Animal Crossing – Happy Home Designer
At the bright and beautiful Nintendo booth, I managed to sit down at what seemed like a hipster-esque seating arangement by a tree and get my eager hands on the new instalment from the Animal Crossing series, namely Happy Home Designer. My time was spent experiencing what I can only describe as The Sims meets Animal Crossing, as the series forgoes the wider life simulation for house interior decoration (A feature of previous titles that was both adored and addictive).
Taking on the role of an employee at Tom Nook’s, you are tasked with using the new interface to design homes for the inhabitants of the Animal Crossing world, working to their design specifications and unlocking new features and furniture as the game progresses. The game controlled and graphically looked similar if not the same as Animal Crossing: New Leaf (the prior 3DS title in the series) however the lower screen now takes on the form of a grid to assist in laying out your new designs using a plethora of both new and old items.
All the while next to a beautiful display case featuring the first wave of Amiibo cards, new cardboard alternatives to our mass produced NFC figurines. Each one of this first 100 cards features the same Near Field Communication abilities as their predecessors and is adorned with a different lovable Animal Crossing Character, giving the user access to new content in the game and new characters to take on board as clients.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is shaping up to be a fun game and is set to hit shelves tomorrow here in Australia alongside Amiibo card booster packs and the Amiibo reader for older 3DS models. For all your EB Expo coverage, stay right here with us at NovaStream.
Street Fighter V
Atop a podium sat two glorious fight sticks and a large flatscreen TV…it was on! I gladly took on the reigns of Ken Masters and took on some fellow patrons of EB Expo in a few rounds of Street Fighter V, and once my eyes adjusted it was one wild ride.
Street Fighter’s latest addition is, in one word, beautiful. Like previous fighting games that have made the leap to current generation consoles, my biggest hiccup was adjusting to the faster frame rate. The silky smooth 60 fps the new consoles are pumping out make street fighter look amazing, however the new timings of attacks as a result do take a bit of an adjustment. But after a brief fumbling around, I was throwing Hadoukens like the good old days.
Fighting is smooth, fast and fun. The additional V-Guage is a nice addition to the combat system, building up as you give and receive damage. This can then utilise new abilities for each character. First are V-Skills which are unique for each character, and do things such as deflecting projectiles or parrying attacks. Then there are V-Reversals which are used to counter opposing attacks. Finally V-Triggers are abilities that can boost attacks or defence at the expense of your entire V-Guage.
Utilising these new techniques in conjunction with standard combos and EX attacks (stock standard in the series since Street Fighter III) will take some time, but soon it will become a staple of every fighters arsenal. I got to try out some of the new fighters as well, including my new favourite Rashid. A fighter of middle eastern decent, he uses technology and martial arts to produce mini tornadoes. What isn’t awesome about that?
My biggest gripe with the game is that it is seemingly taking some pages out of the dead or alive books, with female characters in the game being over sexualised in the build that I got to play. This was most noticable with Chun-Li who seemed to jump at least two cup sizes and equiped with very exaggerate jiggle physics. This sort of thing is not only sexist and unnecessary but I think it will detract a lot of players. I hope that is corrected in the final build of the game.
Beyond that, Street Fighter is shaping up to be a fitting entry into the current generation of fighters. For all things gaming and EB Expo, stick with NovaStream.
Guitar Hero Live
With the rebirth of the plastic instrument party on the horizon, I got my hands on Guitar Hero Live and Activision’s new take of the perfect guitar controller. The first title released in the rhythm “Hero” line of games in half a decade, Guitar Hero Live has thrown away basically everything except for the name. Forget everything you knew about Guitar Hero.
Let’s start with the controller. Still shaped like a guitar, much of the base are remains unchanged. The strum bar is still solid and gives an audible click to register your movement, over which sits a whammy bar and other console keys reshaped to look like guitar knobs and pick-ups. as you move your sight up the neck we see the familiar coloured fret buttons have vanished, replaced by six un-coloured keys (sitting in two rows of three).
This changes the game on so many levels. It removes the capability for dlc and legacy controller compatibility (both of which will be available for competitor Rock Band 4). It forces your fingers to react differently, making the muscle memory of former Guitar Hero expert players (such as myself) useless, as my confused fingers reaching for buttons that no longer exist.
It has changed the layout of the game, with our circular coloured gems now taking the form of guitar picks facing up or down to represent which row of buttons to use when playing the song. And then the more you look at the screen, the more you realise this is a complete re-envisioning of the game.
Gone are your customised rock stars and personalised guitars, being cheered on by a cartoon crowd of artificial groupies. Instead you take on a first person perspective of your guitarist in a live action simulation of rock-stardom. Your band mates run around the stage and rock out with you, cheering you on when you are playing flawlessly or mouthing profanity when you screw up. The live crowd reacts in the same likeness depending on if you play good or bad, getting pumped up or disappointed respectively.
While I was playing, another patron slammed his controller screaming a slew of crude words to the jingle of “They have ruined this”. And while I watched security escort him from the premisis, I realised that like with most things in life, change is inevitable and not always welcome. But this is a reboot and the game is completely different as promised. Looks like I’m going back to Easy for a while.
Guitar Hero Live rocks our shelves on the 20th of October for all platforms. For all things EB Expo and more, keep it locked to Nova Stream.
The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes
Like a moth to fire, The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes drew me in, and it was everything I had hoped for and more. Myself and the guys from The Popculturists raided the Zelda booth, with Josh and I taking control alongside a sleep deprived Nintendo representative.
It was love at first sight. With the game…not the Nintendo Rep. Taking cards from the deck of previous titles such as the Four Swords in terms of game play and Wind Waker in terms of art direction, the game was everything I expected and more.
We started our journey in the costume studio. The system this Zelda titles introduces revolves around two key things, the first being clothes. So each link will pick a costume, each comes with their own buffs. I, ofcourse, picked the dress because…why not. The legendary dress grants additional hearts for enemy kills, whereas other costumes could grant additional arrows or bigger bombs. You can even put on less clothing to add to the challenge.
The second new system is the focus on working in threes and making totems, stacking each link on top of another to solve puzzles or defeat enemies. This would range from being a certain height to hit a switch or climb a ledge and obtain a key, or attacking an enemy who’s weak spot is higher than ground level.
As most Zelda games, we traversed a themed environment fighting chu chus and totem-ing to take down large deku scrubs. As with the Four Swords titles in the past, we moved through three or four puzzle solving sections culminating in a boss battle. The boss was also another nod towards the new totem mechanic, is it would move its weak spot up and down the Z-axis, forcing you to totem two or three links to reach it.
Finally, the game supports local Download Play (a feature that isn’t as commonly advertised as it used to be) which will make finding your team of links a lot easier given that your team mates don’t need to own the game to join the fray.
All in all, The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Warriors was a pleasure to play and it’s October 24th release date cannot come sooner. For all things EB Expo, go no further than NovaStream.
Rock Band 4
Many of us not long ago would have thought that our time dreaming of being rock stars and wailing in clickity-clacking plastic instruments was over. Then Harmonix kicked down the door screaming “NOOOO!”. Enter, Rock Band 4. The first entry into our now current generation of consoles, Rock Band 4 brings with it some slight changes and improvements as well as a platter of new songs. Luckily, myself and the boys from Popculturists got our eager gaming hands on the new game and the new instruments.
The game itself feels like a natural progression, with a very familiar feel to it. Characters designs and sets are made in that slightly cartoon-y fashion we have grown used to with previous entries in the series and as you are welcomed to the stage and counted into your first song, the familiar coloured notes begin to slide toward you at varying speed. It’s when you dig deeper that you notice the differences.
The biggest change we experienced was the new “Freestyle” mode, which replaces the solo sections of your music track with a section for you to compose your own solos. In theory this could be disastrous but after playing and watching, Harmonix seem to have found a way to balance timid guitarists and button mashers alike, with a nice sounding solo being produced regardless of how many notes you strum and at what intensity. The new rock band guitar features 10 buttons, two sets of five as seen on previous peripherals used in the games and by alternating between these you not only produce a different sounding solo, but generate different amounts of points (with some solos fairing better with high and low notes depending on the place in a song it is played and even the song itself).
Beyond that, most other changes we saw were asthetic more than practical, with sets and character models (both onstage and crowd) featuring more animation and the crowd featuring more character models to make it feel more like a crowd of individual people. This is where I saw the jump to current generation consoles, as the power of previous generations could not produce consistent results like this.
The new controllers likewise felt both similar and new at the same time. The Guitar was dead silent in comparison to it’s predecessors, and while the strum bar still has no sort of clicking feedback, it still felt solid and gave good results during our demo. The drums also provided good bounce and seem to have had their noise cancelled quite a bit as well, featuring as well a reinforced kick pedal to hopefully reduce the need to replace these in the future (as these had been known to break quite frequently in previous titles).
Backwards compatibility will also be present to a degree, as much DLC content will be able to be brought forward to the new games. Sadly though this will not include some songs as licencing to them was lost and will not work cross platform (ie. Xbox 360 can only be brought forward to Xbox One and not Playstation 4. And Vice Versa).There will also be a sold-seperately dongle released through a Harmonix affiliate website which will allow some previous controllers to function with the new games.
Rock Band 4 will rock Aussie shores on October 15th in various configurations (depending on what instruments you want) for PS4 and Xbox One. For all things EB Expo, keep it locked to NovaStream.