Nintendo Direct 9.13.18 Recap

The Nintendo Direct opened with a reveal of Luigi’s Mansion 3 (working title), set to launch on Nintendo Switch next year.

There were three 3DS games shown in this Direct. The first of which was Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn, an enhanced port of Kirby’s Epic Yarn. It includes new minigames and a “Devilish Mode” involving a demon chasing Kirby throughout a stage.

Then Nintendo reminded us of Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey, which releases on January 11. A co–op mode was revealed for the Luigi’s Mansion 3DS port, and the game launches on October 12.

Onto Switch news, Splatoon 2 is getting another new update with new maps, weapons, and gear. Mega Man 11 was revealed to have Amiibo support in the form of extra E-Tanks and other items. Mario Tennis Aces is also receiving an update adding Birdo, Shy Guy, Koopa Paratroopa, and Petey Piranha as playable characters along with a new co-op mode, which launches on September 19.

Capcom announced the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle which features Final Fight, King of Dragons, Captain Commando, and more, launching on September 18.

New Super Mario Bros. U is getting the Deluxe treatment. The game will be bundled with New Super Luigi U and comes out on January 11.

Katamari Damacy is getting remastered for Switch this winter. It’s called Katamari Damacy REROLL and features gyro controls.

Nintendo Switch Online launches September 18 and Nintendo detailed the service in this video.

Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee were shown alongside a new Nintendo Switch bundled decorated with the two Pokemon.

Pokemon developers Game Freak are creating a brand new RPG called Town. The entire game takes place within one town.

Cities Skylines is available on the eShop now.

Daemon X Machina was shown. You can upgrade your mech with enemy parts and carry multiple weapons. You can also leave your mech and explore on foot. The game features 4 player co-op and launches next year.

Civilization VI is coming to Nintendo Switch.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas revealed Wolf will be featured in the story mode.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered, Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition HD, World of Final Fantasy Maxima, Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon Every Buddy, Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX, and Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD are all coming to Nintendo Switch. XV Pocket Edition is available now. Interestingly, Final Fantasy VIII is not included.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is getting a Nintendo switch bundle with some disappointing Joy-Cons.

Isabelle from Animal Crossing was revealed as a new fighter.

Lastly, a brand new Animal Crossing was announced for next year.

 

Firewall Zero Hour Review

Flashbangs are a lot more effective when you’re in VR. In a normal first person shooter, flashbangs are a minor nuisance. Your screen goes white for a bit, you hear a ringing noise, and that’s that. You can usually see pretty clearly while the whiteness wears off, too. But in Firewall Zero Hour, flashbangs are disorienting. You feel them. And that’s what’s so great about it.

Firewall Zero Hour is a 4v4 first person shooter exclusive to PlayStation VR. The defending team is tasked with protecting a laptop containing valuable information while the attacking team is tasked with finding and hacking said laptop. If a player dies, they don’t respawn. This makes for incredibly tense firefights and even tenser quiet moments, similar to games like Rainbow Six Siege. However, each player is not just using a controller, but holding their weapon in their own hands and physically peeking around corners.

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Firewall’s gunplay is tight and responsive. VR makes things complex, but in a good way. Things that were simple button presses like aiming down sights require physical action in Firewall, and something like holding an angle is a hundred times more stressful than in a regular shooter. The freedom of VR is what separates Firewall from other shooters. You can blindfire over or around cover, you can lean to look around corners, you can get creative with your hip firing, the possibilities are endless and have led to moments that I won’t soon forget. In one match I heard an enemy coming down a hallway toward me (thanks to the game’s fantastic sound design) and I blindfired my shotgun around the corner and killed him. In another match I saw what looked like movement through a door hole, so I fired my SMG through it and downed the player on the other side. Strategies like these feel oh so rewarding and are made possible due to the PlayStation VR Aim Controller (the game is playable with a Dualshock 4 but for the true experience, you want the Aim) and the limitless freedom of VR.

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Because of the tense situations and freedom of gameplay, Firewall is incredibly immersive. There’s an ever-present sense of danger, and you’ll feel it looming over you as your eyes dart from left to right, top to bottom, searching dark corners and balconies for enemies. Luckily, you’re not alone. Your team is your lifeline in Firewall, and they feel like real people. Mostly everyone talks (thanks to the headset’s built-in microphone), and being thrown into tense situation like these quickly transforms your group from strangers to allies. Camaraderie is one of Firewall’s strongest aspects. You and the other players actually feel like a team, and there’s no better team-building exercise than getting rushed by the enemy team.

As far as VR settings go, Firewall doesn’t disappoint. There are comfort vignettes for turning and moving, and you can turn on smooth rotation in place of snap turning if you wish. The tracking is spot-on for the most part, but I did encounter some occasional drift. The game also places your in-game weapon higher than your Aim controller. This is done to prevent the Aim light from interfering with the headset tracking lights, and you really don’t notice it in-game, but some may find it irritating or immersion-breaking.

A lot of VR games have fun, immersive gameplay and interesting multiplayer, but what sets Firewall apart from those is its depth. Firewall has a complex class creation system where you can pick and choose your weapon of choice along with gadgets like frag grenades or signal jammers. On top of that, the game also makes players choose a contractor, a character with a unique skill like Overwatch’s heroes or Rainbow Six’s operators. There are so many possibilities and new strategies to be developed and played around with. There were so many times when my squad and I would be in the lobby excitedly chatting about a new gadget we were about to unlock and the kind of fun things we could do with it.

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Firewall isn’t all fun all the time, though. It suffers from network issues which are far too frequent to ignore. The game uses a peer-to-peer matchmaking system but has no host migration functionality. That means if the host of a game leaves, the entire session is disbanded, and everyone is sent back to the main menu. This happens so often it’s irritating. All too often someone will rage quit and turn out to have been the host, or someone will just leave and they were the host, so everyone gets booted.

Firewall is extremely fun and full of potential. Every time I’m about to log off, I tell myself “just one more round”, and then it’s 4 in the morning. This is the game VR fans have been waiting for. While the network issues hold it back from being something truly special, Firewall Zero Hour is still a fantastic experience and a must play for all PSVR owners.

Final Score: 9

Donut County Review

A group of friends huddles around a campfire 999 feet underground. Trash and fragments of buildings scatter the surrounding area. There’s also a raccoon. Welcome to Donut County.

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Donut County is a lot like 2004’s Katamari Damacy, albeit with a hole instead of, well, a katamari. You move the hole under things, and things fall in. That’s the core gameplay loop, and although it may not seem like much, but it’s an absolute delight. Not only is the gameplay satisfying, but it’s wrapped up in an interesting and funny narrative with witty, fast paced dialogue and a cute polygonal art style.

The hole is a simple mechanic, but Donut County builds and expands upon it masterfully. In the beginning, you’ll just be moving a hole around, but soon enough you’ll be swallowing snakes to hit switches or finding a frog to catch flies. The game has puzzle elements, but you won’t be scratching your head in confusion or staring at the screen hoping for a stroke of genius. The Witness this is not. This, in combination with the game’s fantastic soundtrack, creates a surprisingly zen experience.

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What surprised me most about Donut County was its narrative. Ever since the raccoons showed up to town and took over the donut shop, holes have been popping up everywhere, and people have started to go missing. The game’s story is centered around each resident of Donut County detailing their experience with the holes, followed by the player playing their respective level. While the residents of Donut County are funny and interesting, the real heart of Donut County’s narrative is the friendship between the game’s two main characters: BK and Mira. The back and forth between these two never fails to be entertaining, and the heckling from Donut County’s citizens made me grin ear to ear during some of the cutscenes. Sometimes you can see characters sending text messages to one another at the beginning of certain levels, and there’s something incredibly charming about BK and Mira’s texting mannerisms. You can also choose to send a duck emoji that quacks, and you’ll receive one or two in return. I enjoyed this feature more than I should have.

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I really enjoyed seeing the new scenarios Donut County presented me with, but just when things were starting to get really good, the game was over. I finished Donut County in a little under two hours, and as the credits rolled, I was dying for more. I would have loved some challenge levels or just a couple more story levels. The point is, Donut County left me wanting more.

Donut County is the perfect game for this time of year. It’s a lovely breath of fresh air before the densely packed AAA season, and it’s a damn good one at that. I just wish there was more of it.

Final Score: 8.5