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Gamer events, new releases for spring 2016

Uncharted 4 brings fortune hunter Nathan “Nate” Drake out of retirement.
Uncharted 4 brings fortune hunter Nathan “Nate” Drake out of retirement. Sony

Spring, a busy time for the video-game industry, doesn’t officially begin until March 20, but North Texas gamers already have much to be excited about.

Two events will vie for gamers’ hard-earned dollars: the Texas Pinball Festival, March 18-20 in Frisco, and All-Con, March 17-20 in Dallas. The latter has added a number of video-game-related activities this year, including a Street Fighter V tournament and an assortment of panels, including one on how to forge a career in gaming.

After many delays, the National Videogame Museum in Frisco has finally nailed down a grand-opening date: April 2.

And, of course, many new video games are coming out. These include such popular titles as Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam for the Nintendo 3DS, Tom Clancy’s The Division for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and Lego Marvel’s Avengers for most every current console.

Here are nine more forthcoming titles that will keep gamers occupied at least until summer.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

Wii U

Publisher: Nintendo

ESRB rating: Teen

Available now

$59.99

A new “Legend of Zelda” game for the Wii U was supposed to release in 2015, but Nintendo has delayed it until later this year. To bide their time, fans of the beloved franchise, in which an elfin, green-clad swordsman named Link solves puzzles and battles his way through labyrinthine dungeons, can play this remastered version of Twilight Princess.

In addition to a visually spruced up overhaul of the original game, Twilight Princess HD adds amiibo functionality and even includes a Wolf Link amiibo. Not only does the amiibo add features to Twilight Princess HD, it will add bonuses to the next “Legend of Zelda” game.

EA Sports UFC 2

PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Publisher: Electronic Arts

ESRB rating: Teen

Release date: March 15

$59.99

Step back into the Octagon with EA Sports UFC 2, a virtual version of Ultimate Fighting Championship, the popular and violent mixed martial arts competition. From the comfort of your couch, you can punch, kick, jab, elbow and otherwise pummel your pal or the computer-controlled player into submission.

The game has a variety of upgrades over EA Sports UFC, including more realistic graphics, a Knockout Mode (with onscreen hints, quick pacing and an adjustable health meter for each fighter) and a revamped Career Mode, which adds playable females, including fan favorite Ronda Rousey, who’s pictured on the cover with Conor McGregor.

Quantum Break

Xbox One

Publisher: Microsoft

ESRB rating: Mature 17+

Release date: April 5

$59.99

Promising a “holistic entertainment experience” that “blurs the lines between television and gaming,” Quantum Break casts players as Jack Joyce, who, thanks to a faulty time-travel experiment, has gained time manipulation powers enabling him to stop time, speed up time, unleash time blast projectiles and use a time shield to deflect bullets.

More traditionally, Jack can solve environmental puzzles and do some 3-D platforming, the latter complicated by objects that get caught in a time loop and become hazards. The objective is to stop an evil corporation from destroying time itself.

After you work your way through each level, an episode of a live action-style TV show will play (featuring Shawn Ashmore, Aidan Gillen and Courtney Hope), augmenting the game’s storyline.

Dark Souls III

PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

ESRB rating: Mature 17+

Release date: April 12

$59.99

Winner of “Best Role Playing Game” at the massive Gamescom 2015 video-game convention in Germany, Dark Souls III is similar to its progenitors, offering ample action to go with the RPG goodness. Equipped with armor, shields, bows, arrows, firebombs, swords, magic and other weaponry, you’ll battle an assortment of enemies, including monsters, undead soldiers and tricky bosses that change tactics mid-fight.

Bonfires return as checkpoints, but now there are also small gravestones that light up, acting as torches and supplementing the storyline. Player movement is quicker and attacks are stronger than in previous games in the series, and the levels are larger and more interconnected, encouraging gamers to explore the darkly beautiful environments.

Ratchet & Clank

PlayStation 4

Publisher: Sony

ESRB rating: Everyone 10+

Release date: April 12

$39.99

Released for the PlayStation 2 in 2002, the original Ratchet & Clank kicked off a popular series that includes such titles as Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (2007) and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (2011) for the PlayStation 3. The PS4 Ratchet & Clank, which has a movie tie-in releasing April 29, is a reimagining of that debut game, enhanced with a fresh control system, better graphics and sounds, new boss battles, new flight sequences, new planets to explore and several new weapons, including the Pixelizer, which turns enemies into 8-bit pixels.

To save Solana Galaxy from the evil Chairman Drek, Ratchet the robot, aided by Clank, must navigate sci-fi worlds, collect bolts and fire bullets, grenades, flames and other weapons at an assortment of enemies.

Star Fox Zero

Wii U

Publisher: Nintendo

ESRB rating: Everyone 10+

Release date: April 22

$59.99

The popular “Star Fox” space shooter series, which began on the Super Nintendo in 1993, gets a new adventure with Star Fox Zero. The highly anticipated game, which was supposed to release last year, features the return of Fox, Falco, Peppy and Slippy, who are anthropomorphic animal pilots of an assortment of airborne and ground-based vehicles, including the Arwing (which features a new Walker transformation), the Landmaster Tank and a new Gyrowing plane.

As legendary star pilot Fox McCloud, you’ll fly through the air, lock onto enemies and blast them out of the sky (with the help of Team Star Fox, whom you should protect), using both the GamePad (cockpit view) and the TV screen (cinematic view of the full battlefield) to monitor the action.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

PlayStation 4

Publisher: Sony

ESRB rating: Teen

Release date: May 10

$59.99

Taking place several years after Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Uncharted 4 brings fortune hunter Nathan “Nate” Drake out of retirement for one final adventure. Nate’s older brother Sam, who was thought to be dead, comes asking for help, and the two embark on a global quest in search of conspiracies surrounding a lost pirate colony and treasure.

According to Game Informer, demos of Uncharted 4 offer much promise, including “stellar visuals, harrowing traversal and shooting gameplay, pithy dialogue and a robust new multiplayer mode.”

Doom

PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Publisher: Bethesda Software

ESRB rating: Mature 17+

Release date: May 13

$59.99

The series that popularized the first-person shooter genre returns with Doom, which was originally going to be titled Doom 4.

The game employs a new “push forward” combat system that emphasizes players completing the fiendishly devised levels quickly, dishing out tons of mayhem along the way. Instead of automatic health regeneration, you must kill enemies in order to heal, meaning you’ll want to confront big bad monsters even when you’re heavily damaged.

The ability for players to sprint and double-jump makes the game speedy as well.

Richardson-based developer id Software promises new enemies and a variety of new weapons in the game, in addition to such fan favorites as the chain saw, super-shotgun and plasma rifle.

Multiplayer action will be represented by such modes as clan arena, freeze tag and classic four-player death-match.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Publisher: Electronic Arts

ESRB rating: Teen

Release date: May 24

$59.99

The prequel to 2008’s Mirror’s Edge, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst focuses on the origin of Faith Connors, who runs, jumps, climbs, zip lines and uses urban exploration and parkour movements to traverse the beautiful, but oppressive city of Glass, which is lorded over by totalitarian corporations.

The game dispenses with the levels and linear action of the original in favor of an open-world, free-roaming environment, which gives players more freedom of movement and multiple paths to complete objectives.

An agile, spritely protagonist, Faith engages in melee-style battles to evade or defeat enemies. The action is viewed from a first-person perspective, but switches to third-person during finishing moves.

Faith must also complete time trials, run races and solve environmental puzzles.

Brett Weiss is the author of the “Classic Home Video Games” series and of “The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987.”

Spring break fun!

March 8: Events to book in advance

March 10: Gadgets and gear for your getaway

March 12: Free things to do in DFW

Monday: A week’s worth of crafts

Today: The hottest new video games

Wednesday: Recipes kids can help prepare

All-Con

  • March 17-20
  • Westin Dallas Park Central, 12720 Merit Drive, Dallas
  • Free Thursday (registration required); $55 weekend pass; $35 Friday ($20 children ages 5-12); $35 Saturday ($20 child); $20 Sunday ($10 child)
  • 817-819-1353; www.all-con.org/home.html

Texas Pinball Festival

  • March 18-20
  • Embassy Suites, 7600 John Q Hammons Drive, Frisco
  • $60 weekend pass ($35 children ages 5-12); $25 Friday ($15 child); $35 Saturday ($25 child); $20 Sunday ($10 child)
  • 214-471-5777; www.texaspinball.com

National Videogame Museum Grand Opening

  • April 2
  • Frisco Discovery Center, 8004 North Dallas Parkway, Frisco
  • $12; arcade games cost 25 cents per play
  • 972-668-8400; www.nvmusa.org
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