Category: Feature

Any kind of post that is unique to GameLuv.

A Few Thoughts on Nintendo Switch Cases and Configurations

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The backs of Nintendo Switch cases are going to be so very, very busy. With the freedom to “play it your way” comes the need to inform consumers of all their options. The ‘Number of players’ and ‘supported controllers’ icons are commonplace but now we’ll have three more just to depict the various console configurations. Alongside the boilerplate safety notices and tri-lingual game descriptions it should make for an awfully garish sight. No wonder the front of the box is so simple in comparison.

The above image isn’t from the back of a box though, it’s from Fast RMX’s website so the final iconography could be more succinct. Nevertheless, all that information has to be present and will eat up even more space on boxes for marketers to tell you anything about the actual game. It’s not a big deal as there’s a whole internet out there to explain what a game is like but with most news on the Switch these days, this little tidbit raise more questions.

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It’s been taken for granted that all games would support all three Switch configurations (TV, Tabletop and Handheld modes) but could some games simply refuse to work on the go? With the alleged performance drop when the Switch is undocked could some games run so poorly that Nintendo would require them to disable on-the-go play?

If there’s a performance edge to be gained by prohibiting undocked play then at least a few studios will use it. If that gamble pays off — or if demand just isn’t there for portable play thanks to the battery life —  I could see the majority of Switch games going “TV Mode” exclusive. It’s just a thought, I’m sure there are details out there already in subreddits and forums but I wanted to throw it out there in the crazy chance that I’m onto something.

I’m Providing a Valuable Zombie Workout Service

You just don’t realize how much a game means to some people until it goes away. Running Delisted Games has brought all kinds of people to me, usually lamenting the loss of one of the hundreds of games I’ve dug into. It feels good to provide them a page to mourn the loss of a favorite game but sometimes I can go a little deeper.

I really didn’t know how many people regularly used and relied on Xbox Fitness until I got my first Delisted video online. People have been requesting uploads of specific workout and this past weekend I finally got everything recorded that I still have access to. Sadly, it isn’t much but I did get to record the 2-part Zombies workout. Yes, there are even zombies in fitness videos now.

It’s really peculiar. It feels like an FMV game — fitting, as it’s produced by SUMO Digital, the team behind the actual FMV game Intel Discovered — only you don’t have any control over how things happen. Instead, the team of survivors do a typical workout routine for a few minutes and then you repeat the sequences as they rush to a new safe location. It’s really something to see as the cast tries to apply burpees, walking push-ups and high jumps to zombie encounters.

Whether you exercise alongside them or not, those two videos in particular are worth queuing up sometime.

Achieving: Stealthy Steampunk Satisfaction in The Swindle

Achieving: Stealthy Steampunk Satisfaction in The Swindle

I started out not thinking The Swindle was very good. It wants to combine Spelunky with Mark of the Ninja into a roguelike stealth/action game but the finicky controls keep it from feeling as solid and reliable as its predecessors. Nevertheless, it’s got style, an amazing soundtrack and some clever gadgets tucked up its sleeves.

Completing the game in 100 days feels as much like an accounting class as it does a heist. You need to raise over £500,000 to access all the districts leading up to Scotland Yard where the game’s McGuffin is stashed. You’ll never do it by farming the starting area in the slums so you initially have to be choosy about which of the 30+ upgrades you buy. One of them is a teleporter that lets you zip through solid walls, obviously decreasing the difficulty, and the other is a computer you can use to extend the 100-day deadline (for an exponential fee).

I managed to rely on neither of them and was still well prepared for the major swindle… until I boned it up. In the final stretch I slid off of a wall directly in front of the last guard who stood between me and the goal. I’ll take the blame on that one after a nerve wracking hour spent infiltrating the place, but that mechanic has dropped me into trouble numerous times before. See, it’s finicky.

Second attempt and it’s getting a little later than I wanted to be up playing. Once again I gingerly explore the randomly generated tower which, this time, is filled with sound detecting bots that launch out a flurry of thief-seeking, one-shot drones. Super. After even more time with this tower I’ve finally quelled the opposition in total silence and set up a path to run straight out in case something tricky happens after I grab the goods (which I’d never done up to this point). After the requisite pause for effect, I grabbed it and ran on my pre-planned path, completely uneventfully to the finale of the game. That there. That felt good.

The A-rank I was given only made me feel better so I reloaded my save and set off for another Trophy: to Ghost a bank while killing every enemy. It was essentially what I’d just pulled off on the final mission only with slightly less opposition so I had it done in about 25 more minutes. Icing on the cake for the evening, and another Ultra Rare, less-than-1%-completion Trophy was scored.

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.

Of 2016: The GameLuv Report

Of 2016: The GameLuv Report

GameLuv’s stats were a real surprise in 2016! I only managed to make 72 posts, an all time low, but we almost had a 4-year high with 10,149 views. Once again, lots of views (1,834) were to the homepage which makes me happy to think that at least a few hundred of you come directly to GameLuv.com. For that I apologize, I really should have more posts going up throughout the year. Between OSV and Delisted Games the site is suffering from some neglect.

Beyond the homepage our top views were again from years past but this time most were just from 2015. The KPop Dance Festival news saw another 1,625 views in 2016, the most for a single post on the site. As Submerged went on sale and was ported to iOS more people came looking for meaning behind the game’s made-up language. That brought another 830 views to my post Decoding the Language and Story of Submerged. I’m happy to see more posts from 2016 pop up in the top ten as well.

Of 2016: The GameLuv Report

When Miyamoto appeared on The Tonight Show the internet had a bit of a freak-out over his shirt featuring Mario dressed up as a samurai. It immediately reminded me of the last Club Nintendo calendar that features Mario and friends dressed up for various Japanese holidays. I scanned the calendar and it brought in 253 views just in the last few weeks of 2016. My post recounting some new tidbits on Metal Gear Survive garnered 224 views and my March Update on Spelunker World grabbed another 104 views.

In search we had the same results as usual. Of our 4,329 search referrals, 3,898 were from Google. The next highest referrer was Reddit where I’d shared some posts about the Nintendo Switch, Spelunker World and Earth Defense Force. The search terms that brought people to the site couldn’t have been much more varied from last year, though.

While “luv game” and “just dance kpop” prevailed we had more people come our way thanks to Spelunker World and Metal Gear Survive than anything else. I’m also especially proud that someone’s search for “goat farting in zoo” landed them on this post, even though it wasn’t what they were looking for. Finally, I’m not sure what “kyar game” is but I don’t think it was someone looking for an early augmented reality experience at Disney World, which is what I posted about in 2007.

Visits from every country: Gotta Catch 'em All

Globally, we had the same kind of split as usual. 5,467 visitors from North America, 458 from Canada, 433 from the UK and a few hundred each from the remaining European countries. Pretty much all of the numbers were increases as well, although that includes the Eastern European ones where the spammers and scammers come from.

It was a surprisingly good year for the site and I think the only thing I can honestly attribute it to is something changing with Google’s algorithm. I did add an SEO plugin to the site but I’ve only made the metadata changes on the most recent posts. Unless it’s doing some real magic I think it’s really to do with search rank and all that Google stuff. I’m no SEO expert, not even a novice really, so I’m happy enough to see the numbers go up on the graphs.

Looking ahead, I’ll probably end up doing the Top Twenty of the IGF again, although I may take more time with it this year instead of rushing to put a bow on it. I hope to do some more cross-posting from my YouTube channel to the site and at least do a recap of my work on OSV. And of course, I’ll be throwing all kinds of random thoughts, pick-ups and links as they pop up. I’ll be updating the Play-Asia sidebar for a new look in 2017 instead of cluttering up the joint with their random product images. I’ve also begun doing some A/B testing with the few ad banners on the site so you may not see the same 3 ads for mobile games that I feel have been running forever. Also, I might as well ask if you’d turn off your ad blocker for us? It really does help and I promise I don’t have any pop-ups or pop-overs waiting to annoy you.

 

Thanks for all the visits, 2016!

Finally, my heartfelt thanks goes to everyone who stopped by GameLuv in 2016. I hope you found something entertaining, informative or completely new! Cheers to the best in 2017!

Of 2016: My Top Five Games

Here's my five favorite, most special games of 2016!

Even making an unordered list of my five top games of 2016 feels really hard this year. I don’t have a thread to tie them all together or any point to make. Maybe it’s the Retro Effect, spending a lot of meaningful time playing, recording, sharing and investigating old stuff. Nevertheless, here are my Top Five most special games of 2016, meticulously ranked… in alphabetical order.

Dragon Quest Builders (PlayStation 4)
I played the Japanese demo early in 2016 but it was Katy who actually picked this one up. After she bounced off I got totally sucked in by the combination of Minecraft with a Quest Log. There are still some glaring oversights that will hopefully be smoothed out in a sequel but giving purpose to the block-placing and crafting was ingenious.

With the NPCs requesting new rooms and personal favors it almost felt like Animal Crossing. Suddenly it wasn’t just “build this room out of dirt”, it was all about building and decorating a room and the town to feel like a real place. Pushing the game’s limits and trying to outsmart the frequent monster invasions only kept me building for hours and hours on end.

Inside (Xbox One)
It’s not flashy or loud or even very long but if you stop for a moment while playing Inside you can tell why it took nearly six years to make. Almost every step of the way has a unique mechanic that makes you feel like you’ve mastered its nuances by the time you move on.

It may look simple and flat shaded (the characters don’t even have faces, I hear you say) but there are so many miniscule details in the environments, the physics and the animations that subtly sucked me in. The final stretch was also a huge, shocking surprise that had me playing with one hand while the other clasped my gaping mouth below a wide eyed stare. All this without diary entries to explain the story or even spoken dialog.

The Last Guardian (PlayStation 4)
Had this come out on the same schedule as its predecessors (which would put it around 2009) it would’ve been my Game of the Year without doubt. But so far removed from its original time and place it’s hard to fall totally in love with it. The Last Guardian is exactly the combination of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus and nothing more. In fact, it’s missing a few things. There’s no villain which made ICO’s finale so memorable and what is here is more confusing than emotionally resonant.

Still, I found myself in love with Trico for most of the game, talking to it in the same way I would a pet. Questioning where it’s going, chiding it for making perilous jumps and giggling at its antics were all reactions I never expected to feel from a game. Not even my beloved Preston from Petz Hamsterz elicited a real reaction like this. What dulls these amazing moments with Trico are the times when you can practically see the AI routines running. I tried to convince myself it was acting naturally and that this was a “real” creature but I couldn’t help being resigned at times to wait for it to finish its equations.

I may sound down on it but The Last Guardian is absolutely a Top Five for me. Its luster may diminished after all the years in mothballs but it’s still totally unique, memorable and special to me.

Starbound (Steam)
Similarly long in development was Starbound, a spiritual expansion of Terraria which I already loved to pieces. There had been plenty of alpha and beta builds over the years but I really wanted to wait for a 1.0 release to jump in. Like so many other games I’ve enjoyed in the last few years, it’s the mystery of how Starbound works and what sights there are to discover that satisfied me so much. Now that I think of it, it’s also a little like Dragon Quest Builders in that it adds a loose structure to the otherwise directionless crafting that’s typical of the genre.

It was made all the more special by playing it with Katy at my side. There are a few quirks to it but the way Starbound manages everyone’s unique, randomly generated universes across multiplayer is downright elegant. We were able to establish a shared planet where we built a home and farmed our crops while venturing out on quests, delving deep into dangerous otherworldly depths. Hilariously, we found ourselves robbing these quest locations blind, “shopping” for new decorations and materials while rescuing NPCs and fighting bosses.

Being a cute and colorful “2D Minecraft” made the soundtrack hit even harder. Curtis Schweitzer’s score makes even mundane farming feel meaningful and while it looped a lot for the 90 hours we were playing I couldn’t bring myself to turn it off. It was my Soundtrack of the Year for good reason and makes the game feel even more alive.

The Witness (PlayStation 4)
It’s hard for me to call this one as I’m writing this almost exactly a year after I last played it. Right at this moment I can’t recall playing The Witness very clearly but I remember the way it made me feel. Smart! Sure, I stumbled at understanding plenty of its mechanics and had to look up hints and ultimately some naked solutions. But there are hundreds of puzzles to unravel in the game and I sussed out the majority of them on my own, with my own brain. Just like Jonathan Blow’s previous game, Braid, The Witness has a way of making your head feel swimmy in the most empowering way. It’s like turning your head sideways and seeing something that wasn’t there before.

One of the defining moments — which I really hope you’ve had for yourself if you don’t know where this is going — is realizing that the puzzles aren’t contained to the little panels where you draw lines and shapes. Perspective is the key to the game and it is almost narcotically mind altering the first time you see it. Like everyone else I was seeing shapes in real life for weeks and spent hours reading theories and explanations on reddit when I wasn’t able to play.

Who knows, maybe it really did expand my mind as 2016 has been enlightening for me in so many ways, in and out of gaming. I may not be able to recall a lot of it right now but those feelings haven’t left me and for that it deserves to be a Top Five.