Every year, in late winter, covering the game industry gives me a chance to leave New York City at its most miserable. It’s with great pleasure that I tell you, yes, we’re here in San Francisco — where its 60 degrees and not 34 — to bring all the news, hands-ons, interviews, videos, and combinations thereof, straight from the 2015 Game Developers Conference. From here on out, we’re gonna make that name a bit simpler: GDC 2015. We’ve even got a page right here where you can keep up to date on all the aforementioned coverage. Head below for a brief rundown of the week to come.
What’s happening this year, besides developers talking to each other about the art and business of making games? We’ve already seen a taste, all the way from Barcelona, care of Mobile World Congress.
HTC and Valve are teaming on a virtual reality headset named HTC Vive. Or HTC ReVive. Or maybe just Vive? Or maybe just Revive? It’s a bit puzzling, honestly.
We’re getting a hands-on in the coming days, and we’ve already got some gorgeous detail shots right here featuring British raconteur James Trew.
Additionally, Samsung and Oculus are continuing their partnership on Gear VR with a new, smaller version intended for use with Samsung’s new Galaxy S6 and S6 edge phones. Don’t expect to be blown away: it’s largely the same as the first Gear VR which launched late last year, albeit with a smaller screen. We’ve got more info right here, and beauty shots below.
And today, just before GDC 2015 officially kicks off, Epic Games announced that its widely used game engine, Unreal Engine 4, is now free for all to use on a commercial (or non-commercial) basis. It’s a major move for an engine maker, and it means one more great tool is more widely available to the folks who make the games we love.
As for what the rest of the week holds, only two things are certain: both Sony and NVIDIA are hosting press events. The former is focusing on PlayStation 4’s virtual reality headset, “Project Morpheus”, while the latter is teased as “more than 5 years in the making” and will apparently “redefine the future of gaming”. I expect nothing less than a picante gouda in a holodeck.
Don’t miss out on all the latest from GDC 2015! Follow along at our events page right here.
What seemed so novel and strange about Kirby: Canvas Curse when it came out now seems almost quaint. Only one part of the screen can be touched at a time? There aren’t gyroscope controls? What is this, an Android store launch game? Please. Just shy of its tenth birthday, though, Canvas Curse still feels like a pristine lesson in touch-control video game design despite its antiquity. It had the depth and challenge of a classic arcade game as well as a strange but clean, immediately understandable interface. Canvas Curse was a colorful dollop of fun that begged for a follow up. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is finally here, and we’re playing it for the very first time today on JXE Streams.
Starting at 3PM ET, we’re streaming two full hours of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse on Wii U. Anthony John Agnello, a Kirby fan stretching all the way back to Kirby’s Dream Land in 1992, will be firing up the GamePad to check out the claymation style of developer HAL Laboratory’s latest.
JXE Streams broadcasts every Tuesday and Thursday from 3PM to 5PM ET on Engadget.com/gaming and Twitch.tv/Joystiq. Our schedule is going to be ramping up over the coming weeks so be sure to check out what we’re playing and when at the top of Engadget.com/gaming.
[We’re playing a retail copy of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse streamed through an Elgato Capture HD via OBS at 720p.]
Sorry, European gamers: the Wii U’s TVii service won’t reach your corner of the globe. Nintendo has dropped plans to bring the personalized streaming media guide to the region due to the “extremely complex” task of accommodating multiple services in numerous countries across the continent. The Euro crowd isn’t coming away completely empty-handed, though. Nintendo is launching the Anime Channel, a 3DS-specific video service that lets you view Japanese animation (what else?) for free. The focus right now is unsurprisingly on Nintendo-related shows like Kirby and Pokemon, but more content is on the way — you just need to grab an app from the eShop to start watching.
Nintendo has been dropping hints for years about possible smartphone apps starring its classic characters or somehow tying into the Wii and Wii U. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata is back at it this week, this time with a specific idea: Mii for mobile devices. “It would be fun for players to use their Mii characters as icons on social media,” Iwata said in an interview with Nikkei. “We are currently developing an application that will allow users to do that.”
A socially focused Mii app would be Nintendo’s first solid commitment to mobile since the launch of the Pokedex in 2012. Iwata said Nintendo will announce the avatar app around March 31, when it discusses full-year financial results. But, it’s not all Peaches and Dream Lands.
“In the past, I have opposed making smartphone and tablet versions of Nintendo titles,” Iwata said. “Prices for content aimed at smartphones and tablets are falling quickly. I am still wary of the category.” Basically, he’s open to building Nintendo-based apps, but he’s not yet ready to port Duck Hunt to iPhone.
Another app idea that could boost the Nintendo brand? Tickle-me Mario. That one’s free, Iwata.
Filed under: Gaming
You might want to make some more room on your shelves, Amiibo fans. Nintendo is apparently working on some gold and silver variants of its popular Mario Amiibo figurines, which can be used together with the Wii U and the new 3DS. At this point though, it’s unclear when you’ll actually be able to get your hands on them. An eagle-eyed NeoGAF poster dug up the furtive figurines on Nintendo’s site, but it looks like the box art is all the info we’ve got so far. We’ve asked Nintendo what’s up, but for now you can start prepping your riot gear to ensure you make it out of the store alive when the bloodbath for these toys begins. Nintendo’s already sold more than 2.6 million Amiibo, and the demand doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.
Via: Tiny Cartridge
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!
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