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Bundling Up And Exploring An Icy Area Of Legend Of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

Clever dungeon and puzzle designs are nothing new for the Legend of Zelda franchise, but with Tri Force Heroes, Nintendo is hoping to try out a few new ideas. Resurfacing fond memories of the Four Swords games on Game Boy Advance and GameCube, Tri Force Heroes removes one from that equation, placing three heroes in a world that shares an art style with A Link Between Worlds.

With three characters traveling through the levels together, the designers have had a field day putting in puzzles that make you think about the levels using your numbers to your advantage. Players must stack, or totem, their characters on top of each other in order to reach high objects, or they must throw each other over obstacles in a particular order to solve a puzzle and make it passable for all. It’s a fun concept with quirky and humorous emotes that help players communicate if they aren’t sitting in the same room since there isn’t any voice chat.

In previous demos, we’ve journeyed through a straightforward dungeon and battled a spiky beast that required us to stack on top of one another to lob bombs into the monster’s weak point. In this particular demo, I joined two other heroes as we worked through an icy region. At the costume select screen, I donned the never-before-seen parka, which was being shown off for the first time. With this on, my character won’t slip on ice and can’t be hurt by ice breath – a perfect power to use in this level. From there we jump in and begin attacking the area’s many puzzles.

We find three items: a boomerang and two fire wands. I pick up one of the fire wands and immediately test it out. As the fireball blasts out, a familiar noise rings out from my 3DS’s speakers – the fireball sound from the Super Mario series. It’s a subtle nod, but it still brings a smile to my face.

We press on through the level with our items, lighting torches with the wands, melting ice obstacles, battling enemies, and using the totem formation to cross otherwise impassable chasms. The fire wands come in handy against the enemies and obstacles, but without the boomerang, which can retrieve any heroes who are left behind after throwing their partners over the gaps, we’d be stranded.

We ascend the mountainous region using our combined problem-solving skills, but as we reach the top, a massive, icy creature greets us. Our swords have no effect on its hardened exterior, so we resort to using the items we found earlier to melt it. While the boomerang was used to stun enemies and bring teammates over pits, it must now be thrown through lit torches to catch fire and then hit the boss. It’s trickier than just lighting the enemy up with the fire wand, but every little bit helps. My teammate and I use our fire wands to light as many surrounding torches as possible while dodging the monster’s ice projectiles. Thankfully, I chose the parka costume, so his most powerful attack, his ice breath, deals no damage to me.

After we light several torches, we turn our wands on the massive creature and begin a triple assault on it, melting it down piece by piece. After a few minutes, the creature is gone and we are rewarded with large amounts of rupees. It was a thrilling fight that was made more fun by playing with other people.

Tri Force Heroes also features a single-player mode for those who can’t find people to play with. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes releases October 23 on 3DS.

For more on Tri Force Heroes, head here for an interview with the game's director, Hiromasa Shikata.

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Bundling Up And Exploring An Icy Area Of Legend Of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

Clever dungeon and puzzle designs are nothing new for the Legend of Zelda franchise, but with Tri Force Heroes, Nintendo is hoping to try out a few new ideas. Resurfacing fond memories of the Four Swords games on Game Boy Advance and GameCube, Tri Force Heroes removes one from that equation, placing three heroes in a world that shares an art style with A Link Between Worlds.

With three characters traveling through the levels together, the designers have had a field day putting in puzzles that make you think about the levels using your numbers to your advantage. Players must stack, or totem, their characters on top of each other in order to reach high objects, or they must throw each other over obstacles in a particular order to solve a puzzle and make it passable for all. It’s a fun concept with quirky and humorous emotes that help players communicate if they aren’t sitting in the same room since there isn’t any voice chat.

In previous demos, we’ve journeyed through a straightforward dungeon and battled a spiky beast that required us to stack on top of one another to lob bombs into the monster’s weak point. In this particular demo, I joined two other heroes as we worked through an icy region. At the costume select screen, I donned the never-before-seen parka, which was being shown off for the first time. With this on, my character won’t slip on ice and can’t be hurt by ice breath – a perfect power to use in this level. From there we jump in and begin attacking the area’s many puzzles.

We find three items: a boomerang and two fire wands. I pick up one of the fire wands and immediately test it out. As the fireball blasts out, a familiar noise rings out from my 3DS’s speakers – the fireball sound from the Super Mario series. It’s a subtle nod, but it still brings a smile to my face.

We press on through the level with our items, lighting torches with the wands, melting ice obstacles, battling enemies, and using the totem formation to cross otherwise impassable chasms. The fire wands come in handy against the enemies and obstacles, but without the boomerang, which can retrieve any heroes who are left behind after throwing their partners over the gaps, we’d be stranded.

We ascend the mountainous region using our combined problem-solving skills, but as we reach the top, a massive, icy creature greets us. Our swords have no effect on its hardened exterior, so we resort to using the items we found earlier to melt it. While the boomerang was used to stun enemies and bring teammates over pits, it must now be thrown through lit torches to catch fire and then hit the boss. It’s trickier than just lighting the enemy up with the fire wand, but every little bit helps. My teammate and I use our fire wands to light as many surrounding torches as possible while dodging the monster’s ice projectiles. Thankfully, I chose the parka costume, so his most powerful attack, his ice breath, deals no damage to me.

After we light several torches, we turn our wands on the massive creature and begin a triple assault on it, melting it down piece by piece. After a few minutes, the creature is gone and we are rewarded with large amounts of rupees. It was a thrilling fight that was made more fun by playing with other people.

Tri Force Heroes also features a single-player mode for those who can’t find people to play with. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes releases October 23 on 3DS.

For more on Tri Force Heroes, head here for an interview with the game's director, Hiromasa Shikata.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

More Than 200 Psychology Scholars Speak Out Against APA Video Game Aggression Task Force

Yesterday, we reported on a new American Psychological Association (APA) task force report that affirms a link between video games and aggression. Today, we were contacted by one of over 200 academics who issued a statement in 2013 regarding the APA task force and its methodology.

Stetson University psychology professor Chris Ferguson, one of the approximately 230 academics who signed the open letter to the APA reached out to us to share his concerns over the task force report. He identifies issues with the group conducting the research audit and its findings.

“As a researcher in this field, I thought you might be curious to know that there are actually a lot of problems with this report, how the task force was comprised, and the basis for its conclusions on research,” Ferguson told me. “Indeed, the evidence linking violent games to aggression is honestly a lot less clear than the APA report would have one believe.  There are an increasing number of studies coming out now that suggest there is no link whatsoever. Further, the task force appeared to have been selected from among scholars with clear anti-media views (two had previously signed an amicus brief supporting attempts to regulate violent video games in the Brown v EMA 2011 Supreme Court case for instance).” That landmark case struck down California’s law prohibiting sales of certain games to minors. Games were deemed protected under the first and fourteenth amendments.

Ferguson tells me that of the seven task force members, four had at anti-media leanings, with another that uses aggression measures that have been called into question by some factions of the psychology community. "To some degree, they're really commenting on their own product," he says. "I think people interpret these things as neutral. You have to remember that they are commenting on their own product. These are people looking at their own research and declaring it beyond further debate. All of us would love to do that, but we don't really get that chance, nor should we."

He also notes that all seven members of the task force were over the age of 50, citing a correlation between views on media and age. "I point that out because there is solid evidence that age is a correlate for attitudes about video games, even amongst scholars," Ferguson explains. "Age and negative attitudes toward youth predict anti-game attitudes."

The open letter to the APA cites confirmation and publication bias that could result from the organization’s 2005 policy statement that offered strong conclusions based on allegedly weak evidence. The group of 230 identifies subsequent research that contradicts the APA’s policy, which calls for a “reduction of all violence in videogames and interactive media marketed to children and youth.”

Further, the APA policy statement indicates that the group would work with video game developers and publishers to address connections between consumption of video game violence and aggression and violence (stating that interactive media have a more profound impact than non-interactive forms). The document puts a fine point on this matter. “Be it further resolved that APA recommend to the entertainment industry that the depiction of the consequences of violent behavior be associated with negative social consequences,” the document reads.

The academics that signed the open letter raised concerns about the definitive nature of the policy. They suggest that the strong language presents bias that might dissuade or devalue the presentation of scientifically sound contradictory research. 

We express the concern that the APA’s previous (2005) policy statement delineated several strong conclusions on the basis of inconsistent or weak evidence. Research subsequent to that 2005 statement has provided even stronger evidence that some of the assertions in it cannot be supported. As an important scientific discipline that helps shape the public discourse on issues of  behavior, policy statements that are rigid or ideological can serve to stifle scientific innovation and new theories and may inadvertently serve to increase publication bias, particularly given concerns about both disregard for null findings and researcher degrees of freedom (Simmons et al., 2011). 

Against this background we further express the belief that it is possible for responsible scholars to make good faith arguments both that media violence may have some influence on aggression or other outcomes, or that media violence may not have such effects. Similarly, we  believe that pressure to produce “positive” findings is present throughout the review and  publication process as well as in grant-seeking. Obviously, positive findings should certainly be welcomed, but so should “negative” findings or failed replications. Without care taken to encourage publication of non-replications, we will not have a full view of the data in this field.

The open letter goes on to raise concerns about the meta-analysis approach taken by the task force. “Unfortunately, it is our observation that, in communicating results to the general public, scholars and the APA’s previous policy statements have tended to focus on bivariate effect sizes, which may be more misleading than informative,” the report reads. “Similarly we are skeptical of a 'the average effect size wins' approach to meta-analysis, which could be used to smooth over inconsistencies and failed replications.”

Ferguson and his colleagues also point to data evidencing a decrease in youth violence, which contradicts assertions that media (video games and non-interactive forms) are a public health concern. Ferguson cites colleagues at Oxford, Villanova, Western Michigan University, and more that have presented recent findings in peer-reviewed journals. These studies indicate that there is no connection between violent video games and aggression. A study by Patrick Markey at Villanova indicates that "participants who were not angry tended to be relatively unaffected by exposure to violent video games."

A study conducted in 2012 by Whitney Gunter and Kevin Daly at Western Michigan University sampled 6,567 eighth grade students. "Results indicate a substantial decrease in the relationship between video games and these outcomes when a matched sample is used," the study finds. "This suggests that the strength of evidence supporting a relationship has likely been overestimated using other methodologies."

Ferguson tells me that the APA didn't assemble the task force or conduct its work in a transparent manner. "They stacked the committee with people who had taken pretty clear anti-game positions," he says. "The first thing they did was send out an email blast to scholars. Most of the people they sent the email to were anti-media. I happened to be the one skeptic. When I pointed out that they happened to not include a number of other scholars, the only thing they did different was start blind carbon copying the emails instead of open carbon copying them. They reduced their transparency."

He tells me that this action was one of the reasons the group of more than 200 wrote and signed the open letter. "The task force made zero effort to communicate or ask any of the 238 scholars," Ferguson says. "There was no effort by the APA to connect with the scholarly community, specifically the skeptical scholars."

We've reached out to the APA to inquire about the open letter and Ferguson's comments. We'll update should we receive a response.

 

Our Take
As new research emerges, we must be open to incorporating it into our outlook. The 2005 policy statement makes definitive statements that appear to be outdated, creating a conflict between authentic research findings and the APA's stated beliefs on a matter that is still under investigation. The APA statement presupposes conclusions that may not be accurate and, given that it's 10 years old, seems to be in need of revision, or at least revisitation. 

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Rare Replay Patch Brings Modern Controls To Jet Force Gemini

A patch has been released for Rare Replay that addresses a common complaint levied against Jet Force Gemini: The controls suck.

The update, which is available immediately, creates an option in Jet Force Gemini that allows you to turn on "modern controls" as it is literally defined in the menu.

For our review of Rare Replay, head here. For our original reviews of the games included in Rare Replay, head here.

[Source: @RareLtd, Kotaku]

 

Our Take
Rare Replay is great, but in my review I called out Jet Force Gemini as being the title that probably aged the worst on the collection. I'm really looking forward to checking out the new controls and hope it gives the game renewed life.

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Watch Three Minutes Of Behind-The-Scenes Footage From Star Wars: The Force Awakens

LucasFilm's Star Wars: The Force Awakens panel at San Diego Comic Con delivered everything but a new trailer for the upcoming film. Director J. J. Abrams said that they will release a new trailer this fall, and although he didn't have new footage ready to show to to the con's attendees, he didn't want to leave them empty handed. Seconds later, the lights dimmed, and over three minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from Force Awakens played, showing many familiar faces, and some new ones we didn't expect to see in this movie.

After the footage concluded, almost every key cast member from the film came out on stage to talk about Star Wars and answer fan questions. The lineup included Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill. At the end of the panel, the thousands of people in the auditorium were invited to a surprise live Star Wars concert. Sounds like a damn good time.

You can check out the behind-the-scenes footage below. 

(Please visit the site to view this media)

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Buy Your First Star Wars: Force Awakens Action Figure This Month!

Almost every piece of Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise cannot be sold until September 4 (also known as "Force Friday"). Toy site Yakface reports that LucasFilm has apparently made an exception with Hasbro.

The toy manufacturer started selling its 6" Black Series First Order stormtrooper this week at San Diego Comic Con. If you aren't attending the show, this prized collectible goes on sale on July 28 on Hasbro's online store. We don't yet know if this action figure is limited in quantities, so make a note on your calendars to check Hasbro's site on this day. The stormtrooper is selling for $ 24.99 at the con.

[Source: Yakface]

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Rare Replay’s Jet Force Gemini Has “Retooled” Widescreen

In a tweet earlier today, Rare showed off a screenshot of Jet Force Gemini from their upcoming Xbox One exclusive Rare Replay:

It seems the original Jet Force Gemini's widescreen option has made it onto the Xbox One intact, along with some significantly improved visuals. Jet Force Gemini is just one of 30 games featured in the collection, which also include Battletoads, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Perfect Dark, and Banjo-Kazooie. Rare Replay releases for the Xbox One on August 4. Check out our E3 coverage of the game for more.

 

Our Take
Like Rare said, there's only so much you can do when bringing a 16-year-old game to an eighth-generation console. The screenshot in their tweet looks great, though. I hope the rest of the games make the jump to Xbox One as successfully.

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XSeed Announces E3 Lineup, Including Earth Defense Force 4.1 For PlayStation 4

XSeed has confirmed its lineup for E3 this month, as well as release windows for all of the titles it's bringing. Topping the list is the bug-sqaushing mayhem of Earth Defense Force 4.1, which will be available this year for PlayStation 4.

The offerings span systems and genres, and include the previously announced Corpse Party: Blood Drive and Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space for Vita. Here's the full lineup.

Corpse Party: Blood Drive (Vita) – Fall 2015
The third and final game in the Heavenly Host trilogy is a narrative-heavy horror game. The title features binaural audio to maximize the impact while wearing headphones.

Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space (Vita) – Fall 2015
Earth Defence Force 2 will be released in the west for the first time with four-player cooperative play, a new class, and English voiceovers.

Earth Defense Force 4.1 – The Shadow of New Despair (PS4) – Fall 2015
This updated version of Earth Defense Force 2025 marks the series first current-gen appearance. It sports improved performance, new content amounting to more than 50 percent of the original, two-player local co-op, and four player online co-op.

The Legends of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (PS3, Vita) – Fall 2015
The Legend of Heroes comes west again. This story takes place in the same world and continent as Trails in the Sky. The title will support cross-save between PS3 and Vita.

Onechanbara Z2: Chaos (PS4) – Summer 2015
Vampire sisters (sorry, this says "buxom vampire sisters") will face off against zombies. This marks the series premiere on current-gen consoles, and will support English and original Japanese voiceovers.

Return to PololoCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairy Tale (3DS) – Winter 2015
This upcoming farming and life-simulation game for 3DS also features turn-based combat, 600 items, and almost 100 quests across over 25 hours of play.

Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson (3DS) – Summer 2015
The Senran Kagura 2.5D brawler series featurs "high-flying, clothes-ripping battle mechancis." One player can control two fighters at once, or two players can team up for co-op.

Senran Kagura: Estival Versus (PS4, Vita) – Winter 2015
This version of the Senran Kagura series supports ten players online on PS4 and four players on Vita. 

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Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition Heading To PC

WayForward's pixelated platfomer that started as a 3DS exclusive before moving over to Wii U, is heading to PC.

The version of the game that will be available on PC is the same as the Wii U version, subtitled Hyper Drive Edition, and it will be available some time next month.

In the game, players play as a police officer and must round-up a collection of criminals before making their way to the end o the level.

[Source: WayForward, via NeoGAF]

 

Our Take
I actually skipped the first game, but really enjoyed Might Switch Force 2, which has you putting out fires and rescuing people as a firefighter. Glad the PC crowd will get a chance to check out the series.

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Earth Defense Force 2 And Corpse Party: Blood Drive Coming To Vita This Fall

XSEED has announced that it will be propping up Sony's handheld this fall. The publisher has announced two titles heading to Vita in the coming months.

First up is Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space. The cheesy name is a perfect fit for the over-the-top B-movie gameplay for which the Earth Defense Force series is known.

Also coming this fall is Corpse Party: Blood Drive, the follow up to Corpse Party and Corpse Party: Book of Shadows. Both Earth Defense Force 2 and Corpse Party: Blood Drive will be released digitally and at retail, with the latter packed with a two-disc soundtrack of tunes from the series and an artbook.

Both games have a loose release window of "fall 2015." We'll update as soon as we have more information.

[Source: XSEED on Facebook]

 

Our Take
I've only played a bit of one Earth Defense Force game and it didn't hook me. Corpse Party on the other hand was a creepy, enjoyable experience. It's not shy about killing off characters, and that makes the story-telling that much more unpredictable.

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