems pretty unlikely that publisher Konami would ever share the copyright. You can see a large gallery of the cards, dice, board and case right here.
[Image credits: XsimonbelmontX]
Filed under: Gaming
Are the anti-authority stylings of Sunset Overdrive a little too hi-fi for your gaming tastes? Well friends, maybe the 8-bit aesthetic of Punktendo might be more up your alley. As the name implies, it’s classic NES games by way of NOFX and more. If you’re curious what type of Flash-based goodies await once you get home from work, Milo Fu is Kung Fu with The Descendents’ mascot, Super Mikey Erg! is Super Mario Bros. starring The Ergs’ frontman and Fat Mike’s Golf, appropriately, is the Fat Wreck Chords’ owner inserted into Golf. It’s the latest project from Jeff Hong, a Brooklyn-based storyboard artist who’s previous work includes stuff for Nickelodeon, Fox and Disney. As Vice points out, though, you might know him better from Grumpy Punk Cat or Unhappily Ever After.
The games work fine with a keyboard, but sadly the Racist’s Alley and Duckless Hunt Light Gun-based titles aren’t compatible just yet. But hey, you can always squint and play the Virtual Arcade version of Duck Hunt for that, can’t you?
Toys for Bob’s Skylanders franchise isn’t the only “toys to life” game in town anymore and Paul Reiche, co-founder and studio head, is well aware of the deep-pocketed competition. “We recognize that we’ve got Disney with Infinity and Nintendo with Amiibo and, you know, they have entered into this world with their own products. And it’s really our job to make sure that, through innovation, we’re leaders,” he says. The franchise, which lets players control virtual versions of their RFID-equipped figurines in-game, was the first to successfully merge physical toys and video gaming as part of a new crossover entertainment category. Given that penchant for innovation, it’s no surprise that the studio has now fully embraced 3D printing as a means of streamlining its in-house creative process.
It was during the development phase for Skylanders: Giants in 2012 that Toys for Bob began experimenting with 3D printing. “We noticed that the price [of 3D printers] was rapidly dropping down actually into our budgets for video games,” says Reiche of the studio’s decision to embrace the maker tech. “We started out buying a fairly expensive machine by our standards, printing out color versions of our toys.”
The idea behind this investment, Reiche says, was so that he and I-Wei Huang, the lead character and toy designer, could get a real sense of how their two-dimensional drawings would fare as fleshed-out 3D models. Apart from giving the creative duo more freedom to experiment and quickly iterate on designs, the tech was also helpful in determining what character poses would fit properly within the constraints of retail packaging (e.g., adjusting the grip of a character’s weapon and stance).
But it wasn’t long before the studio scrapped that particular color 3D-printing process due to the fragility of the printed models. The material, Huang explains, was too brittle and often the models would break easily. And so, Toys for Bob ditched it in favor of a more reliable (and colorless) Objet Eden printer for Skylanders character prototyping. “The next generation of 3D printers went beyond this sort of grainy, but colored surface and became very high-resolution, rigid plastic rubber,” says Reiche. “We could make durable toys; make things that look really close to final in terms of the quality of the surfacing.”
“The MakerBot we just started using. It will help us prototype early stages really well and just kind of define the size. It doesn’t have the detail levels that the Objet [printer] has,” says Huang.
More commercial 3D printers, used for lower-quality character iterations, were added to the mix later. “The Objet printer is what we use the most,” says Huang. “It’s super-high resolution. The MakerBot we just started using. It will help us prototype early stages really well and just kind of define the size. It doesn’t have the detail levels that the Objet [printer] has.” The efficiency gain, it seems, is worth it. Whereas before, it would take Huang at least four weeks to see his creations made into physical models, the inclusion of 3D printing means he can see results in-studio in about four hours. That quick turnover time means he can continue to tweak minor things like detailing for gloves or leather patterns.
“Before we started 3D printing, the process took a long time. Basically, we would draw a character. We’d have a toy team to kind of help us model it … and also prototype the actual physical toys. And that could take months and months of work before we’d actually see anything back,” says Huang.
Now, however, Huang feels freed up to experiment more with the many characters that inhabit the world of Skylanders. “As soon as a character is finalized on paper, we start modeling and instantly we can print something overnight after the model’s done. We can try different detail levels, expressions and stuff like that … different poses.” That flexibility even extends to the number of Skylanders that can be 3D printed at once, as Huang says up to five Giants or 10 core, regular-sized characters can be made on one tray within the Objet printer.
“I would love to have a 3D printer that can do everything, but it’s not something that we can develop here. We’re using consumer machines,” says Huang.
3D printing may have made the creative process more efficient for Huang and Reiche, but it’s not without its headaches. Occasionally, print head malfunctions can cause the printed models to appear melted or irregular in parts. There’s also the matter of material limitations. Since a typical Skylanders figurine is made up of more than just plastic, Toys for Bob would have to invest in either a bespoke 3D printer or purchase a multi-material industrial 3D printer to achieve a model with near-final production quality.
While 3D printers of that latter variety do exist, their costs (i.e., that printer and materials) can prove prohibitive. The Objet1000, for example, works with a variety of materials (about 100-plus) and can print using up to 14 of those at a time in one model. It’s that type of 3D printer that Toys for Bob would need to fully realize a final production-quality Skylanders model, except the cost of something on that scale easily rises above the half-million dollar mark. So, for now at least, it’s not a financially feasible option.
“I would love to have a 3D printer that can do everything, but it’s not something that we can develop here,” says Huang. “We’re using consumer machines.”
If there’s one inevitability surrounding 3D printing that Huang believes in, it’s that in the not-too-distant future, kids will be able to make their own Skylanders figurines (and other toys) at home. The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, either. Already, companies like Hasbro and Sesame Workshop are making CAD files available for consumers to download and print out their own figurines. That Toys for Bob would follow suit with Skylanders is a no-brainer, according to Huang. It’s simply a matter of the technology improving to the point of mass adoption. “With 3D printers becoming more popular, eventually one day it will probably be mainstream,” Huang says. “You know it just makes sense. You’ll have a 3D printer at home just like you do an ink jet printer.”
Oh, so a head-scratching leak from Target wasn’t enough to convince you? That’s fair, how about something a bit more concrete? Nintendo just revealed in its most recent Nintendo Direct stream that The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is indeed getting a 3D remake, and it’s slated to hit shelves in Spring 2015. We’re coming for you, Skull Kid.
On the off-chance that you’re not familiar with Majora’s Mask, it’s easily one of the darkest, most unnerving installments in the long-running Zelda series. You’ve essentially got Link running around and rewinding time over and over, all to stop a frankly terrifying, falling moon from obliterating the planet in three days. It’s also gained a bit of notoriety because of the strangely popular creepypasta that took inspiration from it, which you should probably read a few times ahead of the game’s release just to make sure you’re suitably weirded out going into it. Alas, we’re lacking some crucial details — Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata uttered all of two sentences about the game before throwing the show over to North American Marketing Manager Bill Trinen, but at least the floodgates are finally, officially opening.
Source: Nintendo Direct
Super Smash Bros. isn’t just fun to play, it finally gave Nintendo a fun financial quarter, as well. For the first time in a while, the Japanese company turned a profit, 24 billion yen worth ($224 million) to be exact. That’s a big u-turn over last quarter, when it managed to lose 9.9 billion yen ($97 million). Overall, Nintendo sold 3.2 million copies of Super Smash Bros. worldwide, not a bad figure considering that sales started late in the quarter. It also bodes well for the holidays, when Nintendo will launch additional Amiibo figurines that unlock more playable characters. The launch likely also pushed up Wii U sales, which increased to 650,000 units, 100,000 more than last quarter. Despite the good news, however, overall sales for Nintendo are still down 12.8 percent over last year — and Super Smash Bros. games don’t come along every day.