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Insert Quarter: What Makes the Final Fantasy Franchise Tick?

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

After more than a decade in development, Final Fantasy XV will finally make its PS4 and Xbox One debut this September. But how did we get to this point? More specifically, how did the Final Fantasy franchise grow from its humble beginnings on the NES to become the juggernaut that it is today?

Kotaku’s Jason Schreier wants to answer those questions too, so between now and September, he has vowed to replay and reexamine every mainline entry in the Final Fantasy franchise. Is there a certain “feel” to a Final Fantasy game? And do these RPGs still hold up today? Schreier is sure going to find out:

To prepare for FFXV, I’m starting a new project here at Kotaku. For the next five months, I’ll be digging into every mainline Final Fantasy game, in order, and taking a look at how the series has evolved over the past 30 years. Why has Final Fantasy resonated with so many people? What makes it so special? What exactly does it mean for a game to feel like a Final Fantasy?

The full article is available for your perusal at Kotaku.

Posted in Insert Quarter, Retro |

Insert Quarter: What Does the Return of Nintendo’s Red Logo Mean?

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

During the Wii’s heyday, Nintendo dropped the iconic red coloring from their logo and switched to a sleek silver shade. Combined with the smooth white of the Wii chassis, the rebranding gave Nintendo an air of cool that is typically reserved for the design-obsessed Apple. But after a while, many fans began to feel that draining the color out of the logo drained some of the fun out of Nintendo.

Nintendo Enthusiast’s A.K. Rahming is one of those fans and he argues that Nintendo’s red resurrection might be a signal that the company is getting ready to bring back that fun-loving spirit with the upcoming launch of the NX:

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Nintendo is known for dropping major surprises, but the company’s latest surprise has a lot of folks in the gaming community quite pleased. Nintendo of America has recently done a full re-branding of their logo back to the classic red and white. The whole company transformed to the minimalist gray-white color scheme with the dawn of the Wii and DS era, and this branding went on to continue for the current Wii U and 3DS era (albeit with a little hint of color provided from the logos of both systems).

The full article is available for your perusal at Nintendo Enthusiast.

Posted in 3DS, DS, Insert Quarter, Retro, Wii, Wii U |

Insert Quarter: Inside the (Probable) Failure of Apple TV

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Frustration gripped stock market analysts and game journalists alike as Apple seemed to be uninterested in producing an Apple TV set-top box that could play console-style games. For years, members from each group argued that a gaming-capable microconsole from Apple would be a massive hit. Some went so far as to claim it could possibly topple the console market served by Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.

These same predictions were spread far and wide when Apple released their revamped Apple TV microconsole last year. With full controller support and a wide array of console-quality titles, the new Apple TV seemed destined for big sales and wide acceptance. But along the way, something happened that made the Apple TV more irrelevant than ever.

With developers dropping support for the device in droves (including Disney Infinity 3.0, the biggest game available at the Apple TV’s launch), Ars Technica’s Kyle Orland thinks the microconsole may never find an audience:

But momentum certainly isn’t on Apple’s side as far as that argument goes. Back in September, in an overall bearish analysis of Apple TV’s gaming potential, I gamely offered that “for a parent with a young child begging to get into the Disney Infinity universe… an Apple TV with its intuitive remote, its suite of easy-to-use media apps, its relatively low $150 price, and its familiar Apple name could look more appealing than the likes of the Xbox One or the PS4.” So far, it seems that even that limited use case has failed to make much of an impact in the marketplace.

The full article is available for your perusal at Ars Technica.

Posted in Insert Quarter, Mobile |

Insert Quarter: Building the Perfect Oculus Rift Headset

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Early adopters of the Oculus Rift will be able to sync their eye holes with the virtual reality headset for the first time this week, but did you ever wonder how a small startup got to this point? Sure, there was a massively successful Kickstarter campaign and the Facebook acquisition, but how did the engineers at Oculus actually build the Rift? Peter Rubin of Wired wanted to find out, so he met with Oculus founder Palmer Luckey and found out what makes the Rift tick:

WHEN YOU SET out to create a virtual reality headset, you soon realize that the idea of form following function is bullshit. It’s a reductive canard. Yes, both of those things matter, and the Oculus Rift does need to be both beautiful and powerful, but it’s not something you hold in your hand—it’s something you put on your face. That’s a daunting prospect: Not only are you blind to the world around you, but there’s the whole I-look-nuts thing.

That’s only part of it, though; once you put it on your face, it needs to disappear. It needs to be not just comfortable but light—or at least feel light. After all, it’s less of a window than it is a wormhole; the more you remember it’s there, the less you’re able to lose yourself in everything happening inside it.

The full article is available for your perusal at Wired.

Posted in Insert Quarter, PC |




Insert Quarter: Should Microsoft Have Gotten Rid of Retail Discs on the Xbox One?

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

We’re three years into the latest console generation, and retail game discs seem to be becoming less and less important every day. While it was a nice surprise to learn that No Man’s Sky would receive a retail release, something like The Witness is still trapped within the walled garden of the PlayStation Store. But maybe that’s not so bad?

Paul Tassi of Forbes argues that Microsoft was wrong to give up their original plan for the Xbox One, which would rendered a game disc as little more than a shiny coaster that proved you owned the rights to an otherwise completely digital title. Microsoft eventually flip-flopped on this position, but should they have?

Yesterday, I got my hard copy of The Division. Two and a half hours after putting the disc in, I was playing the game.

With discs taking almost as long to install as digital downloads, taking up just as much hard drive space, and being much more inconvenient to acquire, I just don’t see the point anymore. In short, I’m Microsoft in 2013.

The full article is available for your perusal at Forbes.

Posted in Insert Quarter, Xbox One |

Insert Quarter: A Brief History of Platinum Games

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

Platinum Games plans to release Star Fox Zero, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan, and Nier: Automata in 2016. That’s a lot of games for one studio to handle, but after celebrating their tenth anniversary this year, they’ve clearly earned our trust.

Eurogamer’s Rich Stanton goes a step further and makes the case that Platinum Games might be the best Japanese developer working today. He believes the company’s unbroken string of classics (including MadWorld, Vanquish, Bayonetta, and The Wonderful 101) is nearly unmatched and that their fierce independent streak will always produce interesting results. You gotta admit, it’s kind of hard to argue with him:

[I]n recent years, Platinum Games has positioned itself as a standard-bearer for the Japanese industry, adopting the slogan: “Taking on the World as the Representative of Japan.” President and CEO Tatsuya Minami unpacked this, in a post to celebrate 10 years of Platinum Games. “Japan used to lead the worldwide video game industry, but we can’t help but feel that it has lost some of its vitality in recent years. Yet we are using this state of affairs to motivate and inspire ourselves […] We will keep up our fighting stance.”

The full article is available for your perusal at Eurogamer.

Posted in DS, Insert Quarter, PC, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One |

Insert Quarter: Does the Oculus Rift’s $600 Price Tag Make it a Platform?

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

The general public was understandably blindsided when Oculus announced earlier this week that its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset would be priced at $600. That kind of financial outlay is usually reserved for a brand new game console or the latest and greatest iPhone.

GamesIndustry.biz’s Rob Fahey believes that this extravagant price tag repositions the Rift as a “platform” that must be supported instead of a “gadget” to be tried. Oculus will need to join the ranks of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to ensure the Rift has enough content to support a growing audience of gamers:

That brings us back to Oculus Rift and its $600 price point (which is $600 minimum – expect it to be significantly higher in other territories). Six hundreds bucks is a platform, in the eyes of the vast, vast majority of consumers. $300 may, for a fairly broad swathe of consumers with decent disposable income, be worth a punt just to “see what it’s like”, to own the latest thing, to show off to friends; $600 needs to justify its existence in far broader terms. Oculus Rift’s pricing pushes it squarely into the position of being a platform, and it must present and justify itself in those terms. In short, now that the price is on the table, Oculus has to prove itself on a harsh frontier that has often sunk even the toughest and most deep-pocketed of challengers; it has to deliver software, software and more software.

The full article is available for your perusal at GamesIndustry.biz.

Posted in Insert Quarter, PC |

Insert Quarter: Are the E3 Press Conferences a Waste of Time?

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Insert Quarter is our showcase for some of the best and most interesting writing about video games on the Internet.

The first E3 Press Conference for 2015 will begin in just a few minutes. Bethesda’s first-ever presentation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo is sure to be amazing with gameplay reveals for Doom 4, Fallout 4, Dishonored 2, and probably a bunch of other stuff. We’ve got a new player in the AAA space and that’s exciting. But will Bethesda’s Press Conference (and Microsoft’s… and Sony’s… and Nintendo’s… and Square Enix’s… and EA’s… and Ubisoft’s…) be a huge waste of time? In between all the glitz and the horrible jokes, won’t there be precious little time actually devoted to games?

At least, that’s what Vice’s Dan Maher believes. He remembers the horrible gaffes (middle-aged executives that have no idea how to talk to regular people), the horrible lies (what Sony promised the PS3 could do) and the horrible people (Jamie Kennedy, good god, Jamie Kennedy). He makes the case that all this pomp and circumstance is more at home during a graduation ceremony than the showcase event for a multi-billion dollar industry:

It shouldn’t be difficult. The last time I checked, video gaming was still a festival of colour and noise and excitement and dakkadakkadakka-pweeeeeee-kaboom. Chuck them up on a screen bigger than your house, crank up the volume to unbearable, bar the doors. Done. And yet, somehow, what we inevitably end up with leaves the audience feeling like stakeholders at the world’s most extravagant board meeting.

The full article is available for your perusal at Vice.

Posted in Insert Quarter, PC, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One | Tagged