PlayStation Now Unveiled at CES, PS4 Firmware Update v1.60 released, Native PlayStation 1+2 Emulation rumors swirling admist new PS4 firmware updates, “The Last of Us” Single-Player DLC “Left Behind” officially gone gold and oodles of schmoodles info on new game releases [UPDATED 2/15/2014]

PlayStation Now officially unveiled at CES 2014, coming to your local PlayStation H/W in Summer of 2014

 

PlayStation Now Gaikai-based streaming service being revealed at CES 2014

PlayStation Now Gaikai-based streaming service being revealed at Sony’s keynote address during CES 2014

 

Sony promised PS3 backwards compatibility for the PS4 via it’s cloud based-streaming service, Gaikai (acquired by Sony in 2012 for a cool $380 million) and it appears to be finally taking shape. Announced on January 7th at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, Sony demoed the “PlayStation Now” internet-streaming service on a variety of Sony hardware (which in the future may negate the need for proprietary hardware, ie the PlayStation 4 console, to enjoy and play Sony exclusive titles). Amongst the veritable goldmine of broad Sony exclusives shown running on PlayStation Now, CES goers were treated to streaming versions of 1st-party hits such as “The Last of Us“, “Puppeteer“, “God of War: Ascension” and “Beyond: Two Souls“; all graphically-intense titles that have been released over the past year and a half. The games were playable on PlayStation Vita’s and more interestingly, 2014 Bravia TV’s, and a select few smartphones/tablets using just a DualShock 3 Controller and a connection to the PlayStation Now service. Sony has stated that the service will allow it’s subscribers (yes, it is a paid-for service although at this point I don’t know if it’s part of the PS Plus subscription package or a separate entity) to play PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 classics along with strong support of Sony’s PS3 exclusives. This could be a boon for Sony, as they have an absurdly deep back catalog for both the PS1 and PS2 (the latter selling over 150 million units worldwide making it the best selling console ever) allowing the Sony faithful and even more imperative, gamers new to the extensive retro titles of the PS One and PS2, to enjoy hard-to-find titles that until now, were confined and orphaned on physical disc to specialty game shops. I’ve always been one to enjoy the tangible vs. the digitally intangible software but with classic and hard to find PS1/2 game prices skyrocketing, even I admit this is a fantastic alternative to play all my old Sony favorites akin to Nintendo’s Virtual Console on the Wii and Wii U (WipeOut XL, Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy 7/8/Tactics, Tactics Ogre, Clock Tower, Einhander, Elemental Gearbolt, Shadow Tower, Kings Field I/II, Silent Hill, Megan Man Legends, Suikoden, Xenogears, RayStorm, Resident Evil 1/2/3 etc etc.)

PlayStation Now has begun closed-beta testing as of Jan 28th, and the service is expected to expand across several western and eastern markets as soon as the second and third quarter of 2014, with a full roll out to be completed by end of the year. For optimal performance with minimal gameplay and visual sacrifice, Sony recommends that you are using an wired internet connection with at least 5 MBps or more when gaming on PlayStation Now. A YouTube video was released just recently that showed a complete demonstration of PlayStation Now’s UI and streaming potential while the person played Killzone 3, unfortunately the video has since been taken down due to “copyright violations” by SCEA. The leaked video shows that PS Now is booted from the PSN tab on the XMB, then opens a new app resembling the PlayStation Store to begin the streaming service. Sony also says that in the near future, PlayStation 4 titles are in the works to be streamed across the service. This is certainly a great way for Sony to expand the PlayStation brand for consumers who may not be interested in dropping $300-$400 on new hardware and tap into the lucrative “casual gamer” market that the Wii captured back in 2007 and lost to the current trend of smartphones and tablets. If Sony can reclaim that audience, it certainly could be a dominating force in the casual gaming and console market. To watch the CES preview of the PlayStation Now service, watch the video below to catch a glimpse of the UI and the potential of the PS3 streaming service (video courtesy of Quentyn Kennemer via http://phandroid.com/2014/01/14/sony-playstation-now-demo/):

 

PlayStation 4 gets fancy-schmancy new update, version 1.60 which offers much-needed improved headset support amongst other stability fixes and enhancements

The new official Sony "Pulse" Gold headset works on the PS4 and supports 7.1 virtual surround sound - SWEET ASS SWEET!

The new official Sony “Pulse” Gold headset works on the PS4 and supports 7.1 virtual surround sound – SWEET ASS SWEET!

 

As of Feb 4th, Sony has officially released v1.60 firmware update for the PlayStation 4. One of the PS4′s many new improvements is that it automatically connects to Sony’s servers, then downloads and installs the update in the background while the system is in standby mode. Or you can do it the old fashioned the way and download the firmware update from Sony’s official website to a USB Flash drive and do a local installation. Reportedly, the update weighs in around 300 MB. Here are a list of the new features, fixes and improvements:

  1. Wireless stereo headsets (CECHYA-0080 / CECHYA-0083 / CECHYA-0086) and a stereo headset (CECHYA-0088) are now supported.
  2. You can now mute the microphone for PlayStation®Camera.

Also included in this update are general stability fixes. But the added support for Sony’s premium headsets is a definitive BONUS! For more information or to download the firmware update and install it to your PS4, head over to Sony’s official PlayStation Support Page at http://us.playstation.com/support/systemupdates/ps4/index.htm.

Native PS2 and PS1 Emulation rumored to be coming to PlayStation 4 via future firmware update

 

 

Sony reigned supreme with the release of the PS2. Selling over 150 consoles worldwide, the PlayStation 2 dominated the 6th generation of gaming systems.

Sony reigned supreme with the release of the PS2. Selling over 150 consoles worldwide, the PlayStation 2 dominated the 6th generation of gaming systems.

Yeah so this is a big deal to me and anyone else who grew up during the 80′s and 90′s, with their ‘rents buying us NES’s or SEGA Genesis’s. We are the first group of gamers to grow older as each iterative console cycle manifested, and therefore we are the first to see the myriad of gaming systems released over the past 25+ years. As such, I feel some kind of ownership towards the current and past gaming ecosystems, with every new generation establishing a solid hierarchy.  In the case of PlayStation, I remember trading my SNES and my 40+ games into EB Games (before GameStop took over EVERYTHING) just to acquire a brand new PlayStation One with Destruction Derby, Resident Evil, Warhawk and WipeOut (franchises that are still prominent today). So the fact that Sony is now rumored to be working on a future update for the PS4 that will allow for native PS1 and PS2 backwards compatibility truly means a great deal to me. If this does come to fruition, it would make the PlayStation 4 the ultimate console in Sony hardware and amongst it’s contemporaries, being able to play PS One, PS2 and thanks to PlayStation Now, PS3 games.

A console that is fully backwards compatible would be an amazing feat, as it seems that most (not all) console manufacturers have remained adamant that deterrent factors such as cost or incompatible hardware is the reason for non-compliance. But with such a ridiculous back catalog of games for both the PS1 and PS2, it would seem almost absurd and shameful that Sony would not take advantage of such a opportunity via emulation if their current PS4 H/W allows it (and it seems more then powerful enough to do so). I still have a small library of PS One games, most of them rarities that I’ve managed to hold onto over the years because well…. their just not that easy to find anymore and aren’t available digitally via PSN yet. Sony has everything to gain and nothing to lose by providing PS One/PS2 emulation natively (whether it be via original disc or download; hopefully we get BOTH) since their are still sooo many titles that have yet to been repackaged from both the PS One and PS2 era. PS4 Backwards-compatible emulation would also allow HD upscaling in a less arbitrary nature that was implemented for the PlayStation 3, presenting an aesthetically pleasing experience while maintaining that great classic gameplay we’ve all come to expect from Sony’s top tier exclusives from the bygone console eras. While all this is just pure speculation, Digital Foundry did have a very interesting and competent report on what could be via future firmware updates regarding PS1/PS2 software emulation.

Hopefully, like the early models of the PS3 that Sony manufactured that actually contained the original PlayStation 2 hardware under the hood, Sony will allow playback of physical discs that people already have in their PS One and PS2 collections. And while Sony eventually removed the PS2 backwards compatibility from those earlier models since each PS3 unit was selling at a tremendous loss, it in fact probably saved the PlayStation brand that is now beginning to thrive again today. Sony has advocated a good amount of pro-consumer idealism thanks to their E3 presentation by simply branding the PlayStation 4 as a true gamers console- no extra fanfare, no forced flagrant takeover of your TV set and unwarranted motion-tracking; Sony was pitching the PS4 as a fundamental gamers machine, not an extravagant all-in-one box that was designed to be the centerpiece of your living room. And while some may prefer the latter, core gamers care about one thing and one thing only: how well does the machine play games and will it provide the gaming experience that a Sony console should offer? The answer is a resounding yes, as the PS4 has already sold well over 4 million units in just a short span of 3 months. It’s clear that Sony is focusing it’s efforts to attract the legions of ardent Sony fans while reaching for a larger audience. In short, Sony knows it’s user base and if these backward compatibility rumors prove true, is doing everything it can to retain previous PlayStation users and attract new gamers that want to do want a console does best: play videogames.

 

PlayStation emulators have been commonplace on PC's for years, but Sony *MAY BE* taking a page out of these software emulators to run PS1 and PS2 titles natively on the PS4. ePSXe is one of the more popular PS emulators for the computer.

PlayStation emulators have been commonplace on PC’s for years, but Sony *MAY BE* taking a page out of these software emulators to run PS1 and PS2 titles natively on the PS4. ePSXe is one of the more popular PS emulators for the computer.

While PS3 compatibility will be relegated to Sony’s cloud-based streaming service PlayStation Now, previous generations of Sony H/w (PS1 and PS2 respectively) will be played via software emulation on the PlayStation 4. Even more interesting is that games played via emulation could contain HD upscaling and higher resolutions, something that is already possible on a mid-end PC running a PlayStation emulator such as ePSXe which can significantly alter the graphical fidelity of older PlayStation 1 and 2 titles. Using software emulation on the PS4, Sony may be implementing native HD resolutions instead of the blurry, artifact filled upscaled resolutions that the PlayStation 3 used when it runs PS One software or PS2 games (on earlier “fat” models of the PS3 that contained PS2 emulation via direct hardware or through software on later fat models). Again, while this is all speculation and rumors at this time, I sincerely hope Sony is hard at work on this project.

 

The Last of Us single-player DLC “Left Behind” released, download it now via the PlayStation Network Store

 

Ellie and her BFF Riley's story is told through this 3 hour campaign about how it sucks being a mischievous teenager in a post-pandemic North America.

Ellie and her BFF Riley’s story is told through this 3 hour DLC campaign about how it sucks being a mischievous teenager in a post-pandemic North America.

 

Probably the most anticipated downloadable content aside from Bioshock Infinte’s “Burial at Sea”, The Last of Us jas dished out a mini-prequel of sorts establishing Ellie’s backstory before she met crazy-like-a-fox Joel. The DLC chapter, entitled “Left Behind”, has been in development for quite some time and was officially released on the loneliest day of the year for fat, unkempty gamer-nerds the world over; AKA: Valentines DayPerhaps there was some amorous intent for releasing the 2-3 hour campaign on V-Day, reminding all of us dateless wonders that we still do have something to live for outside the mystique of the opposite gender. That our empathy can be redirected towards Ellie after enduring the grueling and abhorrent cross-country cordecyps road trip with her paternal ward, Joel. After all, The Last of Us intricately wove one of the most well-defined and tragic survivalist tales to grace the console market in a long, long time. True to form, instead of focusing on new gameplay elements, more updates/weapons and new skill-trees, Left Behind takes the player on Ellie’s own journey beginning with her time orphaned at a military-style school. Left Behind introduces a new character that was only mentioned briefly in passing during the main campaign: Ellie’s best friend Riley. If you played through the main campaign and enjoyed it, you would be a silly, inbred smelly fool not to purchase and playthru Left Behind. Now available via the PlayStation Store on PSN  for $15 or through the TLoU Season Pass (or eventually via the yet-to-be-announced retail GOTY edition on disc; wait and see I’m sure it will be hitting store shelves by the end of the year like every bestselling PS3 exclusive). To watch the Left Behind trailer, play the video below:


[UPDATED 01.08.2014] Holiday Gifts for the Broke-Ass Gamer, “The Wind Rises” feature anime movie by Miyazaki coming to US theatres courtesy of Disney and Touchstone Pictures, Square Enix shows of the swag included with “Final Fantasy X & X-II HD Collectors Edition” for PS3 and Atlus releases the 5th patch for “Dragon’s Crown”

Awesome Holiday Gifts you can buy on the cheap for the Gamer in your family

It’s that time of year kiddies. Whether you’re shopping for the younger, adolescent gamer in your family or the more mature significant other game-guru in your life these gifts are sure to make an impression. In no particular order, here we go!

 

Persona 4: The Animation

The First installment in the "Persona 4: The Animation" series remastered for HD on Blu-Ray. Contains 2 awesome, action-packed discs with episodes 1-12.

The First installment in the “Persona 4: The Animation” series remastered for HD on Blu-Ray. Contains 2 awesome, action-packed discs with episodes 1-12.

 

Persona 4: The Animation Collection 2. Contains two discs with episodes 13-26. If you love the Persona series or are just a fan of great anime, you can't go wrong with this beautiful Hi-Definition Collection mastered on Blu-Ray Disc

Persona 4: The Animation Collection 2. Contains two discs with episodes 13-26.
If you love the Persona series or are just a fan of great anime, you can’t go wrong with this beautiful Hi-Definition Collection mastered on Blu-Ray Disc

 

Want to kill two birds with one stone? Then you can’t go wrong with this remaster of Persona’s serialized TV-run anime for Hi-Definition Blu-Ray Disc. Each Collection sells for around $25 – $40 per set, incumbent upon where you make your purchase. Both sets are fully-dubbed with professional English voice-overs and include subtitles for most other languages. For the video gamer that loves the Persona franchise, then this box set certainly won’t fail to impress and only further their interest in the video game, since the the anime is a complete retelling of Persona 4 the video game. And for fans of anime, they will definitely appreciate the unique characters and story that is synonymous with the Persona universe. Either way, this stylistic anime iteration of the successful video game franchise won’t disappoint the gamer or anime fan in your family.

 

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

 

Ni No Kuni has recently be added to Sony's "Greatest Hits" signature line of games. You can now own this masterpiece of adventure based gameplay and beautiful anime-blended graphics with real time 3D effects for a MSRP of $19.99 brand new.

Ni No Kuni has recently be added to Sony’s “Greatest Hits” signature line of games. You can now own this masterpiece of adventure based game play and beautiful anime-blended graphics with real time 3D effects for a MSRP of $19.99 brand new.

 

NiNoKuni_ScreenShot_PS3.

Ni No Kuni is a marvelous PS3 exclusive developed by Level-5 and revered animation house Studio Ghibli, creators of such excellent full-length anime movies as “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke”. For the adventure or RPG gamer in your family, Ni No Kuni will certainly not disappoint. Featuring beautifully drawn animation fused with gorgeous 3D backdrops, Ni No Kuni was a brilliant joint effort from Level-5 and Studio Ghibli. Oh yes, and it’s also absurdly fun to play as well. You can now buy the game brand new for $19.99 on Sony’s “Greatest Hits” series of PS3 top-sellers.

 

Sony PSP (Model 3000) OR Nintendo DS/Lite

 

Sony's first attempt at a handheld game system was mildly successful, but could not match the stalwart marquee franchises  and pedigree of Nintendo's unique DS handheld. However, that doesn't make the PSP any less cooler or attractive, with 1000's of great games, unique JRPG's just for the PSP, many niche games that found a home on Sony's handheld and AAA titles that were completely remade into a new experience for the PSP (Grand Theft Auto, Tekken 6, God of War, WipEOut, Perona series). Pictured above is the 3000 series, the 3rd H/W iteration and most refined. Forget the clunky and oversize 1000 model, the 3000 revision is the way to go

Sony’s foray into the lucrative handheld gaming market has proven to be very successful after an initial sales slump during those first few growing pain years, recently achieving over 80 million units sold. Although the PSP can’t match the stalwart marquee exclusives and pedigree of Nintendo’s unique DS handheld that doesn’t make the PSP any less cooler or attractive, with 100′s of great games, unique JRPG’s crafted just for the PSP, many niche games that found a home on Sony’s handheld and AAA titles that were completely remade into a new experience for the PSP (Grand Theft Auto, Tekken 6, God of War, WipEOut, Perona series). Pictured above is the 3000 series, the 3rd H/W iteration and most refined. Forget the clunky and over sized 1000 model, the 3000 revision is the definitive model

 

The DS in it's shut-closed state, making it easy to slip in and out of your pocket, backpack, purse whatever. Also, the DS comes in a variety of colors so you can accessorize your H/W as you see fit with your other apparel.

The DS in it’s shut-closed state, making it easy to slip in and out of your pocket, backpack, purse whatever. Also, the DS comes in a variety of colors so you can accessorize your H/W as you see fit with your other apparel. Nifty Swifty!

 

Nintendo has pioneered and dominated the handheld gaming market since the advent of the original Gameboy. The Nintendo DS is no different, featuring a touchscreen display via a stylus pen, a unique portable clamshell design and backwards compatibility with the Gameboy Advance. Now that the 3DS has superseded the original, the DS and DS Lite are dirt cheap with an absurd library of Triple A titles available for $3 - $10 a cartridge. Oh yes, and did I mention just how cool the damn thing looks too?

Nintendo has pioneered and dominated the handheld gaming market since the advent of the original Gameboy. The Nintendo DS is no different, featuring a touchscreen display via a stylus pen, a unique portable clam shell design and backwards compatibility with the Gameboy Advance. Now that the 3DS has superseded the original, the DS and DS Lite are dirt cheap with an absurd library of Triple A titles available for $3 – $10 a cartridge. Oh yes, and did I mention just how cool the damn thing looks too? Pictured above: Nintendo DS Lite. Essentially a more compact version of the original DS with a slightly larger screen and other minor H/W refinements.

 

The best Holiday gift for the gamer in your life is undoubtedly a new games console that their fingers have yet to grace. While the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS may be from the previous handheld H/W cycle, they are no less impressive, extremely fun as game devices, each have an absurd lineup of great games and best of all, each unit can be purchased used for less than $50 – $60. New units may cost $70  – $80 or more, but for those on a tight budget you can typically find a used unit in good condition on Craigslist or from GameStop. When buying from Craigslist always make sure that the seller has pictures to show and always try renegotiating the price, even if they have the item listed as firm. There is always room for negotiation. If the seller wants to sell a package that includes several games and other tangibles such as plastic cases, screen protectors or memory cards, however you only need one or two particular items then always offer a lower price then advertised, they might agree to keep everything together and you’ll get all the extras for virtually nothing! If they separate the desired item from everything else you can always try and haggle a few things back in for a couple extra bucks. Also, it doesn’t hurt if buying as a gift to buy a small bundled deal with a few games and a memory card (the memory stick Duo is essential for the PSP otherwise you won’t be able to save game progress). For the DS and PSP, ensure that both items come with an AC Wall Charger and that with anything you buy from a stranger online, to have the seller demonstrate to you the hardware does indeed work. Finalize the deal by instructing them to insert a game and turn the H/W on, so you can see for yourself that it plays and is fully functional (don’t forget to test it and make sure all the buttons, directional pad and or analog stick(s) are working as intended). If everything is on the up and up and a price is agreed upon between both parties then go for it! Buying a Nintendo DS/Lite or PSP from GameStop isn’t much different than Craigslist, except their is no haggling over price and what you see is what you get. All used handhelds sold via GameStop include the basic necessities, such as AC Adapter. GameStop also provides you with a 30-day warranty on said hardware, with the option to buy into a 1 or 2 year warranty for a couple extra bucks. Whichever route you take in buying either handheld for the gamer in your life, make sure that if you are buying a PSP that the model is 3000 and as for the DS, you’ll also want the DS Lite model. Each variation comes with larger or brighter screens, have their capacity or size reduced and feature other important refinements. It’s also important to note that the Nintendo DS and DS Lite both can play Gameboy Advance games, which is a nice addition and automatically gives you another entire catalog of games to play from. The DS XL does not feature GBA backwards-compatibility.

Both Sony and Nintendo have a healthy amount of games for each of their portables. It should be noted that the PSP, however, is definitely a more well-rounded multimedia device capable of video playback (via special UMD video discs or MP4 file format I believe), music playback, radio tuning, skype, internet connectivity and displaying a variety of image files. By contrast, the Nintendo DS is really only meant for gaming and because it’s Nintendo H/W, it comes with all the great first-party titles that are exclusive to only Nintendo (ie: Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Pokemon, Mario Kart, Starfox, Donkey Kong). So if the gamer you are shopping for has a soft spot for Nintendo titles or characters, then certainly the DS is a purchase they’ll be sure to love. Graphically, their is no comparison: The PSP has graphics comparable to a PlayStation 1/2 hybrid in the palm of your hand giving it a distinctive edge for visuals. The PSP renders 3D and 2D graphics very fast, with games like “GTA: Liberty City Stories”, “God of War: Ghosts of Sparta”, “Pursuit Force” and “Need for Speed Most Wanted” running blazing fast. The PSP is also an “RPG Monster”, featuring many great 3rd party RPG exclusives such as the Persona series, “Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep”, “Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together”, “Phantasy Star”, “Star Ocean: Second Evolution”, “Jeanne D’Arc” and “Disgaea 1 or 2″. The DS, by contrast, may not push as many polygons but still has a plethora of great titles, “Metroid Prime: Hunters” and “Super Mario 3D” were both very visually impressive game for the DS. Also, the DS has a TON of great exclusive RPG’s such as “The World Ends with You”, “SMT: Strange Journey”, “SMT: Devil Survivor 2″ and “Radiant Historia”. So now that you know the fundamental difference between the two handhelds, go and make an educated decision that surely will impress friends, family and gaming geeks alike.

 

Wreck-It Ralph Blu-Ray

 

Ralph is consoled by the other baddies from their respective games in the arcade. Wreck It Ralph was awesome because for the first time it combined all the characters, good and bad, from video games spanning the past 3 decades. Pictured Above: Bowser, Zangief and Dr.Robotnik

Ralph is consoled by the other baddies from their respective games in the arcade. Wreck It Ralph was awesome because for the first time it combined all the characters, good and bad, from video games spanning the past 3 decades. Pictured Above: Bowser, Zangief and Dr.Robotnik

The Special Edition Blu-Ray of Disney's kick-ass "Wreck It Ralph" movie.

The Special Edition Blu-Ray of Disney’s kick-ass “Wreck It Ralph” movie.

What’s better than playing video games and watching cartoons? Combining a full-length Disney movie that’s about the life of video game characters in an arcade. Featuring such mainstays as Bowser, Pac-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and Q-Bert, Wreck-It Ralph is about the life of arcade game “bad guy” Ralph from the game “Fix It Felix Jr.“. Ralph is tired of his repetitive daily routine of being the bad guy and the stigma that comes with it. All the other denizens that live within Fix It Felix Jr. treat Ralph differently, looking down on him. Tired of the “bad guy” lifestyle, Ralph seeks out a gold medal that heroes of arcade games often obtain after the player successfully completes the game. He decides to leave his game temporarily to obtain a medal from the sci-fi first person shooter game in the arcade, named “Heroes Duty”. After reaching the tower in Heroes Duty and acquiring a gold medal, Ralph accidentally triggers a “Cy-bug” attack (the enemies of Heroes Duty) and is ejected via an escape pod where he crash-lands in the Kart-racer game “Sugar Rush”, losing his gold medal in the process. Here, Ralph meets racing outcast “Vanellope von Schweetz” and the two band together in agreement to help Vanellope officially race and get Ralph a new gold medal. The two form an unlikely bond and follow the formula of most Disney films where two polar opposites unite to reach a common goal. Featuring the talented voice work of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer, Wreck It Ralph is a fun, awesome movie that combines my love of video games with my childhood adoration of cartoons. Any gamer, young or old, should enjoy this animated masterpiece.

 

Kara No Shoujo Visual Novel (PC) “The Girl in the Shell”

KaraNoShoujo-Banner

Through the games interface, you can easily navigate the intricacies of investigating criminal acts.

Through the games interface, you can easily navigate the intricacies of investigating criminal acts.

Kara no Shojo is an impressive adult visual novel for Windows Computers that includes elements of horror, romance and suspense as your character attempts to out a serial killer on the loose. Taking place in post-war 1956 Tokyo, you play as protagonist Reiji Tokisaka, a private investigator trying to solve a string of brutal murders in and around a local highschool. During the game you will collect evidence, investigate crime scenes, question and pursue suspects all while maintaining an undercover guise as a highschool teacher. Limited by the technology at the time, you must use your wits and knowledge of the locations and citizens to determine the killer’s identification. Kara no Shoujo has intense graphic depictions of violence and gore, along with some sexual imagery common amongst Japanese Visual Novels. Localized for U.S. audiences by Mangagamer, Kara no Shoujo can be purchased exclusively as a digital download from their website for $24.99. Click on the link below to go the purchase page via Mangagamer:

http://www.mangagamer.com/detail.php?goods_type=1&product_code=79

 

Studio Ghibli feature “The Wind Rises” coming to North American audiences with powerhouse voice cast

 

The US Theatrical Movie Poster for "The Wind Rises", opening in US cinemas on Feb 21st with an all-star voice cast.

The US Theatrical Movie Poster for “The Wind Rises”, opening in US cinemas on Feb 21st with an all-star voice cast.

Hayao Miyazaki last anime outing as a director will get a proper farewell in US cinemas, in part thanks to major distribution via Disney and Touchstone Pictures. Miyazaki-san has directed many feature-length anime films, with some of his memorable work commercially released in the States, such as “Spirited Away” (2002 USA) and “Princess Mononoke” (1999 USA). As “The Wind Rises” will be his final curtain call, the project has garnered attention from some big name actors who will lend their voice talent to the US translation. Here’s the complete list of the featured players and their respective roles:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt — main character Jiro Horikoshi

Emily Blunt — love interest Nahoko Satomi

John KrasinskiHonjo, Jiro’s college pal and fellow aviation engineer

Martin ShortKurokawa, Jiro’s grumpy boss

Stanley TucciCaproni, Italian airplane creator

Mandy PatinkinHattori, senior designer at Mitsubishi

William H. MacySatomi, Nahoko’s father

Werner Herzog — the mysterious Castorp

Mae WhitmanKayo, Jiro’s younger sister, as well as Kinu, Nahoko’s caretaker

Jennifer GreyMrs. Kurokawa

Darren CrissKatayama, one of Jiro’s engineering colleagues

Elijah WoodSone, another of Jiro’s colleagues

Even I am a little surprised at just how much of talent has rallied behind the 72-year old Miyazaki’s illustrious swan song. If the early reviews are anything to go by, it appears as if we have a marvelously crafted movie when it opens in theaters on February 21st. The film is about a young man named “Jiro” who dreams of flying but because of his poor eyesight he instead takes to designing airplanes. Set around the time frame of WW2, “The Wind Rises” depicts Jiro becoming emotionally  conflicted and trying to cope, knowing that his work will be used for weapons of war. Check out the U.S. trailer below:

 

 

 

Square Enix shows off the swag for the “Final Fantasy X/X-II HD Remaster” Collectors Edition

 

Available as an exclusive pre-order from Square Enix directly, the FFX/X-II HD REMASTER Collectors Edition is a FF fan's wet dream come true

Available as an exclusive pre-order from Square Enix directly, the FFX/X-II HD REMASTER Collectors Edition is a FF fan’s wet dream come true

 

Coming exclusively to the PlayStation 3 and Vita handheld, the Hi-Def Remake of Final Fantasy X and X-II will have several launch day editions, including a special Collectors Edition (pictured above) for $80.00 being sold exclusively through Square Enix’s Online Store. The regular edition, limited edition and collectors edition all launch on March 18th. For more information on this CE of FFX/X-II HD or to place an order, please refer to the following link:

http://na.square-enix.com/us/blog/final-fantasy-xx-2-hd-remaster-collectors-edition-announced

 

Atlus releases new Update Patch for “Dragon’s Crown” on PS3/Vita

If you couldn’t get enough of Atlus awesome 2D-homage to fantasy beat-em-up’s titled “Dragon’s Crown”, then you should be pissing your pants ecstatic that another new Update patch has been released (this is the 5th I believe).  Not just a “glitch fix” download, this update includes several awesome new features to keep you coming back for more. Some of the new additions include:

  • New “Ultimate” Difficulty mode added
  • Level Cap has been raised from 99 to 255
  • New Dungeon added called “Tower of Mirages” that includes tens of thousands of levels to hack and slash through

And the best part about all this good stuff? IT’S FREE! No DLC, No Season Pass and no Episodic Content required for Dragon’s Crown. All the extra content being released by Atlus is free. Other companies really need to start following this business model. Seriously though, when Gearbox released the Update Patch that raised the level cap a second time in Borderlands 2, then had the gall to charge $$$$ for it, I WAS NOT PLEASED. So thank you Atlus, for doing something that all game developers and publishers should be expected to do: offer incremental additions and changes that improve and add to gameplay for free.

 

“How Persona 3′s Dating-sim elements introduced me to Visual Novels” article posted on DESTRUCTOID, The Walking Dead Season 2 Ep.1 “All That Remains” released and Persona 3 Theatrical Movie a hit in Japan

My introduction into the world of Japanese Visual Novels via Persona 3 blog post now up on DESTRUCTOID, don’t forget to UP VOTE it!

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After spending over a week perfecting my introductory experience of how Visual Novels slowly infused into my gaming rotation, the article has been finalized and uploaded to Destructoid.com so that hopefully more exposure will come both to HiddenDefinition and VN’s, quid pro quo. If you’re interested about the Persona universe or just curious about what a Visual Novel is I ask that you please check out my blog post on Destructoid. Click on the link below to be directed to my article and if you like it, please up vote it so it gains more exposure:

http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/ACiDBANDIT/persona-3-s-discreet-dating-sim-elements-introduced-me-to-visual-novels-267654.phtml

 

“Persona 3: Birth of Spring” full-length theatrical anime a hit in Japan

While the Persona franchise may have a cult following that continually grows larger with each release in the West, the series has exploded and become as popular as ever in it’s native land of origin (Japan Man!), demonstrated by the new feature length movie Birth of Spring, released to Japanese cinemas on November 23rd, 2013. The movie closely follows the events of P3 the game, tying in to the first several hours of gameplay for the plot of the film. There have been several trailers released, showing off the awesome visual style unique to the Persona series and the film, including the one below. Watch and enjoy:

 

The Walking Dead Season 2 begins with digital release of Episode 1, “All That Remains”available now

If you have yet to play Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” Episodic adventure series, I recommend that before you jump into the first digital release of Season 2 entitled “All That Remains” it would be in your best interest (for the continuity of the story) to start off with the physical disc compilation of Season 1. Now available as the recently released GOTY Edition for the MSRP of $29.99 (XBOX 360, PS3 and PS VITA) that includes the bonus episode“400 Days” which dropped as a exclusive digital download a few months back OR you can buy the original retail, disc version for around $14.99-$19.99 used or new (which was released last December). If you don’t own any variant of the game, physical or digital, then the extra content included with the GOTY Edition makes it the definitive version to buy. Since I enjoy the concept of retail ownership, I will probably wait until Telltale inevitably publishes the tangible copy of Season 2. Until then, for those of you that prefer not waiting another 6 months to a year, you can buy “All That Remains”, starring Clementine (as the playable character) digitally on PSN, XBOX Live and PC/STEAM for around $4.99 or $20.00 for the Season Pass. Here’s the NA Box Art for the Game of the Year Edition of Season 1:

 

The GOTY retail release of Telltales "Walking Dead" Season 1 episodic journey based on the hugely successful comic book franchise of the same name (written by Robert Kirkman) coincides with the release of the first Episode of Season 2, "All That Remains", now available on the digital marketplace across multiple platforms

The GOTY retail release of Telltale’s “Walking Dead” Season 1 episodic journey based on the hugely successful comic book franchise of the same name (written by Robert Kirkman) coincides with the release of the first Episode of Season 2, “All That Remains”, now available on the digital marketplace across multiple platforms

 

 

“Tales of Zestiria” announced by Namco for worldwide release on PS3, The Walking Dead Season 2 “Ep 1 – All That Remains” to be released soon and New PS4 Firmware availabe for update

Next core installment in the “Tales” franchise announced by Namco Bandai for global release: “Tales of Zestiria”

 

 

Official announcement logo for Namco's newest "Tales Of.." title

Official announcement logo for Namco’s newest “Tales Of..” title

 

 

It’s official, Namco Bandai has unleashed what will start the hype machine for the next Tales RPG game, titled “Tales of Zestiria” being released exclusively for the PS3. This announcement is significant in that it marks the first time a “Tales Of..”  title has been simultaneously announced for release in both the East and the Wast. While no official release date has been made available to coincide with the press release, I can only assume that with Tales of Symphonia HD and Tales of Xillia 2 coming to NA in 2014, I can theorize that this new title will be available by sometime in 2015. This is the next main installment in the series and it’s announcement and eventual release will commemorates the 20th anniversary for the Tales Of.. franchise which will occur in 2015. Here is a direct quote from Hideo Baba, producer of the Tales series via a press release:

“Over the past few years the Tales Of team has taken great strides to strengthen our relationship with players across North America and Europe, To respond to their love and support I am honored to open a new chapter of the Tales Of series together with Japanese and overseas fans.”

Tales of Zestiria is being developed exclusively for the PS3 and will be released in Japan with a western localization to follow soon after.

 

 

The Walking Dead Season 2, Episode 1 “All That Remains” to be released soon

 

TellTale Game’s hit episodic series based on the comic of the same name, “The Walking Dead”, has a new trailer to accompany the imminent release of the first episode of Season 2 entitled “All That Remains”. Season 2 picks up where Season 1 left off, and puts the player in control of everyone’s favorite little post-apocalyptic zombie survivor, Clementine. This should definitely be interesting, as most players found themselves being very protective over little Clementine, trying to retain some of her child-like innocence from a world overrun by zombies and without any trace of humanity and civilization. Now playing as her, how will players navigate and brave the harsh reality she now must face on her own? “All That Remains” will be released digitally for PlayStation 3, XBox 360, PC and iOS. Check out the trailer below:

 

Sony officially releases Firmware Update v1.52 for PlayStation 4

Sony has officially released a new firmware update for it’s newest console, the PlayStation 4. Firmware revision 1.52 became available December 11th and while no new features have been added to the OS or UI,  it seems several reports have surfaced that some features of the PS4′s sharing capabilities have had reduced loading/downloading/uploading times. Sony maintains this is purely a “stability and security” update, but if you have noticed any reduced lag in the performance of your PS4′s OS or sharing features, please feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

 

 

Atlus announces new Persona titles incl. Persona 5, New Tales of Xillia 2 NA trailer, Shiny Days Visual Novel coming to the West and School Days HQ review posted

Four new Persona titles announced, including the next main installment in the franchise: Persona 5 exclusively for PS3

I <3 Atlus. They are by far my favorite publisher, outside of Sony. They are a small bunch, but they localize some of the best titles from Japan for the west. This generation alone they have brought a new installment in the SMT series for the 3DS as well as Persona 4 Golden (PS Vita), Demon Souls (PS3), Dragon’s Crown (PS3), Catherine and their recently released 2D Anime arcade fighter for the PS3 AquaPazza. The Persona franchise has gained a huge following thanks to it’s mix of modern Japanese influenced locales and catchy J-pop techno, diverse characters and unique social link system.  If you have yet to try any of the titles I would recommend starting with Persona 3 FES, Persona 3 Portable or P4Golden.

So with the flurry of new Persona announcements, the one that gets my blood boiling the most is the next installment in the core franchise, aptly entitled Persona 5. Not much as known, although Atlus Japan released a teaser trailer which you can check out below. Persona 5 will keep the high school social theme, with each main character experiencing their own personal real-life problems along with the dark world of fighting demons/shadows/whatever. P5 will come exclusively to the PS3 in Winter of 2014, so with any hope Atlus will release it in the West soon after.

 

 

Also announced was a Persona rhythm/dance game for the Vita, a new Persona fighting game for PS3 and the first installment of the Persona franchise on the 3DS, titled Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth.  Here’s the teaser trailer for Persona Q (courtesy of Up All Night Gaming):

 

 

Winter 2014 can’t come soon enough. <3333 Persona

 

Tales of Xillia 2 NA “Pocketwatch” Trailer released by Namco Bandai

The “Tales Of” series is a well regarded RPG institution, right along with the Final Fantasy franchise. Namco Bandai has been busy busy, with Tales of Xillia released this year to critical acclaim and now the sequel, which was announced for US release recently has a teaser trailer which looks quite intriguing. Tales of Xillia 2 is scheduled to be released sometime in 2014 exclusively for the PS3. Namco has also recently launched a teaser site for a brand new installment of “Tales” coming to PS3 or PS4 . Nothing is known about this mystery Tales title yet as the website is mostly a tribute to previous PSOne Tales installations. Check out the website by clicking on the link below:

http://next.tales-ch.jp/

 

To tide you over, here is the official “Pocketwatch” trailer for Xillia 2:

 

JAST USA bringing Shiny Days Visual Novel to the west and School Days HQ reviewed

 

Originally released in 2012, PC Publisher JAST USA has a extensive catalog of localized VN's for sale. In cooperation with the Sekai Project and Shiny Days developer 0verflow, JAST will hopefully be announcing a release date soon.

Originally released in 2012, “Shiny Days” is a successive off shoot follow-up to the “School Days” VN. PC Publisher JAST USA has a extensive catalog of localized VN’s for sale, including the English collectors edition for School Days HQ. In cooperation with the Sekai Project and Shiny Days developer Overflow, JAST will hopefully be announcing a release date for the latest “Days” installment soon.

You may as well file this under awesome obscurity, since most console gamers will have no idea what a Visual Novel is unless you live or are from Japan. The quickest way to define a VN game is a point-and-click type of adventure presented through beautifully drawn computer-imagery, typically using still pictures and anime to tell a non-linear story. A VN may begin as a passive experience to setup the story, but eventually you will be faced with a bevy of choices to select from that branches the story into many different outcomes. Just like console games, VN’s fall into different genres, such as Dating-sims, Romance, Fantasy RPGS, Adventure, Comedic and Science-fiction. While technically most VN’s are presented the same, the substance varies greatly from genre to genre. Dating and Romance VN’s have a penchant for containing graphic sexual scenes, and these Visual Novels fall into their own category dubbed “eroge” (a Japanese novel consisting of erotic imagery and gaemeplay). While some games contain nothing but hyper-sexual scantily-clad anime girls with amorous feelings towards the protagonist (AKA you the player), others are more tender and involve romantic pursuits. Shiny Days and School Days HQ are the latter, games where your choice creates your own story about high school love and while they do contain sexual imagery, most of it is not gratuitous and used to enhance the context of the story that you choose.

Shiny Days is a quasi-sequel to the original School Days, featuring old and new cast members. I was ecstatic to learn that JAST USA is publishing the game in the west because I fell in love with the School Days universe after my first playthru. Subsequent playthru’s followed and I am now more enamored with the “Days” universe and it’s diverse cast of characters. While no official release date has been announced for the English PC port, I hope that Shiny Days will find it’s way to my desktop within the next 2 years. Until then, check out my review of  “School Days HQ” from the following link (or by clicking on School Days under the Reviews tab):

http://hiddendefinition.wordpress.com/about/school-days-hq-review-pc/

And for the uninitiated, head over to JAST USA website to check out their catalog of various Visual Novels, including a nice physical collectors edition of School Days HQ:

http://www.jastusa.com

 

 

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One officially here, The Last of Us Single-Player DLC Announced, Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea DLC pt. 1 released and ex-Game Informer Editor Meagan Marie makes a good impression as a Cosplayer

Check out my PlayStation 4 Launch Experience with “PS4: Gamer on the Ground” Article

Unless you live under a sand dune on Mars or you have that Helen Keller disease, you probably are aware that Sony and Microsoft have both launched their next-gen consoles on Nov 15th (PS4) and Nov 22nd (Xbox One), respectively. Being a gamer requires that you also understand the finer things in life, like how to talk away that mustard stain on your hoodie as canvas paint or know how to camp out and prepare yourself for a midnight system launch. It’s been nearly seven years for Sony and over eight years for Microsoft, so to say these console launches aren’t as exciting as before is underwhelming. Attending the midnight launch of the PlayStation 4 at my local GameStop, there was so much excitement people could hardly contain themselves as we discussed past launches, the games we loved and why I was the only person at the launch who wasn’t actually buying a system (the latter fact is irrelevant guys, BECAUSE I SAY SO). I tried innumerably to convince my fellow gamers to all pool in their funds and buy me a console, but my desperation only compounded matters for the worse and did me no favorable service. My associate who worked at GameStop told me that I had ZERO chance to obtain a unit without first pre-ordering months a go, so I cried and screamed and begged like a child having a temper tantrum, only to be forcefully removed from the premises. “Act your age” everyone said…. “Nobody wants to see a big, fat almost-30 year old man child writhing on the floor in tears” they said… WELL SCREW YOU GUYS!  OK, so maybe I embellished some of the above statements, and I didn’t actually get kicked out… I left of my own accord with dignity. I did return however with a bag full of chocolate because everyone knows gamers can’t resist big bags of snacks…. and was thus welcomed back to the launch party swiftly. “Chocolates for all” I declared! So as the night went on I snapped a few photos when I could and returned during the evening to my local Best Buy with my entourage in tow to play the PS4 demo kiosk and get some intimate, hands-on time with the console myself. Here’s what happened when trying to play first-party launch exclusive “KNACK”:

 

Unfortunately, we were shutdown and ejected by the evil Best Buy Dragon Queen because the legality of filming violates their PR policies. I couldn’t buy a PS4, I don’t know anyone that owns a unit who will let me rebox and unbox to have my own cool unboxing video then play it for hours while they sit and watch (apparently the only person I do know that owned one wanted to play it all for themselves launch day, go figure) so I did the next best thing:  going to a business that owned one with my film crew and using their free generosity to mooch gaming playtime and record it. Can a broke, ambivalent man-child gamer really be blamed for such gratuitous behavior? For my complete “PS4: Gamer on the Ground” article, click on the following link or click on the tab of the same name under the Editorials tab:

http://hiddendefinition.wordpress.com/editorials-essays-and-gamer-girls-just-a-myth-or-do-they-exist/playstation-4-launch-gamer-on-the-ground/

 

The Last of Us Single Player DLC “Left Behind” announced, Ellie a returning character

I have advocated every chance that has come to pass for TLoU to be a Game of the Year frontrunner and with this next DLC pack, scheduled to be released early 2014 my contention only grows stronger. Naughty Dog has confirmed the single-player story DLC for “The Last of Us” will indeed see the return of Ellie as a playable character and in fact, be a prequel to the core games story. It will also introduce the character of Riley, one of Ellie’s best and only friends at the military orphanage where she was being schooled. If you’ve read the Dark House 4-part comic series “American Dreams” then you should have some idea of what to expect, although the DLC is not an exact recreation from the comics story and appears to take place after the events from the last comic and in-between the beginning of the main game. I implore you guys to read “American Dreams” because not only does it offer a great precursor to Ellie’s backstory, but it also serves as a companion piece to the game’s main narrative. Here’s the teaser trailer for the DLC, entitled “Left Behind“:

 

Bioshock: Infinite “Burial at Sea” pt. 1 released

Return to Rapture before it's downfall and see it as in the utopia Andrew Ryan envisioned. Liz seeks out Bookers help as a Private Investigator in "Burial at Sea".

Return to Rapture before it’s downfall and see it as in the utopia Andrew Ryan envisioned. Liz seeks out Bookers help as a Private Investigator in “Burial at Sea”.

The first part of a duo DLC single-player pack for Bioshock: Infinite was released on November 12th for a MSRP of $14.99, or if you have the Season Pass then it’s available digitally as a download now for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. “Burial at Sea” is a two-part adventure that returns the player to Rapture in it’s glory days before plasmids corrupted the loyal denizens into Splicers and all hell broke loose.  Featuring some new weapons and a whole new story, you’ll play as private investigator Booker DeWitt hired by very more adult, demure persona of Elizabeth in the first part then take over and play as Elizabeth in the second part.

I was really disappointed with the story direction featured in Bioshock: Infinite’s single-player two part DLC “Burial at Sea” and although the concept and the return of Liz and Booker are certainly welcome, it seems so much more could’ve been explored within Infinite’s universe instead of returning to a glorified Rapture. Probably the most intriguing, albeit silent protagonist in a game this year was Infinite’s “Songbird“, the giant mechanical fowl that served as Elizabeth’s frightening ward in the main campaign. For all the lip-service Irrational paid to it’s newest terrifying creation (the collectors edition featured a 12-14″ statue of the character and was aptly dubbed “Ultimate Songbird Edition“), Songbird was hardly featured in the core game and ultimately relegated to a minor supporting role. It seems their was so much back story for this character and situational set pieces that could’ve been crafted within a DLC campaign to give Songbird a more involved role. Am I the only one that feels this way? Comment below and speak your mind about what your ideal DLC scenario for Bioshock Infinite would’ve been.

 

Cosplayer Meagan Marie strikes a pose and brings her characters to life

Recently featured on Kotaku’s Fancy Pants (http://kotaku.com/5876329/the-very-best-of-meagan-maries-cosplay/), I knew she looked familiar. Sure enough, flipping through some of my past print editions of “Game Informer” I saw Meagan’s picture appear several times co-mingling with other GI editors, game developers and game industry folks. Not only is she a hell of a writer, but she can cosplay with the best of them. Take a look for your self:

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Meagan portraying Anya from Gears of War, one of the few female gears that could take down herds of the locust with the boys

 

Meagan as Marie Antoinette, the ill-fated last queen of France and dare I say, one of the original "it-girls" before there even was a Hollywood.

Meagan as Marie Antoinette, the ill-fated last queen of France and dare I say, one of the original “it-girls” before there even was a Hollywood.

If you want to see more of Meagan’s tireless effort to recreate our favorite fictional and non-fictional characters, then go to her website and admire her skill as only us gross, girlfriend-less gamers could; by showering her with lots of praise and stalking her. Just kidding Meagan, all my subjective comments come from a place of gamer love <3

Meagan Marie’s WordPress Blog:

http://www.meagan-marie.com/

P.S.  You’ve cosplayed titular gaming characters, historical and mythical figures and even sci-fi badasses. But their seems to be one missing from your resume that happens to be my all time favorite gaming character: Samus Aran. Yes, I know it’s been done but there are so many different ways to approach her. A strong female lead when console gaming was still in it’s infancy and female heroines were uncommon, most women in games were relegated to the “damsel in distress” cliches. Her revelation came as a pleasant surprise to most gamers who played through the original Metroid and were expecting anything but. One of the original Nintendo stalwart characters, Samus has always been my favorite and if Nintendo would release a new Metroid game where she resumes the role of the silent, lone-wolf character (no more talking please, Samus spoke enough in “Other M” to last the next three generations of Metroid games), I would instantly go out and buy a Nintendo console just to play it. Just a thought, or rant. Whatever.

 

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HiddenDefinition turns one year old, PS4 launch title Driveclub delayed until 2014, Official PS4 FAQ posted by Sony on their blog and next-gen AAA title Titanfall will NEVER come to PS4

HiddenDefinition’s One Year Anniversary!

HAPPY BIRFDAY TO US

HAPPY BIRFDAY TO US

If you had told me this site would’ve survived beyond a year, gained a cult following of a mind-blowing six people (hey, it’s a small cult and everybody knows cults are almost always more effective with a limited resume of cryptic followers, just look at the Manson family) and rocked the online gaming community to it’s core I would’ve scoffed in your face and possibly spit on you (OK, the last point is clearly a lie). But here we are, a year later and HD is still going lukewarm strong. To commemorate this insignificant landmark that surely noone will recognize I ripped off a funny pic courtesy of IMGUR. Thanks to whoever thoughtfully took the precious time to create the above craft and post it, if you feel you deserve more credit please comment on this post and I’ll text you dickpics. Just kidding, they’ll be nip pics, I do have some shame. So, let’s do a little dance, sing a little song and drown this forgettable occasion in a plethora of news! ON WITH THE NEWS!!

Sony confirms that PS4 launch title DriveClub is delayed until early 2014

UK based Evolution studios PS4 racer "DriveClub" will not be available day one, or even this year for that matter (screenshot taken from in-game)

UK based Evolution studios PS4 racer “DriveClub” will not be available day one, or even this year for that matter (screenshot taken from in-game)

This is the second big launch loss for Sony, as Ubisoft announced earlier that their new IP for next-gen and current-gen consoles Watch Dogs was also delayed until 2014. DriveClub is a team-based racing sim that…. well we don’t know too much about it yet but from the above image it certainly looks very pretty. It’s too bad, since Microsoft will have Forza which also admittedly looks awesome and will be available during the Xbox One launch. As I’ve stated multiple times on this site and I will now reiterate, anytime a game is delayed it’s typically for the greater good. Nobody wants a glitchy, cobbled-together mess pushed out the door just to make a release date because then nobody wins. So while in the short term it’s definitely a blow to Sony’s already iffy first-party launch lineup, in the long term will be better for it. DriveClub was also supposed to come free with PlayStation Plus membership for those who signed up after the PS4 launched, obviously offering incentive to pay for Sony’s lucrative premium online service. In it’s stead, Sony is now offering the moody platformer “Contrast” as the free replacement digital game download which is still a bargain. While Contrast may not contain the same broad appeal as an arcade/driving simulator for early adopters, from all reports Contrast is a game that is beautifully crafted and offers a twist on the platform genre. Also, there is a little title called Gran Turismo 6 which is going to be released in December for the PS3, so I’m sure all you racing fans can manage. Either way, Sony has you covered. If you’ve yet to see Contrast in action, here’s a the trailer as a refresher:

Sony clarifies what the PS4 can and cannot do during it’s infancy with the official PlayStation 4 FAQ

Sony has released a 30-something page FAQ that covers everything A-Z with it’s newest console. If you have any unanswered questions regarding the next-gen behemoth that haven’t properly been answered outside the realm of speculation, you can find out whatever it is you need to know with official confirmation on Sony’s US Blog. Notable points of interest include the system will not play audio CD’s or MP3′s, which is kind of a bummer but Sony has insisted that it has listened to our shrieks of discontent and says that these issues may be remedied in future firmware updates. Also worthy of mention (which I posted in a news article back several weeks a go) is that the PS4 does not currently support bluetooth headsets. While the PS4 will include it’s own headset bundled, this is certainly puzzling as many gamers have pricey bluetooth sets of high-quality and it seems that for a next-gen console bluetooth would be an obvious mandatory inclusion. Hopefully after Sony works out whatever they need to after the console launches, will get some kind of update that doesn’t render our expensive bluetooth headsets as just relics for the aging PS3. For the full FAQ, click on the link below:

http://blog.us.playstation.com/2013/10/30/ps4-the-ultimate-faq-north-america/

EA confirms that developer Respawn’s next-gen blockbuster “Titanfall” is a Microsoft exclusive

Probably one of the biggest 3rd-party exclusive titles coming next-gen will never be making the rounds to Sony PlayStation, EVER. Electronic Arts confirmed recently that the Respawn-developed title will be an Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC/Windows exclusive for it’s lifetime. Many folks believed (as did I) that “Titanfall” was a timed exclusive, meaning the title would be available only for Microsoft gaming platforms for a period of 4-6 months before their licensing period expired and then it could be ported to the PS4, however that’s just not the case. Respawn took to the web to clarify this was a surprise as much to them as it was to those purchasing a PS4 over Xbox One, stating this was clearly a decision that came from the publishing giant EA and not them. Certainly disappointing, however many Sony first-party studios have yet to even announce their own projects so I’m quite sure that the Sony faithful will be rewarded in time with a variety of kick ass exclusives. Naughty Dog, Media Molecule and Quantic Dream have all yet to show off or announce any next-gen titles (Sorry, but “The Dark Sorcerer” doesn’t count). This is what happens when you throw a crap load of money at a publisher and say “See that game one of you’re studios is developing, it’s ONLY coming to our platforms”. The good news is if you own a PC, Titanfall is still very playable as long as your system is up to spec. I don’t blame Microsoft for locking this game up, if it weren’t for exclusives then owning a Sony or Microsoft branded console would be utterly pointless. Gamers buy dedicated gaming consoles for the exclusive games that only they can offer. Otherwise, there would be no point as every title would be multi-platform, which in turn would lead to almost no competition and ultimately drive up price, or just kill of the console market all-together. This is why Nintendo will NEVER allow any of their stalwart first-party games and characters to touch another console manufacturer. Oh and by the way, if you’re looking for a bargain this holiday season and want a new console but don’t have the scratch to invest in the PS4 or Xbox One, may I recommend another viable option: Nintendo has released a special “mini” version of the Wii (aptly named the Wii Mini) which is bundled with Mario Kart 8 for $99. Nintendo doing what they do best, manufacturing and selling a game machine that just plays games, no more, no less. What more could you ask for?

The Wii Mini comes to retail Nov 17th. and includes a copy of Mario Kart Wii. On the negative side, unlike it's bigger brother the mini does not include S-video or SD card support, so you'll have to make do with standard composite A/V cables. However, the Wii was never an HD console to begin with so I don't see this as too big of a deal. Also, it lacks internet support so you won't be able to access the virtual console but again without an SD slot to save your downloads, this doesn't really matter anyways.

The Wii Mini comes to retail Nov 17th. and includes a copy of Mario Kart Wii. On the negative side, unlike it’s bigger brother the mini does not include S-video or SD card support, so you’ll have to make do with standard composite A/V cables. However, the Wii was never an HD console to begin with so I don’t see this as too big of a deal. Also, it lacks internet support so you won’t be able to access the virtual console but again without an SD slot to save your downloads, this doesn’t really matter anyways.