Preview: Nintendo LABO

A few weeks ago Nintendo dropped a video of a very intriguing and highly aspirational product (as Nintendo seems to do), Nintendo LABO. What is LABO? LABO is an attempt to capture a foothold in the Maker and STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) spaces of Schools and camps by making gaming kits that require you to also build the peripherals that you will use out of tightly compacted cardboard. Nintendo being Nintendo though, this doesn’t feel like a simple ploy to simply sell consoles to people but rather to get people to change the way that we view gaming. LABO will launch on 4/20/2018 with 2 kits, a Variety Pack that includes 5 different builds, and an ambitious robot suit that allows you to move and transform into the Robot on the screen.

What is LABO?

At the products reveal they also announced that they would be holding special preview sessions in New York and San Francisco and I was lucky enough to get a space in one of the first groups to experience LABO. This event was quite a bit smaller than I’m used to, almost more like a highly orchestrated focus group than a mere product presentation. Snacks in cool Nintendo LABO tins were readily available, because who doesn’t love M&M’s, Goldfish, and Gummy Bears, and everyone was seated at work tables in circular pattern facing towards the presentation area. During the event we were able to play with all aspects of both kits, as well as build 2 of the pieces from the Variety pack; the RC Car and the Fishing Rod.

LABO RC Car

The RC Car is very much reminiscent of the Nano-Bug toys that you can purchase. While it may not be the fastest thing that you will ever race (by any stretch), the way that it operates is quite astonishing. You construct the RC Car using the cardboard and then slide the 2 Joy-Con in to the sides of the unit much like you would on the Switch itself. Once the Joy-Con are inserted the screen portion of the Switch turns into the controller. The Joy-Con rumble to life on either side and begin to propel the unit with a buzz. You steer the unit by letting up on one side or the other to turn, or pushing both sides to move forward. Once you “open up” the controller console though, you see that the RC Car is much more than a it’s name implies. Using the camera in the right Joy-Con as it’s eyes, you can instruct the RC Car to go into auto pilot. When it’s in close proximity to an object it can see it will move towards it. If you use an IR reflector sticker though, you can get the RC Car to go anywhere that you want it to go, directing it from feet away rather than inches. Not just that, but it appears that the Joy-Con also has thermal camera built into it as well, making the RC Car the spy surveillance drone that I always dreamed of owning as a kid. All-in-all the RC Car took about 30 minutes to build with my trusty helper Kyle (I was loaned a 10yr old from a friend since my own son wasn’t old enough for the event). I moved the visual instructions forward on the Switch and knocked out pieces and he bent and clipped together the cardboard with ease.

LABO Fishing Rod

Moving on to the bigger build, we were able to tackle the Fishing Rod next. While the RC Car was simple in it’s design, the Fishing Rod is anything but. The ambitious Tree-house crew at Nintendo had found a way to mass produce a kit to create a functional cardboard Fishing Rod, complete with telescoping rod, reel, and a functioning fishing line. We were allowed about 50 minutes to complete the rod and Kyle and I were almost triumphant in completing it within the time limit (we were later told that completing it in that time was a challenge as the standard build time for the Fishing Rod is 60-90 minutes). While it is a complex build, the step by step visual instructions make it’s construction very easy. You can easily move forward and backward on the screen, as well as use the multi-touch function of the screen to zoom in & out and rotate the models to make sure that you’re getting the build done correctly. But what can you do with a Fishing Rod you ask? Well, you insert the Joy-Con into two separate areas and set the Switch screen into “The Ocean” base that you create and you go fishing. As you reel the rod forward and back you can see the hook move higher and lower into the water, going from the high light areas that you would normally snorkel in, all the way down to the “midnight zone” where angler fish and giant sharks lurk. Each fish in the ocean has is own quirks and ways that you have to work them up to the top of the water without snapping your line. The fishing aspect may not be a part of the kit that you will play for hours on end, but it was a very fun build and is a great display of what some of the tech can do.

LABO House

While we only built the first 2, they did have all announced pieces available to play. House uses the camera in the right Joy-Con to see the different cardboard buttons, cranks, plugs you place in the sides and bottom of the house to interact with a tiny monster that lives there (using the Switch Screen to see everything transpiring). You can flood the house with water, add a fan to blow everything around, and create portals to do hilarious things with the monster and his belongings. You can also send the monster to a recreation of the Donkey Kong Country mine cart levels or put it in a hamster wheel to make little candies for it to eat. This was easily the favorite among many of the kids as it had the most options and the monster is very playful.

LABO Motorbike

The Motorbike is exactly as it’s named, a motorbike racing game the uses the motion controls in the Joy-Con to judge how much throttle is applied and how tightly you will turn. I personally did not get a chance to play with this portion of the game, but I can attest that it certainly looks to be a very complex build.

LABO Piano

The last part of the Variety Pack is the Piano, the very first contraption that you are introduced to in the reveal video. The Piano is extremely impressive to see and feel in action. The camera in the right Joy-Con is used to see which keys are lifted and how high they’re went, allowing you to play music. There is also a lever on side of the unit to adjust pitch. There are 3 additional knobs that you can add to the top of the piano (again using the camera to see it’s there) that will give you different options such as cat meows and old men singing. You can also turn the knobs to add and reduce reverb to the music that you’re playing. Side note, the cat meow is both the greatest and most annoying way to play music ever (especially with reverb added).

LABO Robot

The last piece that we were able to use is the Robot, a build and game so extensive that it will be sold all by itself. You use a series of pullies connected to the back pack portion to move the robot, allowing you to walk, punch, fly, and transform. While the build is extremely impressive, the robot was definitely not my favorite game. While there are many things you can do, the actual movement was a little hard to control. The walking was a bit cumbersome and the “tank mode” you can transform into moved a bit too fast and couldn’t be slowed down. Flight was easily my form of movement of choice but you couldn’t perform any offensive moves while ascending. I however am not a child anymore and the kids LOVED the robot, so there’s that.

LABO Garage

After our “play” time, we were then treated to a section of the Variety Pack that hasn’t been announced yet, a programming system. This console that you can enter into allows you to mix and match the different apparatus’ that you create from the pack to create new ways to play. This section also houses additional features such as a Guitar. You can use the motorcycle handlebars to control the RC Car, create new sounds in the piano, and much much more. We unfortunately were not allowed to play with the system, nor were we allowed to take photos or video, but the interface seemed rather intuitive and will definitely help younger kids get a leg up on the basics of coding.

All in all the Nintendo LABO system is extremely intriguing. There are so many possible items you can make that I’m excited to get a pack for my son when it comes out. As a parent we’re always looking for way to interact with our children and teach them, beyond just doing homework and reading to them; Nintendo LABO seems like the perfect answer to the question “What’re we going to do today?”.

Gaming is a personal expression of art, it’s a look into the dream world of their creators, it’s a conduit to hone the coordination of sight, sound, & touch, it’s a something that can make you think long and hard to solve a puzzle or mystery. Gaming is a conduit that many of us use to make friends and bridge gaps in people that we may be acquaintances with. Nintendo always seems to find a way to get more people to embrace video games, something that I am 100% behind. I look forward to future generations of gamers learning and playing with earnest.

Reblogged with permission from ibeatitfirst.com

Original article https://ibeatitfirst.com/nintendo-labo-nyc-event/

Game Review: Dragon Ball FighterZ

Believe it or not, there have been a TON of Dragon Ball Fighting games covering all (now 4) series and numerous gaming systems. So have been more popular than others, but none have seemed to capture the eye of so many gamers as FighterZ. This could be because it’s the first pure fighter the series has produced in a long time. It could be because it’s coming out during a time that Dragon Ball Super popularity is crashing Crunchyroll and Funimation servers on the regular due to demand. It could be any number of reasons but I’m sure you want to know “is it worth the hype?”. I’m here to tell you that Dragon Ball FighterZ isn’t just worth the hype, it IS the hype! Developed by Arc Systems, the team behind some of the fastest paced and flashiest fighting series out there, Dragon Ball FighterZ delivers all of the key points that have been missing from the franchise for years.

Gameplay

Gameplay is buttery smooth, but given the portfolio of Arc Systems you would expect this to be nailed down. Collision detection is on point, counters are fast and furious, and teammate support & swapping is quick. They’ve also included a plethora of tutorials to help noobs and out of practice old guys (like myself) get in to fighting shape to take on the internet. Even without online play (which was not available during the prelaunch period) there is plenty to do in game. Between practice, arcade, and3 different stories, there are many modes and missions to keep you busy and helping you forget there is a world outside.

Graphics

This is probably where the game truly shines and what had the greatest impact on crowds at E3 2017, before they even had a chance to play a demo. FighterZ benefits from all of the latest graphics advancements to make a game that looks as close to the anime source material as possible. I mean, just get a load of the video below (and found HERE) showing the comparison of the game to iconic Dragon Ball Z fights. While they don’t do all of the wardrobe changes and tattering that you can get in the anime, the facial expressions and emotion are all there. Mid-fight animations are rock solid as well. From the fast and furious Meteor Attacks to the impressive Destructive Finishes, the extra little flourishes help turn the excitement dial up to 11.

Audio

Music and sound effect are paramount to all fighting games to ensure that it helps keep up the excitement. This is something that should be an automatic 10 for fighting games so there isn’t much to be said here. There is one bit of information that is worth noting though; while allowing you to select between Japanese and American voice actors is already a staple in most adaptation games, FighterZ does give hardcore Dragon Ball fans an expected present. By this I mean the recorded voice of Hiromi Tsuru in one of her last audio recordings before her sudden & tragic death in November of 2017. Hiromi has been a fixture in anime since the 70’s but is most notably known as the voice of Bulma, one of the only characters to be in the entirety of the Dragon Ball series since it’s creation in 1986.

All-in-all Dragon Ball FighterZ is a solid game that opens up 2018 with a bang. This is a must purchase for virtually anyone with a PS4 or XB1.

Reblogged with permission from ibeatitfirst.com

Original article https://ibeatitfirst.com/review/dragon-ball-fighterz/

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Open Beta is LIVE!

The highly anticipated non-portable entry to the Dissidia franchise is finally almost here and the good folks over at Square-Enix have graced PS4 users with an Open Beta.  Available for the next 9 days, players should be able to get a TON of gameplay in and get the feel for the franchises transition to the PS4.  There will be a few maintenances during the time period, planned and unplanned obviously, so check the below calendar for times of game availability:

  • Friday, January 12 @ 6:00 AM PST to Monday, January 15 @ 1:00 PM PST
  • Monday, January 15 @ 2:00 PM PST to Thursday, January 18 @ 1:00 PM PST
  • Thursday, January 18 @ 2:00 PM PST to Sunday, January 21 @ 1:00 PM PST

The best part about this Open Beta?  It’s not just for online play!

The Open Beta will feature online and offline battles, stages from the mainline FINAL FANTASY titles, ferocious summons for players to call upon in battle, character customization and more.

Head over to the PlayStation store to download the Beta, and happy fighting everyone!  This is looking to be a great

 

Here is the full press release for your reading:

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 12, 2017) – Starting today, fans can step into the arena as FINAL FANTASY® legends by downloading the free Open Beta for DISSIDIA® FINAL FANTASY NT, the upcoming team-based brawler, set to launch for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system on January 30.
 
The Open Beta will feature online and offline battles, stages from the mainline FINAL FANTASY titles, ferocious summons for players to call upon in battle, character customization and more.
 
Access to the Open Beta will be open during the following times, with each session featuring a different selection of characters for fans to play:
 

  • From Friday, January 12 @ 6:00 AM PST to Monday, January 15 @ 1:00 PM PST
  • From Monday, January 15 @ 2:00 PM PST to Thursday, January 18 @ 1:00 PM PST
  • From Thursday, January 18 @ 2:00 PM PST to Sunday, January 21 @ 1:00 PM PST

 
For full details on the Open Beta, please visit: www.dissidiafinalfantasynt.com/openbeta
 
The DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY NT Open Beta trailer is available at: https://youtu.be/hYeaMCeOeIc.
 
Developed in partnership with veteran fighting game studio Team NINJA from KOEI TECMO GAMES, DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY NT pits legendary heroes and villains from the FINAL FANTASY franchise against each other in epic and strategic team battles. The title is rated T (Teen). Please visit the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) website at www.esrb.org for more information about ratings.

This article was originally posted on IBeatItFirst.com and is reposted with permission.  Original post URL : https://ibeatitfirst.com/dissidia-final-fantasy-nt-open-beta-is-live/