Miitomo, Nintendo’s first attempt at a smartphone app after announcing its venture into the mobile world, is shutting down on May 9, according to a post on the company’s website.

The freemium social app was released by Nintendo in March 2016, confounding fans who expected something a bit more traditional after the company stated its intentions to develop smartphone apps. Miitomo had players take Miis and answer Nintendo-made questions from friends, with answers being broadcast within the social circle. 

It was commonly criticized for little practical use and poor optimization, forcing excessive loading screens whenever the app was opened.

While it had ten million downloads, surveys by mid-2016 suggested that only a quarter of users ever opened it more than once. The low engagement numbers are likely why Nintendo is cutting the service off despite the grand ambitions to establish it as a social network in its own right.

 

Our Take
It is not terribly surprising to see the app end, as I never heard anyone even talk about it after its launch window. Nintendo took too long to get room customization into the app and it failed to even be a good avenue for monetization.

It’s the age-old question: What constitutes an RPG? This is something that’s been on my mind lately as the genre continues to grow and moves in different directions. If you ask anyone, their answer will differ depending on what they find important. For some, leveling and customizing your character are essential. For others, narrative and immersion – specifically how you control the will of your hero – are at the top of the list. This also extends to things like choice, whether it’s over the narrative or how you build your character. Wikipedia’s definition is vague almost as a way to encompass everything, stating “the player controls the actions of a character (and/or several party members) immersed in some well-defined world.” 

I love the genre for all of the things above and more. I’ve watched RPGs grow for some time – thankfully, I had a cool grandpa who loved the genre and its D&D inspiration, and in turn, completed my fair share of NES and SNES RPGs with him. I remember just falling in love with the storytelling, the thrill of strategizing, and getting immersed in exploration. Dragon Quest certainly set a template for the turn-based formula, and Nihon Falcom’s action/RPGs (especially with the Ys series) only opened the doors wider. Shin Megami Tensei introduced monster recruitment, which would go on to be the backbone of the Pokémon craze. CRPGs like Fallout and Baldur’s Gate, while very traditional and isometric, provided a massive amount of choice in both gameplay and dialogue. Starting with Morrowind, The Elder Scrolls upped the ambition of rich settings and character customization in a 3D world. And this isn’t even touching on the evolution of MMORPGs, whose influence can be seen all over the genre. 

There has never been one formula – one way to make an RPG. We’ve only seen this become more apparent in recent years. Remember the big step KOTOR took in streamlining RPGs? Mass Effect would only follow, toeing the line between shooter and RPG, with many decrying its shift away from traditional RPG elements. Final Fantasy, a series steeped in tradition, took a stab at a more open world and action combat with XV. Assassin’s Creed: Origins made a leap of faith into action/RPG territory, introducing leveling and quests. Horizon Zero Dawn combines a little of everything: leveling, quests, crafting, character development, and so forth. 

Still, many can’t get away from Horizon’s action-driven combat and stealth takedowns, often classifying it more in the action camp (Let the record show I disagree with that). Similarly, I’ve seen people say the Kingdom Hearts games aren’t RPGs, which I still can’t understand. Yes, there’s a focus on twitch skills, but you also are leveling up and assigning skills of your choice to Sora and friends. Furthermore, we have games merging sports mechanics with RPG progression and storytelling, as we saw just recently in Pyre and Golf Story. It’s not just the indies, either, as recent juggernaut sports games like NBA 2K and MLB: The Show, include modes that put stat building and narrative choice into the equation. 

Change and growth is never a bad thing, and we’re seeing more developers take risks and not so neatly pack their games into one little box. This doesn’t mean the more traditional ways we’ve classified RPGs are going away. Persona 5, which sticks to its turn-based battle system and linear gameplay, earned plenty of acclaim and sales. Even the longest-running JRPG series, Dragon Quest, is on its eleventh entry. CRPGs, which have become more accessible over the years, still have a place for the hardcore with series like Pillars of Eternity and Divinity: Original Sin.

I’m almost certain we will continue to see developers experiment and blend genres. It makes sense. Why not take all the things we enjoy about games and pack them together? Isn’t the goal to make a game fun? This doesn’t mean genres will go away, either. Not only are they valuable from a marketing standpoint, but they’re beneficial in conveying to people what they’re getting. Sometimes it’s splitting hairs trying to decide if one game belongs in the “action,” “adventure,” or “RPG” camp. I’m glad we have flexibility in calling something an “action/RPG” or “strategy/RPG” or even “action/adventure,” but that still doesn’t stop people from arguing minutiae when it lands on one side over the other. 

For me, an RPG has always been about the journey, the role you’re placed in, and having some agency over defining that character. I love watching my hero grow stronger and making choices that complement my playstyle – the power of leveling up at its finest. I’m glad this is a topic for discussion in today’s column because it reinforces that RPGs aren’t just stagnant. This allows us to reexamine how we classify them and why we choose to. We might not all agree on what makes a game fall into one genre versus another, but we can agree that the medium is still evolving. As more games continue to embrace mechanics of the genre, I’m confident that RPGs will continue to thrive. Oh, and that we’ll have plenty of pleasant surprises in the places they go. 

ThreeZero releases video game figures for series collectors. The company previously released the classic duo of a Big Daddy Bouncer and Little Sister from BioShock. Now, ThreeZero is getting its hands on the sequel with figures of Subject Delta and a Little Sister.

Subject Delta stands at 13 inches and has 35 points of articulation. He comes with interchangeable hands, including some that have glowing holes where the Plasmids’ power is emitted. On the other hand, the Little Sister is six inches tall and fully articulated. She has her own ADAM harvesting needle, but if you pre-order the deluxe version for $10 more, you’ll receive a tiny Big Daddy plush doll.

The set will be selling at the base price of $280 and will be available for pre-order starting January 26 at 5 pm. If you’re looking to plunge into buying the figures, you can keep an eye out on ThreeZero’s website. If you’d like to check out some of ThreeZero’s images of the figures, check out the images below or find the full gallery by clicking here.

[Source: ThreeZero via Toyark on Twitter]

Human Head Studios, the developer behind 2006’s Prey, released a pre-alpha trailer for Rune: Ragnarok. The game provides a world-ending twist on a classic franchise.

The new trailer gives us a taste of the various locales and grisly combat as man, beasts, and even the trickster god Loki fight for survival. The original Rune launched in 2000 and it was a hack-and-slash action adventure game that received fairly good reviews. Hopefully, this long-awaited sequel can hold up in today’s climate.

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For more on the return of Rune, check out the announcement trailer.

Crystal Dynamics has assembled its own heroic team of 15 industry veterans to help develop The Avengers Project.

Former Naughty Dog creative director Shaun Escayg is the creative director for Avengers, and Stephen Barry, who worked for 27 years at Visceral Games, is director of production. Escayg was the creative director and wrote Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. At Visceral, Barry was director of product development among other roles, and worked on franchises such as Dead Space. Other new project members, from artists to engineers and animators, come from triple-A studios such as Monolith and Sledgehammer Games, as well as people who worked on Batman: Arkham Origins and Star Wars: Battlefront.

Not many details have been shared about The Avengers Project since last year, but Ron Rosenberg, co-head of studio at Crystal Dynamics, says the game is something that can be played “for years to come” and the studio has made “tremendous progress.”

Check out what we know about The Avengers Project so far here, and see what your fellow readers want from the game here.

[Source: Crystal Dynamics]


Our Take
Naughty Dog? Visceral? Sledgehammer? Oh my. Though we still know little about this game, it takes a mighty team to tackle mighty project, and it seems Crystal Dynamics is appropriately assembling an Avengers-like team for an ambitious title.

The developers behind one of the year’s first big games get together to talk about their inspirations for Monster Hunter: World, how the monsters function as part of the ecosystem, and what the original prototypes looked like.

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Monster Hunter: World releases on January 26 for PS4 and Xbox One. For more info on this monsterous game, check out our coverage hub full of exclusive features and videos.

Ubisoft just release a massive free Extended Ops update for Ghost Recon: Wildlands on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

The most notable addition comes in the form of the PvP mode Extraction, which takes a page from Counter-Strike’s notebook. One team is tasked with defending two hostages that are in different locations while the other team tries to escort one of those hostages to their safe zone. Two maps, Institute and Garage, will launch with the mode’s introduction and more are on the way with forthcoming updates. Watch the action unfold in the newly released trailer below.

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Accessibility is on the minds of Ubisoft with colorblind options being added to the game. Classes, maps, and ranking calculation are receiving minor adjustments as well. You can unlock new Icon costumes, with a set based on character outfits from Rainbow Six: Siege and another collection themed after the Cartel and Unidad from the campaign. You can check out the particulars with the full list of campaign and Ghost War additions and changes by clicking here.

[Source: Ubisoft]

We cover a lot of big, well-known games here at Game Informer. Thanks
to these efforts, you (hopefully) know all about the next big
franchise, or the highly-anticipated new game from that notable indie
developer What about those random games that fly under the radar? The
one among the dozens that release every day on Steam? Or that Xbox One
game with the weird title? This new video series is an attempt to
highlight those games – for better or worse.

We see these type of games all of the time. The game that we look at
and say, “What the heck is that?” This is our chance to play them and
decide, on the spot, if we want to keep playing them, or move on to to
something different.

In episode 18, we we play two pixelated action games with Full Metal Furies from the creators of Rogue Legacy and Iconoclasts, a Metroid-inspired platformer.

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Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 |Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7
Episode 8 | Episode 9
| Episode 10 | Episode 11 | Episode 12 | Episode 13 | Episode 14 | Episode 15 | Episode 16 | Episode 17 | Episode 18

Often regarded as one of the high points for Capcom’s survival-horror franchise, Resident Evil 2 celebrated its 20th anniversary this past weekend. The original title’s director, Hideki Kamiya, took to Twitter to relay his memories about his first time in the director’s chair.

The first take at Resident Evil 2 was canned when development was around 70 percent complete, due to multiple concerns from higher-ups about the story and design, which included concerns from series creator Shinji Mikami. Despite the major misstep, Kamiya tweeted that Mikami placed a surprising amount of faith in him to see the project through before he took on the director’s role with little experience.

Scenario writer Noboru Sugimura also played an influential role in Resident Evil 2’s completion, who encouraged Kamiya and greatly influenced his knowledge of script writing for titles he directed like Viewtiful Joe and Okami.

Other interesting facts include Kamiya having to awkwardly direct Capcom’s first English voice actor sessions overseas after his interpreter called in sick. During that session, Kamiya created Claire’s line, “Chris, I have to find you.” Sugimora didn’t expect this change and had to adjust the script in turn. The tumultuous development took a toll on Kamiya as well, who drank every night and slept in his studio’s meeting room during lunch breaks. All in all though, he expressed that he was thankful for the experience, as it shaped him into the director he is today. You can check out both threads of tweets he posted by clicking here and here.

Resident Evil 2 will be remade by Capcom, which has had no official announcements about development progress for the original title’s anniversary. While the director of the remake is unknown, at least Kamiya believes it’s in good hands. In the meantime, you can check out former editor Tim Turi’s thoughts about what should be done with a Resident Evil 2 remake.

[Source: @PG_kamiya]

 

Our Take
The crunch of game development has been an age-old problem throughout the industry’s history, as fellow writer David Milner recently wrote about in a feature. However, as recent titles like The Last Guardian and Doom have shown us, sometimes failure and arduous work can lead to the most memorable, refined video games. It’s wonderful that Mikami and Sugimora had such faith in Kamiya because it certainly paid off. Here’s hoping the remake will be unveiled soon and advance on what the original title so beloved.

A new 16-plus minute trailer for Kingdom Come: Deliverance shows off the game’s gorgeous world and myriad, deeply realistic facets.

Drawing on real events from 1403 within the Holy Roman Empire, players assume the role of Henry, the son of a village blacksmith. The trailer starts with Henry investigating a camp of bandits with a stealthy approach followed by gritty swordplay. There are no reticles when using archery, so players must rely purely on their eyes. The combat, based on 15th century techniques, relies on hitting one of six strike zones and perfectly timed blocks, the former of which drains stamina. This isn’t Skyrim. You can’t jump into a bandit camp and one-shot everyone, or wipe out a town with fireballs. Kingdom Come’s combat seems to be built around careful planning, intricacy, and realism for intense one-on-one duels.

Depending on your play style, you can increase one of four main stats: strength, agility, vitality, and speech, each of which have individual skill sets that come with perks the more they are used. One segment in the trailer shows Henry stealing a house key from a drunk merchant on a dark night. As Henry approaches the house, he notices a guard dog. Instead of killing it, Henry throws a slab of meat and distracts it. After breaking into the house and silencing a sleeping guard, he proceeds to the merchant’s stash and tries to pick the lock. The situation goes awry, however, when the pick snaps, causing a loud ruckus that alerts others to his criminal activity. After deciding he can’t fight or outrun the guards, Henry surrenders to the authorities using a high speech skill and to salvage the last of his reputation in that town.

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Kingdom Come releases worldwide on February 13 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Until then, read our hands-on preview here.