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Star Wars characters, Hulkbuster, Mulan, Mickey & Minnie to be featured in Disney Infinity 3.0

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Disney has owned two Christmases in a row with the Infinity gaming series. Fans of Disney, Pixar and Marvel have enjoyed versions 1.0 and 2.0 on their gaming console of choice. For those that are unfamiliar with the titles they are based on collectible figures which work with a platform that connects to all of the major gaming consoles. The figures are interchangeable and the experience is only limited by the imagination of the player. That is to say that players have access to a “ToyBox” which allows them to create their own virtual worlds, puzzles and challenges that they can then play and share with friends. But that is only half of Infinity, each release also includes a “Playset” which is a fully-formed traditional game where players complete objectives and finish a story. The latest release of Infinity appears to be the most ambitious one yet. This is saying something because the series has done exceptionally well bringing the Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars, The Incredibles, Lone Ranger, Monsters University, Avengers, Spider-Man and even Guardians of the Galaxy to life.

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In an unabashed attempt to empty the wallets of gamers the studio will be introducing the Star Wars characters into Disney Infinity 3.0. Based on previous successes this should be easy work from the company and a guaranteed Christmas three-peat. But that has never been anything easy about the success and challenges facing Infinity. The series has gone through tremendous changes over the years. Unlike traditional AAA titles the Disney company was not content to simply release a game associated with a big-name franchise. Instead they released a game that featured the franchise but whose characters could be played with in new and unconventional ways. The vehicles, weapons and even set-pieces from any particular series would be compatible with the items from a different franchise. This did not happen easily. On the back end the developers were constantly refining the code so that the game ran quickly and smoothly. They were constantly patching errors and updating the system across the multiple consoles. This would have been difficult to do with one game yet imagine if that game were compatible with multiple properties. The technical achievements of Infinity are staggering when you look at the breadth of all the franchises the platform supports. Disney also listened to the community, which is rare for any game publisher, let alone a company that size. They actually began reaching out and hiring the best community designers to make their game even better.

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The addition of Star Wars into Infinity is akin to a rich frosting on an already delicious cake. As of its announcement Disney has confirmed that the characters and events from the film series and the Clone Wars animated series will be highlighted. Expect to fly the Millennium Falcon, pilot a speeder bike, use a lightsaber and do a million other things that every fan dreams of doing. And these are not cheap recreations of the real thing either! The sights and sounds from the movie will be recreated to some high standards. The sculpts for each new figure retain the same attention to detail that made the series memorable. The scar on the chin of Han Solo for example, the one sported by Harrison Ford, is actually on the figure! A Play Set based on the upcoming “The Force Awakens” is expected to be released in the Winter. Yet that was not the only big news announced for Infinity 3.0. The Disney side would get Sam Flynn and Quorra from TRON, Mulan, Olaf, Mickey and Minnie Mouse. A new Marvel Play Set was announced along with the release of the Hulkbuster Iron Man. This is all great news for Disney who has found themselves competing against Nintendo in the collectible game figure market. Nintendo released the Amiibo figures last year to rave reviews. Unlike Infinity the Nintendo figures work on many games for the Wii U console and 3DS without the addition of a specialized platform. To counter that Disney announced that the newest release would be the least expensive version yet, starting at $64.99. Also Disney will finally do away with the blind booster packs (disks to give characters extra vehicles or weapons) and allow consumers to see which packs they want to buy. More details and a hands-on preview should be available at E3 in Los Angeles, D23 Expo in Anaheim and possibly even the San Diego Comic Con this summer. I should hopefully be able to get some time in and a review for all of the readers of Jim Hill Media.

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Until then, May the Force be With You!

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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.

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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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“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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