Digital | ON: GAMES

Classic ways to boost new games

by Brian Ashcraft

Cardboard revolution

The typical sales pitch game companies make is to offer better and more beautiful graphics. Nintendo, though, is not your typical game maker. Its newest release isn’t about the graphics, it’s all about cardboard.

Nintendo Labo encourages players to go a little analog and construct cardboard gadgets, or “Toy-Con” in the official Nintendo lingo, that interact with the Switch as game peripherals. It sounds odd at first, but then again, what kid hasn’t had a blast building things out of cardboard boxes?

© 2018 NINTENDO

There are two bundles — Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 01: Variety Kit and Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 02: Robot Kit. The Variety Kit offers five different Toy-Con projects: a revving motorcycle handle, an extendable fishing rod, a piano, a toy house and a pair of radio-controlled cars. These are used for corresponding Nintendo Switch mini-games. The Robot Kit contains everything needed to make a cardboard backpack attached to pulleys and levers controlled by hands and feet, and a head visor — all of which amounts to donning a suit to control the in-game robot. Poses and gestures have a variety of functions, while the visor switches the game to a first-person point of view.

Nintendo is also selling official stickers and tape so children can customize their cardboard Toy-Cons, which are now available at ¥7,538 for the Variety Kit and ¥8,618 for the Robot Kit.

www.nintendo.co.jp/labo

An image in development for
An image in development for ‘Dark Souls: Remastered,’ PS4 | ©2012 BANDAI NAMCO ENTERTAINMENT INC. / ©2011-2018 FROMSOFTWARE, INC.

Prepare to die over and over again

One of the best, and most difficult, Japanese games of this decade, “Dark Souls” is getting remastered for current generation hardware.

“Dark Souls” was originally released in 2011, and for its day it looked good. But this remastered version features improved in-game textures that further accentuate the unforgiving world of the notoriously hard game. “Dark Souls: Remastered” is based on the “Prepare to Die” edition, which included downloadable content, so there is plenty to play and many ways to repeatedly see your character perish. Another welcome addition is a more robust multiplayer experience that supports up to six players on dedicated servers. The original version occasionally suffered from some frame-rate issues, but the remaster fixes this, running at a smooth 60 frames per second on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The Xbox One X and PS4 Pro can also run the game in Dynamic 4K.

Perhaps the best news is that “Dark Souls: Remastered” is coming to Nintendo Switch. This version doesn’t look as good as the other new releases, but it is still a clear step up from the original. Most importantly, it allows players to enjoy the game on the go. Now you can watch your character die over and over again, while killing time on your commute.

“Dark Souls: Remastered” will be released on May 24 on PS4, Xbox One and PC. The Switch version will be out this summer. The package version is ¥5,184, while the digital is ¥4,644.

www.darksouls.jp/remastered

The resurrection

To this point, “God of War,” one of Sony’s biggest in-house game franchises, has released seven games, including “Betrayal,” a mobile one. Now it’s back with an eighth one. Like the previous mainline game versions, this “God of War” was developed by Sony’s Santa Monica Studio. Kratos, the hero, has returned, but now he has a son.

Fans are referring to this as “God of War 4” (the fourth mainline entry), but it’s not just another sequel. Finding inspiration from Norse mythology instead of the Greek myths of earlier games, it takes the series in a new direction. Another noticeable difference is the ability to control an in-game third-person camera, rather than sticking to a fixed camera. Other major changes include Kratos’ weaponry. In place of his usual dual-chain blades, he swings an ax that has different abilities and can be upgraded. “God of War” offers a totally different game experience, but is still a reboot of sorts that carries on the legacy of one of Sony’s most important video game franchises, so it’s not surprising that it’s been named like the original: plain and simple “God of War” — no subtitle or volume number.

“God of War” is available for the PS4 for ¥7,452, but be aware that it is a CERO Z-rated game designed for those aged 18 and up.

www.jp.playstation.com/scej/title/gow (Japan site)