Eric Watson

Eric Watson

Eric is a freelance writer who enjoys talking about video games, movies, books and Dallas-based sports teams. Every week he watches a random film from his collection of several hundred DVDs and live tweets about it @RogueWatson. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla. He lives near Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and daughter, two dogs, two cats, two fish tanks, some hermit crabs and a bookshelf full of Transformers.

the game awards

God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2 Top The Game Awards Nominations

Posted by | News, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

The Game Awards has revealed the list of nominees in each of the 22 categories for 2018. God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2 lead the pack with an astounding eight nominations each. In total over 100 games and people have been nominated. The Game Awards will air on December 6 in Los Angeles, CA, and streamed live online.

Rockstar Games doesn’t release many games, but when they do, they tend to make a bit of a splash in the industry. In addition to Game of the Year Red Dead Redemption 2 is up for Best Action/Adventure, Best Game Direction, Best Narrative, Best Art Direction, Best Score/Music, Best Audio Design, and Best Performance for Roger Clark as Arthur Morgan.

God of War was an incredibly successful sequel to the long-running franchise. It features an older Kratos shepherding his son through a world of Norse mythology. It’s up for all of the exact same categories, with the Best Performance nod to Christopher Judge as Kratos.

The Game of the Year category has been expanded to six games (previously five). Celesete, Spider-Man, Monster Hunter: World, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey make up the other games.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild won the Game of the Year award at last year’s The Game Awards.

Anyone can vote for their favorite games in each category, once every 24 hours. We’ve listed some of the big categories below.

Game of the Year

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyseey
  • Celeste
  • God of War
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Monster Hunter: World
  • Red Dead Redemption 2

Best Action Game

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
  • Dead Cells
  • Destiny 2: Forsaken
  • Far Cry 5
  • Mega Man 11

Best Action-Adventure Game

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyseey
  • God of War
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider

red dead redemption 2

Best Ongoing Game

  • Destiny 2: Forsaken
  • Fortnite
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Overwatch
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

Best Family Game

  • Mario Tennis Aces
  • Nintendo Labo
  • Overcooked 2
  • Starlink: Battle for Atlas
  • Super Mario Party

Best Independent Game

  • Celeste
  • Dead Cells
  • Into the Breach
  • Return of the Obra Dinn
  • The Messenger

Winners will be announced during the live show on Dec. 6.

super mario party

Super Mario Party Bundle Includes Neon Joy-Con

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Super Mario Party supports up to four player multiplayer, but the Switch only comes with a pair of Joy-Con for up to two. In response, Nintendo has announced a special Super Mario Party Bundle that includes another pair of neon Joy-Con controllers. The Super Mario Party Bundle is out Nov. 16 for $99.99.

A single half Joy-Con retails for around $50, while a pair of Joy-Con sells for an astonishingly $80, making this a very good deal if you have a big family (or friends) who plan on playing Super Mario Party ($60). At full price, the bundle will save you about $40.The included Joy-Con are given a distinctive color scheme at neon green and neon yellow.

super mario party

Super Mario Party features 80 mini-games in its classic four-player multiplayer board game set up. The mini-games utilize the precise motion controls of the Joy-Con. Two Switch systems can be paired together for special series of games in Toad’s Rec Room that utilize both screens together. A new cooperative series of mini-games can be tackled in the River Survival mode.

Super Mario Party also takes the series online for the first time. Online Mariothon features a series of five rotating mini-games, with leaderboards, rankings, and rewards. A subscription to Nintendo Switch Online is required to access the online mode.

Super Mario Party is available now, and rated E for Everyone. The Joy-Con bundle is out Nov. 16.

nintendo labo

Nintendo and Institute of Play Bringing Nintendo Labo to Schools

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Nintendo has partnered with non-profit educational company Institute of Play to provide Nintendo Labo kits to elementary schools across the US. The Nintendo Labo Classroom Program aims to reach 2,000 students between the ages of 8-11.

Nintendo Labo kits include DIY buildable cardboard pieces that kids (and adults) can integrate with the Joy-Con controllers of the Switch to create interactive playsets. Examples in the Variety Kit include a fishing rod, a piano, and a remote controlled car. They’re powered by the Toy-Con Garage software, which introduces basic programming language to a wide audience.

The Institute of Play is building a full-fledged curriculum for teachers on using Nintendo Labo in the classroom. The company is made up of educators, researchers, and game designers.

“We are always on the lookout for new tools and technologies that combine the best of learning with the spirit of play, and in Nintendo Labo we found an inspiring and innovative approach in both areas,” said Arana Shapiro, Co-Executive Director of the Institute of Play. “Teachers in the pilot program are already seeing the natural fit for Nintendo Labo in the classroom, and now we can bring that dynamic to schools across the country.”

A pilot program will initially roll out to schools in the New York area. Nintendo and the Institute of Play will use these classes to develop a teacher guide and lesson plans for using Nintendo Labo to teach programming and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math). The Nintendo Labo Teacher Guide will be available for free later this fall.

After the pilot program is complete, the Nintendo Labo Classroom Program will expand to 100 schools across the country. Each school will be provided with Switch systems and Nintendo Labo: Variety Kits, as well as the teacher guide. The program will run through the full school year.

The program is also being offered in Canada through Actua, Canada’s leading education-outreach organization for STEAM.

“The ingenuity of Nintendo Switch brings Nintendo Labo to life to provide a fun way for kids to explore basic STEAM topics together and be entertained while building a fundamental understanding of the technology behind them,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America, President.  “We hope our programs in the United States and Canada encourage kids to explore, tinker, problem-solve and, in the process, get excited about design and technology – all while having fun.”

battle princess madelyn

How a Young Daughter, a Late Dog, and an 80’s Platformer Inspired Battle Princess Madelyn

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When your child is having a rough time, many fathers would bring home a teddy bear, or take them out for ice cream. But for pixel artist and indie game developer Christopher Obritsch, he decided to make a game.

“[My daughter] Maddi was bullied in daycare and at school,” says Obritsch. “The boys picked on her, telling her she couldn’t do things because she was a girl. I remember being very angry. I wanted to do something to cheer her up. I have scoliosis so I’m not exactly the playful dad I wish I was – so I make up for it in the only ways I know how.”

Battle Princess Madelyn was born, a retro-inspired platformer starring a pixelated version of Obritsch’s young daughter.

“I recently had left my full time job at a game studio near where I’m located. I had the money to do something but not at the scale it ended up being,” says Obritsch. “And since the game was for Maddi, I wanted to do everything I could with it. And so we came to Kickstarter.” The Kickstarter campaign launched on Maddi’s fifth birthday. “I thought, what a great way to prove to Maddi that she really can do whatever she wants to do.”

As many indie game projects inevitably go, Battle Princess Madelyn ended up as a much larger game than what was originally designed. The Kickstarter campaign was a big success, reaching over CA$ 200,000 with over 3,400 backers. It’s openly inspired by Obritsch’s all-time favorite game, Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, a challenging 16-bit action-platformer from the 80s.

“I like the dark horror themed stuff. Always have. So seeing Ghouls ‘N Ghosts when I was a kid? Awesome,” says Obritsch. “My favorite movies of all time all sport dead guys or people fighting dead guys – BeetleJuice, Robocop, Ghostbusters, Evil Dead 2, etc. I loved drawing skeletons when I was kid – gross stories that got my parents called in to talk to the teacher.”

Obritsch’s love of the game fueled a passion for pixel art and programming, and eventually a career in multimedia and graphic designer. He got into making games as a hobby, where his new bouncing baby served as his muse. “I ended up doing a very early game for Maddi. One of the levels ended up a 3D shoot ’em up where she is on my back and we’re flying through rainbows and shooting bumble bees and crows while picking up coins. I ended up getting discovered by an ad agency for a musician and almost won the Brit Music Awards that year for Best Interactive Video.”

Obritsch credits his daughter Madelyn as his Creative Director for Battle Princess Madelyn. “She either draws me pictures or sits with me and tells me what to do. She’s my harshest critic!” He recalls a specific instance where five year-old Maddi came home from a friend’s house with a new drawing that she was very proud of.

“She explained a boss fight she had designed. It’s a giant cat you shoot in the bum, but you have to feed it to get it to turn around. I was just shocked – she had come up with a strategy for a boss fight on her own. That was a proud daddy moment,” says Obritsch. “I’m hoping to find that picture for the Kickstarter art book.”

battle princess madelyn

Another member of Obritsch’s family made it into Battle Princess Madelyn, their late dog Fritzy, whose passing partially inspired the story mode. “The story kind of came into play when we knew the real Fritzy was going to be leaving us soon. The intro of the game then started off with Fritzy getting blasted and becoming a ghost dog.”

Young Maddi was very attached to the family dog and took his passing especially hard. “Maddi would talk at night about becoming a vet and making a blue pill to make Fritzy all better. It was heart-breaking to listen to. I decided to put him in the game so she could keep him forever in some form.”

The result was a friendly companion that returns to the titular Battle Princess after his untimely death in the intro. Ghost Fritzy gain new powers over the course of the story, and is capable of resurrecting Madelyn if she falls in battle. “She loves Ghost Fritzy and thinks its very cute,” says Obritsch.

battle princess madelynDesigning Battle Princess Madelyn has been a labor of love, but with Kickstarter came bigger responsibilities and longer hours. “I work now more than I ever have,” says Obritsch. “We averaged out that I work about 126 hours a week for the past three years. It’s taken a toll on me both mentally and physically.”

Obritsch adds that because he works from home, the long hours don’t bother him as much. He sneaks in breaks with his family whenever he can (his wife Lina works as the company CFO, and directed the game’s trailer). “I have the option of going upstairs and seeing my family if I need a 10-minute break,” he says. “And Maddi sits with me a lot while making the game. She has her desk right next to mine where she draws.”

For the future, Causal Bit Games plans on making a sequel to Battle Princess Madelyn. In fact, there’s a hidden ending that teases the sequel that may involve Obritsch’s youngest daughter Sofia. But he notes that he’s also looking at a break from platformers, and possibly even retiring from pixel art altogether and moving on to something bigger.

“As stressful as it’s been making [Battle Princess Madelyn], I have loved every moment of the creative process,” says Obritsch. “It was wonderful to share this kind of a project with Maddi. To show her that we really can do whatever we set our minds to – no matter what people say or think. It’s been a wonderful journey. And now our youngest daughter Sofia will need her own game as well!”

Battle Princess Madelyn is coming later this year to PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One, Wii U, and PS Vita.