Nintendo Expanding the Possibilities of Online Gaming with Cross-Platform Play

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Nintendo is making waves in the gaming world, and this time it’s for a positive reason. In continuing to show how versatile and distinct the Wii U is from its counterparts, Nintendo has taken a bold initiative. Developer VooFoo (who is making “Pure Chess”) stated that the Wii U will allow for cross-platform play between mobile devices and the Wii U. In an interview, VooFoo stated this about Nintendo:

“They’ve also been very open minded in allowing us to support cross platform play with the iOS and Android versions of Pure Chess this is a really great move and something I hope we’ll be able as developers to do much more in the future. Wii U really seemed to be an ideal platform to bring Pure Chess to – it’s quite a beast of a machine so is very capable of throwing around some pretty impressive visuals.”

It certainly is quite a breakthrough of technology when gamers from mobile markets, PC’s and consoles can all meet online to play a round of their favorite game. We are very excited to see what possibilities await Nintendo’s Wii U as their ever expanding inventory of online titles release.

[via GimmieGimmieGames]

Mobile Spotlight 12/03/12: An Introduction, Extreme Road Trip 2, and Daily Crossword

An Introduction

Here at Gamers XTREME, we love bringing our readers the most informative and entertaining game reviews possible. However, as we’ve been thinking on recently, mobile gaming is an entirely different beast. The iOS App Store and Google Play Marketplace are extremely vast, and contain so many titles from an unimaginable amount of developers, it can be hard to separate the very best games from the chaff. Console and handheld markets are considerably smaller, and make it much easier to report on a variety of games, giving you the scoop on the good, the bad, and the mediocre. So as we’ve come to conclude, reviews on mobile games should be done differently. To that end, we’re proud to announce the launch of a new regular column on the Gamers XTREME web site, the Mobile Spotlight.

The Mobile Spotlight aims to deliver more than just game reviews – we’ll pick out the best of the best from the Android and iOS app markets and deliver it to you, complete with a full analysis of why we think you should try it. In order to kick things off, we’re presenting two great mobile games to you today. Let’s begin with Extreme Road Trip 2.

Ridge Racing to the Extreme

Cars with stuck gas pedals; normally a scary predicament in real life, it’s the central element to Roofdog Games’ Extreme Road Trip 2. Part 2D racer, part stunt simulator, the game sees you pulling off turbo boosts and flips to keep it in overdrive without crashing. A simple but thoroughly addictive concept, Extreme Road Trip 2 is the perfect game to set a few minutes aside for, or a few hours of boosting, crashing fun. The game’s controls are simple, and a quick tutorial runs you through them when you start up the game for the first time. Pressing the lower-left or -right of the screen will rotate your car counter-clockwise and clockwise respectively, allowing you to perform flips and ready your landing after a big jump. Performing stunts and getting a smooth landing will earn you Boost, allowing you to conserve your fuel and increase your speed for as long as it holds out. You can also hold down both controls to slam, causing your car to fall rapidly but granting extra Boost if you stick the landing. This is the key to filling up your Boost meter and achieving Overdrive, a high-powered Boost mode that only lasts a few seconds but can give your car some serious air time if you hit a jump. You can also use a selection of power-ups at the beginning of a game, allowing you to start off with a brief speed boost, collect pick-ups in a wider area, and even gain double coins for each one you pick up.

Just a small slice of the cars you can unlock through play.

One of Extreme Road Trip 2’s hooks is the drive to unlock more and more cars to add to your collection. You start out with a basic red Compact, aptly dubbed “Almost Reliable”, but can unlock many, many more vehicles through the game’s currency, coming in two forms: coins, which can be collected during a game, or cash, a premium currency used for higher-end unlocks, acquirable randomly through level-ups and bonus crates (more on these later). Either can be purchased using real money, but Road Trip 2 does a good job of limiting the need. Premium cars aren’t prohibitively expensive, and cash can be acquired at a fair pace. Every car has a series of challenges that can be completed as well, ranging from crashing at a specific distance to traveling upside down for a period of time. Each completed challenge grants a star, and collecting five stars will earn you a pair of bonus crates, which can contain coins, cash, and power-ups given at random. In fact, there’s really little to no feeling of stagnation, as you’ll always be doing something new in Road Trip 2, whether it’s completing car challenges, upgrading your ride, or saving up to purchase something new. You can even post your best distances to social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and iOS players can post challenges to their friends using Game Center. It’s always satisfying receiving a challenge from a buddy and crush it, knowing a message will be sent to them saying their record’s been beaten.

Aside from being an awesome gameplay experience, Road Trip 2 boasts an excellent audio-visual presentation. The game’s 2D sprites are well-detailed and are very reminiscent of Hot Wheels or Micro Machines toy cars. Each stage is littered with scenery and random objects (like beach balls) that can be tossed around by driving through them. Even better, you’ll see road signs representing your friends’ best scores, and you can smash through those as well, literally demolishing their record. Land mines also litter the map and can launch your car extremely far, but can be unpredictable as well, sometimes sending you straight into an oncoming hill. The game’s cute graphics are accentuated by a downright bumping soundtrack. Mixing classic 80’s rock and roll synth with 8-bit sweetness, the game’s music will have you rocking along. There’s only three songs at present (the main menu and the two stage themes), but really, it’s all Road Trip 2 needs. For proof, listen to one of the in-game tracks below.

Extreme Road Trip 2 is one of the most surprising and enjoyable hits I’ve had the chance to play this year, offering addictive gameplay, great social tie-ins, and an awesome presesentation. Best of all, it’s free to play, and comes with a very player-friendly microtransaction model. There’s no carrot on a stick here. Download it today and give it a spin!

An Old-School Mental Workout

On the other end of the spectrum we have Daily Crossword by Blue Wind Studio. Now I know what you might be thinking – crossword apps are a dime a dozen on the app markets. What makes this one so special? A few things, but the main draw is the constant support from the developer. Blue Wind puts out new crossword puzzles constantly, easily downloadable through the app’s main menu screen through a helpful pop-up alert. This alone makes Daily Crossword the app to beat, but it boasts some great features as well. Unlike traditional pencil-and-paper crosswords, after entering a word, you’ll know right away if it’s right or wrong, eliminating a ton of confusion. If you get stuck, however, you can get some help with a word using the game’s hint system. You start off with a few right from the beginning, and can earn more in several ways, including daily app launches, Liking the game on Facebook, and of course, in-app purchases.

It’s a shame there really isn’t more to say about Daily Crossword, but given its nature, there isn’t much to tell that most readers don’t already know. However, I’ve tried quite a few crossword apps and this, by far, is the best you can get for free. It’s gone so far as to change my nightly routine – rather than watching TV until I fall asleep, I find myself firing up Daily Crossword to try to beat a puzzle or two before bed. Given the proven fun factor of crosswords, the excellent feature set Daily Crossword boasts, and its low, low price of FREE, you really owe it to yourself to give it a go.

In Closing

Thanks for reading, and I hope you discovered a couple more apps to add to your collection on your mobile device. Keep checking in at GamersXTREME.org for more Mobile Spotlight and other great reads. To the hardcore and casual alike: game on!

Tower Defense: Lost Earth Review (iOS / Android)

Tower Defense is a popular app genre on the mobile platform, and for good reason – quick games with a lot of depth and strategy are a great platform for a game to go. A lot of the TD games available now are a simple variation on the basic formula, offering a different theme on a typically identical system. So it’s always worth mentioning when something comes along that shakes things up and introduces us to a new gameplay style. Tower Defense: Lost Earth, from com2us, is just such a game, bringing beautiful graphics and a whole slew of enemies and towers to combat them with. Is this enough to make a great game, or does it simply complicate things?

To answer that question, let’s take a look at the basics that Lost Earth brings to the table. The basic gameplay is there – you have waves of enemies trying to move on your base structure and destroy it, and you can purchase stationary defense towers to repel them. Killing enemies awards you with credits with which you can buy more towers or upgrade the ones you have, making them stronger.

However, Lost Earth isn’t content to rest on the genre’s laurels, and what’s been mentioned so far is just about all it has in common with every other game in the Tower Defense category.

For starters, the game has a great selection of game modes to try. There’s a full-featured campaign, spanning 40 levels and actually featuring some semblance of a story. In the future, Earth’s natural resources are dwindling close to nothing, and you are part of an exploration team sent to examine and colonize a new planet. However, this entails establishing bases across the planet’s surface and fending off the natural wildlife with – what else – towers. The campaign does a great job of showing you the ropes, teaching you something new every step of the way while avoiding the feeling of hand-holding. The gradual unlocking of additional tower types also keeps the entire campaign feeling fresh, and it never drags.

Unlike many other TD games available, there’s multiple ways for you to approach combat besides simply planting towers. Tapping on an enemy will have your towers focus on it; this is a great way to target down bigger, tougher enemies, and there are even some enemies that require this tactic, as towers won’t automatically fire on them. Most stages also include a super weapon you’re able to deploy once per mission. These weapons are usually tuned to the stage they’re on, such as a nuke for tightly-winding paths or carpet bombs for eradicating a group of enemies on a longer path. Used wisely, these weapons can turn the tide of a near-defeat.

There’s still plenty to do once you beat the Campaign. For starters, Challenge mode lets you compete on seven unique levels with the world, vying for the top spot on the global leaderboards. These levels are a cut above the Campaign in difficulty, and will definitely test your expertise with your full assortment of towers, as well as manipulating enemy movement with intelligent placement of your towers. Similar to Challenge mode is a selection of Special Missions that also support Leaderboards. There’s only two stages at time of writing, but more may be added later via in-app purchases.

TD:LE does a great job of showcasing the graphical power of mobile devices. The game’s graphics are all 2D sprites, but boast an incredible level of detail and some present the illusion of depth. Towers and enemies look unique and animate fluidly. Towers and special weapons unleash their firepower with spectacular intensity. All in all, Lost Earth is a treat to the eyes. However, its audio doesn’t quite live up to the same standard. The firing sound of each tower is appropriate to its level of power, and the main menu music is fantastically catchy, but otherwise, there isn’t much to speak of. The sound lacks punch, and enemies make generic snarling noises when defeated. The sound in-game serves a more functional role rather than contributing to the game’s aesthetic; if you don’t hear anything, it means nothing is happening. Otherwise, if a tower is firing, an enemy is dying, your base is getting destroyed, or a super weapon is inbound, you’ll know it.

Kudos to com2us for giving the game a semblance of a story and some great attention to detail.

Tower Defense: Lost Earth is an excellent example of where the Tower Defense genre can go. By taking the gameplay beyond the basic formula, Lost Earth injects a much-needed breath of fresh air into a genre generally lousy with carbon copies. With a generous campaign and loads of challenges to take on, Lost Earth is one of the best values you’ll find on the App Store or Google Play today.

FINAL SCORE: 8.5 / 10 = BUY IT!

Punch Quest Review (iOS / Android)

There’s a few household names in the mobile gaming market that have come out over the past few years – Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride, Monster Dash – most of these titles are instantly recognizable by anyone with a handheld device or smart phone. Whether it’s a certain aesthetic, a catchy game mechanic, or just that special something, these games have become hugely successful, and are invariably going to set standards in their genres. At face value, Rocketcat Games’ and Madgarden’s Punch Quest could appear to be based on many popular mechanics, like Monster Dash’s run-and-gun style of gameplay. However, after just a few minutes with the game, it’ll be plainly obvious that Punch Quest is a unique, innovative, and downright addicting game that’ll be more than just a passing entry on the Top 25 list.

The concept behind Punch Quest is pretty simple, and at its core not that new – you play as a muscle-bound Punchzerker on a VERY bad day. After busting through a castle door, your punching spree begins. Your character runs forward constantly, so all you need to worry about is how to pummel your opponents. This is done in two ways: a straight Dash Punch which can be mashed to increase your speed, and an uppercut / overhead smash combo that lets you soar into the air to deal with aerial threats or lay the smack down on your enemies’ heads. It’s a simple system on the surface but boasts surprising depth once you get to try it out. And you get plenty of opportunities to use your fighting skills, as just about everything can be punched – skeletons, zombies, orcs, bats, wraiths, torches, chests, vases, idols, and even food can be bashed around, among other surprises. Chaining strikes together and juggling enemies increases your combo, which is the key to racking up huge score combos. There’s a ton of surprises to be had too – branching paths, special mini-games with laser-shooting raptors, boss fights, traps, treasure troves, and more.

When the going gets tough, the tough punch things. A lot.

As you accumulate experience by pummeling enemies, a power meter on-screen will fill. As it reaches three milestones, you’ll unlock two Skills and a Super Move, in that order. These Skills passively enhance your skills, like making your uppercuts jump higher or improving damage of overhead slams, or give you entirely new moves to perform, like a block that reflects projectiles back at the attacker. Super Moves make you significantly more dangerous for a limited time and are potentially very over-the-top. Make your punches more damaging, literally throw punches, or even make defeated enemies explode. More and tougher enemies will start appearing as you gain experience, upping the challenge but also increasing the potential reward. Punching anything – enemies or otherwise – earns you Punchos, the game’s currency, which can be used to purchase a whole slew of upgrades and customization options. There’s a ton of stuff to purchase, so the game will keep you coming back again and again to grab as much as you can. There’s even achievements to be had on iOS for the completionist.

Punch Quest strikes a perfect middle-ground between the new and the old with its art and sound aesthetic, sporting an 8-bit visual and audio design highlighted by scintillating special effects and brass horn highlights. The game looks retro yet modern, sounds old-school yet delightful, and strikes every point just right. Anyone who’s played Final Fight, Streets of Rage, Street Fighter, or pretty much any old-school brawler will feel a sense of nostalgia from the get-go. The game can even be played in portrait or landscape perspective, and plays quite well in both, so it’s up to user preference which way to handle your device during play. Most importantly, though, the game has a unique charm that goes beyond the looks – the game’s quirky sense of humor is clever and cute, and despite being a somewhat inherently violent game, it’s got something for just about anyone, from the young to the not so much.

Need we say more?

Perhaps best of all, the game boasts a very consumer-friendly pricing model. The game itself is free, and Punchos are easy enough to come by through gameplay alone that most won’t feel the need to fork over real money to get some. The option is there, as well as a permanent upgrade that doubles all Punchos earned (not bought). It’s publically-known that Punch Quest isn’t earning Rocketcat a ton of revenue, but this leaves an interesting pivot point for players – the option of buying in-app content is more of a donation to the developers. Given the love and care Rocketcat has clearly put into Punch Quest, it’s a nice and very deserving gesture.

It’s very hard to find faults with Punch Quest because it’s a game that does so many things right – simple but engrossing gameplay with that “just one more” factor, an endearing and vivid aesthetic, tons of hooks and replayability, and best of all, provides the entire package in a no-strings-attached business model. If you enjoy the game (and you should – a lot), by all means, support the developer and make an in-app purchase! They’ve earned it, at least in this reviewer’s opinion. Punch Quest has earned its place in the mobile Pantheon right along Angry Birds and Jetpack Joyride.

FINAL SCORE: 10 / 10 = GET IT! NOW!

Marvel: War of Heroes is Now Live for iOS and Android

During NYCC, we had the opportunity to interview Fabien Pierre Nicholas, the Marketing Director from DeNA/ngmoco, about the new mobile game, “Marvel: War of Heroes”. Today, it officially went live on both the iOS and Android operating devices. Here are the features listed for the game:

  • New Marvel Story – Experience Marvel in a whole new way as you build and grow a card deck of super heroes to obliterate your enemies.
  • Original Art by Marvel Artists – The first set of cards, which includes Jean Grey and Ms. Marvel, are illustrated by noted artist Sana Takeda.
  • Fan Favorite Characters – More than 100 Marvel characters appear in the game, including Thor, The Hulk and The Black Widow.
  • Fast-Paced Card-Battle Action – Build a unique deck to gain strength and battle against infamous Marvel super villains.
  • Fusion and Evolution – Enhance your power against stronger foes by evolving, fusing and refreshing your card deck.
  • Regular Updates – Every play experience is different, with new cards and events added on a regular basis.

Here’s the full press release for the game:

SAN FRANCISCO and TOKYO – October 18, 2012 – Today DeNA Co., Ltd. (TSE: 2432) and Marvel Entertainmentreleased Marvel: War of Heroes™, a fast-paced card-battle action game, to iOS and Android devices on DeNA’s Mobage™social games platform.

In Marvel: War of Heroes, players step into the shoes of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and team up with iconic Marvel Heroes to battle evil. The Marvel: War of Heroes story is a completely original script, written in cooperation with Marvel.

Marvel: War of Heroes is an incredibly unique handcrafted card-battle game that we’re excited to share with consumers,” said Clive Downie, Vice President of Studios at DeNA’s U.S. subsidiary ngmoco, LLC. “Marvel’s breadth of iconic characters and creative storyline offers players a truly engaging and fun gameplay experience.”

The game consists of more than 200 types of cards featuring heroes and villains from the Marvel universe; players recruit classic Marvel characters into their decks, such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Punisher, Captain America, Black Widow, The Hulk, Thor, Dr. Strange and many others. By evolving and fusing characters’ powers and abilities, players build stronger teams capable of challenging the most dangerous foes. New Marvel characters and events tied to the Marvel Universe will be added to the game on a regular basis, ensuring a continuously evolving gameplay experience. 

“The illustrations from our Marvel artists and the original narrative in Marvel: War of Heroes combine with the proven and innovative card-battle gameplay design from DeNA to create an entertaining new way for fans to experience the Marvel Universe from their mobile devices,” said Rob Steffens, EVP Operations & Planning of Marvel Entertainment.

To download Marvel: War of Heroes on iOS or Android devices, please visit: http://marvelwarofheroes.com

NYCC 2012: “Marvel: War of Heroes” Coming to iOS and Android; Hands-On and Interview

At NYCC 2012, we had the opportunity to interview Fabien Pierre Nicholas, the Marketing Director for ngmoco that’s behind Marvel: War of Heroes. Marvel: War of Heroes is the upcoming card-based game coming to iOS and Android platforms. It will be a Free-to-Play game that will have micro-transactions if you want to purchase new card packs. Each pack you purchase is random so you’re not guaranteed to receive any specific cards you’re looking for. While people may find this jarring, it’s actually a clever idea in which it brings back that feel of going to the store, buying a pack of cards, and having the excitement of opening the pack to see what you got. Also, to bring a deeper social aspect to the game, you’ll be able to trade cards amongst friends as well. Fabien stated that Marvel provided them complete support with the title, giving them access to all the characters in the Marvel universe and not just the popular ones based on the movies within the last decade.

Based on the demo we saw, you start off working alongside Black Widow to take down average thugs that scour the environment while then coming up against an iconic Marvel villain. On the game’s screen, you’ll see the enemies in front of you (all drawn from Marvel artists) while having the bottom half of the screen to select your party member. and you’ll have to tap the enemy on screen to attack them. If you actually have multiple cards of the same Marvel character, you’ll be able to “fuse” them together to level up that particular character. In the demo, Fabien fused two Spider-Man cards together to rank him up to level 2, in which not only did his stats increase, but also gained the ability to shoot two webs at once by multi-touching the screen. However, he assured us that the game won’t be one that’s ever “done”. They plan to be providing continuous content via updates for the game so that players will always keep returning for more. There’s also an online competitive component so you can battle your friends to showoff who has the better card set. The game will be running off the DeNA’s Mobage gaming network.

Fabien stated that they chose to utilize the mobile platforms as they felt it would appeal to an enormous amount of people that utilize their mobile devices daily. It will run on the iPhone 3GS and up, and Android 2.0 and up. When we asked if they would consider bringing the title to the PS Vita or 3DS, he stated that at the moment they’re not looking at that and solely focused on the mobile versions but they wouldn’t rule it out entirely.

Marvel: War of Heroes releases next week for the iOS and Android platforms for free. It definitely has our interest and look forward to testing it the full version.

What do you guys think? Interested in Marvel: War of Heroes? Sound off in the comments below!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @GamersXTREME

Ouya Specs and Details Finally Unveiled


The Ouya and its California-based company promise to bring television-based-gaming on an Android operating system all for $99. Another interesting premise that will become a reality is developer-based pricing. This means that developers will be creating the prices for their own individual games that release onto the Ouya. Another terrific mandate is that all developers must release demos to each of their games, that way gamers will have a fair chance to see if they are interested or not. The console will support most Android apps as well as a dual analog stick controller, complete with a D-pad and eight buttons as well as a touchpad.

The Ouya will be matching iPad 3 visuals, mainly sporting a Nivida Tegra 3 quad-core processor, which is the same exact chip used in the new Google Nexus 7 tablet. At this moment the only rumored games will be a zombie franchise, possible Angry Birds variations and Minecraft. The president of the company stated that this will be a digital-only system and looks to impress upon gamers the benefits and ease of digital entertainment. At the moment the console does have our attention here at Gamers XTREME, and if you have feelings or thoughts on it be sure to share, and as always Game On!

Controlling Your Xbox 360 Via iPhone and/or Android Device

There is a new update today for iPhone, iPad and certain Android devices that certainly creates a nifty feature. Microsoft has now updated the iPhone/Android “My Xbox Live” app creating a wi-fi console controller using your tablet or cell phone device. The official “My Xbox Live” app for the iPhone, iPad, and certain Android devices allows users to connect and control their Xbox 360 remotely.

This is a free update allowing users to start games, launch apps and play movies directly from your cell phone to your console. An example of one feature is using your iPhone as a touch remote for Hulu, Netflix and the dozens of other movie apps. You can also connect your iPhone for access to a list of your recent activity on the console, as well as navigate through your content with “play”, “pause”, “fast-forward” and “rewind” for media controls.

In addition to the iOS update, “My Xbox Live” app included improved authentication for increased stability, plus high-resolution images for iPhone and iPad retina display. If you have an iPhone, iPad and/or certain Androids, as well as an Xbox, you should definitely check it out just from a technical aspect to see if it suits you. Sound off below on your thoughts and opinions, and “Game On!”

Microsoft Wins Lawsuit Against Motorola and Android

A long-running dispute between media giants Microsoft and Motorola has finally (and hopefully) come to a conclusion. The two companies have been in a legal dispute since mid-February since Microsoft accused Motorola of trying to block sales of their products by charging “unreasonably high” prices for the use of its patents in Germany. Later in April, Microsoft won a court case pertaining to this issue, preventing Motorola from blocking access to their patents while the court decides whether or not Motorola is making good on their promise to offer their patents at fair and reasonable rates. This shift in momentum has seen Microsoft going on the offensive, taking Motorola to court over a patent infringement over an algorithm Motorola’s smart phones use to organize schedules from e-mail.

The latest decision made by the International Trade Commission marks a huge victory for Microsoft. In the court’s decision, Motorola violated a major patent on an algorithm for “communicating multi-part messages between cellular devices using a standardized interface”. There’s a lot of fallout from this decision: since Google manufactures the software for these Motorola phones, all plugins using the infringed content will need to be re-written from scratch. Even worse, Google faces a difficult decision: either pay Microsoft royalties to use their patented algorithms, or bowing out of the German market altogether.

This is a big milestone in the patent war between Microsoft and Motorola, but it’s likely that there’s more to come. Stay tuned to GamersXtreme.org as we continue to cover this major technology battle.

Wii U Rumor Madness!

With E3 right around the corner, rumors are flying everywhere about Nintendo’s upcoming next-gen console, the Wii U. However, three specific rumors are surfacing as some of the most concrete we’ve seen so far.

According to the French web site Nintendo Town, many are convinced of three things:

First, Retro Studios is working on a new Metroid title for the Wii U, and it is rumored to be using Epic Studios’ Unreal Engine 3. Team Ninja has already painted the Metroid universe in a new way, but it’d be interesting to see what Epic’s engine can do with the series, perhaps pushing it into a more realistic, gritty direction.

Second, there are rumors that Wii U will support a big push for online multimedia publishing content on the console. This is strongly indicated by hints of Nintendo negotiating with multiple companies. If so, this could push the Wii U beyond being just a gaming console, but rather as a multimedia platform. This may even lead to a deployment of the same products to the 3DS; this could give the PlayStation Vita a run for its money.

The last major rumor is that Nintendo is planning to make use of the Android operating system for the Wii U and its controller peripheral. Android has made a huge splash in the tablet market, and if the rumor is true, could provide software developers for the Wii U a lot of leeway and simplicity in developing games and applications for the console. Given Android’s Java-based foundation, it isn’t an unbelievable rumor either; Java is famed for its compatibility with many different platforms.

With E3 on the horizon, many of these rumors are sure to be proven or debunked, but it’s still exciting to think about what this new system will be capable of. Have any thoughts on the subject? Sound off below!