Thursday, 10 April 2014

One To Watch: Tomodachi Life [3DS]



Nintendo has today revealed an exciting new  Life Simulation game, Tomadachi Life (Tomodachi is the Japanese word for 'friend'), which will be released for the Nintendo 3DS on the 6th June 2014. The game allows players to create Miis of almost anyone they can think of and bring them to life in their own virtual world.

The game takes place on Chin island,  a special place inhabited by various Miis, which the player can import from their 3DS Mii Maker or via the 3DS QR code reader. Miis can also be created by using the 3DS camera or the in-game creation tools.

 Once created, these little avatars can be given their own voice and then players can set about creating a unique personality based on some slider inputs. The game is open-ended and almost anything can happen as new Miis interact together to form their own virtual communities.

Miis can perform various actions, such as eating, trying on different outfits and doing many leisurely activities such as going to the beach or dining at a restaurant, etc. As more Miis are introduced into the game, different interactions will become available and new events will occur. Miis can develop new skills and experience social developments such as friendship, romance, and rivalry, as well as take part in some bizarre musical numbers.

If you are curious about how all these elements work together, then the latest Nintendo Direct broadcast seeks to answer your questions:

  (Having trouble viewing this video? CLICK HERE)




Tomodachi Life  cleverly blends together many core elements from other Life Simulation games. If you have enjoyed games such as The Sims 3, Enchanted Folk or Animal Crossing, then this may be the perfect addition to your collection. Mini Gamers looks forward to bringing you further news about the game as it develops.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

PS Vita Pets Gets June 2014 Release Date...

PS Vita Pets,  the first true pet simulation to emerge on Sony's handheld system, has today been given a proposed release date of the 4th of June 2014. The game, which merges together elements of the virtual pet simulation genre with some action-adventure elements thrown in as well, has a very family-orientated feel to it.

There has been some dispute among the gaming community of late as to whether the game's title of 'pets' is misleading, as it tends to suggest that there will be various domesticated animals on offer when in fact the game actually only features dogs.

 However, Kevin Oxland, Creative Director for Spiral House,  today explained that the high quality realistic animations and the task of making these dogs actually talk to the player has meant that the overall concept of 'pets' had to be kept simple, which is why only dogs have been included in this game. He said: "We could only include dogs. The fidelity of the dogs, the quality in the animation, the adventure and all the dialogue, which we translated and recorded in many different languages, require a lot of resources and time to get right and the team worked hard to bring you a quality experience..." [sourced from: http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2014/04/02/playstation-vita-pets-release-date-new-gameplay-details/]





Of course Spiral House are no stranger to pet simulation games as they were also responsible for bringing the PS3's loveable EyePet to Sony's original portable handheld, the PSP. However, it will be some time before we can see whether Playstation Vita Pets can equal Eyepet's success in the casual gaming market.

 Some new screenshots for the game have also been released, along with the main box art image (shown above). The screenshots appear to show some of the adventure parts of the game. More information has also been provided about the virtual dogs' ability to talk in human speech with the players. According to Kevin Oxland, the game will feature "a huge script of dialogue for each of the dogs. In total we have around 10,000 lines of spoken dialogue in the game."  [sourced from: http://blog.eu.playstation.com/2014/04/02/playstation-vita-pets-release-date-new-gameplay-details/] 





More detailed descriptions of exactly how the dogs will be essential in helping the player to unlock the secrets of the island's buried treasure, has also been revealed. It seems that the player's chosen puppy will help  by sniffing out clues, digging in unexpected places and crawling through areas of the game map that players could not otherwise be expected to access.  

Some gamers have already criticised the game, accusing Sony of  trying to copy Nintendo's success with the Nintendogs series. Nevertheless, PlayStation Pets has tried very hard to separate itself from other virtual pet games on the current market, and whilst cute pet simulation games will not appeal to everybody,  this game is very innovative  and helps to widen the appeal of the PS Vita by offering casual gamers and younger gamers an adventure title with a difference. This is definitely one to watch!


Friday, 28 March 2014

Nintendo To End Its Video Service on the 3DS and Cease Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Services on Wii and DS...



Nintendo has announced through their official Japanese website that after nearly an entire decade of offering unique downloadable content for various Nintendo games, Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, will be coming to an end. This means the end of online functionality for over sixty Wii and Nintendo DS titles.

The service is expected to end on the 20th May 2014, and includes online applications such as:  online play, matchmaking and leaderboards for many Wii, Nintendo DS and Nintendo DSi games such as Animal Crossing: Wild World, 100 Classic BooksMario Kart DS, and Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass to name but a few. A full list of the affected titles for both Wii and DS can be found here.

Nintendo have stressed that not all online services will be affected and that applications such as The Wii's Internet Channel, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Nintendo DS Browser, Nintendo DSi Browser, Nintendo DSi Shop and YouTube will be completely unchanged.




There was further bad news for fans of the Nintendo Video Service on the 3DS. The application which allows users to watch and download free 3D film trailers, animated shorts, SKY 3D trailers and various 3D videos will also cease its services on the 31st March 2014. Purchased and downloaded 3D videos from the Nintendo eShop will be unaffected by the cessation of this service.

No reason has so far been given for why these services have been discontinued, but we can all hope that these changes may hail the arrival of some newer and more exciting services from Nintendo in the near future. Fingers crossed!

Monday, 10 March 2014

One To Watch: Dr. Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training [3DS]



It's finally here! The latest installment of Dr. Kawashima's hugely successful Brain Training franchise is set to arrive on the 3DS in the UK for the very first time. Dr. Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training: Can you stay focused? was first announced back in 2012, but despite several rumours that the game would be scheduled for European release on the 8th March 2013, it failed to appear - until now.

The game, (which is also known as Dr. Kawashima's Concentration Training outside of Europe,) offers another difficult set of mental agility challenges for players to complete, but whereas previous titles in this series have tended to focus more broadly on logic, mathematics comprehension, perception and long-term memory recall, each of the exercises in Dr. Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training: Can you stay focused? have something to do with concentration and training the player's working (short-term) memory to stay focused whilst facing various distractions.



So, what exactly has the game got to offer fans of the series? Well, Dr. Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training: Can you stay focused? offers a total of thirty daily exercises and minigames, including eighteen exercises which have never appeared in the previous Brain Training games. Furthermore, many of the featured core exercises can be uniquely tailored for brain training enthusiasts of all abilities.

For example, Devilish Calculations challenges players to recall the answer to a previous mathematical problem while paying attention to the next one in line. The questions come thick and fast and it will take all of a player's concentration skills to successfully remember all of the required information without making any mistakes.



Meanwhile, Devilish Mice,  challenges players to simultaneously track the path of some mice while they are being chased by cats. It sounds simple but it's a lot harder than it might first appear.

However, this is where the game usefully adapts itself to the player's performance and understanding. If players struggle during the exercise and seem to perform badly, then the game dynamically adjusts the difficulty based on the player's real-time results. By offering a difficult challenge from the start and shifting the difficulty to match the player's individual performance, Dr. Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training: Can you stay focused? constantly pushes players to attain new high scores, helping them to stay alert, engaged and to use their short-term memory to its fullest.




As well as putting themselves to the test with the daily challenges on offer, players can also build up their concentration skills via the Training Supplements mode, which seeks to further train the brain using other exercises from those that are completed during the daily challenges. Players who are feeling confident in their short-term memory capabilities may also wish to complete the difficult Concentration Challenge

Furthermore, Dr. Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training: Can you stay focused? has now made it even easier for players to compete against friends and family by using multiple save slots to keep different profiles on a single Game Cartridge.

Like many other 3DS games, Dr. Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training: Can you stay focused? will now use the 3DS' StreetPass to trade data with other users of the game and allows players the chance to compete against one another to attain the best brain training challenge scores.


 The actual UK release date for the game is yet to be confirmed, but with more screenshots and a newly-designed European boxshot cover design slowly emerging on the Internet, it would seem that Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training days are far from over. 

The following video presentation from Nintendo Direct (originally filmed in December 2012) helps to give an idea of the gameplay and challenges that players can expect to see during the game. If you are having trouble viewing the video on your device, please CLICK HERE.



As with the previous games in the series, Dr. Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training: Can you stay focused?  has a nice 'adult' feel to it, whilst still remaining entertaining and accessible enough to appeal to slightly younger gamers as well, making it a very good family game. 

If you enjoyed the previous Brain Training games but are looking for a new challenge, or if you just feel that your short-term memory could do with a work-out, then this is definitely the perfect game for you. Overall rating: 9/10.

Keep checking in with the Mini Gamers blogsite for more release date and gameplay information on this game as it arrives!


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Jack Tretton Steps Down as CEO of SCEA...





Jack Tretton has formally announced his decision to step down from his position as the President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America [SCEA] after almost twenty years with the company.

 This decision has reportedly been a "result of a mutual agreement between Mr. Tretton and SCEA not to renew their contractual relationship", according to the official Sony press release. [sourced from: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/jack-tretton-to-step-down-as-president-and-ceo-of-sony-computer-entertainment-america-248876781.html]

Jack Tretton first began working at the SCEA during its inception in in 1995 and has been personally  overseen the development of every single PlayStation gaming console to date, including the PS Vita handheld.

He has become a familiar face to many PlayStation fans, who have witnessed him giving several presentations at big gaming events like E3 over the years. During these presentations, Tretton never failed to show how proud he was of the SCEA and how grateful he was to its many fans for their continued support in the growth of the PlayStation brand.

Today, Jack Tretton echoed those sentiments in the following statement: "Serving PlayStation fans for the past 19 years has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. Your passion for gaming inspired me every day. I want to thank you for constantly pushing PlayStation to deliver breakthrough gaming and entertainment experiences, and to never settle for “good enough.” The embodiment of this commitment can be found in the PS4, which has quickly become the #1 next-gen console worldwide...thanks to you. We’ve shared many memories over the past two decades and I’ll always be grateful for your support." [sourced from: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2014/03/06/a-message-from-jack-tretton/]

Tretton has also been noted as helping to lead the company to several important company milestones, including surpassing fifty million units sold with the PlayStation 2 in North America, and aggressively growing the PlayStation business in Canada and Latin America

Most recently, Tretton led the record-breaking launch of the PS4, which sold more than one million units in 24 hours in North America and is now considered to be the number one next generation gaming console in North America and worldwide.




Thus, it seems like an odd time from the CEO to step down from his position. Nevertheless, it seems as though Jack Tretton wishes to leave the company on a high note. In a message posted to the Playstation blog earlier today, Tretton announced: "I leave knowing that the PlayStation brand has never been stronger, PlayStation 4 momentum continues to accelerate, and the future will only get brighter for our gamers" [sourced from: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2014/03/06/a-message-from-jack-tretton/]

Jack Tretton will officially step down at the end of March 2014. The current Vice-President of SCEA, Shawn Layden, is set to take over from Tretton on the first of April this year.

Layden announced that he is very excited to be given the opportunity to lead the Playstation brand into the next generation. He said: "It's an honor and privilege to join Sony Computer Entertainment America and be a part of the team that is leading the next generation of gaming and entertainment. SCEA is committed to delivering breakthrough gaming experiences that inspire fans and exceed their wildest expectations. As PS4 shows us every day, there has never been a better time to be part of the PlayStation community and I look forward to working with our retail, development, publishing and network partners to further demonstrate why PlayStation is the best place to play." [sourced from: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/jack-tretton-to-step-down-as-president-and-ceo-of-sony-computer-entertainment-america-248876781.html]

It remains uncertain  how the departure of such an influential figure such as Jack Tretton will ultimately effect the PlayStation brand, but Shawn Layden, (a fifteen year veteran with the Sony Computer Entertainment corporation himself,) certainly has some very big shoes to fill if he is to succeed in his mission to continue the success that the SCEA has seen under his predecessor.


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sci-Fi Adventure Forma.8 Coming To PS Vita and PS4!



Forma.8 is a new action-adventure game from Italian indie game developers, Mixedbag. The plot for this game is a fairly simple one.

The game is set in the future, where a small space probe known as Forma.8 has been abandoned on a small alien planet with one important mission - find and recover a powerful energy source deep under the surface before it’s too late to save humanity.




However, things are not as simple as they first appear, and Forma.8 will have to face many battles (and boss battles) with some unforeseen hostile enemies before it can finally complete its mission. Nevertheless, this game is very innovative in that it is up to the players of the game to decide how and where the game unfolds next.

Forma.8 starts with no powers, no weapons, and no hints of what to do or where to go. There is no verbal communication in the game at all, instead everything is conveyed to the player with images, sounds, and the gameplay itself.

Players must explore the planet independently, collecting powers sometimes having to deal with alien hostiles along the way, and gradually unlock the rest of the story. Physics plays a big part in the game too; everything in the in-game world is physics based, with plants, ropes, liquids, enemies, rocks,etc., all interacting and reacting in a realistic way, which helps to add unexpected twists to the game.




The graphics of Forma.8 are also very unique, and consists mainly of hand-drawn vector lines, which have then been rendered in HD to create a very smooth-looking, slightly strange but beautiful environment.

Very little is known about Forma.8 at the moment as the game is still in development, but is expected to become available for download from the PS store by Spring 2014. If you want a space adventure with a difference, then this might just be the game you are looking for.





Monday, 17 February 2014

God Of War Collection Gets PS Vita Release Date...


Sony has announced a God Of War Collection for the PS Vita. The collection will feature both God Of War 1 and God Of War 2, and is expected to feature updated and improved graphics and new touchscreen capabilities.




For those of you who are still unfamiliar with the series, God Of War is an action-adventure, which is loosely based on Greek mythology. The use of a mixture of combat, platformer and puzzle elements, as well as an engaging and emotive plot, have helped to make the God Of War games extremely popular over the years.



Players must take on the role of Kratos - a Spartan Warrior and Demigod, who has been forced to serve the Greek god, Ares, in order to save his own life, but this action later leads to the murder of his wife and child, which then sees Kratos turn on the gods of Olympus as he seeks vengeance against those who have wronged him.

A trailer of God Of War Collection can be viewed below. If you are having trouble viewing the trailer on your device, then please CLICK HERE:




 God Of War Collection will be released on the 8th of May 2014. It will feature the first two games of the series on a single game cartridge. It will also mark the debut of the God Of War series on the PS Vita. If you have never played a God Of War game, but the idea of battling against the Greek gods appeals to you, then this may be the perfect time to go ahead and introduce yourself to the series.



Wednesday, 12 February 2014

"Copyright Protection Information Is Not Valid" - How To Potentially Solve This Annoying PS Vita Problem In 14 Easy Steps...



 Every electronic device has its little glitches and problems from time-to-time. One of the most common errors to occur on the PS Vita happens when downloading videos. Users are told via a pop-up dialogue box that the copyright protection information for their recently downloaded film purchase or rental is not valid.

This error means that the downloaded content cannot be played, which is especially annoying if the purchase in question is a rental copy, which is due to expire in the next few days, etc. However, we are pleased to announce that Mini Gamers has researched this issue, and has found a simple solution that should solve the problem relatively quickly. We have also compiled a step-by-step guide on how to solve this issue, which we hope will be helpful, and we have also attempted to answer a few questions that you might have about this issue:



Why does this error occur?


According to Sony, this error occurs when the PS Vita system needs certain user-permissions like video or music usage to be activated or deactivated on the system.

Sometimes this error can occur when trying to download content onto a new memory stick, or if a user has two PlayStation devices which share one account (like a PS4 and a PS Vita, for example), where the downloaded content can only be used on one device, but sometimes this error can occur randomly without a known cause.



How can this error be solved?

In order to solve this problem, users must reset the user-permissions on their console. This sounds complicated, but is actually easy. The following steps will help you to activate and deactivate the user permissions correctly: 

1. Go to Settings.

2. Select the PSN tab.

3. Select the System Activation tab.

4. Select the Music/Video Playback option.

5. Select the DEACTIVATE option. 
(this is very important, as selecting 'activate' will not work at this point.)

6. [OPTIONAL STEP If you have other purchased videos stored in your PS Vita*] :  
If you have bought other films from the Playstation Store, which you know played correctly before this error, select one of these films and try to play it. The selected film should now also display the same error code - "The Copyright Protection information is not valid.
*NB: If you have only rental films stored on your memory stick, please skip this step and move on to Step 7.

7. Turn off the PS Vita. Wait approximately 5 seconds and then turn it on again.

8. Go to Settings.

9. Select the PSN tab.

10. Select the System Activation tab.

11. Select the Music/Video Playback option.

12. Select the ACTIVATE option. 

13. Go To Videos.

14. Select the film that had the error. It should now play normally.





My Vita video download STILL doesn't work! 
What can I do now?

If you have followed all the steps above correctly, your problem should now be solved in most cases. Nevertheless, if you are still experiencing problems after reading this guide, then your PS Vita may require additional support to get it working again. 

PlayStation Support can be contacted on the following number: 0844 736 0595 (UK customers only), and should be able to help you within 48 hours of your enquiry. Alternatively, you can email them: networksupport@uk.playstation.com.

Please note, if you live outside of the UK, the correct contact information for your country can be found HERE.




We hope you have found the above information both useful and informative, and that it has helped you to resolve your video playback issues. 

Do you have any additional advice or comments that you wish to share with other readers about this problem? Why not leave us a comment and let us know. Mini Gamers loves to hear from you!








Monday, 10 February 2014

Cancer Research UK's First Free Mobile Gaming App To Help Cure Cancer: "PLAY TO CURE: GENES IN SPACE"







Play to Cure: Genes in Space is the world’s first FREE mobile game that uses the collective force of players to analyse real genetic data and help beat cancer sooner.

The game is essentially a Sci-Fi, arcade-style, action-adventure, in which players must explore the far reaches of deep space, identifying and collecting a mysterious substance called Element Alpha.

Players must take on the role of an employee of Bifrost Industries, one of the biggest traders of the substance, the main task  is to collect as much Element Alpha as they can and trade it for upgrades to your spacecraft to help you manoeuvre the asteroid filled space course.




Sounds interesting, right? But how does playing a video game actually help Cancer Research UK to beat cancer? Well, the collectible substance of Element Alpha within the game actually represents real genetic cancer data that scientists across the world analyse on a daily basis to detect the presence of anomalous cells, which could potentially be cancerous.

By collecting Element Alpha and navigating their spaceship through the cosmos, players are actually locating specific and significant genetic changes, which will help scientists to discover cancer causing genes and develop new life saving treatments.

By playing Genes in Space players will be contributing their own time to analysing significant amounts of genetic data which would have taken scientists hours to do.

The video below gives more details about the mobile gaming app and exactly how it can be used to identify various cancers. Please note, if you are having trouble viewing this video on your device,  CLICK HERE

 

The data analysis goes back to Cancer Research UK scientists at two key points: Firstly when Players map their route through the Element Alpha. Secondly when players fly their spaceship through the intergalactic space course to collect this substance.

Gaming has always been fun, but now Cancer Research UK have found a way to make it useful and important as well. If you would like to give the game a try, then it can be downloaded now from either the Google Play or the Apple App Store now.




Friday, 7 February 2014

The LEGO Movie Videogame - Can LEGO Avoid The Curse Of The Movie Tie-In?



Traditionally, video games developed solely as film tie-ins do not have the best reputation for providing quality gaming entertainment, with many such tie-ins being accused of being at best,  shallow, interactive repeats of the actual films they represent, and at worst, action-driven, pointless, money-grabbing entertainment titles, which really have very little to do with the actual films they are named after at all.

An article written by Charlie Roberts from Gamemoir.com best summed up this general attitude when he wrote: "With every summer blockbuster that hits our screens these days, there always seems to be a tie-in game limping along behind it, desperately trying to wring out the last few dregs of cash from the pockets of those that the film didn’t drain completely of funds. And let’s be honest – they always suck..." [Sourced from: http://gamemoir.com/2013/08/13/tie-in-games-suck/]




Nevertheless, it cannot be easy to produce a game that can successfully live up to the hype and excitement caused by its big budget film counterpart. However, this is exactly what film producers Warner Bros. are trying to achieve with their latest film, The LEGO Movie, which itself has been inspired in part by the success of the licensed LEGO video game series, made popular by TT games  and the LEGO Creator video games' series developed by Superscape.

As with any major movie, the video game tie-in promises to be equally special. So, what exactly has the aptly-titled The LEGO Movie Videogame got to offer the gaming community? Well, this game is of course based on the plot of the film, which is set entirely in the LEGO universe and centres around an ordinary LEGO Mini-figure called Emmett who works as a construction worker, and who is mistaken as being the Special (the greatest Master Builder who can save the universe).

With the help of an old wizard named Vitruvius, and a tough young woman named Wyldstyle,  as well as Batman, Uni-Kitty, Benny, and a pirate named Metalbeard, Emmet has to forget his usual routine of simply building things according to their instructions, and discover the power of his own imagination if he is ever going to defeat the evil Lord Business - a tyrant who is bent on destroying the universe on Taco Tuesday and recreating it as he sees fit by gluing it all together.




In the game, players must take control of Emmett and his merry band of recruits. Players must explore the in-game environments to collect and use LEGO instruction pages. In turn, these pages can then be used to build construction sets in order to harness the awesome power of the so-called Master Builders.



This game will be the first LEGO title to feature a new kind of animation style that has apparently been modelled on the movements of actual real-world LEGO Minifigures. Furthermore, the game will feature more than ninety separate characters inspired by the film and a total of fifteen exciting levels.

The game (like the film) has been made with kids and family gaming very much in mind. The usual hilarious cutscenes found in previous LEGO game titles can also be seen here, and the colourful environments will be instantly appealing to younger gamers.

Tom Stone, Managing Director at TT Games Publishing said recently: "We’re thrilled to be able to give kids the joy of re-living Emmett’s adventures in becoming virtual Master Builders with The LEGO Movie Videogame. Players will be taking on the ultimate mission to save the LEGO world and use their virtual building prowess to build unimaginable sets and creations.” 
[sourced from: http://www.ttgames.com/games/lego-movie-videogame.php]


The game's teaser trailer, which was released in December last year, also shows a number of gameplay elements that will be used during the game:



* If you are having difficulty viewing the trailer in your current browser, please CLICK HERE.


The LEGO Movie premieres today in all major UK cinemas, with the game being released on all available formats on Friday the 14th of February 2014. It is not yet certain whether this game will match up to the high quality of the other LEGO Videogames, but Mini Gamers is hopeful that the game will find itself ranked alongside the usual top-notch titles developed by TT Games to date.




HAVE YOUR SAY...


Are you looking forward to the release of The LEGO Movie Videogame?

Why do movie tie-ins always seem to have a bad reputation?

What can be done to make quality movie tie-ins in the future?

If you have any thoughts about this game or about movie tie-ins in general, then please  leave us a comment and let us know. Mini Gamers loves hearing from you!