Articles tagged with nintendo


Aug
02
Posted by James at 13:17
This is the last in a three part series which examines how Nintendo’s NX platform will redefine the way the company approaches the traditional hardware and software lifecycle. Part one examines some of the weaknesses behind that current approach, which ultimately harmed Nintendo this generation. Those weaknesses can be summarised as follows:

1) Software shortages throughout a video game system’s lifetime. Developers struggle to develop for both Wii U and 3DS at the same time due to the massive differences in hardware and software architecture.
2) The cyclical nature of a console generation, and how a new platform traditionally means starting all over again. With a clean slate, the tide can turn in favour of an entirely different platform holder.
3) Every new generation begins with an effective new software library of nothing.
Meanwhile, Part two reveals the direction Nintendo plans on taking with NX. Which brings us onto the big question: How will NX overcome these weaknesses compared with that came before it?

Weakness 1) becomes a thing of the past in both the short term and long term, because developers can target all Nintendo hardware at a much lower cost, much like developers can target iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, optimising easily and cheaply between the three. Or they can even just target specific hardware based on the requirements for their software – upcoming strategy title SteamWorld Heist will only be available on iPad because its roomy display goes hand-in-hand with touchscreen input within the strategy genre.

For games available across the entire spectrum of NX hardware, Nintendo can also make initiatives like cross-platform purchases – popularised by Sony as “cross-buy” – prevalent across the whole platform, not just for a few games. On PlayStation, games from independent developers and those published by Sony make up the bulk of games supporting cross-buy. Why? One major reason is that it’s more costly to make separate PS4, PS3 and PS Vita versions of a lot of games, so publishers will want a return on that investment.

All signs point to this barrier being removed for NX, since Nintendo is targeting a common hardware architecture and a single way for developers to program across all devices – just look at the number of iOS games which are “universal apps”.

NX being a scalable platform that will retain its software library in the long-run solves problem 3), of course, but it also solves problem 2). Nintendo will bear less risk launching a new piece of hardware because it’ll play well with current and future software being developed for it.

A good example of this is the iPod Touch, whose hardware sales have long been cannibalised by the iPad. Despite a move into irrelevance (iPod doesn’t even show up on the front page for Apple.com anymore), developers continue to support it because it’s cheap and easy to do so. Customers, on the other hand, continue to receive new software and games for the device. The conclusion to make here is that if a piece of NX hardware ends up being cannibalised by another, it’ll still guaranteed a large chunk of upcoming software support.

Not only will this help Nintendo minimise risk in launching new types of hardware – with a scalable platform they will no longer need to start over from scratch – but it’ll minimise the amount of risk Nintendo faces from some of its competitors when they launch new platforms that “start from zero”.

A good example to look at is Valve’s Steam store, which exists on the PC, a platform which also has an expanding and continuous software library, and does give developers a way of programming across many types of hardware. Valve has accumulated an extensive library of software contracts over the past decade; any new competitor hoping to do battle with them in the PC gaming space will need to start from zero, just like Microsoft is having to with the Windows 10 Store.

As a hypothetical situation, if Sony actually does end up making another handheld, Nintendo can release a "New NX handheld" to keep their platform competitive, while still allowing developers to continue supporting any older hardware that exists within the typical support timeframe of 5 years.

It’s an asset that becomes more valuable the longer the platform exists for. Yes, in the short-run, NX won’t offer a clear path from Wii U to 3DS – that’s what Nintendo’s mobile games, and the cloud-based membership platform are for. Generation 1 hardware isn’t going to be as good as anything else planned down the line, and the software library, being the start of a brand new platform, will indeed start from zero. It’s not going to be everything to everyone on day one, because it can’t be. But there will reach a point where it becomes “good enough” for most people, and this value will be retained across several generations of hardware releases, not just one.

This is all doable in the long run. Four-five year old iOS hardware, powered by the Apple A5 SoC (system on chip), cotninue to receive regular support and updates from Apple, and thus developers continue to support these devices with new software.

Five years is a very long time in the mobile space, and enough for a traditional console lifecycle. For example, iPad 2, the first device with an Apple A5 inside it, launched on the same day as Nintendo’s 3DS, yet it’s quite possible that it will outlive it -- it's already guaranteed support up to September 2016. The same goes for the four-year-old iPhone 4s.

In other words, this model of software and hardware development has recently become sustainable for dedicated video game platforms, where users are not going to be upgrading frequently. Nintendo will most likely offer several types of NX device (think the product differentiation between iPhone and iPad but on a larger scale between handheld and console form factors, or control inputs), but update them less regularly than once a year.

This ties into Iwata’s comments about how Nintendo does not know whether only one device will be needed in the future – Nintendo will most likely experiment with a few different form factors over the years and if one wins out against another, so be it. Like the iPod Touch, developers can still support it despite the iPad taking centre stage as the “other” non-iPhone device on the iOS platform. It won’t be the end of the world for users who bought one.

Pulling all of this off will not be without its challenges. Nintendo firstly needs to make sure the first generation of NX hardware is future proof for purpose, much like how Apple’s A5 was for iOS development. That way they can release new form factors and hardware without annoying early adopters. They should also encourage developers to adopt a "bottom-up" approach to game development, so that software still works well on older hardware before its lifecycle is up.

Nintendo invested in DeNA for their expertise in running services, so it’s vital that they utilise these strengths in order to ensure that switching between various types of NX hardware is as seamless as switching between an iPhone and an iPad. It needs to “just work” if Nintendo wants evolve of the platform with new form factors and encourage users to want to own them as well as whatever NX device they already have.

So that’s the vision behind NX based on everything we know so far. Expect a near-seamless transition between new hardware launches on the same platform, and for NX as a platform to last much longer than the traditional console generation does. If done right, it should evolve and change much faster than what we’ve seen in the dedicated video games space, so that’s something worth watching. As for specifics on the hardware, while Nintendo hasn’t formally given us any clues...there is some excellent speculation floating around, and a few interesting rumours have cropped up here and there. Exciting times.
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Aug
01
Posted by James at 20:02
This is the second in a three part series which examines how Nintendo’s NX platform will redefine the way the company approaches the traditional hardware and software lifecycle. Part one examined some of the weaknesses behind that current approach. This followup will look at how Nintendo is approaching NX in order to overcome those weaknesses.

Based on Satoru Iwata’s comments over the past year and a half, we already have a good picture about the overall vision behind the NX platform and how it’ll differ with the traditional, cyclical handheld and console generation which, as Iwata outlined, caused a few problems for Nintendo in the present day..

All signs are pointing to an expanding software environment, and a single platform that will continue to exist in the long term, one that is flexible enough such that Nintendo can continue introducing new pieces of hardware without needing to “start from zero” as they have done in the past.

The year after Nintendo merged both its handheld and console development teams in 2013, Satoru Iwata told investors the following:
"Previously, our handheld video game devices and home video game consoles had to be developed separately as the technological requirements of each system, whether it was battery-powered or connected to a power supply, differed greatly, leading to completely different architectures and, hence, divergent methods of software development. However, because of vast technological advances, it became possible to achieve a fair degree of architectural integration. We discussed this point, and we ultimately concluded that it was the right time to integrate the two teams."
"Also, as technological advances took place at such a dramatic rate, and we were forced to choose the best technologies for video games under cost restrictions, each time we developed a new platform, we always ended up developing a system that was completely different from its predecessor."
However, I think that we no longer need this kind of effort under the current circumstances. In this perspective, while we are only going to be able to start this with the next system, it will become important for us to accurately take advantage of what we have done with the Wii U architecture. It of course does not mean that we are going to use exactly the same architecture as Wii U, but we are going to create a system that can absorb the Wii U architecture adequately. When this happens, home consoles and handheld devices will no longer be completely different, and they will become like brothers in a family of systems.
Here, Iwata says the time is right to unify hardware architecture next generation. Before, handheld and console development were forced to take on radically different paths, due to the nature of the technology available at the time, as well as power requirements across both form factors. Nintendo would end up with completely different and incompatible systems across the board.

Since then, both ARM (a processor architecture used in the mobile space) and x86 (desktop space) have converged rapidly in both performance and power efficiency. No one would have dreamed of using mobile tech inside a console box at the time the 3DS was in development in 2009.

But it’s possible to use either and scale up or down depending on hardware requirements. As a case in point, 2014’s iPad Air 2 has a more modern and capable GPU than what is in the Wii U. The iPhone 6’s PowerVR GPU isn’t quite as capable, but it’s pushing less pixels on its noticeably smaller display that’s better suited for certain uses than others. Regardless of those differences, the iPad 2 shares core elements of its hardware architecture with the iPhone and iPod Touch.

In short, the technology is mature enough to build a platform where all hardware (say, handhelds and consoles) share a common and scalable architecture. Iwata continues:
Currently, we can only provide two form factors because if we had three or four different architectures, we would face serious shortages of software on every platform. To cite a specific case, Apple is able to release smart devices with various form factors one after another because there is one way of programming adopted by all platforms. Apple has a common platform called iOS.
Iwata points out the iOS model of hardware and software development, where Apple provides a common way to program across all its devices, making it easier for Apple to introduce new hardware within the same platform.

Developers can easily target iPhone, iPad and even the iPod Touch with far, far less effort and cost than, say, porting from PS4 to PS Vita or Wii U to 3DS, or Xbox One to Xbox 360. Because of these synergies between hardware and the software environment, Apple does not “start from zero” when it introduces a new piece of iOS hardware.

Even the iPad, which had a radically different form factor when it launched in 2010 (a 10” display at 1024 x 768 versus a 3.5” display at 480 x 320), faced a relatively smooth transition when it launched in 2010 with little iPad-specific software support outside of Apple’s own apps. It supported the iPhone’s vast library of old and new applications, while also receiving versions of that software which developers optimised to use the iPad’s more powerful hardware and extra screen space.
"Another example is Android. Though there are various models, Android does not face software shortages because there is one common way of programming on the Android platform that works with various models. The point is, Nintendo platforms should be like those two examples. Whether we will ultimately need just one device will be determined by what consumers demand in the future, and that is not something we know at the moment. However, we are hoping to change and correct the situation in which we develop games for different platforms individually and sometimes disappoint consumers with game shortages as we attempt to move from one platform to another, and we believe that we will be able to deliver tangible results in the future."
Iwata makes a sweeping statement: Nintendo platforms should be like iOS and Android in this sense. Note that Shigeru Miyamoto, general manager of Nintendo EAD, also claimed similar things, when speaking in an interview with Kotaku:
So, particularly with digital downloads now and the idea that you're downloading the right to play a game, that opens up the ability to have multiple platform digital downloads where you can download on one and download on another. Certainly from a development standpoint there is some challenge to it, because if you have two devices that have different specs and you're being told to design in a way that the game runs on both devices, then that can be challenging for the developer—but if you have a more unified development environment and you're able to make one game that runs on both systems instead of having to make a game for each system, that's an area of opportunity for us.
In summary, Nintendo is aiming for a common platform with a shared hardware and software architecture. This brings with it a continuously expanding software library; there will be a single way of programming that will work across all hardware on the platform. Developers will be able to optimise their optimising their software cheaply and easily for each piece of hardware – like a hypothetical NX Handheld and an NX Console.

It wouldn’t be too surprising if the “X” in NX stands for “Cross”. Head here for part 3: How the NX will solve the problems which Iwata associated with the traditional video game platform.
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Piecing together
Nintendo's NX platform: Part 1
Jul 31
Posted by James at 08:10

Square Enix surprised almost everyone by announcing that both Dragon Quest X and Dragon Quest XI will be coming to Nintendo’s “NX” platform in addition to PlayStation 4 and Nintendo 3DS versions. The publisher was quick to change their stance on the announcement soon after, but by then it had been too late – publishers don’t confidently announce that they are supporting a platform (at a major media event no less) unless the move had been thoroughly thought through beforehand.

Piecing together Nintendo's NX platform
A three-part series

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3
How can a game be announced for a platform that has no concrete details behind it? After all, Nintendo refuses to speak about NX publicly until the following year. It all dates back to March this year, when the late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed an ambitious plan to utilise smart devices. This forced his hand in prematurely revealing the code name, NX, of their next video game platform, thus confirming it exists, also sending a message that Nintendo is still committed to its dedicated video games business.

Elsewhere, it’s easy to get the feeling that NX development is nearing completion. Not only are Square Enix (and therefore, other publishers) developing and planning software for it right now, but Iwata told investors to expect a return to “Nintendo-like profits” in the financial year ending March 31, 2017. This suggests a new platform is launching next year, as Nintendo maintaining the status quo with Wii U, 3DS and Amiibo won’t change their financial situation much despite a recent return to profitability in FY2014.

Sure, you could interpret that as a by-product of the five mobile games Nintendo plans to launch from now up until March 31 – DeNA themselves are hoping that each game brings in £17 million per month. But the whole point of mobile, and the DeNA partnership, is to create an interconnected online network which will act as a bridge to the dedicated games business. NX has to be a part of that sooner rather than later, otherwise Nintendo will be squandering an opportunity.

Furthermore, Mr. Iwata has been leaving behind a trail of breadcrumbs about the paltform, dating far back to February 2014. With NX development fully underway, now is a better time than ever to pick apart what it all means.

The weaknesses behind Nintendo’s current approach

In a note to investors in February 2014, Satoru Iwata outlined a number of weaknesses to Nintendo’s current approach to serving up a dedicated games platform. Currently, Nintendo adopts the same generational approach that Microsoft and Sony do; every 5-10 years a new console generation rolls around and all the platform holders start again with new hardware and need to build up an install base from scratch.

Furthermore, Nintendo traditionally releases two platforms every generation: one handheld and one console. Mr. Iwata outlines some of the pitfalls behind that approach:
"…currently it requires a huge amount of effort to port Wii software to Nintendo 3DS because not only their resolutions but also the methods of software development are entirely different. The same thing happens when we try to port Nintendo 3DS software to Wii U.
Nintendo produces two wildly different pieces of hardware both from a software and hardware architectural standpoint which results in both internal and external developers struggling to support both platforms with equal attention, especially so when sales forecasts and development costs are involved given the other platforms they could be supporting instead.

Indeed, 3DS has arguably cannibalised the Wii U; rational publishers choose to support the platform which yields higher returns, it's no surprise that Wii U failed to garner third party support from Japanese publishers, even with its competitive install base in the grand scheme of the Japanese console market (in the west, the Wii U’s install base is relatively tiny in the grand scheme of the console market).

Iwata also expressed some of the problems the current cyclical hardware cycle causes when new hardware is launched. Note that in this context, platforms equal new hardware.
"If the transition of software from platform to platform can be made simpler, this will help solve the problem of game shortages in the launch periods of new platforms."
A year later, Iwata went on to elaborate on this point when speaking to the Nikkei (translated by Kotaku and Google Translate). There he explained how in the current environment, there is a need to "start over from zero" whenever a "new game machine" is released. Note the difference in terminology in the space of a year – he is now referring to launching new video game hardware rather than new platform.

Finally, Iwata brought up one final weakness to the typical 5-10 year hardware cycle, which involves platform holders having to start all over again:
Switching platforms resulted in a gap in the relationship with our customers…I think that’s to be reflected upon greatly.
It’s easy to see how quickly the tide can turn in favour of one platform holder or another once a new generation of video game hardware (and thus, a new platform) rolls out. Success in one hardware cycle and platform doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in the next, since all the major players start again from scratch – the playing field is levelled. Look at the transition from Wii to Wii U, PS2 to PS3, Xbox 360 to Xbox One to see how easily platform holders can lose customers and mindshare.

In summary, Iwata outlined three big problems that Nintendo hopes to tackle with NX:

1) Software shortages throughout a video game system’s lifetime. Developers struggle to develop for both Wii U and 3DS at the same time due to the massive differences in hardware and software architecture.
2) The cyclical nature of a console generation, and how a new platform traditionally means starting all over again. With a clean slate, the tide can turn in favour of an entirely different platform holder.
3) Every new generation begins with an effective new software library of nothing.

NX is a solution to these problems. Head here for part 2: How Nintendo is defining NX as a platform, compared with what came before it.
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Jul
25
Posted by James at 08:58
Not a headline I thought I'd be writing. The first wave of "Amiibo cards" -- NFC cards which unlock a range of content in supported Nintendo software -- may be difficult to get hold of when they launch in Japan this coming Thursday.

The cards, which work with 3DS game Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, always seemed like a great way for Nintendo to tackle their ongoing Amiibo supply problems. More recently, Nintendo has shown signs of flexibility in managing the supply and demand situation of Amiibo figures; they budged from a single RRP of £11.99/$12.99/1200 yen.

Amiibo cards were another piece of the puzzle in giving Nintendo more flexibility to deal with supply and demand. They can be manufactured faster and shipped en masse than plastic painted figurines, also taking up less space in retailers' warehouses and store shelves. Thus Nintendo can ship more of them time for a product's launch -- it's speculated that Yoshi's Woolly World is launching months later in North America in order to give Nintendo time to build up enough supply of that game's complementing knitted Yoshi Amiibo.

So it's a bit strange to see a Reddit user receive the following email from Japanese retailer AmiAmi, regarding his/her order for an Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Series 1 card pack (emphasis ours):
Dear Customer,

Thank you for shopping at AmiAmi.

This message is being sent with regards your order for the item "Animal Crossing amiibo Card Vol.1 5Pack Set" (GAME-0014482).

Unfortunately due to production issues, we have been notified by the maker that there is a major stock shortage of this item. We will be unable to fulfill most orders for the item placed at our store because of this, and we are sorry to say that your order is among those we will not be able to fulfill. Your order for the item will be canceled.
Not the rosiest of news in light of a potentially hassle-free launch. Worse still, at the time of writing retailers such as Amazon Japan are no longer selling the Amiibo cards directly, or in single packs. Third party sellers currently own Amazon's marketplace and are peddling the cards at a hefty markup -- Amazon sell five packs for 1620 yen, the featured third party seller is charging 3500 yen, nearly twice that. (Update: The cards have remained out of stock. Users have since been leaving 1-star reviews to complain about the stock situation).

There may be a couple of factors at play here. Firstly, AmiAmi sells goods both to domestic customers and those overseas -- it's possible that their stock allocation would only cover any demand they'd receive from customers in Japan, hence the subsequent cancellation notice.

The other possibility is that Nintendo underestimated demand. Yes, they plan to ship 500,000 units of the complementing game for launch day next Thursday. But Japan has typically shrugged at Amiibo in the first place. Just 11.5% of global Amiibo shipments went to the region in the three months leading to March 31 this year. While Amiibo cards are different due to the similarities to card games rather than the toys-to-life genre occupied by the likes of Activision's Skylanders and Disney Infinity, Nintendo may have been less optimistic about their success.

Regardless, there is little reason for concern. Amiibo cards have a far faster turnaround rate at the manufacturing stage, which will give Nintendo the more wriggle room to respond to stock shortages as quickly as possible. Indeed, the true test for Nintendo is how fast they can react to changing demand compared with shortages for the Amiibo figures, so we'll soon see whether the Amiibo cards are a more flexible avenue for the platform.

Find more Amiibo analysis here.
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Jul
24
Posted by James at 08:38
A fine interview with Splatoon co-director Tsubasa Sakaguchi went up today over at Eurogamer, and features editor Martin Robinson managed to uncover a few tidbits both about the game's development as well as its future.

It's definitely worth a read regardless of whether you've played the game or not; Splatoon is shaping up to be one of the freshest shooters in years, making matches revolve directly around spraying and moving around in coloured ink opens up a multitude of new game modes and strategies.

Its street-chic look and boundless energy to how it both looks and plays lends Splatoon the mass appeal that makes it a game anyone might want to try -- something that's been reflected by sales which were higher than even Nintendo were expecting, despite being a new IP.

There were two really interesting factoids that stood out in the interview. The first is about the game's gyroscopic motion controls, which are perhaps the finest we've ever experienced in any game with an aiming reticle. While Mr. Sakaguchi attributes this to years of fine-tuning across Nintendo software since the Wii U launched nearly three years ago, he also revealed that 70-80 percent of players were using them.

That's a real win given the dismissive stigma that surrounds motion controls on console games nowadays, which always suggested that players just weren't willing to give them a chance, even when they genuinely enhance how a game plays and how it feels. It speaks volumes when website Nintendo Life had to record a video (below) where they pleaded players to stick with the motion controls. Knowing that three-quarters of players have stuck with the controls two months after the game's launch is delightful news no matter how you put it.

Show/hide video


The other tidbit from the interview revolves around how the game dishes out its content. You see, when Splatoon launched players only had access to five maps, twenty or so weapons and one mode.

A sticking point for some players was the lack of available content at launch, but Nintendo has steadily been making more content available for players every week in what was basically a masterstroke for a game of this genre. By withholding free content on-disc, Nintendo has been extending the online lifespan of the game by keeping players coming back for more.

Indeed, in an interview with Nintendo Life, producer Hisashi Nogami said:
We want users to enjoy each and every single piece of content we've prepared, so rather than provide a lot at once, we're going to be adding them a little at a time...

...We'll be adding more stages and weapons as we see how the community matures. We'll also do something similar with further game modes too.
This should be applauded because not only is it vital for maintaining a healthy playerbase, but Nintendo has been able to tie in its content updates with what has been its best ever use of social media yet (one, two) as well as make good use of metrics-based decision making.

And so it's great to discover that Nintendo plans to add even more weapons and maps in an August update to the game, free of charge. Splatoon shows that Nintendo has been willing to react quickly to change -- while this week's update finally exhausts all content shipping on disc, Nintendo has been able to deliver more content just two months after launch, and slowly unlock content in an order that reflects where the playerbase is going.
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Jul
23
Posted by James at 16:12
"Nintendo is partnering with Facebook to celebrate the launch of #SuperMarioMaker!" A tweet from Nintendo of America read this afternoon. "Facebook employees with design level in the game, w/ one level available to download for free after launch", another tweet claims.

The tweets have since been removed, implying that someone at Nintendo jumped the gun in what is shaping up to be one of the more unexpected partnerships surrounding a flagship Nintendo release.

More recently, Nintendo partnered with beverage company Kirin for Splatoon, where players would end up participating on a vote-off between Lemon Tea and Ice Tea, two of the company's products. Last year, in a cross-marketing deal for Mario Kart 8, Mercedes had Mario-inspired television commercials while Nintendo inserted Mercedes vehicles into the game as free downloadable content.

While both of those previous deals resulted in Nintendo receiving a little bit of cash, the same likely cannot be said for Facebook's involvement with Super Mario Maker. Instead of Nintendo including product placement in their game in return for funding, here we have a case where Nintendo is hoping to rely on Facebook's sheer reach to spread the word when the game launches in September.

It's a good move, since 2D Mario is far-reaching to the masses, and the Wii U never went massmarket. Putting a tentpole game that celebrates 30 years of Super Mario Bros. in front of people who wouldn't have known it existed otherwise might shift some heads.
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Jul
22
Posted by James at 07:43
Well, technically. Today Nintendo of Europe has announced more details concerning Super Mario Maker's release, and joining the two editions of the game (a regular edition sans-Amiibo and limited edition including Amiibo) is a Wii U hardware bundle which includes the limited edition of the game.

This is the first time an Amiibo has been offered as part of a hardware bundle. Typically, Amiibo are only offered as part of software bundles either with complementing games by publisher Nintendo (Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Splatoon, Yoshi's Woolly World), or with entirely unrelated games by the retailer. The latter method is a way for retailers to ration the figures amidst ongoing stock shortages.

This is purely anecdotal, but if Super Mario Maker's adorable 8-bit Mario Amiibo falls into short supply maybe bundling the thing with an entire Wii U console might shift a few Wii Us to desperate Amiibo collectors...
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Karous
The Beast of Re Eden
Jul 19
Posted by Ben at 13:27

I talked in the gameplay video we recorded about how I've had a lot of time for Milestone's shooters over the years. I adored Radilgy on the Dreamcast, the original Karous wasn't too far behind, even illvelo was fun. So it was with some anticipation that I picked up Karous The Beast of Re Eden on the 3DS, a platform best described as bereft of decent shooters.

Karous The Beast of Re Eden doesn't play out like a traditional shmup, levels aren't long stretches that run you in to enemy waves. Instead it shares more in common with something like Space Invaders. You can dodge around while waves of enemies float in from the top of the screen, clear them out, or take too long about it, and more will appear. Stages are complete when you meet their requirements, for example killing 100 enemies with your standard shot or only killing the blue enemies.

A staple of Milestone's games is that weapons level up with use. The more you use your shot, shield, sword or bomb the more powerful they become. In Karous this is taken a little further with new abilities locked as new tiers. Eventually your shield will be able to fire back at enemies, you'll be able to chain sword attacks together, and your shot will spread wider, but you've got to invest time to get to that point

Which is the big area where Karous falls down. The objectives aren't all that varied or interesting, it's just "kill this many things" or variants there on. It's the same enemy wave patterns over and over again. Having to redo the same missions repeatedly to improve your weapon to make the next mission doable, it's just not fun. With new weapons not unlocked until you get your latest weapon to a high enough level, it's not even like things move at a pace, similarly a quick retry option would have helped immensely.

The technical issues with the game are disappointing. I know the 3DS isn't a powerhouse, but you'd hope it could run a simple schmup smoothly. Unfortunately Karous is littered with slow down, and not the good dramatic kind you get during an epic boss battle, the bad kind that makes you think less of the game. Weirdly it seems like the cause of the slow down is actually your own bullets, leave the enemies alone and things aren't so bad.

It’s a shame, Karous was fun, Karous The Beast of Re Eden is a trudge. It’s as though the design is inspired by mobile game design, which isn’t the insult it may read like. In theory taking a long grind approach to a shooter isn’t the worst idea for a 3DS game, you could just close the lid and come back to it. But you need an injection of pace, you need something snappy on a handheld, particularly if you are going for a pick up and play genre. Karous is disappointing on a number of levels, and I can see the sub-£5 pricetag going some way to mitigating a few issues, and it really isn’t a horrible game, but it’s one that’s very hard to recommend.
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Karous
The Beast of Re Eden
Jul 10
Posted by Ben at 02:12

We take a look at the English release of Karous: The Beast of Re Eden, a challenge based shmup for the 3DS

Developed by Milestone, who are responsible for Radilgy (Radirgy) and Karous on the Dreamcast, 2 games I've got a lot of time for, Karous The beast of Re Eden has recently had a budget release on the 3DS eshop

The video shows some gameplay from a couple of levels, nothing too complicated, but it does show the challenge structure of the game

Show/hide video

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Jul
09
Posted by Ben at 17:24
Probably for the best from a personal point of view, I'm skint, but it's still tragic news that 3D Streets of Rage 2 has been delayed

...by a week

Not a long wait, but just a heads up any way. 3D Streets of Rage 2 is now releasing worldwide on 23rd of July, which is a Thursday
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