WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 28TH APRIL – 4TH MAY

Headline Of The Week

For the second year in a row, Nintendo is to again forgo a traditional presentation at E3 2014 in favour of a digital broadcast. Alongside the Nintendo Direct stream dated for the 10th June (the day after Sony, Microsoft, EA and Ubisoft’s presentations), there will be an invitational Super Smash Bros for Wii U & 3DS tournament between 16 ‘skilled’ (and totally not pre-selected) players at the Nokia Theatre in LA, and footage of the latest games will be broadcast by Nintendo Treehouse live and unedited from the booths on the showfloor.

In related Nintendo news, they really, really want you to buy the upcoming Mario Kart 8 – if you live in Europe and buy the latest installment of the kart racer, by registering your copy of MK8 on the Club Nintendo website before July 31st then you can get a digital download of The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD for free. You could also pick from one of either NintendoLand, New Super Mario Bros U, Game & Wario, Pikmin 3, Sonic: Lost World, The Wonderful 101, Wii U Party, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate or Mario & Sonic At The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games…but you’d be an idiot to turn down Wind Waker HD.

In Other News…

Never short of ideas for a catchy name, Microsoft have decided to call their exclusive, original programming for Xbox Live…’Xbox Originals’.

How very…original. Anyway, programming is set of officially kick off in June 2014, and a statement from the Xbox Wire website states that ‘every Xbox Originals show will offer interactive capabilities, as well as unique interactive features customized on a per-show basis, making it a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience you won’t find anywhere else’. Confirmed projects include a live action series based on Halo, Every Street United (focusing on the most talented street footballers in the world), a new drama series co-produced with Channel 4 called Humans, and the much anticipated documentary covering the recently excavated landfill in New Mexico stuffed full of Atari 2600 cartridges.

Microsoft have also hinted at a recent media event that they would eventually like to create more shows based around their video game IP’s, including Gears Of War, Forza Motosport and Fable. I could see Gears getting a conversion, but how do you make a show about Forza Motosport that isn’t simply Top Gear?

As talented as TellTale Games have been recently with the narratives in their games (including The Walking Dead & The Wolf Among Us), I’m sure that there will be some people who are nervous about what they will do with their episodic adaptation of the sensationally popular book and TV series Game Of Thrones (which in the absence of Breaking Bad is now the greatest and most discussed show in the world). Perhaps to alleviate such fears, the personal assistant of Thrones author George R.R Martin, Ty Corey Franck, will be working alongside TellTale to being the fantasy world to life.

Franck will work as story consultation on the game, which is supposedly only in the very early stages of development as TellTale juggle the second season of The Walking Dead, the finale of The Wolf Among Us and the start of Tales From The Borderlands. HBO (who broadcast the show) are also keen on the project, apparently having seen a 10 minute prototype of the game and the narrative choices it will offer players. We continue to wait on a solid release date

A new system update has been rolled out for the PlayStation 4. Amongst the most significant changes, v1.7 will allow users to edit gameplay clips captured from the console via the free editing suite SHAREFactory, stream footage directly through a capture card with the ‘HDCP Off’ option, and pre-download games several days before their release. You can also now dim the lightbar on the back of the DualShock controller if you own the world’s most reflective TV screen.

Wouldn't mind having a hands-on look at this to see if it is as complex as it appears

Wouldn’t mind having a hands-on look at this to see if it is as complex as it appears

It’s been a significant week also for news of upcoming releases for Sony’s console, which is one of the key divisions keeping the business financially healthy. At a indie-orientated event in San Francisco, Sony announced that over 1000 developers are now licensed to self publish games, and that games making their PlayStation debut will soon include Spelunky, Skulls Of The Shogun, Escape Goat and the wonderfully entertaining Nidhogg.

Finally, the game originally intended as a launch title for PS Plus on the PS4, #DRIVECLUB, has been given a solid release date of October 7th. I must admit my enthusiasm for the game has waned significantly since I played a demo at Eurogamer 2013; after all Gran Tursimo 6 has since come out for racing enthusiasts on PS3, and the news that the PS Plus version will only contain 10 cars and five tracks is pretty crap considering it was originally revealed as being almost identical to the retail version.

With the release of Titanfall, suddenly Activison’s recent forays into the future with Call Of Duty didn’t look all that impressive. After all, the main hook of Titanfall is that players can lay waste to everything in massive mechs TITANS; in Ghosts the most futuristic thing you had was a dog. So, everything that that the former COD developers who left to form Respawn Entertainment can do, Slegdehammer Entertainment can copy and turn up to eleven better. Enter Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

Leaked a few days ahead of its official reveal, Advanced Warfare appears to be introducing mechs, parkour and all sorts of silly futuristic technology to the series. They’ve also employed the acting chops of one Kevin Spacey to play the main antagonist, the leader of a private military embarking on a war with the United States Government.

It’s all too easy to suggest that a leap into the future is what Call Of Duty needs to freshen itself up, but lest we forget that it is exactly what happened back in 2007 when Modern Warfare was released. And that for my money is still the best game in the series outside of maybe Black Ops – and I only like that for the ridiculousness of JFK & Nixon vs. Zombies.

Even a 41% drop in weekly sales couldn’t shift Titanfall from the top of the UK Game Sales Charts this week, as it enjoyed a third straight week at the top. The rest of the Top 10 is a mere readjustment of the past few weeks, as we head into a few weeks of bugger all being released.

Top Ten For Week Ending 26th April 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)

1 – Titanfall (Respawn Entertainment/Bluepoint Games)

2 – 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil (EA Canada)

3 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

4 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

5 – Lego: The Hobbit (Traveller’s Tales)

6 – Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (4J Studios)

7 – SouthPark: The Stick Of Truth (Obsidian Entertainment)

8 – The Lego Movie Videogame (Traveller’s Tales)

9 – Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare (PopCap Games)

10 – Battlefield 4 (DICE Studios)

And Finally…

Riddle me this – this week, a very humble puzzle/office accessory/thing to be hurled at wall after five seconds celebrated its 40th anniversary. It’s probably the most famous item ever exported from Hungary. It was kicking around well before video games, and arguably it’s still more frustrating to complete than any puzzle game currently on the market. What am I describing? Of course, its the Rubik’s Cube.

Proving it's versatile applications, this mosaic is made entirely from Rubik's Cubes

Proving it’s versatile applications, this mosaic is made entirely from Rubik’s Cubes. Amusing what artists will do when they get bored

Designed by a clever architect chap called Erno Rubik, the multicolored 3×3 cube is one of the  most brilliantly designed things in the world. The objective has always been simple; by rotating singular rows of squares either vertically or horizontally, ensure that each face of the cube will be comprised of a single colour. But anyone who has ever spent more than a minute with the damn thing will appreciate that behind that simplicity lies a task that has left grown men in tears. For what its worth, I’ve never completed a Rubik’s cube, but speedrunners can jumble up a square and complete in in mere seconds. It’s a precision art that few other puzzles could ever achieve, and that’s probably why it’s up there with Lego as one of the most popular toy in the world.

So let’s give a hand to good old Mr Rubik and his cube, for forty years of fun and frustration in varying quantities. Long live the Cube!

 

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