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 411mania » Games » Columns

Four Player Co-op 6.11.14: Fantasia: Music Evolved, NBA Live 15, PSP, More
Posted by Stephen Randle on 06.11.2014

Mathew Sforcina has joined the game.
Todd Vote has joined the game.
Jeremy Thomas has joined the game.

Quizmaster Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Four Player Co-op, where none of us got to go to E3 because the boss is too cheap to send us. Also, these questions were sent out before E3, so if you want reactions to what happened at the show, you'll have to wait until next week.

Start the game!

QUESTION ONE: Well, good news, I guess, as Harmonix has announced a release date for their highly anticipated Fantasia: Music Evolved game, which will be an XBOne exclusive and set to release this October (which, given all the delays being announced for other games, is double good news). However, Fantasia is...a Kinect game, and you may recall that Microsoft has basically given up on Kinect, or at least the idea of having one attached to every XBOne. With this new development, obviously Harmonix couldn't stop developing the game, but should they be incredibly worried that by the October release date, the Kinect will be nothing more than a novelty, and what should have been a showpiece game will be nothing but a quickly forgotten sideshow?

Mathew Sforcina - On the contrary, they should be double downing on it. Microsoft still wants you to own a Kinect, because then you can buy all the games and play them, and you'll enjoy using it (stay with me here, this is Executive Thinking, ignore logic, reason and reality here for a moment) and thus buy even more games and tell your friends and be a loyal little consumer. So, Microsoft should be selling this game as hard as they can, produce special bundles with the game and special Kinects that have Mickey Mouse ears, sell this game as the next evolution in music games, and sell the Kinect as essential for that next step. Hypocritical, sure, but that's the best business decision. It won't work, of course, but it makes business sense.

Todd Vote - They should be no more worried about it now than they were when they started developing a Kinect music game. Even if nobody ever buys the Kinect bundled XBOne ever again, there are still what, something like 4 million Kinect units out there? That is not a bad number of potential customers. Let's face the facts: If this is a good game, it is a good game. Microsoft no longer bundling Kinect with the XBOne is not going to change the quality of this game one bit. If it is good, people will seek it out. If it is bad... Well, you can't really blame that on Microsoft not doing the bundle anymore.

It can still be a showpiece game. Hell, I would argue that if this game is good, it does more for Kinect now that Microsoft has stopped bundling it than it would have had the hardware still been a required purchase. Now, you can spin it to show that Microsoft does still care about Kinect, and this game can be pointed to as proof of such.

Jeremy Thomas - I think that Kinect is going to be just fine. A ton of people already have it for one thing, and there are still going to be a lot of people who choose to buy the full version instead of just the console itself because motion detection is all cool or whatever. Believe it or not, this will be the case; I have heard people talk about Kinect like it's the greatest thing in the world, and a lot more of them than I ever thought possible. If I were Harmonix, I would be concerned not about the Kinect but that they're trying to make a new rhythm game that doesn't even have a name of Rock Band or the like. Sure, it has the Disney money pouring in but how many people are going to buy it just because it's Fantasia? I don't suspect many. That's where the concern should be.

Quizmaster - Somehow I can't erase the idea of Kinects with Mickey Mouse ears from my mind, so I suppose that gets Sforcina 548 points. Good use of Executive Thinking, too.

QUESTION TWO: So, one game that EA is expected to announce at their E3 press conference is NBA Live 15, which should come as no shock to anyone. But maybe it should be? Seriously, EA actually went three years without releasing an NBA game, and even changed the name in order to distance themselves from the terrible game that had been literally pulled off of store shelves. Then, in their triumphant return to the hard court, they released...another crappy game that was a distant second place to 2K's much better offering. I know they've got this NBA license sitting around that they feel they have to use, but at this point, aren't they just doing more damage to their image on a yearly basis? Should they just give this thing up for dead at this point?

Mathew Sforcina - On the contrary, EA cannot afford to show any ass here, to revert to wrestling terminology. They've lost brands over the past few years, and while each loss and each series ending hasn't been a death knell
in of themselves, the EA Sports franchise overall is not exactly setting the world on fire. Sure, Madden still does well enough, but if EA wants to remain the main producer of sports games (and they're slowly but surely running out of things to hang their hat on like that) then they can't afford to lose ANOTHER sport, not after Baseball leaving, and Boxing being shelved to have the team work on UFC. EA has to try and keep the NBA on board, just to be able to say they are with them. The games sucking is mostly irrelevant really. But then after NBA Jam was just OK I don't really care about EA's basketball games any more anyway...

Todd Vote - I can sum up the best solution for EA and the NBA license in just one sentence: 'Stop trying to compete with 2K, and just focus on NBA Jam!'.

Seriously, at this point the Live name is tarnished when it comes to basketball games. People still love NBA Jam. Focus on making that the best possible series you can. What is the other option? Keep releasing an NBA game that nobody has any faith in at all?

Jeremy Thomas - I saw this and reported on it shaking my head the entire time. Listen, I'm not a sports guy, even when it comes to gaming, but I actually own NBA 2K14 for my Xbox One. That's because it is a phenomenal game and NBA Live 15 was complete crap. The gulf between two different licenses of a sports gaming franchise has never been wider. If I were EA, I would have just called it quits after the last one and moved onto something else. But then, I don't run a video game company.

Quizmaster - Jeremy's getting 1935 points, and I'll tell you why: the series just isn't getting any better. It'd be one thing if taking three years off had provided even a slightly rough game that you could say "yeah, there's a good game here in a year or two of improvements". No, they took three years off and put out, possibly, a worse game than the ones they cancelled. The franchise is all but dead, and I think a good indicator that EA might even agree is that they didn't say one word about the new edition of the game during their press conference this year. And they even mentioned NHL 2015, so you know the NBA series is way out of favour.

QUESTION THREE: The PSP has officially been discontinued in Japan, after suffering a similar fate in America earlier this year. The mostly unloved handheld lasted nearly ten years before being consigned to the scrap heap, and surprisingly, even though it finished a distant second to the DS, will end up with a lifetime sales number of over 80 million units, which is actually good enough to put it in the top ten for overall console sales, ever (of course, it will likely be surpassed by the next-gen consoles and the 3DS). That's actually almost more than the PS3! Have you got anything to say here, at the memorial for the device that tried (and failed) to make UMDs something you wanted to buy?

Mathew Sforcina - On the contrary, I have nothing to say. Only handhold gaming I do now is on my phone, and even that's just Candy Crush (because Addiction) and a Slot Machine game (because my Dad's Addiction). Never owned a PSP, and so I shouldn't be speaking on it's behalf in any way shape or form. Next question.

Todd Vote - Godspeed, PSP. I hardly knew ye... And by that I mean, I never even saw a PSP in person. Nobody I know ever had a PSP. Lots of kids in my family with a DS, DSlite, 3DS, 2DS, but absolutely no PSP.

Jeremy Thomas - PSP, I'm sorry to see you go. You always managed to make me laugh when I walked down the aisle in target and saw UMDs next to DVDs as if they were legitimate ways to buy and own movies. That's an ambitious comic feat and you pulled it off successfully. Now begone with you, off to the recently-unearthed E.T. hole where you can bury yourself forever with your rejected movie cartridges.

Quizmaster - All this has left me with just one more question: who the hell bought those 76 million PSPs?

It's Japan, isn't it. It's always Japan.

QUESTION FOUR: Despite not having a press conference, Nintendo is having a Smash Bros Invitational tournament during E3, and you'd think that would probably be a perfect opportunity to announce at least one more hero for the upcoming release. The roster's already pretty full, but the consensus seems to be they'll squeeze someone else in, so here's your last chance to pick just one character who isn't already in the game to add to the battle!

Mathew Sforcina - On the contrary, I have not a character, but a concept. Alternate Costumes should be Alternate Characters. Have a Dr. Mario skin, and he can keep all the moves, but have the announcer call him Dr. Mario. Daisy can be a Peach alternate, Waluigi for Luigi, Falco for Fox, etcetcetc. Changing the moves up would be awesome, but instead of just having a Daisy-like outfit for Peach, have her be Daisy. Wouldn't be THAT hard, surely. But if you insist on a character, I will always claim that Nintendo blew a golden opportunity when they stuck Sonic in SSBB, because ANY Sega character would have been huge in that role, and you would have wanted the first Sega/Nintendo cross over to be a big title, like Mario V Sonic: Chaos Stars and then follow that Sonic/Mario hybrid platformer with Super Smash Bros: Armageddon: Nintendo V Sega and then roll in all the moneys. Back then, before Sonic got stuck in I demanded Sketch Turner, but now I'd think Ryo Hazuki would be good, but if I could stick anyone in... Crash Bandicoot, just to rub it in Sony's faces.

Todd Vote - Mario. Is Mario in the game? I kid, I kid. I can't really think of any Nintendo mascots that are missing. With that in mind, why not add in a couple of folks from some old NES games. Maybe Billy and Jimmy Lee? Perhaps a Battletoad or two... Oh maybe a character from that Disney movie that had some ties to old school gaming. Throw Wreck-it Ralph or Fix-it Felix in the game. I don't really know who would be a good fit.

Jeremy Thomas - Tyrion Lannister. That's right, you heard me. Tyrion Freaking Lannister. Because that dude would be a badass fighting against Mario and the rest of those chumps, and he's slaughter them all. When you play the Game of Smash Bros., you win or you die.

Quizmaster - Sforcina gets 3285 points, both for his pick of Crash Bandicoot (which I believe actually would be possible) and his thought on alternate costumes as actual characters. A popular rumour for this edition of Smash Bros is actually that this might be an option with certain characters, particularly Fire Emblem's Marth, allowing you to switch between "classic" Marth and the one from Awakening. I know I go to Marvel Heroes a lot, but this is something they've done a lot, creating alternate costumes complete with unique voice actors, such as a Kate Bishop version of Hawkeye, a Beta Ray Bill version of Thor, and female versions of Loki and Deadpool.

BONUS QUESTION: If you're thinking about watching the World Cup, don't bother, EA's World Cup game already predicted that Germany's going to win, and it was correct on Spain last time, so...I'm sorry, I'm from Canada, I need outside help...does anyone here actually care about the World Cup?

Mathew Sforcina - On the contrary, I am legally required to care. Australia is in it, after all. I must be deeply committed to the tournament and care about every win and loss and how it relates to Australia's chances under the "Supporting The Home Team Act" of 1882, 1902, 1914, 1939, 1956, 1976, 1983, 1993, 2000, 2001, 2010 and 2014. So yes, I deeply care about the World Cup, right until the second Australia is eliminated at which point I am free to go back to not giving a toss.

Todd Vote - I've never really been a big fan of soccer, so not really. I know it is a huge deal every year, and there are millions of fans all over the world, but it just never really held much appeal to me.

Jeremy Thomas - No, but I can contribute via the following. FIFA is evil, yo.



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