New Nindies Showcase Next Week

The Nindies Showcase are a Direct-esque presentation that Nintendo has created to focus on indies coming to the Switch and 3DS. Looks like we’ll be getting a look at what Nintendo has going on on the indie front next week:

Tune in Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 9 a.m. PT for a new Nindies Showcase video presentation highlighting multiple unannounced indie games coming to Nintendo Switch!
 
Be sure to tune in at https://live.nintendo.com for the latest news!

Previous Nindies Showcases have revealed titles coming to Switch like The Last Ninja Remastered, West of Loathing, and The Banner Saga trilogy.

Kid-run businesses are better in concept than in practice. When you see a lemonade stand, you might stop because it’s cute and you want to be supportive. If you want a top-notch drink, however, it’s best to keep walking. That same approach applies to Little Dragons Café, a game about an enthusiastic tot running a restaurant. Like those lemonade stands, good intentions can’t change this lukewarm sugar-water into something satisfying.

The failure is especially frustrating, because Little Dragons Café has all the right ingredients. Designer Yasuhiro Wada created the Harvest Moon series, which charmingly conveyed the quiet life of a farmer in a small community. Instead of inheriting a plot of land in Little Dragons Café, you play as a child who takes over the family café once your mother falls ill. You and your twin have to keep the business afloat while managing employees, refreshing the menu, and raising a dragon. It’s an interesting setup with a lot of potential, but it falls flatter than a pancake.

The first few days were a little overwhelming as I tried to figure out what was and wasn’t a priority. There’s a small world to explore outside, but I also had to keep my café’s doors open. Customers trickled into the restaurant during lunch and dinner hours, which gave me some time between lulls to run around the world and forage for ingredients because of my paltry pantry. You have a little garden, but you don’t choose what to grow. Instead, you forage for ingredients by shaking bushes, jostling rocks, and fishing. Once you find ingredients in the wild, they’re added to your garden plot, which can be harvested every few days – for things like sugar, bacon, and ketchup. It’s weird stuff, even for a game that has a dragon.

You also find recipe fragments while exploring, which can be assembled when you find all four in a set. Then you can play a little rhythm-based minigame (think more WarioWare than Guitar Hero) to cook your new dish. If you’re satisfied with the results, you can add it to your menu, where your chef takes over the cooking duties. The idea is that if you hit all your marks and use top-quality ingredients, your customers might be more appreciative of the results. From there, your café’s reputation can grow, increasing foot traffic and attracting special customers who have miniature story arcs. 

At least, that’s supposed to be how it works. The reality is far more tedious. The choices that you make are superficial and uninteresting. You can stick with sensible-sounding food, but you’re free to make a dish with steak, eel, and ketchup, and the customer reviews aren’t appreciably different than if follow recipes humans would actually want to eat. Your employees help take orders, deliver food, and clean up tables if you let them, though they can slack off to the point where customers get up and leave. Handling these tasks yourself is easier and more efficient, though it’s frustrating to maneuver around your dumb co-workers as you try to walk in a straight line to the sink. If I could have fired them all, I would have done so immediately.

The dragon seems like it would add a fun element to the game, but it’s also disappointingly superficial. You can use it to move rocks to aid in exploration or destroy obstacles, but aside from getting hungry and producing manure, it doesn’t have much to offer in gameplay. The overall structure is rigid and dull, and the world only gives you a handful of things to do. It really does feel like doing chores. No amount of forced whimsy, from the unsightly colored-pencil-sketch designs of the characters to the “quirky” character skits made any of it tolerable.

Every morning when I woke up, I hoped my character’s mother was magically cured. Not because I missed her and wanted to make sure that she was OK, but because I wanted to throw my apron at her and sprint away from this nightmare café, never to look back again. 

You had that one friend. Everyone did. They always chose Oddjob even though you’d insist Oddjob was cheating. The only way you didn’t have that friend is if you were the friend.

Ex-Rare developers are now happy to tell you that your friend, or you, was a cheater. Mel Magazine interviewed several developers who worked on GoldenEye 007, the N64 first-person shooter that was a mainstay of sleepovers and after-school arguments, to tell an oral history of the foundationally important game. Of course, the subject of Oddjob came up.

If you’ve never seen the James Bond film GoldenEye or played the N64 game, you might be wondering why choosing a character would be considered cheating. While all the other characters in the four-player deathmatch were roughly the same height, but Oddjob was considerably shorter. In a modern FPS, that’s less of a problem, because both aiming with analog sticks and auto-aiming tech has gotten better over the years. Everyone was kind of winging it in the mid-90s, so auto-aim was not quite as versatile as it should have been with the N64’s single analog stick, making most bullets fly over Oddjob’s head.

Mel Magazine spoke to ex-Rare developers Karl Hilton and Mark Edmonds about the subject.

“We all thought it was kind of cheating when we were play-testing with Oddjob [due to his short stature, the auto-aim of the weapons goes above the head], but it was too much fun to take out and there was no impetus from any of us to change it,” Hilton said. “It’s clearly become part of the culture and folklore of the game  —  I noticed playing GoldenEye as Oddjob was mentioned in Ready Player One, so ultimately, I think it’s fine.”

Edmonds added “It’s definitely cheating to play as Oddjob! But that can just add to the fun when you’re all sitting there next to each other and berating/poking/hitting the person who chooses him. Personally I like to pick Jaws [who originally appeared in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me] and then beat the person with Oddjob just to show them! We could have put something in to stop this blatant cheating, but why not just let players decide on their own rules?”

So there you have it. Friends don’t let friends choose Oddjob.

[Source: Mel Magazine]

Ubisoft’s behind-the-back fighting game For Honor has parried its initial woes into a thriving and strong community with new content on the horizon that looks compelling. Now you can try for yourself if the steel vs. steel fighter is worth the investment of your time.

Starting today until August 27, you can download the game for free on Steam and keep it forever. Ubisoft is giving the game away in hopes that you’ll be tempted to pay for the upcoming Marching Fire expansion. Part of the expansion is the newly announced arcade mode, which randomly generates battle scenarios for solo players or teams. Check out the trailer below.

For Honor is currently available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. It is also one of this month’s Games with Gold picks on Xbox One.

Paramount Pictures is moving forward with plans to work on a Monument Valley movie, choosing Patrick Osborne to develop to direct the movie, Deadline reports.

Osborne is an Oscar-winning director for the animated short film Feast and has been tapped for Monument Valley, which Paramount hopes to make into a family film series. A Monument Valley adaptation would likely be his biggest project yet.

Monument Valley mostly tells its story in drips and drops, but the game is immensely popular, with over 160 million downloads on mobile devices already. The core of the game is rotating an environment around to bridge gaps and solve puzzles, which would make for kind of a cool 3D film, if 3D movies are still a thing by the time a Monument Valley movie releases.

[Source: Deadline]

 

I am genuinely surprised there is not a Words with Friends movie.

The National Purchase Diary, or NPD, tracks retail and some digital sales for a variety of products, including video games. July saw releases for a lot of smaller titles, but it appears to be a success story for a popular Switch exclusive and Nintendo in general.

For June, Mario Tennis Aces came out as the best selling game of the month, but the momentum for the Switch keeps rolling to July. Octopath Traveler tops the U.S. charts this month for all platforms, meaning that the game sold the best at retail. As the title is published by Nintendo in the U.S. and Nintendo doesn’t report eShop sales to the NPD, Octopath outsold every other game without taking digital into account. Considering the scope and budget of the game, the Square Enix-developed JRPG is probably one of their bigger successes. You can check out our Octopath Traveler review right here.

Octopath Traveler also pushes Nintendo over the line to being the best selling software publisher this year, according to the NPD Group. The Kyoto giant has five of the top ten slots in the NPD in July with games like Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8, and Mario Tennis Aces.

Octopath Traveler*   1
Grand Theft Auto V   2
Mario Kart 8*   3
Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy   4
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*   5
Far Cry 5   6
Super Mario Odyssey*   7
The Crew 2   8
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege   9
Mario Tennis Aces*   10
FIFA 18   11
LEGO Incredibles   12
God of War 2018   13
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker*   14
NBA 2K18   15
Call of Duty: WWII   16
Detroit: Become Human   17
MLB 18: The Show   18
Minecraft   19
Destiny 2   20

(Titles marked with * do not count digital sales.)

Following behind Octopath is the juggernaut Grand Theft Auto V, which remains near the top of every NPD monthly sales chart consistently. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker debuted fairly low, though without absolute numbers and eShop sales it is hard to tell how well it did. Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy debuted strong, debuting second on the Xbox One-specific chart and seven on the Switch’s chart.

In terms of hardware, the Switch was the best selling platform both in terms of units sold and revenue.  This is the seventh month that the Switch has come out on top in the NPD since its release in March 2017. The PlayStation 4 remains the overall best selling system of 2018 to date.

The August NPD will include releases like WarioWare Gold, We Happy Few, Phantom Doctrine, and Yakuza Kiwami 2.

Gamescom is one of the world’s largest trade fairs for video games and other interactive media. This year, attendance looks to reach upwards of half a million visitors. But if you’re not able to attend yourself, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the craziest sights from this year’s show floor.

“That plane is going to land on us and crush us all!” Is not something you want to say in a crowded room, but sometimes you have to learn the hard way

“Can someone help me? I dropped my keyblade on the floor somewhere around here.”

Fortnite had a model airplane too … oh crap, I think someone spotted me

People lined up at the Nintendo booth to play the new Star Fox game … haha ZING!

Sony was out in full force, advertising Spider-Man with his iconic catchphrase “Be Greater.” Ah, who will forget when those epic words came out of Uncle Ben’s mouth

People lined up at the Blizzard booth to play a game they could already play at home

I’m really looking forward to this new Sims expansion

That’s an impressive green thumb

Here he is, Mr. James Sekiro himself

I can’t wait for the third 6 game. (Don’t send me any email. It was a joke. I know this is really an ad for Tom Cranston’s Rambo Six

The Germans are actually an incredibly nice people

And what would an international games convention be without a stand advertising the Amazon Original programming Jack Ryan

Jack’s back baby!

A rogue animatronic popped out to shoot at people and I had just enough time to yell, “Watch out.” I took this picture instead

This probably sounds like a joke, but Euro Truck Simulator is one of the biggest things in Europe. People take time off work each time a new game comes out. European truck drivers actually use this software to practice for their big truck driving exams. When kids are asked what they want to do when they grow up in Europe they often say that they want to become a professional Euro Truck Simulator developer. But you probably think I’m still joking.

A skate ramp for some reason

I don’t know what this is. Someone told me it was a popular game in Europe. I think it might be another trucking simulator

Wait how did that get in here? My secret identity!!

Oh, that’s where I parked

The Vodafone booth was so deserted that this guy was able to pickpocket the mannequins

Oh $#!^

Don’t worry, I called some experts. And now it’s time for me to call it a night.

Square’s The Quiet Man is an experimental game for sure. This three-hour experience combines live-action storytelling with simple brawler gameplay to tell a story about a deaf man and his quest through a soundless world to rescue a woman from a masked man. Some people felt it was the worst debut at E3 this year, because its announcement trailer looks bananas.

Producer Kensei Fujinaga didn’t help much when he described the game as follows in an open letter, “Words shape consciousness; indeed, some even say that ‘words are life.’ But what if we were to cast aside such a life? What if somehow, we were able to understand one another through connections formed heart to heart, soul to soul, and could once again look into one another’s eyes and form a bond so pure? This concept lies at the core of The Quiet Man.”

I don’t know what he’s talking about. Fortunately, a recent livestream helped shed some light on the project, but I was curious to know more, so during a Gamescom interview, I asked Fujinaga about The Quiet Man’s combat.

“The big trick for our game is that you don’t get to hear all the dialogue and such, because the protagonist is deaf. The game actually asks for a lot of your patience and you need to pay attention to see what is really going on. Because of the nature of the storytelling, we wanted the playable parts to be very easy to pick up and play. We tried to not introduce any new features or gimmicks to the game. We believe that the playable parts needs to be very clean and cinematic and not too gamelike, so the combat is very easy to pick up; square, square, square, triangle kinds of combos.”

Fujinaga also explained that Man of Action Studios helped develop The Quiet Man’s narrative. Man of Action is an entertainment group founded by a collection of renowned comic book veterans such as Duncan Rouleau, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, and Steven T. Seagle. Together this team has worked on projects like Ben 10, Generator Rex, The Secret Saturdays, and Big Hero 6, so it will be interesting to see what they brought to the table for the Quiet Man.

When I asked Fujinaga to talk more about the main protagonist, he said, “Dane is supposed to be very strong from a narrative point of view, but if we try to keep that drama, the game will not be very challenging. ‘Dane is strong, so he can’t be beaten up by these random thugs.’ So we’ve been trying to capture the right balance of the challenge and the cinema feel. We decided not to use all those HUDs and HP bars and all those meters and such. We decided not to use any of them, but those features are actually pretty much necessary for an action game to work. Getting rid of them was certainly one of the hardest challenges we’ve had.”

The Quiet Man is relentlessly weird, but that weirdness could be a strength if it also comes across as charming, but we won’t be able to judge that until we get to play the game ourselves. The Quiet Man will be available for download for $14.99 on PlayStation 4 and PC. Square remains’ quiet about the release date, which seems a little too on brand.

Right now, Bulletstorm developer People Can Fly is working a brand new shooter project with Square Enix. The studio, independent as of 2015, can work on anything it wants. While People Can Fly hasn’t announced anything officially, those plans could include more Bulletstorm down the road.

We recently sat down with People Can Fly CEO Sebastian Wojciechowski to chat about the company’s history, and one thing that stood out was how impressed Wojciechowski was with Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition’s sales performance. “We felt like it was a good opportunity to bring this title to back then ‘next-gen’ consoles, and kind of see how this game would be accepted by gamers,” he said. “It went really, really well… it is kind of proving that we should do something about this IP going forward.”

People Can Fly fully owns the Bulletstorm series, meaning it is free to do whatever it wants with it down the road. Right now, however, Wojciechowski is quick to point out there’s nothing on the docket yet as the company works on its current triple-A shooter with Square Enix. “It’s more in our heads than anywhere else.”

One thing we can rule out, at least on People Can Fly’s end, is bringing back some of its other series, Painkiller. “We never talk about bringing Painkiller back,” Wojciechowski told me. Since the studio doesn’t own that series, it’d be much more difficult to bring Painkiller back. But even if it were easy, Wojciechowski wouldn’t want to revive it anyway. “We were responsible for the first Painkiller, but then the IP, which was not owned by us, was kind of milked by other developers,” he told me.

After the original Painkiller, each subsequent Painkiller expansion was developed by a different company. THQ Nordic currently holds the rights to the series, having published a remake/sequel to the original Painkiller, Painkiller: Hell and Damnation , in 2013.

At this point, however, Wojciechowski would rather let sleeping dogs lie. “I know some people still remember the game, but sometimes I think it’s good that people remember the game as it was, rather than someone really trying to bring it back and then everyone being like, ‘Aw, we thought it would be something else.’”

Diddy Kong, well-known transforming racecar driver and banana peel enthusiast, is coming to Mario Tennis Aces at the beginning of September. To get him, you need to play a little tennis first.

Donkey Kong’s best friend arrives on September 1, but he won’t simply just be added to the roster. To get access to him, you need to participate in the online tournament starting the same day all the way to the start of the next month on October 1. You can check out a video clip below to see Diddy in action, complete with a jungle vine shot.

If you don’t participate in the tournament, you’ll likely get Diddy later, as was the case with the previous two DLC characters, Koopa Troopa and Blooper. Diddy is expected to be followed by Birdo and Paratroopa, as well. Assuming they work on the same rules as the other characters with online tournaments, Birdo and Paratroopa will likely require subscription to Nintendo’s online service to play early.

Mario Tennis Aces is available for Nintendo Switch. You can find our review of the game here.