Ustwo Working on Two New Mobile Games, Talks About Difficulty of Creating in the Long Shadow Cast by ‘Monument Valley’

It’s hard to find more of an all-around mobile gaming success story than Ustwo’s Monument Valley series. When the original game launched in the spring of 2014 its Escher-esque visual style and level designs captured the imagination of both the gaming world and the mainstream world at large. It won a seemingly never-ending stream of awards, including a coveted Apple Design Award at WWDC 2014 as well as Apple’s own pick for iPad Game of the Year 2014. It was also a huge financial success for Ustwo not even a year into its launch, and seemed to only sell better with age.

Monument Valley looked like it would be a tough act to follow, but in June of 2017 at WWDC Apple was in the midst of talking about their massive App Store redesign when they surprise announced that Monument Valley 2 was launching that day. The sequel brought even more gorgeous puzzle levels but also a touching story about a mother and child, and Monument Valley 2 went on to be an even bigger success than the original game. Ustwo pulled off the rarely possible feat of releasing a masterpiece to a masterpiece.

Ustwo thus became synonymous with their critical hit game series, and while they proved they were able to make more of what people loved so much about their original breakout hit, what does “the Monument Valley studio” do when it wants to make a game other than Monument Valley? That’s the tricky part, as Ustwo goes on to explain in the following video from Red Bull and House Of Greenland’s excellent gaming mini-documentary series Levels. Ustwo actually has TWO new games in the works, and while they’re shrouded in secrecy you do get enough of a glimpse at both of them in the video below to let your imagination go wild, and more importantly you get a really great look at the fantastic culture that courses through the veins of this London-based studio.

It was funny seeing them mention Whale Trail, as way back in 2011 we actually loved that game in our review but sadly it pretty quickly was seen as a flop. It pivoted to a free to play model and somewhat righted the ship, but still was never a financial success. Our own ever-prescient Eli Hodapp said at the time that “I’d love to say ‘hopefully this doesn’t discourage them from iOS development’ as I think it’s outfits like Ustwo that seem the most likely to push the platform forward…” Thankfully that did not discourage Ustwo, and I think it’s safe to say that the Monument Valley games very much did push the mobile platform forward.

I think one of the big reasons Ustwo was able to succeed with Monument Valley is that their parent, the hugely successful design firm side of Ustwo, told the gaming division side to just make something that was great and meaningful without worrying about the making money part. Could you imagine the disaster that would be Monument Valley but with all the typical free to play shenanigans woven in? I don’t even want to think about that. I imagine that for these next two games Ustwo has a similar lack of financial …

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The “Fortnite Live” Festival Was a Disaster

Fortnite (Free) continues to be the hottest thing, not only since sliced bread, but since someone decided to put a piece of cheese between two slices of bread and toast it. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen so many times before, when something gets ultra popular there’s no shortage of folks looking to do whatever they can to cash in on the phenomenon. (It’s even happening locally in the Chicago area here, with these indoor trampoline family fun centers doing Fortnite-themed lock-ins.) Potentially the most egregious example of folks looking to cash in on Fortnite mania was the “Fortnite Live” festival which was held at the Norfolk Showground, just outside of Norwich in the United Kingdom.

As pointed out by The Guardian, Fortnite Live was able to draw a large crowd of people who paid £12 to get in along with an additional £20 bracelet (roughly $41 USD combined) for unlimited access to all of the “attractions”. What were the attractions? Super boring carnival rentals, with almost nothing to do with Fortnite aside from signs naming different areas after locations in the game.

These attractions included the climbing wall above, a “cave experience” which was a trailer that had a tarp over it, a tiny stage for dance competitions, and an inflatable llama hidden away in the corner. Apparently thousands of people showed up to this event, staffed by only eight people, including folks who drove significant distances and stayed in hotels.

The sad part about all this is that it’s inevitably going to result in Epic cracking down on who uses the Fortnite brand name more than they already are. It’s totally reasonable for someone to see a “Fortnite Live” festival and think, “Oh hey my kid likes Fortnite, it’s a good game so this will probably be a good event,” only to show up to this disaster. It makes Epic look bad, even though they had absolutely nothing to do with it.

How about that cave experience, eh?

[via The Guardian and The Independent]

from TouchArcade https://toucharcade.com/2019/02/18/the-fortnite-live-festival-was-a-disaster/…

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SwitchArcade Round-Up: Nintendo Direct Scheduled for Today, Pokemon Let’s Go Gets a Demo, ‘Iron Crypticle’ Releases, Today’s Sales, and More

Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for February 13th, 2019. This is one of those days where I wish I wasn’t operating from a different time zone, because today is going to be all about that Nintendo Direct happening this afternoon, at which time I will be snug in my bed here in Japan. Oh well, that’s just the way it goes sometimes. In any case, we’ve got a few news items, a look at today’s sole new release (at the time of writing), and a full list of today’s sales. Feel free to use the comments section for wild Nintendo Direct speculation and discussion, though. Let’s get to it!


The Latest Nintendo Direct Airs This Afternoon at 2pm PST

I’d like to think I brought this Nintendo Direct into being by speculating about it in the last paragraph of yesterday’s article, written earlier in the day but published after Nintendo made its announcement. Well, anyway. Nintendo Direct! Finally! It starts this afternoon at 2pm PST, will run for 35 minutes, and will include more information on the upcoming Fire Emblem: Three Houses at the very minimum. Which is good, because that is apparently coming out this spring? Anyway, we’ll have a recap tomorrow, but you should try to watch it yourself on YouTube or something.

Nintendo Puts Up a Demo For ‘Pokemon Let’s Go’ For Those Still on the Fence

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu have been out for a few months now, but if you were interested in the slightly new approach the games take to the tried and tested formula, but not interested enough to buy it, Nintendo has an offer for you. They’ve put a demo for the game up on the eShop across all regions, allowing you to try out a portion of the game before you commit. It’s… it’s a little late, to be honest, but better late than never?

The Next ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ Spirit Event Focuses on ‘Zelda’

This weekend’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Spirit Board event has been announced, and it’s going to be themed around The Legend of Zelda. Titled Power, Wisdom, and Courage, it will see the various Zelda-related Spirits show up at an increased rate. Defeat them and you’ll earn some extra gold for your coffers. As usual, the event will kick off this weekend and run through both days, giving you plenty of time to rack up the wins.

‘Super Mario Bros. 2’ and ‘Kirby’s Adventure’ Are Now Available in ‘NES Switch Online’

Subscribers to Nintendo’s Switch Online service can update their NES Switch Online apps right now to get access to two newly-added classics: Super Mario Bros. 2 and Kirby’s Adventure. Both are fantastic games, and well-worth playing again. Those who have downloaded the Famicom Switch Online app can also get access to Tsuppari Ozumo, a pretty fun sumo wrestling game that never came out in the West. There are, as usual, a couple of SP versions in this update as well. Blaster Master SP puts you right near the end of the game, while Metroid SP2 (another one?) drops you not in front of Ridley like the last one did, but actually …

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First Look at ‘Shieldwall Chronicles: Swords of the North’

If you, dear reader, are anything at all like me then you have probably spent time looking at, if not actually playing, tactical RPGs and thought they looked pretty neat. Well, from the recent quality time I have had the opportunity to spend with the upcoming Shieldwall Chronicles: Swords of the North from developer Wavelight Games, it satisfies me immensely to say that tactical RPGs are, in fact, quite interesting indeed.

Featuring methodical combat, unique classes, and an extensive cmpaign, Shieldwall Chronicles boasts hours of gameplay. Most, perhaps even all, of that time will be spent travelling with a band of mercenaries into the northern reaches of Tarren on a quest for fortune. Without too many spoilers, it is safe to say not all goes according to plan as the mercenaries find themselves caught up in an adventure which promises to thoroughly overturn the northern powers.

For those concerned about controls, rest assured that they pose no obstacle. While the camera controls can be a little sensitive, especially on smaller devices; and while some of interactions requiring double-taps are… clunky, and occasionally skip the first tap, neither issue is particularly major. Frankly, the greatest concern at present is compatibility with phones: The UI is overly large, and a number of controls have not been optimised appropriately.

Shieldwall Chronicles is well suited for larger screens, however, and it fits wonderfully (and runs smoothly) on iPads. For iPhones, there is a much more cramped, but still playable, experience. Much better, though, is the cloud saving (currently unsupported by the PC version, unfortunately) which makes switching between devices easy and painless, meaning players are free to play a round now and finish the battle later.

In short, Shieldwall Chronicles: Swords of the North is a game to keep an eye on. Fortunately, the wait will not be long, with pre-orders available now and the release date set for the all-to-close February 22nd. For the early birds and pre-order happy among us there is a nice 30{c4f60b86d58bd0bb42d7d202d81274380459a85a5d81d139dd8bd0c48cc6a02e} discount, bringing the price from $9.99 to $6.99. So get out there, you mercenary you, and get in while you can!

from TouchArcade https://toucharcade.com/2019/02/13/first-look-at-shieldwall-chronicles-swords-of-the-north/…

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‘Evolution: The Video Game’ Review – There’s Always a Bigger Game

It’s fitting that a game I previously picked to shake up the Card Brawler genre is all about survival of the fittest. Even back then during the beta I could see the potential this one has for folks who want to devour a competitive experinece on a cross platform environment. Evolution: The Video Game (Free) has leaped into the fray with a powerhouse game poised to steal the thunder of some of the most popular games on the app store.

Evolution is a four player card game that puts you in control of the fate of burgeoning species of prehistoric creatures who mainly just want to eat whatever they can to survive. You play the game by spawning dinos that get hungry and try to eat. The best eaters win. Of course, what food is available, and what things are considered food depends fully on how you evolve your dino. Once they hit the table you can evolve them over and over, but they only hold up to 3 at a time. The Evolutions you can choose range from traits like long necks to access unreachable plant food, to defensive traits that act almost like armor to the obvious game changer, carnivorous. Turning your dino into a carnivorous beast means that you no longer can eat plant food, but must go after larger prey, which means other dinos. Depending on how defensive your opponents are, you may end up even eating one of your own. The core of the game is reading an opponent’s use of traits and responding in a way to gain an advantage over them with your own traits.

Evolution is a game with a lot less randomness than your typical card brawler. The decisions you will end up making are going to be determined more often than not as a reaction to your opponents actions rather than as a reaction to a low probability of drawing a playable card. This might be the best feature of the game right here. Because you have access to so much of the deck in a given round, your trait choices are usually not just one dimensional. Do you add extra body weight to repel your opponent’s carnivorous species or do you learn how to climb trees? Depending on the situation one may be an infinitely better choice than the other.

Back when I saw Evolution at Pax in November, I knew I would love it. The app has come a long way since I first played the beta back then. Gone are 99{c4f60b86d58bd0bb42d7d202d81274380459a85a5d81d139dd8bd0c48cc6a02e} of game freezes, disconnects, and random bugs. It’s obvious the digital team at North Star have had some long nights cleaning up the code and fine tuning things. One issue that many board game adaptations have is pacing, but the phases of the game seem to go pretty fast and there is a cool feature on the app that allows you to play out your hand simultaneously that keeps the game moving while folks might be busy strategizing. Really the only issue I have is that outside of the tutorials I wish there was a little more you can see outside of the game. For instance a text based quick reference that talk through each trait …

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One Finger Flinger ‘Ordia’ is Looking for Beta Testers

There’s always developers looking for beta testers in our forums, and there’s always plenty of mobile gamers who are interested in helping test. It’s synergy in action! London-based developer Loju is in that very position right now with their upcoming game Ordia. Ordia is described as “a one-finger action game where you play as a new life form taking its first leaps into a strange and hazardous world.” In practical terms this means you’ll be flinging your little life form between various anchor points and surfaces while avoiding dangerous hazards and enemies. You can see Ordia in action in the trailer below.

As mentioned, Loju is looking for beta testers to help out with Ordia and if you’re interested in joining the beta test you can check out the thread in our forums to find the info needed to sign up. Ordia will include 30 levels to play through as well as “extra challenge modes, bonus levels and achievements to unlock.” It’ll also be a premium game though no price has been determined yet. Loju previously released the time-manipulation puzzler Causality ($1.99) a couple of years back, and it was really cool, so I have a good feeling that Ordia will be another winner. While no release date has been announced yet the developers figure they’re at least a couple of months away from being finished, so in the meantime hit up the forums to join in on the beta test.

from TouchArcade https://toucharcade.com/2019/02/12/ordia-beta-testing/…

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Auto-Run Platformer ‘Yeah Bunny 2’ Looking for Beta Testers

Back in June of 2017 Polish indie developer Adrian Zarzycki released Yeah Bunny! (Free), an incredibly cute auto-run platformer with great pixel art and simple one-touch controls. While runners are plentiful in the App Store, it’s always nice to see one with such polish and well-designed levels rather than yet another randomly generated endless affair, and Yeah Bunny! went on to achieve great success with more than 1.5 million downloads. After a hiatus from developing games, Zarzycki is now readying the release of the sequel to Yeah Bunny! titled, appropriately, Yeah Bunny 2. He’s not trying to reinvent the wheel here, and Yeah Bunny 2 will feature more of the solid mechanics from the first game as well as 50 brand new levels and another little story to experience with its cute characters. Here’s a trailer.

Now for the exciting part. Yeah Bunny 2 already has a tentative release date of March 13th, and is currently available for pre-order on the App Store. But if you just can’t wait, or you enjoy testing out games before they release to help iron out any last minute issues, the developer is looking for some beta testers to do just that ahead of the game’s official launch. You can head over to the thread in our forums to drop your email info off to the developer and get access to the Testflight version. Or if you’re on Android the game is in open beta on the Google Play Store. If you’re not into the beta testing thing that’s cool too, as you can either grab the pre-order with the link above or simply wait for Yeah Bunny 2 to hit the App Store in one month.

from TouchArcade https://toucharcade.com/2019/02/12/yeah-bunny-2-looking-for-beta-testers/…

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Niantic Announces GO Snapshot for ‘Pokemon GO’ Letting You Take the Best Photographs of Your Pokemon

At this point I expected a Valentine’s Day event for Pokemon Go (Free) because that is what loads of other games are doing this week but The Pokemon Company International and Niantic had something else in mind. The AR+ feature in game allowed for some great photographs and the team was inspired by that for this new feature. GO Snapshot will arrive soon for Pokemon GO on iOS and Android.

GO Snapshot will let you take a photograph of any Pokemon in your Pokemon Storage. You can use this by accessing your camera from your Bag of Items or when looking at a specific Pokemon. Once you throw a Poke Ball for a Pokemon and your Pokemon is at the correct spot, you can move around to get the best angle for the photograph. All photographs are saved to your device and can be shared to social platforms That are linked within the app.

Now is a great time to get into (or back into) Pokemon GO with the new social content, trainer battles, and more that have been added in addition to the content you can unlock in the Switch games through Pokemon GO. Given that the Switch games sold about 10 million copies, I expect a lot of cross promotion in the future as well for both games. Head over to our forum thread for more discussion around Pokémon GO.

from TouchArcade https://toucharcade.com/2019/02/12/pokemon-go-go-snapshot-feature-explained-releasing-soon-niantic-ar/…

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Tactical RPG ‘Brown Dust’ Gets a Global Release Date from Neowiz for iOS and Android

If you’ve been following releases for games that originate in Asia, you’re probably used to seeing launches first happen in one country before the global audience. These aren’t necessarily soft launches but usually make sense to see whether a particular game can do well enough in the home region before expanding it for a worldwide audience. Worldwide launches often require more localisation and more resources. Neowiz who published one of my favourite rhythm games, DJMax Respect are bringing their tactical RPG Brown Dust to a worldwide audience next month. Watch the trailer below:

Brown Dust promises to be the ultimate mobile strategy experience with turn based combat and loads of mercenaries to collect. It will have more than 1000 battles and also PvP and co-op raids. I love how most free to play games always promise the moon but rarely deliver. This one looks interesting enough to me to try out when it arrives on iOS. I hope the “global” launch promised is actually global and not just the usual bigger countries that some developers consider “worldwide”.

If you’d like to play it as soon as it launches, you can pre-register for it on Android here. It will launch simultaneously for free on both iOS and Android on March 7th. Pre-registering nets you some exclusive in game items like a 5* Mercenary and Premium Scrolls. Get ready to take the role of Fabian’s son to form an army of mercenaries across the land of Brown Dust.

from TouchArcade https://toucharcade.com/2019/02/12/brown-dust-english-release-date-pre-registration-rewards-android-free/…

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