Sick Bricks - collectible, swappable, brick figures game (video)

Another gamer parent, Andy, over at Family Gamer TV has a new video showing what all the fuss is about with Sick Bricks! Check it out.

While Lego Dimensions remains a rumour Sick Bricks was released this month and offers a range of twenty or so collectable irreverent characters made of bricks. You buy these in the toy shop but they unlock the related individuals in the iOS game by simply placing them in front of the camera.


Posted on March 27, 2015 and filed under gamerparent tv.

The Game My Father Played - Ryan Thompson

Today's guest post is from Ryan Thompson, a gamer parent in the D.C. area, and a co-host on the Magic Hour Show.

Christmas of 1991, I got a shiny new Nintendo Entertainment System. The Super Nintendo released the August prior, but I was just six years old and had never played a video game before. To me, this was a brand new experience, and the NES was the best there was. I remember walking into whatever game retailers were in existence then with my grandparents. Upright cardboard boxes were filled with NES cartridges, cheap because they were now old. But in my mind, these games had no release date or shelf-life. They existed for my enjoyment; they were there for me to play.

Sometime that summer, I brought home Super Mario Bros. 3. Its bright yellow artwork and the happy Mario with the raccoon tail invited me to a fun world where Mario was going to FLY LIKE A RACCOON! The shiny new cartridge was put in, no blowing necessary, and I excitedly pressed the power button. The curtains opened and the colorful world of Super Mario 3 was revealed to me.

My father came home from his night shift at a grocery store as I was beginning my adventure to save the princess.  He watched as I played through the first level, figuring out how to use the leaf power-up, running back and forth to build up flying power and probably falling to my death once or twice. To my surprise, he asked to play. I reset the system, and chose 2-player. I let my dad be Mario, because, well he was my dad! I’d be Luigi.

Quite the library of NES games had been built by the time I got Super Mario Bros. 3. My dad had never shown interest in playing any of them before. He would often pick up one from the rental store he thought I’d be interested in, and sometimes would watch as I struggled to beat a Mega Man level, or raced around the tracks in Al Unser, Jr.’s Turbo Racing, but this was the first time he wanted to play one with me. And he wanted to play a lot.

Summer vacation allowed for a lot of game time. As soon as my dad would get home from his shift, The Price is Right would be turned off and the Nintendo turned on. We’d spend hours at a time playing Super Mario Bros. 3. I still have the Nintendo Power Games Atlas he bought for us to use to find all the secrets, to match all the cards in the memory mini-game, and to line up the power-up pieces in the Toad House bonus games. Our favorite world was the Giant World. I don’t think that bright yellow cartridge left the system all summer. And then, it stopped.

As quickly as our father/son gaming began, it ended. He decided he was too addicted to the game and couldn’t play anymore. He decided this for all games. Time has blurred some of my memories, but I don’t think I was ever able to convince Dad to play anything with me again.

My hobbies were always different than the rest of my family. I wasn’t interested in learning how to maintain a muscle-car, or play sports. I wanted to play video games and rock and roll. For a brief few months, my dad and I connected with the mustachioed plumbers. We were united in the goal of breaking blocks, shooting fireballs, and defeating a quirky family of spiked dinosaurs. Now, just as my memory of those months has faded, so has my relationship with my dad

I’m Dad now. A father to two children who are small, but growing more rapidly than I’d prefer. I include them in my hobbies. I read the text of RPGs to my youngest, holding him in one arm while my other clicks a mouse. The oldest, asks for “Mar Kart Aaaaaaaate!,” “Shove-Knight,” and “Pikit” (Pikmin), and I’m happy to oblige, providing an unpowered controller for her use. The day will soon come when the pretend controller no longer works, and I look forward to it.

I can’t help but wonder if we had continued gaming together; maybe my relationship with my father would be different today. Mario would have evolved to co-op Diablo sessions, Warcraft II and III, various MMOs, and would excitedly loop back into the New Mario series on the WiiU. A line of communication might have remained open that has been, for reasons, indefinitely closed. I hope that, whichever hobbies my children end up pursuing, that I can find some way to be a meaningful part of them, even if it means learning some sports-ball.

Ryan Thompson is a musician and gamer by night, a husband and dad all the time, and a co-host of The Magic Hour Show.

Posted on March 24, 2015 and filed under Article.

Some nice press about Monster Hunter 4U

Rich Stanton, for the Guardian:

"The first time you encounter most monsters, they’ll batter you from pillar to post for daring to intrude on their stomping grounds. As you struggle against this you’ll learn their moves, make mental notes of a few tells, and realise you should have brought antidotes, or sonic bombs, or maybe even a different weapon. Soon, imperceptibly at first, the scales begin to tip. Soon it’s you chasing down the monster, tooled-up with the perfect gear and with the kind of experience that only comes from hard-fought victories, relentlessly attacking and dodging every offensive onslaught by reflex.

What you have done is mastered that monster. And then you move on to the next, which you’d better believe is bigger, spikier, and eats five of that first one for breakfast every morning. The point is that mastering a beautifully-crafted AI creature like this is not grinding. Yes, you fight the same monster multiple times, and if you want to make every item possible from a monster’s organic treasure trove you’ll need to fight it a lot. But though your kit may become more tailored, or your armour a little better, the improvement in your hunting ability is almost nothing to do with statistics – it’s about you. This is a skill-based system built around repetition, rather than a series of stat increases built around repetition, and the gulf between these is the difference between hundreds of average action-RPGs and one of the greatest in history."

Read the entire article here.

Posted on March 17, 2015 and filed under News.

New membership service to replace Club Nintendo jointly developed by Nintendo and DeNA

Details about the membership service replacing Club Nintendo were announced today at the briefing by Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. The service will be a product of the partnership between Nintendo and DeNA:

"Nintendo, together with DeNA, will jointly develop a new membership service which encompasses the existing Nintendo 3DS and Wii U systems, the new hardware system with a brand-new concept, NX, and smart devices and PCs, and Nintendo will be the primary party to operate this new membership service. Unlike the Club Nintendo membership service that Nintendo has been operating, the new membership service will include multiple devices and create a connection between Nintendo and each individual consumer regardless of the device the consumer uses. This membership will form one of the core elements of the new Nintendo platform that I just mentioned."

Posted on March 17, 2015 and filed under News.

Nintendo announces work on new console, NX

Amidst its announcement about partnering with mobile games company DeNA, Nintendo also announced that it was working on its next gaming hardware device (platform?) code named NX. More would be shown next year (2016), said Iwata.

"Nintendo has decided to deploy its video game business on smart devices, but it is not because we have lost our passion or vision for the business of dedicated video game systems", he said.

"On the contrary, because now we have decided on how we will make use of smart devices, we have come to hold an even stronger passion and vision for the dedicated video game system business than before."

"As proof that Nintendo maintains strong enthusiasm for the dedicated game system business", Iwata adds, "let me confirm that Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated game platform with a brand new concept under the development codename 'NX'."

While not surprising that Nintendo is working on the next thing, no real details were given, leaving us to speculate rampantly on the internet.

quote via kotaku

Posted on March 17, 2015 and filed under News.

Nintendo and DeNA form alliance

Companies to develop new game apps featuring Nintendo IP for smart devices and a new multi-device membership service

TOKYO, JAPAN - March 17, 2015 - Nintendo Co., Ltd. (Tokyo: 7974) and DeNA Co., Ltd. (Tokyo: 2432) today entered into a business and capital alliance to develop and operate new game apps for smart devices and build a new multi-device membership service for consumers worldwide.

Leveraging the strength of Nintendo's intellectual property (IP) and game development skills in combination with DeNA's world-class expertise in mobile games, both companies will develop and operate new game apps based on Nintendo's IP, including its iconic game characters, for smart devices. The alliance is intended to complement Nintendo's dedicated video game systems business and extend Nintendo's reach into the vast market of smart device users worldwide. Under the alliance, DeNA will also be able to strengthen its gaming business at a global scale by leveraging Nintendo's IP. To ensure the quality of game experience that consumers expect from this alliance of Nintendo and DeNA, only new original games optimized for smart device functionality will be created, rather than porting games created specifically for the Wii U home console or the Nintendo 3DS portable system.

In order to create completely new game experiences for smart devices, all Nintendo IP will be eligible for development and exploration by the alliance. As these consumers enjoy the unique kind of gameplay found only with Nintendo, they will have the opportunity to explore even more premium experiences on Nintendo's dedicated video game platforms. Information on upcoming games and availability will be forthcoming.

Nintendo and DeNA also plan to develop an online membership service that is accessible from smart devices, PC and Nintendo systems, such as the Nintendo 3DS portable system and the Wii U home console. The membership service, which is targeted to launch in the fall of 2015, will be built on DeNA's extensive experience and capabilities in online membership services.

As part of the long-term relationship and commitment by each company, Nintendo and DeNA have also agreed to form a capital alliance. Under the capital alliance, Nintendo will acquire 15,081,000 of DeNA's treasury shares, which corresponds to 10.00 percent of its total outstanding stock, for a total of approximately 22 billion yen. DeNA will simultaneously acquire 1,759,400 of Nintendo's treasury shares, which corresponds to 1.24 percent of its outstanding stock, for a total of approximately 22 billion yen. The payment is due April 2, 2015.

About Nintendo

The worldwide pioneer in the creation of interactive entertainment, Nintendo Co., Ltd., of Kyoto, Japan, manufactures and markets hardware and software for its Wii U™ and Wii™ home consoles, and Nintendo 3DS™ and Nintendo DS™ families of portable systems. Since 1983, when it launched the Nintendo Entertainment System™, Nintendo has sold more than 4.3 billion video games and more than 680 million hardware units globally, including the current-generation Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 3DS XL, as well as the Game Boy™, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi™ and Nintendo DSi XL™, Super NES™, Nintendo 64™, Nintendo GameCube™ and Wii systems. It has also created industry icons that have become well-known, household names such as Mario™, Donkey Kong™, Metroid™, Zelda™ and Pokémon™. A wholly owned subsidiary, Nintendo of America Inc., based in Redmond, Wash., serves as headquarters for Nintendo’s operations in the Western Hemisphere. For more information about Nintendo, please visit the company’s website at http://www.nintendo.com.

About DeNA

DeNA (pronounced “D-N-A”) is a global Internet company that develops and operates a broad range of mobile and online services including games, e-commerce and other diversified offerings. Founded in 1999, DeNA is headquartered in Tokyo with offices and game development studios across the globe. DeNA Co., Ltd. is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (2432). For more information, visit: dena.com

Posted on March 17, 2015 and filed under News.

The Magic Hour Show 01 is live

It's live! The first episode of The Magic Hour Show is live, and you can check it out here, in RSS, and on iTunes (as soon as the Store is back up, it's down as of 10:25AM).  Please remember to leave a rating and review, we do appreciate it.

We'll be recording on most Tuesday nights, and posting on Wednesday.

Give us your feedback on the show! Email us at feedback@themagichourshow.net

 

Posted on March 11, 2015 and filed under News.

Get hype! I'm launching a new show tomorrow!

I'm not usually one to promote myself. Maybe it's my reserved Asian-Canadian nature, or a carry over from the lack of self confidence I had as a teenager. Whatever it is, I'd rather build up others than toot my own horn.

But when you start something new, you have to get out there, be active, and show and tell people what you're doing. And once you've done that, you have to do it again. And again.

So with that in mind, I've got something to talk about.

Tomorrow is the launch of my new project, The Magic Hour Show. It's a weekly audio show hosted by me, about games, kids, and parents, and everything in between. I'll be joined by Ryan Thompson and Mikey Rollins, who are gamer parents just like me.

You'll be able to listen to the show right here at www.themagichourshow.net and also by subscribing on iTunes and RSS.

You can help me by following us on twitter @GPmagichourshow, liking us on Facebook, and subscribing and leaving a review in iTunes.

Thanks for your support, and I hope you enjoy the show!

Posted on March 10, 2015 and filed under News.

Learning From The Masters: Level Design In The Legend Of Zelda - Mike Stout on gamasutra

When going back to replay classic games I played as a kid to mine them for knowledge, I always fear that any games from the NES era or earlier are too old to learn much from.

I tend to assume that many elements of modern design will be missing: no training, bad difficulty ramping, haphazard level design, and so forth. Before writing this article, I was under the impression that many “good design principles” I’ve come to know and love were invented during the SNES era and iterated on from there.

The NES was the Wild West of game development, I thought, lawless and free.

So when I went back on Link’s 25th anniversary to play the first Zelda game and maybe write an article about it, I was a bit gun-shy.

As it turns out, I was totally wrong!
— Mike Stout
Posted on March 9, 2015 and filed under Article.

Free Monster Hunter 4U DLC pack for March released today

Capcom released the first of many free DLC packs for Monster Hunter 4U today, and this one's a doozy. Featuring Link armour and two weapons, the bow and the sword and shield, this Free DLC  includes:

14 new quests;
11 new weapons;
complete armor sets (8 if you count Blademaster AND Gunner) plus the Fan Club pieces;
Palico armor sets;
1 Palico weapon;
Bonus Palico: Calico Red;
Guild Card backgrounds;
Guild Card pose;
Guild Card titles;
1000 Caravan Points

Pretty sweet for a free pack. Capcom has committed to continued free DLC packs releasing on the first Friday of each month.

 

Posted on March 6, 2015 and filed under News.

I stole my daughter's Pink 3DS XL and put a Monster Hunter 4 cover on it

I've been holding on to this cover for a long time (I ordered an accessories pack from Japan when MH4 was out in Sept. 2013)

I've been holding on to this cover for a long time (I ordered an accessories pack from Japan when MH4 was out in Sept. 2013)

I've been playing Monster Hunter 4U pretty steadily since it came out last month, but I've been finding the screen on my original 3DS to be a little on the small side, especially for extended periods of play. Luckily my daughter has a 3DS XL that I can "borrow," so I bought a Circle Pad Pro XL, and put my nifty Monster Hunter 4 plastic cover on it, and voila! A larger version of what I've been using. I love that it's pink. I think a pink Gore Magala is awesome.

Posted on March 2, 2015 and filed under Article.

Ten Years of Monster Hunter with producer Ryozo Tsujimoto

Sure, it seems peaceful *now*...

Sure, it seems peaceful *now*...

GameInformer interviewed series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto about Monster Hunter and his reflections on its tenth year.

Q: Did you ever imagine it would become such a popular franchise? 

A: Those of us on the team often said things like, “We’d like to aim for a million sales,” amongst ourselves, but I honestly didn’t expect it to become such a hit. There were a lot of factors involved, but I think the co-op functionality played a major role for the series to have achieved such success.

Monster Hunter doesn’t portray a savage world, as we wanted anyone to feel welcome to jump in and play. If the game were too over the top and savage in atmosphere, we thought that even the co-op experience could come across as rather bleak. For instance, monsters are not defined as an “absolute enemy” in the game. Both monsters and hunters are together in this world just trying to survive; in this world, you either hunt or become prey. But Monster Hunter is also a world that’s designed in a fair way. It doesn’t matter who shows off the most during a quest. The rewards are distributed equally regardless who played the flashiest. We wanted to make sure that all players cooperate and help each other, and making sure everyone feels rewarded was a big part of that.

You can read the entire interview here.

Posted on February 26, 2015 and filed under News.

Play Impressions: The Legend of Zelda (3DS Virtual Console)

Legend_of_zelda_cover_(with_cartridge)_gold.png

I just finished my play through of "The Legend of Zelda" on the 3DS Virtual Console this month. Before I get to that however, I want to talk about 1987.

I was 14, and going into Grade 11. Yeah, I skipped a couple grades. But keep in mind that back then we had Grade 13 in Ontario, so it's not as braniac as it seems. When The Legend of Zelda released for the NES in August of 1987, I'm not sure I noticed. I was probably too busy in the arcade playing Double Dragon, or listening to U2's Joshua Tree. You might have found me pulling an all-nighter at a friend's house playing Arkanoid on his 386* with an actual paddle controller. Playing D&D, or attempting to learn how to play Squad Leader. To put it bluntly, I was too cool for a Nintendo.

I'll never know how my life would have been changed had I played The Legend of Zelda back then. But I missed it, and ever since, Zelda has been one of those gaming touchstones that I never got around to playing.

When we got our Wii and Skyward Sword came out, I dutifully purchased and played through about a third of it. Anxious to see what all the fuss was about. It was fun, sure, and as engaging in its puzzling as it was frustrating in its motion controlled combat.

But a part of me didn't really 'get' Zelda. What is it about this story that is so compelling to so many people?

I am unable to project my 14 year old self into my current psyche. I can't do it. I had to look up what major world events happened in 1987. I remember isolated slices of experience, a life lived with my friends, my group of music/video game/D&D geeks.

So when I finally played The Legend of Zelda on my 3DS this past week, it was experienced through the eyes of a 41 year old husband and father of two. Here are my thoughts.

First, without any sort of guide or map, the game is seemingly aimless. Screen after screen of woods, beaches, rocky deserts. Creatures that come at you, and attack you. Oh, you can throw your sword at them, that's cool, until you can't. What? How come I can't throw my sword any more? Oh look, a heart! Hey, I can throw my sword again!

I became quickly frustrated. Not knowing where to go, or what to do. "Come on now, you played Dark Souls, you liked it, you should be able to figure this out," I said to myself. So I set about the task of playing through the entirety of the game.

Right off the bat I want to say that I consulted a walkthrough. Having heard that there are many hidden rooms and areas in the game, I didn't feel like walking around randomly bombing every section of wall or setting fire to every bush. So I used a guide.

I progressed through the game, learning that my health, my weapons, and my defences could be upgraded by acquiring new items. Using a guide really helped me go through the game in a logical manner, taking away what some might say is the game's unique open world design. Rather than stumbling across a dungeon that's much too hard and getting my ass kicked, I took the dungeons in a progressive order, starting with the easiest.

Second, the game reminded me of Dark Souls. When you die, you start back at the starting screen, with your items intact but your health reduced. I got so used to running through certain areas that I knew how the enemies were going to come at me before I got there. When I cleared an area of enemies, running back through them again was like running through an empty Undead Burg.

Also, when you die (which I did, quite often, at the beginning before getting more hearts) you start back at the first area again, but with reduced health. I was glad to find out that I didn't lose any of my weapons or equipment that I'd picked up along the way. And I did die, often as not because I was facing the wrong way when trying to attack, or because I'd been surrounded by a room full of enemies.

One interesting mechanic is that if you are at full health, you can throw your sword as a projectile, but if you take any damage at all, you lose that ability and the sword can only stab adjacent spots. Also interesting is that each arrow fired costs one rupee. I didn't realize this until suddenly I couldn't fire my arrows anymore, and I discovered that all my money had disappeared somehow. So I learned to conserve arrows, and I tried my best not to get hit, and stay at full health.

Third, this map is freaking huge. In my play through, which took under 7 hours, I'm not sure that I actually went to every area in the map. The graphics do a reasonable job of depicting different areas, with clever use of colour and patterns. I was genuinely shocked when I saw boulders crashing down from the mountainside. Dungeons had rooms that were pitch black, requiring you to light them up with your candle.

Secret areas abound, and without my walkthrough, or unlimited patience, I would never have found them all. Most are simply found through trial and error, but there are a few secrets which could be deduced by looking at the level design for things that just seemed subtly out of place. A bush that is on its own, or a pool of water that's not like the others. I felt that those were cleverly done, but the random caves in walls? Hard to find unless you know where to look.

Finally, playing the game on 3DS Virtual Console meant that I had the ability to save anywhere, which really helped against the tougher boss battles. Virtual Console only allows one save, but one is better than none. I got into the RPG habit of saving before going through the next door, or into the next dungeon, or after a particularly difficult room. Without that I think the game would have been much more frustrating for me. Definitely a plus to play it with save states.

I admit that my way of playing through the game is kind of cheat-y, and maybe ruins some of the wonder of exploring and solving a game like Zelda on your own. But I knew that if I didn't finish it before Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate came I wouldn't get back to it for a long time. So I hurried things up a little, with a little assistance.

It's certainly not my proudest gaming achievement, but at least now I can say the following things, and they will be true: I played the first Zelda game, and I finished a Zelda game.

*A 386 refers to the Intel 80386 CPU used in PC's of the time.

For more interesting Zelda analysis, here is a fascinating look at the translation and localization of the Legend of Zelda Manuals.

Posted on February 25, 2015 and filed under Article.

Nintendo President in Q & A: talks amiibo, company structure, entertainment

After the recent Third Quarter Financial Results Briefing for Investors, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata took time to answer some questions. Among the many issues discussed, there were some interesting highlights. You can read the entire Q & A here.

On amiibo:

We will continually propose different play styles that take advantage of amiibo. But first and foremost, we understand that we have to change the current situation where many people are still wondering what they can do with amiibo. We will persist until consumers understand that they just need to tap the amiibo figure and something will happen, and will excitedly try it with a variety of software. If we can achieve this, amiibo will become a precious possession for our consumers, so we definitely want to bring it to fruition, but in doing so we also understand that it will take some time.
— Satoru Iwata

On hardware development:

Currently Nintendo has four development divisions and one of them is for hardware development. Years ago, there were two different hardware divisions - one for handheld devices and one for home consoles, with few personnel interactions. In fact, we had to use completely different technologies for handheld and home console development at that time. Technologies that were suitable for handheld devices or home consoles had nearly nothing in common, so it was reasonable to divide hardware development into two divisions. However, with recent technological advances, technologies for both systems are becoming more similar. Also, just because they are home consoles does not mean today that they can consume as much electricity as they possibly can. In fact, we have already been proactively working to reduce the consumption of electricity since the Wii era. Furthermore, the Wii U GamePad has a large screen, a battery pack, control inputs and wireless modules inside, so in technological terms, it required very similar know-how to that required for developing a handheld device. Based on such experiences, we had been working toward consolidating the two divisions for a while and started the process two years ago.
— Satoru Iwata

On the future of entertainment:

How can we leverage our ability to create something brand new by creating both hardware and software, which we are also good at? What will be the new course that we can take by using our strengths? By repeatedly asking these questions, we started to review the possibilities and concluded that we should first make a proposal related to “health” and the theme of “sleep” and “fatigue” because we would be able to capitalize on our strengths. Let me assure you that Nintendo is not trying to distance itself from video games. We have never ever lost our passion for video games and will continue to make them. On the other hand, if people inside the company think that Nintendo is a company which cannot make anything other than video games, and believe that video game controllers remain a certain way because that is the way they have been for 30 years, video games should be created in a certain way or video games must start with a tutorial, end in a particular way and have a lot of hard-at-work elements in between, a high mental wall would stand in front of us when we tried to create a brand new video game genre with which many people would be amazed or when we try to create an unprecedented user interface that pleasantly surprises people. I have been constantly asking myself whether being bound by such ideas really does us any good when we are actually required to think out of the box and have a broader perspective, so we have redefined our definition of entertainment as “things which improve people’s QOL in enjoyable ways” and encouraged our developers to take on this challenge.
— Satoru Iwata
Posted on February 25, 2015 and filed under News.