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Disney Infinity 2.0 made a Marvel-ous first impression with E3 attendees

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A year after the showcasing of Disney Infinity at E3 in Los
Angeles, the parent company returned with a much
stronger identity for the franchise. Disney Infinity 2.0 was an improvement in
every sense of the word. The original Disney Infinity debuted in stores just
before Black Friday 2013. It got the drop on the competition, most notably
Activision's Skylander series.

Yet Infinity was not without its faults on launch. Players
reported random freezes, crashes and other glitches on the Disney online
forums. It got to the point that Disney had to create a FAQ of known bugs so that
audiences could focus on finding new issues. Console owners, those playing on the
Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo platforms had to wait for patches to be downloaded
from Disney Interactive in order to help with the problems.

Over most of the holiday season in 2013 Disney worked
nonstop on improving their core game engine. As the game became far more stable
it also became far more enjoyable an experience.

With several years under their belt, and several hundred
million dollars in production costs accounted for, Disney Interactive now had a
strong sense of direction. If the original launch had a major flaw it was that
Disney was too eager to introduce audiences to the world of Infinity. The game
suffered because the developers had been spread thin creating content to meet
the holiday push.

Having the Monsters U, The Incredibles, Pirates of the Caribbean,
Cars and Lone Ranger Playsets and Toy Box expansions before the end of the year
took away the potential of each experience. The games were all good but none
were exceptional. They felt lacking. If Disney had cut down on franchises and
focused less on Playsets then there was no doubt Infinity would have been
better received.


Photo by Shelly Valladolid

At the 2014 E3 it was obvious that Disney had learned from
the launch of their platform game. The company focused its efforts on a small
group of Marvel heroes for the announcement of Disney Infinity 2.0. The
Avengers from the film series, including Captain America,
the Black Widow, Nick Fury, Thor, Iron Man and the Hulk were some of the new
playable characters and collectable figures. The gameplay is a bit more
challenging than before. Rather than mashing the attack button and going
through opponents with ease the player now has to use some strategy.


Photo by Shelly Valladolid

Opponents are more difficult to fight and some are more
susceptible to certain attacks. It helps that Infinity 2.0 allows players to
earn points and trade them in for new attacks and combination moves. Players
have to be more mindful of their health gauge and pick and choose their
opponents more carefully than in any other Playset.


Photo by Shelly Valladolid

With this said, the game is still tremendously fun. Disney
Interactive managed to create a better Captain America,
Hulk and Iron Man game than Sega did when they had the licenses. Best of all
the three characters are all available to play as in one solid game rather than
in three mediocre games.


Photo by Shelly Valladolid

The true star of this Marvel expansion would have to be Spider-Man
and his rogues gallery. The stars of the Disney XD animated Spider-Man series,
including Nova and Iron Fist, are all available to help Spider-Man complete his
missions against Venom, Dr. Octopus, the Green Goblin and a plethora of other
villains. Disney Interactive also managed to create a Spider-Man game that was
on par with the best releases from Activision.


Photo by Shelly Valladolid

In some instances it was even easier to get into than the
last few Spider-Man games. The web-slinging mechanics were very intuitive.
Players could shoot webbing at opponents in short bursts, stick to walls and even
swing up and over buildings. Audiences did not have to worry about finding the
right building to latch onto, instead players could simply shoot their web in
the air and Spidey would take a running leap and leave the ground very quickly.
Players would undoubtedly find themselves swinging through the city and ignore
the missions just to enjoy the experience.


Photo by Shelly Valladolid

The Toybox has been improved upon as well. This would be the
portion of the game that allows audiences to create their own environment. It
is also more intuitive than the previous release and has the ability of
allowing players to drop pre-made sections, puzzles and opponents into their
own play space.


Photo by Shelly Valladolid

The showing at the E3 was not solely about Marvel. Further
Toy Box expansions will include Merida
from Brave and Maleficent. The figures and character models all retain the
charm of the earlier Disney releases. The people responsible for the art
direction are very consistent and help keep the theme of the game very
lighthearted. The violence is never too visceral and audiences are constantly
reminded that these are toys after all and no actual heroes or villains are
hurt in the game.


Photo by Shelly Valladolid

I got the sense that Disney Infinity 2.0 is really beginning
to distinguish itself from Skylanders and moreover finally has enough meat on
the bone to give the Lego series of games some serious competition. The game is
scheduled to be released in September. Expect to see Jim Hill Media give it a
thorough review when it comes out.

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“Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion” game coming this summer

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Adventure Time Pirates of the Enchiridion

“C’mon on, grab your friends … ” A new Adventure Time game is coming out across multiple platforms.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

In this open world game, Finn and Jake will be sailing on a raft (Named Jeff) through the flooded land of Ooo to solve the mystery of why water engulfed their home and to help others & get in hijinks along the way. With a ragtag gang of friends (From a vampire, to an Ice King, to a little robot) Finn and Jake will travel from the melting Ice Kingdom to the Fire Kingdom and fight in turn-based combat like an RPG.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

The trailer shows off some absolutely gorgeous character models and environments. I’m particularly enchanted by the gorgeous Candy Kingdom that’s briefly shown in this footage. The art design sticks close to the show, but brings with it a soft, sweet design rarely seen in adventure games. Which is a refreshing thing to bring to the table. Likewise, it’s a joy to see the characters translate to 3D so well. Outright Games has done some fantastic work here with their art design.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

Likewise, the voice cast for the show will be reprising their roles as characters in the land of Ooo. And they’ll have a lot of lines to record. Not only can you control Finn and Jake, but you’ll be able to play as BMO and Marceline as well. You can upgrade these characters to unlock unique abilities for combat and the map holds plenty of fun mysteries too. With side stories and secret locations, this seems like a game that’ll have hours & hours of fun.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

What strikes me particularly about this game is how much it resembles Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. This is no coincidence. Adventure Time have a history of being direct corollaries to Legend of Zelda games. “Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!” ‘s gameplay references “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link” and “Adventure Time: The Secret of the Nameless Kingdom” has the same top down look & combat stylings as “Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.” With this in mind, it’s absolutely delightful to see a Wind Waker homage with a series like this. Wind Waker was a gamechanger for the Legend of Zelda series, and it feels like “Pirates of the Enchiridion” will be a gamechanger for the Adventure Time games.

Copyright Cartoon Network / Outright Games Ltd. All rights reserved

‘Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion’ will be out July 17th for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC. 

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Do you like treasure hunting and/or cooking soup? Then Pokemon Quest is the game for you

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Pokemon Quest

Immediately after the Pokemon press conference on May 29th, the mobile-switch cross platform game Pokemon Quest was available to download on the Nintendo eShop (with the mobile device version debuting later this month). Curious about the ‘Free-to-Start’ game, I snagged a download and started playing.

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Pokemon Quest is a game that feels best letting itself auto-run. You check in several times a day to see what Pokemon have appeared at your camp (The conceit behind this game is that you’re a treasure hunter & Pokemon flock to you to fight their brethren in your honor. They also sometimes just come by because you make really good soup. What can I say?). With the Pokemon at your disposal, you build a small exploration team much in the same style as the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game series. And you then set them out to fight other Pokemon in open levels. From these battles, you win power stones (which allow you to upgrade your Pokemon’s health & attack power), and ingredients to lure other Pokemon to your camp.

You may’ve taken notice use of the term ‘Free-to-Start’ earlier in this article. That’s because — like many mobile services — this game offers add-ons for purchase. I don’t see any age limit on the Nintendo Switch version to take away ads for purchases (which many mobile games have chosen to add. See Disney’s own ‘Disney Crossy Road’) but the Pokemon Company may be expecting parents to set their own controls over the switch with the parental controls available on the system.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

Still, the game is typical in mobile game fare for trying to wring money out of players. Energy to play the game costs P tickets, which you can earn 50 a day … or you can just buy. The game gives you an amount to start with, shows you how to use them to speed up your game, and then takes you to the shop where you can see an advertisement to buy it — along with Pokemon furniture to help your team.

These packages can go up to $30 and include Pokemon in-game items & exclusive furniture. And while Pokemon Go offered items in bundles like this, it’s still odd to see in a Pokemon game — let alone a Pokemon game on the Nintendo Switch (albeit, this is a cross-platform game). The game itself doesn’t seem to have any sort of hard-pay line for gameplay, though. I’m up to the fifth world in my game without making any purchases. And while the game difficulty has dramatically ramped up, likely to encourage purchases, it’s still completely manageable to play without paying.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

In that sense, for a free game, it’s really cute & enjoyable. The graphics are pleasing and colorful. And if you return to camp, you’ll find all the Pokemon you’ve befriended hopping around adorable decorations. Sometimes stacking on top of each other, other times following each other around in what seems like games of tag.

The ‘cooking’ mechanic to encounter a random Pokemon makes encountering them feel less like gambling and more like strategy. By cooking certain recipes from materials you find on missions, you can draw certain types of Pokemon to your camp. Cooking in certain pots (unlocked by playing through the game) can draw higher powered Pokemon at the cost of more materials. And waiting while your energy fills up means running out of ingredients (At the point of the game I’m at, about half-way through) doesn’t seem to be a problem.

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All in all, I’d say, if you have access to this game, check it out and see if it’s for you. There doesn’t seem to be cross platform support for other Pokemon games. But as a standalone, it’s a cute, fun blip of a game. The hard ‘end’ of the levels within surprises me, especially since it seems to end with 150 Pokemon (out of the over eight hundred available). So I’m not sure what there is to get out of it when you get to the end level outside of getting every Pokemon. But it’s still a fun, very casual strategy game. Just keep an eye on purchases if your children decide to play. 

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“Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” & “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !” to come to the Nintendo Switch this year

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Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu

During a conference in Japan earlier this week, the Pokemon Company revealed three new games : A mobile and Nintendo Switch cross platform game, “Pokemon Quest,” with graphics similar to Crossy Road and some absolutely adorable furniture in a “free to start” format; and for the Nintendo Switch, “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !”

Taking inspiration from gameplay styles from the popular “Pokemon Go” for mobile devices, “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !’ adopts the thrown Pokeball system. By using one controller with the Switch system, you can make a tossing motion to throw a Pokeball and capture a cute critter for your team.

Copyright the Pokemon Company. All rights reserved

Additionally, you can buy the “Pokeball Plus” accessory to act as an additional “Joy-con” controller for your Switch to capture Pokemon. Then load a Pokemon into your pokeball, and take it out on the go.

From there, with the accessory, you’ll be able to interact with the Pokemon you have inside. Although current information doesn’t offer whether we’ll have more options than putting Eevee or Pikachu in the Pokeball Plus, the footage seen in the linked trailer is absolutely adorable.

The game itself seems to be a remake of Pokemon Yellow, a game released twenty years ago for the Game Boy Color. You explore the Kanto Pokemon region, and seem to be limited to the 150 Pokemon available when that game was out (Well, 151, if you were lucky, or good at exploiting glitches). But these games ditch the random encounters of mainline Pokemon games and adopt the overworld encounters of Pokemon Go. What Pokemon you see on the overworld is what you get.

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Additionally, Pokemon can follow you around and you can ride some of them. In footage, we see a trainer riding a giant Onyx (i.e., a giant snake made out of rocks. Who wouldn’t be comfortable riding on that?) and followed by a starting Pokemon, Bulbasaur. Although in these two games, you start instead with the series mascot Pikachu, and the evolution Pokemon Eevee, which can evolve into several different pokemon. You can also put little outfits on them. Which is – frankly — incredible.

Likewise, this seems to have local multiplayer. Hand the left Joy-con to a friend and let them enter your game. Or if you’re feeling really lonely, put the left Joy-con in your hand and pretend you have a friend while controlling the new trainer that arrives. What a fun time!

You and your friend can then team up to capture Pokemon together, or go exploring together- And you can have Pokemon you capture in Pokemon Go (of the original 151 Pokemon) arrive in your game. You can also send “Presents” back to your Pokemon Go game, including a possible new form of Pokemon as the trailer discusses.

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“Pokemon — Let’s Go, Pikachu !” and “Pokemon — Let’s Go, Eevee !” will be arriving on the Nintendo Switch this November. Likewise, a new Pokemon game will be released in the second Half of 2019. With a Mario movie in development and theme park additions on the way, it’s sure to be a busy year for Nintendo. 

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