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The Curse of the Franchise: Less Is Never More

Author:
Chris Hyde
Category:
Features
Tags:
Call Of Duty, Franchises, Nintendo, Sequels, Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros. Wii U

The Curse of the Franchise: Less Is Never More

In videogames we all have our favourite franchises. As much as we crave the new and different IP, there's something reassuring and fulfilling that comes from a franchise. Previous instalments have allowed us to form a love affair with characters, mechanics, plot and gameplay that have created a melting pot of an experience that appeals to us as an individual gamer. From Angry Birds to Zork, there's a franchise out there for everyone.

But it's perhaps easy to forget when we clamber over the latest Mario or FIFA game that franchises themselves are a poisoned chalice, that hang on a knife-edge (or indeed insert over-used metaphor here) for developers, because they present a bit of a headache. And it's not a headache that simple painkillers can cure. Because franchise development is a bit of a paradox. Fans love your franchise for what it is, so you need to stick to that formula. But heaven forbid of course if developers don't progress the idea in future instalments. Because as fans, we always demand more, and never more so than when we are talking about our beloved franchises.

But how did we create this problem in the first place?

The Curse of the Franchise: Less Is Never More

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Game Buzz | Episode 71 - Rumble in the Crumble

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Game Buzz, H1Z1, Nintendo, Podcast, PS4 games, PWNCAST, Sony Online Entertainment, Super Smash Bros. 3DS, Super Smash Bros. Wii U, The Last Of Us, Wii U games

Game Buzz | Episode 71 - Rumble in the Crumble

This week on Game Buzz... We take a look at SOE's zombie survival game H1Z1, we chat about the recent Nintendo Direct and the upcoming Smash Bros. games for 3DS and Wii U, we have a bit of a natter about Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and The Last of Us coming to PS4, and we get a bit flustered over custard.

I can't explain, it makes more sense when you hear it.

Game Buzz | Episode 71 - Rumble in the Crumble. Recorded 11th April, 2014.

Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.

Want more? Check out the rest of our PWNCAST posts onsite, hit us up on iTunes, or subscribe to the PWNCAST Feed here.

Game Buzz | Episode 71 - Rumble in the Crumble Game Buzz | Episode 71 - Rumble in the CrumbleGame Buzz | Episode 71 - Rumble in the CrumbleGame Buzz | Episode 71 - Rumble in the CrumbleGame Buzz | Episode 71 - Rumble in the Crumble

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze £27.95 at The Game Collection on Wii U

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Nintendo, Platformers, Retro Studios, Wii U, Wii U games

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze £27.95 at The Game Collection on Wii U

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical FreezeThe Game Collection | £27.95
Price Comparison

As the Wii U's only major 2014 release of note so far, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze really doesn't push my buttons. It's solid, colourful and challenging, but makes no attempt to push its gameplay anywhere remotely new or interesting, in stark contrast to the two surprisingly unpredictable Mario games of late. Or the unstoppable might of Rayman Legends. Still, its quality cannot be denied, and neither can the potential savings here. We've occasionally seen it £3 cheaper, but only in other flash sales. Thanks to thebaron69 @ HUKD!

Catch up with yesterday's Nintendo Smash Bros. Direct here

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
3DS Games, Nintendo, Nintendo Direct, Super Smash Bros. 3DS, Super Smash Bros. Wii U, Wii U games

A new Nintendo Direct broadcast went live yesterday, focused entirely on the upcoming Super Smash Bros. games for 3DS and Wii U. We've embedded the video above in case you missed it, but here a brief run down of the main points in super digestible form:

  • The 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. is set for launch this summer. The Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. will arrive in winter 2014.
  • The 3DS version will run at 60 FPS in stereoscopic 3D.
  • Greninja -- Froakie's final evolution from Pokemon X/Y -- will join the roster as a playable character on both Wii U and 3DS.
  • Four classic, but as-yet unannounced characters were confirmed for the game: Zero Suit Samus, Sheik, Yoshi, and Charizard (previously a Poke-Ball character, you can now play as a fire-breathing dino-dragon).
  • The 3DS version will come with a new mode called "Smash Run". In this mode, four players will have five minutes to explore a dungeon area, fight monsters and seek out power-ups to enhance their fighters. Once the time is up, the players will duke it out in battle as per usual.
  • Sakurai went into enormous detail about the stages available in the game, saying there will be bosses on certain stages.
  • Online play will be available in both version of the game, and there are two modes: For Fun and For Glory.
  • There will be custom movesets, though not much was said about this.

Excited?

Losing Sight Of One's Audience: Square, Nintendo, Capcom and other publishers need to stop panicking and remember how they got here

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Battlefield, Bravely Default, Call Of Duty, Capcom, DICE, EA, Final Fantasy, Hitman, Nintendo, Resident Evil, Square Enix, Wii U

Losing Sight Of One's Audience: Square, Nintendo, Capcom and other publishers need to stop panicking and remember how they got here

I've been playing a lot of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD of late, and it's impossible not to do so without remembering a time when Square knew who and what it was as a company, where its strengths lay, and what it was truly best at.

A week or so ago, Jon reported on a few telling quotes from Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda, as he talked about the company's desire to pursue mass market appeal with their games.

"If you focus too much on the global aspect, you might lose sight of who you're actually making the game for," Matsuda said. "For example, if you look back at 2013, we've had some home console games made for a global audience that struggled."

Losing Sight Of One's Audience: Square, Nintendo, Capcom and other publishers need to stop panicking and remember how they got here

He pointed to Hitman: Absolution in that regard, before holding up Bravely Default as an example of a game that stuck to its guns and delivered an outstanding JRPG that refused to compromise, and sold well because of it.

But why did Square Enix go down this path in the first place? Why try to fix a problem that wasn't broken to begin with? To take a look at the recent instalments in their flagship series -- Final Fantasy -- is to see a process of paranoid tinkering, desperately trying to make the series more streamlined and action-oriented, to the point where, in Final Fantasy XIII, all you had to do for the first fifteen hours was push "Up" and "A". Now, with Lightning Returns, we have a game that's barely recognisable by the standards that made Final Fantasy a household brand name.

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Metroid: Other M down to £3.95 at Coolshop on Wii

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Action Games, Nintendo, Team Ninja, Wii games

Metroid: Other M down to £3.95 at Coolshop on Wii

Metroid: Other M | Coolshop | £3.95
Price ComparisonMetroid: Other M Review

Metroid: Other M is a bit of a conundrum, featuring some fantastic action courtesy of Team Ninja and, predictably, truly horrendous storytelling also courtesy of Team Ninja. Matt rather liked it, but I personally found that its cast of horribly-voiced fools undermined Samus' character so badly that it was physically difficult to play. Great bosses, though, and a £4 saving if you fancy it. Remember that you can emulate it on Wii U. Thanks to Jas10 @ HUKD!

Casual Gamers: Dictating the Success and Failure of Nintendo

Author:
Chris Hyde
Category:
Features
Tags:
3DS, Casual Games, Nintendo, Wii, Wii U, Wii U games

Casual Gamers: Dictating the Success and Failure of Nintendo

The Casual Gamer. A now derogatory term used to pigeon-hole the vast swathes of gamers that have dared to show a fleeting interest in an industry previously reserved for the dedicated, committed and knowledgeable “few” that pursued it before it became “mainstream”. Or some such elitist bollocks.

Now, I could write an entire article exploring the separation of this industry, but instead this piece focuses more on accepting the diversity that tablet gaming, motion controls et al has brought the gaming industry, and how this has shaped the strategy and fortunes of one of its biggest players – Nintendo.

Before we get too far in, it's worth me just clarifying what I will be referring to as a casual gamer. For the purposes of this article when I say 'casual gamer' what I mean is the group of people who wouldn't list gaming as one of their top hobbies or interests, it is instead a minor method of enjoyably passing the time in between other activities. As such they have no need to know the industry in depth, and similarly may not know a lot of what others familiar to gaming may know.

These variances against a more "normal" (or indeed hardcore - shudder) gamer are crucial when you apply them to Nintendo - arguably the company now most synonymous with the casual gamer tag thanks to the overwhelming success of the Wii. No one can deny that the performance of Nintendo's previous console didn't do a lot of good for the games industry. It increased it's potential and target audience massively, and gaming is enjoying a boom as a result. It gets much more exposure and recognition nowadays, and that is partly thanks to the Wii's success in bringing in an additional audience.

Casual Gamers: Dictating the Success and Failure of Nintendo

But this success has been a bit of a double-edged sword for the gaming behemoth. And they've fallen on it quite a lot in recent years.

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Yoshi's New Island only £19.95 at The Game Collection on 3DS

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
3DS, 3DS Games, Nintendo

Yoshi's New Island only £19.95 at The Game Collection on 3DS

Yoshi's New Island | The Game Collection | £19.95 (save £7)
Price Comparison

Yoshi's New Island is one of 2014's biggest 3DS releases so far (at least, before Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney), but reviews are all over the shop. Some of my peers reckon that its old-school platforming and exploration is a charming change of pace, while others criticise its slow pace and crude visuals. Regardless, we can't quibble with the value here, since The Game Collection are offering a £7 saving vs Base.com. It's a time-sensitive daily deal so the price will revert to roughly £26 at 22:00.

Thanks to oUkTuRkEyIII @ HUKD!

Nintendo 3DS only £79.99 at Amazon!

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
3DS, Nintendo

Nintendo 3DS only £79.99 at Amazon!

3DS (ice white) | Amazon | £79.99 (save £30)
3DS hardware review

The 3DS was the best console to release last year in terms of excellent games, and a system that I'd recommend without question to handheld gaming aficionados. Though the 3DS XL is a more comfortable and practical piece of kit, Amazon are selling the Ice White original for a paltry £79.99, which is outrageously good value. Thanks to andywedge @ HUKD!

Wii U premium console with Zelda: Wind Waker HD only £220 at Amazon & GAME

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Nintendo, Wii U

Wii U premium console with Zelda: Wind Waker HD only £220 at Amazon & GAME

Wii U Premium 32GB Console + Zelda: Wind Waker HD | Amazon / GAME | £220
Console ReviewZelda: Wind Waker HD Review

Amazon and GAME are locking horns once again, bringing us the cheapest price on the market for the Wii U premium edition, limited edition GamePad and The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker HD. A true classic has become even better thanks to a gorgeous makeover and a few tweaks, making it one of the true essentials. I'd also suggest grabbing Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World and The Wonderful 101 as a matter of priority. Thanks to ElectroDragon8 @ HUKD!

Game Buzz | Episode 69 - Assassin's Creed: Les Mis

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Assassin's Creed: Unity, Game Buzz, Nintendo, Podcast, PS4, PWNCAST, Sony, VR headsets, Wii U

Game Buzz | Episode 69 - Assassin's Creed: Les Mis

This week on Game Buzz, we chat about the rumoured news that the next AssCreed will take place in revolutionary France, we discuss Sony's VR plans now that the cat is out of the bag, and we suggest IPs Nintendo could bring back on Wii U.

Game Buzz | Episode 69 - Assassin's Creed: Les Mis. Recorded 21st March, 2014.

Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.


 

Want more? Check out the rest of our PWNCAST posts onsite, hit us up on iTunes, or subscribe to the PWNCAST Feed here.

Game Buzz | Episode 69 - Assassin's Creed: Les Mis Game Buzz | Episode 69 - Assassin's Creed: Les MisGame Buzz | Episode 69 - Assassin's Creed: Les MisGame Buzz | Episode 69 - Assassin's Creed: Les MisGame Buzz | Episode 69 - Assassin's Creed: Les Mis

"Nintendo Have Been Great" | Bear Box Media's Andy Ford on developing for the Wii U

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Andy Ford, Bear Box Media, Indie devs, Indie Games, Internal Invasion, Interviews, Nintendo, Wii U games

"Nintendo Have Been Great" | Bear Box Media's Andy Ford on developing for the Wii U

Andy Ford wears a number of hats: web developer, Dealspwn regular, and now Nintendo third-party partner, he's just about to release his first game on Wii U -- a physics-based puzzler called Internal Invasion. Take the drag-aim-fire mechanics from Angry Birds, add in multiple catapult points, replace the catapults with cannons and the birds with a robot, and the setting with various cartoonish visions of a human's insides and you're most of the way there.

Internal Invasion

"Nintendo Have Been Great" | Bear Box Media's Andy Ford on developing for the Wii U

Players have to guide the medical nanobot Ro-Bert through a series of delightfully squelchy human organs, passages, and gauntlets of bone and tissue in a bid to prevent an invading virus from taking hold. You fire Ro-Bert from cannon to cannon across the game's ever-expanding 50 levels, aiming for the green arrow at the end of each level, and using the pills you find to give you little boosts of propulsion to help steer between the cannons. There's a time limit on each level, and your grade out of five at the end is determined by your speed as well as whether or not you picked up all of the pills.

Needless to say, it's fiendishly addictive; and I'm rubbish at it. I'll blame that on the fact that I was playing the HTML 5 version rather than the deliciously tactile, touch-based Wii U experience. Yup, that's my excuse.

Anyway, I caught up with Andy to have a little chat about Internal Invasion and what it's been like working with Nintendo as an indie developer. Internal Invasion wasn't original designed for the system, but as the game developed, it seems like making the jump to Nintendo's wii box of tricks (sorry) was the only way for Ford to make the game as he wanted it.

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Pikmin 3 only £22.00 on Amazon (Wii U)

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Nintendo, Wii U, Wii U games

Pikmin 3 only £22.00 on Amazon (Wii U)

Pikmin 3 | Amazon | £22.00
Price ComparisonPikmin 3 review

Pikmin 3 is absolutely superb, and one of the first Wii U games you should definitely check out. Amazon are currently offering the cheapest new copy price around - a penny more than their January GAME price match - so should be your first port of call if you've just bought into Nintendo's console. Thanks to theg @ HUKD!

New Super Luigi U only £19.00 from Amazon on Wii U

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Nintendo, Platformer, Wii U, Wii U games

New Super Luigi U only £19.00 from Amazon on Wii U

New Super Luigi U | Amazon | £19.00
Price Comparison | New Super Luigi U review

New Super Luigi U may look like pointless DLC at first glance, but it's actually a full rebuild of New Super Mario Bros. U designed to provide a very different (and much more challenging experience). Every level has been torn down and reassembled, putting the focus on crazy speedruns and last-ditch victories. It's not entirely successful, but if you like what you read in our review, you can get a physical copy for twenty quid from Amazon. Thanks to ElectroDragon8 @ HUKD!

Game Buzz | Episode 66 - Well Played, Microsoft

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
News
Tags:
Dead Rising 3, Game Buzz, God Of War, Microsoft, Nintendo, Podcast, PWNCAST, season pass, Sony Santa Monica Studios, Starbreeze, Titanfall, Xbox One

Game Buzz | Episode 66 - Well Played, Microsoft

It's Game Buzz time, folks! Ready your eardrums for some magnificent waffle as we dive into the hottest topics from the industry from the past seven days.

This week, we discuss Microsoft's Xbox One UK price cut and Titanfall bundle -- is it a big middle finger to Day One buyers? We also chat about Nintendo entering the mobile space in the wake of hedge fund manager Seth Fischer's open letter to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, we have a gander at Sony Santa Monica's cancellation of their four-year, new IP, and we hand out our Winners and Losers of the Week as per usual.

Strap yourselves in, folks; this one's a good 'un!

Game Buzz | Episode 66 - Well Played, Microsoft. Recorded 28th February, 2014.

Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.

Want more? Check out the rest of our PWNCAST posts onsite, hit us up on iTunes, or subscribe to the PWNCAST Feed here.

Game Buzz | Episode 66 - Well Played, Microsoft Game Buzz | Episode 66 - Well Played, MicrosoftGame Buzz | Episode 66 - Well Played, MicrosoftGame Buzz | Episode 66 - Well Played, MicrosoftGame Buzz | Episode 66 - Well Played, Microsoft

'Imagine paying 99 cents just to get Mario to jump higher' - cynical Nintendo shareholder proves Iwata right

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
3DS, IAPs, Mobile games, Nintendo

'Imagine paying 99 cents just to get Mario to jump higher' - cynical Nintendo shareholder proves Iwata right

As the ever-expanding mobile and tablet market continues to gain ground, Nintendo's reluctance to embrace the scene in any meaningful way has drawn fire from pundits and stockholders alike. One of their American shareholders has now penned an open letter urging the company to focus on mobile gaming and in-app purchases to fill their coffers.

And, in doing so, arguably proves that Iwata's stubbornness is a blessing in disguise. At least as far as us gamers are concerned.

Hedge Fund manager Seth Fisher spoke out via the Wall Street Journal [via MCV], stating that the company is "well placed to make an immediate entry into mobile" gaming. "We believe Nintendo can create very profitable games based on in-game revenue models with the right development team," he wrote. "The same people who spent hours playing Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and Legend of Zelda as children are now a demographic whose engagement on the smartphone is valued by the market at well over $100bn."

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Wii & DS online multiplayer shuts down in May

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
DS, multiplayer, Nintendo, Wii

Wii & DS online multiplayer shuts down in May

But Will Anyone Notice?

As of May 20th, Nintendo are set to shut down their somewhat obsolete Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service, which powers online multiplayer across all Wii and DS games. This means that we'll no longer be able to visit each other's towns in Animal Crossing: Let's Go To The City, quest with others in Phantasy Star Zero or throw down in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Mario Kart.

To be honest, it's unlikely that many people will actually notice, but don't say we didn't warn you.

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Super Mario 3D World is only £29.99 at The Game Collection (Wii U)

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Deals
Tags:
Nintendo, Wii U, Wii U games

Super Mario 3D World is only £29.99 at The Game Collection (Wii U)

Super Mario 3D World | The Game Collection | £29.99 (save £10)

Super Mario 3D World may have been trounced by Knack in the charts, but is widely hailed as one of the best games of 2013 by Wii U owners. If you own Nintendo's console and have yet to take the plunge, The Game Collection are retailling at just shy of £30, which is a £10 saving. We saw it slightly cheaper in Christmas sales, but it's still a nice little price.

Many thanks to supermetroid @ HUKD!

Steel Diver: Sub Wars Review | Gold Standard Or Sub Standard?

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
3DS, 3DS Games, F2P, Free to play, multiplayer, Nintendo, Submarine simulator

Steel Diver: Sub Wars Review | Gold Standard Or Sub Standard?

Platform: Nintendo 3DS (eShop | F2P, premium upgrade £8.99)

Developer: Nintendo EAD

Publisher: Nintendo

Shigeru Miyamoto has always wanted to make a game about submarines, and there's nothing anyone can do to stop him.

We love the idea -- after all, the mighty sub really doesn't get the attention it deserves, beyond Silent Hunter -- but Steel Diver didn't set the gaming world on fire back in 2011. We enjoyed its bonkers side-scrolling depth-charging gameplay as far as it went... which turned out to be about thirty minutes thanks to the ludicrously short campaign, so I must admit to loosing an exasperated growl when Miyamoto announced a sequel to his pet project.

However, Sub Wars is a very different beast from the niche original: a first-person free-to-play multiplayer arcade submarine simulator. As such, it's the best one of those on the (any?) platform by default, but is it actually worth your time and an optional £8.99 premium upgrade?

Steel Diver: Sub Wars Review | Gold Standard Or Sub Standard?

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Nintendo Direct - Disappointing Fans Since 2011

Author:
Chris Hyde
Category:
Features
Tags:
3DS, Nintendo, Nintendo Direct, Wii U

Nintendo Direct - Disappointing Fans Since 2011

Take your minds back 28 months to a time before Nintendo Direct existed. It was a time before Rihanna was number 1 with "We Found Love" (yes I looked that up), it was a different time. Before Iwata, Miyamato and the gang would get together infront of clean white backgrounds to update us on the latest goings on at Nintendo Towers. But before November 2011, we didn't have the fun, unique updates that are symbolic of the quirky nature of Nintendo. Little were we to know back then that these Nintendo Directs would also provide regular disappointment to those that watched them.

But why is it always this way? Well, for a few reasons really, and not all of them are down to Ninty themselves. Let's take a look.

The Audience

Firstly we have to consider the purpose of the Nintendo Direct itself. Obviously they are there to provide key information about Nintendo's new software, hardware and to a lesser extent, their strategies.  But who to? Whilst Nintendo's presentations are available to the entire region they are aimed at simultaneously, it would be naive to think that everyone knows about them, let alone tunes in.

Fundamentally the people who are aware and watch Nintendo Directs are going to be those working in the industry, aspiring to be in it, or already have a distinct interest in all things Nintendo. Which means right from the off, Nintendo have a fairly tough audience to please. And not least because the perception of the big N in recent years has been waning. Just ask Matt what he thinks of the Wii U, give him the soap box, stand back, and you'll see what I mean. But ironically this perception doesn't mean the audience wants Nintendo to fail, in fact it wants the complete opposite, and this heaps the pressure on any announcements of any kind. Because we as a group turn up full of hope and expectation of that big story, that new strategy that is going to revert the fortunes of one of the pillars of the gaming community.

Nintendo Direct - Disappointing Fans Since 2011

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