Uncharted 4 Sells Many Copies Which Pleases Lots Of People

Uncharted 4

Sony and Naughty Dog are happily boasting that Uncharted 4: A Thief's End for the PlayStation 4 is the fastest selling exclusive title in the history of the console in the North American region with 2.7 million copies of the game sold worldwide (counting both discs and PlayStation Store purchases) in its first week on the market.  Its success isn't exactly a surprise; interested parties both inside the video game industry and out expected Uncharted 4 to sell well and we're talking about a franchise that just prior to A Thief's End's release has sold a combined twenty-eight million copies spanning the original Drake's Fortune through its two PS3 sequels and the PS Vita's oft-overlooked Golden Abyss and Fight for Fortune.

I bring this up to say that hopefully this success sends a message that there's still high demand for expertly crafted, AAA-level single-player linearly plotted video games.  We hear so often that these kinds of games are largely unsustainable from a development perspective, that people don't want them anymore in favor of evergreen mutliplayer-exclusive experiences, and that free-to-play mobile experiences packed with consumable microtransactions are where the entire market is headed overall.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Uncharted 4 and cannot recommend it enough.  Developer Naughty Dog has packed the game with so many beautiful details and fun moments that I felt negligent rushing through certain set pieces despite those sequences being built around escaping from danger as fast as I could.  I finished the game, but I know there are moments that I missed and eventually I'll need to replay the game to try and see everything.  I advise you to play the game and see what it has to offer.  Let yourself be captivated by the mystery and explore the story beats.  Don't rush through it, and avoid the endgame spoilers.  You need to experience this one for yourself.


Fans Fill Metroid Void With New Creations

Samus AranMetroid fans have been waiting a while for a proper follow-up to Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission, but with the franchise's focus on the 3D Metroid Prime titles and the upcoming spin-off Federation Force, it seems that the lack of classic 2D-style Samus Aran adventures is going to go on for a while more.  Not wanting to wait it out, several people have put together complete reworkings of 1994's Super Metroid for the Super NES to turn it into new games.  NeoGAF member Boney has put together a list of the best new Metroid adventures and invites further discussion about them.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 20 years, you should know that the original Super Metroid is widely considered one of the best videogames of all time and for good reason. A masterfully created open ended map overhauled from it's predecesor, with an emphasis on exploration and acquisition of significant power ups. The strong design was accompanied by the creation of a believable ecosystem, gorgeous spritework, wonderful music and too many memorable moments to mention here. It's widely considered the best game in the franchise and every game since then has diverted itself mechanically or design wise to the beauty that is Super Metroid.

So to satisfy you guys before some of you lose it due to deprivation, I invite all of you to be part of GAF plays: Super Metroid Hacks, in which we can find solace in wonderfully designed games made by passionate and talented community that is the Super Metroid scene. These guys have been going strong for over a decade and they show no signs of stopping, making more and more progress and pushing what is thought to be possible to build when handed the keys of the game itself.

There's some interesting stuff happening here.  Normally I'm not a fan of underskilled gamers proclaiming that they will make the true Metroid 5 or the real Sonic X-Treme or what have you, but in this case I think that the creators of these Metroid projects have something special happening.  There's actual game design talent in action here.  Super Metroid Redesign tampers with gravity and rebalances Samus's abilities.  Metroid Super Zero Mission is built for sequence breaking.  Metroid: Ice Metal focuses on a non-linear design and encourages exploration.  Nintendo will eventually take Metroid back to its roots, but the fans can fill the void until then (and more power to them as they do).


Speed Through The History Of F-Zero


Nintendo's beloved racer F-Zero attracted a lot of attention when it debuted with the Super NES in 1991, and over the years the various sequels for the Nintendo 64 to Game Boy Advance and beyond have turned heads thanks to the sense of immense speed and break-neck turns.  Hardcore Gaming 101 explores the history of the series including several installments that never left Japan.  For instance, there's a expansion kit for F-Zero X that includes additional racing cups, a track editor and a kickass remix of Mario Kart 64's famous Rainbow Road track.  There's even some information on unofficial versions of the series for the Sega Genesis and PC.  Here's a bit of the section on the Satellaview-exclusive semi-sequel, BS F-Zero Grand Prix.

The SNES game was simultaneously the first and the last Western players got to see of F-Zero for eight long years. In Japan, however, Nintendo revived the brand for their Satellaview program already in 1996 with the BS F-Zero Grand Prix. Each of the four broadcasts consists of one cup, but the game is structured a bit oddly. Before each race starts, there is a practice round and a demonstration of a specific tip for the course. The parts were played as timed SoundLink broadcasts with added commentary and arranged versions of the music (different from the jazz album).

The four iconic F-Zero cars were replaced with new alternatives that have a more fancy look and shuffle the stats around a bit, but fulfill the same basic roles within the game. Even though later entries in the series greatly expanded the roster of competitors, these four vehicles never returned. The tracks are mostly the same, but they're arranged a bit differently and there is one new course in each cup for a total of 19 (Mute City I is repeated once in the last broadcast). Some of the new courses mix up the familiar elements in unique and interesting ways, but there's nothing categorically new here.

I've always enjoyed the F-Zero series despite being basically terrible at it.  I even tracked down the rare arcade release, F-Zero AX, in a secret arcade hidden away at Walt Disney World several years ago.  Fans have begged for a proper new F-Zero since the earliest days of the Wii, but word on the street is that poor sales for the GameCube's F-Zero GX and a lack of consensus within Nintendo on where to take the series next have held back new installments.  Still, if Star Fox (another Super NES title meant to show off new technology and a series thematically linked with F-Zero through fun character references) can see a sequel post-GameCube, I'm sure there's hope for F-Zero yet. 


Let's Enjoy Animated Video Gaming GIFs From The Simpsons

ThrillhouseThe Simpsons has given us so many classic video game jokes and gags over the years from the days of the humble 8-bit boxing game to the modern Funtendo Zii.  The Frinkiac search engine allows users to created animated GIFs from screengrabs of the first seventeen years of the series combined with text from the subtitle track, so I couldn't resist creating some short animations of my favorite gaming-related scenes.  Enjoy these clips of Sonic the Hedgehog encouraging shoplifting, Dash Dingo saving the Down Underverse, Donkey Kong scratching himself, and the mighty gore of Bonestorm.

Meet Donkey Kong

Bonestorm

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Power Button - Episode 204: Disney In-finish-ity

Power_buttonBlake Grundman has a problem.  He's invested a lot of time and money into collecting Disney Infinity figurines and video games and now Disney has canceled the entire product line.  He needs some time to air his grievances and openly weep, so on this week's episode of Power Button we hold a farewell for the biggest Toys To Life product that somehow didn't make enough money.  Also, knowing that Disney is going back to licensing its properties to other publishers again, we pitch some ideas for Disney-owned properties we'd like to see become new games.  A dream is a wish your heart makes (unless you fail to turn a profit).  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.


Ratchet And Clank Wrap-Up

Ratchet and ClankNow that the latest Ratchet and Clank game for the Sony PlayStation 4 is complete and a best seller, it's time for the game's directors, Shaun McCabe and Chad Dezern, to talk about the lessons learned from the development process.  Gamasutra hosts the discussion as the two cover tying the game into the Ratchet and Clank film, using the film's development to boost their own processes, and organizing their old PS2 Ratchet assets. 

We simply don’t have access to our source files from the PS2 era. Back then, we had a numbers-only naming convention, with number-to-name directories scribbled in private notebooks. We used a home brewed asset management system that we can no longer access. And our directory structure was a free-for-all, with source files frequently hidden away on local directories. 

Luckily, the PlayStation 3 R&C Collection proved to be our saving grace. Idol Minds went through the painful process of extracting our assets from the PS2 master disc for the collection. We realized early on that we could use those libraries. So we enlisted support from technology consulting firm Tin Giant to extract data from the collection and convert it to our engine formats. Amusingly (to us, anyway) the assets retained metadata from the PS2, so we got to revisit our asset numbering system and remember our fledgling development practices.

I enjoyed both the new Ratchet game and the tie-in film, although the game is the better experience of the two.  I enjoyed it so much that I put in the extra work to earn the PS4 platinum trophy.  You have to admire the work that goes into the Ratchet games.  The team at Insomniac Games clearly loves the franchise and wants to give their all when they create a new one.  Even they don't know where the series goes from here, but I know we'll see a new installment before too long.  I have a feeling there are still too many solid ideas written down on brainstorming notebooks for the Solana Galaxy to know permanent peace.


Take A Leap Of Faith On Assassin's Creed Movie Trailer

Major Hollywood movies based on video games seldom turn out well, but I have hope for the upcoming Assassin's Creed film based on the Ubisoft game of the same name. Featuring new characters but based on franchise lore, the Creed film sends its modern day protagonist back to the days of the Spanish Inquisition. I certainly wasn't expecting that. The first trailer for the film gives us a look at all kinds of classic Creed elements such as the Animus, lots of climbing & parkour, hooded robes, and the iconic leap of faith. I'm optimistically excited! Assassin's Creed opens in theaters in December 2016. I really hope there's a scene where the Assassin kills a civilian and desynchronizes from the simulation as a result. "Assassins did not kill civilians," the Animus attendant would say. "Try it again."


Disney Exits Console Publishing, Disney Infinity To Be Discontinued

Disney InfinityFailing to definitively conquer the video game console publishing market, Disney Interactive is exiting the business and taking its Toys To Life game platform Disney Infinity with it.  The game will shut down in June following the release of the final two character packs (based on Alice Through The Looking Glass and Finding Dory) and the studio behind it all, Avalanche Software (not to be confused with Avalanche Studios, the Just Cause folks), is now out of business.  It's a grim day for Infinity fans as despite performing what any other company would consider to be successful in this business, it's not enough for Disney.  USgamer has the report.

Disney Infinity probably made a good deal of money, but for Disney, the licensed Star Wars Battlefront represented the future moving forward. Pachter estimated that Disney Infinity made $200 million in revenue last year, while Star Wars Battlefront earned $660 million. The $200 million estimate put Disney Infinity ahead of Lego Dimensions and Skylanders, but Disney is a huge company and its perspective on 'successful' is vastly different.

By licensing the Star Wars brand to Electronic Arts, Disney doesn't have to have developers on hand to make titles. It reaps the rewards and the risks are all Electronic Arts. At some point, management looked that the gulf between Infinity and Battlefront and wondered why it was publishing games in-house. You can probably expect to see more licensing of Disney properties, but most of that will probably lean on the mobile side.

If you're still interested in the Infinity figures, watch for clearance sales at your favorite retailer over the summer.  It's disappointing to see Disney exit the business, but now that the company is switching gears back to a licensing model, perhaps we'll see some creative ideas based on Disney properties from other companies.  Yes, there will always be a place for Star Wars games, but where are the Arkham Asylum-like Avengers game, Darkwing Duck Remastered, and of course my biggest, most wanted pipe dream of them all...

It's a shame that being merely successful at a business like this isn't enough for Disney which has an "engulf and devour" mindset in the video game industry as it engages in a repeated cycle of buying established studios, pushing them to deliver, closing them when they fail to quickly produce top selling sensations right out of the gate, and then withdrawing from the business altogether before trying again a few years later.  I don't understand why anyone would spend so much time and money to build a platform that is successful by standard metrics and then throw it away just became it makes only some money and not all money.