“The Rock” Yesterday, on Easter, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson chased his daughter around the house wearing a Pikachu costume. And how did you celebrate? Eggs? Advertisement The 6’5″, 260-pound wrestler was playing his daughter’s favorite game, “I run away and you chase me Pikachu,” according to The Rock’s Instagram. Adorably, his daughter pronounces “Pikachu” like “Peekyu.” “The Rock” isn’t embarrassed. He’s not ashamed. “Bring it on. It’s what daddy’s do,” his post says. READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
One minute my five-year-old was giggling along with the playful antics of Yooka-Laylee on the PlayStation 4. The next he was in Persona 5, erasing over 35 hours of Phantom thievery in the blink of an eye. It’s the closest I’ve come to crying over a video game in years. Advertisement When you write about keyboards, toys, snacks and sometimes video games for a living, there’s not a lot of time to put dozens of hours into a game your aren’t playing specifically for work. It’s why being assigned a lengthy Japanese role-playing game for review at Kotaku often involves gladiatorial combat (Schreier is a beast with a battle axe). The fact that I managed to rack up nearly 30 hours in Persona 5 prior to last week’s vacation is a testament to how much I love being a crime-fighting anime teenager. Last week was spring break for my twin five-year-old sons, Seamus and Archer, so I took the week off to sit in my living room and play more Persona 5. There were other, more kid-friendly activities planned for the week as well, but playing Persona 5 was right up there. I moved the PlayStation 4 into the living…
Last month, the servers for Disney Infinity—once aiming to be the biggest thing in video games and toys—were quietly shut down. It’s fitting for the game’s sad demise that few people even bothered to notice. Advertisement We knew it was coming, of course: we were told in July 2016, not long after Infinity’s cancellation, that the game’s slow death march would begin with the stripping of the PC and mobile versions from app stores at the time, and continue until March 2017 when one of the cornerstones of the project—its online services—were closed down. This has now taken place. Where once half the point of the game was building new levels and worlds for others to play in, and downloading those made by fans from across the world, Disney Infinity is now strictly a local experience, each copy’s playsets limited to what the user is able to cobble together. Advertisement Coupled with the lack of new titles or toys, and the fire sale of figures that took place throughout the back end of 2016, this effectively marks the end for Disney Infinity. Yes, you can READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
You and I, as adults, know to call things by their actual names. My kid is 4, and does no such thing. For reference, he’s been playing some of these systems and games for around 18 months now. Which is why, despite now being a 4 year-old kid who can actually do a fairly good job of speaking like a human being, he persists with his cute lil’ baby names for the systems and games he was familiar with back then. Advertisement Advertisement They’ve stuck, and I just don’t have the heart to correct him, because there is nothing better in the world than hearing somebody be convinced a game is actually called “Mario Build It”. Nvidia Shield: “Da Shee-uwd” iPad: “AH [long pause] pad” Xbox One: “Exx [long pause] Box” PS2: “Old Pwaystation” PS3: “Pwaystation” PS4: “Daddy’s Pwaystation” Advertisement PlayStation Vita: “Little Pwaystation Beetah” Sega Dreamcast: [puzzled silence] Advertisement Nintendo GameCube: “Old Nintendo” Nintendo GameCube Bongo Drums: “Donkey Kongs” Nintendo 2DS: “Little Nintendo” Advertisement READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
“Daddy? DADDY!” I look up from my laptop. This video game was supposed to give me a precious 15 minute respite from the endless drudgery of parenthood. What the hell’s gone wrong now? Advertisement “DADDY WHAT I DO? “WHAT I DOOOOOO?” Advertisement It must be really hard to make a good video game for kids. I know this because to date, I have only played one good console game made for kids. That game is Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U. Super Mario 3D World. I’ll never forget introducing it to my 3-year-old. In the beginning it was frustrating as hell. He couldn’t do anything, kept throwing himself off the edge, shrieking like a deranged hyena. I walked away then. It hurt to watch. I made myself a nice cup of tea. A couple of weeks later, sipping a different cup of tea, my son had mastered the game with literally zero input from me, his father who writes about video games for a living. I still have no idea how he did it. Actually that’s an exaggeration. I have a rough READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
Panel from Incredible Hulk #182, Marvel Comics When I started telling my daughter about various superheroes, I thought for sure that the Flash or Batgirl was going to be her favorite. But super-speed and total recall can’t stand up to gamma-powered grumpiness: the Hulk has her heart. Advertisement At six years old, my girl child is still in the age range where she can’t keep still. That’s why I thought the Flash would become her favorite superhero. When she asked me to talk about superheroes who weren’t very patient, I told her how the Flash’s powers make it hard for him to wait for anything. She chuckled at the idea of Flash being unable to do a stakeout with Batman because he’d be so antsy. She’s becoming quite an avid reader, too, and it seemed like Barbara Gordon’s past as a librarian would endear Batgirl to her. She loves the idea that Batgirl never forgets anything that she sees, reads, or learns, even after I explained the downsides. For her, Batgirl’s photographic memory makes the heroine was “smarter than Batman.” So what made her go all in on the Hulk? The READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
I heard that having kids changes the way you can play games. Nine weeks in with one boy and one girl born a minute apart, I can confirm that it’s true. This is what I’ve learned about playing games while raising twins: Advertisement You will play fewer games. Simple. No brainer. Doubly so if there are two little cute people in need of feeding, swaddling, diaper-changing, burping and rocking—oh so much rocking, though not so much in your arms as to spoil them—to put them to sleep. Games you can play one-handed on your phone will suddenly be the greatest, at least in the early days. It was in the hospital, right as the babies went to sleep, that I discovered the iPhone game Clash Royale. I was too tired to read. Too tired to do anything for long. And I sure wasn’t going to bust out a dedicated portable gaming machine like a 3DS or a Vita. But a quick thumb-driven game I could enjoy on my phone for five minutes at a time? Perfect. Multiplayer gaming isn’t compatible with having infants—unless you’re prepared to bail on a game READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
The last thing I was expecting The Lego Batman Movie to do was to show my daughter how even the Caped Crusader needs people to care about and what it means to have the people you care torn away from you. Over the weekend, another parent invited my daughter and me to join him and his kids at an afternoon showing of The Lego Batman Movie. When I sidled up to my kid on the couch in the morning, she was mainlining cartoons. Her response to me when I asked her about seeing The Lego Batman Movie was an immediate “no.” No thinking it over, just “no,” which is atypical for her. A little prodding had her spilling her guts: “I don’t like bad guys.” It’s a refrain I’ve heard a lot from her, one where she goes on to say that she doesn’t like the way that they “don’t follow the good laws, hurt people, and take things that don’t belong to them.” Advertisement To her, “bad guys” are an indistinct, fungible resource for superheroes to beat up on. Whenever we talk about superheroes, she READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
The Toy Story movies have been very good. But it’s Pixar’s five short films in the series—many of which have never been seen by the main trilogy’s adult fans—where some of the real magic lies. Advertisement This piece originally appeared 1/7/16. If you’re a grown-up who hasn’t seen Small Fry or Partysaurus, that’s OK. Unlike the feature films, which are marketed at anyone with a pulse and a wallet, Toy Story’s shorts (especially the older ones) have generally been handled by Disney in much the same way as it used to treat the direct-to-VHS sequels to movies like Lion King: aimed at kids and slid out the door, content to act as fanservice dessert to the theatrical main meals. Advertisement This is a damn shame! Because it’s when Toy Story is forced to strip back and focus solely on its simple hook—hey, what do toys do when you’re not around?—that it really shines. Consider: every single Toy Story tale is, at its heart, an exploration of an aspect of our use and ownership of toys. The arcs that every character goes through in READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
“What does NE stand for?” my five-year-old son asked as we watched last night’s Super Bowl LI. I told him it stood for the New England Patriots. “No! Change it!” he shouted, lunging for the Xbox One controller. “It should be Atlanta versus Atlanta!” Oh right, Madden 17. Advertisement Minutes into Super Bowl LI it was clear that Seamus was not happy with the game. While Archer happily played his iPad in the direction of the television, his brother was fidgety and anxious. They look just as confused as I was. At first I figured he was just excited to see his team play. This is the first year that Seamus has been really aware of the Super Bowl—normally we get a sitter and go over to my parents’ place to watch the game or just skip it entirely. But we live in Atlanta, and the Falcons making it to the Super Bowl is an enormous deal here. Seamus’ school held a spirit day, to which he insisted he wear all black and red (we managed all but the shoes). Saturday night, before putting the boys to bed, I asked if they were excited to watch the Super Bowl tomorrow….
A long time ago, I’d hoped that a children’s cartoon character would be my kid’s entryway into the world of science fiction. But, nope, as much as I wanted it to happen, it was DC Comics’ Legion of Superheroes that helped my kid understand what “the future” means. Advertisement Ten years ago, I was an editor at Time Out NY Kids Magazine, in charge of music and film coverage. This was long before I had a kid and just as shows like Yo Gabba Gabba! were hitting the sweet spots of parents desperate to hold onto any sense of coolness. I endured a lot of twee, treacly kids-pop from acts trying to hit the big time, but I also got to witness this amazing kid-music scene in New York City, too, with monthly jam sessions filled with talented grown-ups and grade-school heavy metal and pre-teen shoegaze bands getting to perform in front audiences for the first time. One of the first acts I fell in love with was centered around Gustafer Yellowgold, an oddly cute solar alien who came from the sun and made a bunch of animal friends despite READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
The debut trailer for the Nintendo Switch was packed with good-looking 20-somethings playing in fashionable apartments and rooftop parties. As a 40-something father, it didn’t feel like a product aimed my way. Nintendo’s Super Bowl ad fixes that feeling. Advertisement While many people remarked on the millennial festival that is the Nintendo Switch preview trailer, it’s something that’s been nagging me since the console’s October reveal. Though the company is often cast as the more family-friendly of the three major game console makers, the Switch preview trailer featured no children, no parents. After years of Wii and Wii U advertisements featuring a parade of gamers from toddlers to white-haired grandparents, the lack of age variety was quite noticeable. I know the games Nintendo teases in the preview trailer are games I want to play. It’s not like the company was suddenly chopping away at both ends of its demographic, but in a way it felt like that. The Switch was not a console the company wanted an aging gamer to imagine playing with his or her children. And so Nintendo’s Super Bowl ad, a first for the company, has READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!
By most people’s reckoning—and ways a reckoning in this business can be determined—the Wii U has been a failure. Whether you look at its sales, the number of “classic” Nintendo titles it was home to or even just general brand awareness, it’s been a bust. But what do we know? We’re just stupid adults. Advertisement As the Switch’s release draws nearer and the curtain comes down on the Wii U’s short and troubled time in the market, I’ve been thinking of ways to send the machine off in a story like this. But I’ve been having trouble finding anything positive to say. My experience with the Wii U has been, after all, almost non-existent. I played a couple of games for review and played a few more for fun, and really enjoyed those brief times, but for the most part the console has sat under my second TV gathering dust. I hated its squishy touchsceeen, the poor build quality of the controller and, most of all, the inexcusably long load times, especially on the menus. Advertisement That wasn’t going to make for a particularly READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!