Familiar Sony launch event fails to impress

Familiar Sony launch event fails to impress 2

The excitement leading to up to the PlayStation 4 Launch quietly fizzled out by the end of the night. Sure it was a spectacle and a few interesting announcements were made, but overall the launch itself was pretty underwhelming with no new IPs announced whatsoever. We got a sneak peak at extensions of games that are out right now, a killer app for the Ouya is making its way to the PS4, and The Last Guardian was mentioned in a joke. Thanks Sony.

The first announcement set the tone for the rest of the night, as Naughty Dog comfortably revealed the next generation of Uncharted. The teaser trailer shows us map, alluding to a possible story surrounding the Libertatia, a group of anarchists founded by Pirates in the 17th century. (Their motto was ‘for God and for Liberty, the same words on the map shown in the teaser). An older man talks for the duration of the video, explaining how someone owes in after spending time in a “Hell hole.” Old man Drake maybe? Undoubtedly, this is a huge series for Naughty Dogs, so we can expect it to be pretty good. Expected unfortunately, is not as exciting as the unexpected, which is not what we got from the company who brought us Jak and Daxter, a classic platformer many hoped would be revitalized in some way.

Naughty Dog made another appearance later on, showcasing a teaser for the Last of Us: Left Behind DLC. Though it’s not a new IP, it’s still an interesting direction for the franchise to take, and will no doubt provide us with some watery eyed moments as we find out what happened to Ellie before she encountered Joel in The Last of Us.

Among some of the other expected announcement like Infamous: Second Son, and Destiny, something happened. A little indie title popped its head in the mix and made my day. Towerfall: Ascention was announced for the PlayStation 4, and according to the game’s official website, will provide users with a large expansion that includes new archers, powerups, arenas and more. The archery combat platformer is insanely fun, and it’s a pleasure to see it arrive on the PlayStation 4, which has clearly embraced the indie community for the long run.

Despite the unimpressive launch event, which played it safe with a bunch of announcements we were either expecting or didn’t care about – like the trailer showing off  the playable classic Snake avatar in Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. How exciting? –  it’s safe to say the PlayStation 4 does have an admirable lineup of games available right now. From sports titles like NBA 2K14, to racing games, to platformers like Knack and FPS shooters, a wide variety of audiences have been covered. Is it the worst PlayStation launch ever? Not even close, it’s actually a bit better than last year’s, especially with the friendlier price tag. It just feels all too familiar. However one must keep in mind that the console’s full potential won’t be reached for a few years, and only then will we hopefully see the games we unrealistically wanted to see last night, like Fallout 4.

If you missed the launch event last night, you can still check it out below.

[youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIRfRPTGBgE” width=”880″]

Experience the ‘Interesting Uses’ of ‘Writerly’ Videogames at the WordPlay Festival

Experience the ‘Interesting Uses’ of ‘Writerly’ Videogames at the WordPlay Festival

WordPlay is a free, one-day festival that is designed to discuss and celebrate words and writing in modern videogames. The festival takes place tomorrow, Nov. 16 at the Toronto Reference Library.

The Hand Eye Society, a videogame arts organization, will host the festival to showcase games and demos that are described as “writerly”. In an interview with book industry magazine Quill & Quire, festival director and Hand Eye Society board member Jim Munroe explained the term.

“It’s our term for a game that has writing as a key component and generally has words on the screen, as opposed to, say, being voice acted,” Munroe says.

WordPlay will also feature panel discussions, workshops and premieres of games that incorporate such “writerly” themes. The Hand Eye Society acknowledges its festival takes place after the release of the PlayStation 4, but that doesn’t deter the organization from exploring the world of videogames from a text-based standpoint.

Mario Carrying The Team Now More Than Ever

Mario Carrying The Team Now More Than Ever

During the 90s, I was a proud owner of the Sega Genesis. Playing Sonic and Maximum Carnage hours on end are some of the best memories I have playing videogames. I love my Genesis, and Sega loved the Genesis too. I remember the boasting about how much better it was than the Super NES. Others would say the same thing as well, often bringing up the fact that games on the Genesis sounded much better than they did the Nintendo counterpart. So how did the black 16-bit machine slip into Nintendo’s shadow? Well, it always seems to come back to Mario, who’s had a firm grip on nostalgic and new gaming audiences alike. Decades ago, the fearless plumber took the world by storm, and is still one of the most – if not the most – recognizable video game characters ever. No game involving Mario or anyone within his universe goes by unnoticed. “Everybody wants the Mario or Mario Party games. Then it’s Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart,” explained Sheng Toy, co-owner of A&C Games in Toronto.

Mario Party

Tablets and other mobile devices now offer different gaming experiences to the ever-growing gaming audience. However, even to this day, icons like Mario and Zelda are still at the tip of a lot of tongues whenever games are mentioned. Titles bearing the names of famous Nintendo mascots continue to be hot collector’s items. “At one point, the original Nintendo games were the most popular, like the NES and Super NES games,” said Toy. “N64 games became more popular last year, and this year people are really looking for GameCube games.” Toy thinks the heavier focus on digital downloads through the Wii U eShop isn’t sitting well with most Nintendo fans. The beauty with collecting the classics he said is the fact that there’s something to actually hold and place on your shelf. Toy added it’s a big part of why GameCube games are still so popular this year. The lack of actual games available for the Wii U, compared to the GameCube, which had a substantial amount of exclusives, certainly doesn’t help either. The underwhelming launch of the Wii U is nothing compared to the GameCube’s arrival, which was accompanied by many anticipated launch games. Some had nothing to do with Mario. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader was one of the GameCube’s most successful launch titles despite Luigi’s Mansion and NHL Hitz 2002 hitting store shelves at the same time.

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Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

It’s obvious Nintendo’s handhelds are currently the heart of their engine, and recent titles like Pokemon X and Y have really helped boost 3DS sales. Unlike the past, where the Gameboy served as the popular sidekick to the Nintendo 64, the Wii U has been overshadowed by the 3DS. “We have costumers interested in one of those on a daily basis,” said store manager Daniel Teixeira. He thinks a digital library of classic games on the Wii U, would quickly prove to sell well and allow both the 3DS and Wii U to co-exist. A remake of Battletoads and Double Dragon, or a virtual library of all the classic Nintendo games would please a lot of fans he said. If it doesn’t happen on the Wii U, Teixeira hopes it’s something Nintendo considers for their next console. “It would be something people could look forward to. I also think the upcoming Super Smash Bros. will help the Wii U sell better, especially with Mega Man being included.” Daniel continues to play his Nintendo NES, Super NES, and Sega Genesis systems. He doesn’t own any current generation consoles, and doesn’t plan on buying an Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Not yet anyway.

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When asked what he enjoys about his older consoles, he was quick to mention simplicity. “There’s not much focus on visuals, it’s all about the gameplay,” he said, while reminiscing about times where he only had one continue left, elevating the stakes to an all-time high as the next empty health bar would mean a trip back to level one. These are memories shared by Gregory Beard as well, who was checking out the store for the first time. “The NES was a fantastic machine in its day,” he said. “Nintendo had so many iconic characters and games.” The lasting legacy Nintendo established over time is undeniable. It’s amazing how the anticipation of a few games like Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8 are keeping the Wii U from fizzling out completely. Though the future of the Wii U and Nintendo’s plans hangs in the air, there’s no doubt that Toy’s words speak the truth. “When it comes to classics, Nintendo is still number one.”