In both Splatoon and Splatoon 2, the single-player campaigns offer creative and fun breaks from the madness of online competition. Each campaign combines methodical platforming and puzzle solving with frantic firefights against the octarians and the humanoid octolings. With Splatoon 2’s upcoming Octo Expansion, Nintendo is adding a ton of new content for fans of the base-game campaigns. With Splatoon fans accustomed to free updates, my initial thought upon Octo Expansion’s announcement was that it would be a tough sell for the player base. Thankfully, what I played of the upcoming single-player expansion is creative, challenging, and fun.

With more than 80 new single-player missions, additional unlockable multiplayer gear, and a new story full of mysteries and Splatoon lore, Octo Expansion looks to justify its place as the first piece of premium DLC in the Splatoon franchise. In addition, anyone who gets through the Octo Expansion campaign unlocks Octolings to play as in multiplayer. However, beating every stage will prove no simple task; each stage I played was difficult in unique ways. 

Octo Expansion puts you in the shoes of Agent 8 in a subterranean test facility. As such, the stages are presented as subway platforms. You swipe your metro card to enter, choose your preferred weapon for the task, and attack the challenge. Stages vary in their objectives; one stage tasked me with pushing a giant 8-ball down a path toward the objective with few guardrails to prevent failure and myriad enemies to get in the way. If at any point in these stages you reach a total fail point (such as the 8-ball falling off the ledge), Agent 8’s backpack explodes with a different color ink, splatting them and using a life. Thankfully, the checkpoint system seems fair from what I played. 

The subterranean vibe combines with the test facility setting to give off a Portal-esque vibe. This is further accentuated by how puzzle-based these missions are. While the Splatoon 2 team developed Octo Expansion, Nintendo tells me members of the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild team that created the various puzzle shrines joined the Splatoon 2 crew for the design of Octo Expansion.

Though Octo Expansion still focuses keenly on the action elements, each one presents a unique challenge that requires you to think and react. One such stage gives me the choice of close-range weapons. While the ink roller is more precise, I opt for the slosher bucket that gives me a bit more range, even if it is messier. I soon find that the challenge is to battle a host of enemies on a flat area. While that isn’t particularly creative, I soon realize the ground is made of destructible boxes; if I’m not careful, I’ll destroy the ground right from under my feet. I quickly take out a few tentacled menaces before a bulky sniper spawns as a boss. I get him down to his last hit. He blasts at me and I jump out of the way, but his spray of ink destroyed the boxes under my character and I fall to my death. I take a more aggressive approach with the final enemy and come out victorious on my next life.

In another stage, I’m racing against the clock, hitting checkpoints to earn more time and dodging tons of missiles and other enemy fire to reach a goal, while another gives minimal time to grind along rails and destroy boxes. Most stages give you the ability to select a weapon for the job, but some give you unlimited use of a special weapon. The instance of this I encountered gave me an inkjet ability and tasked me with jet-packing from platform to platform. While that sounds simple, if you don’t keep solid ground beneath you, you fall; let me tell you, I had some seriously close calls on this stage.

While those levels are all challenging, none took me to task like the one that placed more than 20 enemies on a carousel in front of me. A countdown flashes on the screen and I blast the switch, rotating the carousel of death before me. I wipe most of them out, but two tank-like enemies with gatling guns give me trouble. I nearly get them, but the timer runs out and my backpack explodes. While I didn’t succeed on this stage in my three attempts, I’m itching to have another crack at it at home.

On top of the new content and multiplayer rewards, Octo Expansion also gives players a new story featuring Pearl and Marina from Off The Hook, as well as characters from the first Splatoon who have been absent in Splatoon 2 like Cap’n Cuttlefish and Agent 3, the inkling from Splatoon 1’s campaign. For players who want to reap the octoling reward and learn the story, but aren’t skilled enough to surmount the tricky challenges, a built in “help” option offers the ability to skip the stage if you fail enough times. 

As a huge fan of the first two Splatoon campaigns, Octo Expansion cannot come soon enough. Each stage I played feels distinct and creative, delivering new twists on the blueprints established in the main single-player modes. However, if what I played is any indication, I better brush up on my skills in Splatoon 2 before Octo Expansion’s summer release date.

 

For more on Octo Expansion, check out our interview with producer Hisashi Nogami, as well as our goofy interview about Splatoon’s lore and science.

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash launched on Wii U in 2015 to poor reception from fans and critics alike. The game added little in way of new mechanics and even less in terms of reasons to return to the game time and again. With gameplay that expands your arsenal, an improved online suite, and a better list of modes, Mario Tennis Aces on Switch hopes to avoid the double fault and deliver a better experience for players. I went hands on with one of Aces’ main attractions, adventure mode, to learn the basics of the new gameplay and see if this entry is more likely to sink its hooks into players.

You only play as Mario in adventure mode, but the story features many character besides Nintendo’s mascot. Luigi has uncovered an evil tennis racket, and it has taken him, Wario, and Waluigi hostage. Mario sets out to rescue the captive characters and uncover the secrets of the racket’s past. The journey takes Mario to Bask Kingdom, a dominion previously ruined by the powerful racket. To fight for his brother and the destroyed kingdom, Mario learns new abilities, which play out as brief tutorial stages in adventure mode.

As I work through the early lessons, I relearn the basics of Nintendo’s brand of tennis. Once we get the different strokes down, I move on to learning the new abilities Mario Tennis Aces introduces. As I rally back and forth with my opponent, an energy gauge fills in the corner of the screen. I can use available energy for zone speed, which slows time and allows me to get into position, or zone shots, which I can perform if I get into proper position and expel energy as I swing my racket. If I initiate a zone shot, my character springs into the air and an aiming reticle allows me to place my shot; the longer I take to aim, the more energy I consume. You can aim away from your opponent, but if you want to challenge them, you can hit it right at them. If they don’t time their counter correctly, the powerful shot will damage their racket. Inflict too much damage to your opponent’s racket and it’ll break, giving you the win by default.

Mario’s newfound zone powers are great, but they’re no match for the special shot, which can be initiated from any spot on the court when the energy gauge is maxed out. When you use a special shot, you launch into a character-specific cutscene and enter the aiming sequence again. This time, if your opponent tries and fails to return the shot properly, it’ll destroy their racket in one hit. This means that if you decide to test your skills and return a special shot, failure carries a hefty price. 

The final shot type I learn is a trick shot, which causes my character to leap, lunge, or flip in the direction of the ball in a desperate attempt. It’s tough to be successful with, but using this shot, I was able to reach several balls I would’ve just watched go by in most tennis games. With my new arsenal of attacks, I jump into the first few real challenges of adventure mode. From special-rules matches against other characters on the roster like Spike and Donkey Kong, to a minigame where I must return balls from a wall of piranha plants, adventure mode looks to provide fun diversions that give you additional ways to enjoy the game of tennis. As I complete challenges, I earn experience for Mario to improve his shot speed, run speed, and agility ratings. I also earn new rackets, which have their own set of attributes including attack, defense, and durability. I imagine that durability rating will be one to focus on if you’re not great at timing your returns on zone shots.

My time with adventure mode culminates with a showdown against a boss: Petey Piranha. He puts wicked spins on the ball, but by simply continuing the rally, I chip away at his stamina. Once his bar is depleted, he tips over and I enter a zone shot to deal damage to his weak spot. After a few cycles of this, the battle is mine. It’s a fun twist on the core tennis mechanics and I look forward to more creative boss fights.

Mario Tennis Aces seems to show a Camelot team that took the criticisms of Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash to heart. With myriad new gameplay mechanics and a fun adventure mode, I’m looking forward to seeing the full scope of the improvements when the game launches on June 22.

In the meantime, you can see the trailer for adventure mode below.

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Street Fighter’s been around for a while. Throughout its 30-year history, it’s given us some of the best fighting games of all time, iconic moves and characters, and much more. The Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection arrives today and celebrates that history. So how do these games hold up?

To find out, Jeff Cork, Leo Vader, and I took several of these games through their paces in some friendly competition and also quickly play some of the Street Fighter. Who’s the winner? Watch and find out!

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Some time ago, Ubisoft’s chief Yves Guillemot mentioned to Polygon that they were sitting on a finished Wii U title until the install base grew. Time passed and the install base never grew and the game ultimately was never officially announced, officially cancelled, and never saw the light of day.

Through ESRB listings and other leaks, it was made clear that the game was a social party game called Know Your Friends, which involved passing the Wii U Gamepad around and ask probing questions, in a similar way to some Jackbox games. This Did You Know Gaming video takes a more in-depth look at the title, why it never saw release, how internal competition at Ubisoft stymied its development, and what the team did after its cancellation.

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Ubisoft’s E3 conference this year takes place Monday, June 11 – 1:00 p.m. PT, while Nintendo’s E3 Direct will take place Tuesday, June 12 – 9:00 a.m. PT.

 

Our Take
It doesn’t seem like a big loss, necessarily, but it’s still a shame that this finished game went unreleased and didn’t even get ported to phones or the like. Maybe it could have been something brilliant, who knows.

PUBG Corp., the company that develops and manages PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, is taking Epic Games to court over the similarities between Battlegrounds and Fortnite.

Bluehole and PUBG Corp. have been threatening this for some time, going back as far as last year when the Korean-based developer said they were mulling their options over how they would respond to Epic’s addition of a battle royale mode to Fortnite. The copyright infringement suit filed now reveals that PUBG Corp. had in fact filed an injunction against Epic in January.

The movement now is likely because Epic is expanding Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode into East Asia, with publisher Neowiz, developers and publishers of MMORPG Bless Online, partnering to bring it to net cafe-style businesses in South Korea. The suit was filed in Seoul Central District Court against Epic Games Korea specifically.

By filing suit, PUBG Corp. hopes to get a court to determine whether Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode infringes on Battlegrounds, particularly over things like items and user interface.

[Source: Korea Times]

 

Our Take
Not being a lawyer, it is hard to say how good PUBG Corporation’s argument is here. It does seem like they know this would be a massive waste of time if they didn’t feel they could prove at least some aspects of it. I also can’t imagine this has caught Epic by surprise and I’m sure lawyers have been preparing for this since the initial saber-rattling in September.

Square Enix is recruiting for jobs, including for the Final Fantasy VII remake. One of those recruitment pages, however, has the first look at Final Fantasy VII remake that we have gotten since 2015.

The image, which is found on this recruitment page, shows lead developer Naoki Hamaguchi sitting in front of a computer screen with an image of what looks like FFVII Remake on it. A tweet from uer @DKHF4 blew up the image to get a closer look.

The image appears to be Cloud standing in front of Air Buster, the second boss in the game that Cloud, Barrett, and Tifa fight right after meeting President Shinra for the first time. So we can safely say they have at least made a model for the second boss in the game.

Square Enix’s E3 showcase will take place Monday, June 11 at 10:00 a.m. PT.

 

Our Take
I really hope this game is shown at E3 because I am not even that excited but this drip feed is still driving me nuts somehow. I am at the point where I am reporting on images in the background.

Star Citizen is a crowdfunded game with a lot of money given to it, to the tune of $35,000,000 as of January. Now, Cloud Imperium Gaming is offering yet another tier of purchases for only $27,000 dollars.

The Legatus Pack is now purchasable for Star Citizen players, but with a special caveat. The pack, which contains 117 ships for your space baron lifestyle, is only viewable if you have already put $1000 into the game. It can be found on this page if you’re logged in and have invested your child’s college fund into the game already, otherwise you just get a 404 error.

Earlier this year, Star Citizen set a record for having been more funded than every other crowdfunded video game combined.

[Source: MMOPulse]

 

Our Take
More power to you if you want this and can afford it. Otherwise, please consult a financial planner before you commit to it.

While we wait on pins and needles for the next Avengers movie, it’s nice to be reminded that the MCU is also a place where superheroes have fun being superheroes, which is exactly what the new Ant-Man and The Wasp teaser does.

The teaser is about Paul Rudd’s character, the titular Ant-Man and less-than-mild mannered Scott Lang, making a list of their game plan for tackling the movie’s antagonist. Check out the spot below.

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Ant-Man and The Wasp burrows its way into theaters on July 6.

It’s been a big week for Dark Souls Remastered, the newest version of FROM Soft’s seminal 2011 action adventure game. Certainly, though, the strangest story cropping up from the game is how modders found early Bloodborne data in the new version of the game and then managed to open it up in Grand Theft Auto V.

Kotaku reports on the strange modding story that begins with a modder named Dropoff, who found the map data inside Remastered’s files. Dropoff discovered a file, the seemingly innocuous “m99_99_98_00,” which follows a naming structure of test files in FROM’s games. Opening this up showed the map data of Upper Cathedral Ward from Bloodborne.

The Upper Cathedral Ward is an optional late-game area in Bloodborne that culminates with the hardest non-chalice dungeon, non-DLC boss in the game. It seems FROM had been planning this area since the original Dark Souls release in 2011. Another Souls modder and data detective, Lance McDonald, posted the findings on Twitter, including bits of Boleteria from Demon’s Souls.

 

 

 

 

After finding the files, Dropoff extracted the level data and imported it into 3D software that allowed the modder to rebuild it into Grand Theft Auto V. Through this, Dropoff managed to start driving a car through Bloodborne’s Upper Cathedral Ward, for which you can find a video below here.

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Dark Souls Remastered is currently available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, with a Switch version scheduled for sometime this Summer. You can find our review of the game right here,

[Source: Kotaku]

 

Our Take
It’s utterly fascinating that actual map data for Bloodborne exists in the 2011 Dark Souls and perhaps even stranger that it couldn’t be found until now. Does that mean FROM was hammering out Bloodborne concepts then? Or was that area meant for Dark Souls and repurposed for Bloodborne?

Everyone’s favorite Metro City rascal Cody was announced for Street Fighter V along with everyone else from season 3, but this new gameplay trailer (with a hint of story) gives Cody some time to shine.

The trailer begins with a live action clip of Cody, played by New Japan Pro Wrestling star and Street Fighter IV Cody main Kenny Omega, entering the mayor’s office and receiving a phone call. From there, the trailer begins showing off Cody’s two V.skills – his trusty knife and what we can now say is a traditional Metro City mayoral pipe – and a new costume of traditional mayoral pants. Check out the trailer below.

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In addition, Capcom has announced three other DLC costumes for Cody. He can wear his prison garb from the Alpha series and Street Fighter IV, a white tuxedo, or his Final Fight outfit of an understated white t-shirt and jeans. Omega is also voice acting the character in the game.

Cody will be avalable on June 26 and will be followed by DLC characters G and Sagat later in the season. Street Fighter V is available on PlayStation 4 and PC.

 

Our Take
Canonically, Cody without his handcuffs is supposed to be one of the strongest humans alive on a tier of Oro and stronger than Akuma. I wonder if he’s gotten weaker in his older age.