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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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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Nintendo’s Labo will allow kids to craft their own customized Switch-powered play experiences

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Nintendo Labo

When I was a kid, I remember using tape, glue and markers to turn cardboard boxes into race cars, rocket ships and castles. Those boxes and a little imagination went a long way while growing up.

You have no doubt heard the old saying “to think outside of the box.” It usually means to think creatively. But have you ever wondered though how much the box was worth?

The designers at Nintendo have the answer. They believe that audiences would pay anywhere between $70 and $80 for a few cardboard boxes, some rubber bands and stickers. The company calls this Labo.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo

On April 20th, 2018 the studio expects untold thousands of boxes to fly off the shelves. Labo is essentially an activity kit made out of cardboard, but it requires the owner to have a Nintendo Switch to use.

The Nintendo Switch is a game console (both portable and TV-adaptable) it is also the successor to the Wii U. The system retails for $299 and was the runaway console for 2017. The company sold 10 million units in its first 9 months. Which is an insanely great number for any studio to achieve.

Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima hopes to sell an additional 20 million systems by March 2019. Based on their track record they may very well hit that mark.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo

Back to the Labo: However, Nintendo has created a series of different play modules, called Toy-Con for their kit. Audiences can create a playable piano, fishing game, motorcycle racer or even animated bug robot to use with their Switch and its detachable controllers. The kits include everything a budding creator needs plus video step-by-step instructions that they can watch using the Switch console itself.

Nintendo has done very well in the game industry, as you may know. They have always released games and consoles at their own pace and have never followed the trends from their rivals. The developers working at Nintendo have their pulse on the market and try to create unique experiences.

Traditional game design through the ’80s and ’90s had developers creating the rules, stories and linear paths that audiences had to follow. In the past 20 years, that sort of game design has shifted to an open-ended “sandbox” environment where players have more freedom to explore and find different ways of completing a story.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo

Games that give you the tools to create your own play experience have really taken off in the past few years. Both the Minecraft and Lego series give their audiences tremendous flexibility and each has sold over 100 million units.

Labo is an entirely new experience. It gives audiences a physical object that they assemble, paint, sticker or decorate any way they want. Once their cardboard project is built, the audience can play however they want with it. Their Switch is now a musical instrument, a remote-control robot or even a virtual reality (VR) box. The player can change out different components and have a different experience each time they play.

Relatively speaking, the $70 or $80 price of entry is not bad compared to how much those individual toys or science kits would cost in a toy store. This is a level of interaction that frankly no other publisher is offering.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo

I would argue that Labo is the beginning of a new toy trend. Expect to see more inexpensive cardboard or plastic projects that work with a smartphone or game console this holiday season.

Disney is sitting in a mountain of properties that could follow the format or work to license them to Nintendo. If I had a favorite attraction at the theme parks and wanted to enjoy that experience at home, I would gladly pay $70 for a Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean Labo kit. Imagine being a pirate riding through the attraction and having the ability to interact with the environment in VR. Get into cardboard sword battles with the Spanish fleet, follow Jack Sparrow on an adventure. Audiences would have the ability to change the outcome of the attraction or even shape their own version with an editor.

 I would also gladly pay $80 for an Iron Man virtual reality Labo suit. Star Wars, Marvel, Muppets, Pixar, are all IP could fit the format. The ability to turn those properties into a game is only limited by our imagination.

Copyright 2018 Nintendo

I can’t wait to get my hands on Labo. What do you think? 

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