Gaming Week In Review: XBox gets an upgrade, Kirby gets a mech

Look Fox in the eye and tell him you won’t buy a WiiU for Star Fox Zero.

Nintendo Direct Brings News of Kirby, Star Fox, and Amiibos Aplenty

Early Thursday Afternoon, Nintendo took to the web for another Nintendo Direct, their annual spontaneous news dump that brought us news aplenty about Nintendo games both new and old. The whole 43-minute presentation is embedded below if you’d like, but we’ve also popped out the hottest news for your  immediate consumption.

Star Fox Zero is finally seeing a release on April 21st after a sudden delay bumping it from release last fall. The game has gotten a mild visual polish since its underwhelming E3 debut. Most interestingly the retail edition of Zero will include a second game, Star Fox Guard (previously shown off as Project Guard), placing players in the role of Slippy Toad as he bounces between security cameras and turrets to fend off incoming attackers.

In addition to updates on known games like Metroid Prime: Federation Force and Bravely Second: End Layer, a few new titles were debuted. The Paper Mario franchise returns in 2016 with Color Clash, a new WiiU entry that seems to play as spiritual sequel to 2013’s Sticker Star. Nintendo’s famous pink puffball Kirby is getting a whole lot bigger in Planet Robobot, which naturally adds mechs to the classic platforming series. Additionally, Rhythm Heaven fans will be getting some long-overdue attention with Rhythm Heaven Megamix – a new 3DS compilation that will combine musical minigames from all three past titles, including the GBA original that previously never hit US shores.

But all of these games pale in comparison to the hottest Nintendo Direct announcement – Pocket Card Jockey. Developed by Pokemon creators Game Freak, the title combines America’s two favorite pastimes – solitaire and horse racing. And people say video games have gotten stale.

Microsoft Head Envisions A Bold Future For The XBox

Last week, Microsoft held a press event in San Francisco to give reporters some hands-on time with upcoming titles like Quantum Break. But a speech delivered by Phil Spencer on the brand’s future ended up turning the most heads. He outlined how Microsoft was seeking to eliminate some of the barriers between gaming on PC and on XBox platforms, hypothesizing a future of the XBox ONE platform that included incremental hardware upgrades. “We see on other platforms whether it be mobile or PC that you get a continuous innovation that you rarely see on console …. consoles lock the hardware and the software platforms together at the beginning of the generation,” he said. “Then you ride the generation out for seven or so years, while other ecosystems are getting better, faster, stronger.”

This could be a tremendous shift for the console industry. Incremental upgrades (akin to the yearly revisions of tablets, smartphones, and computer hardware) would largely remove the idea of a ‘console generation’. Instead of buying an entirely new console after four-six years, consumers could just buy a new model of their existing platform. Additionally, since all of Microsoft’s software would run under a “Universal Windows Platform,” cross-compatibility with tablets, phones, and personal computers could be almost automatic. It’s a big idea, but one that comes with few concrete ideas on how Microsoft could execute it. But for now, let’s dream of a future where we can all play Rocket League from our phones on the bus.

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