#10: Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled Rolls in…

In this issue of DailyBits we learn that Catan is now available on the Nintendo Switch, but unfortunately you won’t be able to play it locally with your friends… This week’s Quote of the week asks the question, ‘Are Look Boxes Ethical?’, and the first reviews for Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled have arrived!

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Which of these is NOT an antagonist in The Legend of Zelda series?

  • Zant
  • Vaati
  • Malladus
  • Garland

The answer will be revealed at the end of this issue!

News Bits

2021 marks the 30th anniversary of Sonic, and ‘it’ll be big’

Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka says the “next big year” for Sonic the Hedgehog is 2021 – which also happens to be the spiky blue hero’s 30th anniversary. SEGA launched Sonic Generations for his 20th anniversary in 2011, so are they planning something like that? “Maybe.”

Daily Fact

This week’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a homage to the most popular Castlevania game

This week sees the long-awaited release of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night from Artplay, long-time Castlevania-producer Koji Igarashi’s new studio. It was crowdfunded on Kickstarter waaaaay back in 2015 to the tune of $5.5 million.

So why did Bloodstained take off on Kickstarter, and why is it such an anticipated game? Apart from Igarashi’s involvement, it’s because Bloodstained is a homage (or full-on spiritual successor) to the most popular Castlevania game ever – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night from 1997, the game that created the term ‘Metroidvania’.

A miserable little pile of secrets

Prior to Symphony of the Night, the Castlevania games were strictly linear action games. Walk from left to right, hit things with your whip, jump a bit, and try not to die. Symphony of the Night, however, took inspiration from Nintendo’s Super Metroid – Dracula’s castle was one, big environment that opened up more and yielded its secrets as the player uncovered new skills and equipment.

Since Symphony of the Night offered its own take on the Metroid formula – and no-one else really tried – the genre got dubbed ‘Metroidvania’ in reference to both. Unfortunately, Symphony of the Night superficially appeared to be an old-fashioned 2D game just as 3D gaming was taking off on the PlayStation: The game was praised by critics, but didn’t exactly top the charts.

Since then, Symphony of the Night has grown just as legendary as Super Metroid, and now we’ve got a full homage on our hands in the form of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night! Wonder if it’ll reference Symphony’s infamous line “what is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets!”

Under the Radar - CATAN (Nintendo Switch)

Stand aside, tabletops, the Nintendo Switch is coming for you!

Tabletop fans rejoice! Classic board game Catan released on the Nintendo Switch this week, featuring the full base game and the Seafarer Expansion. Launching at the discount price of $19.99 (less than half of the physical board game RRP), now is the perfect time to dive into this tabletop classic.

The game is set on an uninhabited island brimming with natural resources. Players must compete to control the land, building settlements and roads while trading resources with each other. Hardcore Catan fans who are familiar with Catan Universe will be pleased to know that the Nintendo Switch version of the game is made by the same developer, Exozet – though there has been no confirmation whether the port is based on Catan Universe.

Sadly, there is no local play, so if you’re hoping to play this with a bunch of friends or family members, you may want to hold off. To be fair, it would be difficult to make the game pass-and-play like Carcassonne since each player needs to hide their cards from other players but also actively trade between each other. Fortunately, there is an online multiplayer mode.

Catan offers a campaign mode, featuring three difficulty levels and a variety of scenarios you can play on your own. Players can also choose from a selection of board pieces, profiles and table designs to suit their taste. Competitive individuals can compete on the world leaderboards, so now’s your chance to prove you’re the best Catan player there ever was! Note that you’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online membership to access the online features.

The Cities & Knights Expansion, which is aimed at advanced players, is also now available for purchase separately for $5.99. In this expansion, “the wealth of the region has attracted barbarians, and the knights of Catan will be needed to repel the invaders. Players must unite and defend the island of Catan against a common enemy, while simultaneously competing for the control of cities and metropolises.”

Catan for Nintendo Switch is available on the eShop now.

Quote of the Week

Are Loot Boxes Ethical?

Loot boxes have been surrounded by heated controversy in the gaming community and and the UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee held a hearing on the subject on June 19th.

Representatives from EA and Epic Games defended their stance on loot boxes, a business practice that has been accused of being unethical. When questioned by Scottish National Party MP Brendan O’Hara, EA’s VP of Legal and Government Affairs, Kerry Hopkins, had this to say: “First, we don’t call them loot boxes [interrupted by other speaker]… we look at it as ‘surprise mechanics’…”.

Hopkins later stated: “We do think the way that we have implemented these kinds of mechanics – and FIFA of course is our big one, our FIFA Ultimate Team and our packs – is actually quite ethical and quite fun, enjoyable to people. We agree with the UK Gambling Commission, the Australian Gambling Commission and many other gambling commissions that they aren’t gambling and we also disagree that there’s evidence that shows it leads to gambling. Instead, we think it’s like many other products that people enjoy in a very healthy way and like the element of surprise”. During the discussion, Hopkins also likened loot boxes, or ‘surprise mechanics’ as EA are now supposedly calling them, to toys like “Kinder Eggs, Hatchimals and LOL Surprise”.

EA’s justification for loot boxes in their video games essentially boils down to the idea that people like being surprised and have been purchasing physical versions of these ‘surprise mechanics’ for years, making their digital version acceptable.

EA is no stranger to lootbox pushback from the gaming community. Following the uproar against the model implemented in Battlefront II, the company was forced to change their loot box system entirely. They removed micro-transactions enabling players to pay to accelerate their progress, which ultimately gave them access to characters and abilities much faster than players who did not make additional purchases.

While EA adjusted their business model, the damage had already been done and the game missed its sales targets. As expected, social media is filling up with angry comments regarding EA’s stance. Many believe that EA’s claim that loot boxes are “fun”, “ethical”, and bears no resemblance to gambling has prompted the government intervention.

Adolescents are often mentioned as vulnerable parties in discussion about the ethics of loot boxes and many have called for loot boxes to be regulated by law. Following bans on loot boxes in Netherlands and Belgium, O’Hara enquired whether the following statement summarised EA’s response: “a government would have to make a ruling and legislate against something before you will take action”.

While Hopkins’ didn’t provide a solid answer, she did view this as a “broad mischaracterisation”, claiming that EA’s adjustments to the Dutch and Belgian versions of FIFA were for “business reasons” and that each country had different reasons for wanting loot boxes removed.

For now, it appears that EA are not changing their tune on loot boxes, and the debate will most likely continue. It’ll be interesting to see whether anything changes in its upcoming titles and whether any future legislation may affect their FIFA franchise.

Source: ParliamentLive.TV

Daily News

Best laid plans put Halo: Reach PC beta next week

Not even the best plans survive contact with the enemy but 343 Industries reckons they’re on track for beta testing to start for Halo: Reach on PC, which is part of The Master Chief Collection. It’ll initially be rolled out to a “small subsection of registered Halo Insiders.”

Why not throw open the floodgates? They want to ensure everything is in place to harvest all that sweet, sweet feedback before more are invited in. It’s not guaranteed that the beta will start next week, but the team feels they’ve got a ‘strong build’ of the game ready.

A modest start for a bombastic series

“…the team has a build which appears to be a strong candidate, but it’s still in the middle of going through the test process. That said, we’re still targeting to release next week and will be sharing the details with the public,” said community coordinator John Junyshek.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is set to bring all the Halo releases to PC, to the delight of the long-running series’ many fans. The original Halo: Combat Evolved was launched for PC but Microsoft kept all its sequels exclusive to Xbox.

Testing for Master Chief Collection was originally scheduled to start back in April, which clearly didn’t go exactly according to plan.

Reviews are out for Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

Naughty Dog’s remastered re-release of 1999 PlayStation classic Crash Team Racing is out today, including content from later entries in the series, Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing. What are the critics saying about Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled?

As of press time, the Metacritic score is actually the same from both critics and fans at 85. Good work there Beenox, you brought harmony and balance to the world… of arcade racing.

  • GamesRadar+ (Score 5/5) – “This faithful recreation of the once king of kart racers means Crash Team Racing has seized the throne once more, with enough content and a high skill ceiling to keep players returning for years.”
  • Eurogamer (Score Essential) – “Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is a gold-standard remaster, capturing the loveably janky, off-brand spirit of classic CTR – and then some.”
  • TheSixthAxis (Score 9/10) – “First there was the N. Sane Trilogy and now there’s Nitro-Fuelled. Activision’s Crash Team Racing rebirth is more than a quick cash grab – Beenox has modernised an all-time classic with such evident passion, making this the best kart racing game we’ve seen on PlayStation or Xbox for many, many years.”
  • IGN (Score 8.2/10) – “Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled’s difficulty, memorable track design, and addictive power-slide mechanic make it a kart racer worth playing but it’s not without its frustrations.”
  • Gamespot (Score8/10) – “Simply put: This is a remaster done right. Nitro-Fueled maintains the spirit and rock-solid foundations of a childhood favorite while building on it and modernizing it where necessary–even if the handling might take a bit of getting used to. Adventure mode’s classic variant feels a little tough, but your first race on Roo’s Tubes or Sewer Speedway will bring a nostalgic grin to your face regardless.”
  • Pushsquare – “A jam-packed remake that looks and sounds brilliant, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a lovingly crafted remake of a much beloved kart racer. Online play and customisation bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but for as fun as the zippy racing is, it sticks perhaps a little too closely to the original model.”
  • Gameplanet Australia – “As much as we love remasters, it is not often they are as justified as Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled has proven itself to be. The well-balanced difficulty of this games map and AI fills a niche in the Kart Racing genre that is sure to delight multiplayer parties and provide a healthy challenge for both nostalgia-filled millennials and newcomers alike.”

Respawn “never gonna make an Apex 2”, prefers more seasons

The future of Apex Legends is seasonal updates, according to executive producer Drew McCoy. Respawn Entertainment very much consider Apex to be “a live game.” They’ve got a ton of stuff in the pipeline, but these things take time to finish.

Apex Legends – which reached 2.4 million unique users within 48 hours of its launch early this year – recently introduced the new character Wattson, and she took over a year to make and had been subject to internal testing since early last year.

No you’re not paranoid, dragons are stealing your loot

“…we’re thinking years ahead at this point. We do believe in this game as a live game. We’re never gonna make an Apex 2; hoping next Season 72 is awesome. That’s kind of where our head is at: how are we setting this up for the long term,” McCoy continued.

Dragons are a new addition to the game and they’ve got a little surprise for you. Knocking these out the sky will reward you with a stolen death box, because these flying menaces are pinching anything they can get their claws on. Let’s hope there isn’t some dragon thieves’ guild at play here…

Apex Legends season two started up this week.

News Bits

Dota Underlords off to strong start, open beta tops chart

Concurrent King was Dota Underworlds following its open beta launch this week. It blew past Fortnite to be the number one played game by concurrent users. Naturally it’s levelled off now as initial interest wears off, but it’s still hovering around fourth place behind Dota 2. It also launched for mobile with cross-play so the actual player head count is likely much higher.

Droidekas ‘finally roll out’ in Star Wars Battlefront II update

Those dreaded Droideka are finally coming to Battlefront II, as DICE tease them in the latest community update. Meanwhile the Republic gets reinforced with the TX-130 battletank, capital ships hover above Naboo, Anakin gets his ‘General Skywalker’ skin, and the wild world of Felucia is teased in concept artwork. A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which of these is NOT an antagonist in The Legend of Zelda series?

Answer: Garland!

Despite Ganon/Ganondorf having the reputation as the main villain of the Legend of Zelda series, there are actually a number of villains!

Zant is the villain of GameCube/Wii’s Twilight Princess, although he’s later revealed to be controlled by Ganondorf. Vaati is one of the series’ few recurring villains other than Ganon, making an appearance in the GBA/GameCube’s Four Swords games and GBA’s The Minish Cap. The Demon King Malladus only appears in the DS game Spirit Tracks.

Other villains in the series include Dark Link (another recurring villain, although rarely the main antagonist), the Skull Kid (possessed by Majora’s Mask), Agahnim (an alias of Ganon), Yuga (A Link Between Worlds), Lord Ghirahim and Demise (Skyward Sword).

And Garland? He’s the villain of the very first Final Fantasy game!

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