In 1996, Nintendo released the first Pokémon games — Pocket Monsters Red and Green. The pioneering series elevated mobile gaming to a whole new level. Introduced in the original Gameboy, Pokémon has always subsisted on portable consoles.
In 2016, Pokémon upped the ante even more, releasing the ground-breaking Pokémon Go. Because of the popular AR game, the series incorporated gaming into the real world. Pokémon Go promotes a walking lifestyle, allowing gamers to change their experience based on how far they walk. In 2016, Pokémon Go turned Pokémon into a lifestyle: you can play while you walk.
Now, Pokémon is breaking another barrier — the realm of sleep. This week, Nintendo hosted a Pokémon-themed Nintendo Direct Presentation. Naturally, with recent news, everyone wanted Pokémon Shield and Sword announcements. However, Nintendo had a different plan — Pokémon Sleep.
As the name suggests, Pokémon Sleep brings the monster-collecting game to your bed. The game is literally a gamified sleep tracker. According to Nintendo’s presentation, your quality of sleep — how many hours you get — will affect your gameplay. It is developed by Pokémon Magikarp developer Select Button.
Sadly, Nintendo has not explained exactly how Pokémon Sleep will play or change gameplay. However, the presentation hints at connections between Pokémon Go and the existing Switch games.
Besides the game, Nintendo is also simultaneously launching a new accessory — the Pokémon Go Plus Plus. (Yes, two pluses.) The new accessory functions like the original Pokémon Go Plus. However, the Pokémon Go Plus Plus will track both sleeping and walking. The device will join the original walker and last year’s Pokéball Plus.
Pokémon has now created a lifestyle-oriented ecosystem. Nintendo’s recent launches are rewarding good lifestyle choices — better sleeping, longer walking.
Pokémon Sleep and the Pokémon Go Plus Plus will launch next year. In the meantime, Niantic has released a promotional sleeping Snorlax in Pokémon Go to hype the game.
Sony says it won’t shut down PS3, Vita stores
It admits shut-down was the wrong decision
At the end of March, Sony had announced that it’d be shutting down PS3, Vita, and PSP game stores. This meant that users wouldn’t be able to purchase new games and media content through those consoles. It has decided to backtrack on its decision now.
For the foreseeable future, Sony PlayStation will continue to support the purchase of classic games on PS3 and PS Vita. The PSP will still retire on July 2, 2021.
“It’s clear we made the wrong decision here,” Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO Jim Ryan wrote on the PlayStation Blog. He sighted commerce support challenges as a leading cause behind the decision to shutter the store. Sony also intended to focus on new-gen products like the PlayStation 4 and 5.
Though the decision received widespread criticism, and the community was fuming. Many games use PlayStation Now to play PlayStation 3 or Vita compatible titles on the newer consoles. Closing down the online store would’ve dealt a huge blow to existing users.
“We see now that many of you are incredibly passionate about being able to continue purchasing classic games on PS3 and PS Vita for the foreseeable future, so I’m glad we were able to find a solution to continue operations,” Ryan added.
Before the company’s reversal, VGC reported that more than 2,000 digital-only games were at risk of being lost forever. The PSP won’t be getting a life extension, and online services will be closing down as planned.
Balan Wonderworld review: A theater for young ages
Facing the reality behind the curtains
Have you ever had those moments in your younger years that hurt you a ton? Have they also happened as you got older and a bit wiser? Such is life on our own planet Earth: full of ups and downs. With each moment, we learn new things about ourselves and from our own shortcomings to become better people. However, there are times when things get too overwhelming.
We all need an escape, no matter how young or old we might be. For the older ones, it’s having some time alone, watching movies or TV shows. With the younger generation, it’s playing video games or window shopping online. For our good friends Leo or Emma, their daring escape from their problems led them to the mysterious world of Balan Wonderworld.
I decided to give this game a shot, seeing as it’s one of those less-hyped titles from Square Enix. I want to know what it could offer to a semi-casual player like myself when I need stress relief. Also, Square Enix loves to draw you in with some lore in between to keep you hooked from start to end.
So, what exactly is happening here?
Balan Wonderworld starts off with a story that provides little context to the main characters. Essentially, you play as either Leo or Emma, two children experiencing some personal troubles. I decided to play as Leo mostly because his opening cutscene was him dancing on the street, which is quite relatable. Apparently, in Leo’s case, a group of equally skilled dancers took notice, but he just shunned them away for unexplainable reasons.
Eventually, he and Emma find themselves in this mysterious theater guarded by Balan, a magician-like figure. According to the game’s lore, the theater only shows up to those who are experiencing troubles in their lives. I guess you could consider Leo/Emma extremely lucky, but they’re also confused as to why they’re in the theater. A few moments later, they find themselves in a magical world behind the theater — essentially pulling a Narnia on you.
You may be wondering how all of this just happened, and I’m here to tell you that I have no idea. In its early stages, the game doesn’t explain to you a lot of details in hopes of putting the pieces of the story together. As I progressed through the story later on, I’m still trying to understand how these things happened. Not the kind of start I was expecting.
The simplest gameplay mechanic for Square Enix
After the intro cutscene, you find yourself on the Island of Tims, which is pretty empty to start. It’s mostly just grassland with some flowers, lakes, and bridges. Eventually, you will slowly rebuild the Tims Tower, which doesn’t seem that important initially. Part of the rebuild involves the inhabitants of the island: the Tims which aids you for the main completion quest.
Now, this platforming game features twelve Chapters, each with two levels and a boss fight. In all the levels, you only ever need to press one button to get through the entire game: the X button. See, every other button and trigger on your controller allows you to jump and platform around — something the X button does anyway. However, the X button is this game’s primary action button because of another gameplay mechanic.
In each level, Leo/Emma will collect a set of costumes that grant them special abilities. From jump attacks to increased air time, these costumes allow you to explore the game’s vast stages to look for collectibles for completion. As mentioned earlier, almost all of the abilities are bound to the X button — something you don’t really see with Square Enix’s other prominent titles.
Apart from the costumes, you will also collect Drops, Tim Eggs and Balan Statues in each stage. Collecting Drops allows you to grow your Tims to grant you boosts when playing every stage. Meanwhile, collecting a certain number of Balan Statues opens the next set of Chapters and worlds to explore.
As somebody who is fond of stage-by-stage platforming, this was pretty standard stuff even in an open-world setting. Personally, I found myself getting side-tracked with all the collectibles if I wanted to progress further into the game. However, it also makes the game roughly easy to breeze by when you’re not out to complete it. In essence, I felt it doesn’t motivate you enough to complete it 100 percent.
Uncovering your troubles and rising above them
Let’s tackle what I think is the main reason why you found yourself platforming in Balan’s magical world. I mentioned earlier that the character you control is going through some personal issues, and that the magical world showed up for them because of it. With each Chapter, Leo/Emma encounters people who also have undergone some life problems, as well.
Before each boss fight, a cutscene introduces you to the main story of each person you encounter in the Chapter’s stages. Essentially, it highlights the following aspects: how they started, the rise, and the fall (and eventual shift to the dark side). You are basically tasked to free these people from the Negati, a demon-like presence that is the manifestation of their troubles.
After beating each boss, another cutscene starts that shows an epilogue of sorts, detailing the events that happened after you free people of the Negati. You see people get back on their feet, or become more open to other people about their interests. Also, each ending cutscene starts off with a performance with the AI versions of the costumes you collect. I found it quite cheesy and a little extra in some instances.
A game that doesn’t explain much when it should
Everything about Balan Wonderworld made me ask myself, “why is this all happening?” To be honest, I felt that nothing about the game was explained properly the moment you start playing. From the simplistic gameplay mechanic to the storylines in each chapter, it all feels like it lacks purpose. Furthermore, even your role in lifting these people up from their troubles isn’t explained properly.
While playing through this game, I got the feeling that this was intended for kids even if some of the issues tackled here applied to adults. In its raw gameplay alone, it’s simple to understand and easy to navigate that even five year olds will get through the mechanics easily. The collect-a-thon element only somewhat adds a level of depth to the overall gameplay.
Gameplay mechanics aside, the entire story behind Balan Wonderworld just happens with little to no context or purpose. You aimlessly go into each Chapter, uncover the story behind each character, beat the demon inside them, and they’re freed of the negativity inside them. If you’re a child playing this game, it’s something that you’ll enjoy. As an adult, however, it doesn’t do much to draw you in for long.
Massive Genshin Impact update coming soon!
Out by the end of the month!
Genshin Impact’s developer, Global interactive entertainment, and the publishers, miHoYo just announced the game’s Version 1.5 “Beneath the Light of Jadeite” update. The announcement comes with new plot, characters, and PS5 features. You’ll get to dig further into Liyue’s history, meet Eula and Yanfei, face new foes, and custom your own realm in Teyyat. The best part? You won’t be waiting long. The patch will be out by the end of this month on April 28.
Genshin Impact is a free-to-play open-world action RPG that’s set in the world of Teyvat. You play as a traveler setting out looking for your lost sibling. Along the way, you uncover secrets, fight monsters, and encounter friends. So far, only two of the seven major cities in Teyyat are accessible. But, with this new upcoming patch, comes new cities, stories, characters, and seasonal events.
Continue where you left off
This new patch comes with more quest installments. You get to progress in Zhongli’s second installment of his story quest, Noelle’s story quest, and Diona’s (the popular bartender of The Cat’s Tail) new series of Hangout Events.
Two new playable characters
Eula and Yanfei are getting added to the game. Five-star character, Eula, is the Spindrift Knight and Captain of the Knights of Favonius Reconnaissance Company. Meanwhile, Yanfei is a four-star Pyro-using catalyst wielder.
Two new formidable enemies will also be found in Version 1.5: Azhdaha the “Lord of Vishaps,” and Cryo Hypostasis. The Trounce Domain opponent, Azhdaha, will offer rare rewards once a week for travelers who manage to conquer his attacks. While, the Cryo Hypostasis will be added to Dragonspire as its new Boss Enemy. Just like other enemies in the Hypostasis series, the Cryo Hypostasis has a unique pattern of attack. And once defeated, provides resources like Character Level-Up Materials.
With Version 1.5, you get to finally find a home away from home in Teyvat. This customizable space is accessible with the Serenitea Pot. Created by Liyue’s adepti, the special teapot conceals an entire realm inside. There, you can build and decorate your home however you like.
Game mechanic updates
In this new update, the cost of claiming the first three Trounce Domain rewards per week will be halved. Meanwhile, doubling the amount of Companionship EXP earned in Co-Op Mode.
The third city soon to come
Fans get teased with concept art of the new city, Inazuma. But, both developers and publishers hope you stay tuned for its official release.
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