China Toy Fair


Moshi Monsters’ Katsuma Is Unleashed on Nintendo DS and 3DS

MoshiMonstersMoshi Monsters: Katsuma Unleashed was released for the Nintendo DS and 3DS. The game features six monster-ific worlds, and the 3DS version includes StreetPass secrets—18 explorable levels, 12 playable mini stage challenges, seven boss battles, and additional mini games where users play as each of the Moshi Monsters using their own unique moves.

Moshi Monsters: Katsuma Unleashed was created as part of the partnership between Activision Publishing Inc. and Mind Candy, the company behind the children’s brand, Moshi Monsters. The game was developed by UK-based studio Sumo Digital Ltd., and is available at retail and katsumaunleashed.com.

COMMENTARY: New Warner Bros. Licensed Games Look at Superheroes in a Different Light

I couldn’t be happier that 99 percent of all current movies—including Thor: The Dark World, due in theaters this week—seem to feature somebody in a cape or a miraculous suit of armor battling evil. Full disclosure: I was way into superhero comics when I was a kid. I managed to amass hundreds, which I kept in cardboard long boxes, re-reading them over and over throughout my tortured adolescence. I didn’t buy them for collecting purposes, thank goodness; years later, I traded in the entire lot for $10 and a key lime pie, and considered myself lucky to have gotten that much.

(Seriously, folks, if you started collecting comics during the 1990s or later, they’re not going to put your kid through college. It just won’t happen.)

My point is, I’m a huge superhero fan. However, I’ve started to feel super-saturated by all the licensed comic book-based movies and TV shows popping up of late. They always seem so serious, with all the world-saving and high drama, the death and epic romance and heroic posturing. It’s great the first time, pretty good the second, but around the umpteenth, I have to fight the urge to stand up and yell, “Hey, grown person in hockey pants! Aren’t we supposed to be having fun here?”

For that reason, I am grateful for the recent trend in video games based on licensed superhero properties, specifically those from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. While its offerings of late include the very seriously toned Batman: Arkham Origins, the company is also responsible for two titles that manage to be respectful of the superhero genre, while simultaneously turning it on its head in ways that are funny and downright fun. Both games are available now and suitable for kids ages 10 and up. [Read more...]

Angry Birds Star Wars Comes to Home, Handheld Gaming Systems

angrybirdsRovio Entertainment Ltd. and Lucasfilm Ltd., in association with Activision Publishing Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard Inc., have launched Angry Birds Star Wars for home and handheld video game systems. Angry Birds Star Wars brings the struggle between the Rebel Birds and Imperial Pigs to new audiences on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Wii and Wii U systems, and the Nintendo 3DSAngry Birds Star Wars will also launch on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Twenty newly created levels join the more than 200 stages already available from the original mobile release of Angry Birds Star Wars. This latest version brings cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes, letting players team up or square off. Moreover, this expansive edition exploits the unique capabilities of each game system to deliver a distinctive experience tailored specifically to each platform, including sharp and colorful, high-definition visuals, achievements and trophies, leaderboards, voice command support through Kinect for Xbox 360, and touch-screen controls on Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and PlayStation Vita.

The next-generation versions of Angry Birds Star Wars maintain these core features while introducing new play and interface elements exclusive to each system. The PlayStation 4 system’s adaptation makes full use of the DualShock 4 controller’s touchpad to offer precision, touch-screen handling, and full support for PlayStation Move in both single-player and local multiplayer modes. Players can also easily record and share their accomplishments with the world with the PlayStation 4 system’s automatic screenshot and video capture options. [Read more...]

Warner Bros. Interactive Launches New Batman: Arkham Origins Games

Batman.ArkhamWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment have released Batman: Arkham Origins. Developed by WB Games Montréal, the game is based on DC Comics’ core Batman license, and introduces an original prequel storyline in which a young, unrefined Batman faces the defining moment of his early career, and sets his path to becoming the famous Dark Knight.

Batman: Arkham Origins, in which Batman is hunted by eight of the deadliest assassins from the DC Comics Universe, is available for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and Windows PC. New to the franchise is a multiplayer mode, developed by Splash Damage, which allows friends and foes to engage in online play that blends traditional Arkham gameplay with those of third-person shooter mechanics.

Also available now is Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, a companion game developed by Armature Studio, which brings core Batman Arkham pillars to the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS handheld formats. It allows players to continue the storyline of the console game.

Players looking to extend their gameplay experience can buy the Batman: Arkham Origins Season Pass, comprised of five of the game’s upcoming downloadable content packs. The Season Pass is available on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live online entertainment network from Microsoft, Nintendo eShop, and Steam.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes Launches with Massive Character Line-up, Lego Big Figures

Lego.MarvelLego Marvel Super Heroes has launched in North America for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, and Windows PC. Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril is also now available for the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita handheld systems.

In Lego Marvel Super Heroes, players take on the role of their favorite Marvel characters, such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk, as they assemble to battle some of the most menacing Marvel supervillains. More than 100 playable characters are unlockable, and players can also choose from bonus heroes, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Punisher, Squirrel Girl, and Deadpool.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes offers players a chance to show off their super skills by using weapons, such as Captain America’s shield, Thor’s hammer, or Hawkeye’s bow, during action sequences. Players will also be introduced to different character super abilities, such as Doctor Strange’s magic powers, Professor X or Jean Grey’s mind control, and more. Lego Marvel Super Heroes features some of the more legendary locations from the Marvel Universe, including Iron Man’s Stark Tower headquarters and the Daily Bugle. For the first time in a Lego game, players can clobber and smash bricks with super-sized Lego big figures, including Colossus, Iron Man’s Hulkbuster Armor, and the Thing.

The handheld Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril offers a different gameplay experience that includes challenging time-based missions, performing combo moves, and getting assistance from your superpowered tag team partner.

Nintendo Releases New Nintendo 2DS Portable System

Oct10.Nintendo2DSNintendo has launched the Nintendo 2DS system, designed as an entry point into Nintendo handheld video games. The Nintendo 2DS system maintains many of the same hardware features as Nintendo 3DS, like touch-screen controls, StreetPass, online multiplayer functionality, and the ability to download games.

Without any hinges, the Nintendo 2DS is a recommended first-time system for kids. It will be available in red and blue and plays all Nintendo 3DS games in 2-D. In addition, Nintendo 2DS is backward compatible and can play Nintendo DS games. Two carrying cases in either red or blue are also available.

COMMENTARY: D3Publisher’s Upcoming Slate Captures What Makes Cartoons Great

Licensed video games can be a risky proposition. After all, a recognizable title doesn’t necessarily mean high quality. Having personally experienced some lows in licensed games over the years, I felt it was my duty to attend D3Publisher of America Inc.’s showcase ahead of the holidays, though I had my share of reservations. But despite my trepidation, a few hours later, I walked out suitably impressed. Each licensed game’s creative team seemed to get what makes their respective source material unique, resulting in a product likely to please even hardcore fans. Here’s a rundown of the games:

Oct4.Ben10Ben 10 Omniverse 2: This title is based on a cartoon franchise that has been on TV since 2005, and revolves around Ben Tennyson, who in the most recent series, Ben 10: Omniverse, is a teenage superhero who can transform into 10 different alien forms. What makes the character interesting is that he must select the appropriate guise for any given situation, as each form has its own advantages and disadvantages. D3’s new game takes this basic characteristic and combines it with the “endless running” genre: For about half the game, Ben hurtles down a series of corridors, encountering one obstacle after another, with a very limited time to react. [Read more...]

Nintendo World Hosts Launch Event for Pokémon X and Pokémon Y

imagesNintendo World in New York will host a Pokémon X and Pokémon Y launch event to celebrate the release of the two new games for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems on October 11 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. These new installments in the famous Pokémon series will introduce a new generation of Pokémon, new Mega Evolutions, and a ton of new features.

At the event, fans will have the chance to play games, participate in activities, and be the first in the country to purchase the new games, which are also available on the new Nintendo 2DS system. Game sales will commence at midnight, but Nintendo World will remain open through the night. The event will also feature a Pokémon costume showcase, a live DJ, Pokémon trivia, a Pikachu costumed character appearance, and more. Attendees will also be able to participate in giveaways while supplies last.

Swaptober Kicks into Gear in Anticipation of Skylanders Swap Force

Skylanders-SWAP-Force_NightIn anticipation of the Skylanders Swap Force launch, Activision Publishing Inc. is using the month of October, or “Swaptober” to get gamers ready for the game’s launch on October 13. Lucky Portal Masters will have chances to win copies of the Skylanders Swap Force game, explore the world of Skylanders in Times Square, and more during the month-long activities.

To kick off Swaptober, Activision will be giving away one Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack per day beginning October 1 and going to October 31 via the official Skylanders Twitter channel (@SkylandersGame). For a chance to win, portal masters can visit Skylanders.com to mix and match their favorite character combination and then tweet it along with a suggested catch phrase using hashtags #SWAPtober and #Skylanders.

There are even more ways to celebrate on  October 10, when Skylanders partners with Toys “R” Us to bring Skylanders to life with “Swaptoberfest”—a celebration in Times Square where fans will have the chance to be among the very first to play the game before it’s available at retail. This Times Square takeover will feature Skylanders Swap Force-themed activities, photos with Skylanders costumed characters, and chances to win Starter Packs and Skylanders-themed merchandise from companies, including Mega Brands, Rubie’s Costume Co., Hybrid Apparel, and Power A. [Read more...]

Skylanders Swap Force Continues the Franchise’s Reputation

This week, The Toy Book got a chance to preview Activision Publishing Inc.’s upcoming Skylanders Swap Force video game and toys at an after-school event in New York City. The original entry in the series, Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, pioneered the idea of video games that interact with real-world toys. Now comes Skylanders Swap Force, in which special action figures can be disassembled into top and bottom halves and then reassembled into new characters that are playable within the game.

Skylanders SWAP Force, Stink ChargeThe game itself is as visually rich and immersing as previous entries in the series (although Playstation 4 (PS4) version takes the experience to a whole new level, but more on that later). At the demo, kids and their parents got to preview the levels, “Rampant Ruins,” a creepy jungle graveyard, and, “Winter Keep,” in which the Skylanders heroes have to retrieve a special device called the Illuminator—all while dodging huge flying snowballs. Each level features mini-games that vary in play style, keeping things from ever getting too repetitive. At one point during “Winter Keep,” the game switches from more traditional combat to a race through the sky along “rainbow rails.” [Read more...]