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Super Mario Maker 2 Finally Adds Online Matchmaking With Friends

Super Mario Maker 2 is packed with fun levels and player-made challenges. Enjoying these levels online with people on your friends list wasn’t possible, something that disappointed fans. A new update finally brings online matchmaking, allowing up to four players the ability to join up and tackle courses together.

Before today, Super Mario Maker 2’s online modes only allowed players to team with with a random stranger. You couldn’t form a party with your buddies and cruise through online courses. That’s changed with a new patch that brings both online co-op and online versus play. Whether that means racing through a competitive level or teaming up for a killer Kaizo challenge, playing with friends is much easier.

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The lack of matchmaking was a point of contention with players who wanted to explore online with friends. Matching with random players was a gamble, and it wasn’t exactly clear when a fix would arrive. Since launch, Super Mario Maker 2 has received few patches, leaving players in a lurch when it came to requested features. This patch addresses a huge concern and also provides a list of “official makers” for easier perusal of courses. Players are also now able to use both touch controls and button controls when making courses in handheld mode. These tweaks aren’t drastic, but they help make Super Mario Maker 2 a smoother experience.

Source: Kotaku.com

Mario & Luigi RPG Developer AlphaDream Has Gone Bankrupt

Image: Nintendo
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Founded in 2000, AlphaDream was originally known as Alpha Star and was staffed with people who had formerly been at Square, including former Square President Tetsuo Mizuno. The studio is best known for the Mario & Luigi RPG series. It was announced today that AlphaDream has gone bankrupt.

According to Yahoo! Japan, revenue was sluggish in recent years and development costs drove the studio into the red. As of March 2018, AlphaDream was 400 million yen ($3.7 million) in debt.

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After releasing Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for the Game Boy Advance in 2003, AlphaDream went on to do four more main entries in the series: Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, and Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam. The studio also worked on the remakes Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions and Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey, the last of which is AlphaDream’s final game.

The Mario & Luigi RPG series was praised among fans—and for good reason. It’s a shame that the studio has filed for bankruptcy.

Clarification: 10/2/2019, 6:45 a.m. ET: This article has been edited for clarity.  

Source: Kotaku.com

Shawn Layden, Head Of PlayStation’s Game Studios, Departs

Photo: Charley Gallay (Getty)

Sony has announced that Shawn Layden, chairman of SIE Worldwide Studios and a mainstay of PlayStation’s E3 press conferences, will be leaving the company. No reason was given for his departure, and a successor has not been named.

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Formerly president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America (until Sony’s regions were brought under one roof in 2018), Layden had been with Sony since 1987, serving in roles like vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and president of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan.

When Sony consolidated its worldwide PlayStation divisions into a single unit in 2018, Layden was no longer president of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, and the company said he instead would “concentrate his focus” on leading Sony’s game development studios.

Source: Kotaku.com

Cube World Wasn’t Worth The Wait

In asking me to write about this game, released on Steam today after six years in the wilderness, Stephen said that I’d been very excited about Cube World back in 2012. And I had been! Back in 2012. A lot has changed since.

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Cube World’s time out of the public eye has resulted in a final release that is notably different from its popular alpha, especially when it comes to levelling (which is gone), region-locked equipment (you can’t take stuff from one biome to another) and the hang glider (which now sucks).

One of the reasons I was so into it (at least on paper) back in 2012 was that it sounded (and looked, obviously, given its similar art style) like a gamier version of Minecraft. I get that Mojang’s classic has its millions of fans, but its open-ended nature never really appealed to me. I thought Cube World’s tighter focus and RPG elements would take the stuff I did like about Minecraft—its procedurally-generated worlds and a feeling of real boundlessness—and reign them into something more structured.

Cube World does this, but only in the most serviceable way possible. The outline of an action RPG is there, and traces of MMORPGs alongside it, but none of it is any fun. Combat is incredibly basic, while questing is a chore since I had no investment in this paper-thin world or the characters around me.

It’s also badly in need of a tutorial, since your first hours with the game are also the worst, as you wander around the woods being killed by everything you come across, get little in return, then have no idea what to do with the stuff you do get.

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On the bright side, you can be a frog, and you can pet cats.

About the only thing I did enjoy about my time with Cube World was exploring. It’s a very pretty world, if you’re into the blocky voxel art style thing, and its undulating terrain and enormous caves were nice just to zone out and stroll across.

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It’s a shame that Cube World’s launch has ended up like this, with fans dismayed (the game’s Reddit and Steam reviews are not being kind) at the amount of stuff removed or changed from what had already been such a fun experience. For a game to spend so long in the dark and then finally get released could have been one of the feel-good stories of the year! Instead we’ve got a game that is somehow worse than its alpha, missing loads of what were originally its best features, and what’s left just isn’t very good.

Source: Kotaku.com

Five Hours With Ghost Recon Breakpoint

Ghost Recon Breakpoint is here, or is it hiding in that bush over there? Whatever the case, Ubisoft’s latest addition to the Tom Clancy video game canon is here with plenty of loot to find and bases to assault. Breakpoint brings a lot of improvements over 2017’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Cool character creation, tons of weapon customization, an actual villain. But it’s also rough in other areas, less of a delicious action milkshake and more like a gritty military sludge.

I’ve played around five hours of Breakpoint today, waking up and diving right into the action. On the one hand, it’s a surprisingly chewable and chill action game. On the other, I feel like I’ve been here before. Breakpoint isn’t a game out to shatter the mold; instead, it wants to slide comfortably into it. That’s great if you’re looking for some tactical action but if you’ve played a military shooter before, then you’ve basically played Breakpoint. No amount of user-interface overhauls or big name actors can change that. I’m in for a long haul but here are some initial thoughts.

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Maybe We Won’t Start A Diplomatic Incident This Time?

Okay, the bar is admittedly low here but 2017’s Ghost Recon Wildlands had some serious problems with its setting and villains. Set in Bolivia, it focused on a Mexican cartel that somehow took over the country and transformed it into a narco-state. It was sleazy and racist, with caricature Mexican gangsters traipsing about a Bolivia that wasn’t much like Bolivia at all. It was so bad that the country of Bolivia filed a complaint to the French embassy (publisher Ubisoft being a French company, of course) and considered legal action.

Breakpoint opts for a fictional setting: the island of Auroa, which has been taken over by former “Ghost” operative Cole Walker (portrayed by Jon Bernthal.) It’s a sort of tech-libertarian paradise where a company working on automation and drone technology was eventually seized by Walker and his cohorts. It’s generic, but I’ll certainly take that over the shitshow that was Wildlands. And hey, it’s nice to have an honest to God villain this time around.

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Ghost Recon Has Been Taking Notes From Destiny and The Division

While not a full-blown loot shooter, Ghost Recon Breakpoint leans further into that direction than its predecessor. There are a variety of weapon rarity levels, and you have an overall gear score based on the quality of your equipment. Taking on Walker has a recommended gear score of 150 or higher, and much of your time is spent not only on story missions but slowly upgrading your character’s power. This is a bit different from Wildlands, which was far more focused on letting you choose the weapons you like and going from there. Don’t expect to get too attached to your gear in Breakpoint. I was upgrading, swapping out, selling, and disassembling tons of weapons and armor right from the beginning of the game.

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Normal Mode Is Pretty Easy

If you’ve played plenty of shooters, don’t expect Breakpoint’s normal difficulty to offer much of a challenge. While there are tougher enemies—Walker leads a platoon of spec ops “Wolves” who love to hunt down the player—it’s nothing you can’t handle with a marksman’s rifle and some well-placed shots. All your weapons can be suppressed, and Breakpoint hands you a precision rifle in the first mission. If you can aim and click your mouse, the early game (and presumably much of what’s to follow) will seem straightforward.

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The Structure Is Different

Wildlands built itself around a core loop where players would do a few odd jobs to gain access to a high profile cartel lieutenant who they’d confront to gain more intel on their leader, El Sueño. It was a little bit like Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction. Very loose, not tons of story. Here are some bad guys, go take them out. Breakpoint splits activities into different paths: a main story path, missions for Auroa’s various factions, side quests, other events like high level raids. This means that you can focus directly on the main story if you want. There’s less screwing about and trying to unlock new missions. It gives Breakpoint a welcome momentum that Wildlands didn’t have.

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I Might Be Able To Fight The Final Boss Right Away?

You can immediately tag a mission to confront Walker right from the start of the game. The main tasks are to interrogate enemy officers for intel on his location and to, if you can, level up your gear to the appropriate level. I’m not entirely clear on how this all works, and it’s possible that officers don’t show up until certain story beats. However, the idea of a playthrough that ignores all the intrigue for a mad dash at the villain is really exciting. Chances are that it doesn’t work that way, but I would love for it to be possible.

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All Games Should Let You “Pin” Objectives 

To help players manage their various tasks, Breakpoint allows them to pin up to three objectives to their interface. For me, this has meant a pin for my main story task, a pin for one side mission, and final pin marking the location of a nearby weapon blueprint. It’s as simple as going into your pause menu, hovering over a mission, and tapping spacebar. Super useful, easy to reference whenever you want, and great for tracking Breakpoints’ numerous distractions.

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You Don’t Need To Wear Ugly Gear

Breakpoint’s focus on swapping out gear means winding up with some mismatched looks. If you find yourself walking around with half a ghillie suit and a crummy flop hat, you can hop into the menu to change your appearance at any time. You’re still mostly limited to tacticool gear, but if you don’t like a particular pair of pants all you need to do is select a new look. If you have better looking gear, simply transform the higher quality stuff into something easier on the eyes.

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There’s An Exploration Mode

Lifting a page from Assassins Creed Origins and Odyssey, Breakpoint has a guided mode and exploration mode. The first places a marker on your map leading directly to your objective, the other asks you to decipher clues and peruse the map to find where to go next. It’s a neat touch for customizing your gameplay experience, even though I think it’s better to play guided in this case. Breakpoint’s map isn’t always easy to traverse; knowing exactly where to go speeds up an otherwise slow process.

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Something’s Up With The Graphics For Me

I’m playing Breakpoint on PC and while everything runs smoothly, there’s some strange stuff going on with the graphics. It’s hard to explain but there’s either some depth of field stuff going on or a filter applied to things out of focus. Whatever the case, it’s given backgrounds a pixelated look that’s honestly distracting me. It’s not affecting my aim and I can soldier on without many problems, but I’m hoping that a few tweaks in the options will get rid of whatever the hell is going on.

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This Could Take A While

Five hours or so isn’t a lot of time with a big AAA video game these days, but I’ve been focusing on the main story quest and was dismayed to see that the statistics screen said I’ve experienced 0% of the overall story so far. Maybe it’s a bug or a factor tied to the fact I’m playing a Ubisoft-provided review code before the game is supposed to be available in my region. Or maybe Breakpoint is that huge. I’d be more excited if the story wasn’t a standard behind-enemy-lines tale. Breakpoint s okay so far, but the prospect of untold hours of scowling soldiers and moody Jon Bernthal one-liners is daunting. All in a day’s work, I guess.

Source: Kotaku.com

GTA Player Has Close Shave

Today on Highlight Reel we have GTA close calls, Apex Legends traps, Modern Warfare glitches, and much more.

Watch the video then talk about your favorite highlight in the comments below. Be sure to check out, like, and share the original videos via the links below. Subscribe to Kotaku on YouTube for more! Catch up on all the episodes on the Highlight Reel Youtube playlist!

Highlight Reel is Kotaku’s regular roundup of great plays, stunts, records and other great moments from around the gaming world. If you record an amazing feat while playing a game (here’s how to record a clip), send it to us with a message confirming that the clip is yours at highlightreel@kotaku.com. Or, if you see a great clip around that isn’t yours, encourage that person to send it in!

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Source: Kotaku.com

New Brain Age Announced For Nintendo Switch In Japan

Photo: Nintendo
Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.  

In 2005, Brain Age first went on sale in Japan for the Nintendo DS. The game, which had players solve math problems and more to judge the age of their brain, became a national sensation in Japan.

Brain Age was one reason why the DS became a must-have handheld. Now, in 2019, it’s back.

The new Brain Age allows Switch owners to track progress through their mobile phones, including the progress of family or friends.

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Previously, the most recent Brain Age game was Brain Age: Concentration Training, which was released in 2012 on the 3DS. The games are based on the work of researcher Ryuta Kawashima. His floating head appears throughout Brain Age.

The latest entry for the Nintendo Switch is slated for release on December 27 in Japan. There’s no word yet of an international release.

Source: Kotaku.com

Maybe Don’t Put The Goose In Smash?

I’ve seen a lot of people asking over the past week for the Goose from Untitled Goose Game to be put in Smash Bros. I don’t know if that’s a very good idea.

I mean, I admire the passion! But you’re not thinking this through, for a number of reasons:

1) Pump your brakes. The internet can jump so hard and fast on things that it can squeeze all the joy out of them. Let the Goose breathe a little! The Goose is good and fun, but Untitled Goose Game is also a multiplatform release that’s been out for a week.

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Waluigi would like a word about both those points.

2) Is Smash really the best game for the Goose? The Goose’s strengths are that it is a sneaky, scheming, malevolent force. Smash is a hectic, explosive, fast-paced exercise in shit-talking and fast reflexes. I don’t know how much of what makes the Goose so good and fun would translate well to Smash.

3) If you must ask the internet for the Goose to appear in Nintendo games, maybe Mario Kart or Mario Party are more appropriate? This may slightly undermine my above point, since they are both games that deviate from Goose Game’s core design, but they are also games for petty assholes, and the Goose is an asshole first and foremost.

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4) You’re not thinking big enough! Asking for the Goose to appear in Smash is a reflex action, understandably born of a desire to see more Goose x Nintendo interaction, but we live in an age where Nintendo is letting Western developers get wild with its own IP (see Cadence of Hyrule).

I don’t want to see the Goose in Smash. I’ve constructed this entire post as an excuse to say I want the opposite. I want developers House House to be handed the keys to a Nintendo world/character and given the chance to work their magic with it.

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Here’s my unsolicited pitch: Imagine the hijinx of Untitled Goose Game…but it’s Waluigi, who now has the Mushroom Kingdom equivalent of a YouTube channel, and he’s lurking around pranking Mario and Luigi and Peach and Toad and everyone else, ruining their days, wrecking their shit.

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Imagine his goofy big legs trying to sneak through Luigi’s house, putting a bucket of water over a doorframe then rubbing his hands with glee as he saunters out the back door. Imagine hiding in the bushes as Toad walks past, carefully balancing a tray of birthday cupcakes, and at the perfect moment pressing a button not to HONK, but to WAAAAAAAAAAAAA. The cupcakes go flying, Toad shrieks, then cries, Waluigi jogs off twirling his mustache, laughing his ass off.

It would be the best. And everyone could stop asking for Walugi to be put in Smash because they’d realize that, like the Goose, he doesn’t need to be. He’d have his own place to shine.

Source: Kotaku.com

Tiny PlayStation Toy Even Has The Internal Circuitry

Next year, Bandai will be releasing some 2:5 scale models of famous old consoles. They’re nice enough to be sitting on a shelf as is, but what’s really cool about these is that they replicate the machines both outside and in.

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The models—and their controllers—pop open to reveal intricate little reproductions of the circuit boards and other internal components.

There’ll be a PlayStation and a Saturn, and both will be released in March 2020.

Source: Kotaku.com

Shenmue 3’s Demo Is 1999 In A Bottle

Those who backed Shenmue III on Kickstarter, including me, finally got a taste of the upcoming adventure game this week with a “trial version.” While it’s limited, it definitely feels like old-school Shenmue: Stiff and stilted, but charming and detailed.

I’m a longtime Shenmue fan. I was there when Yu Suzuki’s landmark adventure game series kicked off on the Dreamcast in 1999, stuck with it for the Xbox sequel, and lamented when it faded from the spotlight. When it hit Kickstarter in 2015, before I started working at Kotaku, I jumped at the chance to back it, like so many others. Shenmue III became, and is still, the best-funded video game in the crowdfunding site’s history. It felt like a dream: We’re really getting a new Shenmue game? Yes, we are, and its November 19 launch is closer than ever.Shenmue has always split the difference between leisurely wandering and the occasional martial arts battle. Its cluttered world, full of people to talk to and minigames to waste time with, was a big deal when the original released. At the time, being able to do something as simple as walking into the kitchen to grab milk from the fridge showed a lot of ambition.

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Things have changed since then. Games offer much larger, open worlds that teem with activities. The idea of going back to a simpler exploration game is appealing. Shenmue III isn’t just a chance to see Ryo Hazuki’s story continue—hopefully he can finally avenge his father’s death, or at least find some sailors—but also a chance to fall back into an older, slower pace that modern games don’t always afford.

At the end of Shenmue II, Ryo travels to a rural village in China. He hopes to find his father’s killer, the villainous criminal Lan Di, but instead learns more about the strange, ancient mirror that Lan Di took before the murder. Shenmue 3 picks up where the story left off. The demo doesn’t drop much in the way of plot. Ryo is looking for a scarred man connected to some local thugs. Players are able to explore a small village, talk to the locals, play a few mini-games, and get into a brawl.

The pace is slow, which was always true for the series. Whether it’s talking to a shopkeeper or chopping wood to earn a little extra money, Shenmue 3 has a unique simplicity. Maybe you wander and play a quick game of Lucky Hit, a simple but addictive game where you drop a ball down a pachinko-esque peg board. Maybe you spend too much money buying capsule toys from gacha machines outside the local shop. These are familiar activities, longtime staples of the series, and like everything else they retain a deliberate pace. In 2019, that can feel strange, but it does evoke the feeling of the earlier games. Shenmue 3 could have easily felt overproduced or too modern. For good or ill, things don’t seem much different than they were 20 years ago.

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Well, that’s not entirely true. Shenmue 3 is arguably a smoother experience than the originals. Those mostly took place in urban centers like the seedy Yokosuka harbor or the vibrant streets of Hong Kong. Shenmue 3’s sleepy village setting offers a chance to bring color to the world. Bright flower fields ripple in the wind. A village clearing is host to a martial arts class for children.

The controls are smoother, the camera free to rotate around Ryo. The way that characters gesture during conversation is smoother as well. The voice acting, too, has improved, although now it sounds almost deliberately stiff, as if they were trying to recreate the awkwardness of the originals. Corey Marshall returns to voice Ryo with his characteristic awkwardness. The conversations with locals are still prone to odd pauses and punctuation, but they’re more natural than it were years ago. There are still some rough spots around the edges. The lighting seems a bit off, and characters sometimes look like they were molded from clay, but the demo paints a picture of a slightly more modern Shenmue—at least when it comes to production design.

In spite of its incorporation of martial arts sequences and quick-time events, Shenmue’s never been much of an action series. When the time does come to fight, even punching someone in the face is a humble process. Fighting was originally a modified spin on Virtua Fighter, the first 3D fighting game, which Suzuki directed in 1993. The same basic system has carried over to Shenmue 3. This is hardly a fluid combat system, even if the animations on your punches and kicks have a lot of power behind them. Fighting is a bit slapdash. If you know the right button combinations, you can pull off some cool moves, but those can easily be interrupted by an enemy snapping out a quick punch.

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Sometimes, it all comes together into smooth choreography. Other times, it’s a bit like watching two flailing Muppets collide. Players looking for a robust kung fu experience might be disappointed unless they practice heavily, although that could change in the final release.

Walking away from my short time with Shenmue 3’s demo, I was mostly pleased. But then again, I’m already a fan. This was made for me, to play at my nostalgia and give me a recreation of what I always loved. Shenmue 3 feels recognizably in line with the previous games, a natural evolution from 1999 into 2019. Players looking for a slower pace and old-school sensibilities will be pleased. Newer players eager to see what the big deal is could walk away disappointed that the series isn’t quite in step with modern design. Like the original games before it, I get the sense Shenmue 3 will be a love-it-or-hate-it affair.

Source: Kotaku.com