Amiibos aren’t fun anymore, aka, another get screwed by GameStop story

From day one the Amiibo craze has been a bit ridiculous, I’ll admit that from the start. Ever since they were first announced, droves of Nintendo fans hit message boards to declare which ones they were looking to pick up and to voice concern over which ones might be rare or hard to come by. As the first wave hit, it became immediately clear that certain Amiibo figures would be hard to find (Marth, Wii Fit Trainer, Villager) and supply never managed to keep up with demand. People have been paying inflated prices for rare figures ever since.

Wave 2 didn’t get any better. Certain figures became rare immediately, scalpers had a field day selling at inflated prices.

Wave 3. Again. Same story.

Surely by wave 4 things would be better figured out, right? No, they actually got worse. Target pre-sold Jigglypuff and sold out of their online preorder stock in mere minutes. Then to make the day worse for Amiibo hunters, GameStop announced that they would make their wave 4 Amiibos, including the GameStop-exclusive Ness figure available to preorder online at 2:00PM CST. Well, GameStop then sent a memo to their employees stating that online orders would not be taken and that instead a store finder would instruct buyers to head to their nearest store to complete a web-in-store (WIS) order. You had to go into GameStop to preorder any of the figures.

So I headed over to GameStop and got there about 12:45PM. In my time zone, it would be 1:00 when they opened up orders. Well, I was already 16th in line and when 1:00 rolled around, the system did not work. Because they didn’t announce that online ordering would be canceled, countless would-be buyers were hammering the GameStop site, trying to preorder Amiibos. When the system came down, the store employees were unable to use it either. By 1:40PM, I had enough and left, because only a single transaction had been successfully completed. Within another 10 minutes, reports came in that some had already been sold out. People who were #2 in line were turned away with a shrug and a gentle “sorry” from GameStop employees.

You know what? This isn’t fun anymore. In fact, it’s never really been fun. Collecting Amiibo has been nothing short of frustrating. Supply is nowhere near the levels of demand, and there’s poor communication all around from retailers, from Nintendo, and from distribution partners. Nobody knows what is going on, and if you’re trying to collect a full set, you’re left with dealing with scalpers or overseas importing, because nobody can manage to find all the figures here in North America.

Nintendo, you need to get out in front of this and drop the retailer-exclusive garbage. You need to make these available. If you’re going to dedicate portions of Nintendo Directs and E3 presentations to these things, it would be nice if they were ACTUALLY AVAILABLE TO BUY.

Retailers, you need to stop duping your customers. GameStop in particular is guilty of jerking around people here. They announce a time to preorder online only to bait and switch everybody by giving them a “go to your nearest GameStop” message. That’s really not cool, especially because if you weren’t in a GameStop store right at 2:00PM CST, you had NO chance of getting your order in, and many of those people still failed.

This whole hobby of collecting Amiibo is just ridiculous. There’s no defending how this has been handled. In 2015, there’s no excuse to so completely and so thoroughly fail your fan base and loyal customers. Nintendo, GameStop, Target, and everybody else, the good will has about run out, and I won’t blame anybody but you when the bubble pops on this craze.

Marvel Favors Simplicity In Gaming

There’s an old saying that states that one should “keep it simple, stupid,” and that seems to be the oath of whoever’s been involved with the games associated with the Marvel universe. To be sure, it hasn’t always been this way. Over the past decade or so, we’ve all seen the miserable Spider-Man, Hulk, and Iron Man titles, among others, that failed to live up to expectations. What’s especially annoying about all of this is that it occurred alongside some pretty damn good movie releases—well, sort of, but that an entirely different topic. Anyway, Marvel seems to have finally gotten it “right” by more or less ditching the more complicated console games to stick with ones that are straightforward, easy to play, and (most importantly) entertaining.

To throw the elephant in the room out the window—so to speak—Marvel has a lot to live up to in terms of its main competitor, DC Comics. For those who have been living under a rock, I’ll point you to the amazing Arkham franchise that centers on the Big Bad Bat. It’s about to hit its potential peak this summer with Batman: Arkham Knight, but we’ll all have to play it first before bestowing it with such a hefty title. We also have to look past it because Marvel hasn’t released something close to the Arkham series in terms of quality since the Marvel Vs. Capcom series. And, uh, it’s been nearly four years since the last project in that franchise, so let’s stick to the present.


And in looking at what’s happening now, Marvel is finding success in the stripped-down games that don’t even try to reach the grandiosity of the Arkham series. For one, the company is making a serious comeback (in gaming) by killing it in the mobile market, where they have quite a bit of entries to choose from. For the sake of not going crazy (by playing them all), I’m sticking with two that have definitely made some waves.

First, there’s Spider-Man Unlimited that, yes, is an endless runner like so many other perceived Temple Run ripoffs. But a Temple Run ripoff this is not, because it’s filled with more personality and features than you can handle. Despite the fact that you may need to throw some cash at Unlimited to play it for, well, an unlimited amount of time, you can still play it for free while enjoying the hell out of it. It’s addictive, engrossing, and simply a lot of fun—qualities that any mobile game should hope to have.

And then there is Marvel Contest of Champions, which plays a bit like the mobile version of the DC-themed Injustice. In other words, it’s a strategic, card-based experience with more characters than you could every need, though collecting them all is part of the fun. The same goes for upgrading each character that joins your squad, particularly if you want to make any headway in the mission-based portion of the game. Full disclosure: you may get a bit overwhelmed playing Contest of Champions, but just take your time, learn the ups and downs of each hero or villain you want on your team, and you’ll be loving it in no time.



Marvel is holding it down, in a simplistic sense, in another gaming niche, too. This is apparent in looking at the arcade games hosted by Bet Fair, a U.K.-based hub that’s been around since 1999. In addition to a slew of your typical cartoon-y, animated titles, there are slots with a significant pop culture bent to them (like Rocky and King Kong). And right at the middle of them all are some of the biggest names from Marvel and their films from the past decade or so. They include Iron Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four (which is receiving a reboot this year), and even the somewhat-overlooked Blade. These games prove that Marvel is aware of its equally growing and broad fanbase along with the fact they have found ways to further monetize their brand.

Even with all of this success in these two markets, it should go without saying that Marvel shouldn’t abandon putting out another great (or, really, just good) console game. I’m not saying they need to go for something as notable as the Arkham series, but there has to be a developer out there who can make sense of one of the company’s characters. Here’s hoping it happens before they kick off the (rumored) third rebooted Spider-Man series.

YouTuber spends 35 minutes eviscerating Bungie, Destiny, and their DLC model…and I agree with him

A few points in the video below seem a little bit of a stretch, but by in large YouTube game critic, BDobbins, is right on with his criticisms of Destiny. When playing the game, it’s obvious that content as been held back, pared down, and outright omitted from what Bungie was originally going to deliver. If nothing else, Bungie fell short of the promises they made for Destiny, and BDobbins highlights several things that show us that we were sold something far less substantial than we paid for.

The Xbox One user experience is still lacking

Over the past few days I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Sunset Overdrive. It’s a fun, stylish, and addictive action game that is on the short list of must-have games for the Xbox One. Now, I’ll admit that I don’t play my Xbox One as often as my PS4, Wii U, or PC, but that’s not based on platform preference, it’s simply based on where the most recent exciting releases have been for me. So coming back to the Xbox One meant that I needed to do some updates and whatnot, but those are pretty typical of the current generation systems. Annoying, sure, but hardly an issue unique to the Xbox One. Anyway, keep on reading to see why the Xbox One got me all grumpy despite acting as the home for such a fantastic new gaming experience.

Continue reading The Xbox One user experience is still lacking

The Xbox One interface pisses me right off

The scene opens as a bunch of guys in stuffy suits sit around a board room, their ties loosened a bit to show that they’re working a bit casually. A man leads their discussion from the front of the room, standing next to a whiteboard with ideas circled, crossed out, and some with triple underlines. There’s obviously been some excitement and discussion going on here. Sound fades up as we join in on the conversation.

Suit 1: …convoluted. Yeah, I’m being serious. I think that if we make it totally convoluted and difficult that we’ll get where we’re trying to go.

Suit 2: I don’t follow. Don’t the kids like things a bit easier in their video gaming consoles these days?

Suit 1: No, that’s where you’re not seeing the big picture! If we make it as difficult and irritating to use as possible, yet still fully functional for the holdouts, we can force them to use Kinect, because to use the controller would be like trying to eat spaghetti without hands. Sure, you can do it, but it’s going to be messy.

Suit 3: What Norman is trying to say, Gene, is that we need to force them to use Kinect, because as it stands, this thing only works about half the time in perfect conditions. We’re pretty proud of that though, so don’t take that as a put down.

Suit 1, who we now know as Norman: Exactly! Thank you, Earl!

Suit 2, now known as Gene: I see…and I like that spaghetti idea. Let’s get some after this wraps up.

Suit 3, now known as Earl: Agreed. To take the spaghetti idea further, let’s just imagine each activity on the Xbox One is like following individual noodles through a bowl. That’s our target, let’s hit it, team.

*Gene, Norman, and Earl pump their fists at the same time and squeeze out determined looks*

A musical montage runs. Gene, Norman, and Earl can be seen sketching, pointing a lot, eating spaghetti, laughing, rubbing their foreheads, and as the song fades out, the three can be seen huddling around the whiteboard with a list of decisions. They look exhausted.

Norman: I’ll read it back. If we missed anything, please speak up. Ok, so, launching apps…we decided to go with “annoying.” Looks right. Navigating categories with a controller…we went with “asinine.” Seems in order. Kinect accuracy…we settled on “spotty.” So far, so good. The party system was hard, but I think we nailed it with “far worse than the simple and beautiful system we had on 360. In short, totally convoluted and confusing.” Finally, we come to speed and overall ease of use and we decided on “slow and painful unless you use Kinect, and still kind of slow even with Kinect.”

Gene: Guys, I don’t want to sound too optimistic here, but I think we nailed it in one pass. The kids are going to be raving fans.

Earl: Agreed. Phew, that was a looooooong meeting. I’m not used to these sessions that go the full hour. But hey, you can’t argue with the results.

Norman: No you can’t. Good work guys.

End scene.


I’d call that satire, but this is my actual and honest educated guess about how the Xbox One’s dashboard came about. If I’m being kind, it’s a mess. I don’t like the Kinect at this point. Sure, maybe I’ll get better as time goes on, but as it is now, using Kinect is embarrassing, even when you’re sitting alone in your gaming room. If you really want to feel stupid, show your wife how “cool” the Kinect is and watch as she laughs at your “kind of neat if it worked well” $500 console.

Resorting to controller is almost preferable to using Kinect. Almost. The way that everything is “organized” on the Xbox One is beyond stupid. Random tiles flip around in place and there’s no cohesion to the style nor experience from one page to the next. I get that you can pin your favorites in place, but any time you veer from your favorites, you better fire up Google Maps, because THE SEARCH IS ON.

Not to compare too much to the PS4, but after using Sony’s very simple interface, the Xbox One feels outright assaulting to my senses. There’s too much going on, too little organization or control, and stuff that is buried or simply no longer available to view (try finding a game invite if you miss it come through). At this point I just don’t like barking commands out to my Xbox, and I don’t know that I’ll ever like it all that much. I’m hoping that the voice commands increase in accuracy though, because nothing grinds your experience to a halt faster than shouting at your Xbox 4-5 times to simply launch a game or snap an app to the side.

I love the capabilities of the Xbox One. I think snapping in TV or the Internet to the side of the screen is pretty cool, but fighting to make it all happen really makes me question whether or not I care enough to fight with the console.

I was a huge 360 fan in the last generation and only played the PS3 for its exclusives. I figured the same would be true going forward into this new generation, but so far, the Xbox One has been a chore. Please turn this around Microsoft, because I would rather have two consoles that I deeply enjoy, not one that gets relegated to dust collector role until a worthwhile exclusive comes along.

Image via TechnoBuffalo

Android is now 72% of the mobile market, so can we start using “mobile” to refer to apps and games?

One thing that drives me crazy is the insistence that many people have to refer to mobile games as iOS versions of a game. They’ll be talking about Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty and say, “there’s an iOS companion app for the game as well.” Yeah, there is, but it’s not limited to iOS. Many times the app is available for Android and Windows Phone 7/8 as well. Heck, most times it’s available for at least one other platform than iOS.

The people doing this are being irresponsible. It would be no different than a reporter mentioning that Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was now available…for Xbox 360. Yes, it is, but it’s also available for PC, PS3, and Wii U. Multiconsole development became a standard quite a while ago. Only when we have an exclusive app do we mention the platform, and mobile development should be no different.

So why is this an issue, exactly? Well, I’m very well informed when it comes to the gaming industry, but often news sources can fail us. It’s impossible to get news from the original source every time, so I rely on podcasters, editors, and even word of mouth from peers. When these people are saying, “out for iOS” by default simply because they own an iPhone, they’re being misleading, even if it is unintentional. As a specific example, I saw many prominent gaming media members discuss the availability of Xbox Smartglass for iOS, and I figured that the Android version must be coming lately. Finally, a few days later I decided to just search for it on the Google Play Store, and there it was.

Call them whatever you want, “mobile apps/games” or “apps for phones and tablets” or whatever you want; but please, use a term that is inclusive, not exclusive. We’ll all be better informed, and we’ll all be doing our job better.

Assassin’s Creed 3 is a 10/10 game, right?

I’m kind of pissed off. The early reviews for Assassin’s Creed 3 did not talk enough about how buggy this game is. There are passing mentions of a little rough edge here and there, but by in large, not enough was said about how flat out buggy and glitched up the game would be. As of right now, there are five perfect scores for the game. Well you know what? That perfect score went right out the window for me within the first two hours when the following things happened:

  • A weapon that an enemy dropped got “stuck” about 15 feet in the air and I couldn’t pick it up (I needed it badly)
  • A mission critical enemy fell through the ground and I couldn’t reach him
  • I got stuck on the environment and had to quit/reload
  • My horse got stuck in the environment and I had to dismount and walk to my destination
  • And what you see below happened a few times…

Sony pulls a Sony with their new Vita ad

Sony has a long history of horrible ad campaigns, especially in Europe. Yes, they do make some good ones, most notably the Michael ad, but far too often they leave their fanbase blushing in embarrassment and their target audience scratching their heads in confusion. The latest ad is definitely a case where blushing and confusion are running rampant.

Earlier today, a thread popped up over on NeoGAF with an image that shows Sony’s latest print ad for the Vita. The ad is currently running in France, and when translated reads: “Two touch surfaces, twice the sensation.” The quote is accompanied by a woman with four breasts. Seriously. You can see the ad below (click to enlarge).

Sony Vita Ad with 4 breasts

Not only is the ad stupid and lacking in content that would compel anybody to pick up a Vita based on its available software, it’s also highly demeaning and gross. Not only are you alienating women with the approach, you’re also implying that breasts are nothing more than a plaything for horny men. It’s subtle, but by cutting the head of the woman out of the ad, they’re not even hiding the fact that a gamer would have no interest in the woman as a person, it’s just important that she has a nice pair (of pairs) of breasts.

And really, it’s also undermining the Vita too. Hey, who cares about software and the personality of the library, it feels good to rub! That’s all you guys want, a good rub, right?

You can do better Sony. Your fans and the industry deserve better than this.

So this happened, and it’s open season for games journalism now

Geoff Keighley appeared in an interview with PixelPerfectMag on YouTube and talked a little bit about some upcoming games…especially Halo 4 and its partner programs with Mountain Dew and Doritos. And boy did Mountain Dew and Doritos get some play. Now, there’s nothing wrong with sponsorship in gaming, but that should be between the video game publisher and the product maker. When gaming journalists step in and decide to take part in that relationship, everybody is going to cry foul.

I don’t have any doubts about Geoff Keighley’s ability to do his job well. I don’t think he’s been dishonest in the past, but when you see him, or anybody else for that matter, sitting in a room surrounded by promotional material, it’s not a stretch to start thinking that their viewpoint might begin to skew in favor of those sponsors just a little bit. Take a look at the video below, and I’ll give my reaction and explain why this could have been approached in a much better way.

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Geoff is seated around a bunch of promotional material. That’s the first and last thing you’ll notice when watching this clip. It looks bad. The thing is, if Geoff agreed to talk about the Dew/Doritos XP program, that’s fine, but they shouldn’t have disguised it as a simple interview. They should have presented it as a sponsored segment. Secondly, it could have been presented in a more detached manner. Remove the marketing materials. All they’re doing is evoking thoughts of Wayne’s World’s sellout bit. They look cheap and forced. Talk about the program, be upfront that a deal has been made to promote it, and don’t try and act like you’re just interested in talking about Mountain Dew and Doritos because they’re such fine products.

When talking about Halo 4 or the Dew XP program, all Geoff would have said to make this go down easier would have been, “and I want to talk about this DewXP and Halo 4 stuff. I’ve been lucky enough to be asked by Mountain Dew and 343 Industries to discuss it with you.” Doing that, it would have been received so much better. By disguising it as a journalistic segment between an online magazine and a journalist, this whole segment comes across as gross, insulting, and kind of sad.

Let’s not move this direction, people. Let’s learn from this misstep and separate coverage from promotion with clear, bold lines. When we neglect to do so, especially with a respected member of the games journalism community, the reactions that arise are damaging to our industry and to our attempts to be taken seriously by the gamer community.

The PSN is the suckiest bunch of suck that ever sucked (for downloading)

First, let me say thanks to Sony for providing a review code for Papo & Yo. The game is great, and it’s something I’ve been highly anticipating since E3 2011, when I first saw the game. Ok, now that I’ve said that, let me whine for a bit.

The PSN is terrible. It’s absolutely awful. I’d rather get nut punched by a kangaroo than have to sit and wait for a game to download from Sony’s slow-as-molasses network. I have a 20Mbs Internet connection that works great for watching movies, playing games, streaming media, downloading files, and even for uploading poorly edited YouTube videos. It’s awesome for everything, aside from one thing. Downloading games from the PSN Store.

The 1.3GB file for Papo & Yo took over 11 hours to download. I started it around 7:00pm, and when I went to bed at 1:30am, it was not even 2/3 of the way done yet. I got up the next morning just after 6:00am and checked the status. It had 12 minutes to go. I’m not alone on this, either. Most of my friends who have PS3s complain about the same thing.

If Sony fixes only ONE thing going into the next generation, it has to be the ability to deliver content digitally to their console. My Vita downloads faster, though it’s still a fraction of the speed of what my Xbox 360 or even Wii can do. Sony is the company that is working the hardest to push digitally delivered content on their consoles, but the experience is terrible.

Get it together Sony. Please. For the children.