Gotta Catch ‘Em All, Or At Least A Few: A Pokemon Neophyte Tries ‘Pokemon GO’

Games and Gamers Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email Enlarge this image A screenshot from Pokemon GO. Pokemon Company/Niantic hide caption toggle caption Pokemon Company/Niantic A screenshot from Pokemon GO. Pokemon Company/Niantic All Tech Considered To Be The Very Best: Pokémon Enters Into Augmented Reality Full disclosure, here at the start: I don't know Pokemon. That's not technically true; here's a list of everything I knew about Pokemon before playing the new smartphone app, Pokemon GO (this knowledge absorbed solely through cultural osmosis, given the phenomenon's ubiquity). 1. Pikachu is a kind (species?) of Pokemon. It is an "electric-type" Pokemon. It is yellow. It has a cutesy voice. Said voice is profoundly annoying. 2. Squirtle is another kind of Pokemon, a "water-type" Pokemon. It, as one might imagine, squirts. 3. There are many different kinds of Pokemon, of many different types. 4. These many different types include: electric, water, earth, wind, fire, blood, sweat, tears, mother, jugs, speed and yeah no okay I only am certain about those first two. 5. The different kinds of Pokemon "evolve" into different forms, with different names, that are more powerful. 6. They evolve into these different forms as they gain experience from beating the snot out of one another. 7. The different types of Pokemon beat said snot better, with more verve, alacrity and elan, against certain types, and less effectively against other types. For example: Water types are good against Fire types, probably. (I mean, you'd think, right?) Digital types are good against Vinyl types, though they lack the aural roundness that really captures the yep you guessed it I'm making this one up too. 8. Pokemon are wild animals. The object of the videogames is to find them and catch them, by throwing a sphere called a Pokeball in their general direction, which I-Dream-of-Jeannies them, or Ghostbusters them I suppose, inside the Continue Reading

Nintendo Switch is a recipe for a possible revolution in console gaming: review

It is more evolution than revolution. At least for now. So the Nintendo Switch is finally here, and Nintendo is starting over after the failure (yes, that’s largely what it was) of the Wii U. The Nintendo Switch has finally arrived, with one of the greatest games you may ever play, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as its big Day 1 release, and a series of new ideas that redefine expectations of console flexibility. And yet not everyone will love the Switch - at least not yet. All at once this is Nintendo at its best and its worst, a gutsy bundle of innovations coupled with some troublesome ideas. The $300 Switch does a lot of things right and gets its core concepts down pat, but from charging limitations to minor hardware issues to a few too many hidden costs, little things hold it back, leaving it just short of a must-have. For now, it’s a must-have only for the diehard Nintendo fan - and that fan will find a lot to love. From the moment it was announced late last year, the Switch seemed like a highly evolved Wii U, offering the full portability that the Wii U couldn’t quite deliver back in 2012. And now that it’s here, that portability proves true: This machine is equal parts portable console and home console, uniquely versatile for a bevy of different playstyles. I’ve played the Switch on my bigscreen TV, and in the back of a car, played Breath of Fire in marathon play sessions and in 15-minute snippets at a family member’s house. It’s been the center of attention during weekends, and a side diversion while something else was on TV during weekdays. In each situation, the machine is fully capable, and fluid, and switching between things is as easy as slipping the machine out of its dock, taking it to the car and making the five-minute trip to the drugstore, where it plays equally well while you’re waiting in a long line. It’s a strong core concept that lets the Continue Reading

SYSTEM UPDATE: How Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is a risk

There was a chance, albeit an ultra-slim one, that Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 might not have been Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. It might have been a different game, a different franchise, Activision CEO of Publishing Eric Hirshberg says. Or perhaps, it might have been Call of Duty 2015. "We felt like we're gonna look at it, we're gonna play it, we'll see if it feels like Call of Duty," he told the System Update recently. "If it starts to feel like something else, maybe we'll make that game, but maybe it wouldn't be a Call of Duty game." Such was the great challenge of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, easily the riskiest game in one of gaming's biggest franchises. The Call of Duty franchise is one of the few that's transcended video gaming, becoming a favorite of casual and hardcore gamers alike by delivering Hollywood moments and excellent multiplayer shooting experiences. And that legacy created plenty of challenges for Black Ops 2. Just weeks away from launch, it looks like another Activision best-seller. There are futuristic — yet realistic — guns and a unique plot involving a powerful militant hacker, Raul Melendez. There is buzz, and all seems brilliant as usual. What went unseen — and routinely goes unseen for a company that's oft-criticized for a perceived assembly-line approach to gaming — were those little battles at the start. And Hirshberg still remembers the questions that circled among execs a few years ago, when Treyarch first broached the idea of transporting the series into the near future. "It was definitely a hotly debated issue," Hirshberg said. "There were people on both sides of that one. There were people who felt like, 'This is what we do, we need to keep things fresh, we always need to surprise, we always need to innovate, we can't be afraid.’ "There were people who felt like, 'This doesn't feel like Call of Duty, this could be too much of a stretch for the brand.'" Things eventually worked Continue Reading

Holiday video game gift guide: There’s something for everyone, from ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’ to ‘Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure’

It’s that time again. Christmas is just a month away, Black Friday is hours away (less, if you plan on getting into that Best Buy line at midnight) and your next paycheck is about to get exhausted in a matter of minutes. But that doesn’t mean you have to head to the store blind – at least when it comes to video games. This year has seen a boatload of quality releases, and November alone has been filled with a plethora of blockbusters. That means there’s a video game – or maybe even a few of them – for just about everyone on your Christmas list. Read on to find our picks for every gamer you may know. FOR THE TRIGGER-HAPPY: “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC) $59.99 Give Activision’s military-themed shooter the edge over rival EA’s “Battlefield 3,” thanks to an absence of quicktime events, a paucity of bugs and the finest multiplayer gaming in the genre. If you’re buying for a PC gamer, though, lean toward “Battlefield” because of its expansive computer online maps. Those shopping for sci-fi fans should look at “Gears of War 3,” ($59.99) Marcus Fenix’s final adventure on the Xbox 360 and the most finely crafted cover-based third-person shooter available. Need yet another option? Give “Rage” ($59.99) a look. Id Software’s latest game is more adventure than hardcore shoot-em-up, but it features solid shooting mechanics, fast-advancing enemies and some very well-crafted boss fights. FOR THE STEAMPUNK FAN: “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” (360, PS3 and PC) $39.99 The long-awaited sequel to the original “Deus Ex” on PC has its share of stumbles, but anyone with a steampunk bent will appreciate its well-realized futuristic world. This is a game about choice and options, too, providing for excellent replay value, and because it’s been out since August, it can easily be picked up on a budget. FOR THE Continue Reading