#87: Train Your Brain Again

TODAY: Look Who's Talking! Kojima's baby will speak through your DualShock — Nintendo's JoyCon drift woes extend to Switch Lite — Looks like Randy Pitchford isn't a big fan of unions either

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Dr. Kawashima returns this December

Remember those DS puzzle games that claimed they would keep your brain young? Fronted by the affable lo-poly quack Dr. Kawashima, the Brain Age games were supposed to appeal to older audiences by pitching games as something serious and useful. While Dr. Kawashima's notion of "brain-age" smacks of pseudo-science, the games proved hugely successful both in Japan and outside.

Now Nintendo is finally gearing up to give our aging brains another workout with a new brain trainer, and the announcement trailer reveals that it is yet again ‘Supervised by Professor Ryota Kawashima, Institute for Aging Medicine, Tohoku University’ – and aimed towards senior audiences.

Dr. Kawashima trained our brains in 2005, ‘08 and ‘12

The game offers some new features no doubt inspired by mobile game engagement optimization, such as scheduled reminders and as always, it calculates your ‘brain age’ based on the speed with which you process information, your short-term memory ability and answering random questions.

Oh, and one of the activities puts the poor, neglected JoyCon IR camera to use by scanning your hand so you can give answers with your fingers, which unfortunately won't be available on the Switch Lite. Now the big question is whether it'll make its way to Western shores.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Which major mode was NOT included in the Japanese release of Brain Age?

  • Sudoku
  • Brain Age Check
  • Number Cruncher
  • Voice Calculation

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

News Bits

Auto Chess for consoles in 2020

Dragonest Games' competitive Auto Chess is coming to both PlayStation 4 and Switch next year. What started as a Dota 2 mod has taken on a life of its own, and has since hit iOS and Android as well as a PC release that – ironically enough – is exclusive to Epic Game Store.

Death Stranding’s ‘BB’ will speak through the DualShock 4 controller

Hideo Kojima has revealed that the baby strapped to Sam's chest in Death Stranding can communicate through the DualShock 4's built-in speaker. There has been some confusion whether the feature is exclusive to the incubator-themed DualShock 4 launching alongside the game, but it's probably available on any DualShock 4 controller. If you don't want creepy baby-speak emanating from your controller, you can disable the feature.

Daily Fact

Game Boy’s Ninja Gaiden Shadow was never meant to be a prequel, but an adaptation

Ninja Gaiden Shadow for Game Boy was never meant to be a prequel, but an adaptation! Natsume and Tecmo released Ninja Gaiden Shadow in Japan, North America and Europe in 1991 and ‘92, and originally it didn't have anything to do with the Ninja Gaiden series: It was meant to be an adapted port of Natsume's NES title Shadow of the Ninja from 1990.

However, Tecmo bought the rights to Ninja Gaiden and decided they'd rather get more bang for their buck and reworked the Shadow of the Ninja port to be part of the Ninja Gaiden series. It was known as Shadow Warriors for Game Boy in Europe and Australia.

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Hands-on Preview

Planet Zoo is Jurassic World Evolution with less dinosaurs but more good

(Frontier Developments – PC)

Frontier Developments is slowly but surely turning into the king of management games. The team's behind successes like Rollercoaster Tycoon, Planet Coaster and Jurassic Park Evolution, and now they're mixing up Planet Coaster with Jurassic World to produce Planet Zoo, a zoo management game.

Planet Zoo isn't out until November 5th, but we've spent some time with a beta. The beta only offers a small taste of the game, since the Career mode ends after the first mission, but it's already quite an impressive game with tons of features. It almost borders on the staggering!

Walk with the animals, talk with the animals

In addition to Career mode, there's a Franchise mode and the final release will also include a Sandbox mode. The franchise mode is much like the sandbox mode, but slightly more goal-oriented. Like the name implies, the goal is to set up and manage your very own world-wide chain of zoos.

That might sound a bit overwhelming, and it's probably better to start out in Career mode, which not only acts like a tutorial, but gives you ready-built zoos to manage and expand. The biggest focus is on keeping the animals happy. If one of your critters has complaints, they are clearly spelled out for you – but there are always a number of ways to fix the problems.

If the lions don't like their environment, you can weed out the plants they don't like and replace them with something else, change the soil, add a swimming area or just shower them with toys until they're too busy having fun to complain. There's a lot of freedom to solve problems your own way.

Circle of life

There's even more freedom in Franchise and Sandbox, and things can get quite overwhelming. There's an astonishing range of options available, and clicking any button in the interface brings up enough choices to keep the most obsessive-compulsive micromanager busy for life. It's maybe even a bit much for the casual player who just wants to build a zoo – do we really need several variations of 4m Asphalt Roof With Corners? Then there's the veritable jungle of plants you can get lost in.

Fortunately, you quickly learn how to navigate the interface by playing the Career mode, and learn how to cut through the terrifying amount of options to find the basics. Build paths, vital buildings, enclosures, buy some animals, hire some staff and before you know it you've got visitors to keep happy too. It's easy to spend hours noodling around with your park before you even open it.

If you're looking for the kind of management sim where you can obsess over every strand of grass, Planet Zoo will keep you both happy and busy, guaranteed. If you just want to build a nice park for your adorable animal friends (and they are absolutely adorable), you might want to wait and see if the career mode offers enough to keep you happy, since Franchise and Sandbox mode require some serious dedication. In any case, Planet Zoo is already very impressive, and we can't wait to play the full version!

Daily News

Nintendo class action lawsuit expands in US to include Switch Lite owners

There's more trouble brewing for Nintendo as the on-going class action lawsuit brought against the company over the so-called JoyCon drift has expanded to include owners of the recently launched Switch Lite.

This class action suit was launched back in July

The problem is that the JoyCon's analog sticks start registering input by themselves, causing phantom movement that can seriously ruin some games. Lite customers are reporting similar problems: “The Switch Lite also is reportedly plagued by drifting per a growing number of online complaints. Nintendo knew about the Drifting Defect and the issues with its controller and joystick hardware yet decided to incorporate them into the Switch Lite without first fixing the issue,” reads an amendment to the suit.

Nintendo has already been performing free repairs for customers regardless of whether they are covered by warranty or not, while Switch Lite customers should still be covered by standard warranty regardless of Nintendo's policy. The case continues.

Gearbox Software “wouldn't go union” for Troy Baker’s return as Rhys

Actor Troy Baker and Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford have different explanations for why Baker didn't return to reprise his role as Rhys for Borderlands 3.

When asked why he wasn't voicing his popular character from the Telltale Games spin-off Tales From The Borderlands, Baker said he had never refused the role. Turns out it's all union-related! The actor is a member of the actors guild SAG-AFTRA, and Gearbox refused to sign up with the union, which is necessary to work with its members.

"But you. I respect you, Rhys. That's why I'am going to make you Assistant...Vice...Janitor."

“...they made it impossible for me to do the role. It had nothing to do with money, it had nothing to do with money. They just simply would not go about doing it the way that we needed it to be done. So then it was like, I never said no,” Baker told VG247. “...it was simply a matter of they wouldn't go union. And I can't do a non-union gig.”

On the other hand, Randy Pitchford claimed that Baker had turned down the role when it was offered by the game's audio director, and that people would need to ask Baker why he wouldn't appear as Rhys. Ray Chase, most famous for voicing Prince Noctis in Final Fantasy XV, was eventually cast as Baker's replacement.

News Bits

Take flight in new trailer for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020

If you like flying around virtual worlds, then this brand new trailer for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 should grab your attention. It's composed of pre-alpha footage, but lacks pretty damned glorious anyway – the series sure has come a long way since its first iteration in 1982! The latest game in the long-running simulation series was announced in June, at Microsoft's E3 conference.

Close to the Sun gets Collector’s Edition in run up to October console launch

Close to the Sun is arriving for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch on October 31st, and the Collector's Edition featuring the usual trinkets and artwork has been announced. Developer Storm in a Teacup also teamed up with nutty YouTuber Fabrício H. Franzoli, who produced an electrifying rendition of Porcelain Pill's single Close to the Sun – using Tesla coils!

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which major mode was NOT included in the Japanese release of Brain Age?

Answer: Sudoku!

There's a new brain trainer coming to Switch, which will be the fifth installment in the allegedly mind-stimulating series. The first game, Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes A Day! (or Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? in Europe) was released in Japan in 2005 to considerable success – and surprisingly enough managed to repeat the trick when it was released in other territories the following year.

During localization, a major feature was added to the game – one so major it's hard to imagine that it wasn't already a part of the package: Sudoku. The Japanese numbers crossword blew up all around the world around 2005, and its much-advertised inclusion in Brain Age/Training probably explains why it sold so well in the US, Europe, Korea and Australia.

Weekly Giveaway

Egress on PC

This week's DailyBits giveaway is an unusual combination of fun things: Cthulhu, Dark Souls and Battle Royale – at once! We are giving away 5 Steam keys for Egress, the multiplayer melee combat game from developer Fazan, where you struggle for survival on an island slowly being reclaimed by the sea ... and the Ancient Ones!

All you have to do to enter the sweepstakes is to follow Dailybits on both Twitter and Facebook. We will choose five random followers over the course of the week, and each will receive a Steam code for Egress on PC! It couldn't be any easier.

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