Nintendo’s Splatoon Won’t Have Voice Chat

Splatoon

Splatoon, Nintendo’s newest and first real entry into the shooter market, will not have integrated voice chat. While some people, like this author at Kotaku, find the decision shortsighted and wrong, I think it’s absolutely the way to go.

Voice chat in online games is toxic. It’s full of belittlement, vulgarity, and trash talking. While I agree that voice chat contributes to cooperative play, and can be fun and in many ways a great tool, it’s not necessary — especially in a game like Splatoon where the goal is to cover a map in ink and introduce people to a competitive yet docile ‘shooter-esque’ game.

Serious competitors, should there be any in Splatoon (I’m goin’ all out, personally) can find other means of communicating. Skype and other voice chat options are prevalent, and even our phones these days have wifi enabled voice apps. There are ways to work around the lack of integrated chat.

A few ideas that might help to improve the experience would be if Nintendo allowed friends who have friended each other to communicate with voice. Another option is for Nintendo to integrate voice chat into the Wii U itself so that we can communicate via an app running behind the scenes. Players needn’t be forced to disable it or be exposed to that kind of unnecessary stuff in any game.

I applaud Nintendo for doing things their way. They know their brand and what they want.

Nintendo Smart Device Games & Multi-platform Gaming Network

nintendo-smart-device-games

Huuuuuuge news coming out of Tokyo this morning! Nintendo has formed a massive partnership with mobile gaming giant DeNA to bring Nintendo’s IPs to smart devices as well as develop a multi-platform gaming network spanning across PC, smart devices, Wii U, and 3DS. This news is INCREDIBLE for people like me and Graev who have always wanted Nintendo to finally get into some form of online service.

Nintendo has always been afraid of diminishing the value of their handheld consoles like the New Nintendo 3DS XL by releasing games on platforms like the iPhone, but with this multi-platform gaming network perhaps allowing all of these devices to interact in some way, it can only strengthen the power of their overall trend toward ‘mobile’ gaming.

Here are a few key notes from the announcement:

  • All apps/games will be new games (not ports) based on the Nintendo IPS and will utilize the characters, etc.
  • ALL of Nintendo’s IPs are up for grabs
  • The games will be designed toward “more premium experiences” on the smart devices (aka the higher priced games)
  • The multi-platform gaming network will be an”online membership service”
  • Nintendo gets 10% of DeNA, and DeNA gets 1.24% of Nintendo

I’m stoked. I love my iPhone 6 Plus, and I love my New Nintendo 3DS XL. If I can get nintendo games on my iPhone then I can ‘game’ more inconspicuously in places where busting out my 3DS is a little less socially acceptable than staring at a phone. I’m betting it’s only a matter of time too before Nintendo’s eShop will be available on their ‘online membership service’ allowing us to download these “ports” of games they supposedly aren’t working on right now. Give it time. It’ll happen.

I’m also really excited for the possibility that Nintendo may actually have something a little more like Xbox Live. It will be a platform that connects all players regardless of their device, and it will perhaps finally allow for the multiplayer experiences I’ve been wanting in my Nintendo games.

New Nintendo 3DS XL & Monster Hunter Ultimate 4

New NIntendo 3DS XLI’m 1/10th the enthusiast that Graev is when it comes to handheld systems. We both got the 3DS when it very first launched and became ambassadors (received the spiffy badge and free games) for supporting their somewhat rocky launch.

When the 3DS took off and launched the ‘XL’ version, then several more versions of the XL, Graev would get them and pass down his systems to me and I would fiddle around in a Pokemon game every now and again. When the New Nintendo 3DS XL came out, boasting so many new features, I decided I wanted one.

My family got me the New Nintendo 3DS XL as a belated birthday present, and thanks to Graev tossed in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate to go along with it. I’ll talk on MH4U but first let me talk up a few of the things I like about the new system.

Improved 3D Technology

New Nintendo 3DS Eye Tracking

If you’re like me and unable to hold still, you probably noticed that the 3D was finicky on the original 3DS. Moving your head to the side or not holding the 3DS at just the right angle made viewing the 3D effects difficult. The New 3DS includes a form of eye tracking that knows where your eyes are at and adapts to follow them when you move your face or the system around. I know it tracks my eyes because when I look a way then look back it wigs out for a second to find my eyes again. So as long as you don’t turn your head and look away completely, this thing keeps you engaged in the experience.

new-nintendo-3ds-c-stickThe C Stick

A couple of new controls were added like two new shoulder buttons, but the real star here is the C stick. The C stick is that little nubbin you see just above the X button. It barely moves but is made of a rubbery type feel that is sensitive to how your thumb pushes in directions. The only C stick implementation I’ve played with so far is in Monster Hunter, but that ability to control the camera alone has proven immensely useful for someone like me who has always struggled with handheld systems and the lack of ‘freedom’ of movement. Works great!

The New 3DS XL Overall

Overall the system is nice a big, feels good in my hands, and runs faster thanks to a better CPU. The browser on this thing feels better to me and navigates well. I think the camera was also improved to no longer be so dark and grainy. I haven’t played with the Amiibo support or anything but it has that. I plan to give the wireless file transfer stuff a try later to see how easy it is to take stuff from the micro sd card and transfer it over the wifi network straight to my PC. OH! I should also mention that exclusive games are coming to the New 3DS XL that will take advantage of not only the controls but the new upgraded speeds, so they will look even better.

 Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

mh4u

I have never been a Monster Hunter fan. I was always intimidated by what felt like massive barriers to entry and learning curves. There is so much that goes into such a simple premise of hunting monsters. Choosing weapon and armor types, crafting, upgrading, massive amounts of collecting, tons of strategic positioning during fights… it’s intense.

Much of that has changed now that I’ve hunkered down and put about 8 hours into the game. I’m starting to realize MH isn’t as incomprehensible as I thought. Still massive and overwhelming? Yes. If I stop and think about how insignificant I am compared to other people like Graev who have put in 100 hours already and could play another 200 hours easily… yep I could give up now. But I don’t. I focus on me and I go kill monsters.

For those who are completely unaware, here’s the gist of the game. You’re a monster hunter (the story is pretty simple and forgettable). You have a basic city/hub where you get quests, craft, etc. When you’re ready to go out on a quest you depart from the hub and you’re transported to a ‘map’ of ‘screens’ or ‘sections’ containing monsters. You’ll have lots of ‘trash’ monsters to kill as you make your way to objectives. You can harvest monsters you kill, big and small, for their resources which is essentially the entire point of the game: Kill monsters, harvest resources, make better stuff. You can mine nodes too for metals and gems, harvest plants, bugs, fish, etc. When done, you’re teleported back to the hub.

I’m having fun. I’ve even played multiplayer co-op with Graev! From the break room at work on my lunch I log in and Graev and I can connect to each other and slay monsters together. That’s an AWESOME feature for handheld systems, and it supports like 4 or 5 people all playing together hunting big monsters — yep, that’s pretty sweet.

I’m still a newb. I’m actually still trying to figure out which weapon I want to use. I thought I decided on the Chargeblade, but something about it just doesn’t fit my play-style. I’ve slayed lots of monsters already, gone on plenty of quests, and I’m crafting armor sets. This game brings out the min-maxer in me already by making me want to go online and read message boards to find the best combination of armor sets for my weapon type. Kinda fun, but kinda stressful.

Maybe the biggest downside to Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and MH games in general, is the time investment. Don’t get me wrong, you can have tons of fun like I am from the start, but to really get far it’s going to take you easily 30+ hours. That’s realistically no bad, but for a handheld system it’ll be the most I’ve ever put into a game except for Pokemon.

Should you get Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate? Yes. Get it. It’s awesome. Just be ready for a learning curve and expect to invest some time. It’s a game that will last.

Keen’s Most Anticipated Games of 2015

star-wars-battlefront

Star Wars Battlefront

Uh… need I say more? It’s friggin Battlefront. It’s like Star Wars meets Battlefield. The original Battlefront games were quite fun, and with the advances in today’s shooters I’m excited to see what they come up with. I can see myself flying a snow speeder and roping some walkers. Want. Now.

The Legend of Zelda Open World

The Legend of Zelda Wii U

Greav has always been the diehard Zelda fan, but I’ve always enjoyed the franchise. The Legend of Zelda for Wii U is going to be my first real purchase of my very own Zelda game where I plan to sit and play through it all. The reason why is because of the change of pace. Nintendo is going with more of a larger open world similar to what we find in western RPGs like Elder Scrolls games.

Little else is known about the game except that there are going to be lots of side missions. Miyamoto has stated that he expects players will even forget what their main goal is due to being lost in how much side stuff there is to do throughout the world.

No Man’s Sky

Every galaxy, planet, mountain, creature, and pixel is procedurally generated. Everything is explorable. Fly from one planet and seamlessly enter the atmosphere and fly into space and land on the next. The video below will do more justice than I can showcasing what this sci-fi survival and exploration game will be like.

Honorable Mentions

  • Star Fox (Wii U) – Nice change of pace for Nintendo to focus on a game we haven’t really seen too much of in the last 10 years.
  • Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Huge and dangerous open world.

What’s on your list?

Super Smash Bros. 3DS

smashbros-3ds

I have a pretty big backlog of blog posts that I need to get around to writing, I’ve played a lot of stuff that I have yet to really talk about. So today’s topic is: Smash Bros.

I absolutely LOVE this series thought I am by no means a competitive player. Just having fun and playing is my only objective so you will likely never find me playing those “items off, final destination only” matches. I just don’t see the point at all but kudos to whoever enjoys that. Anyway, Keen and I have very much enjoyed the series ever since the N64 days but I have yet to convince him to pull the trigger on the 3DS version. So please if you could pressure him into that it would be fantastic.

The Controls

This is a pretty big question on people’s minds, at least it was on mine. I had no idea if the 3DS circle pad and buttons would in anyway feel right when controlling a Smash Bros. game and as it is now I am torn. I still feel scared that I’ll break something and all of the horror stories and pictures out there don’t alleviate that at all. I grip my controllers very tightly, especially in intense situations. So having to dial back on this and get used to not thrashing a control stick around was a bit of a challenge. Mainly at first it affected my ability to input commands and even accurately move my character but over time I was able to adapt and I feel I am able to control the game fairly well, though probably not on the same level as with a controller in my hands. So really I wouldn’t say that this is a problem with the game on the 3DS so much as it is with me. Even so I imagine there will be a learning curve or adaptation period for everybody. [Read more…]