Tag Archives: nintendo

You Can Beat GoldenEye On N64 With Only One Bullet

GoldenEye is a first-person shooter released for the N64 back in the 90s. You might notice a keyword in that previous sentence. “Shooter.” This means the player is equipped with various guns and then shoots them at enemies. But is it possible to beat this classic shooter without actually shooting? No. But you can beat it by only firing one bullet.

Ryan White, better known as Goose in the speedrunning community, is a popular YouTuber, streamer and GoldenEye speedrunner. He has set multiple records on many different levels. So, after seeing many other YouTubers trying to play games without shooting, killing or jumping, Goose decided to try beating GoldenEye on N64 without shooting. He recently created and uploaded a video detailing how he attempted this and what issues he encountered.

When he first started playing the game without shooting, Ryan almost instantly ran into a major problem. On the famous first level of the game, Dam, players have to shoot a lock to open a gate. Despite knowing various tricks and techniques, Ryan was unable to bypass this obstacle. So he had to fire one bullet to break the lock, pass through the gate and finish the level.

However, beyond this one roadblock right at the start, Ryan was able to beat every other level in the game without shooting. Sometimes he would have to play around with guards until they pulled out a grenade, then rush over to them and kill them before they could use that grenade. Doing this would award Ryan with the unused grenade, which could be used to blow up door locks or other obstacles that are normally bypassed with bullets. Unfortunately, this particular trick doesn’t work on Dam because enemies won’t pull out grenades on that level.

This DAM lock…
Screenshot: rwhitegoose (YouTube)

Other levels were far less tricky and Ryan was able to quickly run by all the enemies and beat the level without needing to use any tricks or complex strategies.

I wonder what the developers of GoldenEye on N64 would think after seeing this video. Nobody developing GoldenEye at the time was probably thinking “Can you beat this game without shooting any bullets?” Yet, outside of one small issue, this is totally possible. I find these kinds of runs really impressive.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Mother Series 30th Anniversary Event In Smash Bros. Ultimate Is Too Cruel

July 27 will mark 30 years since the original Mother came out in Japan on NES. To celebrate, Nintendo is running a Mother-themed Spirit Board event in Smash Bros. Ultimate, torturing fans who have been desperate to see the rest of the series localized in the West.

Smash Ultimate’s Spirit Board is a single-player affair where people can grind for rewards and grow their collection of spirits, each representing some artifact from Nintendo’s video game history. The one dedicated to the Mother games is a hopelessly bittersweet affair, however, because it reminds fans that Mother 3 still hasn’t been localized.

It took fans no time at all, in fact, to hone in on a strange anomaly in the art Nintendo is using to promote the event, first through its Japanese Twitter account and now through Nintendo Europe. Specifically, they’ve focused on a small portion in the bottom of the image that shows sunflowers in front of a blue sky and clouds. Whatever that part of the image is taken from, it appears to be completely new. Maybe a remaster? Or at the very least some new Mother 3-related content coming to Smash Ultimate?

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While the sunflowers are a reference to a famous scene from Mother 3, they’ve apparently never been rendered the way they appear in the promotional art before. Meanwhile, the sky and clouds appear to come from Smash’s Tortimer Island stage. None of this probably means anything, but wild speculation like this often happens when it comes to Mother 3.

When Earthbound, known as Mother 2 in Japan, released in North America in 1995 for the SNES, many fans had no idea it was part of a series. The first game wasn’t published outside of Japan for decades, and the third still hasn’t been. Even the most oblivious Earthbound fans realized something was up when Lucas, the protagonist of Mother 3, appeared in 2008’s Smash Bros. Brawl.

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Mother 3 had only come out two years earlier in Japan on the Game Boy Advance. If Nintendo was going to feature him in its major crossover fighting game series, surely it would bring the actual source material over at some point as well, either via a port or remaster. And yet, nothing.

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“Localize Mother 3” has become such a common refrain among fans, appearing on random signs at wrestling events and on the wishlists for every new Nintendo Direct, that it’s become almost something of a joke, uttered ironically to mask the sincere desperation deep inside players’ hearts.

That’s the only way to read the latest Mother 3 conspiracy theory: partly born of desperation and partly the result of fan brains broken by the fact that the game has still never been rereleased. Others have already poked fun at the attempts to read into the series’ future based on Spirit Board tea leaves.

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Most of the responses to the speculation on Twitter have been the same. “Don’t do that,” wrote one person. “Don’t give me hope.”

Source: Kotaku.com

Nintendo Doubles Super Mario Maker 2 Level Upload Limit

Super Mario Maker 2 has been out more than enough time for the most prolific creators to create tons of strange story missions, Kaizo deathtraps, and classic homages. It’s also been out for enough time to reach the course creation limit. Super Mario Maker 2 is doubling that limit, allowing players to make more courses.

As heard through Eurogamer and confirmed by a quick peek into Super Mario Maker 2‘s notifications tab, the number of courses that players can upload has been increased from 32 to 64 levels. That’s twice the fun and twice the chances to have some fancy livestreamer stumble upon your level.

I hopped in game to check the announcement, and sure enough, there it was.

The notification also states that there are plans to raise that upload limit one more time. Will that mean 128 total courses? Hopefully it’s not just 65 or some other super strange number. Still, this increase is good news for dedicated Mario makers who want to entertain and frustrate the masses with their levels.

Source: Kotaku.com

Report: Nintendo Will Fix Broken Joy-Cons For Free, Refund Prior Repairs

Following continued reports that the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con controllers are “drifting”, a Vice story today claims that Nintendo is instructing its customer service representatives to repair the controllers for free, no questions asked. And anyone who has previously paid to get one repaired will now be refunded.

Speaking with “a source familiar with Nintendo’s updated customer support documentation”, the Vice report says the company’s internal documents now include the lines:

Customers will no longer be requested to provide proof of purchase for Joy-Con repairs. Additionally it is not necessary to confirm warranty status. If a customer requests a refund for a previously paid Joy-Con repair […] confirm the prior repair and then issue a refund.

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Nintendo’s only statement on the issue was earlier this week, and was simply a vague recommendation that anyone affected by the issue visit the company’s support website. If the changes listed in this story have indeed been made, that would indicate Nintendo is now taking the matter a lot more seriously.

“Joy-Con drift” is an issue where the thumbsticks on Nintendo’s Switch controllers detect movement and begin to “drift”, even when the player is not touching the controller.

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We’ve contacted Nintendo for comment.

Source: Kotaku.com

Junichi Masuda Reminds People: Game Freak Makes The Pokémon Games

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.  

Quick! Who has made the mainline Pokémon games? That’s right, Game Freak. But some people think the answer is Nintendo. According to Junichi Masuda, lots of people do.

In a recent clip on Game Freak’s official YouTube Channel, Masuda recalled how when Pokémon first came out, it was called a Nintendo game. While the game was released on Nintendo hardware and while Nintendo is involved in publishing, Nintendo did not make Pokémon.

The relationship between Game Freak, Nintendo, Creatures, and the Pokémon Company is rather complex. But as Nintendo World Report explains, Nintendo does the game publishing and distribution, Creatures handles the cards (though it also does games), Game Freak develops the games, and the Pokémon Company seems to handle everything else and have its fingers in all aspects. Granted, this is an oversimplification. Game Freak has released its games on non-Nintendo hardware, including the Mega Drive, PC Engine, Windows, and the PS4.

Plus, Nintendo, of course, does make spin-off games like Pokémon Stadium. Other studios have also developed Pokémon spin-offs, including Jupiter and Spike Chunsoft. However…

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“I’ve asked about 200 people who they thought made Pokémon,” Masuda said, adding that almost 100 percent said Nintendo. “Even now, there are those people who think I’m a Nintendo employee.” This notion is so pervasive that when Masuda goes back to his hometown, he’ll overhear people express disbelief to each other that he is actually Junichi Masuda, saying, “Someone from Nintendo would never come to a place like this.”

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So remember, Game Freak has made the mainline Pokémon games! Also, I’m sure someone from Nintendo would visit Masuda’s hometown.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Video Game Industry Can’t Go On Like This

At about this time next year, we’ll have a pretty good idea of what the next generation of video games will look like. New consoles will likely be shown off, bold new streaming initiatives will begin to launch, and we’ll see all the wonderful kinds of games they will bring us. All these new things will come, and we’ll close the book on a generation that saw the industry that makes games come under greater scrutiny than ever before, as studios shuttered, developers burned out, and toxic work culture fostered environments hostile to marginalized people.

These are not problems that have been resolved, but the wheels of the games industry keep turning, in spite of the strain. So how much bigger can video games get? Video games are only getting more costly, in more ways than one. And it doesn’t seem like they’re sustainable.

There’s the human cost, which Kotaku has chronicled extensively. Contract workers are continually undervalued and taken advantage of, as Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 developer Treyarch is reported to do. Artists who work on gory cinematics integral to games like Mortal Kombat suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Unrealistic demands and lofty investor expectations lead to disastrous development cycles for video games like Anthem, which in turn leads to developer crunch. Every week, news breaks about the toll video game development takes on the people who make them, and we carry on as if it’s all going to be fine.

Mortal Kombat 11
Image: NetherRealm Studios (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

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That’s only the start of it. When you adjust for inflation, the retail cost of video games has never been cheaper, and it’s been this way for some time. The $60 price point for a standard big-budget release has held steady for nearly 15 years, unadjusted for inflation even as the cost to make big-budget video games has risen astronomically with player expectations. (Here’s some math that gives you an idea of just how absurdly expensive games are to make.)

Since changing the price point seems to be anathema, we’ve seen the industry attempt to compensate with all manner of alternatives: higher-priced collector’s editions, live service games that offer annual passes or regular expansions a la Destiny, microtransactions, and free-to-play games. Then you have loot boxes, which in many cases boil down to slot machine-style gambling inserted into retail and free-to-play games alike—something that is coming under increased legal scrutiny that might potentially cut off what has quickly become a major source of revenue in the industry.

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These aren’t all necessarily responses to thinning profit margins in the face of rising inflation. Game publishers are often publicly-held companies, with investors that need to be shown endlessly increasing profits that are then used to justify ridiculously large executive paychecks. Perhaps that’s a problem that needs solving, too.

Because of all this, $60 is often just the minimum buy-in, the ante in the pot, for some of the biggest releases. If you want every character in a game’s roster, or every map in its playlists, you’ll have to pay more, and increasingly, you have to. Big-budget single-player games that deliver a single-serving experience with minimal strings attached have largely disappeared from the lineups of major third-party publishers.

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Sea of Solitude.
Image: Jo-Mei Games (Electronic Arts)

Let’s run down the Big Three. We’re more than halfway through 2019, and Electronic Arts has only published one single-player game, the indie Sea of Solitude. Last year was much the same, with two indies as its only single-player releases: Fe and Unraveled 2. Activision’s portfolio of single-player games looks even thinner: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the only exclusively single-player, non-remake game that the publisher has released since 2015’s Transformers: Devastation—which itself is no longer available, thanks to an expired licensing agreement.

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Ubisoft is an exception, regularly releasing entries in single-player game franchises like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed. But it buttresses them aggressive microtransactions and extensive season pass plans. (And the occasional diversion like Trials Rising and South Park: The Fractured But Whole.) The big-budget single-player experience is now almost entirely the domain of first-party studios making marquee games for console manufacturers, which bankroll games like Spider-Man and God of War. The economics of first-party exclusives are totally different—they’re less about making money by themselves and more about drawing players into the console’s ecosystem.

This is worth considering, because as big publishers prioritize live, service-oriented games, the number of games on their schedules has dropped. If you look at the Wikipedia listings for EA, Ubisoft, and Activision games released by year, you’ll get a stark—if unscientific—picture of how each big publisher’s release slate has thinned out in the last five years, relying on recurring cash cows like sports games and annualized franchises and little else. In 2008, those three publishers released 98 games; in 2018 they released just 28, not including expansions.

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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Image: FromSoftware (Activision)

In short, the single-player game was not sustainable. So why should we think the current model is?

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The smaller release slates make for a precipitous state of affairs where too much is riding on too little, a shaky foundation for big-budget game development to rest on. Granted, there are other publishers, like those in Japan, that are still very interested in single-player games. Independent games have also filled the single-player void and achieved greater visibility than ever before. But each of these alternatives face their own challenges in a volatile market, one where just five years ago conventional wisdom held the Japanese games industry was dead. Independent developers, meanwhile, continue to fight for the smallest slice of an impossibly crowded market. No matter where you sit on the games industry ladder, stability remains elusive.

That’s the present of video games. Let’s talk about the future. The intersecting trends of games-as-a-service and the increased emphasis on streaming mean an increased reliance on off-site computing with data centers and server farms distributed across the globe.

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Microsoft’s Project xCloud wants to use the company’s data centers to provide high-end console and PC gaming to anyone with a good enough internet connection. Google Stadia is a service that pitches something similar if not even more wide-reaching, angling for the big-budget video game experience in a web browser. And Sony already offers a streaming service, PlayStation Now, which is likely to expand in the next generation.

A 2016 study from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory gives us an idea of the sort of things to consider in this arena. The outlook gives reasons to both be alarmed and also be hopeful.

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The foremost takeaway is that while data centers are growing in number, their energy consumption is starting to plateau out of necessity, as the dramatic increase in cloud computing has actually forced tech companies to become more efficient. The biggest companies, according to the Berkeley Lab report, are actually remarkably efficient.

Data center efficiency is measured by power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating. PUE is found by measuring a facility’s total power delivered divided by the power used by its IT equipment. Under this rating, the platonic ideal is a PUE of 1.0: power input and output perfectly balanced. Google, then, is in pretty good shape as far as this standard goes, with the average PUE of all its data centers currently at 1.11.

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Efficiency, however, can remain good as power consumption increases, and consumption is going to remain a problem.

Data center energy consumption has been a concern for some time now, particularly in the United States, where data center energy consumption dwarfs that of the rest of the world at 1.8 percent of all energy used in the countrySmaller data centers, which estimates say make up 60 percent of data center energy-use, are inefficient compared to the biggest players, and with no legal standard or universal benchmark, there’s no way to ensure that efficiency gap is closed.

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A Google data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Photo: Google

Making this problem even more dire is our current political climate, where developing sources of clean, renewable energy is an idea met with hostility by countries like the United States throwing their weight behind fossil fuels, even outside of its own borders. That doesn’t even account for the ways games contribute to the world’s electronic waste problem. E-waste is toxic, and only 40 percent of it is properly recycled.

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And all that is before you even start to think about climate change, and the urgent action needed to avert a major crisis in our lifetime.

Video games cannot do this forever. If any of these things were to collapse—the people who make them, the economy they’re sold in, the ecosystem we’re all a part of—it would be catastrophic. All of them at once? That’s a disaster we need to talk about, openly. Because there are solutions to these problems.

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Some of them are small, like making sure you know how to properly dispose of e-waste, should you need to throw out a busted console or peripheral, and doing what you can to live sustainably, even though climate change certainly requires the sort of large-scale action that only governments can enact To that end, you can take more involved action, like calling your local congressperson or government representative and asking if climate change and environmental concerns are on their agenda, and keeping apprised of any legislation up for voting in local elections.

Other solutions are harder to parse. How do we account for the data center sprawl of tech companies and their energy consumption? Is it ethically sound to use a service like Project xCloud or Google Stadia or Playstation Now, knowing all this? Should we push for a global green tech agreement of some kind, so companies that contribute to server sprawl and energy consumption do so in a sustainable way? A carbon tax seems like a good start, but this is a problem in need of many answers, not one.

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Some solutions are thankfully, underway. Labor practices have come under scrutiny and developers are beginning to discuss organizing in earnest. Unionization is not going to solve every problem, but it can lead to meaningful progress in a lot of ways that trickle outward into other arenas. More equitable practices can mean the relentless pace of development is slowed down, which could make for fewer, better games and a course correction in supply and demand. Or it might only make things marginally better.

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Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all have stated sustainability initiatives and reports, but these programs are all buried in corporate sites and paperwork—a better approach would be to make sustainability as big a talking point as load times or ray-tracing. Something we could look at and compare to the previous year, and make note of how better off we are.

These are big, insurmountable seeming problems, but like all incredibly big projects—like, say, game development—they’re things that can be done, slowly, a little bit at a time. We just have to start.

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It’s unlikely that video games will ever truly go extinct. We’ll probably always have something called “video games,” but what those games will look like is still very much in flux. There’s no guarantee that the way games are currently made will remain viable for another 10 years—games aren’t even made today the same way they were 10 years ago. They will look different. They will change because they can, and because they must. Hopefully, all the ways games change will be on our terms—otherwise disaster will change them for us.

Source: Kotaku.com

Goomy Is Just The Worst Dragon

Every Pokemon is interesting and worth talking about. I don’t play a ton of Pokemon, but I do enjoy the universe and I love learning more about the creatures in it. So, Here’s Another Pokemon! It’s Goomy!

Goomy Details

Type: Dragon

Average Height: 1‘ 00″

Average Weight: 6.2 lbs.

First Added In Generation VI

When you think of dragons, you think of a powerful creature like Charizard. Massive and dangerous beasts, usually capable of flying and other cool stuff. Goomy isn’t like those dragons. Instead, Goomy is like a puddle of mucus that can die if stays out in the sun too long. Calm down kids, don’t all try to catch this thing at the same time. I know it sounds amazing.

I feel bad for poor Goomy, honestly. Throughout most of its Pokedex entries, it is referred to as “The weakest of all Dragon-type Pokemon.” Way to kick someone while they’re down. Although, kicking Goomy actually won’t do much to the little puddle of slime. Its body is covered in a thick slimy mucus that defends it from attacks. So kicking it will probably just feel weird and be a waste of time. But don’t touch Goomy if you can help it. According to Bulbapedia, the outside of Goomy is filled with germs. In fact, one Pokedex entry even mentions that after touching this creature you will need to really wash your hands. Gross.

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Don’t leave these creatures out in the sun either. They use their slimy covering to breath. If they dry out they can actually die. So most Goomy stay in the shade and don’t move much. Again, kids I know this thing sounds amazing. Please don’t crowd around it and for god’s sake, don’t touch it.

If after hearing all this you still want to, for some reason, grab and hold one of these slimy things be careful. These creatures are very sensitive and even just picking them up or grabbing them can shock them so much that they will be unable to move for some time. So to recap, to keep this Pokemon alive and happy you need to never touch it, never hold it and never let it hang out in the sun.

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Favorite Fan Art

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What did we just talk about?! Don’t eat this or touch this and just like actual ice cream, don’t leave it outside in the sun.

Random Facts

  • It uses antennas on its head to get a sense of its surroundings and what’s going on around it. For some reason, it has four of these?
  • Goomy is the shortest and lightest Dragon-type Pokemon in the games. It also is tied with another Dragon-type Pokemon for having the lowest base defense. Basically, it sucks.
  • One Pokedex entry refers to Goomy as “The soft tissue Pokemon” and I hate that so much.

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Best Comment From Last Week

I used to help run a Tumblr blog that did Pokemon splices, and Luvdisc drove me crazy. It was often requested to be spliced with another Pokemon, but the problem is that it’s just a blob. Combining it in a satisfying way with another Pokemon was almost impossible because it has no arms, legs, tails, or ANYTHING interesting on it.

coolchazine

Who is requesting Luvdisc for something like that? That person has the option of any Pokemon, literally any other Pokemon, and they choose the pink blob with no interesting features. That person probably likes plain vanilla ice cream too.

Source: Kotaku.com

Meet The Pixel Artist Recreating Breath of The Wild Scenes In 8-Bit

Image: ncxaesthetic

On Tuesday, Instagram user ncxaesthetic began uploading a series of “screenshots” in which he took iconic scenes from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and rendered them in the 8-bit pixel art style of the Game Boy Color Zelda games like Link’s Awakening DX. Here, for example, is a scene from early in the game, where Link meets the “Old Man” shortly after awakening at the start.

Dig back further into ncxaesthetic’s profile, and you’ll see he’s been working at this for a while, remaking scenes from almost every 3D Zelda in the style of the 2D Game Boy entries.

Turns out ncxaesthetic—also known as Nate, 20—began making these pieces as a way to get better at something he loved doing: making pixel art.

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“Around January of this year, I was replaying Link’s Awakening DX on my 3DS and out of nowhere I just thought to myself, I wonder if anyone has drawn up the bosses from the 3D Zelda games in a 2D format?” Nate wrote to me via email. “So I did some digging around and much to my disappointment, I found none.”

So Nate decided to do it himself. He started with Gohma, the first boss from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and began using a 7-year-old laptop with a cracked screen and an old copy of Photoshop CS6. Soon, he had fashioned every Wind Waker boss in pixel art.

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“I found that project very fun to complete,” Nate said, “so I just continued making content from there and now here we are.”

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Nate began making pixel art four years ago. He had been on his way to a convention and planned to attend a signing by one of his favorite actors from The Walking Dead. As a gift, he had brought a pixel-art representation of the character.

“The artwork was absolutely terrible and I give him props to this day for acting like it was good,” Nate says. “It truly showed me how talented of a performer he is.”

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It took Nate two years before he returned to pixel art, recreating scenes the iconic finale of The Walking Dead’s sixth season and its seventh-season premiere with Mega Man sprites.

Image: ncxaesthetic

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“At a certain point I realized I really did enjoy making pixel art, however I was still terrible at it and that bothered me,” Nate says. “I told myself I’d make at least one pixel artwork per day as a way to keep practicing and keep getting better, so that’s what I did. I took a few breaks here and there, but currently I’m on almost a nine-month streak of making pixel art every single day.”

Thus Nate began working his way through 3D Zelda games. It’s a task that he says is much harder than it looks. He walked me through how he translated the entrance of the Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time into 2D.

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“My first step was to take a look at the room from the original game and to see the basic layout of everything. The entrance lies south, a door to the north, two dead trees symmetrical to each other on both sides of the room and a climbable wall to the right that provides access to a chest and key. The Game Boy Color is a very limited system, so my biggest challenge here is to figure out how to incorporate that climbable wall into my piece. I save that for last because it helps me to visualize things better when I have something to look at; so I create the room, add the trees, the door, and the entrance. To add some extra flair to the room I add symmetrical pillars to either side of the north door. Now I approach that challenge I mentioned earlier. In Link’s Awakening, Oracle of Seasons, and Oracle of Ages, there are two ways to create “height” in a dungeon: either by adding an interactive staircase texture leading up to a whole other floor or by adding a plain staircase texture paired with a wall below which takes up quite a lot of room on the screen. The latter isn’t an option given the size constraints of the room, so I opted for the interactive staircase as my method of translating the climbable wall into a 2D format.”

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To Nate, the placement of different objects and textures on the limited amount of space you have when recreating a Game Boy screen is a challenge akin to a good puzzle game, one that he says is only enhanced by the limitations of his old equipment.

“The crack near the middle of my screen slowly grows larger week by week, however I find it humbling in an odd way. There is a common notion that to make decent content you need decent tools. However, here I am making content with a less-than-decent piece of hardware that even sometimes gets in the way of me trying to work,” he says. “It’s almost poetic—a reminder that anyone with a creative mind can still create no matter the quality of the tools they work with.”

Source: Kotaku.com

Meet The Pixel Artist Recreating Breath of The Wild Scenes In 8-Bit

Image: ncxaesthetic

On Tuesday, Instagram user ncxaesthetic began uploading a series of “screenshots” in which he took iconic scenes from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and rendered them in the 8-bit pixel art style of the Game Boy Color Zelda games like Link’s Awakening DX. Here, for example, is a scene from early in the game, where Link meets the “Old Man” shortly after awakening at the start.

Dig back further into ncxaesthetic’s profile, and you’ll see he’s been working at this for a while, remaking scenes from almost every 3D Zelda in the style of the 2D Game Boy entries.

Turns out ncxaesthetic—also known as Nate, 20—began making these pieces as a way to get better at something he loved doing: making pixel art.

Advertisement

“Around January of this year, I was replaying Link’s Awakening DX on my 3DS and out of nowhere I just thought to myself, I wonder if anyone has drawn up the bosses from the 3D Zelda games in a 2D format?” Nate wrote to me via email. “So I did some digging around and much to my disappointment, I found none.”

So Nate decided to do it himself. He started with Gohma, the first boss from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and began using a 7-year-old laptop with a cracked screen and an old copy of Photoshop CS6. Soon, he had fashioned every Wind Waker boss in pixel art.

Advertisement

“I found that project very fun to complete,” Nate said, “so I just continued making content from there and now here we are.”

Advertisement

Nate began making pixel art four years ago. He had been on his way to a convention and planned to attend a signing by one of his favorite actors from The Walking Dead. As a gift, he had brought a pixel-art representation of the character.

“The artwork was absolutely terrible and I give him props to this day for acting like it was good,” Nate says. “It truly showed me how talented of a performer he is.”

Advertisement

It took Nate two years before he returned to pixel art, recreating scenes the iconic finale of The Walking Dead’s sixth season and its seventh-season premiere with Mega Man sprites.

Image: ncxaesthetic

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“At a certain point I realized I really did enjoy making pixel art, however I was still terrible at it and that bothered me,” Nate says. “I told myself I’d make at least one pixel artwork per day as a way to keep practicing and keep getting better, so that’s what I did. I took a few breaks here and there, but currently I’m on almost a nine-month streak of making pixel art every single day.”

Thus Nate began working his way through 3D Zelda games. It’s a task that he says is much harder than it looks. He walked me through how he translated the entrance of the Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time into 2D.

Advertisement

“My first step was to take a look at the room from the original game and to see the basic layout of everything. The entrance lies south, a door to the north, two dead trees symmetrical to each other on both sides of the room and a climbable wall to the right that provides access to a chest and key. The Game Boy Color is a very limited system, so my biggest challenge here is to figure out how to incorporate that climbable wall into my piece. I save that for last because it helps me to visualize things better when I have something to look at; so I create the room, add the trees, the door, and the entrance. To add some extra flair to the room I add symmetrical pillars to either side of the north door. Now I approach that challenge I mentioned earlier. In Link’s Awakening, Oracle of Seasons, and Oracle of Ages, there are two ways to create “height” in a dungeon: either by adding an interactive staircase texture leading up to a whole other floor or by adding a plain staircase texture paired with a wall below which takes up quite a lot of room on the screen. The latter isn’t an option given the size constraints of the room, so I opted for the interactive staircase as my method of translating the climbable wall into a 2D format.”

Advertisement

To Nate, the placement of different objects and textures on the limited amount of space you have when recreating a Game Boy screen is a challenge akin to a good puzzle game, one that he says is only enhanced by the limitations of his old equipment.

“The crack near the middle of my screen slowly grows larger week by week, however I find it humbling in an odd way. There is a common notion that to make decent content you need decent tools. However, here I am making content with a less-than-decent piece of hardware that even sometimes gets in the way of me trying to work,” he says. “It’s almost poetic—a reminder that anyone with a creative mind can still create no matter the quality of the tools they work with.”

Source: Kotaku.com

Tips For Playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is here, and there’s a lot to it. There are more than 30 different characters at launch, each with different abilities and skills to juggle, and menu after menu of ways to enhance and upgrade them. There’s so much to keep track of while you take on the most challenging entry in the action role-playing series yet. In lieu of harnessing the power of the Infinity Stones, we’ve got some tips that should help.

Know How To Do Synergy Attacks

Before we get deeper into the game’s systems, there’s one important mechanic Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 doesn’t explain very well. Holding down the R button on the Switch controller gives players access to the special abilities of the character they are controlling. When characters with complementary abilities activate them when nearby to the character you’re controlling, players can press the A button to fire off their own special ability, which then combines those two abilities into a new, more powerful form. That’s called a Synergy attack. What’s not really explained is how players can initiate Synergy attacks on their own.

Holding down the ZR, or trigger button, also opens the ability menu, but now abilities are only highlighted if a nearby character controlled by another player or the computer can perform a complementary ability, activating a Synergy attack. In the screen above, I am controlling Black Panther. Holding down ZR shows I can perform a Synergy attack with either Captain America or Crystal.

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VG24/7 has a great guide to Synergy attacks, including a table showing which abilities types work together and what they do.

Know Which Attributes Do What

Each character in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 has six attributes.

  • Energy (ENE): Influences how much energy a character has to perform special attacks
  • Vitality (VIT): Influences how much health a character has
  • Durability (DUR): Resistance to physical damage (punches, swords, bullets)
  • Resilience (RES): Resistance to energy and magic damage (fire, lasers, sorcerers supreme and otherwise)
  • Strength (STR): Enhances physical damage
  • Mastery (MAS): Enhances magical and energy damage

Know Your Characters

Now that we know which stats affect which attributes and abilities, it’s pretty easy to figure out which stats to focus on when upgrading a character. These upgrades involve assign points to the Alliance-wide enhancement grid or assigning stat-enhancing ISO-8. Let’s look at Ms. Marvel.

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Ms. Marvel is a brawler. All of her attacks are physical, as denoted by the fist icon under he abilities on the left side of the screen. That means to do more damage, she needs strength. Since she’s going to be in the thick of battle, having a good amount of vitality is helpful, though good durability will keep her from getting too roughed up. Her resilience could be better, as magical attacks tend to tear her up. She is desperately in need of more energy, as her special attacks hit hard, and I would like to be able to use them more often.

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Storm is a ranged attacker, and her abilities all energy-based. She’s equipped here with a chunk of ISO-8 that greatly increases her health. I focus on energy and mastery for Storm’s attacks, because I want her to hit hard and often.

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Level Up A Variety Of Different Characters

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It’s tempting to create a party featuring four of your favorite Marvel characters and to just stick with them, but there are good reasons to have a wider range of party members at your disposal.

  • Exploiting Enemy Weaknesses: Special abilities have types—piercing, melee, ethereal, and energy, to name a few. Certain enemies and many of the bosses are weak to specific damage types. If you’re up against an enemy who is weak to piercing, swapping in a character like Black Panther, who is heavy on piercing abilities, can make a big difference.
  • Resisting Enemy Attacks: Check out Ororo’s Hero Traits. Note the Electricity Resistance. Suddenly, that fight against Electro isn’t so difficult anymore. Captain America isn’t the most interesting character in the roster, but his defensive shield ability saves lives in the right situation.
  • Avoiding Environmental Hazards: At multiple points in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3’s story mode, characters have to avoid a barrage of ground-based hazards. Traps and explosions on the ground are nothing to a character who can fly or web-sling.
  • Mixing Things Up Is Fun: When a game gives you more than 30 characters to play with, play with them. You never know when you’re going to find a new favorite.

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Team Bonuses Make The Dream … Wonuses

Team bonuses reward players with attribute bonuses for forming parties of heroes who share common ground. There are 29 different groups characters can belong to, from spider-themed heroes to the Women of Marvel to Ultimate Alliance newcomers. Teams consisting of two, three, or four members of a certain group gain small, medium, and large attribute boosts, respectively.

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Team bonuses overlap and are cumulative, so a team can earn enhancements from multiple categories at once. I’m sure members of the game’s Reddit community are hard at work calculating the most bonus-laden team possible.

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Have A Plan For The Alliance Enhancement Grid

Most of a character’s attribute bonuses come from the Alliance Enhancement grid. It’s a series of hex-shaped clusters where players can spend credits and enhancement points earned through playing to increase attributes for every character across the board. The center hex in the grid is filled with less potent enhancements that don’t cost much. Filling out each corner of the central hex opens up six additional hexes, with upgrades that are more expensive and much more powerful.

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I filled out the center hex and then started buying enhancements from the surrounding hexes at random, whenever I could afford to activate a spot. That was dumb, and a waste of points. Had I paid more attention, I would have realized earlier on that the center spot on each hex contains an extremely useful upgrade. The blue hex, for example, grants a 10 percent experience upgrade when fully unlocked, making it easier to level up characters. I wasted so much time and so many enhancement points on the other hexes, when I should have been focusing on that one first.

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Also keep in mind the composition of your party when unlocking Alliance Enhancements. If you’ve got a group of melee berzerkers, save the mastery upgrades for later, focusing on strength instead.

Don’t Be Afraid To Futz About With ISO-8

In the game’s third chapter, you start collecting ISO-8, which are magic space crystals that offer a wide variety of bonuses, from attribute increases to boosts to specific damage types. Soon after, players gain the ability to break down ISO-8 and reinforce it using credits and other in-game resources. Don’t be daunted by the menu. Tear that crap down and build it up.

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Between ISO-8 gathered or rewarded during the story mode and that which is acquired via the game’s optional Infinity side missions, you’ll be swimming in extra ISO-8 from here until Ultimate Alliance 4. There’s plenty for deconstructing and experimenting with crafting more powerful versions. The biggest, most rare pieces are protected from deconstruction automatically, and players can tag their favorite bits to preserve them. Safeguards are in place, so there’s no way to pull a Tony Stark here.

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Farm Those Infinity Missions

By the latter third of the game’s 10-hour story mode, enhancement points needed to unlock spots on the Alliance Enhancement grid become incredibly sparse. Higher level enhancements require a lot of points, and the story gets really stingy with them. What’s a player to do?

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Infinity missions, that’s what. Enhancement points are one of the many rewards that can be harvested in the game’s side mission challenges, along with credits, ability points to upgrade character skills, alternate costumes, and the odd unlockable hero. Along with a wealth of resources, Infinity missions are also excellent bitesize bits of action that are perfect for a quick bathroom gaming fix.

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If Something Drops, Pick It Up And Throw It

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 does not have a lot of random destructible environmental stuff. If an object appears with the option to pick it up and throw it, there’s usually a damn good reason for it.

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For example, during the battle with sentinels at the X-Mansion, the mutant-hunting robots drop mechanical cores when destroyed. These little explosive goodies deplete a sentinel’s stun meter significantly, opening them up to serious damage more quickly than normal attacks. When a boss sentinel shows up, tossing the cores is an integral part of taking it down.

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And if throwing the dropped thing doesn’t work, give it a sec. Sometimes items need to be charged by a boss’ attack in order to be weaponized. Which leads me to my penultimate tip.

Think Strategically

While many mini-bosses in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 can be blitzed, going down in a relentless flurry of attacks, every major boss I encountered required more than just an all-out assault. They’ll fire attacks that must be avoided. They’ll spawn lesser enemies that have to be taken out first because they drop important items when killed. They’ll set up massive, screen-clearing onslaughts that can only be avoided when characters are in just the right place.

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In mid-battle, Ultron flies to the edges of the screen and commands drones to sweep the battlefield with beams that do a ridiculous amount of damage to characters caught in them. Later, he summons a group of drones onto the field that will explode unless avoided or quickly destroyed. I wiped on his metal ass three times before I got the patterns and timing down. Frustrating, but it made victory so sweet.

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If a boss gives you trouble, don’t agonize, analyze.

Have Fun

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is an entertaining game with colorful comic book characters doing important comic book stuff. If it’s giving you trouble, don’t be afraid to dial down the difficulty. If you hate Scarlet Witch, despite her being one of the game’s heaviest hitters, don’t use Scarlet Witch. Play the way you want to play, and ignore everything I just wrote. What’s important is having a good time.

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That, and harassing* Marvel Games and Nintendo until we get Squirrel Girl.

*Politely asking. Please. Please!!

Source: Kotaku.com