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SAG-AFTRA voice actor union holds another rally in Los Angeles as strike continues

With the continuing strike between the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and a cabal of 11 video game companies locked in a stalemate, the union held a rally in Los Angeles to help support the striking voice actors.

The strike, which has been active since October 21, is an ongoing dispute about working conditions and salary for motion capture and voice artists when working on video games. However, there has been little movement in negotiations on the matter, according to SAG-AFTRA’s Chief Contracts Officer, Ray Rodriguez, who said the purpose of the rally was “to get people refocused that the strike is happening.”

In addition to demanding better safety conditions for its members, SAG-AFTRA is seeking additional bonus payments for actors that work on a game that sells well. The union has suggested an extra payment for games selling two million copies, with additional bonuses up to eight million copies sold.

However, lawyers for the 11 companies, which include Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Take Two Interactive, Insomniac Games, Warner Bros., and Disney, do not see room for compromise. Scott Witlin, their Chief Negotiator, released a statement saying, “We remain disappointed that SAG-AFTRA leadership remains focused on outmoded ideas about how compensation is structured rather than the real dollars and cents that the video game companies put on the table.”

The contingent of companies, who have seen their premises picketed over the last few months, have proposed an immediate 9% wage increase, instead of a 3% annual increase for the next three years, which is what SAG-AFTRA is asking for on top of the bonus. The video game companies are also offering additional payments, which could be as high as $950 per game, dependent on the length of time an actor works on a specific title.

SAG-AFTRA Interactive Negotiating Committee Chair Keythe Farley said, “I can’t believe we’re still fighting for this contract two years later. I thought we’d be done by lunch on day one. I figured we were all eager to update the substandard, 20-year-old contract that we’ve been operating under and start fresh with a modern, industry-standard agreement that protects, and fairly compensates, performers working on today’s video games. The one thing that keeps me going is our members’ dedication and commitment to a fair contract. It’s the same dedication they bring to their performances, so I guess it’s no surprise, really.”

The SAG-AFTRA rally, which began at SAG-AFTRA Plaza and stretched to the nearby La Brea Tar Pits, attracted 500 union members and was joined by the aptly named David Ryu, an LA City Councilman. He offered strong words of support for the crowd, saying video game companies “need to pay their fair share” and telling the SAG-AFTRA protesters “you should not give in.”

Posted in 3DS, Mobile, News, PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One |

Nintendo Download: Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World, Fire Emblem Heroes, Gradius, more

Some of your favorite video game characters (and one semi-famous spaceship) are featured in this week’s Nintendo Download…

Nintendo will add Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World, a portable re-release of Yoshi’s Woolly World, to the 3DS eShop beginning tomorrow. Players will be able to “unravel” secrets and “weave” platforms through all of the stages found in the Wii U original, as well as several 3DS-exclusive areas starring Poochy.

But starting today, Nintendo fans who own a smartphone or tablet will be able to try out their second mobile game… Fire Emblem Heroes. Available to download on iOS and Android devices, Fire Emblem Heroes is a free-to-play strategy RPG that includes characters from across the Fire Emblem universe.

Finally this week, a pair of classic games originally released for the TurboGrafx-16 are available to download on the Wii U. In Gradius, players will pilot the Vic Viper and fight back against an alien invasion. And in Bomberman ’94, players will use their bombs to blast away at everything else on the screen.

More information on all of these games (and a few other new releases) can be found after the break. (more…)

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New Retail Releases: Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World, Hitman Season One, Digimon World Next Order, More

Yarn Yoshi is is back, and as adorable as ever, in Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World for the 3DS. Nintendo will re-release the side-scrolling platformer for the 3DS this week, and players can expect to find the complete Wii U experience along with new levels starring Yoshi’s pal Poochy.

Another re-release will also be available on store shelves this week as Square Enix will collect Hitman‘s “Complete First Season” in a retail package for the PS4 and Xbox One. In addition to all of Agent 47’s previously-released missions, Hitman: The Complete First Season will also include a trio of bonus missions and the Requiem Blood Money Pack, which includes “the signature Blood Money White Suit, White Rubber Duck, and Chrome ICA Pistol.”

Switching gears entirely, anime fans will find a pair of new games on stores including Digimon World: Next Order for the PS4 and Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 – Road to Boruto for the PS4 and Xbox One.

Finally this week, 505 Games and Giant Squid will bring the oceanic exploration of Abzu to the PS4 and Xbox One. Originally released through the PlayStation Store and Xbox Games Store in August, this retail re-release will give the public a second chance to check it out.

That’s it for now, but we’ll be back later this week with a look at the latest digital releases on the PlayStation Store, Xbox Games Store, and Nintendo eShop.

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Nintendo Download: Flying Warriors, Kung-Fu Heroes, Little Ninja Brothers, more

A trio of ninja-themed games originally released by Culture Brain for the NES lead the way in this week’s Nintendo Download.

Flying Warriors made its NES debut in 1991, and the side-scrolling beat ’em up features two different martial arts styles for main character Rick Stalker in his fight against “the great monster of the Dark Dimension, Demonyx.”

Going back a bit further, Kung-Fu Heroes was originally released in 1989, and the overhead beat ’em up follows Kung-Fu Masters Jacky and Lee in their quest to save Princess Min-Min. The Kung-Fu Heroes return in Little Ninja Brothers, a sequel that was originally released in 1990 and is now also available to download through the Wii U’s Virtual Console.

More information on all of these games (and the rest of this week’s new releases) can be found after the break. (more…)

Posted in 3DS, News, Wii U |

Dishonored 2, Doom, Overwatch, Titanfall 2, Uncharted 4 will compete for “Game of the Year” at 2017 SXSW Gaming Awards

The organizers of the SXSW Gaming Conference and Festival have announced the nominees for the 2017 SXSW Gaming Awards. Not surprisingly, Dishonored 2, Doom, Overwatch, Titanfall 2, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will all be competing for the coveted “Video Game of the Year” award.

Appearing over and over again throughout SXSW 2017’s 23 categories, the nominating committee was very impressed with these five titles. However, Overwatch definitely lead the way with nine total nominations including “Esports Game of the Year,” “Trending Game of the Year,” “Excellence in Design,” “Most Promising New Intellectual Property,” “Most Memorable Character” (for Tracer), “Excellence in Multiplayer,” “Excellence in Art,” and “Excellence in Animation.”

The 2017 SXSW Gaming Awards will be held on Saturday, March 18, and fans are invited to vote for their favorites from now until February 10 at The winners in each category will ultimately be decided by a 50/50 vote between the public and the SXSW Gaming Advisory Board.

The full list of nominees in all categories can be found after the break. (more…)

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Mario Sports Superstars will be released for the 3DS on March 24

Even though the Switch’s March 3rd launch is right around the corner, Nintendo has no plans to forget about the 3DS in 2017. The consolemaker announced today that Mario Sports Superstars, the next sports compilation featuring the plumber and his pals, will be released for the 3DS on March 24.

The action-packed game launches on March 24 and offers five full-featured sports like Soccer, Tennis, Golf, Baseball and, for the first time in a Mario sports game, Horse Racing. Each sport stars Mario and his friends (and enemies!) from the Mushroom Kingdom and can be played in local or online multiplayer modes.

Nintendo also revealed that a new series of Amiibo Cards will be released alongside Super Mario Superstars. The randomly-sorted five-card packs will retail for $4.99, and each copy of the game will include one Amiibo Card packed in.

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Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns will be released on February 28

XSEED Games has announced that Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns will be released for the 3DS on February 28.

In celebration of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the longest-running farming and life simulation series, the beloved Bokujo Monogatari franchise [Known in the US as Harvest Moon (1997-2013) and Story of Seasons (2014-Today)] returns with its biggest adventure yet in Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns. Settled on a homestead in the middle of three distinct and uniquely themed locales, players can explore a diverse landscape as they search for new ways to grow their farms and friendships. Extensive customization and gameplay options are on offer in Trio of Towns, with each village offering its own variety of regional crops, lads and ladies to romance, animals, festivals, furniture, decorations and more. More ways to play sprout up as players connect to one another locally or via the internet to chat, trade, and enhance items on a mysterious multiplayer island.

The publisher has also partnered with Nintendo to include a few signature fashions from the Mushroom Kingdom in the Trio of Towns. Players who discover these items will receive an in-game boost and look stylish to boot:

Mario-Themed Items in Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns

  • Mario’s Outfit and Hat: Mama mia! The iconic plumber’s signature red and blue uniform gives your running speed a boost.
  • Luigi’s Outfit and Hat: Luigi’s costume will improve your luck at fishing. Others will be green with envy!
  • Princess Peach’s Dress and Tiara: This regal dress and tiara will make you better friends with other characters. Sweet!
  • Toad’s Outfit and Hat: The tireless Toad’s outfit causes your stamina to recharge automatically over time.

A new trailer for Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns is also now available and it’s been embedded above.

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The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #34: Super Mario Bros. 3

Did you miss The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time’s Introduction? Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
– As You Like It, Act II Scene VII

Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom cohorts have held a surprising number of occupations over the years. In addition to his plumbing business and the hero-for-hire game, Mario has been employed as a multi-sport athlete, a race car driver, a referee, a dancer, an artist, a virologist, and a typing tutor. He’s practically done it all, and I think only political office has eluded him. I guess that’s the trouble with monarchies.

Bouncing from genre to genre like that is usually considered a liability for other game characters. As sublimely silly as the idea seems, no one wants to see Kratos squeezed into a go-kart. And yet, fans readily accept Mario’s multitasking, and many of his spinoff adventures are now more popular than some of the franchise’s traditional platformers. There’s a strong possibility this all stems from the fact that Mario’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, designed the character this way from the beginning. (more…)

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