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This Week in Gaming News: Love is a Battlefield V

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Welcome, true believers of gaming news, to another week’s roundup from yours truly. If nothing else, this week in the gaming world has been further proof of the dichotomy of opinion this medium almost constantly elicits in its audience. If there’s one thing video game fans hate, it’s sitting on the fence, and that’s fine – it gives me stuff to write about, and sitting on fences fucking hurts. On the one hand, this week has given us one of the best superhero games ever made, and on the other it’s given us quite possibly the final nail in the coffin of one of gaming’s most revered shooters. There will be no middle ground, and that’s just the way I like it.

‘Battlefield V’ Beta is not Better

Go on YouTube right now, type in Battlefield V Beta, and see what you get. Granted, if there’s one place for considered and rational opinion, then YouTube is about as far away from that as possible, but reaction to this week’s open beta for the already under-fire Battlefield V has been extremely negative. A report a few weeks back revealed, somewhat questionably, that pre-orders of EA’s new World War II take on the series were down massively from previous iterations, and the angst being thrown at the beta is definitely not doing the game any favors.

Popular channels like Angry Joe and Worth a Buy are amongst those who have nothing good to say about the beta, with the heaviest criticisms labelled at its smaller maps and less tactical, CoD-like gameplay. If there was such a thing as the Battlefield Bible, then page 1 would be “don’t make this game feel anything like Call of Duty.” Oops. I played the beta, got absolutely shot to shit and decided I’d be going nowhere near it come release. Then again, I’ve never been a big Battlefield fan outside chucking loads of C4 onto a jeep, driving it at a group of lads, jumping out of the moving vehicle, and blowing the bastards to kingdom come back in Battlefield 2, but the experts seem to be unanimous – this doesn’t feel like Battlefield any more.

Gaming News Battlefield V

Sing it with me: nobody likes you, everybody hates you…

It seems the series has been headed down the more casual route for a few years now, and with this beta it seems EA and DICE are doubling down on that notion. Some critics have even said that the game feels like Star Wars Battlefront, right down to the upgrade system now being one of in-game credits, and we all know how people feel about that. Schadenfreude dictates that I enjoy seeing something cynical and exploitative being taken down a peg, but as a dude that just wants a proper World War II shooter on current consoles I’m left, once again, extremely disappointed.

Spider-Man Does Whatever a Batman Can 

Bloody Norah. Marvel’s Spider-Man released on PS4 this week and it’s brilliant. I’ve relapsed right back into my addiction to the video game crack that is the web-swinging that first entranced me back in Spider-Man 2. Insomniac’s current effort punctuates its stellar traversal mechanics with the most refined take on the Arkham games’ combat system since…well, you know.

The game is entangling an abundance of impressive review scores in its web – currently sitting at an impressive 87 on review aggregate site Metacritic, and deservedly so. Not only is Spider-Man a beautiful and enthralling game with great mechanics and a well-told story, it also has one of the best photo modes in any game ever.

Gaming News Spider-Man

I made this just for you guys. Ok, I made it for me, but I’m sharing it with you.

We also learned that three pieces of DLC are coming under the banner of Marvel’s Spider-Man: The City That Never Sleeps, with the first episode Marvel’s Spider-Man: The Heist arriving on October 28th, and the other two episodes following in November and December. Naturally, then, this spider has a lot of legs and I genuinely wish I was still playing it right now instead of writing this column. I’ll be back soon, Pete.

Surprise! Nintendo’s Cloud Saves Are Shite

You know how the saying goes; you get what you pay fo…oh, wait. If Nintendo’s involved, what you pay for can sometimes be a steaming pile of cow jizz. We already knew that the cloud save system – something we apparently don’t deserve for free – wouldn’t support all games on the system, and this week we were given confirmation on some of the titles that picked the short straw.

In line with the way Nintendo seems to do things recently, the games not supporting cloud saves were discovered as they leaked onto the official site before any announcements were made – possibly due to the delay of this week’s scheduled Nintendo Direct in the wake of the earthquake in Hokkaido. Gameinformer scoured the website and found all the games that featured the dreaded “This game does not support Save Data Cloud backup” in their information sections. The games are Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee & Pikachu, Splatoon 2, and 3rd party titles Dark Souls Remastered, Dead Cells, FIFA 19, and NBA 2K19. 

Gaming News Switch

If you want all Switch games to have cloud saves, Nintendo has two words for ya

All those 3rd party titles support cloud saves on both Xbox One and PS4, because of course they do. Anyone who is 100% justifiably pissed off that these titles won’t support cloud saves almost certainly won’t be consoled by Nintendo’s reasoning as to why this is the case. The flimsy excuse given to Gameinformer is that they don’t support cloud saves “because of item duplication possibilities.” Give me a fucking break, Nintendo.

The paywall will be hitting Nintendo’s online services later this month and, as of right now, it seems to offer about as much value as a chocolate teapot. It’s clear as mud that Nintendo really need to get their act together with Nintendo Switch Online, because right now it’s a complete mess.

Nintendo Switch Gets Civilized

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Nintendo Switch this week, as news broke that Civilization VI will come to the console on November 16th. If there’s one type of game that I really need to be on a portable system like the Switch, it’s a Civ game. I am a fan of the series, but sitting in my PC chair at a desk for hours on end doesn’t compare to chilling in bed for a late-night diplomacy session. Getting revenge on Gandhi for nuking my civilization whilst doing something similar to my toilet bowl also seems extremely appealing too.

Gaming News Civ 6

Not included: the view of my bathroom from the toilet

Not only will we get some lovely portable Civ action on Switch, we’ll also be treated to “four playable scenarios, each with a different setting and style of gameplay inspired by history,” according to the game’s official website. The playable scenarios are Vikings pack, Poland pack, Australia pack, and the Persia and Macedon pack. The Switch version will support four-player wireless multiplayer, and you’d be a fool to ignore this title when it comes out.

Henry Cavill of Rivea

One of the first stories I ever wrote about in this column was the announcement of Netflix’s live-action Witcher TV series, and we finally have our Geralt of Rivea with this week’s announcement that the disgracefully handsome Henry Cavill (of Superman fame) will don the dual swords once the show begins filming in Eastern Europe.

The man himself is apparently a massive Witcher fan, which is refreshing to hear, as DenofGeek reports he has been itching to play to role for a long time, and is quite the gamer. Well, he plays a lot of games anyway – he might be bollocks at them for all I know. Cavill apparently met showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and clearly charmed her, as she tweeted “I’ve never forgotten the passion he brought. He IS Geralt. He always has been. I’m so thrilled to welcome Henry Cavill to the Witcher family.” That’s a pretty strong endorsement right there.

Gaming News Witcher TV

It’s a fake, but damn is it a good one

The show isn’t due to hit screens until 2020, so there’s plenty of time to wait until we see Big G slaying monsters and maidens in equal measure, but everything’s pointing to some smart decision-making so far.

I’ve put off Spider-Man long enough, so I’m away to jump back off a Manhattan building and fight crime. Then after that I’m definitely going to boot up the PS4. See you in seven.

Crotchety Englishman who spends hundreds of pounds on video game tattoos and Amiibo in equally wallet-crippling measure. Likes grammar a lot, but not as much as he likes ranting about the latest gaming news in his weekly column.

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Let’s Discuss the Revamped Sonic the Hedgehog Design

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The internet has breathed a collective sigh of relief following the release of a new trailer for the upcoming Sonic The Hedgehog movie. Some leaks a few weeks back that turned out to be correct showed the design that we see but the trailer shows a lot more of the new redesign of the world renowned video game character. The movie has been the subject of much attention-mostly negative- after the initial trailer was released six months ago. The first trailer (which initially announced a release date of November 2019) was incredibly poorly received due to the odd design choice for the titular character. With small eyes, a tiny snout and human teeth, the original design was weirdly realistic and resembled an odd humanoid rather than the blue cartoon hedgehog that we all know and love.

The first design for Sonic looked a bit like a child in a Sonic the Hedgehog suit. Creepy to say the least.

The new trailer shows off a brand new look for Sonic which is far more in sync with what we already know for the character. He is definitely an animated character, with the exaggerated features that he has always had in every other iteration. The movie itself still looks cheesy as hell but it looks like a tolerable, even kind of enjoyable sort of cheesy.  The controversy surrounding the terribly received first Sonic design has been so prolific that some even argued that the whole thing has been a marketing ploy and that the character was never meant to look as bad as he originally did. Whatever the case may be in terms of what went down behind the scenes of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, it is clear that even if the film is terrible it will attract a substantial audience of people just curious as to how the whole thing is going to turn out. As a fan of Sonic since the 90’s when I was little, I’m probably going to be one of those people.

Sonic is now appropriately cute, fluffy and more in line with his usual style.

I’m still kind of hoping it can break the curse of the video game movie-like Detective Pikachu did- but alongside the aforementioned cheesiness, it looks like a pretty generic movie aimed at kids rather than diehard fans of the Sonic franchise. Flop or not, at least Sonic is looking far more adorable and less like he might murder you in your sleep. It also shows how the filmmakers were willing to listen to their audience and implement changes following feedback. Incredibly vocal feedback at that.

The comparison between the two designs shows just how much the animators have worked to create a brand new Sonic. Their hard work has certainly paid off.

Sonic the Hedgehog is due for theatrical release on February 14th, 2020.

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Anamanaguchi – [USA] (Album Review)

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Few acts boast such renown amongst uber-nerdy video game enthusiasts as Anamanaguchi. Unveiling their debut EP ‘Power Supply’ in 2009, the Chiptune pioneers have pushed their unique brand of 8-bit powered Rock and Pop across various releases, including 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game soundtrack, and 2013’s Kickstarter funded 22 track LP ‘Endless Fantasy’. And with ‘Endless Fantasy’ being their last LP (excluding their stuffed to the brim ‘Capsule Silence XXIV’ compilations), to say fans have anticipated ‘[USA]’ is an almighty understatement.

Six years is a while, so has Anamanaguchi’s latest batch of tracks been worth the wait? Seasoned fans Harry and Kyle are on the scene to offer their takes, from how ‘[USA]’ stacks up against the band’s other offerings, to its effectiveness as an artistic whole.

Background With Anamanaguchi

I first heard Anamanaguchi around 2010. At the time I was neck deep in my Slipknot phase (a phase I’ve yet to grow out of judging by how much I replayed ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ this year), so their goofy electronic schtick didn’t tick my boxes. But as time passed I developed a stronger fondness of them, so much so that I enthusiastically backed their 2013 LP ‘Endless Fantasy’ on Kickstarter. Now I’ve seen them live twice, followed their progress over the years, and can proudly proclaim my superfan status. – Harry

The late 2000s saw a shift in pop culture: suddenly, geek chic was all the rage. G4 was at the height of its popularity, pixel art infested countless pieces of media, and video games were undeniably cool. Few other pieces of media encapsulate this cultural zeitgeist more than Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. Based on the popular comic by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the Scott Pilgrim game featured Anamanaguchi’s crunchy pixelated Rock sound, which melded perfectly with the colorful 16-bit beat-em’-up gameplay. Older Anamanaguchi albums are more than just music: they’re a trip back in time to a brighter, more innocent era of pop culture and gaming. – Kyle

Introducing [USA]

I was excited for ‘[USA]’, but that’s stating the obvious based on my prior words. The LP kicks off with its titular track, introducing affairs with an amalgamation of predictably glitchy bleeps ‘n’ bloops. It’s straight up Anamanaguchi, their Chiptune flair intact. This is good, as Anamanaguchi sans Chiptune is like spaghetti sans sauce (still awesome, but lacking a key ingredient). “USA” is chanted as instrumentation morphs stylistically, crescendoing in dynamics and tempo, and setting the stage for the lead single.

“Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” is an LP highlight. Stepping out the gate with Vocaloid-y singing, an aesthetic of grandiose gorgeousness is speedily cemented. This later juxtaposes with the rapid-fire rhythms of Luke’s drumming and manic synthesizer arpeggios that run around like an 8-bit-ified (Sega Master System) Sonic the Hedgehog. This mental meld of melody, Drum and bass, and all manner of other musical magic finally sinks into a sea of atmospheric spookiness, concluding in an out of left field (yet utterly engaging) way. “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” avoids predictability through each and every beat of its journey, but nails catchy accessibility to a tee. A masterclass in creative songwriting, it sets ‘[USA]’s’ bar sky high. – Harry

The weeks to ‘[USA]’ releasing were positive ones, marked by enticing singles like “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” and “Air On Line”. Anamanaguchi’s distinct Rock-flavored Chiptune style had undergone a stylistic shift in the band’s 2013 release ‘Endless Fantasy’, where the band shed off some of its punk flair in favor of dreamier synth tones. In the six years between LP releases, Anamanaguchi experimented with singles and EPs featuring sonic palettes characteristic of modern J-Pop (“Pop It”, “Miku”). While the band stretched its legs with poppier beats, it did mark a further departure from the traditional Rock-oriented sound that had defined much of their earlier work.

‘[USA]’ in many respects displays a return to Anamanaguchi’s roots. Tracks like “On My Own (feat. HANA)” and “Air On Line” boast driving guitar riffs, thumping drums, and fluidly complex intricacies. Yet, it’s more than clear that Anamanaguchi has evolved beyond their geeky beginnings to cultivate an airy soundscape of bright pastel colors and crystal clear tones. It doesn’t always hit the mark, but the highs that ‘[USA]’ can reach prove that the guys have still got it. – Kyle

Negative Bits

Unfortunately, said sky high bar is scarcely met again throughout the rest of ‘[USA]’. Plenty of tracks, like “The C R T Woods” and “Overwriting Incorporate”, are serviceable, but fall short of the laser focused compositional direction and melodic magnificence that Anamanaguchi are so super slick at. ‘[USA]’ suffers from banality, with tracks like “Tear” and “We Die” meandering noisily without focus, and big chunks (particularly the interlude-like tracks “Speak To You [Memory Messengers]” and “Apophenia Light [Name Eaters]”) feeling akin to ‘Capsule Silence XXIV’ cuts (i.e. decent demos, but not kickass LP standouts). – Harry

Much like Harry, I found a large chunk of the album rather dull to get through. Admittedly, Anamanaguchi has an undeniable talent for their synth instrumentation. However, what pushes their work beyond generic electronic music is their ability to anchor that instrumentation to a melodic through line built on catchy hooks and unexpected turns. “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” is one of the few tracks that manages to pull off this floaty, ethereal sound because it moves forward with purpose and constantly engages your curiosity. The same can’t be said for several of the other synth-heavy tracks, too lost in their own sound to offer anything truly engaging. – Kyle

Positive Bits

Nevertheless, there are flashes of brilliance here. “Sunset By Plane (feat. Caroline Lufkin)” is Anamanaguchi firing on all cylinders, delivering energetic poppy bombast in spades. Porter Robinson’s co production is evident in “Air On Line”, resulting in a smooth stomper of happy hooks. “B S X (feat. Hatsune Miku)” incorporates choppily glitched-out singing from the iconic Vocaloid, serving as a pseudo-sequel to the 2016 single “Miku”. “On My Own (feat. HANA)” sees Anamanaguchi’s Chiptune/Pop/Rock melting pot bubbling away again. And speaking of Chiptune, it’s wonderful to hear mountains of 8-bit eccentricity throughout ‘[USA]’, proving even as their sound matures, Anamanaguchi still celebrate where they came from with beaming pixelated smiles. – Harry

As a whole, ‘[USA]’ still deserves a place worthy of praise in Anamanaguchi’s discography. Porter Robinson only collaborated with the band for “Air On Line”, but his style bleeds wonderfully into tracks like “Up to You (feat. meesh)” and “Sunset By Plane (feat. Caroline Lufkin)”. The kawaii-infused J-Pop rhythms and hooks are infectiously catchy, but don’t let that fool you: Anamanaguchi haven’t lost their edge. “B S X (feat. Hatsune Miku)” and “On My Own (feat. HANA)” show that the band can reach back into their deep musical pockets and bring out their signature hard Chiptune Rock to surprise you with something intimately familiar. – Kyle

Final Thoughts

In typical Anamanaguchi fashion, ‘[USA]’ is ambitious from start to finish. ‘Endless Fantasy’ is bloated, but stylistically spot on, whereas ‘[USA]’ trims the fat, but gets a little lost in its journey. Glistening gold sits alongside stale pies, and that description is a fitting metaphor for elements of ‘[USA]’: it’s odd, and doesn’t make much sense (and perhaps that in itself is a metaphor for the real life USA?).

Still, when Anamanaguchi’s latest is good, it’s really good, and there’s bundles of genius in the 8-bit boys yet!

Check out, stream, buy or consume ‘[USA]’ in your preferred capacity by clicking HERE!

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Star Wars Fan Films Embrace the Essence of A Galaxy Far, Far Away

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There is no doubt that dedicated fans are capable of creating brilliant, fan-made content, but the Star Wars fan base has a habit of going above and beyond in making incredible works of art that often surpass official entries in the franchise. Two relatively recent short fan films — one released last week, the other released in March of this year — are great examples of this.

The first is a 1970s/80s-style cartoon from YouTuber Wilkins Animation called Dark Empire Episode One: The Destiny of a Jedi. This animated short is incredibly reminiscent of classic cartoons — so much so that it is difficult not to feel a pang of nostalgia upon watching it. The style gives off a He-Man vibe due to the quirky animation, stellar voice work, and vibrant colour scheme. The story is set after The Return of The Jedi as Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO embark on a mission to save Luke and Lando, who are stranded on war-torn Coruscant. I won’t spoil anything in case you want to check it out for yourself, but the story is engaging, and I couldn’t help but feel that I wanted to see more when it came to an end.

Have a watch below if you want to see more, and to check out Wilkins Animation’s Patreon to support their work, click here.

The second fan made film is a slightly older (from March 2019) one called Battle of the Dreadnoughts, by YouTuber EckhartsLadder. The film is significantly shorter than the 12-minute Dark Empire cartoon, clocking in at about three and a half minutes. It depicts a space battle between the New Republic’s Viscount Class Star Defender and the Empire’s most dangerous of all its weapons, the Eclipse Super Star Destroyer. Battle of the Dreadnoughts may be short, but it is astounding in quality. Upon my first viewing, I was certain I had accidentally clicked on a scene from the movies rather than a fan-made project. The accuracy, attention to detail, and sheer scale blew my mind and — as with the Dark Empire animation — left me wanting more from the content creators involved.

Check out EckhartsLadder’s Patreon here and their Twitch account here.

There is no doubting the talent of the Star Wars fan base, but these two films in particular are incredible works of art both in their own right and as Star Wars fan projects.

For more Star Wars, have a read of our Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer breakdown.

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