By Ronald Gordon
Hello and welcome back to the Roundup! It’s the Critics Circle’s way of gathering up all the articles written by members and interns alike. This week, we’ve got news on the controversy surrounding the latest Harry Potter game, cheap SSDs, a Mario Kart collaboration with Hot Wheels, and so much more.
To start us off comes the heartfelt acceptance speeches given at the New York Game Awards. Having happened last month at SVA Theatre, the event was a smash hit pulling in over 14 million social media impressions, reaching 3 million people on Twitter (and elsewhere), 321 journalism stories, well over 100,000 live viewers and nearly filling the audience chairs at the theater. But that isn’t all, the acceptance speeches given at the event were impactful as developers and people who were part of the games that won gave us a thank you for the appreciation their work was given. Elden Ring even had a witchy cameo in their acceptance, a live appearance from one of the many characters within the game! Feel free to check out the videos in question. Congrats once again to everyone that won and was nominated!
Next, our intern Valeisha Jackson with a review of Vampire Survivors, a recent winner of one of the many New York Game Awards given last month. After reminiscing about her family and their love of games, Valeisha relents how she’s become addicted to such a simple roguelike and what sparked this addiction in the first place. “Vampire Survivors is a really fun game that is an attention grabber, a fun rogue-like that has absolutely hooked me. My siblings and I absolutely love playing this game and updating each other on how far we’ve gotten. We talk about certain level, new weapons, gems/jewels for what seems like forever. It’ll also only kill your free time, not your wallet, with its price of just $5.” While her review is mostly filled with gameplay aspects she enjoyed, the kicker at the end really details how she and her siblings connected over their shared addiction to Vampire Survivors. As an avid fan and fellow addict of the game myself, I can’t help but wish them luck on their addiction as there seems to be no recovery from it – an that’s a good thing. Please note there’s even more V.S. content now available. There’s a new patch with a new challenge stage called Bat Country and a new power up for bone boy.
Stephen Totilo brings news on the latest drama revolving Hogwarts Legacy and J.K Rowling. With the release of Hogwarts Legacy, a number of streamers and game reviewers have been choosing to boycott the game, thanks to the controversy surrounding the author of the Harry Potter books. “The Potter author has been accused of transphobia — she denies it — since 2018, when she ‘liked’ a tweet that said that trans women are ‘men in dresses’ (per Politico, she said it was for research purposes). Among her many comments on gender since then, she has mocked the idea that the phrase ‘people who menstruate’ could refer to anything other than women.” While the game is still selling to a wide array of people, the amount of people refusing to buy or play the game is noticeable to say the least on social media. While it’s no surprise that Harry Potter as a franchise is hitting roadblocks due to Rowling’s political views, it’s still a shame to see such a beloved pop culture staple struggle for the sins of its creator. Even though the game starts slow with forced dialogue, a few minutes in sees the action heighten with huge dragons in the sky.
In other news, Michelle Ehrhardt brings news of a recent development with Mario Kart Live and Hot Wheels. After the 2020 showcase of toys-to-life Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, fans of this type of sport wanted to see more of AR Car Tech and its capabilities. That’s where the Hot Wheels: Rift Rally comes into play, “The biggest change here, oddly enough, isn’t the new IP but rather the new system. While we’ll miss Nintendo’s turtle stomping plumber, Hot Wheels: Rift Rally is now a PS5 console exclusive, with an iOS version giving users the ability to play on-the-go via a direct connection with the car (no WiFi or 5G required).” (That’s great because the physical toy car in Home Circuit had trouble connecting to WiFi.) While the Nintendo Switch has its uses as a widely recognized portable game device, gaming on the phone seems to be a lot more convenient for those who don’t wish to carry around a Switch as much.
Jorge Jimenez talks about the price drop of a positively reviewed NVMe SSD. “The Seagate FireCuda 530 2 TB is one of the best NVMe SSDs you can buy right now, and it’s on sale at B&H at an aggressively low price of only $239.” SSDs, or Solid State Drives, are some of the most important, and in some cases the most expensive, parts of any computer which allows them to run at high speeds when loading things such as games and the like. Knowing this, it may be obvious not to skimp out or ignore the chances that come for lower prices, especially when it comes to the Seagate FireCuda 530. It’s regarded as “the top of the field and was one of the best NVMe SSDs of last year.” Jorge remarks that, “It would have most likely ranked higher if it weren’t for that wildly high retail price.” But for the time being it may be the best option after dropping its price to only $239 on select sites.
Beyond the Circle
Also, this week’s Nintendo Direct presentation was wonderfully robust and varied. Not only did it include a new Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer for rabid fans to parse, it showcased a new offerings from familiar IPs: Professor Layton, a Metroid Prime remaster (already out!), Kirby, Pikmin and a Bayonetta prequel. Viewers also saw a new version of the classic Dreamcast game from 1999, Samba de Amigo. For a completely new game, watch for Gearbox’s Blanc, out on Valentine’s Day!
Team Fortress 2 seems to be getting a long-awaited update. Having been one of the biggest pieces of internet meme culture and a long-running staple in the Team based FPS genre, TF2 and its die-hard fans have been yearning for a new update for ages. In Valve’s blog post, the company seems to be pushing forward with plans for more content in Team Fortress 2, but there’s a twist on how they want this content to be made. Knowing full well what the fan base is capable of, Valve addressed the fans in their post by saying they want content from the Steam Workshop to feature in this big update they have planned. “We’re planning on shipping a full-on update-sized update – with items, maps, taunts, unusual effects, war paints and who knows what else?! Which means we need Steam Workshop content! YOUR Steam Workshop content!” Who knows? Maybe they’ll actually pay for some of that content.