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Mobile tech company, DeNA, just released a Nintend-based, free-to-play Pokemon game called Pokemon Masters for iOS and Android phones. The game involves players forming teams of trainers and fighters. The combat involves three teams of trainers and fighters in combat with each other on the artificial island of Pasio. This exciting new contribution to the Pokemon gaming series started with a popular first week debut. According to Sensor Tower estimates, Pokemon Masters had a great first week having earned about $26 million.  It may be free-to-play, but if you want to really compete you will need to increase your chances with expert coaching.  That costs money. The strong opening week – second in the series to Pokemon Go – means that players are willing to spend to enhance their chances. Sixty-two percent of the revenue came from Japan, Nintendo’s home market, which was followed by United States, Hong Kong, Taiwan and France to fill out the top five markets.  Seventy-two percent of the revenue came from iOS phones. Nintendo will also release Pokemon Sword and Shield on November 15th, as well as a special edition of the Nintendo Switch Lite.

For kids of today, it is hard to imagine a time when you couldn’t sign-in online via your gaming system to drop into a virtual world to compete against online friends in various mini games, ie. Fortnite.  It was, however, a reality during the 90’s, as video games made their march toward what they have become, that you needed to have your friends over the house to compete. Oh the horror! Joking aside, the 90’s boasted some of the best video games ever.  We take a look at our top 5 timeless classics:

Super Smash Bros

This Nintendo 64 classic was a childhood favorite for any 90’s gamer. It’s one of the few games on this list that’s still played today. There was nothing like having three other friends over to compete, 2v2 or in a battle royale, with some of your favorite Nintendo characters like Zelda, Mario and Kirby. The title expanded over the years with new levels and new characters, most notably the Pokemon era. Was there anything better than being Super Smash Bros champ of the house?

Roller Coaster Tycoon

Who wasn’t an expert at running a theme park in the 90’s? This PC simulation game allowed users to construct and manage their very own theme park. From building the wildest roller coasters, managing prices at the park and concessions, overseeing park staff to ensuring the safety of guests, Roller Coaster Tycoon was the first business experience for many children growing up in that generation.

Mortal Kombat Series

Here is a classic title that has expanded through the years into something far bigger than developers ever could have imagined when the first version was released in arcades. Yes, you used to have to go to an Arcade to play this video game. As the game evolved through the years into versions with better graphics and response times, the classic characters remained. Choosing your destiny with the likes of Liu Kang, Scorpion, Sub Zero and Jax was a staple throughout the series. There was nothing better than “finishing him” at the end of a flawless round.  Mortal Kombat even had a movie made in honor of it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as the game.

Mario Kart 64

Yet another Nintendo classic, Mario Kart 64, was the first racing game for thousands of kids throughout the 90’s. Users selected their favorite Super Mario franchise characters, raced through tracks such as Rainbow Road and Bowser’s Castle, all the while dodging shell missiles and banana peels in the process. The power-ups made the races the most fun and there was nothing better than picking up a star when in second place on the last lap.

007 Golden Eye

One needs to look back at the graphics from Nintendo’s 007 Golden Eye to really understand how far gaming has come. At the time, it was the best and coolest shoot’em up game out there. Based on the James Bond movie, Golden Eye had an interactive story mode that built around the movie as well as a super competitive multiplayer mode for up to four players.

Other notables:

  • Legend of Zelda Series
  • The Sims Series
  • Sonic The Hedgehog Serie
  • Super Mario World
  • Doom

September is big video game release month – sports games, especially, release in time to take advantage of the beginning of the football, basketball and hockey seasons.  But there are many video games for every interest.  Here’s a quick list of what’s coming out this month.

September 3rd

  • Catherine: Full Body (PS4)
  • Children of Morta (PC)
  • Final Fantasy VIII Remastered (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Last Oasis (PC)
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy (PC, Switch)
  • Torchlight II (PS4, Switch, Xbox One

September 6th

  • Monster Hunter World: Iceborne (PS4, Xbox One)
  • NBA 2K20 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC, Stadia)

September 10th

  • Caravan Stories (PS4)
  • eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Gears 5 (Xbox One, PC) Note: Early release for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers.
  • Greedfall
  • Utawarerumonou Zan (PS4)

September 13th

  • Borderlands 3 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Daemon X Machnina (Switch)
  • NHL 20 (PS4, Xbox One)

September 17th

  • AI: The Somnium Files (PS4, Switch, PC)
  • Lego Jurassic World (Switch)

September 20th

  • The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)
  • Untitled Goose Game (Switch, PC)
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (Switch)
  • Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered (PS4, PC)

September 24th

  • Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear (PS4, Switch, Xbox One
  • Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Contra: Rogue Corps (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • Planescape Torment: Enhanced Edition (PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
  • The Surge 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

September 25th

  • Mario Kart Tour (iOS, Android)

September 26th

  • Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition (Switch)
  • Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX (PS4, Switch, PC)
  • Ys IX: Monstrum Nox (PS4 – Japan only)

September 27th

  • Code Vein (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age (Switch)
  • FIFA 20 (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
  • Memorrha (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC, Mac)
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (Switch)
  • Tropico 6 (PS4, Xbox One)

Madden 2020 has gotten incredibly positive feedback since its release a few weeks back, and rightfully so. The game play is even more realistic than prior years and the small technical nuances are incredibly precise. Perhaps you are already the king of your Madden circle or you’ve already won multiple Super Bowls in Franchise mode and now you’re looking for a new challenge. Look no more, as EA Sports is dropping Superstar KO mode – available online only for free from September 5th to September 9th.

The new mode allows you to select from 8 pre-made teams, each with different characteristics and corresponding playbooks. Your team could be an all out aerial attack team with a weak pass rush or a run-heavy team with subpar quarterback play and a strong secondary. It’s on you to choose the style that best fits your game. It gets even better from there!

Before the game, there is a brief fantasy draft, where you can add up to three players to your existing team. Players vary from existing superstars like DeAndre Hopkins, to past legends like Lawrence Taylor, and even celebrities like DJ Khaled who is a quarterback. The idea of DJ Khaled suited-up is pretty funny. We assume celebrities would have padded attributes that don’t correspond to their real life talents – imagine Khaled doing wind sprints.  The idea is similar to one in NBA 2K games.  If the free trial period goes well for EA Sports’ Madden, our guess is the new Superstar KO mode would become available integrated into future Maddens.

Remember how awesome it was to play Snake on your phone?  Cell phone games have come a long, long way since those early days and so have those early games. You had the likes of Tetris, Solitaire, Black Jack, Texas Hold‘em and other card games that evolved into Words with Friends, Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja type games. Now games are at a whole new level, they’re practically console quality in your hand.

Here are five of our favorite interactive, smartphone gaming apps:

1. Fortnite

The uber popular, free console game is also available on your phone and you can “drop in” with players across all platforms – PS4, Xbox, PC, etc. The game is constantly providing new content, weapons, maps and worlds, which makes it easy to come back to on iOS and Android devices. Did we mention the best part, its free!

2. Pokemon Go

After dropping back in 2016, Pokemon Go quickly became the hottest game on the market and it remains one of the most popular, fun smartphone games to this day. Available on iOS and Android, Pokemon Go, like Fortnite, is a free to download and play. There are in-app purchases available, which is the way they make money. Wherever you go, there are Pokemon to be caught and gyms to be won and defended.  So catch them all, if you can, and hold down the gyms like you’re defending your own home!

3. Peter Panic

is a musical adventure game where you get to combine the fun nature of mini-games (think Super Mario World) with the musical aspect of Broadway. Your character is Peter, and by completing games successfully, you help him save the town theater where he loves to perform. The game is available on Android and iOS, however, if you want to save your progress, it will cost you a onetime fee of $2.99. Great for children of all ages!

4/5. Telling Lies & Her Story

We combined the two in a tie for fourth and fifth because they are practically the same game, just different versions. Created by Sam Barlow, who did Fortnite and Pokemon Go, these games are solve-the-mystery thrillers that feature real interactive clips from real actors to help you get to the bottom of the cases. Her Story is a murder mystery while Telling Lies is a multi-character story in which all characters are connected in unknown ways. Both games only available on iOS devices and cost $6.99 and $3.99 respectively. Check out video clips of each game.

 

When talking about video game streaming, we aren’t discussing sites like Twitch that allow gamers to broadcast their game play online for others to watch. Video game streaming is a new way games can be delivered and played – it’s la carte. Think Netflix for video games, where the games are stored in the cloud and can be accessed on a device to be played without the disc and without the console.

Play devices could be your TV, phone, PC, laptop or iPad … all the above. Currently, Sony’s Playstation Now is the only full version available, but it’s accessibility is limited to PS4’s or PC’s for a subscription of around $100 dollars a year. For that users get access to a library of nearly 1,000 old and new games.

Competition is on the way from GeForce Now and Google Stadia, both of which are in test stages. Google Stadia is set to release a version of its service in November.  It will work on pretty much any device that has access to Google Chrome. You will be able use your mouse and keyboard on a PC/Laptop or buy a controller for TV gameplay. If you already have a controller that has Bluetooth capabilities, you can use that or buy Google’s own controller product that will surely have a faster response time since it is specific for this service.

It is important to remember that you will need a very stable internet connection to enjoy these services the way they were meant to be enjoyed.  After all, you’re playing a game that is stored in the cloud and is played over an online server.

Is this the future of gaming or will a console and disc services always have their place? Time will tell, but we will have a good idea of how popular these services are within the next year as the betas become full products.

Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are developing new policies to require games to disclose loot box odds on Xbox One, PS4 and Switch. Loot boxes are common in games such as Overwatch, Call of Duty, Middle-earth: Shadow of War and NBA 2k18. Originally developed for monetizing free-to-play mobile games, they are virtual tools that can be bought in the digital world. Full implementation of this feature is expected in 2020. Some loot box items are cosmetic with no influence on gaming success; however, others are designed to induce players who spend money to succeed. Example: The 2017 game Star-Wars Battlefront II has been criticized for loot boxes requiring full retail prices while not providing the items as expected. Previous industry efforts to limit loot box problems included ratings and password-protected spending controls. The new loot box odds will be presented in a clear and understandable way according to the Entertainment Software Association.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s happening with these new and exciting games.

  • Total Party Kill is a survival battle game based on the classic The Lost Vikings game. It involves leading three heroes safely through dangerous environments. Sacrificing one of the heroes is necessary for at least one hero to survive.
  • Learn to Walk is a hilarious stilt walking game featuring a goat on stilts.
  • Mighty Quest for Epic Loot has a user guide a knight to plunder by sliding a single finger or thumb.
  • Meridian 157 is a mystery problem-solving game in which the user must search for a solution to a power outage.
  • Tharsis is a iOS game about a disaster-prone research ship.
  • Minit is a throwback game filled with puzzles and combat.
  • Serial Cleaner is a 1970s-based crime investigation game.
  • Dr. Mario World is a health game involving killing viruses by releasing capsules.

Nintendo is close to delivering on last year’s promise to put Mario Kart on mobile devices.  The game is already being played on PCs, but it’s time for Nintendo to follow its audience to the phone where they increasingly live and breathe. Just how they adapt this well known game to the mobile medium will be interesting…what elements will they keep and what will they drop as they live within the phone’s restrictions.  The fun will be playing the new versions of Rainbow Road or Koopa Troopa Beach on your phone.

The beta version is said to be close to release, but in a break from the past, it will be available on Android devices first, which puts iOS users at the back of the line.  While nothing quite beats the classic N64 version of Mario Kart, having the ability to compete with this timeless title on your phone will be a fresh experience. Check back in for more updates on Mario Kart as the beta release unfolds.

It’s release time for one of, if not THE most popular sports title for gaming consoles, Madden NFL 2020. EA Sports has loaded the new version with a ton of new features, upgrades, and graphic improvements – all needed after rolling out the same title with only roster updates from 2014 -2018. The 2020 version appears to be much richer, new generation of the perennial. The biggest addition is the Superstar X Factor/Zone Abilities, which can most easily be compared to player attributes in FIFA soccer console such as long range passer, or flair, or poacher. In Madden NFL 2020 a player can be defined as a Superstar or Superstar X Factor. If a player is a Superstar X Factor, abilities can be unlocked throughout the game giving him a significant advantage. Superstar X Factor traits vary based on the player and his rating. For example, if a quarterback has a Pro Reads X Factor and it’s unlocked, the first open receiver will be highlighted. This feature adds depth and can change throughout the course of the game. Speaking of player ratings, this year’s rating system feature is much more significant than in past versions. For example, if your starting offensive lineman goes down with an injury and he had a 78 overall rating, which for this Madden is pretty good, and his replacement has a rating in the 50’s, it will have an effect. The talent gap will change giving a bigger advantage to the star players, making it more difficult when you have injury replacements. We think this more realistically represents how the NFL actually functions. In addition to those notable changes, the graphics seem to be far improved; little player movements and unique characteristics are more closely defined, and there is a new hot count feature that enables a quarterback to switch a run play to a quick pass on the fly. Franchise mode is expected to be mostly the same, but there is a new mode called “Face of the Franchise”. In it, you are your own player going through all the trials and tribulations of becoming an NFL player, from the combine, to draft interviews, to the league. This is very similar to the My Player in MLB 2K or in FIFA. Ultimately, the Madden title brings back great memories year after year. The ability to compete against friends for bragging rights or take a franchise and turn it upside down into a perennial dynasty, Madden always arrives in time for people to waste away their August indoors, getting mentally prepared for the NFL season. Big question: Will Pat Mahomes suffer from the Madden jinx?