Why the PS4 Has Become My Go-To Console

Even though I have no time to play them all, for the past two generations I’ve purchased all three major consoles. And like many others, last generation I was primarily an Xbox 360 gamer (though I loved my PS3). But as we are about to enter year three of this generation (four if you count the year lead the WiiU had), there is one console that I spend the majority of my time with–the PlayStation 4.

There are a few reasons for the PS4 becoming my console of choice. There are exclusives like Until Dawn, The Order: 1886 and Bloodborne, and console exclusives like SOMA and the upcoming No Man’s Sky. And there’s the PlayStation Plus service, which has consistently given me hundreds of dollars of games a year for the price of one game.

But the biggest reason I’ve become more of a PlayStation gamer this generation is because of this:


The ‘Share’ button.

But it’s not just the button, it’s what it represents. Sony had a clear vision when they designed this console, and it’s one they’ve stuck to throughout it’s life so far. Sharing the gaming experience in a variety of ways has been something Sony touted from the get go, and they continue to deliver.

I like to keep things simple. While Nick and I both have capture cards (and Nick uses his for most of his videos), I was psyched when both Microsoft and Sony announced that the new consoles would have built-in streaming capabilities. And in fact, both do have the ability to stream, but in my experience, PlayStation 4 is superior in terms of its flexibility and the user experience.

I can forgive the fact that the Xbox One and it’s ‘snapping’ of the Twitch app is a clunky process. But there are three things that make the PlayStation 4 experience better, in my opinion.

k2-_76254b32-aef9-44f4-abc0-42aa0e92511c.v11. External Mics–If I want to use and external mic to stream with the PS4, I just plug it into the usb slot on the console. That’s it. My Snowball mic works perfectly for the Minecraft series my son and I do. Xbox One still doesn’t have support for external mics, forcing us to use the mic on the Kinect for couch co-op streaming. As you might imagine, the audio quality is less than desired.

2. Party Chat Streaming–On PS4, Sony added the ability to stream party chat a year ago, while we are still waiting for this feature on XBox One.  Destiny allows you to enable the feature in its audio settings, but most games do not. On Xbox One, we’ve been forced to use Skype to record party chat and then edit it into videos later.

3. YouTube Streaming–The latest PS4 firmware update added direct streaming to YouTube to the existing sharing options. This is potentially huge for Co-Op Critics, both because most of our audience is on YouTube instead of Twitch, and because of the newly launched YouTube Gaming app.

Now, I am well aware that using a capture card with either console offers a great deal more customization options, and can provide better quality on the output side. But as I said, I’m a fan of keeping things simple. And the PS4 has made streaming and sharing very simple, just like they said they would when the PS4 was announced.

More, flexibility, more options, and a smoother user experience. For those reasons, the PS4 has become my console of choice so far this generation.


New 3DS Models Pave the Way for Increased Wii U Interactivity, Possible GamePad Replacement

This morning at a Nintendo Direct, Nintendo announced new models of the 3DS and 3DS XL, which will hit Japan later this year and presumably, the US next year. The new models have better CPUs, built-in NFC capability and, most importantly, a second analog stick.

Well, it’s not really a stick, so much as a nub. But, this means the new models will have all the functionality of a Wii U tablet, built into the 3DS.

Now, I’ve been saying since the Wii U launched that with the addition of the Circle Pad Pro, a 3DS could function as a tablet controller for the Wii U (although it did not have NFC included). With the new models, everything you need to make the 3DS a Wii U controller is built into it already.

If Nintendo could make this work, then they could offer a version of the Wii U without the tablet for under $200, and New 3DS owners could use those devices as the primary tablet. They could also bundle the Wii U and New 3DS together for $399, giving them a great value proposition when compared to the Xbox One and PS4. The library of games the Wii U now has, coupled with the enormous catalog of 3DS games would be a huge selling point.

Now of course, I don’t know if this is part of Nintendo’s plan moving forward, but here’s why I think it is. Nintendo is fracturing their 3DS user base with this move. The 3DS is currently their most successful console. There will be games you can play on the New 3DS that can’t be played on the old models. In the long run, the only reason this would make sense is if Nintendo was updating the 3DS to enable it to be more interactive with the Wii U, and potentially replace the GamePad.

This could be very interesting.


SQUIDS: Odyssey Makes a Great Transition from Mobile to Console

Way back in 2011, I reviewed an iOS game called SQUIDS, a turn-based RPG that combined solid mechanics, bite-sized missions and an undersea aesthetic designed to appeal to gamers of all ages. SQUIDS was a micro transaction supported game that struck a nice balance with its currency system, so you could actually progress without having to spend additional money if you didn’t want to. The Game Bakers also released a sequel called SQUIDS: Wild West, which was also well received.

Fast forward to 2014, and developer The Game Bakers has brought SQUIDS to Nintendo’s 3DS and WiiU platforms. This new iteration is called SQUIDS: Odyssey, and it brings the first two games together and some additional content as well. There are no microtransactions this time around–the game is a $14.99 digital download from the eShop. I spent a good amount of time with the WiiU version this past weekend, and I’m really impressed with how well the game has been adapted for Nintendo’s console.

SQUIDS: Odyssey retains the same story and core gameplay from the original games. Players control a group of squids who are thrust into the role of both protectors and recruiters when their underwater home is threatened by a mysterious Black Ooze that corrupts undersea creatures, turning them evil. Players control a party of squids that consist of different classes–Scouts (speedy rogue), Shooters (ranged combat), Troopers (tanks) and Healers. As you unlock more characters in the game, you can swap them in and out of your party, and customize that party for each type of level you’re facing. In addition to customizing your party, you can level up your characters, as well as find and purchase gear that gives characters bonuses to certain stats.

Each bite-sized level features enemies that must be defeated and hazards that must be navigated. So in addition to making sure you have the right members in your party, you also have to make sure you’re using them strategically. You move the squids around each level by pulling back their legs and aiming them in a certain direction. There are obstacles littering each level, and some levels have area that you can actually fall off. So each turn is spent positioning your characters to not only defeat enemies, but support one another and navigate the level effectively.

What’s impressive to me about SQUIDS is that all of the systems in the game are well balanced and simple to understand. None of the systems I mentioned above ever feels overwhelming, and each time I failed to complete a level, I knew exactly what I did wrong. More impressively, the game has transitioned well from a microtransaction-based model to one in which all of the currency is unlocked through playing. Gear and upgrades are reasonable priced, and because you can go back and play any level you’ve beaten, you can always grind for more loot and currency before taking on more challenging levels.

On the WiiU front, The Game Bakers have flawlessly adapted SQUIDS for the console. You can play with either button-based controls or touch controls on the GamePad, and at any time, you can switch the TV mode off and just play entirely on the GamePad. This game actually feels like it was made for the WiiU, and it uses the GamePad better than most of the games I’ve played on the console.

All in all, SQUIDS: Odyssey is a great adaptation of the series that is perfectly at home on the WiiU. It’s a game you can play with your kids, or enjoy as an adult, and it’s got plenty of content for the $15 asking price. Definitely worth checking out. And if you need any hints or tips as you play through, the devs have put a complete strategy guide up on The Game Bakers website. You can check it out here.


My Ridiculous E3 2014 Wishlist

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is next week, and we are all bracing for the dog and pony shows, the buzzword-laden marketing promises, and CGI glimpses of games that will be arriving two years from now.

For gamers, E3 is both exciting and frustrating at the same time, as there will inevitably be some pleasant surprises, but they’ll be wrapped in a whole lotta nonsense.

We all have our hopes and dreams though, and each of us has an E3 wish list for the big three (Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony) that we would love to see become a reality. I know that my E3 wishlist is pretty far-fetched, but it’s fun to think about anyway. So without further ado, here is something I would love to see from each of the big three at E3 this year.

Microsoft–Crackdown MMO
I’ll start with Microsoft, as my wish for them is the least far-fetched of the three. I want an new Crackdown. I love the Crackdown series. The original is still one of my top five Xbox 360 games, and I was one of the few that also loved the sequel. And we all saw the Crackdown orb symbol in a pic of the Xbox One dash during the new console’s reveal. So it’s safe to say there is a new Crackdown being worked on. and there are rumors of Crackdown 3 arriving in 2016.

Here’s where I get far-fetched, though–I want a Crackdown MMO. Drawing on Crackdown 1 and 2, there could be various factions battling over control of Pacific City (The Agency, Los Muertos, Volk, Shai Gen, Cell). You could also keep the Freaks as a grunt-level threat that all factions would have to deal with. In many ways, it could be similar to what Realtime Worlds tried to do with APB. But, it would be developed by Ruffian (Crackdown 2 devs who are still around, having worked with 343 on Halo: Spartan Assault and Rare on Kinect Sports Rivals as well as their own Game of Glens).

Since this is my wish list, I would also make the game a one-time purchase, then free to play MMO for Xbox Live Gold subscribers.

Nintendo–3DS as a WiiU GamePad Replacement
I’ve talked about this before, but I feel like Nintendo is missing a great opportunity by not having more interoperability between the 3DS and the WiiU. Sony is smartly trying to bolster Vta sales by giving PS3 and PS4 owners reasons to own one, but Nintendo has not leveraged the huge install base of the 3DS (43 million worldwide and approximately 12 million in the US alone) to bolster WiiU sales. Combine that with the fact that the GamePad is what keeps the price point of the WiiU where it is, and Nintendo has even more reasons to bring the 3DS into the WiiU ecosystem.

My proposal is this: Any 3DS (regular or XL) that has a Circle Pad Pro attachment should be able to function as a WiiU GamePad. With the Circle Pad Pro attached to the 3DS, you’ve got the touchscreen, the triggers and the shoulder buttons.

Not only would this open us cross-save, cross-buy, Virtual Console library sharing and more, but it would allow Nintendo to cut the price of the WiiU by putting out a version without a GamePad. And they wouldn’t have to screw developers by removing features or upset existing owners.

There could be a $199 WiiU SKU, with a Circle Pad Pro included, or a voucher that could be used to order a free Circle Pad Pro from Nintendo’s website. They could do a 3DS XL/WiiU bundle for $399, giving consumers a compelling reason to go with Nintendo over Microsoft and Sony this holiday season. Not to mention, there are a ton of great games for both consoles right now.

While this may be the most far-fetched thing on my wish list, it makes so much sense that it hurts my brain. Just do it, Nintendo.

Sony–Free PS Now Rentals for PS+ Subscribers
I’ll preface this by saying that of the three bigs, Sony is doing a lot of things right. PlayStation Plus is fantastic. The PS4 is offering experiences that the Xbox One and WiiU aren’t. I can play a pretty darn good free MMO (DC Universe Online) on PS3 and PS4 right now, Sony is doing everything they can to bolster the Vita and they have a next-gen only exclusive in Infamous: Second Son. Of the big three, they are the only one that could strategically stay the course and be okay. (And yes, I know about Sony’s financial troubles, but those losses aren’t coming from the PlayStation division, which posted a profit this year).

The game streaming service PlayStation Now is currently in beats on both the PS3 and the PS4. From what we’ve seen and heard so far, when the service fully launches, users will be able to rent PS1, PS2 and PS3 games for one, seven or thirty days. Whether or not there will be a subscription option to access the entire library isn’t clear yet, and it seems these options will not be part of the PlayStation Plus subscription service as it is right now.

What I would love to see is for PS Plus subscribers to essentially get rental vouchers for PS Now games every month. Similar to the lending library on the Amazon Kindle, I’d like to see PS Plus subscribers get at least one free rental credit a month. Each month brings a new voucher, and the old one expires. Sony could also offer a discount to PS Plus members for additional rentals, similar to the discounts that Plus subscribers enjoy on games purchase through the PlayStation Store.

I don’t see this happening, as PS Plus users already enjoy some pretty big discounts, as well as great games every month. Even if Sony never added value to the PS Plus subscription again, what I’m getting now is more than worth it. But, if I was getting a game or two to stream from PS Now every month, I’d be more like to try out others on the service.

So, those are my E3 wishes for the big three. Here’s hoping the game genie will come along and grant at least one of them.


It’s That Time Again–This Week’s Anti-Nintendo Nonsense


Well, the Nintendo gloom and doom story of the week arrived today as word dropped that Nintendo suffered an almost $230 million net loss. At the end of Nintendo’s fiscal year (March 31st), WiiU sales sit at a grand total of 6.17 million. By contrast, the XBox One (5 million units) and the PS4 (7 million units) have vastly outpaced the WiiU in the roughly six months since their releases.

Nintendo promised a return to profitability this coming year, but predicted a modest 3.6 million in WiiU sales, and 3DS sales of 12 million, which is just below what it sold this past year.

I’ve blogged about this before, but it really bothers me to see the vulture-like mentality of the mainstream gaming media when it comes to Nintendo’s woes.** They revel in every piece of negative news, producing condescending op ed-pieces and endless roundtable discussions about how much trouble Nintendo is in, and calling for them to abandon the WiiU, put all of their games on mobile or stop making hardware altogether.

Can everyone just take a deep breath, please? The WiiU has been out for just shy of 18 months.

I mean, are we really suggesting that Nintendo pull a SEGA here and give the WiiU the Dreamcast treatment? Even that console was given two and a half years from its launch before SEGA pulled the plug (capping lifetime sales at 10.6 million).

If we’re going to be comparing WiiU sales to anything, it shouldn’t be the XBox One or PS4–it should be Nintendo’s previous consoles. It’s safe to assume the Wii’s numbers will never be duplicated by Nintendo At this point, I think a reasonable comparison would be the GameCube. In its five-plus year lifespan, the GameCube sold just under 22 million units. For the WiiU to hit that number in a similar timeframe, it should be averaging 4.4 million units per year. So, if the WiiU gets to 8.8 million by November of 2014, which is very likely, it will be on pace with GameCube numbers.

Mario Kart 8 is going to sell WiiU consoles, there is no doubt about that. How many? Probably not as much as Nintendo would like, and not as few as the gaming media and anti-Nintendo fans will predict. Personally, I think we’ll see sales of WiiU hit 9+ million by the end of 2014, bolstered by Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2 and (hopefully) Super Smash Bros.

I will be putting a separate post together about the WiiU and the Dreamcast, because I think it merits more discussion. The Dreamcast was a sales failure, but is among the most beloved consoles of all time and was home to some fan-favorite games. The same can be said of the WiiU, although that point is drowned out by all the negativity being shouted about.

**SIDE NOTE: I know it’s not just Nintendo that gets the tabloid treatment. XBox One has been dealing with it as of late because sales are lagging behind the PS4. Last gen it was the Sony and the PS3’s early struggles. Clearly the negative tone that permeates mainstream gaming media is not limited to any one console, but it’s unfortunate and inappropriate nonetheless. We had a decent discussion about this on the gaming culture episode of Co-Op Critics if you’d like to hear more about it.


Now Playing–Assassin’s Creed IV (Pushing My Luck)

I streamed a bit of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag this morning on WiiU, and it was pretty much a clinic in how not to play the game. What you’ll see in the video below is sort of a microcosm of how the entire 45-minute play session went.

Basically, I tried to assault a naval fort that was way out of my league. You’ll see my try to attack the fort from afar with mortars, only to attract the attention of several enemy ships. I actually dispatch the ships and manage to repair some of the damage done to mine. BUT, instead to counting my blessings and getting out of there until I could upgrade my ship, I went back at assaulting the fort, and things quickly went bad.

The great thing about AC IV is that there are forts and enemy ships all over the pace for you to engage or not, as you see fit. Many of them are much more powerful than you, and you should make sure to upgrade your ship’s offensive and defensive capabilities before engaging them. Sometimes you’ll get lucky when attacking a more powerful ship or fort, and sometimes you end up like me int he video below.

Such is the life of a pirate.

Watch live video from CoopCritics on TwitchTV


Co-Op Critics Podcast–The Bioshock Series and the WiiU’s Woes

In this episode of Co-Op Critics, Brian is joined by Kim Wong and Dave Fetterman as they discuss the WiiU’s woes and the Bioshock trilogy.

Listen to the episode here in the embedded player to the right, or download it here.

You can follow Brian on Twitter ( and check out his blog at You can find Kim Wong ( and Dave Fetterman ( on Twitter as well.

Post your comments below or reach out on Twitter with feedback and suggestions about future episodes. Thanks for listening!