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E3 Announces 2021 Partner List: Nintendo, Xbox Are in, Sony’s Missing

Colin Edge

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The Entertainment Software Association announced a list of initial partners for the “reimagined, all-virtual” E3 2021 today. So far, Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Games, and Koch Media have committed to the event. 

Sony, who ditched E3 in recent years (unrelated to pandemic), is noticeably missing from the lineup. Electronic Arts, another brand significantly absent from the list, held its own event in 2020. Former E3 collaborator Geoff Keighley kicked off the virtual Summer Game Fest last year in E3’s absence, and is holding the event again this year, within the same month.

But despite recent fallout, E3 is blazing forward. The current partner list is only partial, leaving the possibility of more companies to get onboard. ESA President and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis maintains that the event has historically presented “the best that the video game industry has to offer”.

E3 has traditionally taken place annually in LA, but was cancelled altogether in 2020, due to the pandemic. The 2021 event is “embracing the future and showcasing the video game industry with an all-virtual event that will engage everyone, everywhere”, according to E3’s website

The event takes place June 12-15, featuring keynote presentations, big game announcements, and an awards show. E3 has committed to making the entire experience free, and developed a new mobile app to host content and info. They have also swapped out an “E”, now branding the event as the Electronic Entertainment Experience (instead of expo), to cater to a virtual audience. 

The ESA was reported to have offered on-demand demo capability to its partners, that would give companies like Nintendo and Xbox the ability to let fans/industry insiders get a sneak-peek of gameplay. But the inclusion of demos hasn’t been confirmed at this point. High-quality features like on-demand demos could be just what E3 needs to stay relevant.

E3 2022 is currently being discussed as an in-person event.

With unprecedented competition, the event is implementing major adaptations to its processes and doubling down on its PR game to stay in the race. But will E3’s rebrand be enough to preserve the event’s long-held reputation as the premier games industry showcase? We’re watching to find out.

I’m a writer and creative professional who loves pop culture, music, games, and anything else that allows people to express themselves and share their passion.

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Nintendo

Kirby, a Brief History

Colin Edge

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No one can deny that Kirby, with his round little pink self, has captured the hearts of millions and garnered international fame. The franchise has spun out more than thirty games starring the blush blob, earning big bucks for Nintendo and HAL Labs. But before becoming a video game icon, Kirby was actually created rather haphazardly. 

How Kirby became an adorable pink circle

The first Kirby game was called Kirby’s Dream Land, released on the Game Boy in 1992. Young designer Masahiro Sakurai was assigned to create a game that was simple enough for anyone to pick up and learn to play. (To this day, Kirby games are easy and accessible.) 

While the game was in development, Sakurai created a basic avatar to perform the primary movements of play – a little ball with arms and legs. This was meant as a placeholder, later to be swapped for something more definite. But throughout testing and animation, the team fell in love with this white blob, and they ended up sticking with it. But he was just that – white.

Since Kirby’s Dream Land released on the original Game Boy, its protagonist’s color was indefinite. Adding to the confusion, the game’s North American box art depicted a white Kirby, while the Japanese art showed the pink character we’ve come to recognize. Sakurai always imagined Kirby to be pink, while Shigeru Miyamoto (who created Mario and worked as a producer on Kirby) always imagined our hero to be yellow. Color was an afterthought – literally. They didn’t nail down the official pink hue until after the first game’s release.

Another thing that didn’t come until the second game was Kirby’s ability to copy his enemies’ powers after slurping them up. Kirby’s Adventure dropped on the NES in ‘93, and implemented copy abilities, which are now a characteristic trait of the spherical savior of Dream Land. 

How Kirby got his name

Sakurai’s project had a working title of Twinkle Popopo. But Nintendo wanted to go with a name that could create more draw for Western customers. After throwing around several options, the team finally named their character after… a lawyer.

John Kirby was a lawyer who worked long and hard on Nintendo’s behalf in a legal fight with Universal. The movie studio had sued over Donkey Kong, claiming the primate videogame character’s name was too akin to King Kong. (It’s like, totally a different Kong, geez.) Nintendo eventually won the suit, and named a character after Mr. Kirby as a way of saying thank you.

After many platformer adventures, pinball titles, 3D games, and Super Smash cameos, Kirby is now one of the most beloved characters in the video game industry’s history. Whether happily floating above Planet Popstar or bravely dueling with Meta Knight, his innocence and simplicity has captivated kids and grownups alike. And from the looks of it, he’s not stopping anytime soon.

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AR/VR

The Best Asymmetric Virtual Reality Games Out Now

Jesse Hoyt

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Virtual reality is fun, but playing with friends makes it better. The problem is that not everyone can afford a VR headset, so we put together a few games you and your friends can play with only a single VR system.

5. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Better talk fast because the clock is ticking and there’s a bomb in your hands! Available in VR and regular screen, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes puts one player in charge of manipulated bomb components to keep it from blowing up. Another player is supplied only with a guide. The thing is that every bomb is different and the reader has no idea what your bomb looks like. Speed is vital. Communication is key.

4. Fast and Low

Shoot and move in this SWAT simulator game. Despite its less-than-finished appearance, this game has solid bones with “realistic” gunplay, suspect interactions, damage, and room clearing. One player can hop in on PC while another gets ready to get rowdy in virtual reality. Take your time as you move room to room searching out hostels, but don’t be too trigger-happy because some are going to surrender. Take them alive if you can.

3. Reiko’s Fragments

Do you want to scare the living daylights out of your friends and family? The Reiko’s Fragments might be for you. Virtual reality is already pretty terrifying with even the smallest of scares, but now your friends can take control. One person takes the reins and puts on the headset; the rest can pull up their phones and get to scaring.

2. Takelings House Party

This is a true party game. Grab a few friends with phones to take up the mantle of “Takelings,” thieving humanoids hell-bent on making your home life miserable. The person in VR needs to take these things out by any means necessary. That includes hammers, nailguns, toasters, and waffle makers. It’s still in early access but is worth a buy if you like party games.

1. Smush TV

Have you ever wanted to face your fear of being crushed under tetrominoes while electronic music pumps in the background? Smush TV is just that where a player in VR does their best to climb to the top of a Tetris tower while avoiding getting smushed. The other flatscreen player is on a mission to drop these blocks on the other’s head.

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AR/VR

No, Shooting Guns in VR Does Not Translate to Shooting Firearms in Real Life

Jesse Hoyt

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Guns and virtual reality go together like peanut butter and jelly. The shooter genre is one of the biggest in the VR space right alongside melee hack and slashers. Naturally, some people are bringing up the idea that video games may cause violence once again or rather may teach people how to be violent. There’s a mild connection there with VR being a highly interactive medium where you physically act out an action, but the truth is that there’s just not much you can learn especially with complex things like firearms.

It’s important to note that VR can only teach people to use firearms only as effectively as any other learning medium like books or videos. There are no special movements or techniques taught in VR that aren’t found elsewhere. In fact, I’d wager that most people who consume media on the regular probably already know how to load a magazine into a firearm and pull a trigger. These actions are already intuitive though and would be fairly easy to figure without instruction anyway.

Virtual reality can’t simulate the weight of a firearm nor dealing with concussive force from a gunshot. Virtual makes firearms simple. Reload. Click. Shoot. Easy. It removes all of the individual actions necessary for operating a weapon. It doesn’t teach you how to clear a malfunction or even load rounds into a magazine. Or control recoil and correct trigger pulling technique. The list is long. Although, manipulating firearms isn’t a particularly difficult process in the first place. Virtual reality doesn’t cover any of the things that make for a proficient shooter.

I’d even argue that virtual reality might actually teach terrible habits for people that might get into hobbyist shooting later on. The first is reinforcing poor trigger control. With real firearms, you need to be particular in the way you pull a trigger. Incorrect technique can throw shots off target by a lot. Virtual reality controls have more stability and little trigger resistance. They don’t require a consistent form. 

Recoil control is something else that’ll suffer when using VR. With real firearms, recoil is typically controlled by tightly bracing it to your body or locking your wrists. Virtual reality is a different story. Most recoil control is done just by pulling the controllers down, yet another way to throw off your shots in real life.

Virtual reality isn’t effectively teaching anyone to use firearms. In fact it’s probably doing just the opposite. This is just a recycled argument of “video games cause violence.” 

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