By Shane Ferguson
Greetings Circlers, Shane here to wrap up August with your final Roundup of the month. It’s been a great week (and month) for gamers. And on the horizon, September is looking even better. This week our Circle presents a special announcement, in depth reviews and Pokemon news!
Before we begin, we would like everyone to send their thoughts and prayers out to everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. Let us all try to support the best we can. Founder Harold Goldberg is giving all the proceeds from his game books for the week to those in Houston and Texas. Many there have suffered tremendous loss, and many gamers have lost collections. Of course, health is vastly more significant than material possessions. You’re in our thoughts here in NYC.
Heather Alexandra reviews Yakuza Kiwami: The Kotaku on the PlayStation 4. Yakuza Kiwami: The Kotaku is a remake of the original PS2 classic. With updated game mechanics and this game is appropriately released following Yakuza (A prequel story to the franchise).Is Kiwami perfect for newcomers of the franchise? Or is it a forced makeover for an outdated game? These questions and more are answered in Heather and Luke Plunkett’s in depth discussion. Both being big fans of the franchise, Luke and Heather compare both experiences, share some of their favorite moments and analyze grievances. Read their discussion here.
Sherri L. Smith tells us how Microsoft fares in its introduction to the virtual reality market. Sherri reviews Microsoft’s new plug and play Mixed-Reality headset for PC that is scheduled for release later this year. The new headset utilizes augmented reality in unison with virtual reality to create a unique experience. With a price tag of $399, remarkable apps and a new Halo game confirmed for the system, is Microsoft’s Mixed-Reality the economic savior of VR? Find out here.
Harold Goldberg reviews Madden NFL 18 and examines the importance of the last frontier in sports gaming, narrative. As big sports game franchises begin to focus more on story modes (i.e. FIFA, NBA 2K, MLB The Show), should one expect more than the poor writing and celebrity cameos we’re accustomed to? With so many annual franchise releases these days, it’s hard to argue why the sports genre is behind in this department. Is Madden NFL 18’s Longshot a step forward for narrative in sports games or a miscalculated descent? Also, you can see a commenter call Harold a “Leftist activist” for his review. Read the full critique here.
Samit Sarkar blesses us with some very special news as Blizzard announces a new free-for-all deathmatch mode in Overwatch. Director Jeff Kaplan stated Blizzard initially didn’t think deathmatch would be a good fit for the game. He wanted players to focus on objective-based team modes. Reception to the new mode has been predominantly positive. Check out screenshots of the new map Château Guillard here.
Allegra Frank introduces the recently announced Nintendo Switch indie lineup for 2018. Nintendo announced a ton of new indie titles coming to the Switch at its latest Nindies Presentation. Some standouts include a new No More Heroes, a Super Meat Boy sequel, and a Shovel Knight prequel. Check out the rest of the lineup here.
Dan Ackerman and Scott Stein present episode one of the new CNET Book Club Podcast. Here, they discuss various books from sci-fi and thrillers to science and technology. In this week’s episode, they break down the new post apocalyptic novel Borne. The Author of Borne, Jeff Vandermeer joins the discussion via Skype to reveal some of Borne’s secrets and mysteries. If you love smart speculative science fiction this podcast should definitely be added to your rotation, Check out episode one here.
And now, news outside the Circle…
Author Zoe Quinn will be reading from her new book Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win The Fight Against Online Hate at The Strand Book Store, 828 Broadway, this Monday, 9/05, at 7 p.m. Quinn is a survivor and the inspiring tome details how she escaped her darkest days. Get your tickets to the event here.
Get one of the newest legendary Pokémon, Marshadow, this October free at GameStop. From October 9th-23rd. GameStop will provide codes for the legendary Pokémon along with a special Z-Crystal item. The Pokémon Company and Nintendo has teased this release for months, coming just weeks before the release of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Find out more about the giveaway here.
We all love to see stories about developers attempting to create gaming experiences that double as educational, therapeutic or coping mechanisms. One I’ll never forget is a story about a developer who created a game to motivate his son to take his insulin after being diagnosed with diabetes. He thought of the idea after noticing his son’s Game Boy made him forget to monitor his daily blood sugar levels. I was automatically enamored with this concept. It was very clever parenting as well as a new potential for gaming as a whole. Hospice is a new game about losing someone you love. It’s developed by Miko Charbonneau, whose grandmother recently had a stroke. Miko wanted the player to feel as she did in that instance: “trapped in a seemingly endless loop, never knowing whether a triumphant recovery or the final goodbye awaited us.” The game is definitely a unique experience you won’t forget. Read more about it here.
In more game developers changing the world news, there’s a new game in development on Kickstarter which attempts to raise awareness about sex trafficking. Missing: The Complete Saga is an action RPG that follows Champa, an Indian village girl who must endure the trials and tribulations of life both before and after becoming a victim of sex trafficking. Missing: The Complete Saga is the sequel to the acclaimed Missing: Game for a Cause. The developers of Missing hope the widespread acclaim of the original promises even bigger awareness this time around. Millions of lives are ruined every year due to sex trafficking. Proceeds from Missing will be allocated toward awareness as well as for the livelihood and rescue of victims of sex trafficking. I know I will definitely be backing this project. Check out their Kickstarter and Play the prologue here.
Shenmue III gets its first trailer since its announcement at E3 in 2015. Shenmue III is scheduled for release in the second half of 2018 and is currently the highest crowdfunded videogame campaign in Kickstarter history. This fact along with Shenmue’s cult following make interest for the game’s release high. Check it out yourself here.
And that’s it for this week’s Roundup! See you next week and enjoy your weekend!
Shane Ferguson is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern. Kudos: this is perhaps the longest Roundup ever written.