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Runner3 Blends Whimsy and Silliness With No-Nonsense Tests of Rhythm

It’s been five years since Gaijin Games, now Choice Provisions, released the fantastic Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, breaking the addictive gameplay of BIT.TRIP Runner out of the confines of 2D space to a 3D world exploding with style and color. Come PAX West last year, I was delighted to find out that a new Runner game was on the horizon and enjoyed my brief stint with the demo on the show floor. Now that I’ve had the chance to play the game in full, how does Runner3 stack up to expectations?

Before I got to the actual title screen, I was immediately greeted by Charles “Voice of Mario” Martinet reprising his role as the Narrator, presenting the game brought to me in part by a random in-game sponsor like “Johnny Mahoney’s Phoney Baloney (This Time, It’s “Real!”)“. Each comically written sponsor is joined by a stylistically old-fashioned advert as though it was ripped right out from an old magazine, with a different one presented every time I started up the game and never failing to put a silly grin on my face. After the introductory cutscene plays out with puns and alliterations aplenty (I swear Runner3‘s writing was made to my tastes), the stage is set for CommanderVideo and CommandGirlVideo’s uphill battle against the returning Timbletot threatening the multiverse.

Throughout the first of the three worlds, Foodland eases you into Runner3‘s control scheme, from simple jumping and sliding to combining complex maneuvers like kicking, dropping, and double-jumping. The game handles like previous entries, where your every move is precisely timed to the stage’s hazards and the zany soundtrack—the levels are your sheet music, CommanderVideo is your orchestra, and you are the conductor guiding the Commander to the end of each piece. This game is not for the rhythmically challenged as it demands nothing short of perfection: mistime a single action and Bonk into an obstacle, and you have to start all over or from the midway checkpoint.

Each level will have you collect 100 Gold Bars in a standard run, which can then be used to open up Impossibly Hard stages that live up to their name but aren’t impossible. Subsequent runs will then see to the collection of 25 Gems in an alternate route that is initially closed off, which you can then spend in the shop for alternate costumes, capes, and accessories to customize your character’s appearance. Collecting Gold Bars and Gems in tandem with breaking down walls and dodging obstacles will up your score, with boomboxes spread out on the course to Mode Up your run to increase score multipliers. Mode Ups also change up the music, as while the main melody remains the same, the instrumentation and tone switch around and shift the BGM accordingly, smoothly transitioning from ambient to groovy to maddeningly chaotic.

Compared to Runner2‘s 100+ levels, Runner3 presents surprisingly fewer stages for you to run through. Each world only presents nine main stages to run through, with three unlockable Impossibly Hard ones, and caps off with a boss fight. To make up for the lower amount, each level is considerably longer than those of its predecessor and will have you revisit them a few times for collectibles, namely Puppets for additional cutscenes, Hero Quests items and the oddball-designed characters who assign them, and hidden VHS tapes.

Repeat playthroughs do get a bit exhausting as most of these are found off the beaten path from your perfect Gold Bar and Gem runs, and your only saving grace in these longer, harder stages are a single checkpoint. In other words, once you collect the requested Hero Quest items, you have to return to the respective level and survive the trek to the NPC with all the enemies, pits, and vehicles to encounter all over again. You do get additional playable characters this way, including special guests like Shovel Knight, Eddie Riggs of Brütal Legend fame, and Charles Martinet himself, and thankfully, once you collect the item in question, you can just quit mid-stage to save time if you had already perfected runs beforehand.

While the game plays out like your standard Runner game as you autorun, each VHS tape also unlocks Retro levels that play out like traditional platformers with a cartoony art style. Clearing them with five Gildans in tow allows you to spend them with Gems on even more items in the shop.

As for the game’s visual presentation, the jagged edges from its lower resolution and minor framerate dips in certain areas are a little bit off-putting at times, but thankfully they don’t detract from the overall experience, be it in TV mode or Handheld mode on the Switch. While moments to enjoy the scenery outside the intense gameplay are few and brief, the goofy, whimsical style of the environment is purely delightful to look at, be it the food-laden, hunger-inducing hillsides of Foodland, Spookyland’s varying takes on “ominous and creepy,” or the many sweltering factories peppered across the industrial Machineland.

All in all, if you’re itching for a fun but unforgiving rhythm platformer with dang good music and you have hours to grind, Runner3 might be the game for you.

Runner3 launches today for Nintendo Switch, macOS, and Windows, with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 releases pending. Be sure to also check out the game’s soundtracks, by Matthew Harwood and Stemage, right here.


Runner3 was reviewed for the Nintendo Switch using a digital eShop copy provided by Choice Provisions.

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Our Verdict
Runner3
Addictive gameplay timed to the rhythm of catchy tunes. Tons of collectibles to keep you busy. You can play as Charles Martinet.
A little on the repetitive side when shooting for 100% completion in the base game. Minor technical naggles. Not for the rhythmically challenged.
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Articles Columns Features Indie Nintendo Nintendo Switch Retro

Nintendo’s New Approach to Classic Games is Great for Indies

Nintendo recently opened up and shared some info about the upcoming
Nintendo Switch Online membership program. One of the benefits of becoming a paid subscriber (other than playing online, which will cease to be free in September) is access to a library of digital NES games. As fans suspected, Nintendo has confirmed this means there are no plans for a traditional Virtual Console on Nintendo Switch.

While this marks a shift in strategy for Nintendo, you can bet that they still intend to bring their classic games to Switch in some form. Nintendo hasn’t elaborated on how they plan to release games from classic platforms like SNES and Game Boy Advance, but a likely option is that they will handle them similarly to the NES library. If that’s the direction Nintendo chooses to go, it’s
fantastic news for indie developers.

In the year since Switch launched, it has established itself as a paradise for indie games. Nintendo’s console has helped old games find new life, struggling developers get back on their feet, and previously unknown talents deliver surprise smash hits. Take a stroll around the eShop, and you’ll see some incredible success stories in the world of indie games.

The Zelda-inspired Blossom Tales performed so poorly when it launched on Steam that the developer was on the verge of bankruptcy. After three months on Switch, Blossom Tales had generated 20 times as much revenue on eShop as it had in a year on Steam. This sudden influx of cash brought developer Castle Pixel back from the brink. If it hadn’t been for strong Switch sales, they wouldn’t exist today.

Shovel Knight has been on the market for four years, but just over one year on Switch. Even so, Switch sales make up 17.6% of all Shovel Knight sales. The 8-bit platformer has sold over 370,000 copies on Switch (out of 2 million total) despite the fact that it launched on numerous other platforms years ago. Only the Windows and 3DS versions of the game have sold more copies, and that could easily change as Switch sales continue to surge.

Stardew Valley has sold nearly 1 million copies on Switch alone despite getting it a year and a half after its initial launch. Celeste is selling better on Switch than any other platform. The list goes on and on. If you take a quick glance at the eShop’s Top Sellers list at any given time, there’s a strong chance you’ll see around five or more indie games in the top 15.

The ability to take your games on the go with you is motivation for indies and AAA developers alike to bring their games to Switch, but there’s a lot more driving the success of these smaller titles than just portability. Nintendo sees Switch as a system that’s attractive to gamers that stopped playing. Nintendo is reaching out (quite successfully) to an audience that loved games in the 1990s and have slipped away over time. The Switch audience is ravenous for nostalgia. They want games that remind them of their favorite childhood gaming memories.

The lack of Nintendo-developed 8-bit and 16-bit games on eShop means that games inspired by them can thrive. Would Blossom Tales have been the miracle story it was on Switch if it had to compete directly with A Link to the Past and Minish Cap? Would Golf Story have topped the eShop charts shortly after launch if it was side by side with multiple Mario Golf games? Relegating classic Nintendo games to a service rather than individually purchasable items ensures that deserving indie games can continue to rise to the top and reach a wide audience instead of disappearing in the shadow of the classics that inspired them.

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3DS Articles Columns Features Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Why Nintendo’s Continued Support of 3DS Makes Sense

Nintendo 3DS has enjoyed a lengthy stay in the spotlight as Nintendo’s primary handheld since its debut in 2011. You might think the launch and
incredible sales success of Nintendo Switch (which can also function as a handheld) would spell the end for 3DS, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Nintendo envisions the two co-existing for some time, and they recently announced plans to make new 3DS games until at least 2020. Is Nintendo crazy to continue to support seven-year-old hardware when they’ve got that beautiful, HD Switch screen available? Maybe a little, but there’s a method to their madness.

The most obvious reason for Nintendo to hold off on totally abandoning the 3DS line is the install base. Nintendo Switch has sold
around 18 million units, which is an incredible feat at this early stage in its life, but the 3DS family of systems has sold a combined 72 million units. That’s a ratio of four to one. There aren’t really 72 million active 3DS players (how many people bought and never opened special limited edition 3DS consoles?), but there’s still probably more people playing 3DS than Switch today.

At $300, Switch isn’t exactly a cheap handheld. Its ability to function as a home console as well more than makes up for this, but millions of potential customers (especially parents with young children) need a cheaper option. As current Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima
explained to investors, there’s a world of difference between whether a console is viewed as “one-per-household” or “one-per-person.” Switch is still in the former category, while 3DS (partially thanks to its lower price tag) is thriving in the latter.

“Consumers purchased Nintendo 3DS systems in numbers we expected last fiscal year. It has an ample software lineup at a price point that makes the system affordable especially for parents looking to buy for their kids. We expect that demand to continue during this fiscal year as well, so we will continue to sell the product.

“Given that Nintendo Switch is a home gaming system that can be taken on the go, this situation may change if it grows from being a one-per-household system to a one-per-person system. But the price of Nintendo Switch is not something with which most parents would buy a system for every one of their children in a short period of time. Moving forward, we will work to ascertain what kinds of play people want at which price points, and as long as there is such demand, we will continue to sell the Nintendo 3DS system. I see the product coexisting with Nintendo Switch at this point in time.” — Tatsumi Kimishima

Still, no matter how cheap it is, there will come a time when 3DS is put to bed. Whether or not it gets down into that “one-per-person” price range, the active install base of Switch users will eventually pass 3DS. With Nintendo projecting another 20 million units sold this year, it might not take long. Compare the games coming to 3DS against some of the upcoming Switch releases, and there’s a world of difference.

Nintendo’s upcoming 3DS schedule is largely comprised of ports or remakes, including Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Luigi’s Mansion, and Bowser’s Inside Story. The only other Nintendo-published 3DS games on the docket are Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers, Sushi Striker, WarioWare Gold, which are all low impact franchises with small budgets. In other words, Nintendo isn’t really investing any serious resources into 3DS anymore.

These are all games that can be made quickly and cheaply to cash in on the existing 3DS base, but none of them are system sellers. Nintendo is past the point of attempting to drive 3DS hardware sales. This becomes clear when you shift your focus from the 3DS lineup to some key upcoming Switch games, including the next Pokémon.

Pokémon Sun and Moon were so successful when they launched in November of 2016 that Nintendo was caught off guard by a sudden surge in 3DS interest. 3DS sales had been on the decline for a couple of years, but the handheld became almost impossible to find in late 2016 and early 2017 due to Pokémon fever. This led Game Freak to continue supporting the system with Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, but we know the next main series Pokémon game is coming to Switch instead.

Fire Emblem is another example of a strong, system-selling franchise on 3DS (especially in Japan) that Nintendo has pulled from the aged handheld for Switch. Nintendo tested the waters with Fire Emblem Warriors in Switch’s first year, and now an all-new Fire Emblem game is scheduled to launch sometime later this year on Switch. Given that the new Pokémon game is also aiming to launch this year, it seems clear that this is a deliberate move to convert 3DS as owners as soon as possible.

There’s no doubt that Nintendo Switch is the superior console and Nintendo’s preferred platform for the future, but it’s not quite time to write 3DS off completely. Nintendo will spend 2018 (and beyond) releasing the kind of software that will compel 3DS owners to make the upgrade, but they’ll also continue releasing low-investment titles on 3DS to make some easy cash as 3DS slowly coasts into the history books.

Image source: Luis Alamilla

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3DS Articles Columns Features Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Satoru Iwata Would Be Proud of Kimishima’s Presidency

On September 16th, 2015, Tatsumi Kimishima was faced with an impossible task: filling the shoes of Satoru Iwata. Nintendo’s former President was a gaming icon and a beloved figure, and his sudden passing was a tragedy that shook the industry. In taking the torch from Iwata, Kimishima inherited a company that was not only brokenhearted, but also struggling financially. Kimishima
was not Iwata’s first choice for the job, but he stepped up to the plate when no one else was prepared to do so. Three years later, Kimishima is preparing to step down and turn the Presidency over to someone new. Looking back on his brief, but important stint as President, I believe Satoru Iwata would be proud of what he accomplished.

Iwata’s Vision

From the beginning, Kimishima understood that his tenure at the helm of Nintendo was to be a transition period. At the age of 65, he began his term as President when most executives would be thinking about retiring or taking on reduced roles. He stepped into the role knowing that his job was to bring Iwata’s projects to fruition, maintaining his vision for the company while searching for a more suitable long term leader.

In one of his first interviews after being named President, Kimishima pledged to
stay the course and finish what Iwata started. That’s no small task when you consider how many irons Iwata had in the fire, but over the past three years Kimishima has lived up to his word in many ways.

Nintendo Switch is unquestionably the most important of the projects started by Iwata and finished under Kimishima. Iwata first teased the mysterious “NX” console just months before his passing, and two years later it launched to an incredible reception. Switch sales were driven by
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild but also by strong marketing. Under Kimishima, Nintendo made the decision to invest millions into the company’s first ever Super Bowl commercial just before Switch launched, and they’ve continued to give it a strong advertising presence ever since.

During Iwata’s final months as President, he had a change of heart regarding mobile games. Iwata had previously pledged that Nintendo would stay out of the mobile market, but in 2015 he
announced a partnership with DeNA and plans for five mobile games. Under Kimishima Nintendo has already released Miitomo, Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Dragalia Lost and Mario Kart Tour are both on the way, and there have even been rumors of a Zelda game for mobile. There’s still plenty of room for improvement and growth, but Nintendo’s mobile division pulled in ¥39.3 billion last year, or around $358 million. That’s not too shabby for a division that didn’t exist just two years ago.

Towards the end of Iwata’s life, he began to see Nintendo as not just a video game maker, but as
an entertainment company. He later elaborated on this idea by announcing plans for Nintendo theme park attractions and movies. These projects have also progressed swimmingly under Kimishima. Nintendo officially unveiled Super Nintendo World in late 2016, and construction kicked off on the first of three Nintendo theme parks last June. We also learned earlier this year that Nintendo is officially partnering with Illumination Entertainment on a Mario movie.

Iwata’s vision of a broader Nintendo entertainment company is unfolding right before our eyes, and Nintendo’s brand recognition is the strongest it’s been in years. Combine these new ventures with a top-selling new home console and a growing mobile market, and you’ve got a Nintendo that Iwata would be proud to see.

Nintendo’s Success

Image source: AdamzoneTopMarks

In addition to facing the daunting task of replacing Iwata and completing his projects, Kimishima had to restore Nintendo to financial stability. When Iwata passed in 2015, Nintendo was just starting to recover from three straight years of operating losses. Iwata took the fact that Nintendo lost money under his watch very seriously, even going so far as to
slash his own pay in half voluntarily.

Fast forward three years to today and it’s a night and day difference. Nintendo’s latest financial report to investors shows that the company had an incredible operating profit of
$1.6 billion for the past fiscal year—the most for the company since the height of the Wii and DS craze in 2010. Nintendo was never truly at risk of going bankrupt any time soon, but their bank account has a lot more padding these days. Nintendo reported cash and deposits of $4.465 billion back in 2015, but that number is up to nearly $7 billion today.

The company’s place in the hardware market was not strong in 2015. Wii U was a commercial catastrophe, selling far less than any major Nintendo home console before it. 3DS was certainly no failure, but its slow start (which led to a massive price cut just months after launch) cost Nintendo deeply, and it couldn’t compare to the selling power of the original DS.

Once again, the difference three years makes is almost unbelievable. Nintendo Switch has
sold nearly 18 million units in approximately 13 months, which is about 4 million more than Wii U sold in its entire life cycle. You might think that would spell the death of 3DS, but Nintendo’s dedicated handheld is still selling well enough that Nintendo plans to support it until at least 2020.

The continued sales of 3DS,
record-breaking first year for Nintendo Switch, and growing mobile division have all put Nintendo back on the map in a big way. This is never more apparent than when looking at their stock, as Nintendo shares have risen from ¥21,055 to ¥46,180. In other words, the company’s value has more than doubled under Kimishima. If Iwata felt responsible for the company’s financial struggles from 2012 to 2014, he’d be relieved and thrilled to see how profitable they’ve become since then.

Preparing for the Future

As a transitional President, Kimishima’s job was twofold: finish Iwata’s work and prepare Nintendo for the future. Kimishima began work on the latter almost immediately. Iwata’s death left Nintendo with a massive gap in leadership, so Kimishima set out to create
a future-proof system of creativity and decision-making at Nintendo.

As soon as he was promoted, Kimishima announced a
massive restructure for the company. This shake-up included the decision to combine Nintendo’s two most important development branches into a single group led by Shinya Takahashi. It was also at this time that Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda stepped back from their roles as General Managers. Both men still serve as advisers, but Kimishima believes it’s time for younger talents to have more decision-making power.

Since this initial restructure, Kimishima has stayed true to his word on the subject of promoting talent. Kimishima promoted Shinya Takahashi to be the head of Nintendo’s Entertainment Planning & Development Division, and under his guidance they just delivered two of the top-rated Nintendo games of all time:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. This excellence did not go unnoticed, and Takahashi has already been promoted again, this time to Senior Managing Executive Officer. At 39, Takahashi is much younger than many of Nintendo’s key decision makers in the past.

Yoshiaki Koizumi, who serves as Takahashi’s Deputy General Manager, has also been promoted for his hand in Nintendo’s recent success. When Koizumi wasn’t helping Takahashi oversee the development of Nintendo’s biggest games, he was serving as the lead developer of Nintendo Switch hardware. Due to the console’s immense success, Koizumi has been promoted to Executive Officer. Kimishima clearly prioritizes giving more influence to those who have proven themselves.

Lastly, Kimishima’s preparing for the future by choosing his own replacement. Kimishima
promoted Shuntaro Furukawa to Nintendo’s board of Directors in 2016, and since then the two have quietly been planning Nintendo’s future behind the scenes. As Kimishima has worked to make Nintendo’s internal leadership structure more in touch, efficient, and effective, Furukawa has been by his side, advising him on how to put more power in the hands of Nintendo’s younger creatives.

Furukawa, much like Iwata, will be more than just the President of a company that makes games. Iwata famously once said “On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” I believe he’d be happy to know that his long term successor is an avid gamer who has been obsessed with Nintendo since the days of the Famicom. If Kimishima is to believed, Furukawa also has a firm grasp of Nintendo’s core philosophy that won’t allow him to stray from what makes Nintendo special.

Mission Accomplished

No one could ever truly be expected to replace Satoru Iwata in the hearts of Nintendo fans, but Kimishima has accomplished more in his brief stint as President than anyone ever could have imagined. Under Kimishima’s leadership, Nintendo has launched a record-setting console, made a splash in the mobile market, branched out into theme parks and movies, and launched some of its highest-rated games of all time.

Nintendo has progressed from bleeding money to drowning in it, and there’s still more to come. In just three years Kimishima successfully capitalized on nearly all of Iwata’s ideas, elevated Nintendo from financial turmoil to tremendous profitability, and promoted some of the company’s brightest young talents to leadership roles to ensure Nintendo’s continued success in the future. Looking back over Kimishima’s Presidency, I’m sure Iwata would be proud.

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Features Nintendo Nintendo Switch Polls Retro Wii Wii U

Poll: What’s Your All-Time Favorite Super Smash Bros. Game?

Nintendo dropped the exciting news that
Super Smash Bros. is officially coming to Nintendo Switch sometime later this year. The latest entry in the popular fighting franchise will be playable at E3, so it won’t be long until we get to enjoy our first look at the game. In the meantime, it’s time to reflect on the existing entries in the beloved franchise. From the nostalgic days of Nintendo 64 to the first HD entry on Wii U, which Smash is your all-time favorite?

Cast your vote above and help us decide the winner!

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Articles Columns Features

Three Big Questions Dragon Ball Super Never Answered

Dragon Ball Super‘s run has sadly come to an end after 131 episodes, but that doesn’t mean the story is finished. We believe there’s a strong chance that the latest iteration of the hit anime franchise will return after a hiatus of a year or so. If and when it does, it’s got some pretty big questions to answer. In the meantime, we’ve got some theories of our own!

What is Vegeta’s New Form?

Dragon Ball Super introduced numerous new transformations throughout its five major story arcs, but the show wasn’t exactly on the ball when it came to explaining them. Little information is given to clarify the existence of new forms, like the one achieved by Trunks in his fight with Zamasu and Goku Black or the berserker form unlocked by Kale prior to the Tournament of Power.

Perhaps the most perplexing new form of all is the one belonging to the Saiyan prince, Vegeta. While both Goku and Vegeta are capable of harnessing the power of the gods by transforming into Super Saiyan Blue (another form which is only loosely explained), only Vegeta managed to unlock the darker blue form seen near the end of the final season. But what is this new form, how was it achieved, and what sort of power does it carry?

According to
Dragon Ball Heroes, Vegeta’s shiny new look is officially called “Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Evolution.” The regular Blue form was briefly referred to as Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (SSGSS), so it’s possible that this new form will eventually be shortened to Super Saiyan Blue Evolution… It’s really for the best.

Beyond its mouthful of a name, we don’t really know anything about the Evolution form, except that it’s extremely powerful. Fans have theorized that it could be the Blue equivalent of Super Saiyan 2, or perhaps a fully mastered version of Super Saiyan Blue.

There is some precedent for a Mastered Blue in the manga, but it doesn’t manifest itself in the same way as what we see in the anime. During Goku’s battle with Fused Zamasu he is briefly able to power up to 100% in Super Saiyan Blue without allowing any of his ki to escape his body. It’s extremely strenuous on his body, and he can’t hold it for long, but Vegeta takes note. Later, Vegeta trains intensely with Whis until he too can internally contain his ki at 100% of Super Saiyan Blue’s power. Just before the Tournament of Power, Vegeta even manages to surpass Goku’s ability to to maintain this mastered version of Blue.

A parallel can certainly be drawn between Mastered Blue in the manga and Vegeta’s new form, but there’s one major difference. Because the manga’s Mastered Blue form is achieved by keeping fully-powered Blue ki inside, it doesn’t give off any aura whatsoever. The Evolution form is frequently surrounded by a deep blue aura, so it can’t quite be the same.

Who is Zalama?

Another mystery in
Dragon Ball Super is the identity and backstory of a character that should, by all logic, be one of the most powerful and important beings in all of the history of the multiverse. Dragon Balls themselves are capable of incredible magic, but their power isn’t limitless. The dragon summoned by gathering all seven orbs together can grant wishes, but the scope of those wishes cannot exceed the power of the one who created the Dragon Balls.

This is important when you take the Super Dragon Balls into consideration, because the dragon they summon has no limitations on its power whatsoever. If Super Shenron can revive multiple universes that were completely erased from existence in the blink of an eye, just how strong is his creator? What type of being can undo destruction caused by Zeno himself?

We don’t know the answer to that, but we do have some clues. According to
a monologue from the knowledgeable Zuno, the Super Dragon Balls were created by the Dragon God Zalama in Year 41 of the Divine Calendar. These planet-sized orbs have been around for a long time. In fact, aside from Buu existing “since time immemorial,” Zalama crafting the Super Dragon Balls is the oldest known event in the history of the multiverse. He then programmed the magic orbs to disperse throughout Universe 6 and Universe 7 whenever they are used. Gods typically stick to their own universe unless they have some business in the territory of another, so distributing his powerful creations across two universes is rather unique behavior.

So who could be that old, that powerful, and that involved in multiple universes? One possibility is that he is essentially a counterbalance to Zeno. We’re told that Zeno alone rules as the supreme being of the multiverse, but is that the whole truth?

Each universe has a trio of divine overseers: A Supreme Kai (or a council of multiple Supreme Kais), a God of Destruction, and an angel. The Supreme Kai and God of Destruction are two sides of the same coin. The Kais create, the Gods of Destruction… well, destroy. The two are soul bound, and if one dies the other will perish as well. Together, they balance each other out and maintain order in their universe. Meanwhile, the angel is an attendant to the God of Destruction, filling the roles of both humble servant and wise teacher.

Above all of the universes and their divine hierarchies reigns Zeno alone, or so we’re told. However, the relationship between Grand Priest and Zeno seems virtually identical to what we see between angels and Gods of Destruction. If you follow this line of logic, you’ll realize we’ve never once seen Zeno create anything. We’ve seen him destroy people he doesn’t like. We’ve seen him destroy planets as part of a childish game. We’ve seen him erase entire universes before our eyes, and we’re told that he’s done it to six other universes in the past. Even when he erases all of reality in Future Trunks’ timeline, we get no indication that he has any intent of filling that void back up. Instead, he simply floats aimlessly through the nothingness.

If Zeno serves the role of God of Destruction (under the angelic eye of Grand Priest) for the entire multiverse, there must be a creator to balance him out. If Zalama’s power is great enough that he can restore eight universes at once, I can’t think of a better candidate. Let’s hope
Dragon Ball explores the story of Zalama in the future.

What are Frieza’s Ambitions?

Oh, Frieza, you crafty devil. Within seconds of being resurrected for the Tournament of Power he was sucker-punching Goku, and just minutes later he attempted to betray his entire universe. You gotta love him. Which is why I’m surprised that we didn’t get to see Frieza act out the kind of nefarious plan that would send a chill down the spines of the Gods themselves.

Just prior to entering the tournament (right around the time Frieza traps Goku inside a blast of energy from a God of Destruction), Frieza comes to a realization about the rulers of reality. With his new and improved Gold transformation fueling him and the Tournament of Power as his stage, Frieza declares he’s ready to manipulate the Gods.

Unfortunately, he never gets this chance. We get to see him manipulate Universe 6’s Frost early on, but the latter half of the tournament sees him repeatedly reviving Goku and sacrificing himself to give others a breather. Some may see this as the beginning of a redemption arc for the self-proclaimed Emperor of the Universe, but I see it as a calculation. I don’t believe Frieza has given up his divine ambitions, but he’s smart enough to see the big picture and know that those “noble” actions were necessary to prevent his erasure.

Long-term I can’t see Frieza being satisfied with anything other than supremacy over the multiverse. Now that he’s seen the peak of the mountain, I doubt anything will stop his drive to climb. Of course, he’s got a long way to go, seeing as he can’t even best Goku or Vegeta. If Frieza wants to shoot for a more attainable goal in the short term, he should set his sights on Beerus’ job.

It’s no secret that Universe 7’s God of Destruction, as great of a character as he is, is lousy at his job. To Beerus, being God of Destruction means taking decades-long naps and destroying planets at random when you wake up. Whis has often chastised Beerus for his laziness, and he has repeatedly pushed both Goku and Vegeta to surpass Beerus in power and challenge him for his job. The manga even shows that Beerus is despised by most of the Gods of other universes. While the audience may disagree, few in the
Dragon Ball multiverse would consider Beerus’ downfall to be lamentable. Frieza even has experience in the role, as Beerus has previously used Frieza as his instrument of destruction.

You may not think Whis would stand for someone as evil as Frieza serving as God of Destruction, but Beerus hasn’t exactly been a benevolent ruler. Whis also seems to have warmed up to the villain somewhat by the end of the tournament. Besides, if Frieza ever oversteps his bounds and destroys beyond what the universe can sustain, Goku and Vegeta are sure to respond.

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Why The PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds 20-Year Plan is a Risky Idea

Brendan ‘PlayerUnknown’ Greene, the creator of
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), recently revealed that he wants to support the game for 20 years, saying, “We want to do this for the next 20 years. We want to build out a platform for game modes and possible esports. We’re committed to supporting this game for a long time.” As evidence of this continued support, he also detailed maps which coming out later this year, and the devs are currently hosting betas to test the new “Savage” map, the second round of which begins today.

All that sounds fine, but I have my concerns when a developer announces they want to support one game for a long time. Does a 20-year plan make sense for
PUBG?

Something we’ve been hearing a lot in the last few years is the idea of a game having a “10-year plan.” Bungie announced a 10-year plan for
Destiny back in 2014. Ubisoft has been supporting Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege for almost two and a half years now, and they plan to continue doing so. Blizzard’s Overwatch has seen some astounding success since it launched in 2016, and it shows no signs of slowing down. There’s nothing wrong with publishers and developers wanting to support their games after launch, but it gets to a point where you’re only making updates for the current fan base and alienating new players. Isn’t the point of a “20-year plan” to try and bring in new players every year?

We live in a world where new games are available on an almost daily basis. Even for a 5-year-old game, what could you possibly do, outside of putting it on sale, to get new players interested in your title when they could begin playing something that just came out? On top of that, if they
did start playing your game long after its initial release, the odds of them playing against people with their skill level would be very low. Given that Battle Royale games are ridiculously popular right now, new players would have a host to choose from, and I don’t know if PUBG has the means to keep up and stay relevant. As more Battle Royale games start coming out and doing things better than PUBG, you will most likely see people jumping ship. Staying relevant for 20 years is going to be a colossal task for PUBG.

Granted, during these long-term plans, you’re bound to pick up younger players. Part of the reason these long-term plans exist is so a younger audience will get to experience the game at some point. However, for someone in my age bracket, if I wasn’t interested at launch, I probably won’t be interested after one year, let alone twenty. I realize that the
PUBG team doesn’t have the resources or the staff of some of these large studios, but they need to do something to stand out. Right now PUBG doesn’t have anything that unique to it, and I want to know if they have a plan to fix that.

Now, this game is no slouch when it comes to sales, having hit over 38 million copies between PC and Xbox One. But with that said, I think that for
PUBG to keep up, it is going to have to go free-to-play. It’s already free on mobile, so why can’t it be for the other platforms? The game is part of the game preview program for Xbox One, and even though it technically isn’t finished, it costs $30 to play it. I don’t see any reason why it should cost that much at this point, and if it stays at $30 for its entire run, there’s no way it’ll keep up with most of the competition.

Planning too far into the future is also a little bit risky for a game that has such a small team. The amount of time that would go into making any significant changes has got to be a monumental task, and therefore they would take a long time to be released. If the updates don’t come out fast enough, people might lose interest and play something else. Friday the 13th, anyone?

When I look at a game like
PUBG, I don’t think “20-year plan.” It makes more sense for games with a story mode, side activities, co-op and really anything that allows the player to have some progression. PUBG doesn’t have any of that, and it’s going to make it difficult for them to keep current players and bring in new ones when you don’t have anything to offer outside of “winner winner chicken dinner.”

What do you think of PUBG Corp’s 20-year plan and long-term plans in general? Let us know in the comments section.

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Features Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Is It Too Soon For An Eighth Generation of Pokémon Games?

Game Freak’s ever-popular Pokémon series is more hyped than ever, and that excitement will only grow when the next major entry in the series launches on Nintendo Switch. At this point we don’t know exactly what the next game will be, and Game Freak isn’t telling. They could choose to remake previous games (with the Sinnoh region’s fourth generation next in line), or they could launch an entirely new generation.

If it’s the latter, do you think it’s too soon after Sun and Moon for generation eight to launch? The seventh generation of Pokémon games debuted late in 2016, or around a year and a half ago. If Pokémon for Switch launches this holiday season (which is rumored, but not confirmed), that would only put two years between the beginning of the seventh and eighth generations. Historically, there has usually been around a three to four year gap in between Pokémon generations, so a holiday 2019 launch would make a lot more sense for an all-new Pokémon adventure.

Given that Pokémon on Switch will be the first main series entry in HD, I’m hoping Game Freak takes their time to craft an adventure worthy of the new hardware. If that means waiting a little bit longer for the eighth generation, that’s fine with me. In the meantime they could grant the requests of Sinnoh fans, or even revisit Kanto in HD.

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Features Polls Retro

Crash vs. Spyro: Which Classic Trilogy Was Better?

It’s a great time to be a fan of classic PlayStation games. Last year we were treated to the
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy‏ on PlayStation 4 (with Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC versions on the way), and later this year, Spyro will get the same treatment. These remasters give newcomers the ability to experience the early PlayStation hits re-imagined on modern hardware, and they’re also a great way for nostalgic veterans to relive old favorites. If you’re a longtime fan who remembers when these games made their debut, which classic trilogy do you think was better? Cast your vote and join the debate!

Image source: The Odyssey Online

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Features Retro

What Video Game Is Most In Need of a Remake?

In light of the official reveal of the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, we recently asked our readers to share their all-time favorite video game remakes and remasters. You guys came up with lots of great examples of classic games that were impressively remade, but there are still plenty of old favorites that have never been re-imagined for modern gamers. Of all the games of yesteryear, which one do you think is most in need of a fresh coat of paint?

If I had to narrow it down to just one option, I’d probably go with the debut entry from my all-time favorite series: The Legend of Zelda. The original Zelda on NES was a revolutionary adventure, but the controls, AI, and graphics have grown dated over the years, and it’s not particularly accessible to new fans of the series.

I praised Metroid: Zero Mission in our remakes and remasters post, and I believe Zelda could greatly benefit from getting a similar tune-up. A few simple changes could instantly make the game a smoother experience, like including an overworld map and allowing players to walk in eight directions instead of just four. With your increased mobility, enemies will have to behave a bit more intelligently instead of relying on brute strength alone. Give the graphics a 16-bit overhaul and toss in some more NPCs and story progression (replacing the poorly translated bits of vague clues that currently make up the game’s text) and you’ve got yourself the basis for a great remake already.

If Nintendo wanted to get really bold, they could even shake things up a little more dramatically. While working on Breath of the Wild, Nintendo created a 2D prototype of the game that allowed them to test some of its physics and chemistry features in a simpler environment. This idea could be recycled for a Zelda remake, giving players a much more interactive experience. The prototype footage Nintendo released showed off fun tricks like lighting an arrow by shooting it through a flame and sending a log downstream by rolling it into a flowing river. Breath of the Wild encouraged players to experiment with their tools and their environment as much as possible, and it could be a lot of fun to recreate that gameplay in a 2D space.

Which game classic game do you think is most in need of a remake? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Features

What Game Do You Wish You Could Play for the First Time Again?

If you’re a lifelong fan of video games, you’ve no doubt encountered gaming masterpieces that impacted you in a way you’ll never forget. Games that tugged at your heartstrings, changed the way you look at the world, or surprised you with incredible plot twists. These are memories that will last a lifetime, but there’s always a part of you that wishes you could shed those memories, if only temporarily, to experience them fresh again. Out of all the games you’ve ever played, which one do you most wish you could play for the first time again?

Having been impacted by so many games over the years, it’s hard to narrow the list down. Interacting with the inhabitants of Termina in Majora’s Mask for the first time opened my eyes to just how much depth and emotion NPCs could add to a game, and experimenting with how my decisions affected their day to day lives was incredibly rewarding. I can’t even count how many times I cracked up laughing at the zany characters and bizarre scenarios on my first run of EarthBound. Capcom’s Resident Evil: Revelations was probably my most-played game on 3DS (and continues to be a mainstay of my Nintendo Switch), but nothing will replace the sense of horror and intrigue I got when exploring the Queen Zenobia for the first time.

If I had to choose just one, I might have to go with a more recent title.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was an adventure that captivated and immersed me more than any other game has in years, if not decades. I’ve never been particularly fond of massive open worlds (as they usually end up feeling barren to me), but from my very first step into Hyrule in Breath of the Wild, I never wanted to put my controller down again. Every time I’d mark a point of interest with a beacon and begin my sprint towards it I’d end up distracted by a half dozen other things to do along the way, and before I knew it, an hour had passed and was nowhere near my beacon. Experimenting with the physics engine became something of an internet phenomenon, with excited players sharing new tips, tricks, and secrets for weeks after launch. It seemed like there was always something new to discover, and every bit of it was magical.

Breath of the Wild is a game I’ll certainly be playing for years to come, but with hundreds of hours logged in the game and stored in my memory, I’d give more than a few rupees for the ability to see Hyrule for the first time again. What game do you wish you could play with a fresh mindset? Leave your answers in the comments below!

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Features PC PlayStation 4 Xbox One

Does No Man’s Sky Deserve a Second Chance?

Indie developer Hello Games spent a lot of time in the spotlight hyping No Man’s Sky prior to its launch, but the game’s debut on PlayStation 4 and PC left much to be desired. On launch day, No Man’s Sky was missing many of the key elements that director Sean Murray had promised, and the game universe felt empty and unfulfilling to thousands of unsatisfied customers.

It’s been over a year and a half since then, and Hello Games has steadily been adding updates to their controversial space exploration adventure. It may not be everything players expected from early trailers and interviews, but it’s certainly more fleshed out than on launch day thanks to three major updates.

The Foundation Update added new game modes like Creative and Survival and gave players the ability to build bases and farm new plant types. The Pathfinder Update introduced planetary vehicles, base sharing, PlayStation 4 Pro support, ship and weapon specialization, permadeath mode, and graphical improvements. The Atlas Rises Update overhauled the game’s central storyline and added a new procedural mission system, trade improvements, system economies, and joint exploration. Another updated, titled “Next,” will drop later this year. We don’t have many details yet, but Hello Games claims it will be “an important next step in a journey for No Man’s Sky.”

Are all of these enhancements enough to entice disgruntled PlayStation 4 and PC players back into the fold, or is it too little and too late? Not receiving the game at launch may have been a blessing for Xbox fans, as they never had to experience the disappointment of playing the game in its day one state. When it finally hits Microsoft’s console, it will be a much fuller experience. Will you be giving Hello Games and No Man’s Sky a second chance?

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Features Reviews Virtual Reality

Ready Player One is Nothing Like the Book, But That’s Mostly a Good Thing

When the first trailer for Ready Player One dropped, I was incredibly intrigued by this dystopian world where most people spent their time in a utopian virtual world. I had never read or even heard of the novel by Ernest Cline at that point, but the concept alone was interesting enough to make me pick up a copy.

After reading the book earlier this year, I concluded that Ready Player One is an incredibly entertaining and engaging story, but the characters are a little underdeveloped, the namedropping of 80s culture gets a little old at times, and the lesson learned by the main character is a glossed over and put aside by the end. Fortunately, the film adaptation from Steven Spielberg fixes a lot of the gripes I had with the novel, though it also loses some of the charm from the original.

The OASIS is Stunningly Beautiful

Before I touch on the story, I have to give this film credit as a visual masterpiece. Most of Ready Player One takes place in a virtual world called the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation). In this world, anything is possible. The only limits are the imaginations of its users, and you see this unfold immediately.

One of the very first scenes in the OASIS involves a high speed car race, which you can see glimpses of in the trailers. The attention to detail is outstanding, as players zip around each other and crash into obstacles and other cars along the way. Explosions and flying debris are extremely detailed, and you feel like you’re part of the race.

The OASIS is a dreamland of visual effects such as this. Another scene involves a night club where players dance in zero gravity. The lighting in this area is gorgeous, and the beauty of the club makes you wish you had an OASIS to go to yourself.

If you haven’t read the book, seeing the OASIS will be a delight. If you are familiar with the novel, seeing the OASIS will be like a dream come true.

The Story is Fantastic, But it’s Not What You Remember

The story of Ready Player One is going to cause controversy between fans of the book and fans of the movie. However, the film’s story still holds up on its own. In some ways, it streamlines the series of events better than the novel.

In the year 2045, the creator of the OASIS, trillionaire James Halliday, has just passed away and left his final will, revealing to everyone that he has hidden an “Easter egg” in the OASIS. The first player to find this egg will inherit his fortune and control of the OASIS itself.

This is a big deal, since most people in the world use the program on a daily basis to escape the real world. Citizens have actual jobs, go on dates, shop, and everything else you would normally do in the outside world. So being in control of the OASIS is almost like being in control of the world to some people.

Our hero, Wade Watts, is a high school student who lives in The Stacks, a collective of mobile homes stacked on top of each other for those who live in poverty. Going by the online name Parzival, he’s joined by fellow players Aech, Art3mis, Daito, and Sho in a quest to find Halliday’s Easer egg.

We’re also introduced to our main antagonists, the corporation known as IOI (Innovative Online Industries). This company will stop at nothing to seize control of the OASIS, and it is always on the tails of our main heroes. At the head of IOI is a man named Nolan Sorrento, who often plays dirty to push the contest in his favor.

This is where we see Ready Player One make some changes from the novel. Nolan Sorrento is almost like a cartoon villain in the film, whereas he posed a much bigger threat in the book. On the big screen, Sorrento shows time and time again that he is incompetent and too easily duped. This is sort of true to his character, but some of his mess-ups feel kind of goofy in the movie, rather than just being a corporate villain that knows next to nothing about the program he wants control over.

But this is a minor gripe, and one that didn’t damper the experience as a whole. Sorrento still does a lot of messed up things, but he isn’t a very threatening villain most of the time.

One thing that is better in the movie is the eventual relationship between Art3mis and Wade. In the novel, most of their interactions were awkward, felt a little unreal, and sometimes they were downright cringey. I understand the point behind this. They’re both antisocial people that don’t know how to connect properly with each other. But the Wade in the book never really treats Art3mis like somebody he loves outside of the obligatory “I love you.”

The Wade and Art3mis relationship in the film is still awkward, but it’s cuter and less painful. It feels like two socially inept people are actually getting together because they care about each other, rather than having a love interest just because there has to be one.

Perhaps the biggest change to Ready Player One‘s story is the challenges to get to Halliday’s egg. In the novel, the OASIS users had to be incredibly knowledgeable about 80s pop culture to find answers to the clues or challenges that would lead them in the right direction. I always considered this a flaw of the book, which I feel relied too much on the reader’s nostalgia to make the book feel bigger than it was.

However, in the film, the clues to find the challenges are related more to Halliday’s personal life instead of the films or games he liked. Delving into this man’s past makes the characters more aware of what’s at stake and also helps them grow as people. The contest becomes less about themselves, and more about what the world as a whole needs when the winner is finally declared.

Without going into spoilers, the contest makes so much more sense in the context of the film. The characters actually learn a lesson and the fate of the OASIS is one that I think a lot of people can get behind.

On top of all of this, there are many more changes to the overall plot of Ready Player One that would touch too much into spoiler territory. With that in mind, you should watch this film as a separate story instead of expecting to see your favorite book on the big screen.

A Video Game Thrill Ride Everyone Can Enjoy

Ready Player One is an absolute joy ride and a glimmer of hope for the future of video games in film. Some of the characters are a little weak and there are a ton of changes from the novel, but this is an enjoyable experience for anybody that appreciates video games, science fiction, or the original Ready Player One. It’s worth the wait, worth the hype, and most importantly, worth your time.

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Our Verdict
Ready Player One
This film has wonderful characters, an improved story from the original novel, and spectacular visuals that will keep you entertained the whole time.
The villains are a little weak. It doesn’t damper the experience as a whole, but it does make you a little less invested in the fate of the OASIS.
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Articles Columns Features

Gohan Was Dragon Ball Super’s Biggest Disappointment

One of the most iconic scenes in any iteration of the
Dragon Ball franchise is Gohan’s transformation into an ultra-powerful Super Saiyan 2 warrior in his battle against Perfect Cell. In that moment, Gohan transcended every known limit to become the strongest character the series had ever seen, surpassing both his father and Vegeta. A lot has changed for Gohan since then, and not for the better. Looking at him in Dragon Ball Super, you’d be hard-pressed to believe they’re even the same character. Now that Dragon Ball Super has finished its run (at least for now) it’s time to look back on just how big of a disappointment Gohan turned out to be.

It’s true that Gohan hasn’t ever quite had the same drive as his father. As a half-blood Saiyan, he lacks the unquenchable thirst for combat that’s shared by Goku and Vegeta. If he can help it, Gohan is a lover (and a scholar), not a fighter, but there are times when you
need to be able to fight in order to protect the ones you love. In this regard, Super‘s portrayal of Gohan falls short time and time again.

When Beerus shows up on Earth looking for a fight, Gohan transforms into his Ultimate form and rushes the God of Destruction, only to be defeated in a single blow. That in itself is nothing to be ashamed of, as Super Saiyan 3 Goku suffered the same fate against Beerus on King Kai’s planet, but the difference is in how that shortcoming impacted them.

Goku realized just how much room he still had to grow and just how dangerous the universe really is, fueling his passion for self-improvement to new heights. Gohan, on the other hand, admittedly fails to keep up with his training at all. A year later when Frieza is resurrected and invades Earth, Gohan’s strength has declined so much that he isn’t even completely certain if he’s able to go Super Saiyan anymore. Thankfully, it turns out he can, but he never manages to push past it to Super Saiyan 2 or Ultimate Gohan, and when he attempts to stand up to Frieza, the so-called Emperor of the Universe
completely defeats him without ever even leaving his seat.

Gohan is so utterly incapable of defending himself that Piccolo ends up sacrificing his own life to save Gohan’s in a moment that mirrors a famous scene from the Saiyan Saga of
Dragon Ball Z. While it’s nice to see Piccolo’s continued affection for Gohan, it’s a bit depressing to consider that the first time this happened Gohan was five years old. It’s time to grow up.

He seems to realize this for himself at the end of Super‘s second season. After finding himself as nothing more than target practice to Frieza, Gohan implores Piccolo to train him until he can become strong enough to protect those he loves. Could this finally be a turning point for the character?

In a word: no. Gohan
is seen training with Piccolo briefly in season 3, but this is just a cruel tease. When he finds out that his universe has been pitted against another in a tournament decreed by the Gods of Destruction, he volunteers to join the team. Just as quickly as he gives hope to his long-suffering fanbase, he rips it away. Seconds after volunteering to join the fight, he retracts his offer, remembering that there’s a conference coming up that he had planned to attend.

Gohan continues to sit out every major brawl over the course of season 3 and season 4 (no, for the love of Zeno, we’re not counting the Great Saiyaman), settling into his roles of loving husband and doting father. It’s not until the fifth season, when the fate of the entire multiverse is at stake, that Gohan finally returns to training and starts to get serious. Is
this finally his redemption? Well, that depends on how you look at it.

During the Tournament of Power we finally get to see Gohan win some key fights. He manages two solo KOs, pairs up with Piccolo for two more, helps Frieza take down Dyspo, and is part of a six man team that defeats Universe 3’s merged monster, Anilaza. He’s far from the fight’s MVP, but at least he makes his presence known.

One of his shining moments during the tournament comes when a Namekian from Universe 6 unleashes a devastating attack meant for Piccolo. In a reversal of roles, Gohan steps in front of the blast and saves Piccolo. It’s a beautiful moment that seems to be telling the audience Gohan is no longer a helpless child who needs defending. Unfortunately, the very next episode sees him getting knocked off the stage when he lets his guard down, and Piccolo is once again forced to rescue him. It’s a small but frustrating detail that undermines the impact of the previous episode.

In the end, Gohan is knocked off the edge and eliminated while helping Frieza defeat Dyspo. That in itself isn’t much of a letdown, and he actually made it further than I expected. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see any real improvement for the character. When Gohan (finally) resumes his training with Piccolo before the Tournament of Power, he once again unlocks his Ultimate form. However, Piccolo tells him that he has not reached the full extent of his power and that he can go much further.

Goku and Vegeta achieve multiple new forms throughout Super, and even surpass their limits to unlock new transformations during the tournament itself. Gohan…does not. Over 40 episodes after Piccolo senses that Gohan has a great deal of untapped potential (more potential than even Goku and Vegeta, according to Vegeta himself), Gohan still has the same limited arsenal of transformations and fighting techniques that he’s had since the Buu saga in 1996.

Dragon Ball Super has been a wild and enjoyable ride, but Gohan’s treatment sticks out as a shortcoming, especially when compared to the impressive development of characters like Vegeta and Android 17. Thankfully, it’s a near certainty that Super will return, giving Gohan another shot at redemption. The Tournament of Power was a step in the right direction for Gohan compared to earlier seasons. Hopefully witnessing the incredible power of fighters across the multiverse is enough to keep Gohan from suffering any further setbacks on his journey to reaching his potential.

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Features

Do You Trust Konami To Make AAA Games Anymore?

Konami recently filed a new trademark for Silent Hill, which had some hopeful that the horror series could return. Unfortunately, closer inspection shows that the trademark was filed for gambling machines, which suggests it will be yet another game-turned-pachinko, which has become Konami’s MO.

Given the company’s terrible track record in recent years, including the flop that was Metal Gear Survive, it begs a bigger question: do you even trust Konami with their own games anymore?

For me, the answer is a resounding “No!” Konami has bled talent for some time now, losing top developers like Hideo Kojima and Koji Igarashi. The company’s business practices in recent years paint a picture of a soulless money machine not interested in quality or artistic expression. At this point, the thought of a new Silent Hill game fills me with dread, and not over scary gameplay.

Still, Konami has a treasure trove of famous IP like Metal Gear and Castlevania, and it’s an absolute shame to think of it going to waste. Ideally, Konami would recognize their own lack of ability to create quality gaming experiences worthy of their brands and license them out to partners who still have a passion for creating immersive gaming experiences. After Capcom’s successful return to survival-horror with Resident Evil VII, I wouldn’t mind seeing them get a shot at Silent Hill.

What do you think Konami should do with their library of classic IP? Sound off in the comments!

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Articles Features Indie PC Virtual Reality

Audioshield Should be One of the First Virtual Reality Games You Play

It took me a little while, but I finally bought into the virtual reality craze. All three of the main VR headsets are sitting at more enticing prices than ever before, ranging from $299 to $499. These recent price drops were enough to get me to buy an HTC Vive.

So far, I’m really intrigued by the Vive. I’m not sure how open world games with a lot of movement will work in virtual reality, but I definitely have plans to check out Fallout 4 VR. The headset is also a lot more CPU intensive than you may think, so make sure you have plenty of power to go around.

While I’m waiting for some new PC parts to come in, I decided to take a look at some of the simpler games the Vive has to offer. One that immediately caught my attention was Audioshield, developed by Dylan Fitterer.

If either of these names sound familiar, you’ve likely played or at least seen the Audiosurf games. These simple rhythm games became popular because of their unique level generators, which have the ability to create intense tracks from any sound file on your computer. This means Audiosurf‘s soundtrack is whatever you want it to be.

Audioshield is no different in this aspect, but it features a whole new level of interactivity. Instead of moving a vehicle down a track based on the music you select, you’ll be wielding shields in both hands and deflecting the beats of your music as they fly toward you.

This premise is pretty basic, but Audioshield has three difficulty modes that range from simply raising your arms to wildly flailing your entire body around the living room. I felt like an absolute mad man trying to hit all the notes on the hardest difficulty.

The game is also completely aware of the workout you’re getting, encouraging you to punch the notes as hard as you can for extra points. This allows you to get completely lost in your music, giving you a sense of awe that other rhythm games can’t quite deliver on. It will also make you break into one heck of a sweat if you play long enough.

The most amazing thing about Audioshield is the level generator. No matter what kind of music you like to listen to, the program can make an amazing game out of it. Rock music, electronic music, orchestral music, and even slower symphonic songs are all wonderful choices in Audioshield. Each song will give you a different experience. Even if you want to play a song that you don’t have downloaded, the game supports streaming music directly from YouTube.

But with all of this said, you might think Audioshield sounds like glorified dancing, and you would be absolutely right. At the end of the day, you’re basically just dancing in whatever VR space you created. Of course this can be done without virtual reality, but Audioshield allows you to create your own private dance party that quickly turns into an addictive party game. The wonderful visuals and the engaging interactivity delivers a genuinely exciting experience that I’ve yet to feel in another rhythm game. You’ll have a great time alone and with friends. If you’re looking into the world of virtual reality, you should definitely give some of your attention to Audioshield.

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Features Retro

What Game Belongs in the Video Game Hall of Fame?

Earlier today, the World Video Game Hall of Fame announced the finalists for induction into the body’s Class of 2018. There are quite a few significant titles on the list, making it a rather difficult decision. Some of the games have historical significance, while others have molded popular culture around them. Which game(s) do you think should be inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame this year?

I’m not positive what my entire ballot of three would consist of, but I do know that Spacewar! is definitely on it. Spacewar! is a 1962 multiplayer space shooter developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the PDP-1 computer system. While relatively unimpressive based on today’s standards, it took like wildfire back in the day. Spacewar! featured a dogfight between two player-controlled spaceships, each with limited fuel and rockets. Using these resources, players had to navigate around a star and destroy their opponent. Spacewar! also featured Newtonian physics and a hyperspace button which gave players some extra things to consider in terms of movement.

Spacewar! proved to be really popular, appearing on multiple computer installations, becoming the first known video game to do so. Because of this popularity, Spacewar! also became an incredibly influential title in the formation of the video game industry. The first commercially sold arcade game (Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney’s Computer Space) used Spacewar! as its basis. Asteroids wound up borrowing the hyperspace button. But moreso than the game itself, Spacewar! programmer Steve Russell said he was most proud of the amount of programmers who created their own games after playing it.

Sure, there are insanely popular games on the list of nominees. A lot of voters may be drawn to Call of Duty or Half-Life because of their modern popularity. But I believe that moreso than any other game on that list, Spacewar! is the most influential historically and thus deserves a spot among the inductees this year.

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Features Polls Retro

Poll: Which Traditional Sonic Game is the Best?

SEGA’s
Sonic franchise was one of the hottest names in gaming during the glory days of Genesis. The original trilogy along with Sonic & Knuckles were all critically-acclaimed masterpieces in the early 1990s. Since then, the series has transitioned into 3D, and SEGA has experimented (for better or worse) with lots of changes to the classic gameplay. Fans of the old style were treated to a revival of that formula with last year’s spiritual successor, Sonic Mania. Of all the games in this traditional Sonic style, which is the all-time best?

You can cast your vote above to help us decide! Note that for the purposes of this poll
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are being treated as a single game. This is because the cartridges can be combined to form the complete Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles.

Image source: Applesauce

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Don’t Worry, Dragon Ball Super Will Be Back Soon

It’s been a wild ride since
Dragon Ball Super made its debut in 2015. Goku, Vegeta, and friends have discovered other universes, battled gods, faced off against old foes, traveled to the future, and broken past their limits time and time again. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and Toei Animation recently announced that episode 131 will be the final Dragon Ball Super story. If you’ve been loving this Dragon Ball revival, don’t fret! There’s no way the series is gone.

The fact of the matter is, Dragon Ball Super is just way too popular for Toei to pull the plug for long. The Dragon Ball franchise is a huge part of what’s keeping Toei profitable. Since Super made its debut, overall profits for the Dragon Ball brand have skyrocketed. In 2014, Dragon Ball as a whole generated ¥1.174 billion, or about $11.2 million. In 2017, that number rose to ¥9.288 billion, or around $88.7 million. That’s nearly eight times the profits from just a few short years ago. There’s no way Toei is going to let that kind of money disappear.

The second thing to consider is that
Dragon Ball Super‘s narrative simply isn’t complete yet. It might seem hard to top a season where the fate of the multiverse is at stake, but there’s more story to tell. Toyotaro is the illustrator on the Dragon Ball Super manga, and he’s also series creator Akira Toriyama’s chosen successor. According to Toyotaro, the goal is for Super‘s story to catch up with the ending of Dragon Ball Z. While the bulk of Z‘s story wraps up with the defeat of Buu in Age 774, there are a few final episodes that follow a ten year time skip from the Buu saga. Dragon Ball Super picks up a few years after Buu’s death, taking place in between the end of the Buu saga and the final episodes of Z. The current Tournament of Power story is set in December of 780, six years after the Buu saga. That means there’s still another three and a half years left in between Super‘s current age and the ending of Z that Toyotaro wishes to revisit.

Next up on the list of clues that Super will return is the upcoming movie. A new movie (with Toriyama involved) is set to launch this December. Although there’s no official title for it yet, Toei Animation has confirmed that it will be the first movie to carry the “Super” title, and will follow after the events of episode 131. Even though Battle of Gods and Resurrection ‘F’ are set during the first two seasons of Super, they were known as Dragon Ball Z movies. Why switch branding to the Super name just as you’re retiring it? With the series taking some time off, launching a movie under the Super brand is the perfect way to get fans excited for the show’s revival.

When
Dragon Ball Super goes off air, it will be replaced in its time slot by the latest iteration of Gegege no Kitarō. However, flyers from Toei indicate that the show’s run is planned for around 50 episodes. With episodes airing weekly, Dragon Ball Super‘s time slot could become available again as early as April or May of 2019, just a few months after the movie makes its debut. Fittingly, April also marks the 30th anniversary of Dragon Ball Z‘s debut in Japan.

Voice actors from the show recently gave their thoughts on the finale, and several gave hints that the show will be back. Masako Nozawa, who voices Goku, Gohan, and Goten, stated that the show is “taking a little break,” but she hopes it will return “while the iron is still hot.”

Piccolo voice actor Toshio Furukawa expressed similar sentiments, stating “While this episode marks the end of the TV anime for now, I expect that it will probably start up again. Of course everyone should look forward to the movie in December, but also look forward to what will happen afterwards!

Krillin voice actor Mayumi Tanaka gave perhaps the clearest indication that the voice team expects to return, telling fans “Dragon Ball will definitely keep on going, so this doesn’t really feel like the final episode. The TV anime may end, but there’s still the movie and games…I think it’ll be back again before too long!

Toriyama himself has even hinted at a return, telling fans “Now then, the animated version on TV will be ending for the time being…” So
Dragon Ball Super is going away for awhile, but this is almost certainly not the end, and it’s probably for the best. The year off (or however long it may be) provides numerous benefits. Animators from the show can focus their efforts on making the upcoming movie a masterpiece. Toyotaro can take the year to get the manga caught up to the anime, and the English anime can catch up to its Japanese counterpart. Then, when the series makes its return, Toei’s team will have had plenty of time to plan, write, and animate the return of Dragon Ball Super.

A Note From the Editor-in-Chief

Hey, everyone! I just want to take a moment to explain what’s happening here. Gamnesia is a website dedicated to news about video games and the culture that surrounds them, and that’s not changing. Gamnesia will always be about the games. However, when we post articles or memes (on social media) about anime-related games, we’ve always gotten an extremely positive reaction from our viewers. There are a few of us here at Gamnesia who are big fans of anime, so from time to time we’ll be trying out articles like this. If you guys like what you see, we’ll keep ’em coming!

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Features Reviews

Tomb Raider is Far From Perfect, But It Still Delivers an Entertaining Experience

Video game movies aren’t exactly known for their quality. One look at recent forays into the genre such as Warcraft or Assassin’s Creed provides all the evidence we need to back that up. Despite this, we’re still seeing attempt after attempt to capitalize on these franchises, with the most recent being Square Enix’s Tomb Raider. The publisher has been quite successful with the franchise reboot in game form, but how does the transition to the big screen hold up?

Tomb Raider is a theatrical version of Crystal Dynamics’ 2013 reboot of the franchise and as such is the theatrical reboot of the Angelina Jolie-era movies. Alicia Vikander stars as a young, down on her luck Lara Croft who finds herself wrapped up a journey to find her father. Despite his position as head of a vast business empire, Lord Richard Croft had a secret life saving the world from an evil organization known as Trinity. Seven years prior to the events of the movie, Richard Croft suddenly vanished due to this work, leaving his legacy to Lara who wants nothing to do with it. Only upon accepting that her father isn’t coming back does Lara discover this secret life and set out on a journey to find him.

Lara’s journey takes her to the island of Yamatai, where she meets Mathias Vogel, a Trinity employee searching for the tomb of the Death Queen, Himiko. If all of these names sound familiar, that’s because they’re lifted straight out of the game. But that’s about the extent of the similarity to the game. While the game focuses on the Solarii Brotherhood, a cult of survivors searching for a successor to inherit Himiko’s soul, the movie ignores them completely in favor of Trinity. Himiko is said to bring death to those around her, and Trinity sees an opportunity to use her as a weapon to control the world.

While this motivates the antagonist’s actions, Lara is motivated by survival and the desire to find out what happened to her father. Tomb Raider decides to focus on this relationship and tells its story from this perspective. I can’t say I agree with this choice, mostly because we’re given no reason to really care all that much. All we’re presented with about Richard Croft is that he was never really around for Lara’s childhood, always running off on “business trips.” It’s hard to buy into the idea that he is an important figure in Lara’s life when all we have to go off of are flashbacks of him leaving. This emphasis also ruins what could’ve been an extremely important characterization moment for Lara midway through the movie, which I still haven’t been able to forgive.

Vikander is without question the star of the show. She takes on the role of Lara quite nicely, transforming her from a softer, young woman to the badass heroine we know and love. I’m more torn on Walton Goggins’ performance as Mathias, though I feel this may be due to the writing rather than Goggins himself. Despite being the film’s main antagonist, there’s nothing that makes him very memorable. Mathias is nothing more than a pawn in Trinity’s schemes, making it hard to see him as an actual threat at times. However, there are some rare circumstances where Mathias’ actions make him come across as borderline insane, and it is in these moments where he shines.

Nothing
Tomb Raider does is revolutionary; in fact, it’s quite the opposite, reminding me heavily of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Everything I saw in the film is already a staple of the genre. Gorgeous set pieces? Check. Trap-filled dungeon? You betcha. Fun action sequences? Of course. Despite all these cliches, or perhaps because of them, I found real enjoyment in watching Tomb Raider. It’s not a perfect movie by any means, but if you can get past its flaws, there’s some real fun to be had.

Tomb Raider is out now in theaters nationwide.

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Our Verdict
Tomb Raider
Alicia Vikander steals the show as Lara Croft; Gorgeous set pieces; Genre cliches feel right at home; Lots of references to the previous franchise entries, both game and film
Largely forgettable villain; Weak plot motivation; Key moments of characterization ruined by bad design choices
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