Why split-screen needs to make a comeback

Split-screen gaming is so nostalgic to many people growing up with a Playstation or Nintendo 64. Sitting with the people you play with adds an entirely new element to whatever game you’re playing. Your so called friends would either help or hinder which just adds to the fun of either buddying together with someone to beat Halo on Legendary or trying to mess each other up on a game of slayer.

Communication is also much more instantaneous with no Internet hiccups or muffled voices coming from a headset. It always worked! It feels more natural both being present and reacting to the in game chaos. Things got even more special when you start daisy chaining your Xboxs’ together for up to 16 players to take part in a match where trash talking is bound to ensue sooner or later amongst all the strategy talk.

It is a great shame this feature has been ignored in this day and age of gaming. Halo made couch based multiplayer the most enjoyable aspect of gaming however when Halo 5 released it was the first title in the series to ditch spilt-screen it is also the worst selling Halo game. Coincidence? I think not!!!

Also what is the point of game companies selling additional controllers if hardly any games support split-screen? If you wanted to play split-screen now days you need 2 T.V’s, 2 games consoles. Making buying an extra controller almost redundant.  Online gaming is incredibly profitable for Microsoft and Sony with microtransactions and annual subscription fees getting out of hand. God forbid if split-screen is ever revived it’ll be behind a pay wall. Thank god for Nintendo for forever being the champions of local multiplayer fun. The Switch has 2 controllers attached to it’s console just waiting to be snapped off and played with and has many games that support this.

Probably the biggest shame about local co-op slowly disappearing is that kids these days don’t have a particular attachment to it. They just want to play Fortnite online with friends and have never considered that maybe it would be more fun playing the game with friends near them. They never get to properly reflect on the gameplay afterwards. The fondest memories can be made playing a game with a buddy or even sometimes bitterest rivalries plating against each other. Makes you wonder maybe we’ve became more of an isolated society.     

Yet there is still hope. The press start to play option for player 2 hasn’t completely faded away. It’s still embraced by the Lego games, the Call of Duty games, EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 (but far less prominent than the 2005 version) and Borderlands. With a bit of luck hopefully Halo Infinite will have split-screen too.

Breakthrough Gaming Interview: Switch ‘N’ Shoot

Galaga, Space Invaders and Defender are all games that define the shoot ’em up genre. Matt Glanville however tweaks the classic arcade formula and strips back the gameplay so that one button controls everything. Switch ‘N’ Shoot maybe simple enough to control but having one button control both shooting and moving at the same time makes it hard to master.  Breakthrough Gaming talks to Matt about this unique indie title that recently came out on the Switch.  

Say you’re at a gaming festival and they have no clue what they’re getting into how would you entice them to play?

A lot of the time the big red button does the enticing for me which is the reason why I wanted it. I normally describe it as a retro shoot ’em up with just one button. That’s kind of like often enough for people to be like ‘Ok What? How does that work’? Then they have a go and its really hard. That’s basically my elevator pitch, it tends to do the job.

I love the music in Switch ‘N’ Shoot which retro games inspired it?

The chiptune music is very similar to the Megaman games. It just has this amazing energy you need in that frantic situation. It’s not so repetitive that you get bored of of it hearing it over and over. I’ve played it for over 100 hours at this point because I’ve been making it and I’m still not sick of it (laughs).

The better you get at it the more music you listen too as well. 

Yeah that’s the cool thing about it. I cut off the music when you die so there’s an incentive to hear more of the song

That was definitely my incentive along with the high score of course. So Switch ‘N’ Shoot is on a lot of platforms now what is your ideal way of playing it??

I guess I have two if we’re talking about the awesome kind of experience of playing the game, I really like the arcade cabinets. In the USA we have full size, coin-op arcade cabinets with one big red button in the middle.

Everything is bigger in America including the Switch ‘N’ Shoot arcade cabinet.

I remember you brought one to Norwich.

Yes, that was actually a smaller version like a desktop version. For the authentic arcade experience, it’s got to be that. Not that I’ve been able to play on one of the full size ones because they’re all in America but that feeling of having one big red button is really cool. If I’m going for my high score I go for a mouse because they’re so small the time to press is really, really tiny. With the arcade button there’s more of a press in with a mouse it’s just a quick click. I find I get a better response time. That’s how I got my high score anyway. Actually I tell a lie I got a new high score on the Switch.

Has anyone beaten your record because it’s an insane record? 

Yeah by a long shot I’m no where near the top there’s people who have been getting 2 or 3 thousand on Switch and on the Steam leader boards there’s a guy sitting on the top with 7000 I think he has. He got to like sector 9 and I think sector 10 on the Switch which I can’t get near. It’s bonkers.

Have you got any advice to be that good?

A lot of people are inclined early on to spam the buttons, well the button (laughs) but that doesn’t really work because ‘A’ you kind of forget which direction you’re moving and ‘B’ you don’t hit many aliens that way so while you survive you don’t really get a very good score because you’re not hitting anything. So precision is generally a good tactic. I also find that maybe spamming two or three shots at a time like in little bursts tends to be the best middle ground so you get the precision while you’re aiming freely while firing a few shots at a time so you can account for some misses which could hit something behind it. That’s my preferred technique.

What appealed to you to create such a simple game that harkens back to the style of games in the 80’s? 

The look and feel for it was something that came out of the design so the gameplay mechanic came first. A lot of people ask me where it came from and I don’t really have an answer it just sort of popped into my head one day. This simple idea of boiling down a shooter to one button where you’re moving constantly and you press the button and you start moving the other way. That complete idea was just fully formed in my head one day for some reason so I tried it out and thought; ‘Ok cool this timing works’. Having these aliens come from the top at the time it was just white squares I didn’t have any graphics or anything. I was just prototyping it. I then had to decide what are these things? What’s these things moving left and right on the bottom? What’s these things coming down from the top? This all looked a lot like a retro shoot em up. Let’s just make it look like one of those. Go all out and double down on the low-fi simple block colour style and from there everything wrote itself really having the arcade cabinet artwork along the sides was a nice way of tying all that together and getting some nice high fidelity art flanking the low fidelity art in the middle. So I spoke to an old friend of mine from college, Paul Duffield he’s a professional illustrator and he did the arcade cabinet artwork and did an awesome job. It all just came naturally from that decision to create a retro shoot em up which is a natural fit for the gameplay.

How much does it mean to you to have Switch ‘N’ Shoot on the Nintendo Switch?

It’s really really awesome. I know a lot of people say this but for me it’s absolutely true I grew up playing Nintendo. My first games console was a SNES. I’ve always played Nintendo and I look up to Nintendo’s games and Miyamoto’s games as masterpieces of design. Having my game on a Nintendo console is just so awesome. It’s like beyond words. It still boggles the mind looking at it on the little library screen when I boot up my Switch it’s on there now and I’m like ‘huh’. I finally made it (laughs).

Is it selling well?

It is yeah I don’t know specific numbers but it’s done really well. My goal was to outsell Steam and it did that really really quickly and the Steam version has been out 2 and a half years so that’s been really awesome. 

So you worked on some pretty big titles before you decided to make indie games such as the Oddworld games what made you step down from working on these bigger budgeted games? 

For me it was like a calling in the back of my head which comes and goes over the years but gets really strong sometimes. It’s this urge to work on my own things which is how I started out by originally making games as a hobby like 15/20 years. I made some RPG maker games called Legion Saga way back in the day. I would sit down in a room on my own and make the whole thing. I didn’t do music or anything we used to just rip music from commercial games like Final Fantasy, it was how the community worked back then, it was pretty bad. It was really rewarding for me to do the whole thing myself to let this stream of creativity loose. The process of working with other people is amazing and you can get amazing things done the team I worked with on Oddworld were really awesome. I have no doubt that game will be amazing but it’s like for me personally I stumble a bit on the collaboration process. When I’m working solo I can run with ideas and can try stuff and do stuff without having to filter it through with other people. There’s this element of things getting lost in translation or you have to explain or sell an idea to someone before it gets implemented. I find all that quite frustrating. I’d rather just do it, you know. It’s going ok so far (laughs).

What I’ve noticed while playing Switch ‘N’ Shoot was it’s incredibly tough and unforgiving yet quite addicting at the same time. I always want to go back and boost my high score a little bit each time. Why do you think it has this addicting quality?

I guess their is this personal desire to better yourself which is quite an innate thing for some people. Ironically I don’t really have it that much.  I’m not really driven by high scores unless the game really clicks with me. It has to be a good game first and foremost. With Switch ‘N’ Shoot I tried to make the core gameplay feel good even if you don’t get a high score, it feels good to hit the button to see these big bullets flying out and seeing the aliens explode into blobs of goo. That feels all chunky and nice and tactile so that was a big part of it. Another thing was the rapid reload when you die you restart within a few seconds. That was a super important thing for me to do right, to let people jump straight back in so then you don’t have to think if you do or don’t want another go (laughs). That compulsive low response time is a huge part of it.

My favourite part of the game is collecting the power ups when you keep getting them it’s really satisfying watching your little peashooter become this super sonic death ray. Were there any other weapon ideas for power ups?   

Yeah there were a bunch of things that I thought of but didn’t really get round to implementing them. Some ideas were this little drone that would sit next to you and fire shots at the same time as you. Some other stuff involved modifying the ways that you can shoot for example holding the button to fire a big shot. My friend gave me the idea of a power up that was active until you pressed the button again so instead of firing when you press the button it was constantly firing until you next pressed the button. It was like a mega death ray almost but you’d have to change direction at some point because the aliens are coming down that’s when it turns off so you have to keep it going as long as you could. I did have to draw the line somewhere because this game needed to get shipped so I kept it simple. 

Switch ‘N’ shoot is available to purchase now on Nintendo Switch and Steam.

Breakthrough Gaming Interview: Evolutis

Fernando Cruz is a passionate anime lover and devoted independent games developer and producer.  Having this deep admiration for Cyberpunk themed worlds he and his small team are creating a 2D story driven adventure game with a stylish free flow combat system. Breakthrough Gaming talks to Fernando about the stunning work he and his team are putting into Evolutis. 

Fernando with the creator of the Shenmue series, Yu Suzuki

How would you describe Evolutis to an uninformed player? 

I’d describe Evolutis as a playable anime, that’s how we like to call it. We always dreamt about having a game where you could instead of watching an anime you could be playing it. So our main inspirations were Akira for animations and Ghost in the Shell for backgrounds. The game is divided into chapters but there is a lot of freedom so as you can see in the trailers the character is walking in the city so you can go and enter the arcade. We’re still thinking of having some playable arcades in the arcade area. You can go to other places and buy some food and things like that. The main goal in the game is to have good exploration to get the player engaged into it so they get more connected with the characters and the Cyberpunk world. You’ll be playing as 3 main characters and they’re facing hard times in their life. Our goal is to really make the player attached to these characters. 

We also have diversity in our gameplay so hand to hand combat, exploration in some parts it’ll be up to the player whether your character talks or draws the gun. You won’t be facing the same enemies over and over again. There is a purpose in everything you are doing and it’s up to the players to make up what is going on in the world. It’s like a thriller and suspense type of game. 

This sounds very ambitious having a variety of gameplay styles. Is that a challenge for you in development?

Wow a lot. Especially for the animations in order to make it look like a playable anime because we cannot cut the transitions. If you play normal 2D games you don’t see the transitions, you don’t see the character move his arms to hit and coming back to a neutral stance. In Evolutis it’s different we have all the transitions and it takes a lot of time and effort to make it look good. One of the publishers that tested our demo went ‘wow’ when you press the button it looks so beautiful like an anime. I think we’re making pretty great progress. It’s challenging but developers need to take risks or you’ll just be creating a common game. I’m not sure if you saw that David Cage, the creator of Heavy Rain and Detroit Become Human tweeted about us. I‘ve never met him before however I’m a huge fan of his and wow man, I was speechless. It was pretty awesome to be recognised by a such a person.

Evolutis has award winning Games Designer David Cage intrigued.

Yes, I was going to ask you about how that felt. How did the game catch his attention?

He mentioned a person called Alisa. I think she saw one of out tweets and she tweeted him and then I checked on her she follows us and David Cage

What’s the significance of the name Evolutis?

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with transhumanism and homoevolutis. So we are homosapiens and and we will become homoevolutis in the future. So that’s why the game is called Evolutis.

Is a Cyberpunk themed game something you always wanted to do?

Yeah but we’re not focused too much on the cyberpunk world that their is a government killing everyone. I think this is too generic. We’re more focused on the characters and what they’re going through in their lives, you know.

What are the differences between the characters?

Chelsea is a famous wrestler but in her life she’s a lonely person. The only thing she has in her life is her cat. Despite the fact that she makes a lot of money her life isn’t very happy. People may see her as a strong, awesome person because she is a wrestler and everyone wants to be like her but deep inside her life it’s totally different. It’s something that I believe happens to people who thinks a famous person’s life is perfect but it’s not like that at all.

Damon, he has just lost his wife, he’s in a deep depression. He’s thinking about killing himself in the beginning because he doesn’t see how to move on without his family. Throughout the game he’ll find out that maybe his family is still alive but the player will have to decide whether he’s going crazy or it’s really true what is going on

And finally Derrick he’s a drug addict, he’s really emotional so he doesn’t consider a lot before taking action. He just does the first thing that comes into his mind. Damon has more control over himself as his is a CEO of a company. Damon is more manipulative though and Derrick is a good person but he lets his emotions take control of himself.

What I found really impressive are the little snippets of combat that you post on Twitter. It looks very fluid; it looks very stylish. How do players pull off those moves?

It’s basically the same mechanic as the Batman Arkham games but in a 2d way of playing. In the trailer you can’t see the indicator above the enemies’ head for you to dodge enemies’ attacks and pull off combos. It’ll be quite similar. As Chelsea is a wrestler her body is her weapon. It’s different from the others Damon is more skilful with a gun while Derrick is not as skilled.

So they all play completely differently?

Yeah totally

Do you play these characters individually or do you jump between characters?

So it’s like you play as Damon in a chapter and then it changes to Derrick and then it changes to Chelsea. You start playing little segments with each of them and then there is a part in the game when they’ll all be connected. Of course I can’t say too much about it right now.

So in terms of development how big is your team is it only a couple of you?

We have 3 members 

And what’s the pros and cons of working in such a small little group?

The pros are that you can have a lot of ideas and work closer. I think it’s easier to manage. The cons would be you don’t have a lot of people for marketing which means I have to spend a lot of time out of development so I can do this, which sucks. We’re in talks with some publishers, some of them are really interested. I believe when we sign our contract with a publisher it will be better for us regarding these circumstances. Right now it’s a challenge to manage all these things.

The voice actors have also been very helpful all of them worked on Dragonball Z and Gundam. They help us a lot through Marketing on there Twitter pages 

What stage in development are you in?

I’d say 10% 

Have you got a release date in sight? 

It’ll probably be in 2020 

That’s quite a futuristic date, very fitting. Where can people pick up Evolutis when it comes out? I know it is very early days but would you like Evolutis to appear on consoles?

I’d love for Evolutis to appear on consoles at the same time it’s being released on Steam. It’s very early to say right now but we aim for it to be on all consoles.

It’s so common now to see indie games appear on Steam and a year later they appear on consoles and I love playing indie games on the Switch they’re perfect playing it on the commute to work.

I have a Switch too. I prefer playing indie games on Switch then other platforms. I love Playstation and Xbox as well and of course Vita. I think it’s pretty cool to play on Vita too.

The Legacy of Satoru Iwata

It’s been nearly 3 years since the former president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata passed away and the gaming industry still mourns his loss.

His famous mantra was: “On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” These words cemented him as an icon of the video game industry. This quote was everywhere upon the announcement of his death because it proved how a unique a president Iwata was.

His beginnings were humble his family had no interest in tech however Iwata loved playing with calculators that could make programmable math’s games from a young age. This very much inspired him to create one of the most successful games of all time with ‘Brain training’ on the DS. During the 70’s games were incredibly basic that personal computers and micro processing weren’t even a thing yet.

Iwata eventually got a part time job at Hal laboratories and in 1983 developed his first game Super Billiards for the MSX. Hal laboratories eventually merged with Nintendo. Which started Iwata’s climb of the Nintendo corporate ladder. It was tough for Iwata at the time as Hal was still an unproven company, with Iwata’s father being very disapproving of his son’s chosen profession however Iwata’s enthusiasm for coding made him an exceptional game developer as well as a multifaceted individual due to his commitment in the success of the games he was involved with by working in other departments as well as working on weekends and holidays.

Iwata also had the philosophy of creating uncomplicated and accessible games all through out his career. These first games included Balloon Fight, and the Kirby games, however the challenge was there if hardcore gamers delved into the minutiae of the game. In 1993 Iwata became president of Hal laboratories. He’d always step in however to save games from disaster including Earthbound and the Pokémon games, operating very differently from a typical company president with his hands on approach. Iwata didn’t even work for the company behind Pokémon Shigeki Morimoto, one of the original creators of the Pokémon games exclaimed “What kind of company president is this?” He stepped in yet again to make sure the launch title for the Gamecube ‘Super Smash Bros Melee’ met it’s 2001 release date. A fighting game that is so adored that tournaments for the game are still going on till this day.

In 2000 Iwata became an official employee at Nintendo and then became president of the company 4 years after, the first not to be a part of a family line to hold the title. His bold new vision ushered into the creation of the DS and the Wii which launched Nintendo out of it’s mini slump playing second fiddle to the Playstation at the time. Iwata decided to push new innovations in new ways to play games instead of creating photorealistic graphics and stunning visuals. Some may criticise this decision due to the console lacking any HD function but Nintendo were branching out their audience to appeal to mums by really thinking how they could get them to pick up a controller. Plus Iwata believed the industry was too exclusive and focusing too much on graphical fidelity rather than the games themselves. This proved to be a resounding success with the Wii selling over 100 million units.

During his final years Nintendo suffered though some hardships. The Wii U wasn’t the commercial success the company was hoping for and Iwata took a noble gesture by having his salary cut to avoid layoffs. He also partnered with mobile companies to allow Nintendo games on mobile this was something Iwata was reluctant about yet paid off massively after his death through the success of Pokémon Go in 2016. A game he was working on even on his hospital bed.

Iwata’s illness was heartbreaking to witness his hard work ethic meant he’d refuse not to take time off and was visibly ill during press conferences. He even updated his mii avatar to show his weightloss. His condition was a shock to all even Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo’s competitors sent their condolences. This just shows the impact Iwata had on the gaming industry he paved Nintendo through a new era of success with innovation at the forefront. He made gaming completely accessible and sky rocketed it into the mainstream all the while just creating the games he thought were just fun to play.

Why Old Games are Still Worth Playing Today

It’s not just nostalgia that keeps us coming back to those classic games but it’s also a history lesson.  Many retro games have a significant relevancy despite the lack of graphical fidelity. Final Fantasy 7 for example has awful in game graphics where characters just resemble a blob of pixels in certain parts however the story was truly ahead of it’s time, focusing on environmental sustainability and the greed for finite energy resources. That’s not to mention the character development you yourself control. These aspects of the game prove that games over 15 years old can still resonate with people.

Cloud

Prominent game mechanics is something else that some gamers may not no originated a long time ago. Some people think Gears of War is the first cover based shooter but it really was a game called Kill Switch which pre dates Gears by 2 years. It inspired the lead developer of Gears to hire the lead developer of Kill Switch. The Uncharted series was also heavily inspired by Kill Switch but no one has heard of this pioneering game.

Kill switch

They’re many other influential games that set the standard some are of course way more lauded than Kill Switch such as Halo, ditching the unrealistic feature in first person shooters of carrying every weapon you can find in this Mary Poppins like inventory and refining it to just 2 weapons and 2 grenades

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It’s interesting to see what has been carried over or what has been omitted over the years. Old games back in the day were far more cryptic. For example, Morrowind provided you actual in game directions you had to remember and follow while the games successor Skyrim provides you with a marker. Modern games in general provide you with many tools to keep the player on track. Some think this just discourages exploration others think it eliminates aimlessly wondering around.  Whether you like these old school facets or not it’s still fascinating to see what really made gamers tick at the time. Some say the datedness of games make it unique others think it’s jarring and off putting but regardless you get to see what was an industry standard at the time and what was achieved with primitive technology by todays standards but was revolutionary and cutting edge back then.

Morrowind

Some games are in a league of their own such as Metroid Prime it’s really quite baffling how the formula of these games haven’t been replicated. It resembles a first person shooter but is defined as being a first person adventure because there is more exploration than shooting involved.

Metroid

Overall it’s really great to see older games get officially released on the Playstation store or on the insanely popular NES and SNES mini. Hopefully this opens the eyes of longstanding game publishers to re-release games in their long forgotten library. Games preservation is incredibly important due to gaming evolving so quickly. The industry takes massive leaps and bounds every ten years so it’s important that younger generations see what gaming was like in the weird and wacky 90’s and the more sleek and cool 00’s

The 10 most weird and wonderful indie games of E3 2018

Many indie games were sprinkled in amongst many of the conferences at E3 this year. There were lots of indie games that were uncovered this year showing a rise in popularity of the simple yet unique gameplay experience that only indie games provide. A word of caution however this list starts of normal enough but descends into absolute bafflement.

1. Unravel 2

The sequel to the popular puzzle platform can be played right now. The two doesn’t just present the game as a sequel to the first but as a co-op adventure with the 2 playable Yarney’s connected to each other by a piece of frayed string allowing you to swing across photorealistic levels and pull objects to solve puzzles. This proves to be a major obstacle in puzzle solving adding the same kind of brain teasers as Portal 2’s co-op mode allowing one player to progress while finding a way for your friend to join you allowing you his ability to progress further.

2. Sable

Another E3 means more opportunities for developers to really wow gamers with visually striking games. Sable provides a sandy open world reminiscent to the much popular indie game Journey. Although the visuals in Sable are strikingly different being more akin to a watercolour painting both games entice a strong sense of beauty and the most underrated game mechanic ever. Sand surfing. You’ll even be able to meet other players online aynonmously just like Journey. Well they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

3. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

When Ori and the Blind Forest came out a few years back it completely blew everyone away with not only its striking visuals but with its genre blending gameplay and heartfelt story too. This new instalment will deliver the same poignant experience tenfold, showing the beauty yet haunting side of nature. Traditionally this game would only would’ve been briefly shown at Xbox’s press conference but this year it is front and centre, holding it in high regards. It’s nice to see Xbox develop a new exclusive game for it’s catalogue that isn’t just a faceless space marine and a walking slab of marine muscle.

4.Tunic

Xbox really value their indie games it would seem. Tunic is heavily inspired by the old Legend of Zelda games except this time you play as a fluffy little fox.The combat system looks surprisingly deep as you explore ruins and traverse your way around this colourful landscape. This is all truly impressive considering that Tunic is all made by one developer, Andrew Shouldice.

5. Outer Wilds

Trapped in an endless time loop that resets every twenty minutes (and no we’re not talking about the games time in development) Outer Wilds is an open world mystery game much similar to Firewatch but this time in space. You must explore a “handcrafted” solar system full of tornados and planets with dangerous terrain. The games floaty gravity physics looks spot on.

6. Night Call

An intense and moody murder misery noir set in the not so romantic side of gay Paris, Night Call has you play as an undercover taxi driver that must squeeze enough info from his passengers about a series of interconnected murders before they can be dropped off at their destination.

7. Sea of Solitude

From EA’s Originals branch of the company, Sea of Solitude presents a creepy tale of what happens when you get too lonely by the seaside. It’s not exactly a day at the beach when you’re getting chased by monsters that resemble your charcoal black features you’ve suddenly obtained. This is a story about emotional battles within oneself much like Celeste but far less cutesy.

8. Planet Alpha

Planet Alpha is Sables competition in the striking visuals department. This side scrolling platformer has perilous leaps and relentless enemies in an intriguing sci-fi landscape. Indie games are always a treat to look at and they’re always described as being beautiful but this one is also visually stunning.

9. My Friend Pedro

To break up my gushing in how beautiful these indie games are here is one that is grey, grimy yet weird and kooky. My Friend Pedro is a stylistic sidescrolling shoot em up with added ballet like agility in the traversal and environmental based takedowns. I guess it is majestic and brutal in how the game relishes in how unapologetically violent it is. Think Rambo if he was a winter olympic figure skater. It’s bloody, brutal and full of bananas for some reason.

10. Kids

Another weird indie game for you. Kids is an experimental interactive animation that is strangely relaxing and incredibly hypnotic. The objective of this incredibly weird game is to move with or against crowds of people around the screen until they have all gone. Err I think? This game is pretty baffling. What we know is Doublefine want to replicate the psychology of group mentality. You don’t get as an indie and off the wall as this.

 

10 Gaming Pet Peeves

Even some of the best games have niggles that can annoy the most devoted players. They’re not necessarily game breaking they just sort of sour your enjoyment a little. Though sometimes, a game might have a moment that is so unfair that’ll turn you off your fun play session and put your controller down.

1. Invisible Walls

Bethesda are deemed legendary to many gamers but they’re guilty of this nuisance plague of lazy game design. Invisible walls are less annoying in linear games however open world games that encourage exploration should never impede your progress.

Fallout

2. Microtransactions

Gaming is increasingly becoming a more expensive hobby. You buy the game at the store for the price of £50 to £60 and the publishers have the cheek of not allowing you to have all the available content the game provides. Sometimes it’s just harmless cosmetic items, other times its day one story DLC or loot boxes that lets face it, its pretty much gambling.

3. Overpowered enemies

Challenging bad guys can be a good thing who wants to breeze through enemies like they’re nothing at all? But when you lose to enemies over and over and over again, you start to become a bit pissy. To add salt to the wound enemies that recover their health when you’re about to land that coup de gras are infuriating especially when you grind for hours to face them. Oh we’ll get to that later. Worse still is when you fight an enemy that kills you when they only have a tiny slither of health left. And wait I’m not finished, WORSE STILL is when enemies can kill you in one hit such as in Pokemon and Persona. There is no way you can see the move coming.

4. Backtracking

If done well backtracking can provide a fresh perspective of a previously played level allowing to discover new places and fight new enemies. The Metroid series done this perfectly, however developers sometimes use this as an excuse to be lazy by extending a games playtime with pointless plodding around places you’ve already been too.

Metroid

5. Lack of Variety

Games that are unrelenting in what they are and refuse to deviate from anything else other than, for example to take  cover and shoot fall into this category. You can have too much of a good thing and do need to slow down a bit and do something a little more mundane. This is why I don’t  mind the walking and talking segments in games like Gears of War and The Last of Us. The same relates to Pokemon Go everyone lost their mind capturing Pokemon in the ‘real world’ but Pokemon Go lacked very little variety so everyone stopped playing eventually.

6. Game Delays

They’re increasingly common these days due to the intricate nature of game design but game delays can’t help but give you a tinge of annoyance. Most recently Crackdown 3 and Red Dead Redemption 2 are the 2 big games that have been delayed. This is probably the most understandable entry on this list. It’s important for a game to release the best it possibly can be. When a release date is announced for a game it’s important to take it with a pinch of salt.

7. Lack of Splitscreen

The steady decline of split screen gaming over the years is lamentable. It’s the best feature a game could provide. Gone are the days where you can meet up with your friends and play video games instead you have to pay a subscription fee and play online and deal with lag and entry number 8 on this list. There is so much more connection between two friends playing split screen than playing online. The Halo series provided the most memorable split screen gaming experience imaginable but completely disbanded it in Halo 5. Kids in their teens today will never experience the enjoyment of gaming with your buddies sitting around you.

Halo

8. Kids shouting down the mic

No one likes annoying, homophobic, sexist, vulgar 12 year olds shouting down the mic at you. The disconnet games provide allows them to say these things without any real consequences. Luckily you can report them and mute them and let them carry on their sad, pathetic hate spewing childhoods without you as their audience.

9. Grinding

A common trope in RPG’s that can be avoided only if you want to increase the difficulty of a game tenfold. Grinding involves purposefully seeking random encounters just so your character can level up and get those sweet, sweet experience points.  Grinding really detriments the story when it slows down your progression to that menacing final boss for fighting weak pathetic enemies.

10. Game Breaking Bugs

Yes, sometimes they can look really funny until they break your game and you have to start all over again.

The Norwich Gaming Festival 2018

Situated at The Forum in Norwich City centre, the Norwich Gaming Festival is a unique event allowing game developers to showcase their passion projects to the public. This is Breakthrough Gaming’s second time attending the festival with the event soaring in popularity since the last visit in 2015. Check out some of the indie games I’ve uncovered along with the chats I had with the developers of these games.

 

The Legacy of Ted Dabney

As co-founder of Atari, Ted Dabney was one of gaming’s founding fathers. Starting out as a humble electrical engineer, he then began working on the hardware which soon became the worlds first commercially viable videogame – Pong selling over 150,000 units. It was the foundation of the video game industry that snowballed into the multi billion-dollar juggernaut it is today. Dabney passed away May, 2018 but his legacy will live on.

Before Pong there was Computer Space. It was one of the first games that Dabney engineered and the first arcade game ever made but the game flopped due to it’s inaccessibility and complex nature at the time. Dabney used discrete circuitry work for Computer Space without the use of any kind of processor he also used TV parts rather than expensive computer parts for the game’s physical fuction. This did however gain attention from engineers and techies which led the fledging company of Syzygy Engineering to be renamed to Atari one of the most recognisable and influential companies of all of gaming.

While everyone was gawping at 3 dots moving on the screen on the Magnavox Odyssey. The 2 CEO’s of Atari, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney remained unsatisfied they wanted something more refined. The Odyssey didn’t have sound, the game didn’t keep score and the ball didn’t move realistically when it was hit. Bushnell and Dabney  wanted to create a much more fun and satisfying experience.  They abandoned an idea for a driving game because it was considered too ambitious at the time, so they decided to create a game that would rival the Magnavox Odyssey in Pong which was initially thought up before the consoles release.

Pong cabinets were distributed in Andy Capp’s Tavern, California in 1972 . Bushnell and Dabney knew the owner and managed to persuade them that this machine would guzzle quarters. People flocked to this strange looking machine they played it so much that the Pong machine broke becasuse it was overflowing with quarters. People at the time found the game extremely difficult to play but hard to master. In 1974 the technology was condensed for home use for consoles. Pongs overwhelming success led to Atari being sued by Ralph Bauer creator of the Magnavox Odyssey the CEO’s agreed to the one-million-dollar law suit which turned out costing them less than defending Pong.

Pong

Controversy soon deepened however due to Bushnell’s extroverted nature taking over the company making Dabney feel overlooked and underappreciated. In Bushnell’s eyes he was the only CEO leaving Dabney out of patents and important meetings which led to Dabney feeling jaded and quitting the company although according to Bushnell he was fired.

Upon hearing his former partner’s death Bushnell reacted by tweeting “Ted was my partner, co-founder, fellow dreamer and friend. I’ll always cherish the time we spent together. RIP” Dabney assisted in creating this revolutionary piece of technology. Before he died he became a grocery store owner and deli operator with his wife. It’s amazing how this unassuming old man working at this grocery store assisted in creating the video game industry.

10 N64 games that need to be on the N64 mini

The N64 ushered into a significant new era of gaming in the 90’s. The third dimension, the analogue stick and rumble all these things that are taken for granted today were introduced at the N64’s launch.It must have been truly mind blowing back then, letting players roam these expansive all be it blocky game worlds. Splitscreen gaming with your friends was also new to the seen with 4 controller ports allowing for fun yet frustrating Saturday Mario kart sessions at your friends house. The N64 redefined video games perhaps more then any other console this is why the N64 mini must come out to teach kids what gaming was like back in the 90’s as well as letting us 20/30 somethings bask in nostalgia.

1. Super Mario 64

mario 64

The game that was synonymous with the console Super Mario 64 was colourful platforming fun. Quite possibly the best platformer of all time. It’s become the standard in which all other games in the genre are compared towards. Nintendo really hit the ground running in creating this flawless platformer.

2. Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time

ocarina of time

Super Mario 64 really paved the way towards true greatness for Ocarina of Time which turns 20 years old this year. It was the first game to really create an immersive lived in 3D world. It has aged remarkably well gameplay wise with many games replicating this winning formula of exploration, combat and puzzles.

3. Mario Kart 64

Mario jart

Quite possibly the best Mario Kart just from the memorable courses. Rainbow Road is like marmite for some however this one is less challenging and more lengthy with races lasting on average for 7 minutes. The fun of this game is really amped up with 3 of your friends throwing shells and banana peels at each other. This was also the first Mario Kart to introduce that pesky Blue Shell.

4. Super Smash Bros

super smash bros

Playing it side by side with any of it’s successors N64 Smash is very primitive however this game grew so much from this initial kernel of an idea into something never anticipated. Its humble beginnings can be traced back here you still have to smash players out of an arena and it’s still good old multiplayer fun but this game is more an intriguing history lesson. The games that have came out since have really built upon this game exponentially.

5. Star Fox 64

starfox

Another game that controls flawlessly by todays standards. Modern day flying games should always reference Star Fox’s gameplay. It’s arcadey style gameplay is what makes it fun to come back too. Barrel rolling is insanely satisfying and the pew pew noises of the lasers will be permanently burned into your brain until the day you die.

6. F-Zero X

fzero

The kickass soundtrack, the insane speeds this is Nintendo really trying to make a game for cool 90’s kids. It was also tough aimed towards teenagers more so than Nintendos usual games. F-zero is very much Mario Kart with a rocket up its arse.

7. Paper Mario

paper mario

This game needs to be on the N64 mini just because of how rare the original copy is going for around £100 on eBay. Paper Mario came out late in the N64’s lifespan and was a unique and vibrant RPG that was more story focused than other Mario games it also poked fun at the usual save the princess tropes that is in practically every Mario game.

8. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

majoras mask

Considered the black sheep of the Zelda franchise, Majora’s Mask is the darkest most twisted Zelda game with a focus on a more tragic event in which you have to stop the moon from crashing into the land of Termina Its less grand and epic than Ocarina of time with more horror elements. Putting on masks that fused to your face still creeps me out to this day.

9. Mario Party 3

mario part 3

A blast to play with your friends very much like a board game you’d had to collect 20 coins to then swap them for a star.  It requires both a degree of luck and skill.  The zany mini games were a highlight one involves you having to swim away from a giant fish  as well as the unique interactive boards

10. Donkey Kong 64

DK

Very much like Super Mario 64 but with a longer play time with heaps of collectables. It was one of the few N64 games that was bundled with an expansion pack that really gave the N64 that extra muscle. It’s amazing now this game has the potential to appear on a console now only half of its size. Donkey Kong 64 is most fondly remembered for the DK rap at the start of the game which informs the players about the unique traits each playable Kong had.