Sony President and CEO, Chief of PlayStation Leaving After 27 Years With the Company

Sony Interactive Entertainment announced suddenly this week that the president and CEO of the company, and chief of PlayStation was stepping down. Andrew House has been with Sony for 27 years, beginning in corporate communications in Tokyo before aiding in the release of the original PlayStation gaming console.

“PlayStation has been a huge part of my life for more than 20 years but with the business having achieved record-breaking success, now seemed to be the right time for me to pursue new challenges.” – Andrew House

Mr. House will remain with Sony as Chairman until the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition, and has been replaced as the head of Sony Interactive Entertainment by his former deputy John Kodera.

What do you think of Andrew House stepping down as head of SIE? Will the PlayStation continue to thrive as it has under his watch? Let us know what you think on Twitter and Facebook, and don’t forget to follow us for more news!

Atari Launches Lifestyle Store to Release the Speakerhat, New Designs Including Blade Runner 2049

“Lead the Way for Atari’s New Line of Wearable Technology that Blurs the Line Between Fashion and Future

Over the summer, Atari announced they were releasing a patented baseball cap with speakers integrated into the bill for a unique new take on gaming audio. As of today, the hat is available in different designs at AtariLife.com, which start at $129.99 USD.

These stylish new hats are powered by the technology company Audiowear, with speakers and a microphone that connect to any Bluetooth device. The Atari Speakerhats are powerful, precision-designed, and capable of auio output, phone calls, and voice control. They have been “engineered to the highest audio standards to deliver a unique and powerful experience to a range of active consumers, including gamers and streamers, outdoor and fitness enthusiasts, skaters, musicians, sports fans, tech early-adopters and many others. ”

 

The October 3rd release of the Speakerhat line has an exclusive Blade Runner 2049 design, just in time for the film’s release on October 6th. Ridley Scott’s popular franchise has sparked a lot of attention with the upcoming title, and the hat ships in a distinctive box and includes Blade Runner and Atari stickers. It sells for $139.99 USD.

“Atari continues to prove its staying-power and relevance as a true pop-culture lifestyle brand,” said Atari Connect COO, Michael Arzt. “With the recent reveal of our Ataribox project and now with Atari Speakerhats and the AtariLife.com website, we are building toward a full offering of connected personal devices and lifestyle products that will deliver entertainment, technology, social connectivity and fashion to a whole new generation of Atari fans, while also honoring the decades of affection and devotion from our most loyal ones.”

Aside from the Speakerhats, Atari Life will be a hub for other Atari branded lifestyle products, such as high-tech wearables, fashion apparel, and various audio and gaming gadgets. You can stay up to date with Atari’s new lines on Facebook and Twitter.

Will you be ordering an Atari Speakerhat before the Blade Runner 2049 design is sold out? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget to follow us for more news on Atari Life in the future!

 

Funko is Shining Some Light on Indie Games as They Announce POP! Figures for tinyBuild’s Hello, Neighbor

Collectors everywhere have fallen head over heels for Funko’s POP! vinyl toys over the last few years, and it is amazing to see that they are bringing attention to lesser known indie title Hello, Neighbor after their announcement this morning on Facebook. People are commenting on how they have not heard of Hello, Neighbor but are looking into it now because the figures are so appealing. This is great news for both companies, and hopefully Funko will release more indie game figures in the future.

Each of the seven figures is of The Neighbor, with only one being available at all retailers-

The axe and rope neighbor is Gamestop’s exlusive-

FYE has the butcher knife neighbor-

Walmart and Barnes and Noble each have two exclusives. For Walmart, The Neighbor is holding milk and cookies or glue bottles-

And finally, Barnes and Noble has the eerie black and white neighbor, and the interesting pumpkin head neighbor-

 

Each figure releases in December, with the game release slated for December 8th. Will you be adding these to your collection? Which exclusive is your favorite? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook, and don’t forget to follow us on both for more news!

Impressions of Dynamic Pixels and tinyBuild’s Hello, Neighbor from PAX West 2017

While I was in Seattle in September, I had the pleasure of sitting down with tinyBuild producer Karrie Shirou and play a few games. These games each deserve their own articles, so look forward to my take on the recently announced horror title Pathogen 2, and the insanely fun Graveyard Keeper, both of which will be published soon. For now, I want to focus on a game many people have been playing since the early alpha and following on Twitch for months- the edge of your seat thriller game Hello, Neighbor.

 

Let’s be honest, we have all had a shady neighbor at some point. Maybe they sit on their porch and watch you too keenly while you get the newspaper in your robe. Or have 30 cats and smell funny. Perhaps they hand out floss on Halloween. But have you had the misfortune of a neighbor’s house you can hear screams from? See him locking suspicious doors and having an unusual amount of furniture stacked in odd places? Well, in Hello, Neighbor that is exactly who you live next door to.

Developed by Russian based independent company Dynamic Pixels, and published by tinyBuild, Hello, Neighbor is a scary good time. Welcome to the neighborhood.

I had been following the videos and gameplay for a long time before I sat down at tinyBuild’s booth at PAX West, so I knew what to expect as far as gameplay and the basic goal that I was supposed to try to reach. What I did NOT expect however is just how unnervingly scary Hello, Neighbor is! Generally, horror and thriller titles rely on atmosphere to get under your skin and give you an impending sense of doom. This takes that idea and chucks it out of the window, leaving you with a world that is playfully fun in appearance, and characters that are cartoony rather than dark and menacing. Perhaps the environment and art design is what makes it scary after all, because once you begin playing and realize how difficult it is to sneak around a house with no set layout and a devilishly cunning enemy to avoid, you are immediately on edge.

The concept of the game is that your new neighbor is harboring some dark secret, and for some reason a la horror movie trope, your character is dead set on sneaking in and finding out what it is. The catch is that you neighbor’s home is far from ordinary. This guy must have hired an independent contractor and said, “you know what? I never want anyone to be able to find the guest bathroom, ever,” and the contractor just shrugged and said okay. I commented to Karrie that it was like the famous Winchester Mansion, with doors leading nowhere, oddly shaped rooms, and the way that the house is never the same when you restart the game. (I was shocked to learn I was the only one to make the connection!) As you sneak your way around this weirdo’s house, you have to be careful because he is incredibly aware of where everything in his home is. You move a flashlight? He will notice and begin looking for you. Leave a window open? Better hide. What really makes it scary is there is no set pattern for the neighbor, and he will go wherever he pleases and anywhere he sees or hears something off. I myself had a few instances in which I thought I was far away from him, making as little noise as possible, only to turn around and be face to face with him, Slender style.

You can run, you can hide, but this guy is shockingly smart. He will board up doors and move furniture to block you once he realizes there is an intruder, and if he sees you he will chase you down without hesitation. Busting through doors, windows, and anything else in his way. Just what is this man so desperate to hide? The game is unnerving enough, I may never find out but we will see because I am eager to review it upon its release. Hello, Neighbor is definitely one to look forward to if you are looking for something to keep you on the edge of your seat, and a game that changes every time you start over so that it has a ton of replay value.

Hello, Neighbor will be available on Steam and the Xbox One Marketplace on December 8, 2017 for $29.99 USD, and immediate beta access is available for pre-purchase customers.

Will you be playing Hello, Neighbor, or have you been in the alpha/beta? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook, and don’t forget to follow us for more news!

 

Time to Bust Out Your Switch and Head Back to the Farm- Stardew Valley is Coming to Nintendo Switch on October 5th!

The Nintendo Switch is quickly becoming the go to for indie titles, and one of the best is coming this Thursday- ConcernedApe’s Stardew Valley.

If you are unfamiliar with this 16-bit masterpiece, it was developed by ConcernedApe, which is headed buy the one-man-show Eric Barone. That is right, Stardew Valley was fully created, written, and developed by one individual, and he made a better game than some developed by entire teams. Stardew Valley was originally published by Chucklefish for Steam and released on February 26, 2016. It was the ported to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One by Sickhead Games in December of the same year, following the game’s success on PC.

Those of us who are familiar with the Japanese Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons titles were drawn to Stardew Valley, and pleased to find out that it has the same charm as the classic Harvest Moon games but the gameplay, story, and characters are much more welcoming and captivating than the most recent Harvest Moon titles from publisher and developer Natsume. I myself picked it up for PlayStation 4 while I was down after my car accident, and put over 130 hours in the game in mere weeks. I recall one of the first things I said was, “Man, this would be fantastic on the Switch because I travel a lot.” Well, thanks once again to Sickhead, my dream is becoming a reality in only a few days!

The announcement was made this morning on StardewValley.net by Mr. Barone himself, after Chucklefish CEO Finn Brice teased the news on Twitter earlier this morning. The game will be released on the eShop on Thursday, October 5th for $14.99 USD.

Will you be picking up this gem on the Nintendo Switch? And is it your first time buying it, or are you already a fan? Let us know on our Twitter or Facebook page and make sure you follow us on both because we will be reviewing Stardew Valley on the Switch in the coming weeks!

Impressions of my Sitdown with Route 59’s Necrobarista at PAX West 2017

Last month at Pax West in Seattle I had the pleasure of sitting down with Route 59’s Justin Kuiper, writer behind their upcoming PC and Switch title Necrobarista. The game is a visual novel set in a “supernatural café where the living come to mingle with the dead.” The team is set in Melbourne, Australia, and they are taking their visual novel to a level that most developers do not by making it a 3D world with optional point and click exploration, which you can use to gain more insight on the characters and world.

According to Justin, the concept and gameplay came before the storyline did. They wanted to make an immersive three dimensional visual novel like gamers have not seen before. The drive behind the story was simply that they wanted to tell the stories that could come out of a café in which the dead are given the chance to live for awhile longer. The overall idea is interesting, and once you actually get in the game you are captivated almost instantly by the mysterious barista Maddy and the shady characters around her. I was left wanting to know more about her and why she is making deals with the dead in the basement of a café, and I still think about where the story will go often. Needless to say, Necrobarista is a title that I am very eager to play when it releases.

While I spoke with Justin, he placed a lot of emphasis on how “games are good at providing atmosphere,” and that Route 59 is very specific about the setting of Necrobarista. I had to agree with him because it is difficult to become deeply involved in a game with shallow settings and poor atmosphere. Look at titles like Silent Hill, Dead Space, or Fallout. The atmosphere sets the story, and gets the player captivated in integrated into that game’s world. There is no mystery in a world that cannot provide a lingering sense of the unknown. Though Necrobarista is not a “horror” title, even after being told by Justin that is not a scary game I could not help but feel on edge but I did not know what this world was all about, or why the café had such an eerie and important feel to it. And this most certainly was not a bad thing because it meant that the developers are doing exactly what they are promising- providing atmosphere.

I played Necrobarista on a laptop while at Route 59’s booth, but I am eager for the Nintendo Switch release because I truly enjoy titles that allow me to just lie back and push a couple of buttons while a story plays out before me. It is like watching a film or reading a book, but visual novels allow for a unique sense of involvement. We see a lot of visual novel style games in Japan, so it is always exciting to see a western developer dive into the genre. Necrobarista has four core team members working on its production, and their passion and devotion shows in the game, even while just playing a demo.

Will you be playing Necrobarista, and will it be your first time trying the visual novel genre? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook, and don’t forget to follow us on both for more news regarding this title, and be on the lookout for our review next year!

Necrobarista hits PC and the Nintendo Switch early 2018.

Silver’s Review for Persona 5

Developer:  Atlus, P Studio

Release Date:  September 15, 2016, Worldwide 2017

Platforms available: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3

After years of teasers, release setbacks, and even adding a next gen console, we finally received Persona 5 on April 4 of this year. A wait second only to Kingdom Hearts 3 that was made even more difficult after the Japanese release back in September 2016, which only added months of avoiding spoilers all over the internet. But the wait was well worth it, especially if you are a fan of the Shin Megami Tensei spinoff series, or JRPGs in general.

If you have not checked it out yet, or are new to the series, you play as the protagonist (named by you) who was just sent to Tokyo to stay with a friend of his parents after being arrested, expelled from high school, and put under probation. That is right. This time the transfer student has a criminal record. Saving you spoilers, he goes on to find himself with a Persona, a manifestation of one’s inner self that is used in battle, which is the basis of the series. For Persona 5, you are not trying to stop a serial killer, the end of the world, or anything like we have seen before. Instead you are taking people’s hearts. I know. This sounds crazy, but trust me when I say I do not want to spoil this game for you. I came in with no knowledge except having played the rest of the series, and knowing the names of the main characters and that the protag is a criminal. Pretty much nothing that was not in the trailers, and it was absolutely worth it. Oh, and for those who are familiar with what the Velvet Room is, this time it is a prison and it’s pretty darn cool. You are in for a surprise when you perform your first Persona fusion.

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Persona 5 takes what was so loved from the previous titles, such as the darker tones of Persona 3 and close knit friendship aspect of Persona 4, and combines them in an entirely new tale, full of its own surprises and unique gameplay. Rather than a small fictional town, Atlus instead used Tokyo itself as its stage. Beautifully crafted, sometimes confusing to navigate, and full of places to visit, it does a good job at capturing more of the city life that is not present in the previous installments. Tokyo provides the protagonist with plenty to do, from part-time jobs and people to hang out with, to arcades and a batting cage, leaving you with little downtime with nothing going on.

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Persona 5 keeps the “social link” aspect that was introduced in Persona 3, though this time it is called “confidants.” They are worth doing because you get some more to the story, make your band of thieves more powerful and useful in the dungeons, known as “Palaces,” and meet some interesting characters. And, because no modern JRPG would be complete without it, you can date your female cohorts. Even the adult ones. Have fun choosing though, because they are all fun characters. Myself, I went with Makoto Niijima, student president and total Palace badass. Her Persona is a motorcycle, so yeah she is pretty cool.

Aside from the open 3D world and changes to the social link system, Persona 5’s biggest upgrade is the battle system. Keeping its turn-based tradition, no longer is there a menu on the lefthand side for you to scroll through to make your selection between physical attacks, Persona skills, items, etc. Now there is a really neat looking menu surrounding the character currently in selection and you make your choice by pressing the assigned button. I was skeptical at first, but it makes the fighting system smooth, fast, and insanely cool. One aspect I loved about the new system is the ability to switch out your team members in the heat of battle. You no longer have to panic when the one weakness a Shadow has is the one thing not in your current team! The new gun attack is also really neat, as each character has a different type of gun and some Shadows are weak to them. Overall, the aesthetics and battle gameplay are breathtaking. You will do everything you can to hit enemies’ weak spots so you can pull an all-out attack and see the fun animations that cross your screen at the end of the fight, but even when you take them down without a fancy finishing move the characters posing and walking across the screen while your newly gained experience points and items pop up is oddly satisfying.

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Aside from the eye-catching aesthetics of the game, it has an incredible soundtrack. You spend most of your time in game nodding along with the beat playing in the background, and naturally the music changes with each scenario. It is calming and smooth in the evening or when it is raining, funky during the day or events with your teammates, and fast and heavy during battles. As a matter of fact, my favorite song in the entire game was played only during two late game bosses. By the time I was done with Persona 5, I had to splurge the $30 for the soundtrack. And I am so glad I did because “acid jazz” is a lot more interesting than I expected it to be.

Keeping theme with the previous titles, Persona 5 is ripe with animated cut scenes. It allows you a chance to sit back and enjoy part of the story without having to pick your controller back up and pick dialogue responses like with CGI cut scenes. There is word of a Persona 5 anime series coming, like with Persona 4 the Animation and Persona 4 Golden the Animation, and the four movie series for Persona 3, but for now there is no news. I do however recommend watching Persona 5: The Daybreakers if you have a few minutes to spare and have access to any website that streams it. I used Crunchyroll, but you could possibly find it just as easily through a medium such as YouTube. It is only one episode and is more of a teaser to lead you into the game than anything, but as a big Persona fan I enjoyed it.

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One of the biggest grabbers for me when playing a game, especially an RPG, is the characters. And boy, Persona 5 has a cast. Admittedly I have a major soft spot for the Investigation Team from Persona 4/4 Golden, but the Phantom Thieves were just as loveable for me. Many fans found Persona 4’s mascot character, Teddie, who existed solely to navigate until the primary navigation character was unlocked and to help guide the team and player through the Shadow World, to be a bit annoying. Persona 5’s Morgana- an adorable black cat…. thing- captures the cute mascot style of Teddie and Persona 3’s Koromaru while creating a character with a better personality. He, yes he, is actually helpful and quickly became my favorite. (Though I will say I am a big Teddie fan as well.) As you unlock the main cast, they each add their own spice to the game. New skills, funny dialogue, and cool costumes make you eager to finish the next Palace and meet the next teenager that will join your group of Thieves.

I have mentioned that they are thieves many times, yet have not elaborated. The Phantom Thieves of Hearts enter Palaces, the dark place in a person’s psyche, and steal their “heart.” Keeping this spoiler free, it is actually a unique and interesting concept that works really well. It captures the dark ideas behind the previous titles, while introducing a new style of gameplay. It is also just as hilarious at times as Persona 4 was, an aspect that I really enjoyed about both games. Humor in JRPGs is something that I have always enjoyed because it can ease tension when the game gets difficult or stressful, and add to the story in a way that, to me, is more realistic. Seriously, most of us make jokes even in bad situations to lighten it up. And I cannot resist a game that can make me laugh while capturing other emotions as well, like concern and sadness.

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Between the fun cast of characters, the interesting storyline, the vast amount of things to do including maxing out your skills and confidants, both of which are important to the story and becoming powerful enough to take out the end game boss, the soundtrack, voice acting, gameplay, and graphics style, Persona 5 is definitely the best game I have played this year aside from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This title alone made owning a PlayStation 4 worth it. It is also available on PlayStation 3, but for the smooth graphics and free DLC such as the original Japanese voiceovers, it is definitely worth getting on PlayStation 4 if you do not have one yet, or have not really been introduced to the beauty that is Japanese RPG games.

I certainly rank Persona 5 as “bonafide Mona-fied!”

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Check out the gameplay trailer!