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Gamers want to know: Why hasn’t Disney Interactive produced a full version of “Wreck-It Ralph” ‘s Sugar Rush game yet?

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When it comes to Disney and gaming, we here at JHM take the
subjects seriously. Where entertainment and good business cross paths chances
are that Disney will be at the forefront. "Iron Man 3,"
released by Marvel and
Disney was one of the biggest films of 2013. It made $372 million in its first
weekend including domestic and international ticket sales
. Compare that to the
weekend that Grand Theft Auto V
had when it debuted. In just three days, Take-Two
Interactive's crime action game made $1 billion. Those numbers are hard to
ignore no matter what your stance is on gaming.

 
Copyright Rockstar Games. All rights reserved

According to the NPD research group gaming across all
formats made about $21 billion in 2012. The trend continued through 2013 with
the release of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One consoles. Disney Infinity has
done very well for the company. In less than a year since its release it has
sold over 3 million copies across the different platforms. Infinity looked to
dethrone the Skylanders series by Activision, which has sold over 13 million
copies since its debut in 2011. Both games featured a number of collectible
mini figures which helped aggregate sales. The developers at Disney Interactive
had the fortune of being able to tap into the vast library of Disney animated
and live-action characters as well as those from television and Pixar as well.

Despite the seemingly endless demand for quality games
Disney still remained behind the curve. Infinity was an answer to Skylanders
but if the company really wanted to go after the most profitable titles they
should have set their sights elsewhere. I am not talking about music-rhythm
games, Fantasia Music Evolved still does not get audiences excited. Two years
after the film "Wreck-it-Ralph" fans are still hoping to see a videogame based on
the film. In particular fans are still holding out hope that the studio might
yet develop a full version of the game Sugar Rush.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

The studio does have a version of Fix-it-Felix Jr., Hero's Duty
and Sugar Rush Speedway available on the Disney Games website for free. In fact
it has hosted the it for everyone to enjoy for years. Audiences only have to
install a web plug-in to get the titles up and running at home: http://games.disney.com/wreck-it-ralph-sugar-rush.
Of course die-hard videogame players want more than a web version of the games
shown in the animated film. They want a full-fledged experience. Sugar Rush,
the game featuring the "glitch" Vanellope von Schweetz was inspired
by the Mario Kart series. It is easily one of the most desirable games that
Disney Interactive has never released for the consoles.

When it comes to racing games there is no bigger selling
franchise than Mario Kart by Nintendo. Since 1992 the Mario Kart series has
sold over 97 million copies. The series became so popular that it was one of
the very few that actually got an arcade version built. I'm talking about an
entire cabinet with racing seats, speakers and a steering wheel.Elements from
this cabinet could actually be seen in the cabinet created for Sugar Rush in
the film. The Mario Kart arcade game was a reverse of the trend. Early console
hits were usually adapted from arcade games and not the other way around. Nintendo
had done so well with the franchise that rival studio Namco asked to have the
iconic Pac Man appear as a crossover racer.

To put it into perspective Sony's Gran Turismo series has
sold over 70 million copies. Since 1997 Sony has marketed their series as the "real
driving simulator." It is a very well respected franchise due to the
authenticity of recreating classic and modern cars for players to enjoy. Auto
manufacturers actually go to the developers Polyphony to have concept cars
created in their proprietary software to see how they would respond in real
life. The next most popular franchise, Microsoft's Forza series, has sold over 17
million copies since 2005. The two series combined have still sold less copies
than Mario Kart. At almost $50 a game one can only imagine how much money
Nintendo actually made over the past two decades.

It is difficult to understand why Disney Interactive doesn't
release more games in genres that audiences actually play. The characters
featured in Wreck-it-Ralph, the levels and challenges highlighted in the film
were taking elements from the best Kart racing games. The game players that saw
the film could attest that this was a type of game that they would buy at the
drop of a hat. Perhaps there might be some hope for a collaborative release
somewhere down the line. The Wii U console has performed very poorly and
Nintendo has changed their business strategy to make up for it. Previously the
company steered clear of licensing their games to other platforms. Recently
they decided to publish a few games for the iOS and distribute them through
Apple's iTunes Store. With Apple and Disney being good friends perhaps there
may yet be a chance for Nintendo and Disney Interactive to work a little closer
and give fans a crossover worth remembering. Hey, a guy can dream can't he?

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Video Games & Technology

“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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Video Games & Technology

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.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

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.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo. All rights reserved

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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Video Games & Technology

“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.

Copyright the Pokemon Company. All rights reserved

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.

Copyright the Pokemon Company. All rights reserved

“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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