By Jeffrey Mizrahi
Playing with my SNES Classic Edition this week taught me two things. First, Super Mario World is a perfect game, and second, videogame manuals used to be ridiculously awesome. Nintendo posted the original manuals for all 21 games included in the little box as PDF’s on their site, and man, these were something. Scrolling through some of these that are over 70 pages long really makes me miss these informative pamphlets filled with detailed character art that pixels could not do justice. The Final Fantasy III manual has so much information, you would think it’s a separate strategy guide, but no, this baby came in the box. While I buy most of my games digitally these days, I’d buy a physical copy of a game in a heartbeat if you told me it has a dense manual in the box.
This week we have Christopher Byrd introducing us to Figment, Scott Stein makes the argument for the 3DS as the best classic system, Austin Walker revisits some Rockstar trailers, Sherri L. Smith and Mike Andronico let us know which of the big three has the best customer support, and Kimari Rennis takes us on a tour of the modern office.
And with that, The Roundup!
Christopher Byrd writes about Figment for the Washington Post. This emotional adventure game is set in the mind of an adult suffering from head trauma. Figment challenges the player with clever puzzles that don’t feel too daunting, mixed with simple combat that may be welcoming for a younger audience. The environment changes depending on where you are in the brain. For example, you encounter a literal “train of thought” while journeying through the left part of the brain. To find out more about Figment, read here.
Scott Stein calls the 3DS Nintendo’s best retro console. Couldn’t score an SNES Classic? Don’t fret! Your 3DS may be worth revisiting if you’re in the mood for some classic gaming. With a healthy selection of NES, SNES, Game Gear, and Game Boy titles available on the systems eShop, it’ll be long before you run out of that pixely goodness. Don’t forget the system also plays all DS games, and many classic N64 games have been remastered exclusively for the system. To find out some of Scott’s favorites, read here.
Austin Walker wasn’t so hot on the first Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer initially. But when the second trailer dropped last week, he revisited the original trailer to find out what he thought was wrong. Austin compares the first trailers for Rockstar’s recent titles like Grand Theft Auto V and the original Red Dead Redemption. He tries to identify the different tones and themes they all try to convey in under two minutes. To find out if Austin changed his mind on the RDR 2 trailer, read here.
Sherri L. Smith and Mike Andronico addressed an overlooked topic in the “console wars” and answered the question, who has the best customer support? Factoring in many characteristics of quality customer support such as average call time, availability, and overall affability, they determined that Microsoft provides the best support with the Xbox. If you want to read the comprehensive breakdown, check here.
The Circle’s own Kimari Rennis, our intern from the DreamYard Prep School, got to take a tour of the Tom’s Guide and CNET offices. Several Circle members showed her what it’s like to write about, and test, both hardware and software as part of your career. Not only was her mind blown by cool tech like the HTC Vive, but she also learned what it takes to climb up the corporate ladder, and how important connections are in the videogame industry. To learn more about Kimari’s trip, read here.
Outside the Circle…
When it comes to gaming and universities, we often write here about schools creating eSport teams, implementing VR into curricula, or creating some new experimental game. But now the University of Chicago is doing something new by implementing a new ARG experience for first year students. This alternate reality game is essentially a transmedia scavenger hunt that has incoming freshman interacting with characters through Snapchat, or watching video diaries on YouTube to solve some intriguing puzzles. The ARG is modeled after the preexisting “Scav Hunt” that has entertained students for the past 30 years. To learn more about the ARG’s story, read here.
Industry veteran and Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Andrew House announced that he will be stepping down from his position. House has held this position since 2011 and has been working at Sony for 27 years. Taking his place will be John Kodera. House has always been a welcome face for the company, and will be missed. For more details, read the official press release, here.
Layoffs suck and they are no stranger to the gaming industry. Kotaku reports that there have been some heavy layoffs at the Agents of Mayhem studio, Volition, this week. Just a month after their latest release, 30 employees are now out of a job. We wish them the best of luck, and are sure other studios will pick up these talented individuals. For more, read here.
Farwell Wii Shop Channel, and say goodbye to the one of the largest digital catalog of retro games. Nintendo announced their plans to shut down the Wii Shop Channel on January 31, 2019. The online shop was home to hundreds of experimental indie games such as World of Goo as well as almost every first party Nintendo console game ever released prior to the GameCube. With no guarantee if you can re-download purchased games once the store closes, the closing itself raises a lot of questions for gaming’s “all digital future.” With physical media, my grandkids can play the same games I did for generations to come (until the disc or cartridge breaks). But with digital games, once the store hosting them goes down, those game are lost forever. For more on this, read here.
With a big full number update, you would assume this week’s PS4 5.0 system update brings with it some heavily requested features such as name changes or backwards capability. Unfortunately, the latest update is more a collection of many minor updates. A total revamping of the family and parental controls, custom friends lists, as well as the ability to follow (not friend) any user are just some of the newest improvements for the PS4. For a whole list of changes, check here.
And there you have it, this week’s Roundup! Happy Sukkot everyone!