Best of Gamescom 2017 Winners Selected by Gamescom Committee

gamescomEvery year, Germany’s Digital Gaming Culture Foundation (Stiftung Digitale Spielekultur) supervises the Gamescom Committee, a small group of journalists who choose the best games that were present at the Gamescom expo. The Gamescom expo is held in the Summer, and serves as the European equivalent to the Los Angeles-based E3 Expo.

While most of these titles are still in development, you should keep them in mind when you add games to your collection this Fall and into 2018.

Super Mario Odyssey was named “Best of Gamescom,” and the full list of winners and nominees can be found below. Continue reading

Nintendo Will Release Super NES History Book Alongside Super NES Classic

Nintendo is teaming up with Prima Games to release a colorful history of the Super NES this Fall. Scheduled to be released alongside the Super NES Classic on September 29, Playing With Super Power: Nintendo SNES Classics will be available in paperback and in a special hardcover slipcase edition.

Featuring 320 pages of Super NES-fueled nostalgia, here’s what fans can expect from the book:

  • The Console: A nostalgic celebration and exploration of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in all its 16-bit glory.
  • The Games: Discover everything you’ve always wanted to know about some of the most beloved SNES games, including speedrun tips and little-known facts.
  • The History: Learn about the SNES development and the visionaries behind this groundbreaking console.
  • The Legacy: An in-depth look at how the SNES has left its mark on the gaming industry, and how its legacy continues.
  • The Memories: From family stories to fan art to merchandise and more, this book is a love letter to fans of the Playing With Super Power era!

Playing With Super Power: Nintendo SNES Classics is actually the second partnership between Nintendo and Prima Games. Last year, the two companies published Playing With Power: Nintendo NES Classics to coincide with the launch of the NES Classic.

A Weeklong Series at Waypoint Examines Gaming in Prison Libraries

Waypoint (the video game arm of Vice) has announced plans to publish “At Play In the Carceral State,” a series of articles this week about the intersection of gaming and prisons. It’s not a corner of the games culture that you hear much about, and part of their focus will be devoted to the way prison libraries play a role in giving inmates access to games during their incarceration.

Waypoint’s Editor-In-Chief, Austin Walker, laid out their mission for the series in a letter to the site’s readers:

When I’ve explained this series to people, one of the most common responses has been a sort of awkward bewilderment. Games and… prisons? Play and the… ‘carceral state’?

On first blush, they’re an odd pairing, but a closer look reveals that games are a natural locus for this contention. They are concerned with boundaries, limitations, and rules—the hand of cards you’re dealt; the empty energy meter that prevents you from using your powers; the invisible walls and infinite, uncrossable seas which border otherwise vast open worlds. Yet they also enable players to experiment, explore, and defy expectations as they respond to those limits. And it’s that tension where games are at their most powerful—perhaps even their most utopian.

The first article from “At Play In the Carceral State” is Inside the Gaming Library at Gitmo, America’s Controversial Military Prison, a look inside the Detainee Library at Guantanamo Bay by Muira McCammon:

Over the past 15 years, many detainees have requested and read books from the Detainee Library. Journalists have actively documented what titles appear on the shelves, and in recent years, the inventory has grown to include not only DVDs, but also PS3 games.

But the library remains a labyrinth, a facility full of thorny questions. This summer, Waypoint sent me to the Detainee Library, to figure out what happened to the games at Gitmo.

New articles will be added to the series all week.

Max Brooks’s Minecraft: The Island Novel is Now Available

Mojang teamed up with Max Brooks (the author of World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide) to create the first official tie-in novel based on Minecraft. Titled Minecraft: The Island, the book is targeted at a younger audience and it’s available on store shelves today.

When writing Minecraft: The Island, Brooks found inspiration in classics like Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe to tell his own tale of survival and mystery:

Washed up on a beach, the lone castaway looks around the shore. Where am I? Who am I? And why is everything made of blocks? But there isn’t much time to soak up the sun. It’s getting dark, and there’s a strange new world to explore!

The top priority is finding food. The next is not becoming food. Because there are others out there on the island… like the horde of zombies that appear after night falls. Crafting a way out of this mess is a challenge like no other. Who could build a home while running from exploding creepers, armed skeletons, and an unstoppable tide of hot lava? Especially with no help except for a few makeshift tools and sage advice from an unlikely friend: a cow.

In this world, the rules don’t always make sense, but courage and creativity go a long way. There are forests to explore, hidden underground tunnels to loot, and undead mobs to defeat. Only then will the secrets of the island be revealed.

You can read the first chapter right now at Random House Books.

ALA Games and Gaming Round Table’s Report from ALA Annual 2017

gamesgamingroundtable

The American Library Association’s ALA Annual Conference traveled to Chicago this year, and there was quite a bit of discussion about games and gaming.

The ALA’s Games and Gaming Round Table highlighted some of the events as part of a report for the ALA’s Games In Libraries page:

This year’s ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois, was brimming with opportunities to experience and learn about games. The Games and Gaming Round Table (GameRT) started with Escape to the Library, a pre-conference about escape experiences and breakouts in the library. Attendees at this sold out event received an overview of escape rooms and breakouts, experienced three different custom breakouts, and received guidance in approaching the design process.

The Games and Gaming Round Table also looked at several other topics in their report. The ALA Play event, where game publishers and distributors demo their products, was a bit hit. As was Conference Sessions that discussed enhancing discovery of game collections and active learning through games. Sharing Sessions looked at “Teen Driven Game Programming” and “Using LibGuides to Promote Your Game Collection,” and a huge panel about “Tabletop Gaming 101” closed out the gaming portion of ALA Annual 2017.

Best of E3 2017 Winners Selected by Game Critics Awards

e3Every year, the Game Critics Awards, a collection of editors from more than 40 major publications that cover the video game industry, get together to choose the best games at the E3 Expo.

While all of these titles are still in development, you should keep them in mind when you add games to your collection this Fall and into 2018.

Super Mario Odyssey was named “Best of Show,” and the full list of winners and nominees can be found below. Continue reading

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: The VGL Review

I’m sure you’re already very familiar with Mario Kart 8, especially if your library has a publicly-available Wii U console or a circulating collection of Wii U games. But Nintendo has decided to fill out the Switch’s launch window with an enhanced and updated version of the game known as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

I recently reviewed Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Warp Zoned, and it’s safe to say the game is just as essential the second time around:

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers all of the same options as its original Wii U incarnation from 2014. Recognizing that many players who purchase Deluxe also owned it on the Wii U, Nintendo has unlocked all characters and courses from the get-go, as well as the 200cc Class and Mirror Mode. All the DLC content, even the Mercedes Benz Pack, is also included at the start, and Nintendo added more than a dozen new kart parts and five new characters (Splatoon‘s Inklings, King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr.).

But all of this is just a prelude to the return of Battle Mode. Yes, Mario Kart 8 technically had a Battle Mode, but the jousting-style minigame was a huge disappointment, and I’m still baffled as to why Nintendo decided to do that to one of the franchise’s signature features. Thankfully, the Battle Mode in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe erases that horrible memory with multiple match types, all of which are exciting in their own way.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an all-caps MUST HAVE for all collections, and it’s now available for the Nintendo Switch.

This Week’s New Releases + Game News: May 22 – May 28, 2017

vgl-pickThe Video Game Librarian Pick of the Week includes a trio of re-releases and a beautiful puzzle platformer.

Leading things off, Capcom released Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers for the Switch on Friday, May 26. The publisher is hoping that this re-release will introduce the arcade classic to an entirely new generation, but it also includes a brand new first-person minigame, new color variations for all characters, and two new fighters (Evil Ryu and Violent Ken).

Another re-release that made its way to the Switch this week was courtesy of NIS America. The import house launched Disgaea 5 Complete on Nintendo’s console, which includes the original strategy RPG and all of its downloadable content.

THQ Nordic also brought the original Darksiders to the Wii U as Darksiders: Warmastered Edition. This new version of the action/adventure game include enhanced visuals and redone graphical effects, and was previously released for the PS4 and Xbox One.

But if you’re looking for new and never-before-seen games this week, Tequila Works brought their puzzle platformer Rime to the PS4 and Xbox One. Featuring a unique and moody graphical style, the exploration game should offer an interesting change of pace.

More “New Retail Releases” can be found at Warp Zoned, and this week’s “News Headlines” are available after the break. Continue reading