Bears Can’t Drift!? Can They?

I remember the first time I played a kart racer, huddled around a small CRT TV, three friends and I would sink countless hours into Mario Kart – a newly founded concept of the racing game genre. Throughout the years I developed a strong fondness for kart racing games, from playing the likes of Crash Team Racing, Modnation Racers and the Mario Kart series. I adore retro karting action, however, it seemed like this was something that the PS4 lacked.

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Bears Can’t Drift!? is scratching the kart racer itch that I’ve had for over half a decade.

I began to do a little digging, in the hope of finding a kart racer that would invoke the same feeling I had when playing those that share a special place in my heart. I stumbled across an article, on the Unreal Engine forums, written by Arran Langmead. After watching the attached videos within the thread and reading through the features of the game, I quickly became enamoured with Bears Can’t Drift!? – A kart racer being developed by Strangely Named Studio.

The project started as a small Unity made game for the OUYA, developed by a team of two. With a few unfortunate twists and turns, Arran single-handedly steered the ship in a different direction and chose to target Steam and PS4, instead of the OUYA platform. Starting from scratch he made the switch from Unity to Unreal and began utilising Unreal Engine 4’s Blueprint system.

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I think I’ve found my favourite racer already.

Although the game was made primarily by Arran, seven months into development two new members joined the team. Adam Barton became a business partner and co-developer on Bears Can’t Drift!? with Rachel Simpson working alongside both, as a freelance composer and sound designer.

You can clearly tell that Arran has matured with the same undying love for kart racers that so many of us hold dearly. Taking inspiration from unforgettable classics of the early Nintendo and PlayStation era. Bears Can’t Drift!? features an open hub world to explore while also replacing the traditional menu system.

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A beautifully sculpted array of colours makes up this stunning oriental themed enviroment.

Players are able to drive through whatever hub they desire to gain admittance to three uniquely themed worlds, each hosting up to twelve playable tracks. Players can dual among other racers by using and combining power-ups to cause frantic mayhem throughout the course. In order to gain access to more challenging difficulty levels, you will need to prove you’re worthy enough by completing a specific task – such as making a challenging jump after drifting around a dangerously narrow pathway rather than just selecting it from a menu.

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A mountainous, woodland area allows for the grizzlies to drift free in their natural habitat.

The artistic flair and prodigious sound design, that first attracted me to the game, were distinctly reminiscent of my childhood, each aspect of the game creating a sense of nostalgia. Worlds seem full of character in terms of visual design and sound, possibly one of the most admiring features is the inclusion of four-player, offline split screen.

It’s very rare these days that games cater for the offline players, as more tend to focus on the online portion of the game. Rekindling with old friends in this couch, co-op, kart racer will definitely be on the agenda later this summer. Bears Can’t Drift!? is certainly worth keeping an eye on.

To see more recent updates, follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Youtube.

/ CR

 

How to Easily Upgrade your PS4 Hard Drive

How many of you own a PS4 that’s full to the brim with content? Do you have to chop and change what you store on your hard drive in order to install new games, acquire updates or take use of the PS4 share features? Well maybe it’s about time you upgraded that petty 500GB hard drive.

When I first bought a PS4 I thought 500GB was more than enough, but taking into account that most games are now approaching the 60GB mark; such as The Witcher 3, Batman: Arkham Knight, Dragon Age Inquisition and many more – That 500GB sure fills up fast! This was the case for me, so when I saw that Sony were putting a 1TB PS4 on the market I quickly started to weigh up if it was worth picking one up, that was until I started doing a little research.

At first I thought the procedure of exchanging a HDD from the PS4 would be a mammoth task that required a lot of technical know how, I also worried that doing so would void my warranty completely. It turns out I was completely wrong on both points, it couldn’t have been easier and Sony actually encourages its users to upgrade the HDD at their own leisure and the best thing is, it won’t void your warranty!

In this video I give very easy, in depth, step by step instructions on how to go from 500GB to 2TB (2000GB). It shows exactly what you’ll need in order to complete the task, a look at what HDD you should go for as well as a thorough explanation on how to do it. So if you’re thinking about doing it or you’re sick of trying to squeeze everything onto what now seems like a measly stock hard drive, there’s no better time to do so. Games are only going to get bigger and you’re going to need as much space as you can get!

This is also my first YouTube video on the WhatRhinoSaid channel, so I’d highly appreciate it if you could give it a thumbs up, or even better, subscribe! – I plan to be adding a lot more content to YouTube in the coming weeks; such as Let’s Plays, Gaming Opinions, Video Game related content and other Geek Culture videos that may feature unboxing videos and merchandise reviews. Thanks for watching and I hope this helped you to upgrade your PS4 hard drive.

E3 is Coming

It’s that time of year again, what feels like Christmas for us gamers. The anticipation builds up as we eagerly await to see what all contenders have in store for us. The console wars flare up once again and fanboys rear their ugly heads. Thousands of those involved in the industry flock to the event from all parts of the globe, as if to make somewhat of a gaming pilgrimage, only letting the most elite through it’s doors, while the general public huddle around computers and TV’s, sat in the ambient glow of their screens. Many of us living overseas from the event become nocturnal creatures for the week just to catch the latest news as it happens. Just for one week of the year. E3 is coming.

As every year begins, E3 is the one event I mark down in my calendar each time. It’s an event I just get so giddy about. I really am like a kid at Christmas, apart from this holiday lasts three to four days as opposed to just one day. Each year I make sure I take the week of E3 off work, and this is the first year I have a blog in place and can give you my impressions of the event first hand. Thankfully my week’s holiday has been approved and I have already organised to watch a few of the events with my brother – meaning pizza, booze and a boatload of hopes and predictions lies in store.

Getting to try out some of the newest and latest games, weeks or months before anyone else would be a fantastic experience.

This E3 really is shaping up to be one of the best there’s ever been, for me personally. With so many great games already announced I can’t wait to see what else is in store. I wouldn’t call myself a fan boy, but I really did love seeing Sony wipe the floor with Microsoft at last years event, considering they’d been getting it in the neck from Xbox for the last few years, previously. I’m always one to welcome competition between all parties, if all are fighting to win our attention then each need to improve to keep that. I’d love to see Nintendo blow both out of the water, although I can’t really see that happening, seeing as though they’ve mentioned NX won’t be shown or talked about.

I’ve already been spoilt with games I’ve been waiting on for years. Fallout 4 is probably my most eagerly anticipated at the moment with Star Wars: Battlefront and Metal Gear Solid V sharing that top spot – I’d be happy with just those alone to be honest. Knowing there’s a lot more to be unveiled, especially unheard of projects, leaves me feeling elated even before the event has began.

Crowds of people gather to play the latest games from all of the biggest companies (and some of the smallest) in the industry.

Of course I’m looking forward to Sony’s conference the most, but apart from that Bethesda is the one I’m most excited for. I think everyone knew that Fallout 4 was a given as soon as they revealed they were having a press conference. It’ll also be great to see how DOOM is shaping up and I think we’re sure to see another instalment of Dishonoured. A brand new IP from Bethesda would be fantastic too and as much as I’d like to see a new Elder Scrolls game to follow up Skyrim, I really don’t think we’ll be that lucky.

There’s tons of other unannounced games I’d like to see made, such as Modnation Racers 2 for the PS4. I sunk so many hours into the first game and currently still stand in the top three of the leaderboards, worldwide, for Mod creations. Check out CreativeRhino on that game if you’d like to see some of my custom made creations. 

Sony and Microsoft finally seem to be stepping away from last gen, which couldn’t be a better step to take in my eyes. It’s time we allowed developers to harness the potential of the new machines, rather than being held back by the previous ones.  It’ll be great to finally see what next gen is made of, as these consoles are over two years into their life span now and games only get better on a technical level as the life of the console progresses.

It is a dream of mine to one day attend E3. With only those that are involved in the industry being granted access this may be a harder task than normal. But hopefully one day that dream will become a reality for me.

But for the sake of us all, I hope all platforms concentrate mostly on the games they have on offer. I don’t want to hear anything about media centres or streaming services, I didn’t buy a games console to watch TV. I’m happy to hear about VR projects but god forbid they exceed the twenty minute mark. Music platforms can be kept to a minimum, again I don’t use my console as a spotify hub.

All I want to see and hear is the stuff that matters most – Video Games. This is the reason so many of us tune in every year. I want to be left in awe from what the future of games has to offer, not the latest films added to Netflix.

I want my mind to be blown and to go into the next E3 with an even bigger grin on my face. So let the commotion of the next week commence as we await the first conference, as our frenzy of excitement fails to sustain itself. But going into this weekend, remember  #E3isComing.

/ CR

The Evolution of Video Games at ‘Game On 2.0’

Last week I was given the opportunity to attend the opening night of the ‘Game On 2.0’ exhibition at the Life Centre, Newcastle. This exhibition showcases the biggest collection of playable computer games in the world and I was delighted to be attending, courtesy of Komodo – my place of work. 2015-05-22 17.05.58

The entrance to the Life Centre, Newcastle welcomed by Super Mario and the Game On 2.0 event.

This major international exhibition appeals to all ages. The place was stacked full of playable games, some from before my time; with classics such as Pong, Asteroids and Space Invaders dating all the way to the modern titles we see today, such as Minecraft, Smash Bros and VR titles. The event catered for everyone – literally. We were greeted with lots of waiters dressed head to toe in Super Mario attire, they served a variety of food and drinks, which I happily took advantage of – It was a shame not to see Luigi anywhere though.

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Complimentary food and drinks were served at the event. You can’t go wrong with Fish & Chips and a good beer.

Although the event started at 5pm, we waited in the main foyer of the life centre where there were a few smaller exhibitions unrelated to the event. We weren’t able to attend the event right away and were instead subjected to an array of quite lengthy talks and speeches from those who had hosted the night.

Which was fair enough, but considering mostly everyone was waiting to get in and play some games, I felt as though these could have been kept brief, as opposed to the 40+ minutes they went on for. The night it’s self only ran for 2 hours and most of that was held up by talks. Coming from a gamer and probably speaking for many others, all I wanted to do was jump in!

Once we finally got through the doors we were greeted by a game that many would say started it all – PONG. Although the original cabinet wasn’t playable, we were linked up with original controls and a playable game on the big screen. My competitive nature was straight away revealed and I challenged one of my colleagues, Paul, for a game.

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PONG was one of the games I really wanted to play – having never played it before. It was a barrel of laughs and I can see how it become beloved among many.

The controls were very unresponsive and hard to get used to, as they were basically just dials, which resulted in the paddle on screen moving when you turned it. But what else would you expect from a game that was released in 1972. As soon as the game kicked off the pixels started to increase speed from either side of the screen. I was already in a fit of laughs at how competitive me and my opponent became.

I instantly forget about how old it was, the controls, lacklustre graphics and instead became engrossed in the competitive game play. It was a very close game, with the score going back and forth throughout, resembling the game play itself. In the end I came back from an 8 point gap to win the game (which I was delighted about and proceeded to make sure Paul knew about it).

I can see how a lot of people found so much fun in such a simple form of entertainment. It’s not really about how good the game looks or plays, but how people react to it and what they get out of it.

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A few arcades from around the early 70’s.

From the pong machine there were various other consoles from around that same generation, some which weren’t playable, such as a look into what those from the 70s thought what arcades might look like in the future.

As I looked along the horizon of flashing neon lights coming from the arcade cabinets my eyes caught one in particular – Space Invaders, which had an Asteroids cab sat parallel to it. I was definitely up for both and had never played the games in their original cabinets before. It was certainly an experience and I would love one for home use.

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Standing in line to play the original Space Invaders cabinet. Absolutely love this game.

The next bout between Paul and I was on Mario Kart 64. I’d like to think of myself to be quite the veteran Mario Kart player, having played everyone bar this one. As we both struggled with controls we didn’t get off to the best start, but Paul was soon eating my dust and I took an easy point to make the tally 2-0.

Looks like Paul was going to have to step his game up. I then went on to view a series of older consoles, playing the likes of Castlevania as well as Pitfall on the Atari 2600. It was amazing to get a feel for some of the consoles that basically built the foundations of what we have today.

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There were tons of old consoles and game I’d never experienced before.

Paul eyed Dead or Alive on the original Xbox and we were quick to get it underway. I’d never played a DOA game and had never owned the original Xbox, so I was the underdog for this battle. Paul quickly made sure of that and before I could even get a punch in he’d made it 2-1. As soon as we’d played that I had to find a fighting game In which I’d be able to match or beat him. I spotted Street Fighter 2 and the challenge began.

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Street Fighter 2 – It was a shame they never had an original cabinet. But still great to play this after so many years.

I took the first game to make it 3-1, by using Honda, the match was extremely close. I like to think I fair as quite a good Street Fighter player but just couldn’t seem to deal with the pressure of the competition. I used Ken and folded almost instantly, bad idea. I couldn’t even execute the simplest of Hadoken’s (I blame the fight stick) I was trashed by Blanka and Paul drew a point back – 3-2.

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I’d love to add the Atari 2600 to my console collection. All of the consoles were displayed extremely well throughout the exhibition. 

It was a great idea to show off museum type collections of all consoles past and present. I particularly enjoyed the handheld console section that has been displayed. I’d started my handheld gaming on the original Gameboy, which held a lot of good memories for me, playing the likes of Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda and Pokemon.

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A showcase of different handheld consoles from throughout the ages.

There was also a section that showcased Artwork and Concepts Art from classics such as Jak & Daxter, Lara Croft and Uncharted. This was accompanied with memorabilia from these games, some pieces being very rare.

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Concept Art was featured throughout the exhibition and it was great to see what characters looked like before the ones we know and love today.

There was also a children’s section, it was great to see the younger generation being able to experience games that I played when I was their age. With games such as Animal Crossing, which is probably one of the best games for a child to start on. I have many fond memories sinking countless hours into that series, something that I still often do on the 3DS.

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It was great to see newcomers interacting with classics new and hold.

I then eyed a gamecube, four controllers were laid upon the table, the game running was Super Smash Bros. The amount of hours I’ve played Smash as Kirby is no ones business. I was quick to challenge Paul and a few other colleagues of mine to a game. With five stocks each I was tactfully watching, waiting for the right moment to pounce.

I love how fast and intense Smash is. It’s a right laugh and if you’ve never played the game before I highly recommend it. The fight was chaotic, hectic, like any other smash game. It’s amazing to see how well the Gamecube version still holds up.

Four stocks quickly turned into two and I had the advantage over Paul with one stock up on him. I bided my time, struck at the right moment and made it 4-2 with ease. By this stage Paul new he was beaten, seeing as as though the as the night was closing to an end. Poor Paul.

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Super StarDust HD in 3D on the PS4.

We still had time for a few other games. As I’d never played a game in 3D before, it was great to get to experience that with a Super Stardust 3D on the PS4. This game was a brilliant example of how 3D can work in certain games. It added to the experience, with asteroids shooting out towards me and explosions taking on a whole new dimension.

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There was a fantastic selection of Arcade cabinets on offer.

I was so pleased to see the Oculus Rift at the event. I first experienced this in 2014 at EGX. I was blown away once again, I’m usually not one for “gimmicks”, I like my old school ways – Couch, controller and TV. To me though VR is not a gimmick, if you ever have a chance to experience Virtual Reality as part of the Oculus Rift then please do – you won’t be disappointed.

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Donkey Kong was definitely one of favourites I played throughout the night.

As the night was quickly approaching 7:00pm the doors were about to close, what better way to end the night than to play an arcade cabinet that I can only dream of owning – Donkey Kong. It was brilliant to experience this game for the first time. The colours just looked fantastic and the game play was totally addictive. I can see why this machine swallowed up countless amounts of loose change back in its day.

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Destroying the Death Star. A great way to end the night.

With five minutes to kill I played a game I’d never seen before, this was a Star Wars cabinet. With the bright, green, neon lines flashing about on screen, I piloted an X-wing through space, destroying TIE Fighters – before descending onto the Death Star to give that final last shot.

With my team of colleagues stood behind me, giving off that true arcade atmosphere and on the clock before the exhibition closed, what better way to end the night than to destroy the Death Star!

All round I had an absolute blast. Sure the pictures aren’t the best, Hopefully an investment in a camera isn’t far off, but I can’t recommend the event enough, especially if you live in, or are travelling to the area soon. The event is open to the public now and runs until 1st November 2015. For more information – Visit Life Centre, Newcastle Game On 2.0 Exhibition.

/ CR

I’ve never wanted to play a non-existint game as much as this one

Working as a UI/UX designer myself I tend to do a lot of research into current trends and recent projects within the design industry. Scouring Bechance can often result in falling down a deep rabbit hole, bouncing from one wonderful project to the next. Bechance is a portfolio site where artists of all mediums can share their work in a tight knit community. Today I stumbled across some concept art for a fictional video game and just had to share this great find. Never have I wanted to play a game so much, a one that doesn’t even exist!

The setting for this game is featured in a Neo Japan in 2202. Never have I seen such beautiful concept artwork. By just looking at the images my mind runs with so many ideas of how this game could play, the setting, story, characters etc. The amazing talent behind this work comes from a Maylasian based concept artist called Johnson Ting.

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Just the vibrancy of this concept work instantly evokes every bit of hype within my body.

Graduating as an illustrator from The One Academy, Malaysia, Ting has already went on to work for some big dogs such as Activision, Infinity Ward, Black Tusk and Square Enix. He now currently resides in New York working for Project Triforce.

Ting has big plans and ideas for his Neo Japan 2202 project; such as turning it into a book for his readers before wanting to create a video game from it. The setting for Tings’ Sci-Fi universe certainly ticks every box for me, the artwork is just breathtaking.

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Above shows a fictional book that features the story, visuals and documentation from the Neo Japan 2202 Universe.

Ting has already began to shape and scope out this fictional world, setting the background for the project with this brief paragraph to the initial backstory.

In the year 2200, corruption in the world has reached its peak, even police officers are involved in terrorist attacks. In Japan, Neorai Industries has successfully launched its Neo Keisatsu joint project with the government, and replaced all existing human officers into A.I powered mechas. Mass riots appeared throughout Japan by ex-officers and worried citizens, but the riots were contained efficiently and almost immediately with the merciless Neo Keisatsus.

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Mobile police unit featured within the concept work

They soon proved that mechas are indeed better in handling tasks and duties than human beings, as crime rate lowers and corruption seems to fade out from Japan, they renounced “Japan” to “Neo Japan” in the year 2202. Many still doubts the Neo Keisatsu project till this day, as machines are still machines, it can still be controlled and if fallen into the wrong hands, the outcome would be unimaginable.

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I don’t know about you but this is certainly something I’d love to see get made. Japan is such a perfect setting for a world ran by A.I. powered mechs and something we’ve not seen a lot of within a game setting.  You can see more of his work at Behance, Deviant and Website but why not salivate over the images below before doing so.

/ CR

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What I’d love to see NeXt from Nintendo

It seems the life of the Wii U has been short and not so sweet for Nintendo. Less than two and a half year into its life and plans for a new console have already been revealed. It doesn’t really say a lot for Nintendo, chucking the towel in already, with not very many upcoming titles announced and word of a new home console already on the horizon. I think it’s fair to say I’d feel a little disappointed if I’d just bought a Wii U. But who can blame them for not wanting to stay on a sinking ship?

They’ve thrown a lot of heavy hitters at it recently to try and keep the console a float. Games such as Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD and more couldn’t give the Wii U the sales that were desired. Yet the console still suffers massively and has one of the least appealing line-ups on a Nintendo console to date.

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Super Smash Bros. for Wii U offered the best smash game since Melee, but could have reached a bigger audience if the console had sold more.

Now I’ve owned every Nintendo console since the SNES. I was brought up on Nintendo, if it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t have gotten into gaming. I was greatly drawn to each home console and handheld system they released, and then came the Wii. Don’t get me wrong the Wii was fantastic console and Nintendo always seem to lead the way with innovation, it seemed to open up the medium of video games for many, allowing them to edge more and more into the mainstream. For me it just wasn’t the type of console I wanted. Compared to the likes of the Gamecube, N64, SNES and NES – the Wii just didn’t seem to stack up.

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The Gamecube holds so many fantastic gaming memories for me.

Wii U wasn’t much better either, the gamepad controller seemed clunky and unneeded, although it may have been useful to some players, I just simply preferred the generic controller, so much so as soon as I bought a Wii U I instantly picked up the pro controller to go along with it. This is something I wish the console had shipped with in the first place.

The launch line up wasn’t much better either, from the start it looked like Wii U was going to continue to get the third party titles it needed. Fast-forward two year and the momentum from the Wii, which the Wii U was riding on, had seemed to greatly diminish. Third party support became a distant memory and the total lack of games made the Wii U an undesirable purchase for many.

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The Wii U launch games lacked any hard hitters, something that the 3DS also shared but thankfully recovered from.

I still have my Wii U but it doesn’t get half as much of a look in compared to my other consoles, it saddens me to be honest, I remember when I played nothing but Nintendo. Nowadays if they want to grab the attention of the average gamer there’s a lot of changes that need to be made. There’s so much the console doesn’t offer compared to its competitors, but there’s nothing I’d love more than to see Nintendo make a huge comeback!

With the announcement of the NX it got me thinking, what would I love to see in their next home console? Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has already said that a new control method is already in the works for the NX, offering a “brand new concept”. The name is something that got me thinking as soon as it was announced; NX sounds more mature, gritty, sharp and powerful compared to the likes of the Wii and Wii U – it doesn’t seem as out of place when lining it up with the naming conventions of the N64 or Gamecube.

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The New 3DS is one of the weirdest named consoles I’ve ever heard which seems like an unneeded improvement, maybe something to help Nintendo sell more.. along with Amiibos.

To me the NX holds another meaning, rather than thinking of the X spelt ‘ex’ I see it more as ‘cross’, insinuating cross platform, cross device. If Nintendo could some how combine the popularity of it’s handheld consoles and incorporate that into their home console then could that be something that creates vast popularity for both? The Nintendo 3DS seems to stand on a platform that can’t be matched by any other. Also with the introduction of Nintendo ‘s plans to create content for mobile then a home console that can some how combine (or cross) all these platforms together doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

Now before I start ranting and raving about what I’d like to see next I’d just like to say I’m no console or marketing expert, I don’t have all the answers, this is all just my own personal opinion and ideas I’d like to see implemented. First of all, I’d like to see a console that harnesses the same power as it’s competitors, running in 1080p and holding the same frame rate and power of those that it stands amongst it. Seeing the likes of Wind Waker and MK8 in HD was a beautiful site. More power and even better graphic capabilities could do no harm for Nintendo.

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Games such as Wind Waker and Mario Kart 8 looked simply stunning in HD.

Another main feature that has been a struggling factor for Nintendo is third party support. Nintendo just HAS to be able to provide support for third parties if it’s to compete with other consoles. I’m not wanting it to copy exactly what the other consoles offer, but to compete, Nintendo should be able to offer the likes of popular franchises to consumers of their console – games such as GTA, Fallout, Call of Duty, Fifa, Destiny, Minecraft etc.

None of these games would have ever been possible on the Wii U, not just due to the consoles lack of power but because of the lack of support. If Nintendo could create a console powerful enough to harness games of this calibre as well as catering for it’s vast catalogue of Nintendo classics then it would have some of the richest array of games to offer.

On the back of that feature it’d be good to see a reworked identity and online system finally be implemented into Nintendo consoles, an actual profile for my Mii, similar to how avatars are used on Xbox, more customisation options and adding an identity that can be used over all systems, rather than using friend codes to interact with one another. I’d like to see an achievement system that actually offers the user something as opposed to Xbox Achievements and PS Trophies.

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Taking away Club Nintendo seemed like a somewhat odd decision, I’d love to see it make it’s valiant return offering many more features when the new console arrives.

Bring back a reworked Club Nintendo, something that offers the user a set amount of stars for completing a game rather than offering it to them on a plate, then allow the user to spend those stars on DLC for the game, costumes, new characters, game modes etc. Similar to the achievement system on Xbox, and having your stars total up but also being able to buy themes, avatar clothing for your Mii, allow the user to work for their stars and offer better incentives to play for them, rather than receiving them straight out of the box. This is something I’ve always wanted to see in video games, some sort of incentive for finishing your games or putting as much time into them as possible.

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The community aspect within Nintendo has always lacked any real foundations or structure. I think it’s something that has the potential to do much more, an area that could do with a needed makeover.

I’d like to see more emphasis on local co-op as well as a better online community aspect, it’d be great to find out more about what my friends were playing, what achievements they’d accomplished etc. Make it easier to drop into each other’s games, have a new re-worked controller that took note from the ergonomics of the Gamecube pad, a collection of games that catered for all audiences – young and old.

How about a strong launch line up? hell I’d even keep The upcoming Legend of Zelda for the NX rather than releasing it for Wii U. Releasing it alongside a new Mario game, Animal Crossing, Star Fox, FZero, Metroid a line up that was just to good to turn away from. I’d also like to see some new IP from Nintendo, Splatoon seems like it has the potential there to be an interesting contender, as much as I love the likes of Mario and company, when will it end? Surely it can’t go on forever, can it?

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Splatoon has the potential to be a great new IP for Nintendo, lets hope no rash decisions are made before release.

There are so many more features I’d add, but I could go on forever. By combining all these with the cross plat forming aspect mentioned earlier I don’t see how this couldn’t be a new introduction of a console that can cater for all gamers. I’d go in the opposite direction of having a media console and focus more on the games.

Offering the likes of Netflix, blu-ray players are great features to implement but the sole purpose of buying a console is usually always to play games, something I think some companies often forget. There’s nothing I’d like more than to see Nintendo back on top and here’s to hoping they can get everything right this time… as opposed to the majority wrong.

Oh, How ignorant I’ve been…

The older I got, the more I seemed to neglect and avoid the typical Anime styled Japanese video games and media. Regardless of how good the they were said to be, if the artwork was mainly based around a Manga and Anime theme I would tend to completely disregard it. I can’t really put my finger on what it was I didn’t like and growing up I loved Pokemon and Dragonball. I played nothing but Nintendo and loved countless Japanese Video Games. Maybe it was the big doe eyed characters, crazy hairstyles, drawing style, goofy mannerisms or the cutesy expressions that put me off or maybe it was an age thing? Whatever it may have been, It just didn’t jive well with me at all.

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Typical Japanese art style that is featured across Anime, Manga and Video Games

The ‘User Interface’ design of most old Japanese games are something that I just couldn’t abide by either, the UI just wasn’t as appealing as most western games, although they do hold up well or in fact suffice most western games in user experience. Personally, I feel you can usually tell where most games originated from due to their UI.

Eastern and Western style games differ greatly in this area and most still do to this day. It didn’t help much that I actually went on to become a UI design so maybe the gripe stemmed from wanting to always improve the cosmetics of the interface.

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An example of eastern User Interface design.

Now don’t get me wrong – I love LOVE Japan. It’s my favourite country. The rich history it holds, the culture, language, food, traditions, values etc. All amazing. I’m even planning a trip to tour the place come 2016 if everything goes accordingly. The one thing I just couldn’t get away with was Animie, Manga and that traditional video game art style from games such as Persona, Valkyria Chronicles, Dragon Quest and many more.

But, until I sat down and thought about it, I never realised how much of a fan of Japanese video games I actually am. Going way back to the ripe, young, age of 4. Super Mario on the SNES was the first game I ever played. This was a series that stuck with me for the rest of my life. I was brought up on Nintendo; Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Mario Kart, Star Fox, Street Fighter and loads more. Each one sharing a common trait – They were all created in Japan. At that age you don’t care much for who made the game or where they originate. The game itself is what draws you in – the colours, graphics, game play, music etc.

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The Playstation 1 came at the perfect time and appealed to a more mature audience. Although the transition from Nintendo was made, I was still a huge fan of both companies.

Growing up my transition from Nintendo to PlayStation came about when the PS1 first launched, along with getting my hands on the new console I also picked up titles such as SoulBlade, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil and Gran Turismo along the way. Again usually oblivious to where these games and their creators came from. As I got older and started to appreciate games as more of an art form, rather than just a form of entertainment, I took an even bigger step away from these Manga styled games.

Stupidly, I continued to judge books by their cover or in this case, video games by their art style. I’d turn away from story, characters, gameplay, everything, and all because of this unique and distinctive art style. It wasn’t until I realised how many Video games I played that were created in Japan that I decided to re-consider my actions.

I’m a huge fan of the Metal Gear Solid series, with Hideo Kojima becoming my all time favourite Video Games Designer. I love Street Fighter, Tekken, Pokemon, Animal Crossing, Final Fantasy etc I was brought up on Nintendo and PlayStation and have continued to buy products, both hardware and software, from both companies. This led me to thinking, surely if I love all of these games that were created in Japan, there’s got to be something there, something behind the art style that was putting me off? So many people can’t be wrong, can they?

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Metal Gear Solid 1 was an unforgettable experience and a game that introduced me to my favourite series of all time.

So I decided to look towards my Vita as a starting point – I’d heard so much about Persona 4, a game that was highly influenced by the traditional Japanese Manga style. I also knew about its rising popularity with the Japanese audience, it’s something I’d wanted to like for a while but couldn’t seem to ever get past the art style.

Anyway, I threw caution to the wind and picked it up.. I think it’s safe to say I did not regret my choice. As soon as I started it up I already found myself sucked in to the story, the characters, the gameplay, the voice acting – I began to love absolutely everything about the game. The weirdest thing was, I appreciated the art style the most. Did I miraculously change overnight? Have I lived in denial all this time? Persona 4 quickly became one of my favourite games and I can’t wait for the fifth instalment to be rereleased.

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Persona 4 Golden; A game I avoided for so long, after finally giving it a shot, I couldn’t believe just what I’d been missing. Definitely a must for any PS Vita owner.

This then brought me to thinking, if I like Persona then why not give other games with this style ago. I picked up Ni No Kuni and was absolutely astonished at how good it was. It also had one of the best UI and UX I’ve ever experienced within a video game. The Art Style was beautiful and the animations were flawless. From this I began to dig a little deeper, stumbling across the name ‘Studio Ghibli’. Loving the art style of Ni No Kuni, I decided to give them a shot.

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Ni No Kuni; A beautiful art style that will definitely appeal to JRPG fans. Shares similarities to Pokemon and The Legend of Zelda.

I recognised the name of one of the films straight away, which is one I’d watched as a small child and loved – ‘My Neighbour Totoro. Not knowing the studio behind it at the time, but now becoming intrigued to find out more about them, I looked into other films they’d created. An extensive back catalogue of deep, rich and meaningful stories with jaw dropping animation lay await and I instantly fell in love with the work of Hayao Miyazaki.

The next step was Anime. This was a whole new scene I barely knew anything about. I wasn’t a fan of Manga styled video games, never mind the Anime that ran alongside it. I didn’t have a clue where to start, but ‘Attack on Titan’ and ‘Sword Art Online’ were ones that seemed quite prominent when I searched – Wow, was I in for a shock. I took the art style with a pinch of salt and within a few episodes of each I’d already become hooked and ravelled up in the story.

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Attack on Titan; Such a gripping story which has left me hooked and wanting more.

It made me realise that all this time I was turning away from amazing experiences all because I was judging books by their cover. Not only did I realise a valuable life lesson, but also I’ve opened up to all kinds of Japanese style video games, Manga and Anime.

For those of you have gotten through this post, first of all thank you and secondly, I’d greatly appreciate it if those who have a lot more knowledge than I do, based within the different mediums I’ve listed, to recommend as many Japanese video games, anime and Manga that I shouldn’t miss, new or old. And remember; don’t judge a book by its cover. You won’t know what’s inside, until you look.

/ CR