2013 July

July 31, 2013

Wii U sells 160,000 units worldwide in 3 Months

 

The numbers don’t lie, Nintendo needs to address the Wii U. The struggling Nintendo console sold 160,000 in the past three months. This news coming from Nintendo shedding light on sales figures, puts the company into crunch mode to put out titles for the holiday season. Games Industry International went into the numbers a bit further with the breakdown by region. The States saw 60,000 units, Japan with 90,000 units, and a dismal 10,000 in Europe and Australia. With Pikmin 3 launching here on August 4th, we may see a surge in sales; Pikmin 3 was one of the reasons I bought a Wii U. By the end of the year we will see Platinum Games “The Wonderful 101”, the physical retail copy of “New Super Luigi U”, “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD”, “Super Mario 3D World”, and “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze”. That is the list of titles that we are getting from Nintendo alone, not to mention Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and Call of Duty: Ghost will be on the console this fall as well. The 3DS has a similar predicament, I remember playing nothing but Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition for a few months until The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was released. The 3DS received a price cut, the library received the ample dose of love, and now sells like hotcakes. It will be interesting to see the sales trends over the next couple of months and to see if Nintendo hints at any sign of a price cut. On the upside with the release of the June NPD numbers, Animal Crossing: New Leaf was number in the charts, only out paced by The Last of Us, not shabby for a handheld title. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon were in the top 10 solidifying the 3DS’s hold on the handheld market. Will the system recover? Will it be the new Dreamcast and disappear 2 years after launch? Will it have moderate success like the GameCube and achieve nothing more? Share your thoughts below.

July 30, 2013

Related Media to check out: Sword Art Online

 

What if your life was in the balance if you logged into World of Warcraft or any MMO? What if you put on the Oculus Rift and was not able to remove the headgear with the threat of it ending your life if you didn’t finish the game? This anime begs to ask these questions, in Sword Art Online there is no way to log off; there is no continuing; there is no save feature. Your only way to escape the virtual realm is to fight your way through and finish the one hundred floors in the Aincrad, a giant floating castle. Sword Art Online premiered late last year in Japan, and we received the English dub this past Saturday courtesy of Aniplex and Adult Swim’s Toonami programming block. I must thank my youngest brother for the heads up on this anime, during rounds of Gears of War 3, he mentioned he saw a commercial for the show and was interested. The show will continue on Toonami and the show airs at 2 A.M. EST. Last week I went ahead and watched the Japanese dub on Crunchy Roll and I was hooked. The English dub can be a little cringe worth with the voice acting, but if don’t want to read subtitles, it is still a fine way to watch it. I am trying hard not to just watch the whole series on Crunchy Roll, though I may do that and watch it on Toonami so they get my viewership. Sword Art Online does explore some concepts that should interest gamers. Games simulating a reality, becoming part of the experience, the fear of what someone with the wrong intentions could use our medium for, and the disconnection with real world;  I am really interested to see where this show leads. Below is the English dub trailer for SAO, and hopefully you tune into Toonami on Saturday nights to check it out.

 

July 30, 2013

Games need more dvd Extras

 

I am a big fan of Ninja Theory’s games, though a lot of the gameplay mechanics are not new, they craft beautiful worlds and characters that memorable. I just finished Heavenly Sword for the second time last night, the first time was back in 2008. The game has solid mechanics, though a bit familiar if you have ever played God of War, but there are several things that make this early PlayStation 3 title shine. The facial animations and voice acting is top notch, and still makes more modern games pale in comparison. The world and soundtrack are truly unique, and Nariko is an incredibly strong female protagonist. The game has been out since 2007, so it is not new news and there is little hope for a sequel due to low sales, despite being critically received well. What I do want to focus on is the fantastic “Making of Heavenly Sword” videos you can unlock, and why videos like this have disappeared. Since the widespread acceptance of the DVD/CD/Blu-Ray format, we have been treated to all sorts of “Making of” features, but games been hit or miss with this, while movies have this included with almost every copy. These type of documentaries are normally reserved anymore for special editions of games or are buried on the developers website. Heavenly Swords “Making of” videos dive deep into the conceptual stage, motion capture, the soundtrack, and even focuses on the Foley artist and sound effects. These dive deeper than most I have scene and the interview with the “dramatic director” Andy Serkis (known for Hollywood and Video Game motion capture) is great. 343 Industries did several videos like this for the making of Halo 4, but none were included on the discs that shipped. Why are multi-million dollar projects skipping these? It could be cost; it could be lack of production; it could lack of studio direction as a whole. What ever the reason, I think more studios need to put these type of features in budget and production schedules from the start. Yes, there are those who would just skip over these videos; but there are those of us that love the industry and possibly trying to break into it, and these can be very informative showing off the creative process. I hope these make a triumphant return, and the verge of a new console generation, these could give insight to how these new consoles will change future development. Below is the third episode in the “Making of Heavenly Sword” that focuses on the voice actors and motion capture performances.

 

July 26, 2013

Pre-Rendered Week: Sci-Fi Greatness

 

Some of the best trailers and videos come from the Sci-Fi genre, don’t really know why that is, it just happens. These next three trailers are some of our favorites of this past generation. The Halo series never really jumped on the pre-rendered band wagon, until Halo Wars, a RTS spin off developed by the now defunct Ensemble Studios. Halo 4 picked back up on these, and take them to a unprecedented level, in terms of production values. The “Take earth back” trailer for Mass Effect 3, is by far one of the most dramatic and heartfelt trailers in any medium. I was tortured at work when this game was released because the original cut of this trailer played over and over again, and I couldn’t get my copy until my shift was finished.  Mass Effect and Halo have been this generations Star Wars and Star Trek, two series with great fans and great games. Enjoy!

 

 

Halo Wars

This cut scene is closer to the end of the single player campaign, but is by and far the best scene to come out of this touted console RTS. Halo Wars takes place around 20 years before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo Wars shows the original Spartans in their prime. During the video we see Sergeant Forge taking out the Arbiter, and three Spartans doling out the pain to a wave of Elites. This is one of Joe and I’s favorite videos from this game and you can see why.

 

 

Halo 4

Halo 4 has typical in-engine scenes, but they also went the extra mile and put full pre-rendered intro, outro, and all of the scenes for Spartan Ops. They look fantastic and the intro dives deep into Halo lore and what makes a Spartan a Spartan. Dr. Halsey, the creator of the Spartan program and Cortana, is the one being question by ONI as they search for a way to implement the Spartan 2 program. From the video you can get a sense of why Master Chief (John) is inherently broken emotionally and how the great Sci-Fi novel Ender’s Game is comparable. Enjoy this fantastic opening.

Mass Effect 3

This trailer maybe my favorite trailer of all time, regardless of medium. The Mass Effect trilogy has been a huge success this generation and pushed story telling and continuation in games, to a new level. This trailer is just as devastating as it is hopeful. Seeing the destruction the Reapers caused in a matter of minutes is heart wrenching. The saddest part is watching Shepard pick up the toy where the child and sunflower field use to be. Watching Shepard then take the fight to the reapers is inspiring and seeing the Normandy swoop in brings a sense of hope and unity. There are two versions below, one featuring male Shepard, the other female Shepard. Both version have Ashley standing beside Shepard as they reach Earth. Enjoy one of my favorite trailers ever.

July 26, 2013

Pre-Rendered Week: A Beautiful Brawl

 

As our week continues, I was trying to think of a great Nintendo game to include, and then I remembered the awesome cut scenes in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.We have another Nintendo game on here that I didn’t think was all that bad, but fans of the Metroid series consider it the black sheep in the series, Metroid Other M. To round out the videos, we are going to take a look at the into video to PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Sony’s fine attempt at a mascot brawler. On with the show!

 

Super Smash Brothers Brawl

This video is taken from the Subspace Emissary campaign. This video was close to the end of the campaign and features a valiant battle, with the day being saved by the pink puffball, Kirby. During high school, my friends and I had an all-night Smash Bros. (N64) tournament, and a friend and I debated the importance of Kirby. Well, it may have taken two games and two generations later, but the cute pink character delivered. The video has an awesome show of power (Ganondorf and Bowser) and the take down of the iconic Halberd. Our heroes do escape in their respective ships and poor Olimar’s has a few mechanical issues on the way out. Enjoy what I feel is the best video from that game.

 

 

Metroid Other M

Metroid Other M is a decent game. It has it’s issues, mainly giving out silent heroine a voice that is  nerve grating. The opening video is however, is impressive in giving us a glimpse as a pre-rendered version of the ending to Super Metroid, and it is glorious. There is however, her nerve grating voice at the end of the clip, but it is still a beautiful video. Nintendo doesn’t do a lot of pre-rendered cinematic’s, but when they do, they are well done.

 

PlayStation All-Star Battle Royale

Last year Sony tried their hand at a mascot brawler and we got Battle Royale, a fun, if not, familiar brawler. 20 characters and 4 DLC characters rounded out the roster and it included several Sony mascots as well as characters that call, or called, the PlayStation home. The intro video includes the track “Finale” by Madeon and is a well fit. I still find their character choices interesting, especially the Big Daddy from Bioshock. Bioshock was not a Sony exclusive, nor did start on PlayStation (the original Bioshock was a Xbox 360 and PC exclusive until 2008). People like Dante (Devil May Cry), Heihachi (Tekken), and Raiden (Metal Gear Solid) started on the PlayStation brand and helped bring success to their platforms. Enjoy the fun romp through some of Sony’s history.

 

   

July 24, 2013

Pre-render Madness: Warhammer

On the third day of our pre-rendered cutscenes we need to remember to honor the Emperor of Mankind of course!  Let us not forget about one of our favorite game franchises… Dawn of War.  Dawn of War tells the stories of Space Marines, genetically engineered to perfection super soldiers laden in power armor fighting against heretics and xenos scum!

Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War

Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War II

Warhammer Online : Mark of Chaos

Warhammer Online

Finally and while it’s not a video game cinematic we think it’s important to give some love to the folks over at www.thelordinquisitor.com who are working on a 40 minute Warhammer 40k movie which should hopefully be out in the next two years.  Check them out and FOR THE EMPEROR!

 

July 23, 2013

Pre-Rendered Week: Turn Up the Fantasy

 

On the second day of Pre-Rendered week I am doing a fantasy theme. Two games that I am featuring today I have played and enjoyed, the third is a opening cinematic that I was told to watch and turned out to thoroughly enjoy it. All of these games are a bit different. One real time strategy, the other two are both action RPG’s but one has more accessible combat, while the other goes for deep strategy. So let us head into the cinema and check out the videos.

 

Dragon Age II

Dragon Age II was a bit of an odd duck. It had an interesting story and characters, but repeated levels, simplified combat, and altered art style turned off most fans of the original. I, though being a fan of the original, enjoyed the second installment despite its shortcomings. This video entitled “Destiny” has the main character, Hawke, facing off against Arishok, the military leader of the Qunari. The trailer shows off the more action heavy combat, that there would be a static main character, and the sharper look of the armor. The game may have not been the favorite of many, but this trailer sure does kick it up a notch.

 

 

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

This is a game I got into late, I waited until the Xbox 360 port since my PC was far from capable of handling the title. Geralt is a fantastic protagonist, but is now where to be seen in this opening cinematic. Instead we see the assassination of a king, the prowess of the assassin, and the wonderful magic that fills this world. The trailer shows how the combat must be approached with fineness and planning much like the the assassin’s attack on the ship. The trailer is beautiful and the shattering ice is just fantastic. This trailer alone, made me want to play the game. Unfortunately, I am still playing it due to a busy schedule.

 

 

Might and Magic Heroes VI

I have never played this game, and frankly, never knew existed until the Steam sale. Brad brought up this game, and the awesome trailer that accompanies it, and I must say, I was intrigued. Heroes is an RTS in the long running Might and Magic series that has branched into other genres as well. The music in the trailer is very memorable as is the giant spider lady that attacks the night. RTS games typically have awesome cut scenes that try to emulate what your dozens of units are trying to display. The trailer has done its job and I am sold.

July 22, 2013

Pre-Rendered Week: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

 

Seeing that EVO 2013 has just passed and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is one of the two main events, I thought it proper to include the awesome opening video. The Marvel vs. Capcom series has been a staple in not only the fighting genre, but being the premier cross over title. The pre-rendered video has the same art style as the game, though the music is much more dramatic. There are some dream match-ups going on in the cinematic, and includes some of the new characters featured in Ultimate M vs.C 3. If you are new to the series or don’t recongize the characters I will list them for you below as they appear.

Ryu (Capcom) vs. Nova (Marvel)

Haggar (Capcom) vs. Hulk (Marvel)

Dante (Capcom) vs. Ghost Rider (Marvel)

Morrigan (Capcom) vs. Dr. Strange (Marvel)

Strider (Capcom) vs. Spider-Man (Marvel)

Phoenix Wright (Capcom) vs. Deadpool (Marvel)

Albert Wesker (Capcom) vs. Phoenix (Marvel)

Virgil (Capcom) vs. Wolverine (Marvel)

Galactus makes a very ominous cameo at the end of the video.

 

There is a extended version of this video, including more of the 48 combatants; but the music dips a little in the middle making it less dramatic and you can get lost trying to pick out all the characters. I wish they made statues of these face offs, as I would have bought them all in a heart beat. It’s nice to see a dramatic element to this trailer, because during the frenetic fighting, there really isn’t much outside of competition. Enjoy this dramatic opening to one of the most popular fighting games on the planet right now.

 

July 22, 2013

Welcome to Pre-Rendered Week! Fall of Cybertron Kickoff

 

We are taking this week, to feature some of the unsung heroes of the industry. Pre-rendered cinematic’s play a large role in our industry, either being introductory videos, sizzle reels, they can take the place of in-engine cinematic’s, or are created to show off ideas of what the games intentions are. These videos can be found in game, in T.V. commercials, run as marketing videos at demo kiosks, or shown at conventions and trade shows. This week we want to show off some of our favorites, whether they come from the finished product or as trailers to promote the game in some manner. We are going to start off with two trailers from a more recent title, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. When both of these trailers were released they showed off a good bit of what we could expect as far as characters, the promised inclusion of the Dinobots, and that we would see massive bots such as Bruticus and Metroplex.

 

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

Fall of Cybertron was the sequel to the most well received Transformer video game, War for Cybertron. Fall depicts the desperate struggle of the Autobots trying to flee their dying home world, that has been ravished by war. The Deceptions, led by Megatron, look to reverse their escape attempted, and to have Megatron rule with an iron fist. There are two cinematic’s that accompanied this title. The first below was shown off at Spike T.V.’s Video Game Awards ceremony and the second was show off at E3 2012. With just a combined time of four minutes, both trailers provided what Michael Bay couldn’t do in three movies, topping 9 hours, great cohesive fight scenes, emotion, and what Transformers are about. The first trailer shows a wounded Bumblebee being carried by Optimus. The trailer first highlighted the Dinobots and included Bruticus. The second trailer shows a massive battle and Grimlock facing off against Bruticus. The trailer culminates at the end, introducing the largest Transformer we have ever seen in a game, Metroplex. Hearing Metroplex say “Metroplex heeds the call of the last prime”, sent chills down my spine and solidified my purchase. Being a huge Transformer fan, I would love to see a movie in the vein of these trailers, and skip Michael Bay while were at it. Hope you enjoy my two favorite pre-rendered cinematic’s from Fall of Cybertron.

 

July 18, 2013

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn receives Emmy Nomination

 

We have done it! Something video game related has been nominated for an Emmy! To go along with the Grammy the industry has already won, we now have an Emmy nomination for the Main Title sequence from Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. The industry won a Grammy back in 2010 with “Baba Yetu” from Civilization IV, composed by Christopher Tin. Along side Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, nerd and geek favorite, Game of Thrones is up for several nominations as well. The third season of Game of Thrones is by far my favorite and was incredibly well done and very powerful. We will find out if Forward Unto Dawn wins its nomination on September 22nd. If you have not check out the series yet, please do. It has a couple of ruff acting spots, but for the budget they had, it is simply the best translation of a video game to film out there. You can check out all episodes in two parts at Machinima’s YouTube page, or you can pick up the Blu-Ray or DVD at a local retailer. If you have Netflix, the title is on their as well in its entirety. Hooray for gaming! Hooray for Halo! Hooray for progress! Sorry, that was kind of unprofessional. Congratulations to everyone involved with the making of the series, would love to see a second one.

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