Nintendo Shuts Down Another Pokemon Fan Project

A fan-made Pokemon project set to be released soon has been apparently shut down at the behest of Nintendo’s legal team, according to creator Adam Vierra.

We first reported on Pokemon Prism back in October, when Vierra released a trailer for it and allowed it to be played through a Twitch Plays Pokemon stream. Unlike fan-made Pokemon game Pokemon Uranium, Prism was to be a ROM hack, rather than a wholly original game.

Nintendo Shuts Down Another Pokemon Fan Project

Despite that distinction, it was shut down like Uranium nonetheless, according to messages Vierra posted on Twitter and Facebook. The game’s website has likewise been reduced to a simple message revealing the project’s fate and linking to a PDF file that appears to show a takedown request from lawyers on behalf of Nintendo. Although he lives in the United States, the legal notice references Australian law, which raised some questions about its authenticity. Vierra claims this is because the website’s host is located in Australia.

On Twitter, Vierra apologized to fans and thanked them for his support, subsequently accepting blame for the situation. “I’m also responsible for this situation,” he wrote. “Trailer shouldn’t have been made & I shouldn’t have been such a perfectionist and finish it sooner.” He also pledged to do “more research into this situation,” perhaps indicating he doesn’t plan to abandon Prism entirely. But for now, it doesn’t look like the game, which was reportedly in the works for over eight years, will see the light of day.

The developers behind the aforementioned Pokemon Uranium, also a fan project that was released for free, were forced to remove download links for the game after takedown notices were issued. The game is still available from certain places online, but the developers have since abandoned the project, which was being worked on for over nine years. It’s unclear why, given Nintendo’s history of shutting down fan projects, Vierra went out of his way to seek attention prior to the game’s release.

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20 Biggest Box Office Flops of 2016

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Box office data current as of December 21.

With just a few weeks left this year, there’s still a chance that the 2016 box office could come out ahead of 2015’s record totals. But that’s not the complete picture of this year’s cinematic landscape. There was a lot of carnage along the way, as previously safe sequels and franchises were soundly rejected by audiences or met with indifference.

Even a few quality films fell victim to some of 2016’s strange box office fluctuations, which may only encourage Hollywood to take fewer and fewer risks going forward. We can’t say what the future holds for the movie industry, but we can look back at some of the biggest flops of the year. Note that our box office data is current as of December 21, 2016.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Production Budget: $50 million

Box Office: $52.8 million (domestic); $69.4 million (worldwide total)

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13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi was made in part because director Michael Bay wanted to stretch his cinematic muscles after years of making Transformers movies. On that level, it may have been a success. Our review noted that “There are plenty of explosions and Bay-hem, but unlike in his other films Bay keeps you aware that these are all human beings involved here.”

However, the Benghazi attacks were (and still are) heavily politicized in this country, which have also played a part in keeping this film from recreating the success of American Sniper. Opening up against the NFL playoffs also didn’t do this film any favors, but it did give Bay’s fans a glimpse of the movies he may want to make in the future. We just hope there’s less shaky cam footage down the line.

Alice Through The Looking Glass

Production Budget: $170 million

Box Office: $77 million (domestic); $299.5 million (worldwide total)

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Given the success of Disney and Tim Burton’s live-action Alice in Wonderland, a sequel was probably inevitable. But it may not have been a good idea to wait six years in-between movies, or to send it up against Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse on its opening weekend. Our review noted that incoming director James Bobin delivered “a flashier, more vibrant adventure — albeit with the same muddy storytelling and two-dimensional characters” before adding “Disney and Bobin’s sequel works better as a moving painting than it does lucid fiction.”

No one can say that Disney didn’t market the hell out of this film, and it’s estimated promotion spend was reportedly close to twice the movie’s budget! Alice Through The Looking Glass was a domestic box office disaster that failed to get even half of its budget back. Overseas, the film had a warmer reception, but it probably wasn’t enough to justify a third Alice movie.

Allegiant

Production Budget: $110 million

Box Office: $66 million (domestic); $179.2 million (worldwide total)

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Not every YA franchise is going to be The Hunger Games. That’s the hard lesson that Lionsgate hopefully learned from The Divergent series. The first two films were relatively successful, but Lionsgate chased the YA dollar by splitting the final novel into two movies. That trick may have worked before for The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and even Twilight, but moviegoers weren’t falling for it this time.

Our review notes that “Allegiant is the weakest Divergent movie yet — and that’s saying something. The storyline is aimless at best and frustrating at worst,” before adding that “the story is abysmal, and also shamefully derivative of the last two movies.” We’re not sure that Lionsgate really took the lesson to heart, as the studio has floated an idea to finish the Divergent story as a TV movie that would spinoff into a television series. None of the movie’s stars have seemed particularly enthusiastic about that notion, and it may not happen at all.

Bad Santa 2

Production Budget: $26 million

Box Office: $17.6 million (domestic); $22.7 million (worldwide total)

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The original Bad Santa was a surprise hit back in 2003, when it pulled in a modest $60 million. Billy Bob Thornton’s turn as Willie T. Soke definitely has a following, but not enough to justify a sequel nearly 13 years later. Bad Santa 2 is still technically out in theaters, but it’s not going to come anywhere close to the original’s numbers…or even to a breakeven point for the studio.

“Billy Bob Thornton proves once again that he is the only actor capable of bringing Willie T. Stokes to life, but not even he can help jolt life into a sequel that never had any chance of being anything other than dead on arrival.” We have to agree with our reviewer. It was almost inhumane to subject anyone to this sequel.

Ben-Hur

Production Budget: $100 million

Box Office: $26.4 million (domestic); $94 million (worldwide total)

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The Ben-Hur movie from 1959 is one of the all-time great films, and it was also a remake. But that doesn’t mean that MGM’s drive to remake Ben-Hur for a third time was a good idea. MGM tried to push it as both an action film and something for “the faith driven audience,” and it failed to bring out either of those crowds. After numerous delays, Ben-Hur was unleashed last summer and it met a quick death at the domestic box office.

Within our review, we praised Ben-Hur’s action and the performance of Toby Kebbell as Messala while mentioning the strange pull between the original story and the newly created scenes that allowed Jesus Christ to have a bigger role in the movie. There is also the argument to be made that Jack Huston wasn’t the right actor to step into Charlton Heston’s iconic role. But really, who could have been? There wasn’t a truly compelling reason to try to top Heston’s movie, but that lesson will probably be forgotten.

Deepwater Horizon

Production Budget: $122 million

Box Office: $61.4 million (domestic); $118.6 million (worldwide total)

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Deepwater Horizon was loosely based on the infamous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2011. And while there is a compelling story to be told about the men who attempted to prevent an ecological disaster, the producers of this film played down the controversy and turned Mark Wahlberg’s Mike Williams into a more traditional Hollywood hero. Except Hollywood wasn’t buying it, and neither were moviegoers. Instead, Deepwater Horizon was met by protests and anger, especially in Louisiana.

Our review said that Deepwater Horizon was “a movie that flinches from explanation, but not from brutality. Beyond the visuals, the charisma of the cast also does a whole lot to overcome this shortfall and once the well goes downhill, the movie turns into an epic thrill ride. Even so, the lack of a more thoughtful examination of the characters, the causes of the problem with the well, and the aftermath is distressing.” It also noted that the lone female character on the rig, Gina Rodriguez’s Andrea Fleytas was basically reduced to “screaming” instead of showing any signs of heroism.

Free State of Jones

Production Budget: $49 million

Box Office: $20.8 million (domestic); $25 million (worldwide total)

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Is the McConaissance over? The icy reception of Free State of Jones would suggest that Matthew McConaughey’s post-Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective surge only went so far. Free State of Jones was based on the real story of Newton Knight and the combined forces of ordinary citizens and escaped slaves who revolted against the Confederacy during the Civil War. But audiences simply didn’t show up for the movie.

As noted by our reviewer, “Free State is overlong and uninteresting, with diversions that go nowhere, random advancements in the story, and bits and pieces that just don’t make sense.” That certainly explains why it didn’t catch on.

Ghostbusters

Production Budget: $144 million

Box Office: $128.3 million (domestic); $229 million (worldwide total)

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Has there ever been a movie more hated than the new Ghostbusters before a single frame was shot? The news that director Paul Feig was doing an all-female Ghostbusters remake did not sit well with some fans, who decided to continuously trash the film all the way through production and into release. But despite what the haters would have us believe, $128.3 million was actually a pretty decent box office return. The problem is that it didn’t recoup the budget and Sony paid a lot more than that to promote the new Ghostbusters. Because of that, this movie ended up in the red. Whether the announced sequel will actually happen remains to be seen.

“Ghostbusters can’t decide whether it wants to be a completely new take on the property or a loving homage to the original, and because of that it’s trapped between the two,” said our reviewer, before adding that “it’s frankly disappointing that the new Ghostbusters movie doesn’t work as well as it had the potential to…I wanted this to be a movie as worthy as a cult following as the film on which it’s based, but for all that does work about Ghostbusters — and, again, it’s the leads that carry it as much as they can — there’s plenty that holds it back from being great.” It might be a while before someone tries to make another Ghostbusters, but it will happen eventually.

Gods of Egypt

Production Budget: $140 million

Box Office: $31.1 million (domestic); $150.7 million (worldwide total)

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“Gods of Egypt is a bad movie,” said our reviewer. “There’s no getting around that. The acting is bad, the execution is bad, the effects are bad, and that’s just scratching the surface.” We can’t argue with that, although we were hoping that the studio would go with an alternate title for the movie: The Whitest Gods You Know.

Director Alex Proyas and Lionsgate suffered a massive backlash for Gods of Egypt’s lack of diversity, especially among the gods themselves. But perhaps their biggest crime was that they made an inferior film while believing that it could be the first installment of a new franchise.

Jane Got a Gun

Production Budget: $25 million

Box Office: $1.5 million (domestic); $3 million (worldwide total)

There is actually a really interesting story behind Jane Got a Gun…but it’s about all of the drama behind-the-scenes, including financing problems, production delays, stars dropping out of the film, and even a director who walked out on the first day of shooting! None of that made for a smooth movie making experience, and the resulting movie probably suffered for it.

IGN didn’t review Jane Got a Gun, but it scored a lowly 40 on Rotten Tomatoes and it was DOA at the box office.

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Darkest Dungeon Review

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It’s also the deepest, most punishing, and tense dungeon.

Update: Darkest Dungeon has been nominated for IGN’s 2016 Game of the Year

Darkest Dungeon  Review

Like most fiendish things, Darkest Dungeon appears much simpler and more benign than it is. Its grim but expressive hand-drawn art style, combined with how you only ever see your party of four mismatched adventurers trudge from left to right as the backgrounds scroll by like a demented Hannah Barbera cartoon, might give you the idea there’s not much to it. But once you’ve explored a few of these randomized dungeons and almost certainly seen several of your fragile characters brutally killed or driven insane, it’s revealed as an intimidatingly deep, tense, and intentionally opaque turn-based tactical game that’s dripping with character.

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Above: watch us try not to die.

What strikes me most is how the rampant and merciless randomness always keeps me off balance, struggling to stay alive. It comes in both the usual accuracy percentages for various attacks and dodges, but also unexpected and unusual places – even the turn order is mixed up by behind-the-scenes dice rolls. So you’re never quite sure, for example, if your Vestal healer will be able to patch up your Crusader tank before the enemy can deal a killing blow, permanently removing that character and all his progress from your roster. By robbing you of the certainty and predictability you usually see in a turn-based tactics game of this nature, Darkest Dungeon creates tense and terrifying battles where you’re never sure what’ll happen next.

An Atmosphere of Doom

It’s all fantastically grim and delivered with great gravitas.

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are intensified by outstanding narration that frequently interjects with grim warnings and exclamations in response to events like critical hits or discovering potentially dangerous loot. The deep-voiced speaker, who portrays an ancestor of yours who first unearthed the dungeons before recognizing his folly, also doles out bits of loose, Lovecraftian story more as flavor than a meaningful plot. Mostly when beginning boss-level dungeons, he’ll give some background on how each unholy horror came to be and what role they played in his own mad quest, and it’s all fantastically grim and delivered with great gravitas.

Battles are great to watch, too. Using just a few frames of animation and some parallax movement, Darkest Dungeon conveys action and excitement, and the monster designs are varied and often creative. Battle is fought against a wide variety of bandits, skeleton warriors, fish men, filthy pig monsters, Eldritch horrors, and all manner of creatively designed monstrosities in between. The grotesque bosses are especially noteworthy for their unique and powerful abilities, which include a transforming lump of flesh and a Siren that temporarily seduces one of your party to her side.

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Knowing when to fold a bad hand and retreat is as important as knowing how to play a good one.

It might feel unfair at times – because it is – but that’s where the tension comes from. It would be unforgivable for a game to put us in no-win situations with catastrophic consequences that can wipe away hours of progress, but Darkest Dungeon sidesteps that problem by giving us an eject button that allows you to bail out of a run that’s going south at nearly any time (it does have a chance to fail, like everything else), even in combat, and save your surviving characters at the cost of forfeiting your mission rewards. Like in poker, knowing when to fold a bad hand and retreat is as important as knowing how to play a good one.

A Deep Hole of Complexity

So it’s all about maximizing your odds of survival in these unforgiving places, though that’s easier said than done. It’s impressive how many different factors you have to consider when putting together a four-member team from the 14 distinctly different classes that not only has complementary abilities, but also taking care that no member is affected by weaknesses that might make them vulnerable to the perils of a particular dungeon run.

The first complex thing you have to consider is that each character has seven skills, such as the Highwayman’s bleed-inflicting Open Vein or the Grave Robber’s blight-loaded Poison Dart. You can only have four equipped at a time, and unlocking and upgrading each skill individually represents a considerable investment of resources. This forces you to specialize characters for specific roles, such as front-line melee or back-row support, or to spread your abilities thinly across the positional slots. Each class’s ability set is flexible enough that most characters can serve multiple roles, which adds a lot of diversity to possible builds.

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Above: gameplay in the Weald dungeon.

But wait, there’s more: each character’s placement in the four-character lineup affects which skills can be used. For instance, Poison Dart can only be used if the Grave Robber is in slots three or four, Open Vein can only be used from slots one, two or three, but only against enemies in slots one or two. That not only necessitates careful arrangement of your party, but it means that an enemy can cast an ability that can knock you out of position and disable some of your most potent abilities, forcing you to spend turns shuffling back where you need to be. And of course, you can do the same to them, which can define entire strategies against certain enemies.

Certain items can definitely inspire me to rebuild a character around a certain skill.

On top of that you have to worry about equipping loot to boost character stats. It’s a little bland, in that items are rarely potent enough to grant new spins on existing abilities, but certain items can definitely inspire me to rebuild a character around a certain skill, such as a shield that granted my normally forward-facing Man-at-Arms major defensive bonuses, but only if he sat in position four, where he couldn’t use any of his offensive skills but could buff his teammates considerably, and even take hits for them.

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Keeping track of all your characters is a big task.

Then there are quirks, which can positively or negatively impact a hero’s effectiveness in certain dungeons, or against certain enemies, or cause them to independently perform actions, including stealing any money you see in the case of Kleptomania, and each hero can have up to five positive and five negative traits. Keeping track of them all – your stable can hold up to 25 of them at once – is a big task.

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Oculus Exec on VR Killer App: ‘I Don’t Think We’ve Had the Spark Yet’ – IGN Unfiltered

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“At some point, somewhere, some developer will strike that brilliant first hit.”

While Oculus head of content Jason Rubin is confident in the viability of VR as the next great computing platform, he doesn’t believe we’ve seen the technology’s killer app just yet.

On the latest episode of our monthly interview show IGN Unfiltered, Rubin said the inquiry as to what will be virtual reality’s killer app is the “hardest” question he receives by the senior management at Facebook, and it “scares the living daylights” out of him.

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Rubin pointed to software for prior platforms like Halo and Angry Birds, noting that those games, which have proven to be incredibly influential in cementing the viability of their respective platforms, were not created with the intention of being killer apps. He also mentioned Crash Bandicoot, which he created for PlayStation, noting that Naughty Dog didn’t set out to make the system’s killer app but instead “stumbled upon it” when crafting the series.

“Developers try to do what they think is right and at some point, somewhere, some developer will strike that brilliant first hit,” Rubin added. He then noted how that will in turn inspire other developers, creating a snowball effect in propelling software development for VR. “It needs the spark, and I don’t think we’ve had the spark yet, to be honest.”

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Rubin emphasized that even though virtual reality doesn’t have a killer app just yet, there are already great experiences available for the platform. Despite the impressive content we currently have, however, he concluded by saying that “in a fair perspective, from a thousand feet, we still don’t know what that spark in VR is.”

For our thoughts on Oculus VR, check out IGN’s review of the Rift, as well as our review of its new Touch controllers. While you’re at it, check out this month’s full episode of IGN Unfiltered for even more from Rubin on virtual reality, as well the new insight he shared with us about his time at Naughty Dog and THQ.

Alex Osborn is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.

Game Scoop! 417: The Year in Gaming 2016

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Was 2016 a good year for video games?

Welcome back to Game Scoop!, IGN’s weekly video game talk show. This week we’re wrapping up the biggest news stories of 2016: everything from No Man’s Sky to Pokemon Go. Watch the video above or download the podcast below.

Download Game Scoop! Episode 417

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