The Roundup: Phil Spencer At NY Game Awards, GTA On BBC, Coral Island, Persona 5 Royal, Holokit X, Cohort, Gran Turismo Movie

By Ronald Gordon

Hello and welcome back to the Roundup, the Critic Circle’s method of gathering up all the stories done by members and interns alike to give them a spotlight. This week we’ve got Isaac’s words on Splatoon 3 with a special guest, Karoline’s thoughts on a fun new farming simulator, a review of Personal 5 Royal, and so much more!

Before we begin, I’d like to mention that CEO of Microsoft Gaming and head of the Xbox Brand Phil Spencer will be recieving this year’s Andrew Yoon Legend Award at the NY Game Awards. Having a long list of accomplishments under his belt over the years of his work with Microsoft and various Xbox consoles and games released, we believe Phil deserves every ounce of recognition we hope to give him at the Awards ceremony on 1/17/23. Read about it and buy tickets here to see just how Legendary Phil Spencer is.

Founder Harold Goldberg was featured in many episodes of a recent podcast. Titled Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game on BBC Sounds, the Podcast stars Rapper Bugzy Malone talking about his experience in Grand Theft Auto and how it changed his life in the darkest of times. In several of the episodes of the series Harold is brought on to talk about Rockstar’s games and his experiences as well, eventually coming to a close with talk on GTA6 and what it might be like. Feel free to give it a listen on BBC Sounds, all 8 episodes are available for free. 

Next we have one of our newest writers, Karoline Castillo-Troncoso, and how she enjoyed the heartwarming escape to Coral Island. Using her desire for adventure to guide her start in the game, Karoline was taken aback by how freeing and open the game truly was. “Once I first began my journey, I expected to be walked through the experience, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that I wasn’t. Instead, I was compelled to traverse through the map and find my way around; a message which can be connected to that of our real life existence in general. There won’t always be someone to hold your hand through certain situations, and although not always ideal, that forces you to persevere and endure obstacles with the purpose of conquering a goal.” While some would rather have a game tell you all you need to know, players like myself and Karoline love getting in and discovering these things on our own, a refreshing thought that Coral Island reciprocates in its game play. Karoline has a lot more to say on the game, so feel free to give her story a read. 

Isaac Espinosa’s review of Splatoon 3, which was his first ever Splatoon game despite being a rampant Nintendo fan. Despite this, he still found himself lost in Splatoon’s world, “It’s easy to forget just how vast Splatoon’s story modes can be. Aside from the tale being a marvelous adventure filled with well-executed pacing and tension, it’s also extremely enjoyable from a gameplay perspective.” While he wasn’t comfortable enough to critique the game’s flaws, Isaac invited a friend of his to share their thoughts on its shortcomings. Known by the Twitter handle @KeikoKawayui, Keiko has been a fan of Splatoon since the WiiU days and mentioned, “While yes, it’s nice that every weapon is in the game, there’s no variants to kits. Like there’s only one rapid blaster that is JUST a rapid blaster, not counting the pro because it has different stats. Some weapons in 1 and 2 had several kits.” Which is a short but sweet addition to Isaac’s review that helps him critique the game beyond what he knows.

Thanks to Persona 5 Royal coming to Steam and Xbox Game Pass, reviewers like The Daily News’ Ebenezer Samuel finally have a chance to express their opinions on the rapidly thriving JRPG. Starting off his thoughts by saying, “It very well may be the greatest JRPG ever made,”proclaims Ebenezer as he continues his review of Persona 5 Royal and what it offers. “But no RPG creates levels to the turn-based experience quite like Persona. As the game goes on, you gradually learn evermore wrinkles, speaking to enemies to get them to join your team, and using their abilities to augment those of key characters.” From the combat to the overall story, Ebenezer speaks convincingly on what Persona 5 Royal is like and why everyone should be playing it. 

With the iPhone rapidly increasing its capabilities, it’s unsurprising that Scott Stein brings news on its use in the HoloKit X. Boasting a low price of one $129, the HoloKit X can turn your iPhone from a normal piece of tech to an AR Headset in a flash, a feat that reminds Scott of the good old days. “Before VR was a thing you could easily get in any Target or Best Buy, companies like Samsung and Google sold little goggles you’d drop your phone into to see cheap, but surprisingly effective virtual images. Using the HoloKit X brought me back to that time nearly a decade ago, but now it’s for AR. The simple visor and headband uses a wide variety of iPhones to lean on their built-in AR capabilities, creating head-up images I can see on my face,” Using the headset to explore an NFT gallery put together by Amber Hu, Scott got to observe just how easy it was to use and how diverse things could get. There’s hope that the future won’t require you to buy heavy hitting machines like the Meta Quest Pro or HoloLens 2 to simply enjoy VR/AR, and with the HoloKit X that future seems a lot closer. 

Jordan Minor brings news of a new social media platform, thanks to the rising worry that Twitter will soon come to a startling crash. Known as Cohort, this rising platform is ad-free, has editable posts with no character limit, and might just be the go to option for anyone looking for a replacement. “Despite controlling the internet for years, Facebook and Twitter now seem more vulnerable than ever, which means there may be an opening for something like Cohost, a new social networking site from the Anti Software Software Company, that harkens back to an earlier, more grassroots internet era. Cohost has many great tools for socializing online, which is made all the better by its lack of a corroding corporate influence. But whether or not it succeeds depends on time and outside factors that are basically beyond its control.” Knowing that there is another option is a step in the right direction. I for one am hopeful that Cohort achieves the bandwidth necessary to handle the likes of Twitter or Facebook users. 

Beyond The Circle

With many games nowadays getting some kind of spin off series or movie, it’s not surprising that yet another series has been picked up for its own film adaptation. What’s more surprising is the game in question: Gran Turismo, Sony Interactive’s and PlayStation’s best selling racing game, which continues to compete with games such as Need for Speed or Forza to this day. Although the movie was announced a while back, Matt Grobar’s article on Deadline talks about the fact that four actors for the film have been announced. “The actors join an ensemble also including Archie Madekwe, David Harbour, Orlando Bloom, Djimon Hounsou, Geri Halliwell-Horner and Daniel Puig. Based on the true story of Jann Mardenborough, the film is described as the ultimate wish fulfillment tale of a teenage Gran Turismo player whose gaming skills won him a series of Nissan competitions to become an actual professional race car driver.”

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