Category Archives: Gaming News

Gaming News

Nintendo’s Adorable 8-Bit Robot Fighting Game Is Now Playable On Switch

Screenshot: Nintendo (Kotaku)

As usual with Nintendo’s classic game services, Switch Online’s NES app now has more games in Japan than it does in the rest of the world. While today’s worldwide update included Blaster Master and Zelda II, Japan also got a very cool fighting game called Joy Mech Fight. Fortunately, since Switch is region-free, anyone with an Online account can play it.

The Nintendo Entertainment System didn’t have many one-on-one fighting games, mostly because the genre was becoming popular just as the 8-bit consoles were reaching the ends of their lifecycles. It was also difficult (if not impossible) for the hardware to handle the massive character sprites that players expected out of games like Street Fighter II. (Eventually, Taiwanese bootleg developers would create unofficial ports of these games to the NES hardware, but these usually didn’t play well at all.)

Joy Mech Fight, developed by Nintendo in 1993, had a clever solution to this problem. The adorable robot characters that made up its roster of fighters didn’t have arms or legs. Instead, they were made up of free-floating heads, torsos, hands, and feet. This meant that they could be composed of small, manageable sprites, and also that each of their fighting moves could be animated simply by moving those sprites around, rather than having to draw (and store on the expensive cartridge space) new art for each move.

That poster is definitely advertising a live show with Yoshi and Mario.
Screenshot: Nintendo (Kotaku)

The efficacy of this scheme thus rests on the quality of the animation, and Joy Mech Fight does a great job of it. You quickly forget that they don’t have limbs. Your mind sort of fills it all in. It’s tough to understand it just looking at screenshots; you’ve got to feel it in action.

Especially for an NES game, Joy Mech Fight is quite feature-rich. Each of the 36 (!) robot fighters in the game has four special moves, and before you start a fight, you can go into a practice mode to see how each of them are performed, then try them for yourself. When you successfully pull one off in battle, the name of the move is shown underneath your fighter’s life bar. The moves themselves are often cribbed straight from Street Fighter, like a rapid leg kick similar to Chun-Li’s or a Shoryuken-like jumping uppercut. Only delivered by a cute robot.

Sukapon showed up in Smash recently.
Screenshot: Nintendo

You can jump straight into a versus match (against the computer or a second player) from the main menu, but there’s also a lengthy single-player mode. You begin as the “comedy robot” Sukapon, recently seen in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as an assist trophy. As you defeat your competitors in the single-player mode, you unlock them as playable fighters. Once you get all eight of the starting fighters, you move on to Stage 2 to fight different robots.

While it was a popular and well-liked Famicom game, Joy Mech Fight was never released outside Japan. While it would have been nice if Nintendo had taken the opportunity to release it here on Switch, the fact that the platform is region-free means that you can still play it. If you have a paid Switch Online account in the U.S., you can create a free Japanese account, download the Famicom games app, and be playing Joy Mech Fight within minutes. You may have to muddle through some simple Japanese-language menus to get going, but once you get past that, Joy Mech Fight speaks only in the universal language of face-punching.


Bright Memory Is An Ambitious Shooter Made By One Guy

SteamedSteamed is dedicated to all things in and around Valve’s PC gaming service.  

Bright Memory’s trailer first caught my attention when the game’s sci-fi soldier main character, Shelia, force-pushed a wolf monster into the air, energy-lassoed her way up alongside it, sliced it to ribbons with a sword, froze it in a time bubble, and then sliced it to more ribbons—because at that point, why not?

Good news: the whole game is like that. Bad news: the whole game, currently in early access on Steam, doesn’t have much meat on its mangy wolf bones yet, and it may not for quite some time.

Bright Memory, a mash-up of over-the-top Bulletstorm-like first-person shooting and Devil-May-Cry-style action, is being made primarily by just one developer, Zeng “FYQD” Xiancheng, “in his spare time,” according to the game’s Steam page. And while it’s not quite on the audiovisual level of modern triple-A shooters, it sometimes comes close, with a flair for both dramatic setpieces and old-fashioned monster-mashing boss battles.

There’s just enough silly, poorly-translated B-movie story here to justify Shelia being transported from the sleek halls of futuristic corporate espionage to a land of mythical creatures, skeleton soldiers, wolf monsters, and also regular wolves who are just mean for some reason. The current version of the game comprises only its first episode, and the hour-long experience mostly funnels you between encounters that are meant to show you the ropes.

That’s probably for the best, because there’s a lot to juggle. You can, of course, shoot enemies, but bullets are, at best, a means by which to eventually annoy them to death. The real meat of the game comes in the form of combos that involve your gun, your sword, and other powers that can, for example, send enemies sky-high and leave them ripe for air juggling.

I spent my first 10 minutes or so coming to grips with the cadence of sword swings and the timing of Shelia’s force-push-like EMP blast, but then I was able to get more creative. Bright Memory likes to throw decently-sized hordes of baddies at you, so going airborne is a good substitute for crowd control in a pinch. Plus, after making sashimi out of a skybound enemy for a few seconds, it’s both satisfying and strategically advisable to punctuate the moment with a downward plunging slash that sends other nearby enemies careening backward. Bright Memory also scores your hacking, slashing, and shooting with a Devil-May-Cry-like combo letter grade system, so variety is your best friend—you won’t get as high a grade if you just spam one move, even if it is effective.

Success in combat yields XP, which you can spend on everything from stat boosts like increased defense to new abilities like the aforementioned time-stopping power. However, Bright Memory’s first episode was over long before I could unlock all of them.

Levels are generally quite linear, with little room for exploration. They largely serve to funnel you into more open combat arenas so that monsters can pour forth from their monster spigots and do their thing. These areas are competently designed, though sometimes at odds with Bright Memory’s dodge-heavy, free-flowing combat. Nearly every combat scenario I ended up in contained at least one obstacle that annoyed more than it challenged, whether that meant an instant-death pit that I backed into while darting around enemies in a cave, statues jutting from a ruin’s walls that my character kept getting stuck on when I tried to dodge a boss’ lumbering blows, or a forest fire that, as somebody who lives in California, I can say was uncharacteristically localized to a specific area of the map, and wouldn’t go out no matter how many times I smothered its embers with my burning body.

There are puzzles sprinkled throughout as well, but they’re about as perfunctory as they come. In one, I matched runes on the ground with symbols on a wall. In another, I platformed around an area and—at canned, pre-specified points—used my energy lasso to swing over gaps that were too long for me to leap. These puzzles exist. I solved them. I’ll forget about them in a week.

Fortunately, Bright Memory seems pretty aware that combat is its centerpiece, and I’m interested to see what future episodes bring. The first episode ends with a sudden boss battle against a god—this game escalates quickly—that’s big on flash, but light on clever mechanics. Now that all the tutorial stuff is out of the way, though, I’m hoping episode two will remedy that and then some. And add even bigger wolves.


Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice’s Protagonist Will Actually Speak

From Software has revealed that its changing how it tells stories when it comes to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The contrast of beauty against death will still be present in its narrative, but Sekiro will be about a specific character with his own backstory as opposed to a nameless, blank slate protagonist like in previous Soulsborne games.

“We’re trying to tell more of a drama, if you will, of these characters,” From Software marketing and communications manager Yasuhiro Kitao said to Game Informer in an interview. Sekiro follows the changing relationship between Young Lord and his guardian The Wolf, the latter of which you play as. In the beginning of the game’s story, the two are attacked and Young Lord is kidnapped while The Wolf is left defeated with his arm cut off. Upon awakening, The Wolf receives his prosthetic arm and then sets out on a quest to find Young Lord and defeat those responsible for the assault.

On his journey, The Wolf will meet other characters, but unlike previous From Software games where the protagonist wordlessly responds to others, The Wolf will actually speak to people. He is his own person, with his own thoughts, feelings, and sense of morality. In turn, having a character with an established backstory has allowed From Software to implement storytelling techniques that are absent from past Soulsborne titles, such as flashback sequences.

All that said, From Software doesn’t want to take away from players who love theorizing about the lore of Soulsborne games. Even though The Wolf has an established past, the history of the world he lives in–as well as the enemies, bosses, and some of the characters he meets–are fragmented. It’ll be up to you to piece together exactly what happened prior to the game’s events.

In Sekiro, From Software is breaking plenty of other conventions it’s established with its past Soulsborne games. One of the most notable changes is in how boss battles play out, as Sekiro’s expanded traversal mechanics–such as stealth, parkour, and a grappling hook–allow for more unique encounters. Sekiro also won’t have an online multiplayer, so From Software has designed the game to allow players to actually pause the action wherever they are. Unlike Dark Souls III and Bloodborne, Sekiro will have a hub area that’s connected to its world, allowing for more opportunities to freely explore.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice releases for Xbox One, PS4, and PC on March 22.


Nintendo Exclusives Confirmed For 2019

Nintendo continues to flex its muscles of fan favorite characters, and also welcomes some third party games in all of its confirmed 2019 exclusives for the Switch and 3DS. Some of the games are already out, and we’re excited for what has yet to come. What games are you looking forward to?

God Of War Director Talks About Cutting “A Lot” Of Boss Fights

The developers of the PlayStation 4 exclusive God of War originally had many more boss fights planned. Game director Cory Barlog told Noclip that “a lot” of boss fights ended up on the cutting room floor, in part because it was too much work.

“We cut a lot of bosses. A lot. We had so many more,” he said. “It was a much more ambitious, crazier game. And as you go through development, you start realising, ‘No, it’s too big, we can’t do this.'”

Barlog said a single boss battle took 18 months of work from a team of 30 developers, so as such, the number of boss fights had to be scaled back to make sure the game actually came out this decade. “One boss takes like 30 developers a year and a half. It’s an absolutely massive scale when you really consider it, and you measure it against other games in which we finished the game in a year and a half,” he said.

The developer also pointed out that the “boss team” had other tasks as well, which took up even more of their time. At the end of the day, Barlog said, “It became a reality that some of these things will have to be cut.”

Also in the interview, Barlog talked about how the troll fights were never intended to be boss battles. He shares many more interesting anecdotes from his time working on one of 2018’s most celebrated games; check out the full video below.

In other news, Barlog said he had an idea for a “really fun” expansion for God of War. However, it was “too ambitious,” and Sony eventually decided to scrap it.


Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Video Review

Travis Strikes Again succeeds as a simple hack-n-slash with seamless co-op, but doesn’t do enough to avoid repetition or challenge you in meaningful ways.

Metro Exodus – 50 Minutes of Caspian Desert Gameplay

Take a look at Metro Exodus’ biggest level, the Caspian Desert, with 50 minutes of brand new gameplay.

Ubisoft Apologizes For Forcing Your Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Character Into A Straight Relationship


Ubisoft recently generated controversy when it was revealed that the newest Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey expansion, Shadow Heritage, would force players into a straight relationship for a period of time. Now, creative director Jonathan Dumont has apologised, and he also explained why it happened.

At the end of the content, Kassandra or Alexios, depending on who you’re playing as, has a child in a heterosexual relationship. Dumont said in a forum post that it was important for the game to establish how “your character’s bloodline has a lasting impact on the Assassins.” However, Dumont acknowledged that Ubisoft “missed the mark.”

“We want to extend an apology to players disappointed by a relationship your character partakes in,” he explained. “Alexios/Kassandra realizing their own mortality and the sacrifice Leonidas and Myrrine made before them to keep their legacy alive, felt the desire and duty to preserve their important lineage. Our goal was to let players choose between a utilitarian view of ensuring your bloodline lived on or forming a romantic relationship. We attempted to distinguish between the two but could have done this more carefully as we were walking a narrow line between role-play choices and story, and the clarity and motivation for this decision was poorly executed.”

Players do not to need to continue this relationship in the next chapter of the DLC, Dumont added. He also said that this has been “a learning experience” for Ubisoft; he promised that Ubisoft will “do better” to make sure that player choice–which Ubisoft had hyped as one of the core tenets of the game–stays intact going forward.

The move to force players into a heterosexual relationship was especially grating for some because, as mentioned, it ran counter to what Ubisoft had promised up until this point: that you could make your own choices in regards to romantic partners.

At E3 2018, Odyssey’s narrative director Melissa McCoubrey stressed how the game would allow players to choose their romantic partners. “If you want to be a woman and romance a woman, you can do that. If you want to be a man and romance a woman, you can do that. If you want to be a man and romance a man and a woman, you can do that,” she told Stevivor at the time.

The title of the achievement/trophy for Shadow Heritage that unlocks after the childbirth is “Growing Up,” and that name is stirring controversy as well. [Update: the name of the achievement will be changed in a forthcoming patch, according to Kotaku]

Shadow Heritage is part of the Legacy of the First Blade paid DLC for Odyssey. In addition to new story content, it added a new Hunter ability, Rapid Fire, which allows players to fire arrows rapidly without reloading. You can watch the opening minutes of Shadow Heritage in the video embedded above.


Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Director Says ‘We Missed The Mark’ With Controversial DLC Relationship [Update]

A day after apologizing for surprising Assassin’s Creed Odyssey players with a mandatory in-game relationship that seemed to contradict the game’s pre-release promise to let players define their character’s own sexuality, the game’s creative director offered a fuller apology and explanation of what his team was trying to accomplish and what they got wrong.

“Reading through player responses [to] our new DLC for Legacy of the First Blade, Shadow Heritage, we want to extend an apology to players disappointed by a relationship your character partakes in,” Odyssey creative director Jonathan Dumont said in a post on the game’s forums. “The intention of this story was to explain how your character’s bloodline has a lasting impact on the Assassins, but looking through your responses it is clear that we missed the mark.”

He went on to say that players will not have to continue the romantic relationship in the next installment of the game’s DLC, saying the developers wanted players to have the option of deciding that their character choice to procreate was a utilitarian decision rather than a romantic one.

The plot development occurs at the end of the second chapter of a three-part paid expansion and constitutes a spoiler for those who haven’t played the game.

At the end of the DLC, the player’s character decides to enter into a relationship with either the daughter (if they’re playing as Alexios) or son (if they’re playing as Kassandra) of the proto-Assassin Darius. They then have a child. As Kotaku writer Heather Alexandra noted yesterday after playing through the DLC, the player can rebuff the romantic advances of Darius’ kid but they’ll still wind up in a relationship and have the baby.

Kassandra with the scripted father of her child.

This seemed to contradict the repeated push by Odyssey’s creators in advance of the game’s October release to portray the game as an adventure so malleable that players could choose their own romantic partners, male or female. In a quote that’s been given new life in the past day, Dumont had told Entertainment Weekly: “Since the story is choice-driven, we never force players in romantic situations they might not be comfortable with.”

Many Odyssey players were upset by the DLC twist, and a lengthy thread on the game’s subreddit filled with people expressing hurt over a seemingly broken promise. One wrote that she is gay and felt like she was being punched in the stomach. On Twitter, people who saw Kotaku’s coverage complained that a game that had made them feel included now felt like a lie.

In a statement yesterday, Ubisoft referred to the relationship twist as part of a “set story” and then hyped the next chapter of the DLC: “Without spoiling it, you will engage in an important relationship as part of a set story. The motivation behind this relationship is yours to explore in game and will be reflected in your character’s story arc. There is one episode left in Legacy of the First Blade which will tie your character’s actions together.”

Today, Dumont skipped past any spoiler worries and product hype and offered a clearer explanation of what the team was going. For those who won’t get the reference, the other characters he mentions are the two people who raised the game’s protagonist:

Alexios/Kassandra realizing their own mortality and the sacrifice Leonidas and Myrrine made before them to keep their legacy alive, felt the desire and duty to preserve their important lineage. Our goal was to let players choose between a utilitarian view of ensuring your bloodline lived on or forming a romantic relationship. We attempted to distinguish between the two but could have done this more carefully as we were walking a narrow line between role-play choices and story, and the clarity and motivation for this decision was poorly executed. As you continue the adventure in [the] next episode Bloodline, please know that you will not have to engage in a lasting romantic relationship if you do not desire to.

Dumont’s statement continued, describing the last 24 hours as “humbling”:

We have read your responses online and taken them to heart. This has been a learning experience for us. Understanding how attached you feel to your Kassandra and your Alexios is humbling and knowing we let you down is not something we take lightly. We’ll work to do better and make sure the element of player choice in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey carries through our DLC content so you can stay true to the character you have embodied throughout.

A Ubisoft rep confirmed to Kotaku that the content of the second DLC will not be changed but said that the next chapter of the expansion will “make the character development and choice much more clear to players, and that is where they will be able to decide how they want to handle their relationship now that they have ensured that their bloodline will continue.”

But they said that the trophy/achievement players receive after their character has a child will be renamed, given that some players said that it implies that being gay or not having a kid or both is just a phase of being young. They passed along a statement from Dumont about this: “It was definitively not written with that intention. This was an oversight in the review process and we very regrettably missed it. We share the frustration of players who find this offensive and the achievement/trophy name will be changed when DLC 1.3 patch is available.”

There are also some players who were unbothered by the DLC’s plot development. Some of those people are the predictable sort who’ll mock any discussion of inclusivity or offense. Others focused on the idea of authorial intent or even the traditions of older Assassin’s Creed games to require that the historical protagonist has a biological descendant in order for modern-day characters to relive their lives through the Animus device—the conceit that what players mostly play is happening in the Animus. The creative freedom argument must contend with the developers’ own promises to its player base. As for the rules of AC? They’re bent all the time and recent games in the series, including Odyssey, have featured Animus tech that doesn’t require descendants.

Update – 9:26pm: This story has been updated to incorporate comments from Ubisoft PR and Dumont about whether the DLC will be changed (it won’t) or if the “growing up” trophy/achievement for engaging in a straight relationship and having a kid will be renamed (it will).


Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Changes How From Software Does Bosses

From Software has revealed that boss battles will play out slightly differently in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in comparison to both the Dark Souls series and Bloodborne. Although Sekiro will contain encounters just as challenging as its Soulsborne predecessors, its new mechanics offer different ways for From Software to create unique fights.

In an interview with Game Informer, From Software director Hidetaka Miyazaki said that the new traversal mechanics–with the exception of swimming–have been used to create boss battles that have never been seen in a Soulsborne game before. “The traversal options allow much more dynamic movement within the boss arena, both for yourself and the boss character themselves,” Miyazaki said. “Previously, you would have just had to run around a huge boss’ feet and hack away at his ankles, but now you have all these movement options; you can both fully use the extent of that arena.”

Not every traversal mechanic will be available to you during bosses though. Some bosses will be huge, hulking monsters that are reminiscent of what’s seen in Dark Souls and Bloodborne, and you’ll defeat them similarly to how you would in From Software’s older games. There are also bosses who simply won’t give you the room to zip about the arena with your grappling hook, allow you to stealth behind them for an instant kill, or rely on any of Sekiro’s other traversal mechanics. But each boss does have a weakness you can exploit to make the fight easier.

You won’t be alone when it comes to figuring out how to defeat a boss. In place of messages from other players, you can find clues in the world that hint at certain bosses’ weaknesses. Whether you search out these hints is entirely up to you, but Miyazaki said that they do help, especially for enemy bosses that “use really dirty tricks” and “underhanded techniques.”

New types of boss battles aren’t the only change From Software is putting into Sekiro. The game won’t have multiplayer of any kind, and as a result, you’ll be able to actually pause whenever you want. Unlike Dark Souls III and Bloodborne, Sekiro will also have an interconnected world that directly links back to its hub area

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice launches on March 22 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. The standard version of the game releases alongside a Collector’s Edition, both of which are available for pre-order.