Yours for only $200
We’ve been waiting for several months now, but it’s finally here. Announced at today’s Nintendo Direct presentation, the New 3DS is finally coming over to North America as well as a couple of exclusive New 3DS titles.
For those unfamiliar with the New 3DS, it features more processing power and RAM, two more shoulder buttons, a C-stick and NFC to take advantage of Nintendo’s Amiibo figures. There is a port of Xenoblade Chronicles coming specifically designed to take advantage of the extra processing power and Super Smash Bros. 4 will be picking up with the Amiibos. There’s also a new Fire Emblem game coming, but we can’t quite yet tell if it will be a New 3DS exclusive. And for the Zelda fans, a remake of Majora’s Mask is coming and there’s even a limited-edition Majora’s Mask version of the console coming.
In Japan, there’s both a New 3DS and a New 3DS XL (or more accurately, LL). The major difference between the two other than the size is that the smaller of the two allows for removable and customization faceplates; the New 3DS XL allows for no such customization. In today’s presentation, Nintendo announced only the New 3DS XL will be coming to North American shelves which leaves people who prefer small hardware like myself out in the dust.
The New 3DS will come in red and black colors unlike Japan which offers white and blue. Curiously, it will ship without an AC adapter with Nintendo opting to let you continue to use your DSi or 3DS charger. If all of this floats your boat, you can pick one up on February 13th for $200.
Maybe - I mean weirder things have happened
I specifically remember sitting on my uncomfortable, college provided dorm bed a couple of years back and being so excited about the Ouya. A $100 game console with a beautiful, functional user interface, familiar and quality controller, at a price even a broke college student could afford, plus an open software development kit familiar to the thousands of existing Android game developers; yes, the Ouya seemed to have it all. Then it came out, and it was a huge, mega flop. In fact, the Ouya was such a huge flop that it effectively killed any interest most people had in the entire category of Android game consoles that seemed so exciting, so recently.
Yet here I am, the week of CES 2015, so excited about this – an Android game console with essential all the same great, promising qualities that I saw in the Ouya just two years ago. The Razer Forge TV is the first Android game console that may actually have the one thing that the Ouya never did. The Forge TV has a chance to survive – or maybe even thrive – in the console market.
With a quad-core Snapdragon 805 CPU and a Adreno 420 GPU, the Razer Forge TV is a relative powerhouse, far more capable than anything the Ouya could possibly dream of. Graphics capability wise, we’re looking at something roughly on par with the last generation big name consoles, the Xbox 360 and the PS3. It’s got a beautiful controller, an impressive selection of existing Android games, and perhaps importantly the Razer name – one that has become synonymous in the PC industry with quality gaming equipment. This is where the Ouya may have gotten cut at the jugular. While the Ouya certainly had promise, nobody would deny that, it was incredibly ambitious for what amounted to a Kickstarter funded start-up. To compete in such an intense market one needs a name that can draw people, and I think that’s exactly what Razer has and what could propel the Forge TV to greater heights.
Not to mention the Forge TV’s ultimate trick – streaming. Razer knows that while Android games are good, they’re no match for true console experiences. That’s why they’re padding the Forge TV’s native game library with a collection of Steam games already installed on your PC. Razer promises that their streaming solution is so low-latency that streaming games becomes an actually enjoyable experience. That is “enjoyable”, meaning more than the “mildly infuriating” experience on today’s solutions. It’s also worth mentioning that the Forge TV doubles as an entertainment box running Google’s new Android TV operating system.
The Forge TV console ships this Spring for just $99 for the console only, or $150 for a bundle with the included Bluetooth controller. That’s a fair price for everything you’re getting – let’s just hope Razer can actually pull it off.
Spatial orientation comes to notebooks
The Xbox’s Kinect may not have set the world on fire like Microsoft ad hoped it would, but that isn’t stopping Acer from giving it a go. Launching as part of the company’s new notebook lineup being introduced at CES, Acer’s high end V 17 Nitro notebook has an integrated Intel RealSense 3D camera. Used to measure motion and depth, the V 17 Nitro’s will allow you to control compatible PC games in a very similar fashion to Kinect enabled Xbox games. Make a rowing motion with your arms to row your boat in-game – do a jumping jack and have your in-game avatar convince you you’re exercising – the possibilities are limitless.
Inside the rather eccentric looking gigantic laptop is all the latest and greatest specifications you might expect. You’ve got your quad-core 2.5GHz Core i7 processor, GeForce GTX 860M graphics card, 1TB of spinning disk storage alongside 128GB or 256GB of solid state storage, a high resolution 17-inch display, and more.
The Acer V 17 Nitro launches this month for an undisclosed sum of money, so keep an eye for more information. Acer also has a whole other lineup of new notebooks from high end gaming rigs to full blown workstation replacements, all of which you can discover at the source link below.
Bugs and connection issues expected
While Microsoft and developer 343i continue to recover from the disastrous Halo: The Master Chief Collection launch, both companies are looking ahead at what comes next – Halo 5: Guardians. Today the company has officially launched the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta to everyone who purchased Halo: Master Chief Collection with two included maps – Truth, and Empire – and the Slayer playlist.
Haverzine was granted a sneak peak of the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta alongside other Xbox Preview Program members, and all in all we liked what we saw. Gameplay was fast and fluid, graphics were impressive and a notable step up from 2012’s Halo 4, and the game still felt more or less like Halo.
That said, we did notice some odd glitches and problems in our time with the Multiplayer Beta early access period. We noted some severe connection issues throughout the weekend, with parties failing to connect to the Halo servers, games ending early, and slow matchmaking performance in general. The beta is also running at a sub 1080p resolution, disappointing considering the Xbox One’s graphical capabilities and expectations.
Are you enjoying the Halo 5 beta? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! I’ll see you on the battlefield.
Create a game in a game on a game console
Project Spark, the innovative game building game that launched as a limited beta earlier this year, has finally been released as both a digital download as well as a physical disc in retail. Available for both the Xbox One (sorry, Xbox 360 users) and Windows 8.1 (double sorry, Windows 7 standouts – can I interest you in Windows 10?), Project Spark allows players to create entire worlds for others to play trough, complete with campaign support as well as multiplayer.
If you choose to go for the download option, Project Spark is entirety free to use – Microsoft is only asking you pony up some cash for add-on packs that add content that you can use to further enhance your world. You can get this version at both the Xbox Marketplace as well as the Windows Store. Alternatively, you can walk into your nearest video game retailer and pick up the physical version for $39, which is actually a steal as it contains about $85 worth of that aforementioned add-on packs.
Microsoft has their building blocks
Mojang isn’t a big studio, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from paying a big price for it. While the Swedish indie studio is home to less than 50 employees, these guys are hard at work on one of the biggest games the gaming industry has seen in some time – Minecraft, the multiplatform wonder that has captured the heart of hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of gamers across potentially even more devices. And now, for a cool $2.5 billion, it belongs to Microsoft. Or it will as soon as the deal closes, rather.
While it’s not inherently clear as to what Microsoft plans on doing with Mojang, you can bet that Minecraft won’t see any neglect going forward. Minecraft is essentially the singular big product the company has ever put out, which means that Microsoft’s interest in the company has to be directly relating to Minecraft. More than likely, the company is planning on using the studio to build up the in-house studio support of their Xbox (and likely Windows, including Windows Phone) gaming platforms.
While that may sound like it makes sense, and also pretty exciting – Microsoft is a massive company with enough clout and money to improve all the ways Minecraft has lagged behind some expectations in recent years -it should also kind of scare you. Minecraft is famously available on just about every platform known to man (as long as that platform doesn’t happen to be made by Nintendo – sorry, fellow Wii U and 3DS fans), and Microsoft likely has very little interest in becoming an enthusiastic PlayStation or Android developer. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that Minecraft will ever become an Xbox and Windows exclusive, it does mean that we know where their priorities lie; indeed, Microsoft promises that Minecraft will “remain available” on all available platforms.
Mojang leader Markus “Notch” Persson has taken this opportunity to leave the company he helped build, explaining his feelings towards both the sale of his company to Microsoft as well as his personal feelings towards his relationship with his fans and game development in general in a new note posted on his personal website (and mirrored here) entitled, appropriately, “I’m leaving Mojang.” Notch claims that the deal, to him, isn’t about the money – but rather his sanity.
Well, there goes one defining feature
It was almost a year ago that Microsoft announced that every Xbox One would double as a developer kit for inexpensive game development for independent game developers and hardcore professionals alike, but it seems as though today that dream – or, promise, rather – has died. Microsoft’s Xbox Advanced Technology Group’s Martin Fuller has, unfortunately, confirmed to popular UK technology magazine DigitalSpy that “there are no plans” at the moment to implement the promised functionality.
Fuller continued, “We were in the early stages of Xbox One looking at the idea of a retail kit that could be turned into a development kit, and vice versa… in the end, although that was a very admirable goal, it hasn’t happened unfortunately. Can’t tell you the specifics of exactly why not.”
So there you have it, one stand out feature of the Xbox One dead before it even got off the ground. We should have known there was trouble in paradise when there hadn’t been a single word on the functionality for almost a year, but there were some of us who had held out hope. As developer Steven Troughton-Smith put it on Twitter this afternoon, “…that settles the ‘will I get an Xbox One?’ question.”
We can only guess the decision has just been made for more than just a couple of people, Steven.
Can they beat them all?
I’ve tweeted about this a couple of times in my personal Twitter account, but this deserves all the attention it can get – a group of gamers has taken to their beloved Wii U to play, and beat, (almost) every single console Mario game in the “main” series in an attempt to raise money for Child’s Play charity, which donates games and toys for children in hospitals around the world. This massive effort is called Mario Marathon, which has just begun their seventh year.
I’ve personally been watching since year three and I have to tell you, this initiative just gets better and more entertaining every year. As of writing this post, they’ve raised an amazing over $26,300 and it’s only just begun! Make sure you check them out, donate, share their link, whatever you can do. Remember: it’s for the children.
Check out Mario Marathon here!
It's all about the games, games, games
At E3 2013, Microsoft was all about the hardware – the Xbox One had just been announced a few weeks earlier, and we were getting our first look at some hardware peripherals and the power that came along with the new hardware. The story shifted considerably this year: with the rumored 7-inch Xbox branded Surface tablet shot down, today’s conference was all about three things – games, games, and games. Oh, that’s one thing? My bad. There was a lot of games.
Today’s Xbox presentation at the E3 game conference was packed with demos, trailers, and confirmations of some of the world’s biggest franchises. We were given a first look at Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, which basically now looks like some sort of futuristic mix of Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall and the Call of Duty: Black Ops series of games; we got a look at Inside, an unofficial follow up to game developer Playdead’s hit game Limbo, and even an in-depth look at Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the next-gen exclusive fifth entry in the popular Assassin’s Creed franchise, and a look at Forza Horizons 2, the next entry in Microsoft’s long running racing franchise.
But, the big reveal? Our best look yet at Halo 5, shown alongside the announcement that Microsoft would be bringing the entirety of the Halo universe’s main four games to the Xbox One in the aptly named Halo: The Master Chief Collection. With Halo: CE Anniversary, a new beefed up version of Halo 2, dubbed Halo 2: Anniversary, as well as the original versions of Halo 3 and Halo 4 remastered for the Xbox One – alongside the entirety of the series’ online and offline multiplayer content, The Master Chief Collection is basically a Halo fanboy’s dream come true.
But then, if it’s a dream come true, why was it so unsurprising? That’s because today’s E3 presentation basically confirmed that a massive set of Xbox rumors leaked by anonymous neogaf user and supposed Microsoft insider ntkrnl were pretty much 100% accurate. So essentially, if you had read and believed those rumors, you knew exactly what Microsoft and the gang were up to – all the way down to Forza Horizons 2‘s “dynamic weather system”. Hey, at least you got the first word.
Because it’s so darn awesome, we’ve embedded Microsoft’s Halo 5 and The Master Chief Collection trailer after the break below. If you’re as big of a Halo nerd as I am, you’ll want to watch this – and feel free to speculate about the Arbiter’s role in the trailer below!
Microsoft CEO speaks
It’s almost fitting that Microsoft’s new CEO made one of his first public interviews as CEO of Microsoft at Re/code’s first ever Code Conference – and while there wasn’t exactly much talked about that we didn’t already know, Nadella did have a few nuggets of good information sprinkled about his interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.
First, the CEO finally tackled head on the rumors that the company is planning on selling or spinning off their Xbox gaming business. The news is, of course, good – at least as far as those who work in the Xbox division are concerned. “I have no intent to do anything different with Xbox than we are doing today,” Nadella said, pointing out that in order to create software – the company’s “most malleable resource” – hardware such as the Xbox plays an important role.
Nadella also took the opportunity to introduce a brand new bit of functionality coming soon to the company’s Skype clients, a new feature called “Skype Translator” that is capable of translating foreign language in what appears to be essentially real time. The way it works is almost as impressive as the concept – the other person’s spoken word is translated as subtitles at the bottom of the window as they speak them, as seen in the video after the break.
Skype Translator will reportedly be entering beta for Windows 8 users later this year, with a broader release planned sometime after that. While the initial release will focus on bringing Skype Translate to the Windows 8 client, other versions of the application – including OS X, Windows 7, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone – will also be getting to join in on the fun.
Xbox, Junk the Kinect
Microsoft has just announced some serious changes to their Xbox One game plan. In a move that’s sure to be in response to the PlayStation 4’s thorough whooping of the Xbox One in international sales to date, the company has today confirmed their plan to launch a version of the Xbox One that comes without the console’s much talked about Kinect peripheral. The new bundle will launch at a starting price of $399 – the cheapest Xbox One bundle yet – and will be fully compatible with all existing Xbox One software.
This marks a dramatic shift for Microsoft, as the company initially claimed that the Kinect was an “integral” part of the console, and that the company would be unable to offer a bundle without it. Ah, how times have changed. The new bundle will be launching in the United States June 9th, 2014, with an international release coming some time after. Microsoft has confirmed that the Xbox One’s Kinect Sensor will be available separately sometime in the future.
Sound good? Hit up your favorite retailer and get pre-ordering if this is the sort of thing that you’re interested in – or you could, you know, just get a PlayStation 4 for considerably below $399 now. Either one.