E3 Day 2 Reaction

Sorry I’m late getting these up as we’re now 5 days past Day 2. I’ll get the final Day’s reactions up tomorrow.

Microsoft

Note: I still hate Microsoft’s E3 approach of “Exclusive” and “World Premiere” announced at the start of every video….

I don’t own an XBox and have never been an XBox gamer, but I do tune in to their E3 presentation to see what they’re up to. With most of their games being on PC and console now, they sometimes have things that pop up I’m interested in.

Their opening trailer looked absolutely gorgeous even before having any idea what it was. Rather short, it wasn’t until the helmet reveal to realize it was a Halo game, Halo Infinite. I’m sure many Halo fans got excited, but anytime I see “infinite” or similar subtitles these days, I feel apprehension for an online quasi-MMO game that’s the big trend these days. It turned out the announcement was more for the engine they’re using and it sounds like Halo Infinite is absolutely nowhere near the horizon. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a 2020 release.

Phil Spencer specifically used “gamers” when speaking to his audience, which I liked after the past few years of the games press acting like that’s a tainted identifier. The crowd was hyped to be there, which says something about XBox’s fan base. Whether that’s good or ill is a debate I’ll leave for others. Spencer briefly touched on Gamers Outreach (a charity that lets kids in children’s hospitals game with friends) being supported by Fanfest ticket sales before giving the absolute best opening speech of the weekend.

It’s absolutely ridiculous that not one games press has written anything about this speech.

“Gaming brings us together. Gaming connects us. It inspires our truest cooperation. It creates some of our fondest memories of competition and our deepest conversations about the stories within games. Most of all, gaming fosters real community. It reaches across age, ability, race, gender, and geography. This is why I’ve always believed and will always believe that gaming is the great unifier. And what unifies us is our shared love of this art form. Legendary characters who captivate us. Not just for 10 hours, but for 10, 20, 30 years. Bold stories that inspire the hero within us. Iconic worlds that are so richly imagined, we feel excitement in the air and danger on the seas. As gamers, we are at a momentous time. Where creative vision and cutting edge technology together are delivering the art form we love.”

50 games, 18 exclusives, and 15 world premieres to be shown set the tone for the show. There wouldn’t be much talking as they showed game after game after game.

They certainly started off with a bang because after that speech they showed the trailer for Ori & The Blind Forest’s sequel. I still haven’t played the first, but I own it and it’s one that’s high on my wishlist to play through. The sequel looks beautiful as well, titled Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and if it plays like the first game was reported, it will be fantastic. No release date announced beyond 2019.

FromSoftware’s new title looked interesting, but I’m a sucker for samurai games. It looked like a new Onimusha game, but it was the previously teased Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Apologies to those who thought the original tease of the game was going to be Bloodborne 2. Release in early 2019.

Todd Howard from Bethesda took the stage to announce Fallout 4 on Xbox Game Pass and give the first look at Fallout 76. I absolutely love the Take Me Home, Country Roads cover they chose for the trailer and from the first look, it felt like a great Fallout game to jump into for those of us like me who never actually got into the series. It’s definitely a cool trailer. (More on the game itself in Bethesda’s review.)

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, a game set in Life is Strange‘s world, doesn’t really interest me. I thought Life is Strange was alright, but nothing amazing, so another one doesn’t really do much for me. However, the premise is pretty neat and for the right price there’s a chance I’d check it out. Much like Life is Strange, the trailer seems like my favorite part about the game would be the music. Available June 25th.

Crackdown 3 is another series I’ve never played, but let’s face it – this game looks interesting for Terry Crews alone. On the other hand, wasn’t it supposed to be a launch title with XBox One? Instead it’s been delayed to 2019.

Metro Exodus had a cool trailer and I’ve heard the games are fun, but they also look like most every FPS game to me, which aren’t really my cup of tea, so there’s that. Release sometime in 2019.

Kingdom Hearts III on Xbox is another first and while Sony later revealed a PlayStation exclusive of 1.5, 2.5, and 3 all-in-one edition, I’d hope the 1.5 and 2.5 releases are released separately on Xbox as jumping into the third game of a trilogy seems like it would be jarring. The main song for Kingdom Hearts games used in trailers is always so oddly out of place. January 29th release.

Sea of Thieves is getting an expansion, but doesn’t particularly interest me. The trailer was fairly amusing, though.

Forza Horizon 4 doesn’t interest me either, but the game looks good graphically. The weather changing effects that alter the world and impact gameplay is pretty cool, though. They actually showed the gameplay as the differences and changes were described.

Phil Spencer returned to the stage to talk about The Initiative, a new studio Microsoft has established as well as Undead Labs, Playground Games, and Ninja Theory as having been acquired by Microsoft. The crowd was certainly excited to hear the last one, but I’m uneasy about studios being purchased by larger platforms. We’ll see how long before Microsoft shuts someone down. Compulsion Games was the last studio announced as having been acquired, citing We Happy Few as their notable title with a trailer shown afterwards.

PlayerUnknown’s Battleground was the next game shown and despite it being popular, I’m still not interested.

Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition was a bit of a surprise, but good to see an RPG on the system, even a HD release of a 360 game. Nier Automata Definitive Edition is available June 26th for another RPG on the system.

The Division 2 was shown next. I enjoyed the first game up to the end of the initial release. I never played the expansions and DLC. The plot for the sequel, set six months later, seems interesting, but the gameplay didn’t look different from the first game, not enough to warrant a full blown sequel. The presentation was fairly bad with the very unnatural dialogue between “gamers” playing. Not only is the script weak and even cheesy, but the voice actors just feel like voice actors. Can’t really fault Microsoft and their conference since this is Ubisoft’s video.

However, they stopped the roll of games to talk about Xbox Game Pass and “Fast Start” though I didn’t really get any impression of what Fast Start does. Game Pass will have games available the same day as global release. I can’t see how this helps the developers and publishers if thousands or millions of people are playing for free through a subscription paid to Microsoft. The segment, from the presenter to the audience reactions, felt almost like it was scripted for Devolver Digital’s presentation.

After that was a montage video of games at the 1 hour mark with a lot of cool looking games in there.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider got its full trailer presented, which looks amazing. As the final game of the origin trilogy, there’s definitely more of the adventuring tomb raiding bad ass in this trailer than she was in the previous games.

Devil May Cry 5 trailer was a surprise to see. At first I was a bit confused if it was a DmC sequel since Dante (turns out that’s not Dante, it’s Nero, but I haven’t played the games in a while) has short hair. But Dante does show up by the end.

Also, what’s up with all the robot hands lately? Battlefield V, Sekiro, and Devil May Cry 5 all have one!

Cuphead was also revealed to be getting a new game.

Tunic was revealed as well, which was first shown last year, but this gave a deeper look at it. It looks like an isometric Legend of Zelda starring a fox, so of course I’m interested in it. This one is a console launch exclusive, aka timed exclusive, so I’ll wait for the PS4 release.

Bandai Namco revealed a Naruto/One Piece/Dragon Ball Z/Death Note set in the real world crossover fighting game called Jump Force.

Dying Light 2, another first person game, didn’t really interest me. The premise and setting looks cool. Maybe I’ll eventually give the first one a try to decide on this one.

A new Battletoads was teased, but nothing shown.

Gears of War POP was teased more than shown. I guess it’ll be a quirky game for fans of the franchise. No release date given.

Gears of War 5 had a decently lengthy trailer, but no hint when it will be released.

As Phil Spencer wrapped up to close the night, he was interrupted by the stage being hacked and taken over for the world premiere of the trailer of CD Project Red’s Cyberpunk 2077. Nothing is really shown, just a trailer showing the premise, but gamers have already analyzed it, particularly all the computer code (and it’s double layered) to decipher a lot of information about the game from the trailer. It’s a cool looking setting, but until there’s more information, it’s hard to say. I know it’s apparently going to be first person perspective, so it’s going to likely be one that doesn’t really interest me too much.

The disappointment for Microsoft’s presentation was how few of their big titles are nowhere near the horizon and the vast majority of what was shown are third party titles that will be not just on PC, but even on PS4 as well. Despite that, their presentation itself was well done with focus on the games, which Microsoft has been needing to do. Only the one break to discuss Game Pass broke their momentum. Still, they did show a lot of games, which is essentially what people tune in to E3 to see.

Grade: B+

Games I’m interested in: Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Sekiro, Tunic, and possibly Devil May Cry 5.

 

Bethesda

Hoo boy, I’m going to get some hate for this one.

Bethesda started with a 2 minute video of the diversity of their employees. I’m not sure if the voice over and the final woman shown was really the receptionist at one of their offices, but if it was, I dig that. I know a lot of gamers were griping that they started off with something not games, but it was 2 minutes. Not that big a deal to kick off a presentation. Unfortunately, the presentation itself followed…

After the Bethesda President talked a bit, we then had to sit through an Andrew WK performance for Rage 2 rather than actually showing Rage 2. If it had been a live performance while crazy footage was showing, it would have been a lot more fun. Camera pans across the audience showed people that just looked confused. It was 10 minutes into the presentation before we started to hear or see anything about video games.

I don’t know anything about Rage, never played it, but it looks like a crazy Mad Max worthy setting kicked up a notch with mutants and monsters. Though it took almost 15 minutes, at least they finally started to show gameplay with this.

Elder Scrolls Legends, a digital card game, is a relaunch with new visuals.

Elder Scrolls Online update detailing some DLC coming in the rest of the year.

Doom Eternal got a teaser announcement, but no footage, no date, and again, “Eternal” is an title I don’t trust to not be a quasi-MMO shared world type of thing like Destiny or Division.

Quake Champions is basically Quake Overwatch.

Prey DLC was announced with a cheesy video and awkward presentation.

Wolfenstein The New Blood was revealed well. Briefly talking about the previous entry and thanking fans for their response as well as the game coming to Switch, then revealed the new game’s trailer featuring BJ’s twin daughters in the 1980s in Paris. They didn’t drag it out and were to the point in their presentation.

Prey and Wolfenstein VR entries announced.

Todd Howard was brought out to present more information about Fall 76. Instead, he talked about E3’s history and then presented Skyrim A Very Special Edition to play on the Amazon Alexa. It was a funny video expected to be a gag, but it turns out it’s actually available. The Etch-a-Sketch, Motorolla Pagers, and Smart Fridge editions are likely just jokes, though. It’s good to see them embrace the Internet meme of Todd releasing Skyrim on everything, though. Nice to see a sense of humor about themselves.

Next they did go into detail of Fallout 76.  I was interested based on the trailer from Microsoft, but as more information was presented and it was shown to be a more multiplayer focused game (you can play solo if you like, but it’s designed for multiplayer to be the intent), likely another quasi-MMO style game, I pretty much lost interest. People point out that gamers only have a limited amount of money, but more than money, I feel that gamers have a limited amount of time. Numerous “games as a service” are not sustainable because you can’t dedicate your time to all of them at once. You’ll have a situation similar to traditional MMOs where WoW took the lion’s share and anyone else in the market shriveled over time until there is very little competition left in the market.

Elder Scrolls Blades was then announced – a mobile game.

And to close their presentation, they announced they’re working on an all new next generation single player game, their first new franchise in 25 years. What they showed was a lens flare behind a planet and a space station seemingly going into hyperspace with a title: Starfield. That’s it. They announced a “next generation” game and showed a title and this is a big deal.

Oh but wait, we can beat that! The ‘the game after that’ was announced with nothing more than a typical pan across a fantasy land with the Elder Scrolls theme showing “The Elder Scrolls VI.” Nothing else. Not even a title.

They literally said “we’re working on Elder Scrolls VI for someday” and people flipped their lids.

I have absolutely no clue why people have declared this to be a killer presentation for the year. They showed:

Three full blown games: Rage 2, Fallout 76, and Quake Champions.
A digital card game relaunch. A mobile game. An MMO DLC/Expansion.
A living meme with Skyrim Alexa.
DLC and a couple of VR announcements.
And they announced, but showed absolutely nothing of the next Doom, Wolfenstein, as well as the big reveal of nothing but a title for Starfield for some time in the future and the Elder Scrolls VI for some time farther in the future!

People are going crazy because they showed a generic fantasy landscape pan with the series title, not even the title of the game itself, which will come out probably around 2025.  You’re quite literally proving Devolver Digital’s 2017 “sell games before development even starts” gag would be a valid business model.

Grade: C, maybe a C+ for bringing a meme to life.

Games I’m interested in: None at the moment.

 

Devolver Digital

I’m not even going to give a full break down of their presentation because one must experience it. Go find it on YouTube.

Grade: A, much fun, would Devolver again. Looking forward to DEvolv3r 2019 to see the next entry in the Devolver E3 Cinematic Universe.

E3 Reaction – Day 1

EA

I had no real expectations from EA with nothing in their catalog being of particular interest to me. After just a trailer to tease Anthem, which they’d talk about later, they kicked off the show with Battlefield V, which is particularly a game I’m not interested in.  Credit to EA for keeping it simple, though. They showed some footage, had the developers talk about some details fans were wanting to know, and concluded in just 10 minutes.

They followed it up with FIFA current year, which I’m equally not interested. Not to say either of these being presented is bad – Battlefield and FIFA have absolutely huge followings who love the series. I was, however, a little confused why they spent the money getting Hans Zimmer to score the music….for the trailer. Just the trailer? After showing off their trophy, they talked about the Champions League. They talked about the importance of gameplay (saying “gameplay” 4 times) and how the bar for said gameplay was raised, but without showing any gameplay. They then talked about the trophy again, as well as the World Cup in their tournament. It was a dull presentation with nothing really shown and felt like a waste of time that offered nothing to FIFA fans.

They burned more time talking about gaming on phones and tablets via the cloud as well as their subscription service with Origin Access Premiere. Nothing of interest for gamers so much as for shareholders and investors. Next to no applause or enthusiasm from the audience here. Even the courtesy applause when he left the stage was muted.

20 minutes into the show and they had only shown a little bit of footage from Battlefield V when they did the very forced, and very awkward “just happen to find a Respawn developer Vince Zampella in the crowd” to announce Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Zampella said they didn’t have anything to show this year, but were ready to talk about it. All they actually did was give the title and when it takes place. The worst part here, for me, was Andrea Rene, the show’s host. After the title is revealed, Zampella awkwardly states, likely intended to be humorous, “that suggests you’ll be playing a Jedi” to which the Rene asks “does that mean I get to hold a lightsaber?” It was a dumb question and I don’t even know what EA was going for (I fully assume Rene’s questions and lines were mostly scripted through the whole presentation, so I don’t actually blame her for the awkwardness).

But that wasn’t the worst part. After Zampella notes that it takes place during “the dark times, when the Jedi are being hunted,” Rene asks “So for all the hardcore nerds out there who want to know like where in the timeline, between which episodes is it?”

“Hardcore Star Wars nerds” already know exactly where it takes place just based on saying it was during the dark times when the Jedi were being hunted! Stop having these forced, painfully awkward scripted dialogue at your presentations! It’s only 2 minutes and I’d forgive you if you were setting something up on stage, but it was just nothing with no purpose and a horrible back and forth.

Star Wars Battlefront II got next to no reaction. Dennis Brännvall was sent out to deliver EA’s official E3 mea culpa for the game, acknowledging the failure at launch and detailing the overhauls that were done after the launch as well as the recent hunt mode (which admittedly I think sounds hilariously great with the Ewoks hunting you). They showed gameplay while he talked about the new additions in their next update, but they had such a short clip it looped through twice and was starting its third round before he announced the addition of Clone Wars content (which did get a positive reaction from the fans).

25 minutes into the show was a surprise reveal for Unravel two. Personally, this was my favorite part of their presentation, with the crowd reaction and even a “Yar-ny, Yar-ny” chant from a couple guys in the audience. Martin Sahlin’s presence on the stage was so much more comfortable and confident this year than when he first introduced us to Yarny. Wasting no time, he talked about the new addition (a blue character) while video played showing Yarny finding said character. Footage played behind while he described the two character experience. The game was described as more friendly, but more challenging, but most of all, more playful. After this 3 minute intro, and showing us info, they jumped right into gameplay in single player approach with Michael, the team’s Producer, playing live on stage. After a bit of this, Sahlin joined him to demonstrate 2 player gameplay. Honestly, it was just well presented with introduction, live single player gameplay, and live 2 player gameplay. No awkward “gamer talk” just communication between them of what they would do/what the other should do. The laughing at close calls felt genuine because it was genuine.

The presentation was only about 7 minutes long from start to finish and gave more impression of the game than the big budget AAA presentations. The big surprise, however, was after thanking his team, the final trailer showed more of the game and turned out to be a launch trailer when it was announced that the game was available immediately. The reaction from the crowd was the most lively with that announcement.

Continuing the tradition of Unravel’s original reveal, another EA Originals title, Sea of Solitude, or S.O.S was shown next. The trailer looks interesting, but the developer talked about it for 5 minutes before showing anything. It would have arguably been better to show the trailer first and then talk about it. I don’t fault her for talking a little long as she seemed just as nervous as Sahlin was when Yarny was first introduced to the world.

I had no interest in EA Sports presenting NBA Live 18 and even less in bringing out two E-sports competitors for Madden. It was almost 10 minutes spent on sports, with a bulk of that being talking to an e-sports player. Even for Madden fans, there seemed very little shown for them to enjoy.

Next up was the return of Command & Conquer… as a mobile game. A simplified mobile game at that, which dragged on far too long with a “professional shoutcaster” over a live match. For 8 minutes, we saw Command & Conquer Rivals – a mobile game – played over uninteresting commentary before seeing a trailer for the game afterwards. After seeing the gameplay and how completely unexciting it was, the trailer just left you realizing how much the game didn’t match the trailer.

During the closing speaking segment, when they were talking about choice – players choosing what,when, where, and how they play. That they feel they’re treated fairly and no one is given an unfair advantage or disadvantage for how they play. That they are given value for their time investment and for games to be fun, for experiences to truly enhance lives. That they want to be better and make great games, but there is something greater. It was basically a lengthy “please forgive us” before they transitioned directly into their Play to Give charity program for social impact benefiting He For She, National Bullying Prevention Center, and Ditch the Label with 1 million dollars in the last Play to Give campaign. To me, it just felt awkward to go from doing better and giving gamers a choice straight to it’s more important to give money to these charities.

They concluded with Anthem and the Bioware team for about 20 minutes. Honestly, it feels like Iron Man suits (even the theme at the end sounds just a teensy bit like the Avengers theme) with Destiny or The Division style gameplay. Feb 22, 2019 will be the launch date for the game, but what was shown didn’t particularly interest me. They talked about the Bioware conversation choices being an element when you go to the base camps that are single player, but all their footage was the multiplayer combat, which was disappointing. I think that’s a bit of the problem with the game feeling like a Destiny clone. They need to focus more on what’s different rather than what looks the same.

Even the closing “are you guys ready to download some games” from Rene got little reaction and little applause to close their show.

Grade: D

Personal Interests: Unravel 2, Sea of Solitude

E3 Excitement and Anticipation

E3 kicks off this weekend with EA on Saturday, Microsoft and Bethesda on Sunday, Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Sony on Monday, and Nintendo on Tuesday. While some have begun to bemoan E3 as an unnecessary and antiquated thing no longer needed in the industry, I look forward to watching the presentations every year and would still like to go just once someday, same with SDCC, just for the one time experience.

Sony is always my main interest for E3 as I’ve been a Playstation gamer since the first console and as I’ve said in the past, I never really got into Xbox. Nintendo is the console of my childhood and I have each system they’ve released, but I’d be lying if I said it’s still my primary gaming device (though I wish I had more time to split between PS4, Switch, and MMO gaming).

Here’s what I’m looking forward to and my expectations for each presentation this year:

EA – Saturday, June 9, 11am Pacific Time

Anthem is probably the only thing I’m curious about from EA right now. Unlike some, I enjoyed The Division as a story play through with friends, but didn’t have the interest in grinding endgame. Anthem seems like it will be a similar game and I have one friend who’s very interested in it. If the final product looks to be like a better version of The Division + Destiny, I’ll probably use the same approach of playing through the main story and then leaving endgame behind. I only have time for one MMO at a time. Even with this in mind, Anthem is only a passing curiosity right now and less something I’m truly looking forward to.

 

Microsoft – Sunday, June 10, 1pm Pacific Time

I don’t have an Xbox One X and I’m admittedly not a PC gamer (at this time), so there’s not much I’m particularly interested in seeing from Microsoft. That said, as a Playstation fan, maybe even a mongrel hybrid of Sony Pony and Nintendrone, I still watch Microsoft’s presentation every year out of interest in what the competition is offering. While Microsoft still has yet to offer anything to make the Xbox One appealing, particularly with everything being on PC if I truly wanted to play it, I still give them the respect of paying attention to their efforts. Cuphead looked fantastic and was a game I would have bought on release day if I had the console. Ori and the Blind Forest as well as its sequel are games I’d buy without hesitation as well. All of these I can, and Ori I have, buy on PC, though. So I’ll be watching this to see what Microsoft has in the works to try and fight back as the underdog as this console generation enters the later rounds of the fight.

Bethesda – Sunday, June 10, 6:30 Pacific Time

Honestly, I’ll watch just to watch, but I really don’t care. Despite loving RPGs, I’ve never gotten into Fallout or Elder Scrolls. Fallout 76 and Rage 2 aren’t my areas of interest.

Square Enix – Monday, June 11, 10am Pacific Time

The first stand-alone press conference from Square since 2015, I’m definitely looking forward to this presentation. Of course, I’ll be at work, so I’ll just have to listen to it and sneak a peek at the stream when possible.

Kingdom Hearts III will likely get a release date. I haven’t played any of the Kingdom Hearts games, but a release date on the final entry will give me a time frame to finally play through them with the HD releases on PS4.

I’m also looking forward to Shadow of the Tomb Raider and hoping reboot Lara finally steps into her own. I’ve enjoyed the reboot with the first game being the formation of the character, Rise being about tying up loose ends of her past, and hopefully Shadow being where she finally starts setting a path for herself in her life. It’s time for reboot Lara to grow into the twin pistols of classic Lara. We already have pistols for her, there’s no reason to not get some bow is for stealth, twin pistols are for gun fights, rifles & shotguns are for situational selection design established now. With them teased in the first game, I honestly think the twin pistols are going to happen, but are being held possibly even to the finale of this game. The developers have said this is the final game of Lara’s “Tomb Raider origin” trilogy and I really expect the twin pistols are the equivalent of her graduation ceremony “Tomb Raider Diploma.” Once she has the twin pistols, she’ll fully have transitioned into the role of the bad ass globe-trotting adventurer everyone expects her to become.

I’m expecting to see a first tease of the Avengers game Square is working on and possibly a new trailer for Final Fantasy VII remake. While some rumors and supposed leaks suggest a demo for FFVII with a possible release date on the horizon, I don’t think that will happen. I think this year is largely going to be about Kingdom Hearts III. I also think Final Fantasy VII remake is going to wind up being a PS5 game simply because PS4 is indeed entering the later years of its life cycle and there’s no way Square Enix is going to get all three episodes out before PlayStation 5. Now, PS5 may be backwards compatible, so it won’t matter too much, but I really expect to wait a while longer for VII Remake, even if we get a new look at it.

Final Fantasy XIV will have a live letter during E3, but the only thing I expect to come from it will be a little more info about upcoming patches – things like the new Deep Dungeon – and likely the long awaited Final Fantasy XV crossover event.

I’d love to see a teaser announcing Final Fantasy XVI is in the works as well, but I don’t think that’s likely. Between Kingdom Hearts III, Final Fantasy XV, and VII remake, I think their heavy hitters are tied up for the moment. That said, if XVI is in the works, I’d love to see them offer a more high fantasy sword & sorcery with just a touch of steam punk harkening back to IV, VI, and IX in style. I personally divide the Final Fantasy games into fantasy and sci-fi with recent installments of XII, XIII, XV all falling more in the sci-fi (or more appropriately science fantasy) side of things. Airships and advanced moon civilizations aside, the more modern and futuristic the technology, the less of the high fantasy that Final Fantasy built its kingdom on.

Ubisoft – Monday, June 11, 1pm Pacific Time

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has already been confirmed, which is a little disappointing for me. I was expecting the break that Origins saw to signal a shift for the series to a 2 year cycle with Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed leap frogging each other as alternating releases. After Watch Dogs 2, I was hoping that franchise would continue its trend with a new location and new characters each game with just some cameos from the previous games’ members. Especially with the notion of DedSec you could easily have Marcus Sitara, Wrench, and Josh consulting via video conferencing with DedSec members in another city.

I’m admittedly struggling through Assassin’s Creed: Origins. The games were always vast, but the shift to even more open world RPG design lost a little motivation for me in the story. I need to knuckle down and just commit to chasing the main story quests rather than get distracted with side quests, but I’m a habitual side quester. Once I finish Persona 5, I’ll try to finish off AC: Origins and see if my interest is renewed for Odyssey, but Rome/Greece isn’t particularly a setting that really interests me. I’d rather see China, Japan, and India entries in the series.

The Division 2 will be revealed, which does interest me. As I said, I liked the first one with my friends and I’m expecting we’ll hop in for the sequel together for the same style play through as well.

Skull and Bones is another one I have a passing curiosity for. The ship sailing in Assassin’s Creed III was a highlight for me and Black Flag is probably my favorite entry in the series, so Ubisoft has a solid foundation for ship based piracy. Depending on what else is in store for gamers with that title will determine just how interested I get. If it doesn’t offer enough new or interesting aspects, I could just replay Black Flag.

Sony – Monday, June 11, 6pm Pacific Time

Sony has stated there won’t be a lot of new games announced this year and instead they’ll be focusing on more information for what’s been announced and is now on the horizon. This is the conference with the most announcements I’m looking forward to. Before touching on anything I’m interested in game-wise, I really hope this is finally the year, after waiting so long, that Sony will finally, FINALLY, let users change their PSN name. I don’t even care if I have to pay for it, if there’s a time restriction on frequency, whatever. I don’t have an embarrassing PSN name and still I really want the option to change mine.

Death Stranding – As a huge Metal Gear Solid fan, I’m obviously interested to see what Hideo Kojima has planned with his first Konami-free game. As fans expect, everything about the game has been strange, confusing, and tell us almost nothing. This year is expected to be the first real look at the game, possibly with actual gameplay and some more cryptic clues as to just what it’s all about.

Spider-Man – I’ve already pre-ordered the collector’s edition, though I’m still on the fence about keeping that order in place. I’m just not a fan of the costume design, so a statue of said costume has me on the fence. It would be cool to have a statue of classic Spidey, MCU Homecoming Spidey, and PS4 Spidey all together, though. Decisions, decisions. Regardless of that, I’m looking forward to this game and with its launch only 3 months away, we’re sure to get a good final look at the gameplay here.

Ghost of Tsushima – Despite only an initial announcement trailer, this game is a bright, burning spot on my radar. An open world game set in feudal Japan with a samurai turned ninja? This is everything I want in a game. I’m hoping it’s surprisingly further into development than we might expect and we’ll see a full presentation with gameplay to give an idea just what sort of game it will be. Perhaps this will replace my desire for an Assassin’s Creed set in Japan.

The Last of Us, Part II – I loved the first game and I’m looking forward to the second, even though I’m a little on the fence about a new story with Joel and Ellie. I liked the world the first game established and was more interested in seeing The Last of Us becoming an anthology franchise with each game following different characters completely unrelated to the previous game.

Nintendo – Tuesday, June 12, 9am Pacific Time

I never have anything to really look forward to with Nintendo so much as tuning in to find out what I didn’t know I was be looking forward to. Nintendo seems to pull a few cards out that nobody knew were in the works such as last year’s Metroid Prime 4 announcement. This year, I’m hoping for a little of said Metroid Prime 4 information. I’d like to see some surprises from Square Enix on Nintendo Direct since they’ve established a division working on Switch games and I like the SNES era throwback RPGs like I Am Setsuna.

Best Buy Apparently Ends Gamers Club Unlocked

News broke today that Best Buy has suddenly, and without any warning, pulled the plug on the Gamers Club and Gamers Club Unlocked programs, causing a wave of disappointment on Twitter.

For those unaware, the program cost $30 for a two year membership and gave a 20% discount off any and all new games. So long as it was still sealed, you got 20% off. Games on clearance were 20% off. Collector’s Editions were 20% off and it even extended to amiibos and strategy guides.

By all measurements, the program was far superior to Amazon Games’ Prime discounts and many speculated it helped drive gamer traffic into stores where they’d also get points on purchases with Reward Zone memberships and could price match other items to Amazon. This theoretically could have contributed to the company’s strong fourth quarter performance that saw 14% increased sales with 7% increased sales for the year.

I understand there’s not a large margin on games and Best Buy may have been bleeding money with a program as aggressive as this was. But rather than eliminate the program entirely, I would have hoped to see it adjusted to better benefit the company while still offering incentive for gamers to shop in stores. 20% off pre-orders would match Amazon while extending just 4 weeks after release, and still including the offer on Collector’s Editions, would have kept the program well above Amazon. From my understanding, Prime’s discount only counts towards pre-orders now, so even a 2 week post-release period would keep the Gamers Club Unlocked program a clear winner.

Hopefully, Best Buy will reveal a new program, but for now current members have until their membership expires to take advantage of the discounts. At the time of this writing, membership for purchase can no longer be purchased on the website and cards in store are reportedly no longer functional if taken to the register. Discounts also no longer show on item pages on Bestbuy.com, but still appear in the cart at check out.

It was the best program for gamers while it lasted. Good night, sweet prince.

NYT Gives a Fair Article a Bad Tweet

This past week, Nellie Bowles wrote an article published by the New York Times titled “All We Want to Do Is Watch Each Other Play Video Games” but the publication’s Twitter account ran with the tweet:

“America’s 150 million gamers want to gather. They want to sit next to each other, elbow to elbow, controller to controller. They want the lighting to be cool, the snacks to be Hot Pockets, and they want a full bar because they aren’t teenagers anymore.”

As one might expect, gamers began mocking the tweet and, by extension, the article itself. Yet there’s a problem with a lot of the responses I saw: They didn’t read the article. If they had, they might have found that Bowles writes a rather positive description of gaming and its future as a centerpiece of American culture. The article goes so far as to comment on Hollywood’s decline during gaming, streaming, and esports’ continued rise. The article’s message is fairly clear: Gaming is no longer a hobby just for kids and teens and is growing exponentially. Not only is it not going anywhere, but it’s going to become even more of a standard staple in entertainment and may even be the savior of some struggling industries.

Let’s evaluate the article itself:

The headline, “All We Want to Do Is Watch Each Other Play Video Games,” is referring to the meteoric rise and record setting shift witnessed with YouTube and Twitch. No gamer can deny that the old new media – gaming magazines/now gaming sites – has been upended by YouTube reviewers/critics and Let’s Players with streaming on Twitch an even newer factor.

Ninja’s 635,000 consecutive views playing Fortnite with Drake made headlines. Streaming and esports are, essentially, watching others play video games and it’s appeal has proven massive. This is noted further with the sub-headline: “Gamers are the new stars. Esports arenas are the new movie theaters.”

If there was any doubt on the direction this was going, the first sentence should set the stage: “Video games are beginning their takeover of the real world.”

The article describes how malls, movie theaters, stores, parking garages, and more locations are converting to esports arenas and content farms are popping up to generate content with the same level of management as a major studio production.

Football teams are celebrating wins with dances from Fornite, which the article notes has racked up 129 million hours viewed on Twitch in under a year. That calculates out to 2.48 million hours a week. If Fortnite was a weekly television show, that might translate to 2.48 million viewers per week. That’s half of what The Simpsons pulls in. Yet that’s not a valid 1:1 comparison. In February alone, Bowles notes that Fortnite received 2.4 billion views on YouTube.  Billion, with a B.

After establishing all this, the article states a very real fact that ESPN broadcasters were adamantly against just 3 years ago: “Esports are, finally, just like any other sport.”

eSports Saving America! (‘s malls)

 

As the online presence is growing more dominant on the streaming and review side, physical space is being taken up by esports arenas and gaming bars. However, here’s where that tweet quote comes in and even within the article where opinions may diverge.

“Those 150 million gamers in America want to gather. They want to sit next to each other, elbow to elbow, controller to controller. They want the lighting to be cool, the snacks to be Hot Pockets, and they want a full bar because they are not teenagers anymore.”

Commenters are correct – not all gamers are alike and the huge growth of eSports turn outs doesn’t mean all gamers want to squeeze into a room to watch others play games. Some don’t even want to be in a crowded place to play games together.

But I don’t think that’s really the full intent of the article and I think we, as gamers, should be a little more tempered in our reaction. “They want to sit next to each other, elbow to elbow, controller to controller” isn’t necessarily a literal statement. Nobody literally wants to sit with elbows touching and there’s no logical scenario that controllers would be. It’s more of a gaming iteration of “stand shoulder to shoulder.”

Considering the past number of years have primarily had journalists depicting gamers as anti-social goblins living in shadowy rooms despising human contact, I really think it’s reasonable to accept a claim that gamers are, in fact, normal people who want to gather with friends and enjoy a shared hobby. As the article notes, it’s a natural extension of the already sociable aspect of gaming as we chat on headsets while playing even when we’re not together in the same room.

Breaking down this contentious paragraph, simply think of it as such:

150 million gamers aren’t antisocial, they enjoy interacting with fellow gamers.
There’s a demand for public venues where the hobby can be enjoyed alongside fellow gamers.
They want these venues to have a comfortable atmosphere, not the dark basement stereotype.
The average gamer isn’t a kid anymore.

A Live Example

The article then shifts to describing a new esports arena in Oakland and its pre-opening party. 4000 people inside, a line stretched around the block right in the middle of a tourism hot spot. That’s a good turn out by any stretch and the fact that a game related venue is approved for a major tourism traffic area is more important than the gamers present.

The Co-founder is cited as saying he had to speak at four community meetings to convince the community it would like having the arena present. That means it took effort to get gaming in this location, to have it be present in the community. It also means it was successful. For all the complaints that gamers voice about how politicians, business executives, and everyone calling shots don’t get it, here you have a community that was convinced it was just as beneficial as a grocery store (the cited alternative that was initially desired). That’s a big deal.

Regarding that poorly chosen tweet, some also complained that it suggested gamers were stunted to associate “I’m grown up” exclusively with “I can drink alcohol.” That’s not accurate either, as the article notes the Oakland eSports arena faced challenges with getting a liquor license as the misconception was present that teenagers were the majority demographic when in actuality is cited with 25 being the average age. It’s a fact that most adults want alcoholic beverages as an option in public venues where they congregate.

The article has quotes from gamers in attendance, appreciating a larger venue than the typical back room in a gaming store or commenting on the layout. What caught my interest was that Bowles interviewed 77 year old designer Herb Press who may offer the most positive comment in the article:

”This is an audience involved in this particular time in the computer age, but I’m amazed how critical they are,” he said. “They do have serious concepts and tastes. I heard one come out of the bathroom and say it looked cool in there.”

Actual importance of bathroom ambiance aside, it’s worthwhile to note that it’s a tangible realization that gamers have “serious concepts and tastes” in a major publication like the New York Times. That’s a far cry from the Dorito gremlins we’re frequently written to be in clickbait articles. It suggests that despite the best efforts of certain groups, gaming is growing too big and all-encompassing as a cultural past time to be ignore and dismissed as nonsense that the kids do.

Dorito Gremlin

Even if we still find this amusingly valid in our hearts.

E-Celeb Dread

The next portion of the article is where the real concern should settle. Discussing eSports organizations and the industry that’s growing. As Bowles writes, “Their job is to be cool gamers.” The very notion sounds less like a gamer growing popular for their natural personality and connecting with an audience and more like manufactured gaming celebrities akin to the latest pop idol churned out by American Idol year after year.

It’s noted there are numerous growing eSports teams (perfectly reasonable) and content mills (possibly concerning). That’s where we’re getting into the idea of manufactured gaming. When gaming it about churning out content to mine for something that might go viral, that’s not really gaming so much as it’s trying to find something that will become popular and presenting it for the sole purpose of increasing popularity so that popularity can be translated to followers & subscribers to generate more revenue for corporations that are funding the celebrity in question.

However, it’s noted many have broken away from the entertainment company they were partnered with to pursue their own media companies. That ironically brings them full circle – back to where a content creator on YouTube has replaced the big media conglomerations and has more reach. If gaming can hope to stave off the typical corporate corruption that seems to seep into everything, an ongoing system of direct connection between creators and fans is the way to do it.

Hollywood vs Gaming

Bowles wraps up the article discussing the decline of movie going. Talking to a former Capital Records president who has turned to gamer management (again, think manufactured e-celebs), he says the future is in eSports and gaming, which he believes will surpass movies as an entertainment industry and he acknowledges that a lot of people his age still think gamers must be ‘nerds in their basement’ and says that puts the entertainment industry behind the curve, or “asleep at the switch.”

This entire article is example after example that gaming is, if not THE future of entertainment, at least a major part of it. It’s a shame that so many gamers won’t realize this article is actually in support of their hobby, proclaiming its prominence in the future of culture, based entirely on a poorly chosen tweet.

That’s not entirely at the gamers’ feet, either. They’ve gotten so used to clickbait and disparaging headlines that they do what any gamer would – they don’t play. They don’t click the article, they don’t give the publication click-money. They do what they can to deny the “enemy” points on the board. And while the context of that paragraph in the article isn’t entirely bad by my interpretation, it’s still oddly out of place in the context of the article as a whole.

After all, there’s no mention of Hot Pockets at a single esports arena, gamer bar, or gaming center in the article, nor requested by anyone interviewed, so why suggest gamers want the snacks to be Hot Pockets? That runs contrary to the paragraph’s depiction of gamers as having serious concepts and tastes as well as contrary to the push that the average gamer is an adult, not a teen or kid.

Besides, tendies are the superior choice these days, anyway. At least give a gamer some nugs.

Moss – Polyarc Games

Polyarc Games‘ new release, Moss, is an action adventure puzzle platformer about a small mouse finding herself in a big adventure aided by a ghostly spirit being called “The Reader.” The player takes on the role of this Reader to interact with the environment, but also controls the mouse, Quill, as she traverses the areas and battles clockwork robot bugs. All over the Internet right now, you can’t throw an acorn without hitting a positive review of this charming game.

What I find so enthralling about Moss is that it is a departure from what we’ve come to expect in a VR game and yet if feels very familiar in a rather unexpected way.

VR – New Approach, But Familiarities

While most VR games have leaned towards first person experiences with shooters, the Skyrim port, and a few vehicle driving type approaches, Moss puts the player in the role of an observer with relatively minimal direct action upon the enemies so much as the world itself. Quill is the adventurer in this tale, you are her guardian spirit. The player can move things around like statues and blocks or they can take control of enemies to make them stand still, hold them in place while bringing Quill in to attack, or make the enemies fire their weapons at puzzle switches or other enemies.

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Here I’m controlling the light blue enemy to shoot the red ones while Quill hangs out safe up top.

Where things feel familiar for me is the sets designed for each level. Something about them feels like stepping back into childhood of the 80s and early 90s where practical sets and models were used rather than CG effects. Despite being a video game, the areas that Quill explores feel like physical models that you’re allowed to look at due to the nature of VR. Tilting your head to look into a building Quill is going into or raising up and leaning forward to look down at the set to see what’s hidden behind walls and into nooks and crannies really gives a sense of being there rather than merely observing the location.

That feeling of familiarity has been mentioned in a few other reviews as something out of a Jim Henson film with the charm of a Studio Ghibli production, but it reminded me of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Only in this case, it’s more like Mr. Rogers’ World of Make-Believe as designed by J. R. R. Tolkien (or perhaps more accurately, Brian Jacques). All of this combines to feel like you really are looking at the scenes of a storybook, which is exactly what you, The Reader, are doing in a sense.

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You can just barely see Quill between the center pillars!

On the topic of familiarity, and since I mentioned Brian Jacques, fans of the Redwall series will surely feel there are some similarities and possibly influential inspiration here. When Moss was first shown, I thought it might have somehow been connected to the series of books, but it’s not. Moss is its own storybook and Quill her own character, and what a character she is.

Quill – Our Heroine

The game begins with the player sitting in a large church-like library. Rows and rows of tables extend before you with a few having stacks of thick tomes on them, but only yours has candles before it with a book set before you to read. The book is titled Moss and your first interaction with the world is to open it. The narrator, who voices all characters in the game much as other indie titles have done splendidly, begins by telling the story of how the Mouse Kingdom fell to a great evil and how their people narrowly escaped with the help of a warrior. That warrior’s wounds proved too great and he died in the forest, a tree growing upon him and holding a powerful artifact, a Glass, within it.

The story is told in small bits, each related to a page in the book which dims when that narration is completed, indicating it’s ready for you to turn the page until the story moves to the current level in the tale.

Quill lives with her uncle and although he warns her about staying out late, she tends to push just a little further in her explorations of the forest beyond their town. We first meet her coming back from an expedition of exploration shortly after the previously mentioned Glass has fallen from the tree. Quill stops to check her pack where she seems to have found a button, though she drops it when she’s startled by a crow and hides in a small hole at the base of a large tree. As she starts to leave, the Glass glows and chimes and she picks it up, putting that in her pack instead of the button.

Then, she notices the player. Looking up at you, she’s startled, but then calms and comes closer, moving to a little pier and her gaze practically invites you to lean down to look closer at her. In doing so, the Reader’s reflection is seen in the water and you do definitely look like something from a Ghibli film. From there, Quill hears the bells and heads home before the gates close.

That’s you in the back there.

The game uses the few areas between the start and getting Quill home to get familiar with the controls, which aren’t too difficult. The most challenging aspect is adjusting to combat later where you’ll want to use the motion controller to move in a 3D space while simultaneously keeping an eye on where you’ve got Quill moving so she’s able to fight. Combat isn’t particularly difficult, but there are a few fights where things get a little hectic trying to control Quill and grab enemies to delay them from getting her. Most of this difficulty for me seemed to be getting my Dualshock 4 out of the PS4 Camera’s field of vision mid-combat.

Over the course of the game, Quill doesn’t gain new abilities or power ups. What she starts with is what you get, other than a story upgrade that doesn’t translate to in-game power. That’s fine though, because what you start with is an adorably charming mouse who is intelligent and expressive. In my first playthrough of the game, the biggest mistake I made was identifying how to solve puzzles and executing that strategy. Not solving puzzles immediately offers you the chance to watch Quill give you a hint with simplified sign language and pantomime with smooth animations.

It’s fun to just watch her sometimes. The Reader can even interact with Quill by holding the button to grab things while hovering over her, allowing the player to give her a little pet to the head, ears, back, or belly. She often reacts positively to this, much like a real pet, though later in the game she finds it annoying in a “now is not the time for petting, this is serious” sort of way.

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Here I’m giving Quill an anime-worthy head pat.

Conclusion

Moss is a fun little game that I enjoyed every minute of. I played straight through from start to finish, logging about 4 hours in total. Some might find this a bit too short for the $30 price tag, but I am more than content with the experience. It’s one that’s enjoyable enough that I find myself wanting to play through it again (which I’m going to do to get platinum if nothing else).

The most telling of the game’s affect is that I find myself not only wanting to replay it, but wanting more. Minor non-spoiler: The game ends with a clear indication this is just the beginning of Quill’s tale and that her adventures with the Reader have only just begun. Since the game starts with the player in a library or cathedral reading the book, Moss, I’m curious if the mystical ghost-like Reader in the tale is the reader of the book, able to interact with the story itself or if the literal reader and the mystical Reader are separate entities. Perhaps it’s a question that doesn’t need answering, but it does seem like an interesting one.

I’m curious to know more about Quill’s sword and her arm guard, the mystical Glass artifacts. I want to know more about the evil that rose under their kingdom so long ago. I want to know more about the humans that clearly existed in these lands ages ago. I want a Moss animated series. Most of all, I want one of those adorable Quill figures Polyarc Games has given away with hide & seek games at various conventions and now through various partners and YouTube channels with the game’s release.

Seriously, Polyarc Games, let me give you money. I want to help fund another adventure with our little mouse friend.

 

The Grand Gaming Haul of 2017 Part 2

Once I had sorted out the manuals into alphabetical order and by system and had divided up the multitude of SNES controllers, N64 controllers, NES controllers, and the rest of the hardware and such.

My friend and business partner on this find, Phil, came to my place to start going through all the boxes of games so we could get into the meat of the purchase.

Nintendo

We started with NES titles. I’m not going to list everything we got in this purchase as it would result in ridiculously long lists. Instead, I’ll note some worthwhile additions.

For NES, there were 185 games in total.We started going through them setting aside titles we’d want to keep and any titles we both wanted would get set aside for later. In that stack were 12 Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt/World Class Track meet carts plus 4 copies of Mario 2 and a couple copies of Super Mario Bros. 3.

We had a system planned where we’d flip a coin to see who picked first and then take turns pulling from the pile of games we both wanted. Ultimately, it turned out, this was unnecessary as most of the good titles were things I had. Since Phil is just starting his retro collection, he took a good number of quality NES titles to get started on.

From the NES loose games, I only took Maniac Mansion and Empire Strikes Back.

In addition to his NES games, he picked up one of the NES original models and a GameBoy box that was complete with everything minus a Game Boy itself, which he already had. He was pretty big into Game Boy when we were kids, so it made sense for him to take that one to have a true CIB one for his collection. I took a box that had the styrofoam insert, but nothing else, and added some manuals I already had to make mine at least a start.

From the hand held area, Phil picked up Adventure Island II, Pokemon Ruby, and the manuals for Mega Man IV and Gargoyle’s Quest on Game Boy.

Huge Haul - Phil's

Phil’s total picks

Sidenote: We still haven’t determined what the colored circle stickers meant. Controllers had them – some red, some green, and some orange. We thought maybe green worked, red were broken, and orange untested, but when testing N64 controllers they all worked despite all different sticker colors. No idea…

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I’m also torn on these being new in their original shipping box – not sure I want to split them up!

SNES didn’t fare as well. Despite having about 300 games, we only had a handful of titles that weren’t sports games and we had two boxes of nothing but sports games, one of which was entirely Madden titles from 93 to 97 as well as 16 copies of Super Scope 6, 21 copies of NHL Stanley Cup, and 32 copies of NCAA Basketball.  However, we did have a copy of Ghoul Patrol, which was valued around $100 when we looked it up. I didn’t find anything I’d want in my collection, though.

N64 had some CIB games – Hey You, Pikachu!, Goldeneye 007, Bassmasters 2000, and some of the WWF & WCW titles, but nothing loose. The majority for N64 were a lot of memory cards, expansion RAMs, transfer packs, and rumble packs.

Rounding out Nintendo’s offerings of hardware and software was GameCube with a couple of Game Boy Players (but sadly, no discs), a couple of Wavebirds, one with a receiver I kept, and 18 Nintendo memory cards plus another 14 memory cards from 3rd party manufacturers. Towards the end of going through everything, Phil picked up a small Mario Kart bubblegum case. We joked that the guys at Freaks & Geeks might be willing to try it, but when he opened it there was actually just the disc for Super Mario Sunshine inside!

Sega

Sega Genesis didn’t have much of note, but 19 loose common titles. Sega Dreamcast offered a copy and a half of Shenmue. I did get a CIB copy of Cosmic Carnage on 32X for my collection as well as Quake III Arena.

There was also a CD case with disc games that turned out to be all Sega CD. Night Trap was in there, as well as Final Fight CD (which had a manual in with the other manuals), which I may keep and try to find the remaining parts to make them complete or may sell them and put that money towards buying complete copies. Terminator on Sega CD was a cool find as well.

Overall, there were 64 items between games and a few controllers across the Sega systems.

Playstation

Playstation served up Final Fantasy VII (3 copies, one missing the 3rd disc) and Final Fantasy IX as well as Dragon Warrior VIII, but that was missing the first disc. Mega Man Legends 2 was a nice find, but had a Blockbuster protective seal sticker over it. We did get Pipe Dreams 3D sealed – not special, but fun to see a sealed game anyway. UnJammer Lammy was in there complete as well.

For PS2, we had Clock Tower 3 and Eye Toy Play with the camera, a Greatest Hits of Shadow of the Colossus without a manual, and Time Splitters. Rez wasn’t a bad disc only find in the bunch.

Microsoft XBox

All we got from the XBox side of things was Knight of the Old Republic’s case and manual, but KotOR II’s disc, Gears of War 2 and 3, Crimson Skies, Project GOtham Racing 2, and a sealed copy of Gun Griffon Allied Strike. There is an XBox console as well, which turns on fine, but the disc tray is stuck, so it will take a little work to see if it can get back to full working condition.

A Box of Boxes

Then we started on the box I was most eager to get to. Boxes. A box of boxes. 242 boxes in all, as we’d eventually count out.  As I previously mentioned, I had already seen Final Fantasy III, Ocarina of Time Collector’s Edition, and not just one but two Chrono Trigger boxes, so I had high hopes of some really cool things in here.

They turned out to mostly be SNES and N64 boxes, but with a decent number of NES boxes. There were multiple Tetris boxes, for instance, Dr. Mario, Baseball. We kept going through the stack and were shocked to find Shadow of the Ninja was a fairly valuable box. Then we came across the box for Mega Man…and Mega Man 2… and Mega Man 3!

We already had found the original Mega Man manual, so this would make the game complete in box, worth about $200. We had our first conundrum. Phil was taking the game, which I had. But I wanted to build a CIB Mega Man collection too. The box wasn’t in great shape. It was fairly beat up and the UPC code had been cut out from the back. We set it aside to decide who would get it later. Mega Man 2’s box was in great shape and Mega Man 3 was in good shape, but had writing on the box in ballpoint pen. Ultimately, Phil decided to let me temporarily keep them all. We agreed it to be temporary because ultimately I’ll want to get better condition boxes and when I do, these will move to Phil’s collection. My game room is larger and better organized, which also helped ensure they’d stay in good shape until they change hands. I think Phil also felt like he had $400 worth of games and I had a little pile of about maybe $30 worth at the time, though I was keeping the NES Deluxe Set and we hadn’t gotten to it yet, so I was reasonably close in equal value of what we were keeping.

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I wanted a ROB just to have one, but I never expected to own this.

I was happy to get the box for Metal Gear for NES as well and I kept a few other boxes like Adventures of Lolo for nostalgic reasons more than collection value.

There was a complete in box Star Tropics, including the letter, and Star Tropics II complete in box. This was the third time a boxed copy of Star Tropics had come into my possession and at this point, Phil said I needed to just keep a complete copy of the dang thing since both were right there in my hands. I also kept Contra and Castlevania II’s boxes, along with Double Dragon and Double Dragon III. I always wanted just a few series CIB for my NES collection – the Zelda games, Mario series, Double Dragon, TMNT, Contra, and Mega Man. This was filling in the bulk of all of those in one fell swoop.

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NES boxes I kept, plus a couple of SNES and the aforementioned Ocarina box.

Moving on to sorting through the SNES boxes, we found treasure after treasure. The first was multiple Final Fantasy III boxes and the Chrono Trigger boxes (one of which had both poster maps and manual, all in rather worn out condition). The second Chrono Trigger box was immaculate, though. A couple of Secret of Mana boxes, as well as manuals, added to the RPG fest.

Then, to my great delight, I found Lufia II’s box. We had the manual in near perfect condition, so once I get the game and map (which Phil has and I mostly promise not to ninja into his apartment to abscond with), I’ll have a complete Lufia II. I’m leaning towards considering going CIB for RPGs in my library. This helped nudge that idea further.

We came across the box to go with the Ghoul Patrol game, which bumped that value up quite a bit. Between Pricecharting and GameValueNow, we thought the game and box might be worth around $250 to $300, but ultimately realized there was an eBay auction listed with Buy It Now for $180 of the same thing, so we valued it at that price point.

Our next big find in the boxes was Zombies Ate My Neighbors for SNES. The alternate box art! This was a wild one as initial reviews suggested up to $500 for the box by itself. A little more research settled the idea down to $400, but I had the game and manual and debated what a CIB copy would sell for. We listed this in a Facebook group we’re in just to share a rare find in the purchase and one of our good friends in the group, a doctor in Minnesota, messaged us immediately saying he was interested. We’d work out a price later, but he wanted that box.

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The rare box in question – near mint condition

Some other notable SNES boxes included Castlevania IV, Tactics Ogre: March of the Black Queen, Final Fight 2, Donkey Kong Country 2, and F-Zero.

We also had two Super Mario World (Player’s Choice) boxes, which we combined with games and manuals so we each had a complete copy for convention trades. I would like to get the non-Player’s Choice box instead, myself.

Moving on to alphabetizing N64 boxes, we found some more exciting titles. Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which we had a manual present, made my game complete. Mario 64 boxes were cool to find, even if they were player’s choice. We were also surprised to find Indiana Jones on N64 was such a valuable box. A few Majora’s Mask boxes, one of which I kept. I also found the box and manual for Tactics Ogre 64, plus two boxes for Harvest Moon 64!

Ultimately, I kept quite a few boxes, even if my luck with games themselves proved rather slim.

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I also kept a few hand held game boxes, though that’s not a large area of collecting for me. I am interested in the Mario, Zelda, Metroid titles and I already have quite a few Pokemon, so I decided to keep the box for the first Pokemon game I ever played.

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I actually had Super Mario Land complete in box in the past and traded it, then later regretted it, so it was cool to find the box to add to my manual and game. Oracle of Seasons is actually a box I already had as well, but we found the game in everything so we made a complete copy for my collection.

Hand Helds

We had 65 items under hand helds, including 5 Game Boy Advance / SPs, 7 Game Boy Colors, 11 original Game Boys, 3 Game Boy Advance systems, and various common games. It took a while to test all of them, a number having screen issues, one with a bad speaker, and some not powering up at all.

Manuals

Although I had already alphabetized the manuals, Phil took a chance to go through them just out of curiosity. With only a few exceptions that he took, he wasn’t interested in expanding to manuals and boxes for his collection just yet. Truth be told, I wasn’t intending to collect boxes if this collection hadn’t landed in our hands.

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Manuals I kept

And of the 40 Strategy Guides, I kept a number of those as well.

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That Nintendo Power Chrono Trigger guide is sweeeet!

Conclusion

 

This was an insane collection to get our hands on and the money we spent to get it was far more than worth it. We spent $1100 on everything and between the two of us, we added about $3,000 worth of items to our collections.

We made our money back in cash selling to other collectors via Facebook and at local meet ups. Our method has been to take the lower of Pricecharting or GameValueNow and then come down lower than those. We’ve also done a lot of trades, finally putting Metal Storm in my library as a result. We also traded in a good number of games to a local retro store that was running a special and came away with about $600 in store credit split between us, so $300 each.

And yet, we’re four months past our organizing of everything and I still have boxes and boxes of stuff in my house. For that matter, it’s taken four months for me to even get the controllers tested and I still have more than a dozen 3rd party N64 controllers to test!

That’s the trade off taking these deals on. Yes, you can make a profit off what you flip and add things to your own collection, but it’s going to take a long time to move everything at anywhere near full value. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort to clean (and we had to do a lot of cleaning), testing, organizing, sometimes researching, and then seeking out buyers or collectors who want to spend the money or have something you want that they’ll trade.

Ultimately, though, it’s a lot of fun and that’s the real reason for this hobby, of any hobby – to have fun.

Here’s the final break down:

 System Qty of all Items
Pre-NES 3
NES 192
SNES 338
N64 53
GameCube 13
Sega 64
Playstation 31
XBox & 360 8
Hand Held 65
Manuals 464
Boxes 242
Strategy Guides 40
Other (cleaning kits, random items) 23
Other (cleaning kits, random items) 1536

As far as total value, I’m not entirely comfortable saying yet. Suffice to say that the online sites like Pricecharting and GameValueNow indicate we made a ludicrous amount of profitability here, but I don’t believe they’re ultimately accurate. Totaling up everything based on their value gets very high with $4-$8 a piece on sports games for SNES where I expect we’ll be lucky to make 50 cents a piece.

Suffice to say we added a sizeable value to our own libraries, and we’re looking at making about double our money back in cash. Beyond that I can’t say, but it’s going to take many more months, if not a year, to move everything. That’s a long time to have to deal with boxes of games cluttering your house.

Still, I couldn’t be happier with this purchase. The largest game find since I started collecting and the most expensive I’ve purchased. I’ve probably depleted all my luck for quite a while in snagging this, but despite that, here’s hoping for more good finds in 2018, where I’m hoping to do more game hunting road trips!

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Just really super happy.