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Southwest Airlines To Partner With Nintendo To Launch Super Mario Odyssey Promotion

 

contest_southwest_odyssey_sweeps_img.jpgSouthwest Airlines is partnering with Nintendo to provide a sweepstakes awarding contest winners with Nintendo Switch Prize Packs and more to celebrate spring and summer travel.

From now until March 16, fans of Nintendo and Southwest Airlines alike will be able to enter for a chance to win several prizes, with a grand prize of a round trip for four, a $1,000 Starwood Preferred Guest gift card, and a Nintendo Switch prize pack.

“Super Mario Odyssey is all about travel, exploration, and that feeling you get when you discover something new and exciting,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “We’re excited to partner with Southwest so our fans can have memorable journeys in-game and in real life.”

At the end of the sweepstakes, a total of 29 runner ups will receive a Nintendo Switch prize pack.

To enter and view official rules, visit Southwest.com/Nintendo.

Qualcomm Collab To Deliver Cloud-Based Gaming To Mobile Devices

 

Hatch-3roomsIn an announcement by Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies, inc a new subscription service for cloud-based gaming for mobile devices will be delivered by Qualcomm and Hatch Entertainment, a subsidiary of Rovio Entertainment, in a collaboration between the two companies.

The service will be playable on servers based on Qualcomm Centric™ 2400 – the worlds first 10nm server processor.

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“The Qualcomm Centriq 2400 server processor was purpose built for cloud to deliver exceptional performance-per-watt and performance-per-dollar,” said Vishal Gupta, vice president of business development at Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies. “We bring high compute density and energy efficiency with Qualcomm Centriq 2400 to help drive Hatch’s innovative cloud game streaming solution.”

The new service will utilize Hatch Entertainment’s innovative online streaming delivery model will be combined with Qualcomm’s server technology to deliver the service.

The service will will allow mobile gamers to experience full-featured games running at 60 frames per second, optimized for low-latency gaming performance over mobile data networks.

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Despite the power of the servers and technology behind the service, gaming through this service will require less than half of the bandwidth required for video-based game streaming solutions.

Qualcomm’s Centriq 2400 will offer a 48 core processor that will help Hatch Entertainment provide a large number of game instances per server.

Hatch will offer gamers high-quality gaming experiences in the cloud, while developers will be able to more easily afford and create multi-multi-synchronus multiplayer games.

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The service will work well for gamers wanting to free up space on their phones and will facilitate competitive gamers and family’s and friends who want to collaborate in-game on their mobile devices.

Our vision is to let people discover, play and share great games instantly and in real-time, bringing people together over games they love,” said Juhani Honkala, founder and chief executive officer, Hatch Entertainment. “Our collaboration with Qualcomm Datacenter Technologies is a significant leap forward in advancing our existing gaming technology and platform, which offers users a fun and completely new kind of gaming experience on mobile.”

Hatch Entertainment will showcase the new service in the Qualcomm Booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Feb. 26.

 

Environmental Awareness: A look into Video Game Environments

Imagine, a player loads up a game called The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim for the first time and after a short stint being greeted by flames and smoke in an area not far off, you are greeted by an expansive land of snow and ice.

It’s not that easy to describe, however, the player is greeted by more than the land before them, they are greeted by the animals weaving in and out of trees, curiously afraid of the armored figure. They are greeted by the wailing snowy wind, and the distant roar of a dragon, sat atop a mountain in the distance, and they are greeted by an atmosphere that they are free to explore in its entirety.

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It is this atmosphere that make games what they are, even when players don’t realize it.

The sounds and sights of the world players engross themselves in is what makes players stay. It is captivating and when done well, it can alter the players mind in ways that can induce fear, wonder, and amazement.

Gameplay is important, of course, but without good sound design, environmental art, and sound lighting, the game will fizzle out.

What made games like Dead Space and Resident Evil so terrifying was their sound design.

In Dead Space, a popular survival horror game set in space, players will hear the hiss of pipes, the creaking of the colossal metal ship they are walking in, and the skittering noises of enemies nearby.

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Without these atmospheric tones and well-timed sound effects, the game would feel no different than The Sims. It is this sound design that draws players in and makes their heart pound as they creep through dingy hallways littered in torn limbs and gore, not just the graphics.

Graphically, a game can be amazing but if the environments lack life or atmosphere, they will ultimately fail to become a true game.

Skyrim makes use of all aspects of environmental design. Birds chirp, snowy wind whistles, the sound of a wolves footsteps behind the players character induce fear and panic as they try to figure out where the enemy is from within a patch of brush.

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Of course, video games aren’t all about panic or inducing fear. Good environmental design can also induce wonder.

Most players that first step into the world of Skyrim agree that they were met with a feeling of wonder, and curiosity as they crept down the snowy mountainside, hearing the sound of every footfall and windy whistle and gazing at the beautiful environment created by the artists and designers at Bethesda, the developers behind the game.

Another game players recall feeling this exact emotion was Bioshock Infinite.

Players will find themselves thrust into a skytop city brimming with alternate universe American culture. Statues of George Washington and other founding fathers litter the world, american flags are hung everywhere, and the sound of bells and atmospheric chatter swiftly bring players into the world it is trying to purvey.

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These atmospheres sometimes take years to create. Certain games require teams to visit locations all around the world to record sounds or conduct research on the feel of the atmosphere of the area they are trying to create.

Assassin’s Creed developer Ubisoft sent teams to modern Egypt to get a feel for how things looked and felt before they set upon to create Assassin’s Creed Origins, the developers first foray into ancient Egypt.

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For games that take on historical roots, accuracy is key. Researchers, designers, and artists painstakingly scour the internet, real-world locations and books to accurately portray the world or time period they are designing.

It is an amazing feat, especially for smaller development teams but the work that goes into the design of a games environment lasts the lifetime of the game.

Review: Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition

It is a true wonder when a mobile game impresses the gaming community, but that is exactly what happened when Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition was released on mobile devices just a week ago.

What began as a ‘do we really need this’ became a ‘this is truly a great portable edition of Final Fantasy XV’.

Honestly, who knew that the gaming community needed a 3DS-like ‘demake’ of an already great console (and now PC edition) game but it proves to be a great option for those who haven’t played Final Fantasy XV or those who just want to play through the game again portably.

GAMEPLAY

One thing players will notice about Pocket Edition is cutscenes are nearly perfectly recreated, though now in the ‘chibi’ graphic style.

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Players of the console edition of the game will feel right at home, with dialogue between characters copied word for word, complete with voice acting for nearly every text bubble.

Banter between characters is still funny and an important piece of the story and atmosphere.

Movement has been reduced to just tapping or holding onto a point on the screen but somehow it works, especially in battle.

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Though simplified, the battle system in Pocket Edition feels right. Attacks are automatic once you target an enemy with Noctis’ warp ability returning, and the having the camera facing down, you can see exactly what you are doing at all times, which is a breath of fresh air fom the hectic camera system in FF XV.

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Areas of the game are fairly large for a mobile game, though it certainly isn’t open-world.

Outside of battles players will explore areas looking for barrels to smash, or sand piles to grab items out of. Exploration is still fun, with features like camping returning.

Of course, Ignis’ cooking sessions have returned as well.

The first time I saw Ignis snap his finger and exclaim, “I’ve come up with a new recipe,” I smiled, knowing I was about to embark on another adventure with Noctis and gang.

GRAPHICS

The game is still beautiful, though everything has been shrunk down to ‘chibi’ size.

With graphic settings set to high, light blooms seep onto the scene, colors are deeper, but even with settings set to low, it feels like playing a 3DS game, which is an amazing feat for mobile.

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Battles are still action packed with effects and characters all working flawlessly.

I experienced almost no lag, though there were a few slowdowns in some areas when transitioning from one place to the next, though it isn’t always noticeable.

The game runs in 30fps by default but I found playing in 60fps was a more enjoyable experience personally.

SOUND

Everything is nearly identical to the console version in the sound department. Music, sound effects, dialogue, its nearly perfectly adapted to the mobile edition.

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Hearing ‘Somnus’ play on the main menu when opening up the game was a nice touch, and instantly made me want to play through the game again.

One noticeable difference is right in the beginning scene. When Noctis and the gang are pushing the car along the road, I expected ‘Stand by Me’ to start playing but instead another song began to play, with no lyrics.

It’s a small complaint but the only noticeable one during my playthrough of the game.

SUMMARY

Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is a great feat for mobile gaming. It is a true Final Fantay experience that feels just like a 3DS remake of FF XV, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

It doesn’t feel like mobile game. I never once thought, ‘I’m playing on my phone right now’. Most of the time I was too engrossed in the game to worry about what device I was playing on.

Essentially, they recreated the entire game for mobile devices. Everything is intact, including cutscenes.

It is certainly an enjoyable experience for the price and definitely worth the investment.

Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is available to try for free. The full game is $19.99 for all 10 chapters.

New Kingdom Hearts 3 Trailer Confirms Monsters, Inc. World

In a new trailer, developer Square Enix finally confirmed another Pixar world that will be in the upcoming release of Kingdom Hearts 3, Monsters, Inc.

Complete with monster forms for each of the main characters, Sora, Donald, and Goofy can be seen meeting Sully and Mike and their little human friend, Boo.

Also in the trailer are reveals and hints towards a renewed Organization 13 and a glimpse of Vanitas approaching Sora in a cutscene from the game.

The game is supposedly still on track for a 2018 release with rumors panning the game towards a Holiday 2018 release, in time for the 13th anniversary of the titular series.

Review: Final Fantasy Dissidia: Opera Omnia

Even with a title that makes little sense and proves to be a mouthful, Final Fantasy Dissidia: Opera Omnia proves to be a shining title on mobile app stores just a week after its release in the United States.

The game features over 25 notable Final Fantasy characters so far with updates seeming to come at a fairly quick pace.

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Like other mobile games of the same nature, it runs off of quests that allow for a 3 character party to bring into battle. Various spots on the world map open up at a time with more opening as the story progresses.

Each spot either contains a story progression spot, or just a random enemy battle, with bosses interspersed towards the end of each “island” on the world map.

The battle system is what really makes Opera Omnia shine, however, with a strategic and turn-based style with added flair.

Battles work like classic RPG systems, turn-based but Opera Omnia has added new twists.

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The player will now have to deplete the enemies Bravery (brv) before they can inflict damage on the opponent. Once the opponents bravery has been lowered or broken, the player can inflict HP attacks, allowing for damage to be dealt.

The upside, players also have bravery, meaning enemies must first deplete that before characters can sustain damage, sometimes giving players an extra layer of protection against strong attacks.

STORY

The story follows a meager moogle (that’s a mouthful) and it’s mission to band together the best warriors from multiple universes to fight back against Torsions that have been opening across the games various islands. These torsions threaten the entire world, including the universes that each of the characters originally belong too, giving each character a motive to fight alongside strangers against the darkness brewing in the games universe.It’s not the most intricate or deep story, but nobody asked for a mobile game to contain a AAA story, it just has to be fun, and Omnia definitely is.

GAMEPLAY

Gameplay is standard fair for games of its type on mobile, there’s no open-world to explore. Instead you tap around on nodes on the world map to navigate to different battles or dialogue sequences.

The game mostly centers around battles with dialogue in between. Chat sequences of course either reveal a character or further the story. The balance of the two is well done.

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The battle system is the main focus of the game. The refreshing new bravery system is nice and the strategy it adds makes the usual RPG fair exciting and fast.

SOUND

The usual Final Fantasy soundtrack can be heard in certain moments in the game. Gone is the prologue song usually played at the beginning of each entry, but an original soundtrack replaces it.

It does the job, its not as catchy or exciting as the soundtrack for Brave Exivus, but it does the job, and does it well.

GRAPHICS

The game isn’t beautiful by any means, but it’s nice to look at. The graphics are akin to 3DS graphics, with characters taking on chibi-like forms.

Light rays come from the top of the screen in grassy plains, and cutscenes are done well with characters taking on their respective traits, armor, and weapons.

OVERALL

Opera Omnia is a wonderful mobile experience, especially when waiting for Final Fantasy 15: Pocket Edition. It has all your favorite FF characters such as Cloud, Tifa, and Warrior of Light from FF1.

The gameplay is addictive, with co-op quests to participate in when you’re done playing alone for a while.

With planned updates and more characters added, Final Fantasy fans will enjoy the experience.

Overall, the game is a unique take on the typical RPG battle system with added features and graphics alike to a 3DS game.

Review: A Hollow Doorway

In a world that’s constantly on the move and changing, its a wonder when a gem like A Hollow Doorway interrupts the natural flow of things.

A Hollow Doorway is a colorfully meditative game by Kenny Sun. The object is to rotate your door to match the constantly shifting and shrinking hollow doorways. This all happens while the colors shift and parade across the screen and the music transcends the user into a meditative but focused state.

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The game comes with 9 levels, all increasingly difficult but fun to play. The game also features taptic feedback for iPhone 7 and newer, which this writer thought was a nice touch during gameplay sessions.

There are 34 achievements through Apple iCloud and leaderboards for top scores.

On the music side, musical artist JACK+JIM created 10 songs for the soundtrack which fit perfectly with the door shaping madness that is A Hollow Doorway.

Gameplay becomes addictive when you discover there are countless numbers of customizations, from colors and themes for the doorways and doors, to faces that can be added to the rotatable door.

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Of course, since the app is free, there are loot boxes in the game. The creator apologized in the description of the game for the addition of this, but none of the loot boxes are necessary and the game can be played and completed without the additional themes and faces.

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The customizations can also be obtained naturally through playing the game, though it may take longer than just spending the few extra bucks to eliminate them entirely.

Overall, I believe this game deserves a 9 for what it is. The music is great, gameplay is addictive and interesting, and though its not a new concept (looking at you Super Hexagon) it is a great pace-changer in the game that is the App Store.

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Mario Kart Mobile Game Announced

In a short announcement on twitter, Nintendo of America revealed the next game in their line of mobile games planned for the next few years, Mario Kart Tour.

No details have been revealed other than the games release date, which Nintendo has touted for the fiscal year ending in March 2019.

With Nintendo slowly learning the ropes for the right amount of content in a mobile game, this could be great, or a disaster.

All hope is on Mario Kart Tour being a preview of what is to come to Nintendo Switch.

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