Saturday, June 27, 2015

Evaluating Star Fox Zero's Criticism (Nintendojo)

As described in the article, the criticism for Star Fox Zero continues to fascinate me long after E3's been over. As such, I felt it was only necessary to write my most ambitious article on Nintendojo yet: a nearly 2000 word analysis on the game's reception, the most common points of criticism, and my own thoughts. There was another article set in stone for the defense of Metroid Prime: Federation Forces, so I tried my hardest to establishing a more objective analysis as opposed to a straight-up defense. Please give it a read!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

E3 2015: My Thoughts

Another year, another E3. Nintendo's recent rounds of conferences have come under heavy fire in the  past three years, and while it seemed last year's Digital Event was a major step in the right direction, fans are once again left disappointed despite the same format.

Myself? I'm actually still wrestling with forming an overall opinion. While I share some of the hyperbolic dislike for several of the new games, I recognize that I like the majority of the games presented. The problem, however, lies in how they were presented, which has led to general apathy (or just plain hatred, as evident from my home of NeoGAF) from nearly everyone.

As already announced, since this conference wasn't a complete knockout like next year, we'll be returning to the regular format for reviewing E3. Given the nature of this particular E3, however, I won't just be talking about games. What exactly do I mean by that? Read on.

What I Liked

Star Fox Zero


Finally, Star Fox has come. And contrary to the rest of the internet, I rather adored what was on display here. Most of the criticism (particularly in the graphics area) has fallen on my deaf ears, for I'm quite delighted that several of my predictions came true!

First and foremost, I'm glad Nintendo took Star Fox 64 3D as an opportunity to establish a reboot. Much as I dug Assault, most of the bullshit from Adventures and Command clogged up the series with pointless timeskips, the existence of Krystal, and the unforgivable sin of Peppy leaving the team. Now things are back to the simple, casual cheesiness of the SF64 universe, complete with Mike West and Lyssa Browne reprising their roles as Fox and Slippy. Even better, from what I could hear from the trailer and Treehouse streams, it sounds like they've toned down the deliberate cheesiness in the voices (as seen in SF643D and Smash 4) to let them sound more natural. Let's hope I'm right!

And I love the aesthetics. Roll your eyes all you want, but I'm quite pleased with the overtly "clean" look of the aesthetic. Continuing the Star Fox 64 3D artstyle brings the machines, planets, and characters to life as if they were toys and playsets, which gels so naturally with the setting that I can't wait to see what it'll do with other familiar locations in the Lylat System. Sure, Corneria might look a little too familiar, but have you seen what they did with Titania? I'm dying to see what they'll do with the likes of Macbeth and Aquas (assuming they make the cut). A fun piece of artwork below makes me just want to reach my hands out and toy around with all the machinery!

...and maybe the characters, assuming they're okay with it.

Also, everyone's fantasy collaboration with Platinum Games has come true! Granted, Nintendo's clearly still calling the shots, and it's sad Hideki Kamiya isn't directly involved with one of his dream projects (although I'm certain he'll sneak in some input, heheh), but I remain excited for how they'll influence the game's development. I get the impression this'll be a tad more reserved than their typical spectacle (as seen in the delightful Bayonetta and The Wonderful 101), but stuff like the Titania boss are good signs. I eagerly await to see how they'll handle the rest of the boss encounters...

There's plenty of other things I could gush over in what we've seen of Star Fox Zero, be it them bringing back the walker from the ill-fated Star Fox 2 or actually reviving the one-shot boss characters from Star Fox 64 (PLEASE BRING BACK MECHBETH OH MY GOD). But alas, much of that has been buried in the swath of criticism for the game. Believe it or not, I was quite shocked to witness the flood of complaints following the presentation. I wonder if it was because it took so long for me to jump on the HD train...?

While I feel several concerns (such as no bombs or alternate routes) require a deeper understanding of the full game, there's the matter of the two most ubiquitous complaints:  locking 60 FPS for both regular gameplay/the Game Pad and looking relatively unambitious for a new Star Fox title. The former stems as being the main suspect as to why Zero's graphics fell short of expectations, and for the moment I think I'm okay with it. I mean, I dunno, maybe it'll take for me to see the game up close to finally realize it's "ugliness", but currently I love the direction they've gone with that, so the 60 FPS gets a momentary pass for me (that, and I think what they're doing with the cockpit/robot sections are pretty damn cool).

And as for the "unambition"...well, I think Nintendo recognized they had to go back to the basics. Like 'em or hate 'em, what Adventures, Assault and Command brought to the table weren't overtly popular with fans and Nintendo realized they had to go back to what worked in Star Fox 64. If anything, I guess I'm a little saddened there's no multiplayer (at the very least in the vain of Assault's), but knowing Nintendo I'm certain they'll limit its potential by rendering it local-only, so I suppose I'm glad they're beefing up the single-player for all it's worth.

In any case, the reception to Star Fox Zero remains fascinating to me even a week later, and I actually plan on writing a Nintendojo article by this Friday on it! It'll be a far more objective affair where I scrutinize the most major complaints and judge whether or not they hold merit, so there'll be none of the fanboy gushing you see here. Please look forward to it!

Nearly Everything About The 3DS

Regardless of the disappointment for the Wii U's lineup, I think we can all admit the 3DS had a fantastic roster of games (barring one particular bust, but we'll get into that later). I really liked how much of the new games had some really clever twists on some familiar formulas, and I remain as excited as ever for the 3DS's future.

Take Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam. Bringing the RPG worlds of Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi together is such an "I didn't even know I wanted it" idea, and watching the creativity on display on the Treehouse Stream was great fun to watch. Already my mind is swirling with the possibilties of how the two worlds can interact with each other, such as familiar NPCs or party members returning to the fold. With AlphaDream behind the game, Here's to hoping they stay away from Sticker Star's influence as far as possible.

And this is "deepest lore" at it's finest, but...anyone else shocked at the confimation of Paper Mario taking place in an alternate universe? As a kid I had the head canon that Mario's world would magically transform into paper on occasion, which coincidentally set the stage for yet another adventure and would wear off soon afterwards. I guess I'm a little sad to see that theory go, but I think Paper Jam's take on it (where apparently Luigi knocks the book of Paper Mario off a shelf) is pretty funny in its own right, and I'm quite interested to see if it'll delve into that.

Come to think of it, I guess this also means Mario & Luigi is an alternate universe, too? I think I'd better move on before I get into any crazy Mario timeline ramblings.

Ah, Four Swords! Wait, no, it's only Tri Force Heroes this time? According to Aonuma, four Links would've been "too high" when piled together. That would've been a great display of 3D, if you ask me, but I guess I'll take the man's word for it.

And the game looks hilariously fun, anyway. The crossdressing and various poofy outfits work great with the "Toon Link" visuals, and watching both the stream and various videos was great fun with all the backstabbing. As someone who can't seem to help but toss his teammates in bottomless pits in New Super Mario Bros., I imagine I'll be getting quite some mileage out of this title, especially with the fantastic news that this game is ONLIIIIIIINEEEEEE!! A miracle in the world of Nintendo, but a much appreciated one.

Recent tidbits from Aonuma have implied the game will be quite meaty for completionists. With Tri Force Heroes hosting an elaborate setting and story (a kingdom obsessed with fashion? I'll take it), it's setting up to not just be another spin-off, and I'm quite grateful for that.

And here's a gem overlooked in all the hubbub. Praise be the lord that allows Chibi-Robo! games to keep being made, because as far as I know they're not even that popular. And yet Nintendo found it fitting to give the little guy his own adorable amiibo, one I shall certainly fight tooth and nail to nab.

Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash looks to be the most significant deviance yet from the series, as the game is set entirely within a sidescrolling adventure. Some of the maneuvers shown on the stream were impressive enough (my favorite being the robot's impression of Moses, although I think that was in the first trailer), but time will tell if Zip Lash will serve as a worthy counterpart to Chibi-Robo's previous open adventures. At the very least, I was charmed by the game's host of bizarre Pikmin knock-off enemies

Speaking of which, apparently someone asked Mr. Tanabe about the possibility of a Chibi-Robo!/Pikmin crossover. That...sounds right up alley, although the contrasting time periods of both series could pose a problem. Perhaps they could take a page from Paper Jam's concept?

Anyway, those were my highlights from the 3DS line-up. Some gamers are starting to spectulate we're in the middle of the system's twilight years, and I'm not sure I could bear with that. The 3DS has easily been the most fun I've ever had with a handheld console, and I'd hate to see it go. Another two years, Nintendo?
The Muppets

Nintendo knew how incredibly funny the Robot Chicken segments from last year's E3 was, and they built off that concept through cooperating with The Jim Henson Company. Watching Muppet versions of Miyamoto, Iwata and Reggie goof around was funny enough, but to witness them gradually mutate into Team Star Fox a beautiful once-in-a-lifetime moment. I've become something of a Muppet fan since the 2011 movie, so this was a real treat.

Some have suggested Nintendo should return to a regular press conference next year to secure a proper showing for the NX, and while I wouldn't be opposed to that, it'd obviously come at the loss of these fun segments. The games are what's important, of course, but these Digital Events have such charming presentations that are devoid of the occasional awkwardness found in live conferences. Granted, the dwindling significance of motion control have rendered Microsoft conferences watchable again, but nothing really beats Reggie zapping a MOTHER 3 fan to oblivion or a Muppet Iwata breathing awkwardly into the camera.

And watching the Big 3 Nintendo Execs confidently marching down a hallway while the heart-pumping Bowser's Castle orchestral from Super Mario 3D World plays in the background. If anything, I thought that set the stage really well.

Maybe a little too well.

What I'm Not Sure About

Getting Tired?

Now here's where things get muddy. We've seen quite a few of the games featured fact, we've known some of them for two years now! This is Xenoblade Chronicles: X's third E3, and Yoshi's Woolly World  and the Fire Emblem x Shin Megami Tensei crossover were announced even before that. Not to mention, we've known about Super Mario Maker since last year, and already knew Star Fox was on the way.

In other words, not many surprises were in the conference. You could say it is what it is, but while I don't think most are doubting the quality of X and Yoshi, the wait's starting to get rather stretched out, don't you think? Take the former game, for instance; while I'm actually secretly excited for  December launch since it gives me a world of time to complete my current replay of Xenoblade Chronicles, the game was hardly even presented in a localized state. It's just more of the same.

Yoshi's Woolly World presents an even bigger problem with the conference: too much padding with the Developer Stories. As interesting as they are, it can't be a coincidence that the Star Fox Zero one was the most interesting one, was it? We already had one for Woolly World last year, and this year's regurgitated much of the same info. As cool as it is to know we'll be getting copies of that Mario Maker booklet, I feel they should juggle which Developer Stories to keep in the Digital Event and what should be kept as bonus Youtube videos on the side. For instance, it's vital to explain the backstory of something new and exciting like Splatoon, but we're already well-acquainted with Wooly World to the point where such tales don't need to be reintroduced.

Look, I like most of these games. I can't wait to get my hands on Woolly World and am already dreaming up levels for Super Mario Maker. And if you don't have much new stuff to show, don't much new stuff to show. The trick, then, is to show what you do have in either a) new ways we haven't seen before or b) keep their spotlight brief so they don't wear out their already long-awaited welcome.

Granted, what we saw of Super Mario Maker at the Nintendo World Championships was incredible, but...well, let's get into that now.

Too Much of Their Hand Too Early?

Here's something no one saw coming: The Nintendo World Championships held two days before ended up being more thrilling, involved, and just flat-out more exciting than the entire E3 event, and it wasn't just because Reggie embarrassed himself with his Smash Bros., uh, "skills". The hosts were incredibly on-point with their enthusiasm, Super Mario Maker's worth was proven to everyone with those crazy levels, and, to put the cherry on top, reveal on top of reveal with the likes of Blast Ball, the "one-two-three" round of reveals for Smash DLC, and numerous game reveals in the form of EarthBound Beginnings and the mysterious Blast Ball.

Including the mini-direct just a few weeks before showcasing new 3DS titles (such as the aforementioned Chibi- Robo!: Zip Lash), one question that's been on everyone's mind is "did Nintendo show too much too early?" With Nintendo's own Digital Event lacking many surprises, perhaps it would've been better to hold off, say, the Smash info until the Tuesday event. But would it really? As exciting as the new Smash content is, Nintendo's primary concern at E3 should be new titles. EarthBound Beginnings also falls into this category; while it's certainly exciting for  yours truly western audiences, it's still just a port of a 1989 video game.

Regardless, it's difficult to juggle what should be shown. Showcasing Super Mario Maker's full potential in front of a crowd and livestream certainly invigorates the audience, but it tires out its spotlight on the stream. Meanwhile, stealthily introducing a budget title in the form of Blast Ball is a fun idea, but it's all for naught when...well, we'll talk more about in a moment.

So what should be done for next year? We already know Nintendo's gearing up for another World Championship next year, and with the Hyrule Warriors/Smash DLC leaks ruining surprises, the propsect of properly balancing the content between the two shows becomes even tougher.

To be honest, I'm not even sure what's the right thing to do here. It's easy to say the entire coverage for Super Mario Make (including the Developer's Story) should've been confined to the NWC, but with it being such an important fall title for Nintendo, it's also vital it gets shown off during the actual press event. It's also also important to remember this is the first time Nintendo's juggled both events at once, and with the NX on the way and the Wii U disaster fresh on Nintendo's minds, it might be best not to show anything new at all for next time.

Time will tell.

What I Didn't Like

Metroid Prime: Federation Forces

I think the fact that the video has over 60,000 dislikes speaks for itself.

There's a lot to say about Metroid Prime: Federation Forces, so let's get the obvious stuff out of the way. In a world where 2010's Metroid: Other M single-handedly put the entire Metroid series on the fritz, this is entirely the wrong way to remind fans "Don't worry, we still care about this franchise." That Federation Force doesn't look anything like Metroid--from the gameplay right down to the bizarre "chibi" aesthetics--isn't even the worst part; it's that its mere existence during such a period proves just how out-of-touch Nintendo can be.

And what's even more heartbreaking isn't how the talented Next Level Games (Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon) are behind it. It's not how when stripped away of any Metroid influence, the game appears approachable to levels of fun, Blast Ball minigame and all. It's that this is an idea the game's producer, Kensuke Tanabe, had running in his head for the past ten years.

Talk about bad timing, yeowch.

What a shame that is, particularly since fans have admitted in the aftermath they've dreamed up Metroid titles featuring soldiers of the Galactic Federation. What everyone can't seem to get over the most is easily the graphics: clean "toy" graphics are fine for something cheesy like Star Fox, but when shifted to Metroid and compressed even further to cutesy soldiers and environments reminiscent of Dark Moon, it comes across as the most thematically dissonant Nintendo title since Star Fox Adventures.

Within a hypothetical period where Metroid was alive and well, Federation Force would be, like Metroid Prime Pinball before it, ultimately disposable. But alas, we live in a world where the Metroid Prime era has long since ended and Other M exists, and so this offering comes across clueless and even borderline insulting. Not to the levels of pathetic petitions begging for the game's cancellation, mind you, but not even the involvement of composer Kenji Yamamoto or advocacy from fellow Nintendojo co-worker Mr. Marrujo can change my mind on this downer.

Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival

And here we have this nail in a coffin. Nail to whose coffin, you ask? The Wii U.

A bold claim...if the system wasn't already dead in the water. Many had been speculating we'd be seeing Animal Crossing on the system due to various HD assets popping up from the AC theme for the Wii U menu, but I'd long suspected this wouldn't be happening. The series is one of Nintendo's few remaining bastions for the expanded market, and I can't imagine it'd serve any purpose on a dying system by the time it'd launch. While it certainly wouldn't bomb as hard as Wii Sports Club or Wii Fit U,  it'd at best manage City Folk numbers. Development on a home console version would be best saved for the next system.

With spin-offs in development for both 3DS and Wii U, I can't take the announcement of Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival as anything but Nintendo's preparing to abandon the Wii U. Given comments by Reggie and Miyamoto at the show, I can't imagine the NX not being a home console.

Miyamoto discussed last fall about spin-offs padding the release schedule before meatier entries, and yet the first round since then hasn't gone too well. Zelda: Tri Force Heroes looks all well and good, yet Federation Force and amiibo Festival were met with universal scorn. In the case of the latter, while I think it's a cute concept (a money-based board game framed within the slice-of-life context of the villagers), it's something I can't imagine anyone would desire to play.

And sadly, it's probably the best Animal Crossing can currently do with the Wii U. With the series' potential best reserved for the NX, it's time to tide over Animal Crossing fans with some spin-offs. Happy Home Designer could've done the job well enough, but with amiibo selling like hot cakes, it might make financial sense to cash in on Animal Crossing merchandise. With the Wii U already flopping hard, they may as well release a harmless spin-off while planning out the next real entry.

There's no question amiibo Festival isn't suited for the E3 environment, but what can be done? Nintendo dealt their cards with the Wii U, and it blew up in their face. As a consequence, we're offered amiibo Festival, and so now we can only look forward to the possibility of Nintendo regaining their foothold with the NX. 

Hopefully that'll happen next year. I don't think Wii U can support the company for another year.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

My Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS DLC Wishlist Pt. 3: Alt Costumes!

I wonder if this will be the shortest of my Smash DLC posts. Whereas the other two required elaboration, there's not much I can say about alt costumes except that I want them! If it ends up being brief...well, in the words of Iwata, please understand.

Smash Bros. has dabbled into alt costumes since the days of Brawl, where Wario players could choose between his WarioWare duds and his classic Wario Land outfit. This has since been briefly expanded into Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, where Olimar can turn into Alph, Zero Suit Samus is granted her Zero Mission shorts, Little Mac was given both his jogging jacket and cool arcade-inspired wireframes, three characters can change genders (Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, and Robin), and, best of all, Bowser Jr. can swap between the seven Koopalings!

Now that's a great start, but why not extend that to the rest of the cast? The modding scene for Brawl has proven how fun the idea can be, and since quite a number of other fighting games do it already, I don't see why the same can't happen here. While the new Mii costumes are awesome, I think it's time to pay attention to the characters' color and costume choices. Here are some of my suggestions.

As seen above, Project M  brings some great ideas to the table. While I don't play the mod, I certainly wouldn't mind if some of their costume oncepts made it into Smash. Ness's Pajamas and Lucas's Masked Man disguise are musts, and I actually kicked around the idea of Shogun Dedede (from Kirby Super Star's Samurai Kirby minigame) before the mod unveiled its take on it. Just imagine those killer eyebrows in sweet, sweet HD!

Pikachu and Jigglypuff would be tough since their alt colors basically are just familiar accessories, so it'd be tough to pick just one or two. In the case of Pikachu, I think it'd be hilariously adorable if they brought some of the costumes from Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Front and center is my personal favorite: Pikachu dressed in a Ph.D. outfit. Hey, come to think of it, those are all female Pikachus...hmm...

Unfortunately, my dreams of a Super Bell item didn't come true, so it's time for Cat Mario to enter the stage! I don't care if him standing upright is at odds with the original design; it simply has to happen! If you ask me, I don't think the Cat Mario "vote" in the Character Ballot announcement was a coincidence...

If it's not too much trouble, could Wario and Olimar have their cut colors back? Black-and-white biker Wario was amazingly badass, and he's just not the same without it. Olimar's dark costume was just as cool, although I wonder how it'd transfer to a primary color environment.
Due to Kirby's Copy Ability mimicking his opponents, it'd be rather difficult to pick a new costume for him that wouldn't interfere with his hats. They could just always give him new colors, but I wonder if he'd be satisfied with that? Truth be told, there's still a number of alt colors from Kirby they still haven't used, but think I have a cuter suggestion.

There. Since the inner tube is wrapped around his uh, "waist," it shouldn't come into contact with his Copy Ability hats. There is the issue of the drowning mechanic in water stages, but hey, they forgot to change Pac-Man's expression in his drowning animation, so I guess it doesn't matter.

Anyway, those are my most wanted suggestions, and that's still not even half the roster! Hopefully they'll get around to least some of the characters, but costumes for everyone would be ideal. If you've got ideas, sound off in the comments!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Quick E3 Impressions

So, Nintendo's E3 Digital Event is done and over with, and just about everyone's crying foul at their showing. I kinda knew they wouldn't live up to Sony's incredible show last night, but not to this extent...

I'll provide my full thoughts later this week in my original E3 format, but here are some quick opinions to tide you over.

-Star Fox Zero was the star of the show and I'm absolutely baffled people are hating on it. "Clean" artstyle is akin to that of a playset and I think it looks very appealing within SF64's aesthetic. Also glad to see I was correct in that Star Fox 64 3D would pave the way to a reboot. Titania was GORGEOUS. They started out very strong with this and the puppet segment. What a shame they decided to move on to Skylanders, and I'm shocked that they didn't announce their collaboration with Platinum Games (you'd think they'd have learned from The Wonderful 101).

-The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes looks hilarious (especially with the plot: Hyrule is obsessed with fashion!). Glad to see both the A Link Between Worlds engine and Four Swords gameplay return.

-Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam is such a wonderful idea! I'm really excited to see the best of Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi come together. Just make sure it's more open and Paper Mario has proper side characters. Also, stealth confirmation that Super Mario is host to alternate universes is...interesting.

-That's about it for good announcements, though. The less said about Metroid Prime: Federation Forces, the happier I'll be. Same goes for Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival. I had a feeling the series wouldn't arrive with a proper entry on Wii U (assuming that the NX was their next home console, anyway), but...not like this...

-Not to mention we've known a good chunk of this stuff (Super Mario Maker, Yoshi's Woolly World, and Xenoblade Chronicles: X) for some time. While Super Mario Maker is especially welcome, we've already seen it at its best at the Nintendo World Championships just the other day. I wonder if they showed too much of their hand too early.

-Fire Emblem: Fates looks great. Still not sure if Genei Ibun Roku is a proper crossover, though. Looks really weird.

-I need Chibi-Robo! Zip-Lash now.

So yeah, very mixed show. Definitely not their worst, but not their best. I have a lot to say about it, definitely. In the meantime, please keep a lookout for a reaction roundtable at Nintendojo!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Smash DLC Impressions + Nintendo World Championship + EARTHBOUND BEGINNINGS!!!

WHAT A DAY!!! Not only did I have my graduation party today, but it was packed to the brim with Nintendo going-ons! As expected, I only managed to get small tastes of them today, but it's all incredible nonetheless.

First up, Smash DLC! Despite the massive character leak yesterday, there were quite a few surprises in today's direct, not the least of which was stage DLC! One of them (Hyrule Castle 64) was actually chosen for my wishlist in the Smash DLC column, so as you can expect I'm quite happy about that. While Mushroom Kingdom 64 didn't make the cut, I can't be upset at more Super Mario 64 representation in the form of Peach's Castle 64! I'm really curious as to what their respective song lists will be...

...and sizes. Dream Land 64 is rather fun to have back (and I can't get enough of the new Ice Cream Island arrangement!), but the reduced size feels more than a little off. I know it's gone through some minor graphical renovations since we've last seen it, but I wish they'd put more effort into properly accommodating their sizes in relation to those of the fighters. Oh well.

And the characters! As you might expect, Lucas was the first one I tried. What's so heartwarming to witness is he now sports a winning smile. To pay tribute to Mother 3's somber tone, Brawl fitted him with something of a permanent, apathetic frown. True as that was to the source material, I can't help but be won over by this look. It's as if he's finally put his tragic past behind him, ready to live out the rest of his youth and engage life to the fullest. If you ask me, he's even starting to look rather confident of himself!

Also, Roy's returned! Truth be told, I've never cared for the idea of bringing this Fire Emblem protagonist back, but Sakurai worked his moveset magic to once again change my mind. Blending the designs from his original Binding Blade appearance and the Awakening cameo has made him look totally badass (seriously, it and the Melee model are night and day!). I guess after the magic Sakurai and co. conducted on Bowser Jr. (or should I say the Koopalings?) and his Junior Clown Kart, I guess it shouldn't surprise me that they made me a Roy fan once again. Heck, they could probably make me a Daisy fan, if they wanted to.

And RYU! It's funny how his Street Fighter moveset was basically the inspiration for Mario's, and yet the advanced button commands and whatnot render him totally unique! What's funny is that Sakurai once commented on the idea of bringing fighting game characters into the realm of Smash, stating they wouldn't be an ideal fit since they couldn't bring much new to the fold. Naturally, this is why Mega Man initially took the spot of Capcom rep over Ryu, but the way they've finally included him is pretty mindblowing when you think about it. Sure, by himself, Ryu doesn't introduce much to Smash,, but his natural Street Fighter controls render him unique by default! Quite impressive, and I can't wait to learn him further.

Now I suddenly want to play the 3DS port of Super Street Fighter IV again. AUGH! Maybe it's time I sat down with the PS3 version and finally learn those pesky controls...

Also, yeah, the Nintendo World Championship...I DIDN'T GET TO WATCH IT! *sob* The party was still going on during the first hour or so, and as I wanted to play the Smash DLC (AND THE GAME FEATURED BELOW), I only caught glimpses of the Mario Kart 8 tournament and Reggie's hilariously bad Smash showing. You'd think he's never played the series before! Regardless, I also did see Super Mario Maker, and it was glorious. I fully await its display as this year's E3 (and since I skipped over it in my last E3 review, you can definitely expect its inclusion for this year's article!)

But oh yes, by far the most exciting moment of the day was...

The original Mother is coming to Wii U's Virtual Console under the title EarthBound Beginnings!!! YEEEEEHAWWWWWW!!!!!

Those who've been following me on Nintendojo might remember I suggested a Mother trilogy pack during this weekend's roundtable for outlandish E3 ideas. I can't believe my idea, though not in the exact way I envisioned it, ended up partly coming true! If by some slim chance this means Mother 3 will be coming, I should be belaying such thoughts, but now that the impossible's already happened...!

As a dedicated member of the EarthBound/Mother fandom since 2002, I'm beyond overwhelmed, in disbelief, and excited to finally have one of the two missing pieces of my favorite video game series finally come stateside (with the original, unreleased localization no less!). Watching Shigesato Itoi's message above welled up some tears in my eyes.

Gotta say, though, I don't think I'll ever get used to Mother being rebranded as EarthBound Beginnings. I know they had to, and I'm already way too accustomed to the original EarthBound title for Mother 2, but the reverse is true for both Mother and Mother 3. The thought of Mother 3 alone being titled as anything else is just...bizarre.

Oh, but I'm getting ahead of myself! In any case, Mother is here, and it is good. Remember to always believe in the morning sun, cause you never know when the next miracle's around the corner!


So...yeah, that's the first of the "news" updates I talked about back in April. They're intended to be really quick updates (or indecipherable fanboy ramblings, as you'll likely see on Tuesday after Nintendo's conference), but today was an exception since so much happened. They'll probably only be this length maybe whenever a Direct hits,

Oh, and no Biweekly Music Wednesday! this week since it's not only E3 time, but I plan on wrapping up both my Smash DLC column AND my Kirby: Squeak Squad review by the end of the week, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS DLC Wishlist Pt. 2: Music, Music, Music!

Ah, Smash Bros. music! If the last entry was any indication, I can't get enough of the series' sweet, sweet arrangements of beloved Nintendo classics. The two latest Smash games are no exception, as I regularly listen to the Smashing Soundtrack and take frequent trips to both games' sound tests (god knows how many times I've listened to Magicant/Eight Melodies). As both titles amount to over 400 and 100 songs respectively, I know I won't be getting bored of the overall soundtrack anytime soon.

Especially since we'll be getting more! We know the Miiverse stage will arrive with quite the number of songs, and the 3DS datamine from April hints at music from the original Smash Bros., Kirby Air Ride and *gasp* Street Fighter II! With the potential for further stage DLC for the Wii U version up in the air, who knows how many songs we'll get?

But what about the possibility of individual music DLC? Ideas such as music packs have been kicked around on GAF and the like, and while I'd definitely love that, I don't think it'll happen. Barring what'll come packaged with the new stages, I imagine Sakurai thinks we have more than enough songs to Smash to, and who could blame him? There's over 400 songs in the Wii U version, for gosh sakes!

However, I imagine such suggestions come from those dissatisfied with the song selections for Donkey Kong, Metroid and Wario, and I can't say I entirely disagree. Is there truly no way to work around that...?

My own idea might have a shot: utilizing the SD card to upload music to the Wii U version's stages! Each stage could be limited to a selection of five extra song slots so as to respect the balance of the My Music ratio, and players could upload any songs they'd want! Yeehaw!

I won't deny it, after the April direct and the confirmation of more DLC, I've been thinking about this idea to the point where I'll probably end up heartbroken if it doesn't happen. Be it bringing back Brawl's Humoresque of a Little Dog arrangements on Onett to the original Kirby Super Star song rips for Halberd and The Great Cave Offensive, my mind's being going crazy with the possibilities. I think what's most appealing about it isn't just the dream scenarios, but in how it coincides with Sakurai's philosophy of adjusting Smash to the player's preferences, as evidenced by the wonderful My Music feature.

Although, whether it's probable is another story. For one thing, music can take up quite a bit of space, and I don't know if SD Card-uploaded music might have an effect on that. There's also the issue of looping tracks, which I can't imagine is done at the press of a button, thus leaving only obnoxious fadeouts that'd immediately contrast with the rest of the game's tracks. I do wonder how other games with such a feature handled all this (I know it was in Excitetrucks and Endless Ocean for Wii, but never found video footage of custom music in use). Curse my lack of tech knowledge...

But let us dream for a moment and ask ourselves, what if it were possible? What would we choose? Regardless, since this is probably the least likely of my suggestions, I'll be restraining myself and share my personalized choices for two veteran stages: Delfino Plaza and Luigi's Mansion.

Delfino Plaza

Rogueport (This song got ROBBED! It's easily the best part of the Paper Mario Medley, and obviously others felt the same since they ripped it independently from the medley. I've wanted an arrangement of Rogueport since the Brawl days and the one here is absolutely fantastic, so I'd put it on here in a heartbeat!)

Chainlink Charge (While this Super Mario 3D World song was never in a beach setting, I can easily imagine this Koji Kondo piece being set to a bustling port town. None of my 3D World favorites got in, so this'd be a good way to sneak 'em in.)

Sunshine Seaside (Fits like a charm, what else can I say? Just goes to show even if I didn't think 3D World was all that great, it had an excellent soundtrack, so in goes its songs!)

Beach Bowl Galaxy (One of my favorite non-orchestral pieces from Super Mario Galaxy would work wonders here.)

Dolphin Shoals (Ah, yes, everyone's favorite Mario Kart 8 song! Being exclusively set to that AWESOME third act version would induce seaside euphoria all around.)

Luigi's Mansion

Bowser's Road (This song has been long overdue, but there's no Bowser's Castle stage around, so it goes to the spookiest Mario stage around. This is the incredible Super Mario Galaxy 2 version.)
Boo Waltz (Perfect, what else can I say? Maybe there's too many Galaxy rips as opposed to arrangements, but who cares when they sound this good?)
Booster's Tarantino (Now here's a special case. This is actually a remix--or should I say an OCremix--of a Super Mario RPG song. This has always been one of my favorite fan arrangements, and I think it'd go perfectly here. Speaking of which, I haven't listened to OCRemix stuff in a while...)
Night Play (Luigi's Mansion is home to a number of cameo tracks, so I figured one more couldn't hurt. After all, there's barely enough Chibi-Robo! content as it is!

Fly Me to the Moon (Okay, this one's mostly a joke, but that giant moon in the background would be too fitting. Generally I'm only considering Nintendo songs, but this Smash title was a lot more lenient with third-party titles published by Nintendo such as Baten Kaitos and Fatal Frame, so I figured Bayonetta should make the cut.

On looking this up on Youtube, I only just now learned this didn't originate from Bayonetta. Derp.)

There's actually quite a few more I'd want to put on here, such as the lovely earworm that is the Library Piano from Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. I still hum it every now and then...

And that's about it. Rather short article by my standards, but again, I didn't want to go too crazy over an idea that has a low likelihood (relative to my other three parts, anyway). However, if my most desired feature comes true in this or any other Smash, I'd love to start a column where I list off my choice of custom music! So if that ever happens, please look forward to that!


As there's only two articles left, I'll be finishing off this column sometime next week. Believe it or not, I honestly forgot the time since the first one as I was juggling Nintendojo work and the Canvas Curse piece, so trust me on this one!).

And there's a Smash mini-direct going down this Sunday!! You can bet I'll be reporting on it, but it just so happens to fall on the date of my Graduation Party, so if not that night, then definitely Monday!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Three Ways to Make Splatoon Better (Nintendojo)

Article Here

Ah, Splatoon. I've been disciplining myself to separate one-hour play sessions for games to complement the following hours of writing, and it's been quite difficult not breaking that rule with Splatoon. That said, there's a number of ways to improve on the game, and I go into that in the article above. You've probably heard some of these complaints, but there's no problem in adding noise!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 25 ~Gaur Plain~ (Xenoblade Chronicles)

Origin: Xenoblade Chronicles
Plays In: Gaur Plain in the Daytime
Status: Original Composition
Composer(s): ACE+

Everyone's definite Xenoblade moment is soon after the quest begins, when you emerge from Tephra Cave and find yourself in marvel at the majesty of the Bionis' Leg. Cliffs and monsters of all sorts tower many, many stories over Shulk and his companions. The ominous gaze of the Mechonis bores down at the party as its outstretched swords pierces the heavens. There's smoke in the distance, but you do investigate it or leave it alone?

Whichever you choose, adventure awaits. And that is the essence of Gaur Plain.

Xenoblade was perhaps the freshest Nintendo property since Pikmin landed on our tiny GameCubes in 2001, and the soundtrack greatly contributed to that. While Yoko Shimomura graced us with a dozen or so tracks, much of the music was done by Nintendo newbies ACE+ and Manami Kiyota. The former, a group of three Japanese musicians, was responsible for our track of the day, and what a glorious piece of aural heaven it is. So good is it, in fact, that you wouldn't be wrong to suspect it's what immediately grabs players' attention to the area.
And what an area it is, indeed. I've been replaying Xenoblade in anticipation of the upcoming X and I just so happened to clear the first round of sidequests on the plain. A common criticism of the game is that the sidequests are too homogenized and generally uninteresting, and while the former's definitely true, I struggle with the latter. Yes, the context behind them is hardly ever interesting, but what you do most certainly is. They force you to poke around every nook and cranny of the massive, gorgeous environments the game provides you, and they're all so damn fascinating and bursting with imagination.

In the case of Gaur Plain, there's far too much to do. Hordes of triceratops and ponies roam the plain, but watch out, there's giant mutant tortoises and orangutans hanging around. Head into the caves, and maybe you'll find a hideout home to a colony of dodos. That mysterious off in the corner looks interesting, but a certain eight-legged surprise awaits you if you reach the end. Being so close to ocean level presents a lovely, if not dangerous, view into the abyss below. You can even spot Colony 9, where the game begins, off in the distance if you look hard enough.

And all the while, what is undoubtedly the best field theme in the entire game plays. It's accompanied by a night version too, and it's lovely and relaxing and all that, but it can't hope to surpass the sheer adventure it's daytime counterpart provides. Violins, drums, and piano work together to stir an adventurous spirit within the player, granting Xenoblade's true introduction an awe-inspiring depth.

Even when I'm replaying the game, the song tells me I've only just begun Xenoblade. This summer will be a great one, indeed.

Final Thoughts: They say the composers for Xenoblade didn't come back for X...after witnessing that weird rock battle theme with vocals, I wonder if I should worry.