Jumping for (Nurse) joy — A recap of the 01/09/2020 Pokémon Direct

I’m quite certain most of us can agree that today was a good day to be a Pokémon fan, as today’s Pokémon Direct hit us with three very cool announcements.  The most prominent reveal was that of the Expansion Pass that will add 200+ Pokémon and two areas to your journey through the Galar Region.  Some gamers were a bit aggro about a duo of Pokémon games having paid DLC ($30 or otherwise), but I have confidence the content in said DLC will be worth the dinero.

But Sword & Shield were not the only stars of the show, as the Direct kicked off with the reveal of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX, which is a Switch remake of Pokémon Blue & Red Rescue Team.  This remake is due for release on March 6, and there is an eShop demo available now.

The Direct wrapped up with Pokémon Home being announced for a February release.  Home is a hub app that allows for transferring Pokémon from game to game, and that includes importing from Go to Sword & Shield.

We’re not even a full month into 2020, and it’s already looking like it’s gonna be a fantastic year for the mega-popular Pokémon franchise regardless of how controversial Sword & Shield seem to be.  From Switch games to mobile apps, 2020 will no doubt be a fun year to catch ’em all

The ballpark is expanding — MLB The Show coming to other platforms in 2021 or later

I’ve said this before, and I’m gonna say it again…The baseball videogame market is definitely not the same as it was back in the early 2000’s.  If you want a serious game of virtual hardball, you’re gonna need a PS4 and a copy of Sony’s MLB The Show.  Baseball fans who don’t have a PS4 have long complained about how they’re left in the dugout when it comes to being able to own a game where you can do anything that has to do with our national pastime.  However, Sony has listened loud and clear, and they recently pulled some huge news out of the bullpen — As early as 2021, MLB The Show will be available for more than just the PS4, meaning that owners of the Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and possibly even Windows PC can get their mitts (Get it?) on Sony’s long-running baseball franchise.  Considering we haven’t had a simulation-style MLB game on multiple platforms since the MLB 2K series threw in the towel, this is very good news for baseball-gaming considering The Show probably won’t have any competition anytime soon.  For now, MLB The Show ’20 will be exclusive to the PS4, and we’re waiting for Sony San Diego to reveal the new features this game is cooking up.

Code-cracking madness — Codemasters acquires Slightly Mad Studios

It’s time to talk about another acquisition that I and at least one other person didn’t see coming, and it once again involves the racing-game genre.  Codemasters has a handful of ongoing series in their garage, such as DirtGrid, and the official Formula 1 games.  They now own new territory thanks to their acquisition of fellow British developer Slightly Mad Studios, makers of the Project CARS IP.  If you ask me, this is a big deal because they’re two of the most prominent companies when it comes to today’s racing games, not to mention they both have really good assets and licenses.  With this purchase comes very valid questions — Is one of the four aforementioned series being canned? Which licenses that Slightly Mad Studios owned could be used in Codemasters’ Grid series, and vice versa for the Project CARS series? Regardless of what theories we come up with, the best thing we can do is to wait for Codies to give us the answer..And you bet your buttons I’m excited to know what’s up.

Review of Pokémon Sword & Shield — Galar Calling

Since its 1996 debut, the international phenomenon in Pokémon has always seemed to cater towards the handheld-gaming crowd.  While there had been plenty of spin-offs and remakes for home consoles ranging from the N64 to the Wii U, having a portable system was a requirement if you wanted a piece of the core Pokémon lineup.  But thanks to the Switch, that prerequisite has been axed.  After three years of development, Pokémon Sword & Shield have arrived as the first main-series Pokémon games for home consoles.  I know these games have been the butt of backlash for several reasons, but it’s a still good duo of games on their own merit.  Let’s whip out our Pokédexes and converse about it.

Jolly ol’ Galar

The eighth generation of this heavily-revered franchise is set in the Galar region, which is based on the United Kingdom.  The plot is mostly the same as previous gens — You receive your starter Pokémon, learn the ropes of being a Trainer, and go on a quest to become the regional Pokémon champion.  Gym Battles are part of your journey again, except the lineup of Gym Leaders you face depends on which of these two versions you decide to play.

With tea or biscuits

Although features like Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves have been tossed and the Pokédex has been trimmed, there are plenty of new things to do in your latest Pokémon adventure.  You can take part in raids similar to those in Pokémon Go, have your Pokémon partake in special tasks, and even spend some time socializing and cooking meals with your Pokémon.  It should also be pointed out that the world now has a dynamic weather system, and the powerful critters can temporarily become larger in appearance thanks to Dynamax and Gigantamax forms.  Lastly, if you have some Pokémon from previous adventures that you’d like to bring along with you for this ride, you’ll be able to transfer them via the upcoming Pokémon Home service.

No Game, No Watch, Just Galar-y

Despite seeming like a very polarizing duo of games in its franchise, Pokémon Sword & Shield do what they can to provide you with more of the great Pokémon fun that’s been had since its late-90’s launch.  The new formula may seem a bit too streamlined to your liking at first; But once your adventure in the Galar region commences, you’ll have nothing to develop gripes about.

#FixWWE2K20 — I’m Preston from Silver Soul Gaming, and WHAT JUST HAPPENED?

If you’re a gamer and avid pro-wrestling fan, this week has most likely been a rough one for you.  WWE 2K20 was released this Tuesday, and its customers have been in a complete uproar about not only the missing features, but also the sheer amount of bugginess this game contains.  Whether it’s bad hair physics, messy targeting, game crashes, or characters getting stuck in the ring, 2K20 has been viewed as an absolute jobber by wrestling-gamers around the globe.  It is unknown if the team at Visual Concepts got lazy or the game was rushed out due to contractual obligations with the WWE.  Regardless of the main reasons, we can only hope that 2K manages to release a patch that pulls the game out of its nosedive.  WWE 2K20 has the ability to be in the wrestling-game title picture, but it must first be able to get into midcard status.

Review of Grid (2019) — I always race to win

I know I’ve said this at least several times before, but I’m gonna have to say it again  — Codemasters has a long resume when it comes to racing games. Whether it be rallying, Formula 1, or even over-the-top off-roading, the British publisher has done it all. But while Dirt and F1 have still been going strong, fans had been wondering if/when the Grid series would return to the track.  Well, after five years, we don’t have to wonder anymore.  This self-titled reboot is the series’ debut on current-gen hardware, and I’m here to give you the full synopsis on everything it brings to the table.  So with that out of the way, let’s drop the green flag and get this review started.

Turn the car into the wind

Like other established series such as Gran Turismo and Forza MotorsportGrid tasks you with making a name for yourself in a variety of racing disciplines.  You won’t find rally racing or modern Formula 1 in here, but you get to race sports cars, open-wheelers, touring cars, tuner cars, and stock cars from different eras of the sport.  During your career, you must not only place high in the standings, but also manage your race team properly.  It’s your job to collect prize money, buy (And paint) the cars you want, and hire teammates.  No virtual racing career would be complete without a diverse track roster, and this game delivers a hefty number of road-course, street-course, and oval configurations.  There are only 13 locations at the moment, but more will be added in free updates.

GRID-dle cakes

Of course, all of the above would be meaningless if the racing itself wasn’t solid, and the folks at Codemasters have once again delivered solid racing in spades.  While not an arcade racer like Need for Speed or BurnoutGrid tries to be a little more accessible than Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport.  Despite the car-setup functionality being quite simplified, the driving does have weight and realism on both gamepad and wheel.  Flags and pit stops are non-existent, but you still have to drive carefully to avoid crashing out or being penalized.  If you race an opponent too aggressively, they’ll become a Nemesis and try to give you a taste of your own medicine.  Like the previous game in the series, you have the ability to ask your teammate to charge through the pack or play defense, not that they’ll always be able/willing to do what you ask them to do.

Online multiplayer is a bit shallow in this game, as you only have quick-match and private-match options.  Without any search options for public lobbies, you basically jump into public races hoping that the events found are to your liking.  If you want an online race that can be run the way you want it, you have no other alternative but to invite 1-15 friends who have the game.  It’s not a dealbreaker, but I do hope this online-mode drawback can be sorted out.

Pedal to the floor, lap is runnin’ faster

After sitting in its garage for the last five years, the long-running Grid series has made a satisfactory comeback in the form of this reboot.  It may occasionally bust a flat or drop some horsepower, but it still belongs on the shelf of any type of racing-game junkie.  Checkered flag, here I come!

Review of FIFA ‘20 — Where the street is named VOLTA

The whistle has blown, and it’s once again time to lace up the cleats and jugar futbol.  EA Sports’ global juggernaut in FIFA has hit the pitch for the 27th time, and while it’s certainly not completely different from its predecessor, it does include a handful of obligatory refinements, not to mention a throwback to its spin-off series.  Do these new features make FIFA ’20 worth the $60 price of admission? Let’s dust off our vuvuzelas and find out.

You held the world in your arms

This iteration’s most hyped-up feature is a mode that replaces the Journey mode from the last three games.  Known as VOLTA Football, this mode is essentially a callback to the FIFA Street series.  The two teams have 3-5 players apiece, and you get to choose whether or not the match has goalies and walls.  The pitches are set in some of the world’s most famous cities, and they come with commentary spoken in the native languages.  If you prefer matches that emphasize showmanship over teamwork, this mode is tailor-made for you.

Don’t worry, the VOLTA mode isn’t the only addition to this year’s game.  The ball physics, penalty kicks, and free kicks have been given some tweaks, making the on-pitch action more fluid than ever.  The Mystery Ball and King of the Hill match types are now not only in single games, but in Ultimate Team as well.  The offline career mode has been updated quite heavily, featuring interactive press conferences and player convos, the ability to fully customize your created manager, and a very streamlined user interface.

I am just a copy of a…

Despite facing the usual tough competition from Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer, EA Sports’ globally-iconic FIFA series continues to nail its headers and volleys.  Whether you prefer team-based strategy or fancy footwork when it comes to how you play soccer games, this installment won’t disappoint you.