ULTIMA ONLINE Spent 3 Years Developing A System That Was Destroyed By Players

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Ultima Online, one of the founding MMO’s from many a childhood, has an interesting secret that not many players know about. For those who played back in the day it was an amazing experience going into a new world with friends and new companions slaying monsters, ravenous creatures, and even simpler animals like deer and rabbits.

In the game you had the option of slaying different animals for pelts and hides for sale. At the time when 3d graphics cards were new, jumping into a virtual world and killing these animals was a thrill. So much so that it destroyed the “natural” ecology the developers spent three years creating. The creators of the game had no idea that the player base would love to kill and not just the evil creatures like bears and wolves, but also the innocent creatures.

The system in its essence was simple. Carnivores eat herbivores and herbivores eat plants. The way players fit into this equation was that the they would embark on quests to kill the carnivorous animals and the pelts that they gained from those quests would be worth more than those gained from the herbivores. The problem was that the player base population was so large that the server was wiped clean of all furry inhabitants.

Players ran over the world like a swarm of ants, that consumed every living thing as fast as it was possible to spawn it. They killed every creature. So as soon  as a deer or a rabbit or a wolf showed up on the map, the nearest person to it killed it, skinned it, took it’s meat, and took it’s hide instantaneously.
— Richard Garriott- creator of Ultima Online
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The developers worked on solutions for this problem for months, and it seemed as though they were lost for a way to fix the fact that players killed and massacred anything and everything that moved. This problem is also what spawned multiple instances of servers (or as they called them, “shards”) that people know and recognize from most MMOs that exist today. They thought that by spreading the player base out into multiple instances of the game they could try and control the population of the games furry creatures. While this helped curb some of the mass killing, it still did not solve the problem.

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After months of attempting to balance the ecology they had to rip all the code out of the game. Most players who played the game, had no idea that the ecology existed in the first place.

 

Source: 7 minute documentary at Ars Technica

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Why THE FALL OF OSIRIS Comic Series Is Exactly What DESTINY Fans Needed

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Bungie's online release of their first comic book, The Fall of Osiris, is a step in the right direction. Bungie is neither the first nor last video game developer to utilize other media formats to flesh out a game's universe. Blizzard's Overwatch has shorts concerning characters' histories and important events, and Bioware has comics, books, and web series. Bungie may be starting a game later than they should have, but I think we all hope that they'll continue down this path.

Destiny's Problematic History of Storytelling

Of the biggest criticisms Bungie faced upon Destiny's vanilla release, the lack of story was, without question, the biggest flaw. However, Lore Masters (those who read through the extensive grimoire cards in the game and actively discussed their relevance) argued otherwise. The game had a story filled with complex characters and a fascinating universe; however, players had to dig through the grimoire to find it. For those unfamiliar with the Destiny grimoire, it was a series of cards players collected in game through various means of collecting, scanning, or discovering new locations. The problem then became that Destiny didn't lack a story, it just lacked a story easily accessible to players.

Players could only access the grimoire via the official Destiny smartphone app or through Bungie.net. This lack of in-game access made it difficult for players to feel involved in the game's universe and required extra steps outside that most players refused to take. Lore masters took to YouTube, podcasts, and Reddit to discuss, but unless players sought them out, they remained in the dark. While beneficial for YouTubers and podcasts to bring in viewers, Bungie's lack of initiative in pushing their lore to the forefront has been and remains one of the game's greatest weaknesses. And yes, I am referring to Destiny 2 as well.

Developers and How They Embrace Lore

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Bioware notably stands as one of the major lore-heavy developers. Their two major IPs, Mass Effect and Dragon Age, supply game lore within the game and via books, comics, and animated web series. Players in-game lore via the Game or Options menu, and in the case of Mass Effect, many of these files include voiced readings of the text. This would be the equivalent of having Destiny's grimoire accessible within the game. More importantly, Bioware commissions their writers, artists, and animators to create other avenues for content. From Dragon Age alone, there are five full-length novels, seven comics, and two official web series with one animated. All of these cover events pertinent to the game's universe but not part of the main story arc.

Blizzard is another developer who isn't afraid to use other mediums to expand lore. In the case of Overwatch, the game requires the animated shorts, as the game lacks a campaign. These shorts provide character and world history, and develop relationships between characters. It also expands on why certain characters reaction or serve as opposites to one another, and fuel excitement for new characters.

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Even Bungie's first major IP, Halo, has 13 novels with another due in 2018. So why is Bungie having such a hard time embracing the lore of Destiny? Reasons are up to speculation, but Bungie (or maybe just Activision) seems to think that the lore isn't as important as nerfing or buffing weapons or abilities and searching for memes or dance challenges to turn into emotes. I say that as someone who complains about nerfing and buffing, and threw real money in at Eververse trying to get specific emotes or sparrows. With the introduction of the web comic, it's as if Bungie has finally realized that people actually want to learn more about their lore.

Destiny 2, The Fall of Osiris, and beyond

Vanilla Destiny 2 definitely gave more story in game than its predecessor, and even incorporated accessible lore when inspecting items or scanning the environment. A big step for the company's previous half-hearted inclusion of extra information they really only started implementing in The Taken King expansion. Bungie is learning its lesson, but it still has greater steps to take before it can really become the game all players want it to be. That's why a web comic is a step in the right direction.

As previously stated, games with good lore find ways to push that lore toward their players. Whether it be comics or animated shorts or novels, players don't want to just read little cards online or on their phone, they want all of this told in a compelling manner. They want—wait for it—a story. And The Fall of Osiris is doing just that. Players of the original Destiny, and who have familirized themselves with grimoire, understand that Osiris is a hotly debated and enigmatic character. He has a cult in his name and a history with the city as being both a hero and an exile. He was a vanguard commander, Ikora Rey's mentor, and someone possibly driven mad by his obsession with the Darkness.

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The first expansion from Destiny 2 starts to explore who this character is, as we come to know him through his ghost, Sagira, and his former apprentice, Ikora. In the lore on vehicles like Curse of Foresight, we see transcripts of pivotal moments, and Osiris becomes fleshed out. His faults and his strengths, but still, it's not quite enough. The web comic focuses a lot on Osiris' character but we learn more about Ikora Rey, Saint-14, and even the Speaker.  We see how complex the situation was and how Osiris' fall wasn't just one thing or another but a series of difficult situations that involved multiple people. It ends on a "To be continued" but it has the promise of more.

And we want more. In discussing the matter with fellow lore junkies of my clan, we would love to see the comics expand on Destiny's universe. How badly we would love to see a series following Eris Morn's fireteam in the Hellmouth or what exactly happened to Asher Mir at the hands of Brakion? Or how about a series about Dredgen Yor, a fallen Guardian and creator of the notorious Thorn, and how Jaren Ward and The Last Word ended his campaign of death? All of the above? Please, and thank you.

Players should be able to appreciate a game beyond its gameplay. Bungie is getting to a point where players can start doing that. If Bungie can fully embrace their lore and will start using other visual mediums to do so, Destiny's popularity will grow. A lot benefit from these business ventures. The fans get their story, artists get work, writers can create, and Activision? You'll get your bottom line.

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This Is The Story Of How Reddit Reunited A Lost Switch To Its Owner

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Last week, just a few days after Christmas, a Reddit user by the name of Itchybun, posted on the Nintendo Switch subreddit that he found a lost Switch, and was in the process of contacting Nintendo on what steps he should take in order to reunite the lost console to its owner. 

After an hour has passed, another Reddit user by the name of Pizzaboxmonster, posted on the same subreddit that he lost his Nintendo Switch on a bus at the Frankfurt International Airport in Germany.  As luck would have it, the two users were talking about the same console.

Pizzaboxmonster, the person who lost the Switch, was hoping to reach the driver of the bus, as evident on his post titled: “I lost my Switch at Frankfurt International Airport (Germany)! Please if you’re the driver of the bus, I’ll be eternally grateful and bring you chocolates.” 

However, the Reddit user was not expecting anything to come out of his plea, and even acknowledged that the possibility of finding his lost console on a busy airport is slim to none. “I’ve seen several posts about people losing their Switch so I thought I’d give it a try,” the user wrote. “I know this has 0.000001% possibility to work, but here I go.”

Well it turned out that Pizzaboxmonster was one of the lucky ones as several Reddit users commented on his post and directed him to Itchybun, and that is when the two started talking. Itchybun, made the right decision by not handing the lost console to the airport’s lost and found section, as it may have never reached the owner and opted to contact Nintendo instead, and posted an announcement on Reddit. 

Several users on the website were a bit skeptical though due to the timing of Pizzaboxmonster’s post, as it was posted an hour after Itchybun’s. However, Itchybun confirmed that Pizzaboxmonster was able to answer all the questions he asked regarding the console, including the last game played and the game cartridge inserted in the Switch among other details, proving the ownership of Pizzaboxmonster. In an update, Pizzaboxmonster wrote:

“I’ve been in contact with Itchybun and as amazing as it can be, it seems I’ve found my Switch,” Pizzamonster wrote in an update. “I want to thank all of you for your comments. I can’t believe this is happening and… I’m still quite shocked, but sometimes good things can happen :)”
“Today I love this community even more and especially that great user and person who decided that finding the owner would be more fun than just keeping it,”

In the end, even Itchybun was amazed on how things worked out for the good. He wrote that, “It’s surreal to see Reddit magic at work, and be part of it for once. Really grateful for all the positivity.” 

As someone who travels frequently, I know well from experience the horror when you try to reach for your device in your bag, and it’s not there. Thankfully, this story ended in a positive note, and is a good reminder of some people's willingness to help strangers. It’s definitely nice to hear a heartwarming story that highlighted the positive side and the awesome sense of camaraderie within the Reddit community.

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Trailer Sets Dark and Depressing Tone for PROJECT RE FANTASY

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Atlus is a studio that has brought us some great games including the Persona series, Catherine, and the Shin Megami Tensei series. That’s why it’s so exciting when we get to learn more about their new IP that is coming from Studio Zero, Project Re Fantasy. We have a new trailer that gives us some clues as to what the game will be about as well as a little information about some of the class options we’ll be able to choose from.

For those that can’t watch the trailer, here’s a quick recap. The narrator is a man about to go to war, but he wants to tell one last story, “a tale of hope that can salvage the world.” He claims that it’s not right to call others “other tribes” before explaining that if there was only one tribe the world could be at peace and people could freely travel. “People no longer desire for kings and aristocrats” he claims. He then mentions a 'Promised Land' before we are introduced to what sounds like depressing classes. We then hear him describe a world that looks like our world. A world where there is one tribe, “sorcery is without need,” “glass towers that reaches the heavens,” and “people’s lives are all equal.” At the very end, it starts talking about a true hero to change the world before giving us the tagline “ReTHINK FANTASY RPG.”

The classes we learn about are the cleric, mage, warrior, thief, and lord. Each one has a distinct nature and aspiration that will no doubt change the story slightly for each one. For example, the mage’s nature is that of a guilt-ridden protester while they aspire for military recognition. This is one of the more interesting ones for me since I would’ve thought being recognized by the military would be more of a warrior’s aspiration. However, maybe the mage is trying to show the military that magic can and should be used as a weapon.

Project Re Fantasy has me really excited. The tone used throughout the trailer indicates that this will not be a happy game. Don’t expect rainbows and unicorns. After all, one of the classes is a suicidal knight, the cleric is xenophobic, and the thief wants to escape reality. Now, we still don’t know too much about the game but my guess is that it will be something along the lines of you picking your depressing class and then trying to find the 'Promised Land'. I’m interested to see how the world similar to ours plays a role in a game that sounds fantasy-esque, but the tagline once again is, “ReTHINK FANTASY RPG.” I could see our world being the Promised Land, or maybe it’s just another world that the character gets dropped into. Are you excited for this game? What role do you think the more modern looking world will play

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NINE PARCHMENTS REVIEW: An Explosive Spell Blasting CO-OP Experience

It's hard not to compare Nine Parchments to several popular franchises. The game takes elements from Diablo and Harry Potter and blends them into an interesting and engaging game narrative. This is a twin-stick, shoot-em-up featuring wizards, monsters and powerful spells with an emphasis on exploration and collecting loot. Nine Parchments a fairly unique title with it's main strength being it's Co-op gameplay and sense of fun in a beautifully constructed, colorful environment.

Story

An explosion at the Astral Academy for young wizards scatters nine magical parchments to the four winds of the Earth, prompting a group of students to begin a quest to retrieve them.  The story is fairly unique in the sense that there's no overarching sense of doom, nor is the world is not at stake allowing for a lighthearted romp through a beautiful magical environment. It's not a very involving narrative, but it's enough to hold the player's interest and manages to tie all the manic action together as a cohesive whole.

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Beautiful visuals and smooth controls really help this Diablo clone stand out!

Gameplay

This is an intensely fun blast -em up, but only if you play with others. Single player mode is not how this title is meant to be played.  Playing solo reveals the repetitive nature of the game mechanics very quickly. Nine Parchmentsenables four players to cooperatively work through the levels together, collecting loot and chaining brightly colored spells together. Gameplay works in a similar way to Diablo, you move your wizard-in-training from one end of the level to another, blasting various enemies along the way and encountering boss battles, which act as milestones. When you defeat the bosses, you will gain one of the nine missing parchments.

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There are some epic boss battles in Nine Parchments - each satisfying to beat

The combat revolves around a fairly simple elemental system -Fire beats Ice for example-, and combining the elements with your co-players is key. As stated before, co-op is really the only way to play through this title as you'll be combining strategies and creating colourful chaos as your spells weaving together and destroy everything on the screen.

Attacks are categorized by long range continuous blasts of energy or short bursts that do  more damage with each hit. These are selected by using the rotational system triggered by the mouse wheel or the side buttons of your controller. There are also close combat melee style attacks which generally do very little damage, so you are better not using these at all and I wonder why they were included at all.

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There's a fatal and massive flaw present in this title. You can only have one campaign running at one time. If you switch between single player and multiplayer modes, you will lose all your progress in the game - you ALWAYS have to start back at the beginning again. You do keep all your unlocked weapons and items and upgrades that you have previously earned. However, in order to see the story through, you must complete it entirely in either single player mode or multiplayer mode exclusively.

Graphics

Coming from the developers of Trine, I knew that I was in for a visual spectacle when playing through this title. This is a beautiful and brightly colored game which can overwhelm the player in an incredibly positive way. I loved the vibrancy of the game which resonates with the consistency of the overall atmosphere of the title. The bosses are imaginative, well designed and inspired. Taking them down, feels epic and satisfying.  There's hardly any framerate drop on the PC version (Intel 6700K, GTX 1080 at 4K) running at 60 FPS, and the visual effects are nothing short of stunning at times.

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Replayability

It's not a game that I would play through as often as Diablo. None of the eight characters resonated with me.  The classic elements of an RPG, the skill trees and leveling up system are all present, but it seems very simplistic - which may be a strength as it's not a complicated system, but I would have preferred more substance in this area.

Verdict

Nine Parchments had a lot of potential, at some points fulfilled and others were a bit of a missed opportunity. The combat is incredibly exciting and fun, the multiplayer aspects are inspired and works really well and the gorgeous visuals and artwork bring forth a world which is engaging to explore. The level design is repetitive, however, and the strange decision to not allow the player to continue in the narrative if they switch between game modes greatly lessened the experience for me.

If you enjoy a multiplayer co-op experience and don't mind a light RPG experience, you might have an amazing time with this title, just remember the above shortcomings before you buy .

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The Impact Of Indie Games In The Industry

The independent video game industry has grown massively over the years. In the past, only a handful of indie games were available in the market. Now, there are tons of them out there that they even rival releases from major gaming publishers. It is true that the video game market has changed dramatically as small developers are no longer restricted with high barriers to entry, thanks to the advent of the digital age that made distribution and self-publishing easier and more affordable than ever. This revolution changed the video game market and challenged the oligopoly of the AAA publishers. Even the hardware manufacturers are supporting indie-games with their digital stores such as Steam for the PC, Sony's PlayStation Store, Microsoft's Xbox Store, and Nintendo's Eshop. 

So how did the independent video game industry affected the market overall? On the bright side of things, indie titles revitalized the industry by offering new and innovative game design that AAA publishers are missing, or not taking enough risks to try.  However, the fall back with indie games is that players in general don’t know much about the developers behind these games. There is a high risk to purchase a game as it could be bad on all aspects, which damages the reputation of the entire indie game industry. 

In a market where only a few firms compete with each other, the motivation to outdo competitors through quality can be slim to none. Take a look at the farming simulator games.  When Harvest Moon was introduced way back during the SNES days, it was revolutionary, innovative even. In a market full of space shooters and fast paced racing games, Harvest Moon introduced the opposite with its relaxing and slow paced country-style gameplay. However over the years, the franchise did not change as much as it should. The developers produced "cookie cutter" games that players did not like at all, and the magic was lost for the genre. 

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Then last year, Stardew Valley was released and we all know how that turned out. ConcernedApe, or the one man development team of Eric Barone, took the basic concept of Harvest Moon, kept features that fans loved, and introduced new mechanics to keep things interesting. This is a prime example of how an indie game revitalized a seemingly stale genre. No one had heard of ConcernedApe or Eric Barone before (in fact Stardew Valley is his first game), and look at the success the game is enjoying today. 

The horror genre is another example of what indie video games are capable of doing. Ever since AAA horror titles such as Resident Evil, which had an identity crisis for the past few years, and Silent Hill, which seemed to have lost its scare factor in recent games, the genre itself seemed to have faded quietly in the background. Then came independent horror titles such as Outlast and Amnesia. These games brought back what big horror games lost, the actual fear factor in their games. Providing alternative games to the market is one of the strongest influence of indie games in the industry. With games that would rival titles from big publishers, the indie market has encouraged competition with triple A companies, but it also intensified competition within itself. If you look at the Steam Page right now or the App Store on your phone, you'd find yourself drowning with all the indie-games available. 

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As giant game publishers focus more on sales targets and profitability, taking risks is out of the question.  These companies are pressured to create sequels for past successful games or movie adaptations that will definitely be a hit. It is understandable that these companies, as they still are businesses, are more cautious as their budgets run in the millions and the stakes are high as ever, but sometimes, gamers can’t help but feel that all they focus on is how a game will do well financially.

The introduction of micro transactions became a controversial subject in the past months. EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II has received tremendous backlash when it was revealed that certain in-game characters will only be available after playing the game for more than 40 hours, or instantly if the player purchases them. With a price tag of at least $70 for the standard edition, it seemed too much to make additional investments on what is already a very expensive game. 

This restriction is nonexistent on most indie games. Given that the developers behind them have smaller budgets, they are able to take risks and introduce new games with fresh ideas and innovative gameplay. Combined with cheaper price tags, players are more likely to spend their hard earned money on these new ideas. Indie-game developers are only driven by their passion of creating good video games. Of course, profitability is still the end goal, but their main drive is making a name for themselves by developing good games. Just look at the success Studio MDHR’s Cuphead is enjoying. Besides winning several awards from major award giving bodies, Cuphead also reached a sales milestone of 2 million units sold as of this writing. It showed that the risk they took, with their retro art-style and difficult gameplay, was worth it. 

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In the end, the indie game industry not only revitalized the gaming community by introducing fresh ideas and unique gameplay, but they also provided a balance in the video game industry as a whole as they are motivated by their passion in creating video games and not invested or pressured by corporate suits to churn out sequels and guaranteed hits. It's not all that bad for big publishers, however, as there are still tons them out there who produce good games and takes care of their players. Just take a look at how CD Projekt Red is loved by their Witcher fanbase.  Looking ahead, it seems like the indie game industry will only grow. As public interest keeps growing more and more for indie games, perhaps the big publishers start to take notice.

What are the best indie games you’ve played so far? How do you think indie games influence the industry? Share your thoughts below. 

GameTyrant Weekly Wrap-Up! (Dec. 17th- 23rd)

Want to check out more information from the articles we talked about this week? Check out the link below!

Check Out The Trailer Of The Upcoming FINAL FANTASY FIGHTING GAME, Open Beta Available Next Month

CUPHEAD Released For The iOS Is A Total SCAM

Is Twitch IRL Ruining The Sites Experience?

Gamestop's New ‘Elite’ Tier Pro Membership: Not the Best Way to Treat Pro Members

Any topics we missed? Anything you would like us to cover in the future? Let us know in the comments! 

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Dragon Ball Z FighterZ Finally adds SSGSS Goku to the Lineup

Bandai Namco has finally added the most influential and arguably important character from the popular Dragon Ball Super anime to the lineup of available characters to the game. It’s more of a surprise that it has taken as long as it has to announce SSGSS Goku (thats, Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Goku for the uninformed) given their recent announcements of Beerus, Hit, and Super Saiyan Rose Goku Black as playable characters in the game.

I for one am super excited for the full release of this game, growing up watching dragon ball, Dragon ball z, and now Dragon Ball Super, this game more than any of the previous titles feels like the game we have all hoped and dreamed about when it comes to an aesthetically pleasing fighting game in the Dragonball universe. The look and the feel of the anime style, with the timed cutscenes related to specific events in the match are a thrill and I can’t wait to get my hands on the game on January 26th 2018

You can check out the new trailer here:

I would be even more excited if they took this same look and engine and remade one of my favorite games of all time growing up in Dragon Ball 3: Gokuden, which is really hard to find an english translation for but basically mixed Dragon ball  fighting games with a card game to do battle against foes. The original game came out on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1989 and followed the exploits of a young Goku as he trains and prepares for his first worlds martial arts tournament.

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Are you excited for this game? What game would you like to see remade from the past with this current art style?

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NINTENDO POWER IS BACK!……as a podcast!

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One of gaming entertainments most memorable and recognized news sources, Nintendo Power is back as a podcast. It features Nintendo employees, special guests and developers to talk about everything Nintendo

Other familiar faces of the podcast include Chris Slate who was editor in chief of Nintendo Power Magazine for 5 years, and Kit Ellis who is a co-host for Nintendo’s weekly Youtube show Nintendo Minute.  

Chris had this to say about Nintendo Power,

Nintendo Power has always meant a lot to me, just like i’m sure it’s meant a lot to many of you and it certainly means a lot to many of us here at Nintendo of America, which is really why this podcast exists. It’s a passion project for many of us here, because we really wanted to see the Nintendo Power brand come back in a fun way and we would also really love the chance to share our personal views, which is we just talk Nintendo here all day anyway, so it’s another opportunity to do that.”

The first episode of the podcast features an in depth interview with Eiji Aonuma and Hidemaro Fujibayashi the faces of pretty much every single Legend of Zelda game since Ocarina of Time. They talk about what it was like making Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, from why weapons break all the way to why they decided to add a motorcycle to the game. It’s really interesting hearing about their decisions they made for the game and why, and where they are going in the future with the Legend of Zelda series.

You can listen to an enjoy the new podcast on a variety of different platforms including Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, and Youtube.

What do you think about Nintendo Power coming back as a podcast?

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CUPHEAD Has Reached Double Platinum

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Cuphead, the amazing and ultra-challenging platformer game and StudioMDHR’s crown jewel, has reached a new sales achievement. In a blog post released by the developer, it was announced that the game has already reached 2 million units sold. What’s amazing is that Cuphead achieved its first million sales after two weeks following the game’s release. 

StudioMDHR is head over heels with the new milestone their game has achieved. “Even in our wildest dreams, we never thought our crazy little characters would be embraced by this many fans from around the world and we are continuously humbled by your support,” the developer said in their announcement. 

Reaching double platinum definitely added to the game’s growing list of achievements. A few weeks ago, Cuphead won not one, but two awards, namely Best Independent Game, and Best Art Direction during the Game Awards held in the Microsoft Theatre, more details on that here

As Cuphead is gaining more recognition from award giving bodies, the game is becoming extremely popular. In fact, just yesterday, Cuphead made headlines in the gaming community when they apparently released an iOS version of the game, which confused many players as Cuphead is exclusive to Microsoft’s Xbox One and the PC. However, it turns out that the game is a fake and just a sloppy unofficial port of Cuphead that has clunky controls among other problems. The fake iOS game was immediately pulled from the App Store. 

As of now, there is still no word from StudioMDHR as to whether Cuphead will be getting a sequel anytime soon. However, looking at the success and the positive reception the game is getting from fans and critics, it is only a matter of time before the developer releases a follow-up to their highly successful game. 

Have you tried playing Cuphead already? Why do you think the game got so popular? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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