When the Dunphy’s take a trip in an RV in this week’s episode of Modern Family called “Games People Play”, eagle-eyed viewers can spot that Luke has traded in his often-featured Aqua Blue Nintendo 3DS for Nvidia’s upcoming SHIELD. He’s probably not streaming PC games to it in an RV on the road, unfortunately, but it’s an interesting piece of product placement none-the-less. Those of us who aren’t in sitcoms still have to wait until June to get our hands on a SHIELD and find out if Nvidia really does have a winner on its hands or not, but it seems that Luke has made his choice in the portable console war, even if it was probably only due to a corporate deal with Nvidia to promote the system’s portability.
Nvidia released some important details about their upcoming “portable” Android-based console today. With a retail price of $350 and a launch some time in June, Nvidia is positioning SHIELD to compete directly with the less portable OUYA that sports the lower price of $99 but offers quite a bit less raw power. Once their launches hit it will be up to the gaming market to decide which product is more useful, if any. Our team is split between people thinking that OUYA’s portability and hacker-friendly nature will win the day and people that think SHIELD’s ability to stream PC games Wii U Off-TV play-style is its ace in the hole. At $350, though, Nvidia may well be overstepping the price ceiling for portable systems in today’s economic climate. We’ll keep you posted as more details surrounding the launch of these two home-centric Android devices emerge.
E3 media briefing invitations are rolling out making it a bit bittersweet for us as we have to reject them this year due to scheduling conflicts in our press team. We had a blast last year (with a couple of exceptions and the fact that LA is largely horrific) and we do plan to bring you the best coverage we can from home base, but I thought I’d share the unfortunate feeling of having access to these awesome events without the ability to attend. Rest assured that next year we are already planning to bring you the utmost first-hand game conference coverage, but we’ll have to miss out on playing all of the lovely new systems before they hit store shelves this time.
Developer: TT Fusion
Console: Wii U
ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
Progress: Completed up to Chapter 8 out of 15
Since the first Lego Star Wars game came out in 2005 the Lego games have exploded in popularity to the point where they involve some of the industry’s top licenses and have become the sole product of the developer TT Games. The problem with a lot of the Lego series games is that if you don’t have a particular attachment to the specific license each one uses, then you won’t get as much out of the game as someone who is a big Star Wars/Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings/etc. fan. TT Games went ahead and surprised everyone with their first venture on the Wii U making not only an original IP, but also expanding the usually quite confined level structure into a full-out sandbox game. Does Lego City Undercover fall into the snares of its ambitious premise or does it revolutionize the way the world thinks of virtual Legos? Read on to see what dirt we were able to dig up during our time with the game.
Microsoft announced today that May 21st is when we can expect our first official look at the upcoming new Xbox console. Not a lot is currently known about the new system codenamed Durango, but rumour has it it will both include and absolutely require an upgraded version of the Kinect and may need to be constantly connected to the Internet to even do simple things like launching games.
Being the last one out of the gate details-wise gives Microsoft the edge in knowing most of what its competitors will/do offer, but it also means that they have the largest expectations stacked against them. Both Sony and Nintendo have set the bar punishingly high with a novel control method and unprecedented portability on Nintendo’s side and extremely high specs with a great focus on community on Sony’s side. Consumer experience-wise the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live blew the competition out of the water in the current generation, but will they be able to keep this position in the next or will their complacency and thoughts that they can’t fail shoot them back down to last place?
We’ll keep you updated if anything leaks out before-hand and will have all of the juicy details for you once the conference is over.
Nintendo came out with another one of their famous Nintendo Direct presentations today and this one was a bit of a doozy. Lots of new 3DS info with a smattering of Wii U info was released today, so here are the highlights: (Check after the jump for the full video worth 10 Game Usagi Points if you watch it.)
- A new Legend of Zelda game was shown off for the 3DS that is “set in the world of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” meaning that it shares more-or-less the same overworld as A Link to the Past, but features a different storyline and different dungeons. Link also gets a brand-new power this time around – the ability to become two-dimensional and stick to walls to navigate around obstacles. Better yet, the new Zelda is due out in time for Christmas. (You can download a 3D trailer for the game now via the 3DS eShop)
- A new Yoshi’s Island game was also shown for the 3DS, but a launch window was not discussed.
- The upcoming new Mario & Luigi RPG, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team has a launch date of August 11th in North America.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is due out for the 3DS on May 24.
- Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move is due out on May 9th.
- Animal Crossing: New Leaf is due out on June 9 and will also be available in a bundle with a special Animal Crossing 3DS XL for $219.99 that is exclusive to Best Buy in Canada.
- Mario Golf: World Tour will feature full online/local multiplayer and is still due out this summer.
- Zelda Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons will be coming to the 3DS eShop on May 30.
- A new Mario Party game was announced for the 3DS coming this winter.
- The 3DS RPG Bravely Default is being localized for North America and Europe and is due out in 2014.
- The final Professor Layton game, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, is also being localized for a 2014 release.
- Three interesting LEVEL-5 3DS eShop games are also being localized: THE STARSHIP DAMREY, BUGS vs. TANKS!, and ATTACK OF THE FRIDAY MONSTERS! A TOKYO TALE
- Shin Megami Tensei 4 is also heading to North American 3DSs in a big Limited Edition Box Set on July 16th.
- At long last Earthbound is headed for the North American and European Wii U eShops
- New Super Luigi U DLC for NSMBU is still due out this summer.
- The Spring Update for the Wii U is going live next week bringing much faster menu/app load times, the ability to boot right into Wii mode, the ability to automatically install downloaded games/dlc/etc., the ability to transfer game data between two USB drives, the ability to install games in the background while playing other games, the ability to automatically receive game updates, and the ability to download/install games/demos/etc. while the system is turned off (like on the Xbox 360).
- Shortly after the Spring Update the Wii U Virtual Console and Panorama View app will be launched
- Game & Wario is due out for the Wii U on June 23rd
- Pikmin 3 launches on August 4th
Developer: Zen Studios
Publisher: Zen Studios
Console Reviewed: PS3/PS Vita (PSN)
Also Available On: Xbox 360 (XBLA), PC/Mac, iOS, Android
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Progress: Played each board several times on both systems and achieved decent high scores
Zen Pinball 2 and its inexplicably numerous variations on just about every currently available platform is about as ubiquitous as a pinball platform could possibly be. In most of its forms, the core Zen Pinball 2 platform is free with extremely protracted demos of a few available tables included, so you’re expected to purchase packs of pinball tables to get any real gaming experience out of the game. The first three of ten planned Star Wars themed DLC pinball tables for the Zen Pinball 2 suite were launched recently with designs based on Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, the character Boba Fett and the animated TV series The Clone Wars. Is the Force with this first batch of pinball tables or do they belong to the ever-growing dark side of licensed Star Wars video games? Read on to see how we liked our pinball Jedi training.
“What does a desk lamp have to do with gaming?”, you may well ask. I will answer with another question, “Where do you keep your gaming computer?” Chances are that if you have a gaming PC tower it’s going to be on (or under) a desk. Failing that, there should certainly be some part of some room in your home that at least occasionally needs to be illuminated beyond what light occurs there naturally. This is where the NuGreen LED Desk Lamp comes in. We’d been looking for a replacement for the old fashioned bankers lamp that had illuminated our PC gaming desk for quite some time and were intrigued when the NuGreen showed up on our doorstep. Was our time with the NuGreen illuminating or did it leave us in the dark? Read on to find out.