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Pokémon Shuffle Mobile coming to iOS and Android devices, mobile match-3 goodness later this year

5 comments Maxfield Navarro - 1:04pm (PST) Like Share

For Pokémon fans looking to move from matching candies to matching faces

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Pokémon Shuffle, one of Nintendo's first ventures into the free-to-play gaming realm, is coming to iOS and Android devices under the title Pokémon Shuffle Mobile later this year. The original Pokémon Shuffle was originally released on the Nintendo 3DS eShop in February of this year and has proved rather popular since, getting over a million downloads worldwide in the few weeks after its launch. By mixing traditional match-3 elements with fundamental features of the Pokémon series like mega evolution and type advantages, Nintendo's made what's likely one of the most addicting titles to hit handhelds in years.

The most important thing about Pokémon Shuffle Mobile is that it is free-to-play and it is meant for pick-up-and-go gamers. In each game players are given a limited number of moves used to mix and match cute Pokémon faces -- provided the Pokémon has been collected by the player -- to attack the enemy with. Matching more than three icons gives the attack more power. Pokémon's famous 17-type classification system of course comes into play in the title, allowing players to develop strategies instead of rushing headfirst into battle with any creatures that have been collected.

On the Nintendo 3DS games played were limited and could be refilled through StreetPass interactions, jewels that are obtained rarely through in-game deeds, microtransactions, or simply waiting thirty minutes. Android and iOS players will assumedly only be able to refill through the latter two or three methods, similar to other titles of the free-to-play genre such as Candy Crush, but Nintendo is new to the medium so anything could happen.

With titles such as the original Shuffle and Pokémon Rumble World on the Nintendo 3DS, the gaming giant seems to be taking quite a few progressive steps towards the mobile market and Shuffle is arguably the biggest one of them all. Provided that everything goes as well as the free-to-play expeditions on the handheld, introducing Pokémon Shuffle Mobile to a generation of gamers looking for quick entertainment might be just the first push towards creating a serious mobile gaming library full of Nintendo series and characters. It's the perfect game to play on the car ride to the grocery store or while waiting for dinner at a take-out restaurant.

Though Pokémon Shuffle Mobile is not yet available, interested gamers will be able to download it for free starting later this year on Google Play for Android devices and the iTunes App Store for iOS devices.

 

 
 

Apple removing iOS Civil War games for depicting the Confederate Flag

21 comments Rory Young - 1:03pm (PST) Like Share

The iOS storefront yet again shows it's not a safe place for video games

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In today's chapter of "Video Games: Is it Censorship?" I believe we can add another page in the, "Yes, it's Censorship" part of the book. Apple has gone on a banning rampage in their own iOS storefront, removing every game which depicts the confederate flag. This includes titles such as strategy game Ultimate General: Gettysburg and a series of Civil War strategy games made by Hunted Cow. The only similarity between the titles appears to be that they include the confederate flag as an asset within their game files.

The statement that Apple has apparently been sending to developers who have had their art pulled from the store gives only a bit of reasoning for the action:

"...because it includes images of the confederate flag used in offensive and mean-spirited ways."

The flag has long been an object of political controversy in the United States, but has recently been pulled back into the spotlight after a racially motivated public shooting occurred in the state of South Carolina resulting in nine murders at a Charleston church. The state's leadership has come under fire for running the confederate flag at the state capitol, a symbol rooted in racist history going back to the times of slavery and a symbol the South Carolina shooter used to justify his hate crimes. The South Carolina governor has taken down the flag as the controversy has spread across the nation, starting a conversation regarding the meaning of the flag to those who continue to fly it. It still runs in front of many government buildings in the United States.

Apple has apparently decided that this controversy is worth dealing with within its own App Store, dealt with by removing games featuring the confederate flag in any way from their storefront. Video games remain a federally protected art form, but as far as Apple's storefront goes they are well within their rights to remove any product they want to. Still, this amounts to suppressing art based off of content found distasteful within them. That is to say, it is the very definition of censorship. 

The question of whether this is the right thing for Apple to do or not is another question entirely, but let no one call this anything but censorship. At least some of the games pulled from the storefront went lengths to portray an accurate historical context for their content, but this seems to have no meaning to Apple in their effort to remove all instances of the confederate flag. Apple is well known for removing any sort of "distasteful" games from their storefront in the past, including games approaching any sort of sexual content or excessive violence. Censorship is something they are well versed in, for better or worse. It's unlikely these games will be allowed back on the storefront.

Touch Arcade has received a statement from the developer of of Ultimate General: Gettysburg which I believe accurately and maturely summarizes the situation:

"We accept Apple's decision and understand that this is a sensitive issue for the American Nation. We wanted our game to be the most accurate, historical, playable reference of the Battle of Gettysburg. All historical commanders, unit composition and weaponry, key geographical locations to the smallest streams or farms are recreated in our game's battlefield.

We receive a lot of letters of gratitude from American teachers who use our game in history curriculum to let kids experience one of the most important battles in American history from the Commander's perspective.
Spielberg’s "Schindler's List" did not try to amend his movie to look more comfortable. The historical "Gettysburg" movie (1993) is still on iTunes. We believe that all historical art forms: books, movies, or games such as ours, help to learn and understand history, depicting events as they were. True stories are more important to us than money.

Therefore we are not going to amend the game's content and Ultimate General: Gettysburg will no longer be available on AppStore. We really hope that Apple’s decision will achieve the desired results. We can’t change history, but we can change the future."

Simply put, the iOS is not a safe place for art and so is not a safe place for video games. Hopefully more developers become aware of this as a result of today's events.

Join in the ongoing discussion for this topic within the Neoseeker community, care of @Shilz.

Categories: Mobile Games
 
 

E3 2015: Every publisher needs a F2P card game and The Elder Scrolls: Legends is Bethesda's

4 comments Rory Young - 11:57pm (PST) Like Share

The only Elder Scroll character I remember the name of is fus-ro-dah

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The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a free-to-play strategy card game. That's it! That's practically everything that Bethesda has said about their card game, which they announced during their first annual E3 press conference. There are a few more loose details, like that The Elder Scrolls: Legends is targeting a launch later this year, but aren't clear on whether that will be a Closed Beta or a full launch. As for platforms, the card game is planned for release on both PC and iPad. Yes, Bethesda specifically says iPad and not iOS or Android. Take that for what you will.

There's very little else to say about The Elder Scrolls: Legends. Bethesda says the game will, "bring together the rich lore and exciting worlds," in The Elder Scrolls, but all I think that means is that we'll see content torn from all previous Elder Scrolls titles. It'll be cool to see some modern references to games like Arena and Daggerfall, not to mention Morrowind and Oblivion. I'm not sure if The Elder Scrolls titles have as many of those iconic characters as, say, Warcraft does, but maybe I just need to see the cards and it'll all come back to me.

The more I think about it, the more it seems like Bethesda is trying to recreate the success that Blizzard has found in several different spaces. They also announced a new online service named Bethesda Net that will serve as a hub for all of their games. Sound familiar? The connection that I made was that it seems very much like Blizzard's Battle.net. Then, add in a free-to-play strategy card game to boot and Bethesda is very clearly trying to compete directly with these guys on PC. Should we go further? Free-to-lay Shooter: Overwatch vs. BattleCry. MMO: World of Warcraft vs. The Elder Scrolls Online. Bethesda is able to clearly demonstrate their console domination, but PC is another matter. Interesting to think about, though. Hopefully they don't make a MOBA next.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends is planned for release on PC and iOS, perhaps in Closed Beta, later this year. Hopefully we'll hear more about it in the months to come, but if they didn't talk about it more during their E3 press conference then it may be that they just don't have much else to show for it just yet. These things take time.

Categories: PC Games E3 Mobile Games
 
 

E3 2015: Fallout Shelter, mobile vault simulator, announced and available now on iOS

17 comments Rory Young - 11:29pm (PST) Like Share

Excuse me, Bethesda, but I had work to do this week

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I was planning on working for the rest of this E3, but now that Bethesda has announced and released their iOS game Fallout Shelter I think we can all agree that work comes secondary. Seriously, Bethesda Softworks' Todd Howard comes on-stage to talk about Fallout 4 like we're all expecting, and then he goes and reveals this awesome Pip-Boy Edition collector's thing as well as this Fallout Shelter must-have mobile game. Just who does he think he is? Making me do all of these things I wasn't prepared to do this morning. I like him.

Fallout Shelter is a 2D vault simulator; it's as simple as that. Once you've downloaded the app, you're become a vault overseer and expanding your shelter buried deep beneath a mountain. You do this by building room after room, each different and useful in a number of different ways. Then you fill those rooms with wasteland survivors, each of them also different and useful in a number of different ways. See, these survivors each have their own statistics which make them proficient for different jobs, including going out into the the wastes for supplies for the vault. You can even play Cupid and have two of your vault survivors mate, because you can do that when you're the overseer.

Todd Howard says the app is available right now on iOS devices, with Bethesda's Pete Hines' Twitter account saying that Android versions of the game will be coming later this year. The app is free to download and while it does have microtransactions, Todd says that it's intended to be played without having to pay a dime. It's inspired by several other incredible games like XCOMFTL and others. Apparently Bethesda just made this thing, I dunno, while they were getting coffee in between making Fallout 4 -- one of the biggest looking games I've ever seen. What's up this this studio, man?

I haven't been able to download and try the game yet, but I have a hard time believing it's not at least a little bit frustrating to play without putting money into microtransactions. Todd can say it's not that kind of game, but even Bethesda has to turn a profit on the things it puts out. Then again, maybe it's just Bethesda's way of making sure the Fallout hype carries on throughout E3 and in the months ahead. Maybe Todd means it when he says it doesn't have the usual mobile BS. I guess we'll find out.

Fallout Shelter is downloadable right now on iOS devices with iOS7 or later. It's optimized for iOS 6, 6+ and iPad Air 2 specifically, though, which makes it sound rather intensive. And as said earlier, Bethesda is working on Android and will hopefully have an update for us soon. Fallout 4, meanwhile, will be coming out on November 10 later this year. 



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Categories: E3 Mobile Games
 
 

The Queenpin hunts, Tales from the Borderlands - Ep. 3: Catch a Ride parks on June 23

2 comments Rory Young - 8:51am (PST) Like Share

Three months between episodes is better than four, at least

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Telltale in fine form leading into E3, as they always are. With the latest Game of Thrones episode out and being devoured by the masses, the adventure game developer turns back to its other ongoing series, Tales From the Borderlands. Last we checked in with both Rhys and Fiona they were both in relatively deep s***. I think we can expect that, being Borderlands, it only gets thicker from here. Episode 3: Catch a Ride is now announced for release on June 23, or at least the week of June 23. Telltale's mum on details regarding the episode so far, but we do have some screenshots.

For those looking for a quick reminder on what's been going on in Tales From the Borderlands, it has been three months after all, here's Telltale's brief summary of Catch a Ride:

"After a dizzying escape from a very-near-almost-certain-death scenario (involving statuesque buttocks), Rhys and Fiona find themselves looking for another piece of the puzzle that will lead them to the untold riches of Vault key ownership. Lost in the mysterious jungle of an Atlas terraforming facility, Fiona finds help from an unexpected mentor, Rhys continues to share brain-space with the disembodied mind of a dead dictator, and love is in the air. Pursued by the ruthless criminal 'Queenpin' Vallory, and with very little help from Vaughn's accountancy skills (or stellar abs), getting anywhere near the Vault will be entirely up to you. "

Oh, those crazy kids and their wacky hijinx. What will they get up to next?

I've got to admit I'm a little worried about Tales From the Borderlands release schedule up to this point. Three months isn't exactly a prompt release schedule for each episode, after all. Plus, with Telltale planning an announcement for what's likely to be some standalone The Walking Dead DLC and Minecraft: Story Mode to likely be revealed in the months ahead, Telltale's only going to get busier. And if the rumors are true that something Borderlands may be announced at E3 this year, where will this small adventure game fall in the grand scheme of things? Ah well, I guess it's the nature of adventure games to make things more complicated then they rightly should be.

As ever, Telltale games don't hit all platforms on the same day. June 23 will likely be the release date for PlayStation platforms and PC, Xbox platforms the next day and then mobile devices later in the weeks. Nevertheless are release date for Tales From the Borderlands - Episode 3: Catch a Ride at all is something to celebrate! There's even a two week heads up for this release too. Usually we end up being told about the release date the week before, with screenshots, trailers and other details being put out every day to try and build some hype before the episode launches. This time, I get to relax a bit. Oh wait, E3. Right. Well, thanks for not announcing it during E3, Telltale.



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Game of Thrones - Episode 4: Sons of Winter available May 26, with great risk comes great reward

0 comments Rory Young - 2:04pm (PST) Like Share

This is when everything goes all to hell, isn't it?

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After a lengthy wait, which I suppose is the status quo for Telltale these days, Game of Thrones -- Episode 4: Sons of Winter now has a release date. Pick up the fourth of six episodes starting on May 26, or over the next few days depending on your platform. Conflict is coming to a head for House Forrestor's inheritors and it seems like Episode 4 will see many of our protagonists committing themselves to large events decisions which will either end in their ruin or glory. Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen don't mess around, especially when the Wall and dragons are concerned.

In Episode 4, Rodrik will struggle to free Ironrath, Gared ventures beyond the wall, Mira is near drowning in the game of thrones, while Asher takes orders from Daenerys herself. No one is safe, but inaction is deadlier than the risks they face otherwise. And hey, Telltale doesn't tease or imply any sort of nudity or sexual controversy at all, which puts them a grade or fifty above their television show licensee

It seemed like there for a while Telltale was trying to speed up its process to get Game of Thrones out faster to players. After a two month span between the first and second episode, the third was closer to a month and a half. Yet here we are again seeing Telltale pushing Episode 4 back to two months post-Episode 3 -- from March 24 to May 26. It sucks, really, because while Telltale's quality writing and narrative structure continues to deliver, it's so difficult to maintain hype for any of their individual series when they can't put out chapters monthly. Hell, monthly is even slow than I'd want if I could get my way. But two months? Maybe Telltale will reach a point of comfort eventually where they can finish a game before starting to release episodes, so they might hammer out a schedule of their own choosing.

As with all Game of Thrones episodes, due largely to their digital nature and how quickly Telltale pushes them live after finishing them, not all platforms will get Episode 4 on the same day. It will arrive on PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3 on May 26. Xbox One and Xbox 360 will pick it up on May 27, with iOS and Android cleaning up on May 28.



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Nintendo's mobile focus to avoid games designed for a 'limited number of generous consumers'

26 comments Rory Young - 3:16pm (PST) Like (1) Share

Let's see him put his money where his mouth is

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Nintendo's sudden and surprising willingness to move into the mobile market continues to leave many scratching their heads, wondering just how Nintendo is planning to enter the market. Today Nintendo's president, Satoru Iwata, addressed some concerns on the topic. Though whether his answers will sate some worries or ignite others is unclear. The topic of choice was the growing methodology in Japan for mobile games to target "whales," a minority of players willing to spend extravagantly on free-to-play titles. Iwata, quite straight forwardly, responded that Nintendo has no plans imitate this strategy.

Iwata makes clear that Nintendo's goal is to "entertain hundreds of millions of consumers all around the world" which he indirectly makes clear is at odds with the whale hunting strategy:

"As we at Nintendo aim to reach all consumers around the world, we have no intention to analyze and follow successful examples in the Japanese smart device market. My understanding of how to succeed in the Japanese market now is to find a limited number of generous consumers who are willing to spend a lot and analyze what encourages them to spend. However, if we did that, I don't think that we would be able to entertain hundreds of millions of consumers all around the world or to produce large and long-lasting achievements."

It's especially striking that Iwata makes clear that Nintendo recognizes that this whale hunting strategy is successful, especially in the Japanese market. Recognizing the success of this strategy and then rejecting it, I think, shows that Nintendo both disapproves of it fundamentally and also that they think their strategy will be just as if not more successful. Considering how rare this perspective seems to be in the ever-growing mobile market, I think it's fair to say that Iwata's statement and Nintendo's goals are rather brave. Now they just have to put their money where their mouths are.

Considering that both Konami and Square Enix, among several other major Japanese developers, have uniformly rejected Iwata's methodology in favor of increasing their investment into these whale hunting mobile titles, Nintendo's pioneering attitude has the potential to cause quite the stir. Yet what exactly Nintendo's methodology means in terms of game playability remains to be seen. Still, any trend away from whale hunting back towards more traditional gaming experiences in the mobile market is one to cheer for.

Nintendo is planning on releasing their first mobile title by the end of 2015, with plans to increase production throughout 2016.

Categories: Mobile Games
 
 

Konami officially shifting focus from consoles to mobile gaming

114 comments Andy Lau - 10:59am (PST) Like Share

The company sees mobile as the "future of gaming"

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Konami has dropped home consoles as its main focus in favor of mobile devices. While console revenue continues to decline for the Japanese developer, Konami president Hideki Hayakawa believes there plenty of opportunities in the mobile sector.

The Metal Gear publisher sees smart devices as its primary platform moving forward. In an interview with Nikkei Trendy Net, translated by a user on NeoGAF, Hayakawa detailed the company's huge shift.

"Gaming has spread to a number of platforms, but at the end of the day, the platform that is always closest to us, is mobile. Mobile is where the future of gaming lies. We hope that our overseas games such as Metal Gear Solid V and Winning Eleven continue to do well, but we are always thinking about how to push our franchises onto mobile there too. With multiplatform games, there's really no point in dividing the market into categories anymore. Mobiles will take on the new role of linking the general public to the gaming world."

The announcement follows weeks of significant changes within Konami. The company had recently cancelled Silent Hills, a highly-anticipated collaboration with film director Guillermo del Toro. Veteran game designer Hideo Kojima, who previously created Konami's long-running Metal Gear series, is expected to depart from the company.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the only global console release scheduled this year for Konami. Compare that to 2012, where the company released six new titles, not including two HD collections of Silent Hill and Zone of the Enders. Konami Digital Entertainment saw a seven percent decline in revenue last year. Meanwhile, its mobile titles like Power Pro and Winning Eleven are thriving.

Mobile gaming has an enormous market around the world, but especially in Japan where it has outgrossed console games by a large margin. Japanese-developed mobile titles like like Monster Strike and Puzzle & Dragons each generate an estimated $3-4 million in daily revenue. Even Nintendo, which previously had a stance of avoiding smart devices, will be releasing mobile games beginning at the end of this year.

 
 

Goat Simulator expands with GoatZ expansion, DLC embracing the busted zombie apocalypse

1 comments Rory Young - 9:50am (PST) Like Share

You're going to wish you were dead

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10 hours ago Coffee Stain Studios, creators of the AAA-quality Goat Simulator, tweeted out the following question: "Hey guys if we ever made a zombie expansion, what should we call it? Just askin' :3" The responses overwhelming supported the name of GoatZ, because the internet is both disgusting and has no regard for trademark. Six hours later Coffee Stain Studios made it a reality. GoatZ is a zombie apocalypse DLC expansion for Goat Simulator and it is available now on PC, Mac and Linux for $4.99. It will also be made available on iOS and Android as a standalone app for the same price.

While not taking shots at the quality of other survival/zombie MMOs or whatever they refer to themselves as these days, GoatZ's announcement trailer showcases all of the ridiculous shenanigans player will be able to get up to in the DLC pack. Here's a rundown of the various "features" included in the DLC:

  • Mandatory crafting system because everyone else is doing it
  • Zombies that bug out. There’s a pun here about actual living bugs, but we’re not going to bother
  • You can craft anything in the world, as long as it’s one of the half dozen weapons in the game
  • Zombies, because this is a zombie game, remember?
  • A pretty big new map with some stuff in it
  • Completely realistic survival mode where you have to eat every damn five minutes to survive because Dean Hall & Garry Newman said so

As you can seek, Coffee Stain Studios is really ramping up the realism in GoatZ.

By this point everyone should know what Goat Simulator is and what to expect from any new DLC that Coffee Stain Studios puts out. After seeing open world game after open world game be enjoyed not for its narrative and structure content, but rather for its bugs and broken gameplay, Goat Simulator found a profit in releasing games just with that sort of content. Some things work in Goat Simulator, some things don't, some of it's intentional and some of it isn't. That it's difficult to tell what's broken by design and what isn't may be Coffee Stain Studios' greatest work.

GoatZ, the latest DLC expansion for Goat Simulator an and follow-up to Goat MMO Simulator, will be available today on PC, Mac, Linix, iOS and Android for $4.99. Again, everyone should know what they're getting into with Goat Simulator by now, but if not check out the trailer and see for yourself. Stupid fun in an open-world with buggy physics and a bunch of other dumb stuff.

 

 
 

Terra Battle heading for consoles after reaching 2M downloads on mobile

0 comments Leo Chan - 11:47am (PST) Like Share

The world of Terra Battle is about to get bigger, but where will it head?

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Mistwalker has committed to releasing Terra Battle for console platforms as a result of the game reaching two million downloads this week. The studio has long promised console ports of its free-to-play strategy RPG through its "Download Starter" campaign which is similar to a crowdfunding drive, where backers help improve Terra Battle's content by pledging with downloads instead of dollars.

The two million download milestone is also the last currently known reward tier for Terra Battle's Download Starter, not that it is any less ambitious than the ones before it! In achieving two million downloads, Mistwalker now must undertake the challenge of producing a console game for unspecified platforms. It could be an opportunity to see what Mistwalker might have in store for its IP beyond freemium gaming. Heck it's enough of an occasion to warrant a special musical performance from the Earthbound Papas, headed by storied video game composer Nobuo Uematsu.

Terra Battle development has enjoyed the company of key Square Enix alumni like Uematsu, who serves as the game's main sound composer. The title was the brainchild of none other than Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy JRPG series.

 
 
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