Archive for the ‘Nintendo DSi XL’ Category

Nintendo’s TVii on Wii U

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Nintendo TVii

It took a month, but Nintendo finally released TVii for the Wii U. This feature on Nintendo’s new game system turns the Wii U gamepad into a touch-screen remote and smart program guide that incorporates online services into live television for following your favorite shows, movies, and sports teams. I spent some time with TVii, and while it’s not a complete or polished service, I was impressed by how smoothly it organizes your television.

Setup
The TVii setup process is easy and direct, but it can take some time adding all of your favorite content to the system. First, you need to configure the Wii U to work as a remote control for your TV and set-top box. This is a simple process that you can go through in the Settings menu before you turn on TVii. You need to enter your TV and set-top box manufacturers, perform a few tests to make sure the gamepad is using the right remote codes, and you’re ready to go.

TVii then asks you for your ZIP code and cable or satellite provider. This lets the Wii U know what program guides to use to determine when shows are on and what channels are available at what numbers. Because TVii works by using the gamepad as a remote control, it changes channels by manually entering the number for the channel as a remote control code. There is no actual connection between the Wii U and your set-top box besides the remote, and the interactivity is little different from using an iPad remote app and a remote accessory, like the Griffin Remote.

Once your cable or satellite provider is entered, you can start teaching the Wii U your favorite shows, movies, channels, and sports teams. Shows, movies, and channels appear as a short list of popular choices, which you can click on or off to add to your favorites list. You’ll probably spend most of your time at the far end of the scrolling menu, where a magnifying glass on an empty panel sits. This is the search function, and it lets you search for your favorite shows and movies. Most shows and movies appear with their own graphic for easy organization, but there were several mysterious grey panels scattered through my searches that I couldn’t identify without loading. For the majority of shows and movies I looked for, though, the gamepad showed big, colorful panels that identified them clearly.

Channels are also organized by popular choices first, so if you want to set more targeted channels like the Food Network or the Hub you need to manually enter the channel number in the search menu. Be careful to make sure you enter the HD channel number so you get the most out of the feature.

Finally, sports teams can be selected from NFL, NBA, and NCAA basketball and football choices, presumably because these are the active sports in December. We’ll find out if TVii gets baseball teams in the spring. Adding favorite teams is as easy as adding favorite channels and movies, without the search option. Instead, each team is organized alphabetically in each conference.

A New Beginning for Nintendo 3DS: Harvest Moon

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
3DS  header logo
Harvest Moon: A New Beginning 3DS, thumbnail 1

You probably know what makes a great Harvest Moon game by now. Being left to your own devices, with the occasional nudge towards things you might want to check out, is the key to farming heaven.

The latest in the series, A New Beginning for Nintendo 3DS, introduces a huge number of new elements that genuinely add to the base experience, and breathe new life into the age-old franchise.

If only we didn’t have to battle through tortuous hours of awful tutorials and locked content we might have enjoyed it. Unfortunately, any possible enjoyment is dulled by the first dozen hours or so.

Out with the old, in with the new

The basic Harvest Moon outline is still there, and still going strong.

You’re tasked with keeping your family farm in check, looking after the crops and keeping your animals fed and warm. On the side, there’s a town full of people to interact with, potential wives/husbands to woo, and extracurricular activities to get involved in.

Before you can tend to any of this, however, you’re going to have to put up with many, many hours of slow, tedious tutorials, and barely any content at all.

A New Beginning may well have the slowest start to a game that we have ever experienced. For the first several hours, there’s so little to do that you’ll spend most in-game days simply watering your plants, tending to your animals, and then going back to bed at 8am.

R4i 3ds PER NINTENDO 3ds + 8gbonly € 29,90

It’s an absolute nightmare, truth be told. You know that there’s a ton of content ready and waiting for you to dive into, and you can see empty space and pathways all over the place that are ready to be explored.

But until you’ve slogged your way through hours of not very much, it’s all off limits.

Long harvest

If you’re able to snore your way through around a dozen hours of play, things finally start to pick up, and you witness the true potential of the game.

There are tons of customisation options, from the way your character looks to the layout of your farm. There are new animals, new crops, new locations, new Harvest Sprites, and new everything, really.

And chasing your preferred bachelor/bachelor is as fun as it ever was – as is watching the nearby town build up into a bustling area of discovery. This is truly a jam-packed Harvest Moon, with more content that you’ll know what to do with.

But none of this matters if you can’t bring yourself to slog through the first, utterly atrocious section. Why developer Marvelous thought it was a good idea to hide the good stuff behind a wall of shallow, bare repetition is beyond us.

Harvest Moon: A New Beginning is great when it finally gets going. Until that point, however, it’s barely even a game.

Video Games News: Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Halloween Challenge

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Unnerving reports from the front indicate that the Collector reinforcements are more numerous than we feared. At this point, we do not know if our numbers are accurate or if psychological warfare is at work. We need to engage the enemy to assess their true strength.

Halloween Challenge – Complete the three Halloween challenges to earn the Halloween Challenge Banner.

Ghostbuster: Requires 5 extractions on Firebase Ghost or Firebase Ghost Hazard

Zombie Hunter: Requires 7500 points against husks/abominations.

Monster Killer: Requires 10000 points against brutes/scions/praetorians/banshees.

All challenges can be completed on any difficulty.

See also BioWare details Mass Effect 3 Wii U differences

Maingear Gives Gamers Buying Options

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Retail laptops and desktops won’t be the only computers preening around with a fresh new coat of Modern-style paint today. The boutique system builders over at Maingear just dropped us a line to let us know that it, too, will be offering Windows 8 in its lineup of high-end gaming offerings going forward.

One of the big reasons to go to a boutique system builder is their superior hardware and software flexibility compared to the big guys, and Maingear’s keeping that in mind with the jump to the new operating system. The company plans to continue offering Windows 7 as an alternative “for a limited time,” which we take to mean “until Microsoft stops selling it to us.”

M3 + 2gb + Pennino per DS Lite
M3 + 2gb + Pennino per DS Lite

Maingear’s complete line of gaming notebooks now offer Windows 8 as an option, from the diminutive Pulse 11 all the way up to the behemoth Nomad 17. Speedy boot times and a bevy of under-the-hood improvements may entice gaming enthusiasts, but the mouse-unfriendly Modern interface could just as likely drive them back into Windows 7′s aging arms. No matter which operating system you choose, Maingear tosses in lifetime labor and Cellulari DUAL SIM support for its products.

MSI recently announced plans to start shipping its GT60 and GT70 gaming laptops with Windows 8 as well, but didn’t mention any ongoing support for Windows 7. Most manufacturers seem prepared to jump to Windows 8 whole-hog. Boutique builders like Maingear may be the best bet for gamers still hoping to buy a Windows 7 notebook after existing inventories wear thin, though Dell has also said it plans to continue offering Windows 7 as an option on Alienware gaming PCs for as long as possible.

5 Best 3DSWare games on Nintendo eShop

Monday, October 29th, 2012
Nintendo 3dNintendo 3dWhile Sony is pushing forward with an aggressive digital download strategy with the PlayStation Vita at launch, Nintendo has been building up its library on the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS over the last year. On the eShop, 3DS owners can download Virtual Console and DSiWare games from previous iterations of portable Nintendo hardware. However, gamers can also find original titles built specifically for the R4 3ds in mind:

pushmo-level

1. Pushmo

Built by the same developer that worked on franchises like Advance Wars and WarioWare, this inventive three-dimensional puzzle game is easily one of the best 3DS titles on the Nintendo eShop. Using stereoscopic visuals, the player controls a little character named Mallo that pushes and pulls platforms out of a wall in order to climb to the top. The game does an excellent job of walking the player through the initial steps in the early levels and the challenge progressively increases throughout Pushmo’s stages.

While the story behind little Mallo is silly, classic Nintendo fun, the puzzles are the real showcase. Just as addictive as Picross on the original Nintendo DS, solving each puzzle is extremely satisfying and encourages the player to continue. There’s even a custom puzzle creator for the more inventive players and puzzles can be shared with other players via QR codes. It’s also an excellent deal at $6.99 for the amount of time you will spend working through all 250 puzzles. Pushmo requires 144 blocks of space (18 MB) on a 3DS memory card.

Sakura_Samurai2. Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword

Not to be confused with the lackluster Samurai Sword Destiny eShop title, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword is an absolutely beautiful, action sword fighter with plenty of RPG elements tossed in to boot. Complete with a full narrative told in an animated slideshow, a young boy named Sakura Samurai is tasked with battling countless enemies in order to free Princess Cherry Blossom from a dark, powerful force. Spread out over thirty different locations within the game, Sakura Samurai faces off against ninjas, archers and other sword-wielding enemies.

The game is heavily reliant in timed movements in order to dodge incoming attacks and counter with a devastating blow of attacks. As the player progresses through each stage, Sakura Samurai can visit local villages to save the game, purchase upgrades or simply stock up on helpful items. After battling through all boss castles and completing the game for the first time, a harder mode of play is unlocked to encourage another play-through in addition to time-attack and survival modes. Great for fans of action games, Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword is priced at $6.99 and requires 457 blocks of memory (58 MB).

rolling-western3. Dillon’s Rolling Western

Released this week on the Nintendo eShop, Dillon’s Rolling Western is a hybrid of an action title and a Tower Defense game. The player is put in control of a Wild West ranger named Dillon that also happens to be an armadillo. During the day, Dillon rolls around the old west collecting resources for the local town. Back in the village, Dillon is tasked with building up the local livestock (Scrogs), increasing the defensive ability of the fortifications and mounting guns on the towers spread throughout the village. As the day shifts into night, the town is attacked by rock-like creatures called Grock in typical Tower Defense style. While the Grocks are being weakened by offensive weapons on towers, Dillon can also directly damage groups of enemies during attack instances.

Once the attack is completely repelled for the night, Dillon heads to the saloon to upgrade equipment, train on various attack moves and accept quests that will add more cash for village upgrades in the future. This cycle repeats over three full days and the player is awarded a star rating which unlocks more towns as stars are collected. Overall, it’s a fun twist on the Tower Defense genre, but players will need to focus on resource management just as much as the action. With approximately 15 to 20 hours of gameplay,Dillon’s Rolling Western is priced at $9.99 and requires 377 blocks of memory (48 MB).

mutant-mudds4. Mutant Mudds

Paying homage to the 8-bit days of the past, Mutant Mudds is a clever platformer that combines 2D gameplay with a 3D effect made for the R4i 3ds. The player takes control of a pipsqueak kid that’s faced with battling mutant mud monsters with a water cannon in order to save the planet. The 3D element within the game allows the player to leap from the background to the foreground and vica versa. The simplicity of the art style also makes the 3D feature easier on the eyes.

Game length is an issue for Mutant Mudds as the twenty main stages don’t require a significant amount of time to complete. However, diehard platformer fans will spend time searching for all 100 diamonds within each level in order to acquire weapon and jetpack upgrades. These upgrades help the player unlock 20 additional levels hidden within the game, a difficult feat without spending plenty of time carefully working through each level. Recommended for classic platformer fans, Mutant Mudds is priced at $8.99 and requires a scant 134 blocks of memory (17 MB).

mighty-switch-force5. Mighty Switch Force!

One of the largest downloads on the Nintendo eShop at 1617 blocks (214 MB), Mighty Switch Force is a combination of a puzzle game and an action platformer. Spread over sixteen stages, the player takes control of Officer Patricia Wagon during her mission to recapture the five Hooligan Sisters. The developer makes use of the 3DS capabilities by allowing the player to switch blocks between the background and the foreground of the level design. These visual layers often require a good sense of timing to successfully navigate portions of each stage.

The detailed art and advanced visual effects likely contribute to the large file size of the game compared to other eShop releases. While the 16 levels can be completed in just a few hours, the developer attempts to encourage players to replay the game in order to beat a specific time. It does requires a great amount of practice to complete each stage in the target completion time and can be frustrating for novice players. However, this title is the cheapest game on our list at $5.99; a fair price for the amount of gameplay within Mighty Switch Force.

Football Manager 2013 beta has gone live

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Football Manager 2013 beta kicks off

Start playing now if you’ve pre-ordered the upcoming game

The Football Manager 2013 beta has gone live, allowing players to begin their careers two weeks ahead of the game’s official release.

Football Manager 2013 Screenshot The beta is open to fans that have pre-ordered or pre-purchased FM 2013. It features most of the full game’s features, including the new Football Manager Classic mode and the short-term Challenges.It will run until Monday, November 5, with players able to continue their career without interruption in the full game.

Sega has confirmed a global Football Manager 2013 release date of Friday, November 2.

Back in August Sports Interactive boss Miles Jacobson told us how his team is trying to appeal to all tastes with the latest series entry. Read what he had to say in this Football Manager 2013 interview .

N5i DSi - DSI XL - Lite 1.4.2 + Micro sd 4gb

If you’re not in the mood for more reading, the studio has also released a series of Football manager 2013 videos detailing new features and improvements.

Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo 4 console bundle gets $50-off discount

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Halo 4 Limited Edition Xbox 360 also gets $50-off discount

Microsoft’s US ‘Holiday bundle’ sales extends to sexy Halo console

Fans of overpriced consoles covered in special paint will be pleased to know that the Xbox 360 Limited Edition Halo 4 console bundle will be slightly less overpriced than first expected.

Halo 4 Screenshot The $400 bundle, which includes the custom designed 320GB console and two matching controllers, Halo 4 and a code for various downloadable treats for the game, will be included in Microsoft’s recently-announced US Holiday Bundle sale.This means a $50 reduction, for a neat price of $349.99 – a very tempting proposal. The console is available for pre-order now at the special price from participating US retailers (Best Buy, GameStop, Amazon, Target, Toys ‘R Us and Walmart).

R4 SD HC- 2 gb per DS Liteonly € 24,49

For officialdom, here’s a list of the other Holiday Bundles available in US for an unspecified “limited” time:

– 250GB Xbox 360 with Kinect and Dance Central 2, Kinect Sports, and Kinect Adventures and one month of Xbox LIVE Gold for $399.99 USD (ERP)

– 4GB Xbox 360 with Kinect and Kinect Disneyland Adventures and Kinect Adventures and one month of Xbox LIVE Gold for $299.99 USD (ERP)

– 250GB Xbox 360 with two games: Skyrim and Forza 4 Essentials Edition and one month of Xbox LIVE Gold for $299.99 USD (ERP).

Hands On Nintendo Wii U

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Last weekend, the doors of Earl’s Court were opened to a horde of hungry gamers as it played host to Eurogamer Expo. We attended the event and while the R4 3ds presence appeared to be non-existent, Nintendo did bring out the big guns in the form of the portable’s big brother; the Wii U. Naturally, we headed in its direction immediately to get our mitts on the shiny new toy.

The obvious question is “how’s the gamepad?” Fortunately we can report that it’s a real nice bit of kit; while the released pictures make it look a bit flimsy, that thing is real sturdy. The gamepad somehow manages to be extremely comfortable to hold while also feeling like it could take a few knocks. Nintendo have earned a +1 to ergonomics. The screen is also great; it’s really bright and the colours look great, and it was putting out some surprisingly impressive visuals. There are big television sets that can’t put out a picture as good.

Speaking of television sets, the Wii U was putting some nice visuals up on there too: It’s definitely a step up from an XBox 360 or a PS3, but if you’re used to playing on mid-range or higher PCs then you probably won’t be too impressed. The fact that it’s putting out some pretty good visuals on two screens however shows just how powerful the Wii U is.

You probably don’t care about the technical stuff though; what you’re really interested in is the games. We managed to get out hands on the Luigi’s Ghost Mansion segment of NintendoLand, The Wonderful 101, and Pikmin 3.

Luigi’s Ghost Mansion

If Luigi’s Ghost Mansion is any indicator, NintendoLand is going to be a ton of fun. If you haven’t seen any coverage of it yet, here is the basic premise; there are five players, one of which is armed with the GamePad while the other four carry a Wii Remote each. The goal of the GamePad player is to navigate an invisible ghost through the mansion and take out the other players, all of whom are armed with torches to both fight off the ghost and revive their fallen comrades.

While it’s fun to play as part of the torch-bearing team, it’s way more exciting to creep around as the ghost hunting down the group. The game does a good job of making the ghost feel powerful with the advantage of invisibility, though you do become visible if you dash or are hit by a torch. Over on the other side, teamwork is definitely a big part of the game and coming together to outwit your foe is definitely something of a rush. Being the one to track down your foe may also illicit a somewhat smug grin from… some people…

M3 + 2gb + Pennino per DS Lite
M3 + 2gb + Pennino per DS Liteonly € 34,99

The Wonderful 101

The Wonderful 101 is a game based around forming a squad of superheroes who join together (often literally) to punch monsters in the face. The game was a little disappointing as the controls are definitely in need of some tuning; most of the time it didn’t really feel like the GamePad was having much effect on what the large swarm of heroes was doing. The combat in the game also seemed incredibly simple; you just hammer the attack button until you build up enough meter and then unleash your special attacks. It’s also really hard to tell which direction a swarm is facing, resulting in a few punches to the right veering wildly off to the left.

In one segment of the demo, the lead character walks into a building. That’s pretty standard, but the game veers off in two directions here; on the television set, you’re treated to an exterior view of the building where four numbers are displayed and can be altered. Meanwhile on the GamePad screen, the lead character was walking around inside and found a combination of four numbers! After matching the exterior set with the interior, the door was opened and the heroes were able to continue their journey. This was a surprisingly great use of the GamePad, one which will hopefully lead to some great gameplay moments.

Pikmin 3

Pikmin 3 was probably the most impressive Wii U game we were able to play. If you haven’t played a previous game, they are centred around an astronaut who commands are large group of the small vegetable people, the Pikmin. The demo was a pretty simple level in which the astronaut (who appeared to be someone other than Olimar) used his Pikmin to collect fruit and wildlife and send them back to the spaceship. A pretty familiar set up, but this time there is some new additions; The most important of which is the Wii Remote.

The Wii Remote has been used poorly a lot in games like this, but here it feels intuitive. Movement of the astronaut is obviously controlled via the analogue stick on the nunchuck while you aim with the actual remote, using it to throw or call Pikmin. Pointing at the large monsters that roam the level and then smashing them in the face with your friendly Pikmin is a ton of fun. There is also the addition of the Rock Pikmin, used for smashing walls and hitting harder enemies, but this third entry into the series is mostly just more of the same great gameplay from the rest of the series.

Top Gaming’s innovations

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

“Everything is amazing right now–and nobody’s happy.”

It’s the year 2012–it’s the future! There’s a robot with a camcorder on Mars, and our phones get the internet! Cars drive themselves! Even video games have evolved almost beyond recognition–photorealistic graphics, downloadable content, online multiplayer, incredibly immersive experiences–and we who call ourselves “gamers” have more games to choose from than in any other time in history.

But in the words of comedian Louis C.K., “Everything is amazing right now–and nobody’s happy.” Everything we dreamed of when we were kids is now within arms reach, but it’s just not as cool as we expected.

3D gaming

What we expected: 3D has been around for a while in films, so at this point it would basically be perfect, right? Playing games in 3D would give players an unprecedented level of immersion, with things literally jumping out of our screens into our living rooms. 3D glasses would be cheap, comfortable and effective, and every game would support it–hell, maybe we wouldn’t even need glasses at all!

What we got: 3D is supposed to make things more immersive, but in reality it simply puts another barrier between you and your games. Watching plasma bolts fly directly at our faces in the Halo Anniversary edition should instill us with the fear of the Covenant, but instead it just sort of makes us feel nauseous. It’s mainly because instead of things coming out of the screen, 3D usually just makes them look like they’re sitting inside of them. That’s just not what we expected or wanted. And let’s be honest: You’re only going to use those expensive 3D glasses a handful of times before you forget to charge them, and then just stop wearing them altogether. The 3DS is another story–some swear by its glasses-free 3D, but others swear it makes their eyes bleed. Either way you look at it, it’s not perfect, even if games like Super Mario 3D Land and a few others showed that it might, eventually, reach the heights we hoped it would.

Motion controllers

What we expected: Motion controllers would make sports and action games feel more realistic than ever, transforming everyday controllers–in players’ imaginations, at least–into whatever fantastical objects can be displayed on-screen. This would apply to everything from swords and shields to tennis rackets and steering wheels, and the battlefield/court/track would come alive as players’ enthusiastic real-life actions translated directly into the actions of their avatars.

What we got: We were all pretty excited about the Wii–there’s no shame in admitting that–but what we first saw six years wound up to be a lot of smoke and mirrors, and even the upgraded MotionPlus and PlayStation Move controllers haven’t been enough to make up for it. Once everyone realized that you could play Wii Sports tennis by sitting on your butt and flicking your wrist, it was pretty much over for motion controls. And anyone who says they like playing Mario Kart Wii with that plastic wheel is a liar. It can work for swordplay–as in the case of Zelda: Skyward Sword–but those instances are unfortunately few and far between. Personally, we’re glad that Nintendo is going in a different direction with the Wii U.

Gesture controls

What we expected: What could be better than motion controllers? Easy! What if there were no controllers at all? If a complex array of cameras and sensors could detect the very movements of players’ bodies, transforming us into the controllers? Gesture-based or controller-free motion controls would free up players’ hands once and for all and allow them to interact directly with a game’s world–no barriers, no middle-man hardware, just you, a screen, and a million digital faces waiting to be punched.

What we got: Kinect. The first time Microsoft introduced Kinect to the world (at E3 2009, when it was still called Project Natal), it was with a video that showed 1:1 movement tracking, in-game characters speaking players’ names aloud, and a kid scanning in his actual skateboard to use in a game. Obviously, the device didn’t quite deliver on all that. The main mechanics in Kinect Adventures are jumping and ducking in place, and most games that have tried to do anything more complicated with Kinect have bombed (see: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor). Kinect excels at tracking large, easily discerned movements—expressive dance moves in Dance Central, simple hand motions in the trippy Child of Eden, and even dribbling a basketball in NBA Baller Beats. Those games are certainly a blast; they’re just not what we were hoping for.

What we expected: Games would become like Youtube videos or Facebook photos: Log into your account, and you can access them from anywhere. Hard drive fried? R4 3DS stolen? No worries, just log back in and re-download all your games and saves. Progress would never again be lost, and the barriers of physical hardware–as well as physical borders between regions–would be eliminated. Plus, less physical packaging would mean lower game costs, and less harm to the environment.

What we got: Okay, so a lot of that has come true: The Xbox 360 uses cloud saves, most digital games can be transferred to new devices, downloadable titles are often discounted, and Sony is making some real strides with day one digital releases and bundling PS3 games with their Vita versions. But there’s an ugly side to this new digital age. Platforms like Steam and Xbox Live Arcade restrict game purchases to a single account and lock users into a content ecosystem that they’ll likely never escape. Meanwhile, some well-intentioned PC DRM is getting ridiculous, making it impossible to play a single-player game offline. Digital games can sure be convenient, but we’d have preferred not to be treated like criminals to pay for that convenience.

Online multiplayer

What we expected: Gamers would rejoice and join hands, singing songs of their glorious triumphs and coexisting peacefully as a connected global community of like-minded and friendly competitors. There would be no lag, no one would ever quit out of a match before it finished, and everyone would play fair.

What we got: Needless to say, the rise of mainstream online gaming hasn’t exactly gone over like that. It’s virtually impossible not to fall victim to a few hateful slurs or otherwise immature remarks every time we play online. Often online gaming brings out the ugliest side of many gamers, with the rest of us racing to mute as many obnoxious players as possible before a match starts. On the plus side, at least publishers are giving players the tools to build their own clans and teams within games, which can help with weeding out the jerks. And even Nintendo seems to finally be catching up to the online revolution–it appears they might finally be dumping Friend Codes on the Wii U.

Voice commands

What we expected: By now, games–like everything else in day-to-day life–would be controlled almost entirely by voice. “Lights: dim; door: close; Xbox: on!” Such would be the mantra of our everyday routines. Any in-game function that previously required entering a menu or taking thumbs off the joysticks would be accomplished by simple voice commands, and even the most complicated games would carry them out with elegance and accuracy.

What we got: We still can’t turn our systems on with voice controls. We understand why this is the case, but it’s still a bummer. When we wake from our cheeto-comas we don’t want to have to search around for the controller–the Xbox should turn on when we say so! And the games that do bother to include voice controls–Skyrim, Mass Effect 3–do it as a half-functional afterthought. When voice commands work, they’re great (don’t pretend you don’t love shouting “Fus Ro Dah!” when no one’s home), but when they don’t work it makes us feel like idiots shouting at a hunk of plastic. Surprisingly, it’s actually non-game apps like Netflix that have benefitted the most from Kinect’s voice recognition capability.

Virtual reality

What we expected: The plot of the forgotten .Hack games, essentially. The final barriers to full gaming immersion would have been removed, and gamers would be inserted directly into virtual worlds by way of sleek headsets or even more direct means–if not quite at the level of The Matrix (who wants a USB jack in the back of the head?), then at least through devices that tap directly into one’s senses.

What we got: Seventeen years ago, we got Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, one of the most awesome failures ever conceived. Now, there are vibrating chairs and unreleased Vitality Sensors with no realistic applications. Even the most ambitious arcade games haven’t made any real strides toward virtual reality. We expected better by now. The only thing that comes close is the Oculus Rift–the Kickstarter-funded, id-endorsed, head-encompassing display rig that looks like some kind of bulky mind-control contraption. And which, by all accounts, is awesome. Who knows? Maybe it really will happen one day.

Touch screens

What we expected: Physical interfaces would go the way of the Dodo when touch screen technology replaced keyboards and power buttons on everything from phones to fridges. Handheld games would reach new heights as portable systems from Nintendo, Sony, and even Apple eschewed the primitive A/B/L/R layout and gained–through the magic of touch screens–infinite arrays of digital buttons with unlimited potential, unprecedented customizability, and perfect accuracy.

What we got: Touch screens are how millions of people play games today, but the best examples of those controls are in titles with very simple controls. Sure, many iOS shooters play fine on an iPad, but on phones your thumbs can obscure two thirds of the screen. Nintendo proved that more complex touch-controlled DS games like Kirby: Canvas Curse and Picross 3D could be great, but have stepped back from those types of games on the 3DS. Only the larger, non-touch top screen is equipped for 3D, a clear sign the new handheld isn’t as focused on touch. It’s a shame, because touch controls have great potential, which we hope to see fulfilled on the Wii U.

Life improvement games

What we expected: In our digitally connected lives, everything would be a game. Games would teach us to cook, play the drums or do Kung-Fu; even dishwashing and homework would have point systems and leaderboards. Lacking in confidence? Try Oprah’s new therapy game. Addicted to drugs? Dr. Drew can get you clean with 12 challenging steps–across 12 engrossing levels.

What we got: Deepak Chopra’s Leela may be an interesting experiment, but let’s be honest: it’s not focusing anyone’s Chi. And while it might be fun to play, Dance Central doesn’t make players better dancers, and likewise for Guitar Hero, Cooking Mama, and Def Jam Rapstar. They’re fun, but that’s all they are. The exceptions to this may be the exercise games, and though evidence there is anecdotal, it’s not difficult to believe that constantly being mocked by your overweight Mii in Wii Fit is one hell of a motivator. Oh, and we did get pretty good at drums from all that Rock Band.

Self-aware games

What we expected: Game A.I. would be so advanced that computer-controlled enemies would be indistinguishable from human opponents. Games would anticipate players’ movements and actions, and NPCs would react with intelligence and forethought. They’d even talk back, and conversations between players and their games would evolve organically, allowing for ever-changing game worlds in which no two players’ experiences are alike.

What we got: A talking man-fish and a disillusioned balding man with a pet little boy. And we didn’t even really get that last one. Sure, there’s no denying Seaman was fun for what it was (though to this day we’re not really sure how to define that). But Peter Molyneux’s Milo demo wound up as so many others of the famed developer’s projects over the years: only a tease. The thing was never released, and so we’ll never know just how sentient that little kid really was. Now the best that can be hoped for is a Seaman remake on R4i 3ds. Fins crossed?

The future is now

Now that you realize you’re currently living in the future of gaming, how do you feel? Happy with what you’ve got, or wishing it was like you dreamed it would be? Answer in the poll below, and then feel free to explain yourself further in the comments.

Animal Crossing Imagery Aplenty Shows Off Outfits, Houses, Town Decor

Monday, October 8th, 2012

The media blowout continues! Oh Japan, how we envy you! The game’s also got a nifty new website.

Back in the old days, when the eShop was empty and people were still waiting for Ambassador games and the mainstream videogame press was convinced the Nintendo R4i 3DS was dead/dying/should capitulate to smartphones/whatever else was trendy to moan about that week, Animal Crossing media was impossible to find.

Now, thanks to Nintendo’s specialised broadcast and some fine extra footage, Animal Crossing is everywhere! Not that we can play it yet. But adding to this media frenzy is the new Japanese website, chock-full of content; including a small rundown of some of the items you can use, as mayor, to spruce up your town.

STUFF!Look! Balloons! Clocks! Traffic lights! Insiduous Nook propaganda! The Eleventh Doctor’s head! The possibilities are endless!

But that’s not all! Thanks to Nintendo Everything, we’re now practically swimming in Animal Crossing imagery, which shows off houses, clothing and characters aplenty!

Toybox!Playful!

Japanese!Feudal!

Cabin!Loggy!

The houses alone show a staggering amount of variety, all supplemented by Tom Nook’s new vocation as home designer and estate agent. His various bits and pieces will allow you to craft the mayoral manor of your dreams.

But of course, we know he’s far from the only shopkeeper on the block now!

A dedicated garden centre is run by this… delightful… um, thing.

The alpacas, the Nooklings, the terrifying tapir lady, they’re all in the new commercial district to the north of town.

But style is still important to many an Animal Crossing player! Now, you can mix and match things more than ever.

Bobble HatWinter chic! …In a summer scene.

Dandy!The dapper chap! On the beach. Pointing vaguely at something. WHAT IS IT, BOY? SEASHELLS? TREASURE? MARS BARS?

Regal!But why be Mayor when you can be KING?

Community spirit is the heart of Animal Crossing, with the R4 3DS version being no exception. Now you’re running the town, animals will gather around like never before to witness special events or the opening of landmarks you commission.

It was another great turnout for National Look At My Lovely Dress Day.

“…And then she yelled in the megaphone to push me in the river, but I totally ran away!”

It’s a long wait ahead to see Animal Crossing: Jump Out in our territories. But judging by what we’re seeing so far, the wait will be worth it. Until then, our eyes are enviously turned to Japan, the gamers of which get it remarkably soon. Lucky!