During today’s 40-minute Nintendo direct, Nintendo finally announced that, at long-last, a high-definition Metroid Prime remaster is coming to Switch later today.
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The new Metroid Prime Remaster won’t just be bringing the games to the Switch, it’ll also give players greater control of the game’s camera and movement with new control modifications. The Metroid Prime Remaster is available to purchase on the Nintendo eShop for $39.99. A physical version of the game will be available on February 22.
Interest in Metroid peaked again in recent years, with 2021’s Metroid Dread both setting sales records and nabbing a nomination for Game of the Year at that year’s Game Awards. This only highlighted the difficulty involved in playing most of the previous games in the franchise.
Metroid Prime, developed by Retro Studios and released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002, was the first 3D Metroid game, and totally did away with what by then had been scripture. Early Metroid games, after all, defined a certain style of two-dimensional “search action” platformers.
In Metroid Prime, yes, you still had to collect power-ups and then backtrack to earlier areas to then use those powers to pass obstacles that previously blocked your path. Still, seeing a Metroid world—in all its interstellar glory—from the eyes of Samus Aran was a paradigmatic shift. Pretty much everyone agreed: “This rules.”
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That first game was followed by two sequels, one for the GameCube (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes in 2004) and one for the Wii (Metroid Prime 3: Corruption in 2007). All three were compiled for the Metroid Prime Trilogy, which came out for the Wii in 2009, adding in Wii Remote controls. Now, that’s basically coming to Nintendo Switch.
In other words, Nintendo is releasing a compilation of re-releases. Not that I’m complaining! The Metroid Prime games are ne plus ultra among Nintendo’s portfolio, and the chance to play these games on Switch, on the go, is more than welcome.
It also makes sense that Nintendo would add it to the pipeline now, of all times. Two summers ago, Nintendo released a Switch touch-up of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, a solid Zelda game that didn’t get the warmest reception during its original 2011 launch on Wii. That’s ahead of a much-anticipated sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, leading fans to speculate about narrative connections between the two.
Metroid falls into a similar situation. Nintendo has Metroid Prime 4, first announced in 2017, in the pipeline, but it’s unclear when that game will come out. In 2019, Nintendo announced that development on the project switched from a new team to the original GameCube (and Wii) developers at Retro.
It’s been crickets on that front since, so it makes sense that Nintendo would find other ways to keep fans interested in one of the company’s marquee series.
It’s been five months since Konami broke the internet with a cavalcade of video game and movie-related announcements during its Silent Hill showcase. Today, Konami announced a casting update on the upcoming Silent 2 live-action film, which will enter production next month.
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Read More: After Years Of No Silent Hill, Konami Just Opened The Flood Gates
The sequel Silent Hill film, appropriately titled Return to Silent Hill, will star Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) as Silent Hill 2’s “wife guy” James. The press release also confirms that actor Hannah Emily Anderson (Jigsaw) is set to co-star, though it neglected to state who she will play, saying only that James is “broken after being separated from his one true love” and that he goes to the town of Silent Hill in search of her. It seems likely that she will play James’ wife Mary, but that remains speculation at this point.
Alongside Return to Silent Hill’s casting announcement, Konami also confirmed that Christophe Gans, the director of the 2006 Silent Hill film starring Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean, will return to direct this one as well.
“Return to Silent Hill is a mythological love story about someone so deeply in love, they’re willing to go to hell to save someone,” Gans wrote in the press release. “I’m delighted to have the wonderful talents of both Jeremy Irvine and Hannah Emily Anderson take us on this journey into a psychological horror world that I hope will both satisfy and surprise fans of Silent Hill.”
Read More: Silent Hill 2‘s PS5 Remake Has Everyone Wondering If Horror Dev Is Worthy
Producer Victor Hadida, who’s also working on a remake of The Crow starring Bill Skarsgård and FKA twigs, said he and Gans have been working to create a Silent Hill film “for the theatrical audiences of today.”
“You will still find the iconic monsters–but there will also be new designs. We are confident that this new film and Konami’s updated game together will propel the Silent Hill franchise forward for years to come,” Hadida said.
Speaking of that “updated game,” a remake of Silent Hill 2, which is being handled by The Medium developers Bloober Team, remains in the works, though no release date or new details have yet been announced.
Die-hard Simpsons fans have a near encyclopedic memory of every joke and reference throughout the animated series’ decades-long run. Except for one. A punchline in the third season was basically impossible to hear until someone recently used audio software to decode it over 30 years later.
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The joke appears in the third season’s 21st episode called “The Otto Show.” Bart goes to a Spinal Tap concert which sets in motion a series of events that lead bus driver Otto to lose his job and end up living with the Simpsons. Early in the episode, Marge worries the concert will be too loud for Bart. Homer says he went to plenty of heavy metal concerts and never had an issue, only for his tinnitus to take over, with the ringing drowning out Marge’s response.
This secret joke was originally teased long ago by the show’s writers in the DVD commentary. Jeff Martin said at the time that it had taken them forever to write the line, which they then proceeded to mix down so no one watching could actually hear it. More recently, video editor Ewzzy Rayburn (via IGN) decided to use Adobe Audition to filter out the noise and boost the levels for Marge’s voice.
That process revealed what Marge actually says during the scene: “Well all right, but make sure they don’t pick up any of the band’s attitude toward women, liquor, religion, politics…really anything.” Vintage Simpsons humor just waiting for someone to come along and decipher it.
Rayburn explained that he used a spectrogram measuring volume by color and pitch by height to isolate the ringing, remove it, and increase the volume of what was left. In addition to Marge’s voice, that also included the sounds of birds and crickets, which Rayburn said were often in the audio mix depending on whether the scene took place during the day or at night.
The Simpsons is currently in its 34th season which wraps up in May. There hasn’t been a good video game spin-off in over a decade though. It’s definitely time to change that.
Bungie has been working on a new game for some time, and the company finally teased it during Sony’s latest PlayStation Showcase. It turns out it’s a spiritual successor to the company’s Marathon trilogy of ‘90s PC shootersin the form of a multiplayer extraction shooter coming to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC with cross-play.
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“Marathon will find players engaging one another as cybernetic mercenaries known as Runners, exploring a lost colony on the planet of Tau Ceti IV in search of riches, fame, and infamy,” the studio writes over on the PlayStation Blog. The developers say it’s not a direct sequel to the original games but will have plenty of nods to that universe.
There’s no single-player campaign though, and the world will be structured around “evolving zones” where players fight over loot before their teams can extract them. To the degree there’s a narrative, it sounds like it will be based around players’ actions and discoveries, similar to the meta narrative in Destiny 2 when completed raids and community quests unlock new content and areas.
For the last nine years Bungie’s been known as the Destiny studio, continually pumping out sequels, expansions, and new seasons for its sci-fi MMO. That was great for fans of the sprawling space opera and its endless loot chase, but it also separated one of the best gaming studios around from players unwilling to commit to Destiny like it was a second job.
Prior to Destiny, Bungie spent several years as part of Microsoft making Halo, another beloved sci-fi shooter that helped put Xbox on the map. Its service to the tech giant ended with Halo: Reach, the fifth game in the series, and it’s been singularly focused on one game ever since, until today.
Sony purchased Bungie for $3.6 billion last year and has stated that the studio’s live-service experience will be central to helping PlayStation Studios create a bunch of new online multiplayer games in the coming years. While Bungie remains an independent publishing operation within Sony, it’s clear the studio is core to the company’s ambition to release more games-as-a-service moving forward.
But this doesn’t mean Destiny 2 is likely to be sunset anytime soon. Bungie has long shut down rumors of a sequel in the near future, and has been signaling that the game will remain a platform for new updates even after 2024’s expansion. Called The Final Shape and first teased years ago, The Final Shape is expected to wrap up Destiny 2‘s current narrative arc and set up its next one. After all, there are plenty more solar systems left in the galaxy to explore, and there will always be more loot to chase.
Facebook, I mean, Meta, has officially announced the long-rumored Quest 3, its next virtual reality headset. The Quest 3, the successor to the most popular VR headset so far, will be out later this year starting at $500.
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The Quest and later the Quest 2 were both positioned as affordable ways to enter the wild world of virtual reality gaming and entertainment. And for the most part, both devices nailed that objective, providing a relatively cheap, easy-to-use, and standalone option for folks looking to experience VR gaming without wanting to buy into PlayStation VR or an expensive VR-capable PC. But the Quest 2 is nearly three years old—ancient in the tech world—so here comes the Quest 3 from Meta.
Officially announced Thursday, the upcoming VR device will be more powerful than a Quest 2. Meta claims the newer Snapdragon chip powering the device will have twice the GPU capability of the old Quest 2. Thanks to the new pancake lens optics, first seen in last year’s Quest Pro, it also will be about 40 percent smaller than Quest 2, which was already reasonably compact. The Quest 3 will also feature a higher-resolution display and much higher-quality passthrough cameras. Now in color and assisted with a special depth sensor, they’ll let users better see the real world around them without having to take off their headset and open the door to more sophisticated mixed-reality experiences.
The Quest 3 will also feature a new iteration on the Quest hand controllers, which are now less bulky thanks to the removal of the tracking rings. One seeming downside is that they are still only tracked by the base headset instead of having self-tracking like the Pro’s more advanced controllers, so it’s likely they’ll still have issues getting “lost” when you move your hands behind your back, etc. (Quest 3 is compatible with the Quest Pro controllers if you want to pay for that upgrade, though.) Also in are new haptics, to better convey physical sensations. Finally, the Quest 3 will be able to directly track your hands for controller-free play, a feature that only worked modestly on the prior headset. Hopefully it’s better now.
Of course, all this extra power and performance won’t come cheap. The Meta Quest 3, which is planned to launch later this year, will start at $500 for 128GB storage, with a 256GB version costing more. Now, on the one hand, that is $50 cheaper than a PS VR2 headset, which is not standalone and requires a PlayStation 5. However, the upcoming Quest 3 headset will still cost $200 more than the Quest 2’s original MSRP of $300. But compared to Meta’s $1000Quest Pro headset, the $500 Quest 3 feels like a bargain.
Meta continues to burn money trying to make the metaverse
While Meta continues to announce virtual reality projects and products, the company is struggling to make any money off this stuff. In 2022 alone the company’s VR division lost over $13 billion. And many of its projects, like its own take on a metaverse, have flopped and failed to connect with users. Even Meta’s own staff reportedly doesn’t use its struggling virtual reality-powered meeting and productivity apps.
But hey, Mark Zuckerberg is really convinced the future involves all of us strapping expensive headsets to our faces so we can walk around in virtual offices and get yelled at by digital bosses while we dream about spending our weekends in ugly virtual reality rooms with strangers who won’t stop invading our personal space. So, Zuck’s going to keep throwing money at VR and the metaverse, no matter how much it fails or how many peoplehe has to lay off in the process.
One good thing that has come from this mess is the Quest 2, the first affordable mass-market VR headset. And soon, we’ll have what sounds like a pretty reasonable, if pricier, successor.
Pikmin 4 got a surprise new trailer early June 6, and, as is standard for a Nintendo game, it’s still looking pretty adorable. Considering Nintendo game director Shigeru Miyamoto said in 2015 that the real-time strategy game was “very close to completion,” it’s a relief to see its cute characters in action
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But since there were nine years between Pikmin 2 and Pikmin 3’s release dates, the decade between that last game and Pikmin4’s now-certain release date, July 21, didn’t necessarily perturb the most optimistic Pikmin players. In a 2019 Kotaku article, Stephen Totilo wrote that “Pikmin was […] a testament to Nintendo’s best game design values,” but, despite his enthusiasm for the series, he was sure it needed more time in the oven. Well, in 2023, Pikmin is fresh and ready.
Check out the new Pikmin 4 trailer
Like in the previous three Pikmin games, in Pikmin 4, players will need to control a hivemind of Pikmin—teeny, candy-colored aliens that resemble wild onion bulbs—to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. The new “Rise to the Occasion” trailer also confirms main character Captain Olimar, a bubble-nosed spacefarer who crashed onto the Pikmin planet, will return, but this time, you’ll have to save him and a stranded rescue team with a customizable character.
“There is a beacon of hope,” the trailer’s announcer says. “It’s you—the Rescue Corp’s newest recruit who’s risen to the occasion. You can do it, brave explorer.”
The trailer then shows a few personalization options in Pikmin’s never-before-seen character creator, which lets you determine things like skin color, pre-made facial features, and your ID badge. You’ll be able to edit both appearance and name later in the game, too.
While there is no Pikmin 4 pre-order bonus for U.S. purchases (Hong Kong and Taiwan players will, however, receive a Pikmin-branded drink cover with a little sprout stuck on top of it), you can nevertheless buy the $60 game in advance. It is eligible for a Nintendo Game Voucher, and a GameSpot coupon gives you $10 off physical copy pre-orders from Super Shop, though it won’t ship until release day.
Microsoft is fighting an injunction by the Federal Trade Commission against closing its $69 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard, and the ensuing trial has yielded all sorts of fascinating insights about the Xbox maker. From leaked emails of executives talking about “spending Sony out of business” to double standards when it comes to Starfield console exclusivity, players are getting an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at what’s been going on inside one of the biggest companies in the video game industry.
Thank You, PS Plus, For Making My Backlog Even Bigger
Set to wrap up on June 29, the Microsoft vs. FTC hearings in federal court will decide if the company can finalize its acquisition of the Call of Duty publisher before a July 18 deadline, or if it will be forced to wade into a lengthy litigation fight with regulators that could take years, which Microsoft claims will effectively kill the historic merger. The current fight has included testimony from Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer and several other executives within Xbox, with additional testimony to come from PlayStation boss Jim Ryan, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, and others. But a fresh raft of court exhibits, including private email exchanges and corporate strategy memos, has already revealed a ton.
Microsoft discussed “spending Sony out of business”
Xbox Studios head Matt Booty mentioned in a heavily redacted 2019 email that Microsoft could try to “spend Sony out of business.” “If we think that video game content matters in 10 years, we might look back and say, ‘Totally would have been worth it to lose $2B or @3B in 2020 to avoid a situation where Tencent, Google, Amazon or even Sony have become the Disney of games and own most of the valuable content,’” Booty wrote to Xbox chief financial office, Tim Stuart.
Speaking in the context of the “streaming wars” between Netflix and everyone else, he suggested Microsoft could double down on its early advantage with Game Pass to corner the market on subscription gaming. “Content is the one moat that we have, in terms of a catalog that runs on current devices and capability to create new,” Booty wrote. “Sony is really the only other player who could compete with Game Pass and we have a 2 year and 10M subs lead.” Microsoft now claims this was only a “thought experiment,” with a spokesperson saying the discussion “refers to industry trends we never pursued and is unrelated to the acquisition.”
Cloud gaming ambitions fueled an Xbox Series X shortage
A global pandemic and chip shortage led to a lack of next-gen consoles when they shipped back in 2020, but Microsoft’s plans to scale up its xCloud streaming business on Game Pass apparently made the Xbox Series X shortage even worse. As The Verge points out, Spencer in one new email admitted to a “yield miss” when it came to production of the new consoles, but suggested the main reason behind the shortage was investments in cloud gaming and content services.
“From a strategy perspective I believe in our tradeoffs for Cloud and Content in Gaming over console volume,” Spencer wrote. “With our strategy and opportunity console volume will still be the thing we constrain to grow our long term ambition.” It’s unclear if this bet ended up paying off. Xbox once again lags far behind Sony and Switch in console sales, and has claimed in court that xCloud is mostly just used by players to quickly try out Game Pass games before downloading them.
Bethesda was blindsided by promises to keep Call of Duty multiplatform
A February 2022 blog post by Microsoft president Brad Smith attempted to head off criticism of the proposed Activision Blizzard merger by promising to keep Call of Duty and other games like Diablo IV and Overwatch 2 multiplatform. This apparently took Bethesda’s head of publishing, Pete Hines, by surprise since Redfall, Starfield, and other games were seemingly forced to become Xbox exclusives after the ZeniMax acquisition.
“I’m confused,” Hines wrote in a February 2022 email to Todd Howard and others. “Is the below not the opposite of what we were just asked (told) to do with our titles?” He was more diplomatic in an email to his new boss. “I understand that there is likely nuance here, but at its core it’s being read as the opposite of what happened with us,” Hines wrote in an email to Spencer. We now also know that Bethesda’s upcoming Indiana Jones game by Wolfenstien studio Machine Games went from being multiplatform to an Xbox console exclusive as well.
Fallout 76 came to PS Plus because it needed more players
Spencer was apparently ready to give up Fallout 76. The broken-at-launch online spin-off has since rallied into a respectable seasonal live-service game with a dedicated community that continues to show up, and bringing the game to PS Plus may have played a big role in that. “Feels like we either need to see this thing getting to 10M [monthly active users] across all platforms or decide to move on from it and if you believe PSNow can support it gaining relevance then I’m supportive,” Spencer told ZeniMax president Jamie Leder in a September 2021 email.
The next month, Fallout 76 came to Sony’s Game Pass competitor (since folded into the new PS Plus) and according to some estimates the game now sustains that 10 million monthly player goal Spencer pointed to, which would also explain why it continues to get fresh expansions. The larger conversation around putting the game on the rival’s subscription service was about how Microsoft wasn’t willing to do the same with Minecraft, and continues to point to a mixed philosophy on console exclusivity at the company.
Hitman maker’s upcoming shooter RPG is an Xbox-exclusive
IO Interactive revealed a new online fantasy RPG shooter earlier this year, and according to new documents from Microsoft it’s seemingly planned as an Xbox console exclusive. According to Microsoft’s industry analysis on potential acquisitions, IO Interactive is “currently developing Project Dragon with XGS Publishing.” IO Interactive hasn’t yet officially revealed much about the game, including platform exclusivity, but it’s one of two major post-Hitman 3 projects it has in development. The other is a James Bond game that will presumably have a lot more overlap with the third-person stealth espionage gameplay the studio is known for.
Elsewhere in the document, Microsoft pointed to the potential pitfalls of trying to acquire IO Interactive outright, including a “repeated pattern of overextending” and the fact that the company ”has not been able to ship a successful new original IP since Hitman.” Brutal but fair. And Microsoft seemingly believes Project Dragon could be different if it’s involved in publishing it.
Microsoft weighed pros and cons of buying Sega, Bungie, and more
IO Interactive wasn’t the only company on Microsoft’s radar. A review of over 100 gaming companies listed benefits and drawbacks to acquiring all sorts of studios and publishers, both big and small. The main one was Sega, which Microsoft argued would finally give it access to platform exclusives like Shin Megami Tensei and Persona, and help it grow in PC and mobile gaming with a big catalog of games that appeal to lots of different people.
Microsoft also looked at other potential acquisitions including Bungie, Housemarque, Remedy Entertainment, and Larian Studios, the first two of which Sony ended up ultimately buying instead. A host of small indie studios were also part of the survey, including Supergiant Games, Playdead, 11 bit studios, and Thunderful. Here’s a good thing and a bad thing Microsoft said about each:
Bungie: “Top-tier AAA first-person shooter developer and publisher, with proven track record of creating new long-lasting franchises” / “Company is known for its high burn-rate”
Housemarque: “Ability to deliver steady flow of content for Game Pass” / “Extensive previous relationship with Sony”
Remedy: “One of the last remaining independent, AAA narrative-driven game developers” / “Next two games tied to Epic Game Store: Alan Wake 2 and Alan Wake Remastered”
Larian: “Divinity: Original Sin and Original Sin II two of the highest rated RPGs of the last decade” / “Development dispersed between six studio locations”
Supergiant: “Strong creative vision and willingness to try new concepts” / “Potential desire to remain ‘indie’”
Playdead: “Own IP for two critically acclaimed, successful games” / “Long development period between each project for what have been relatively short experiences”
11 bit studios: “Frostpunk sold over 3 million units in 3 years” / “games appear too niche and goes against serving a wide audience”
Thunderful: “Ability to ship high Metacritic scored games” / “has yet to create a ‘hit’”
There was going to be a Redfall TV show
We already knew that a Fallout TV show was in the works, but apparently Bethesda parent company ZeniMax was also in discussions about a possible Redfall series before the vampire shooter even launched. Now that the game is out and was widely panned, it’s unclear if those plans are still in the works. Ironically, one of the most common takeaways from the pre-release marketing for Redfall was that it looked like what you might expect a new CW or Netflix vampire series to be. With even good TV shows getting canceled left and right as streaming platforms cut back, it’s hard to see a path forward now. Microsoft and Bethesda did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Megalithic game-thing Roblox doesn’t exactly have the best of reputations. Accusations of exploitation of children’s labor are hardly a good look, and this week also saw staff reporting that there has been little effort to address the lack of diversity at the studio. On top of all that, today it’s been revealed that a data leak from the company saw 4,000 developers’ personal, identifiable information go public.
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As reported by PC Gamer, the list of names, email addresses, dates of birth, and physical addresses contains information on those who attended the Roblox Developer Conferences between 2017 and 2020. That’s the kind of information you can use to steal an identity. Oh, and it also included their t-shirt sizes.
The leak itself dates back to December 2020, but it remained unnoticed and unreported until this week. Troy Hunt, the creator of the Have I Been Pwned website that allows people to search to see if their details have been part of a leak, tweeted asking if anyone else had seen people discussing the situation, bringing it to wider attention.
According to Have I Been Pwned, the leak was posted in “niche communities” in 2021, but despite this, Roblox did not let anyone know it had happened, least of all those affected. It then went far more public this week.
In a statement given to PC Gamer, a Roblox representative acknowledged the “third-party security issue,” describing the leak as “unauthorized access to limited personal information of a subset of our creator community.” These are astoundingly diminishing terms for what is clearly incredibly detailed information about 3,943 individuals. But it’s fine because the company “engaged independent experts to support the investigation led by our information security team,” and add it will “continue to be vigilant in monitoring and vetting the cyber security posture of Roblox and our third-party vendors.” The company also said it contacted those affected to “communicate the next steps we are taking to support them.”
Given the lack of information on the investigation, its pledge to “continue to be vigilant” doesn’t currently hold an enormous amount of promise. We’ve contacted Roblox to ask why such data was being stored in this way and for more details on how it intends to support those affected. According to PCG and Troy Hunt, many received “a sorry email,” while others were offered “a year of identity protection.” Which, you know, doesn’t seem quite enough.
This all happens in the same week that Bloomberg reports staff are increasingly frustrated at Roblox’s failure to address woeful diversity within the company, with incredibly few women in senior positions. The company also told Bloomberg it has “no targets around hiring or promoting diverse employees.”
Plus, it’s important to never forget that the wider Roblox environment is deeply troubling for parents of the young children to whom the software is pitched, as exquisitely chronicled by People Make Games. Seriously, don’t let your kids near it if you haven’t watched this, or its follow-up:
After it was announced that legendary voice actor Charles Martinet would no longer portray Mario in future Nintendo games (starting with October 20’s Super Mario Bros. Wonder) but would become a “Mario Ambassador,” fans were confused. What is a Mario Ambassador? Why isn’t Martinet voicing the Italian-American plumber anymore? Now, Nintendo and Martinet have tried clearing the air with a cute video, but the results are somehow more confusing.
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Read More: Not Even Charles Martinet Knows What A ‘Mario Ambassador’ Is
In a video posted to X (formerly Twitter), Martinet and game director Shigeru Miyamoto briefly talk about their past together and their friendship. We learn that Martinet used to call Miyamoto “Papa!” in his signature Mario voice, and that he also nearly banged his head walking into a Kyoto restaurant because he’s reportedly 6-foot 3-inches tall. The short video isn’t just cutesy personal anecdotes, however, as it tries to provide some clarification of just what Martinet’s new role as “Mario Ambassador” is. It still sounds vague, though.
“You traveled the world visiting events, joyfully performing the voice of Mario for fans, and putting smiles on people’s faces,” Miyamoto said of Martinet. “You always place a priority on spreading joy, and I am sure that you will be a great Mario Ambassador. For all of you watching, please know that Charles will continue to travel around the world and meet fans, performing the familiar voices at events, signing autographs, and enjoying interacting with you all.”
We still don’t know who will voice Mario going forward, as Miyamoto said to wait until October to see who’s portraying the mustachioed plumber in the upcoming platformer Wonder, or why Martinent is no longer voicing the character after almost 30 years, but will still be “performing the familiar voices” at fan events. It certainly seems like Nintendo is aware of just how iconic Martinet as Mario is, and wants to hold onto that magic in any way possible–just not by casting Martinet in future Mario games.
Read More: Longtime Mario Voice Actor Charles Martinet ‘Stepping Back’ From Role
We don’t have long to figure out who the hell is portraying Mario now, since Super Mario Bros. Wonder comes out on October 20. October is a crammed month for video games, but for Mario fans, it’ll also be one of both nostalgia and reinvention as the franchise goes in a new gameplay direction with a new voice actor at the helm, whoever that may be.
The full list of 36 games for Xbox Live Gold’s replacement, Game Pass Core, has been revealed a day ahead of its launch. And they’re…they’re really good.
Thank You, PS Plus, For Making My Backlog Even Bigger
18 years of Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold comes to an end tomorrow, September 14, when it will be taken out behind the company’s Redmond, Washington headquarters and shot dead. An anachronistic hangover of the pre-Game Pass era, Gold and its Games with Gold monthly downloads have recently been limping into obscurity, and at this point it’s a kindness to let it go. In its place will arrive the bouncing new-born puppy, Game Pass Core.
Core, essentially an equivalent to Sony’s PlayStation Plus Essential service, is to be the budget incarnation of Game Pass, lacking access to the service’s full library of hundreds of games, but instead offering a curated selection of 36 titles, along with the somehow still toll-gated access to online gaming. But here’s the thing: they’re 36 really decent games.
We previously learned what 25 of the games would be, but Microsoft kept Goldmembers waiting until the last second to learn the full details of what their accounts would be converting to. Stand-out new titles include Stardew Valley, Vampire Survivors, Among Us, Firewatch,and Dead Cells. Joining the likes of AAA titles such as Dishonored 2, Doom Eternal, and Forza Horizon 4, it’s an eclectic collection that really doesn’t feel like the pile of leftovers a cynical person might have expected. (Hello.)
Core will be priced the same as Gold, at $10 a month, and current customers will be automagically converted over. It’s a confusing price-point, given the fuller version of Game Pass is just a dollar more, and includes all the same games plus literally hundreds more. However, you can also pick up a full year’s worth of Core for $60, which would halve the price, while no such discounts appear to exist for the higher tiers. And honestly, as much as I’d love to gripe, $60 for 36 properly good games is rather good. Meanwhile, Game Pass Ultimate recently upped its price a couple of bucks a month to $16.99.
The catch is, games will only be added to Core two or three times a year, rather than Gold’s system of offering two different games each month. However, as we mentioned, it’s a fine list of games. Here’s the lot:
Doom Eternal Standard Edition
Forza Horizon 4 Standard Edition
Gears 5 Game of the Year Edition
Golf with your Friends
Halo 5: Guardians
Halo Wars 2
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Human Fall Flat
Ori & the Will of the Wisps
Payday 2: Crimewave Edition
Slay the Spire
Spiritfarer: Farewell Edition
State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition
The Elder Scrolls Online
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Keen games players will likely have already picked up most of these that interest them in the last couple of years, but then this service really isn’t aimed at you. Think of Core as the version of Game Pass you get your aunt when you buy her her first console, a taster menu of the possibilities of gaming. Heck, just Powerwash Simulator and Fallout 4 would keep most people’s evenings busy for the first year.
Meanwhile, it still sucks beyond comprehension that consoles are still somehow charging monthly tithes for online access. Over at PC Land, it’s all free!