Smash Bros. – TNG: Link

A Link to the Smash

A valiant battlecry!
A valiant battlecry!

Link is interesting because, if we wanna get nerdy about it, no two Link’s are the same. At least not often. That means there is a wealth of abilities, designs, weapons, and worlds to pull from when bringing him to Smash Bros. It appears, right now, that the Smash team is taking the safe route. They’re keeping him roughly how he was in Brawl, although they’ve lightened up his palette to more resemble that of Skyward Sword. I’m fairly happy with his visual design overall, especially when you look at how much detail is in things like his chain mail shirt and the stitching on his clothes.

Never much cared for that pose. It seems... unwieldy?
Never much cared for that pose. It seems… unwieldy?

Moveset wise, I haven’t captured anything terribly new, but hopefully he’ll have some cute new tricks like bomb rolling or the gust jar from Skyward Sword. Otherwise there’s not a terrible many things I can think to do with him.

The 3DS highlights do him well, I think.
The 3DS highlights do him well, I think.

I’m predicting that we won’t see Toon Link return. The reason for this is due to Sakurai’s recent comments about keeping the roster as sleek as possible, meaning potential (and likely) cuts to the Smash line-up we have currently. The best place to start is with the clones.With that in mind, I hope they lighten Link up some; I found him way to heavy and much preferred Toon Link’s air-combat. But hey, that’s just me. I’ll admit he felt ‘right’ given he’s supposed to be a guy full of random armor and equipment, so I can’t really argue the point of his weight.

Pretty sure Toon Link's out, now....
I know that -technically- this is a different incarnation of Toon Link, but I see it as the signature on Toon Link’s pink slip from the roster.

Let’s talk alternate costumes. Right now we’re hanging between a Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess link, so that kind of covers all of our “adult Link” bases. We could go with an outfit from the start of Skyward Sword or Twilight Princess; something more casual-ware. Maybe even replace his weapons with the preliminary wooden sword shield, just for looks. Really, I’m just in it for the mad-adorable bed head. I would also except a Fierce Deity Link costume.

Dat bedhead.

When I was originally writing about this last year, before there were any details, I was kind of hoping they’d go a more bold route and sack regular Link entirely, in favor of something like Wolf Link, and thus allowing Toon Link to stay in for the more default play. But that was unlikely to happen then, and now we’ve confirmed regular link is staying in. And Toon Link is very much likely out, at this point. That still leaves my Wolf Link in play… but that’s for another post…

Annnnd DDDGE!
Annnnd DDDGE!

So Link’s back, and nobody thought differently. I like his look, and he looks to be everything we’d expect him to be. What do you think, though? Were you hoping for something a little more unique? Are you glad they’re keeping him relatively safely? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Also, here’s a gallery full of Linky goodness!

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Smash Bros. – The Next Generation: Mario

The Undisputed King of Jump

Mess with the Mario, and you're going to get burned.
Mess with the Mario, and you’re going to get burned.

The most malleable character in video games, Mario’s done it all. He’s been a doctor, an astronaut, been an environmentalist, been a sports icon, and this one time he was a plumber. In the most recent Smash they tried mixing him up by granting him the F.L.U.D.D. as a power, and like it or not it’s coming back. Hopefully they at least spice it up a bit more. It had it’s wonderful tricks and uses, but overall felt kind of lackluster. Or maybe I just suck with it, but whatever. What do you think?

Looks like Mario’s gotten himself into another crazy caper!

There’s not a lot to really study in screenshots released thus far. The Man in Red appears to be bringing what he always does to the game: A nice well-rounded, easy-to-use character. And that’s fine! I don’t need a whole lot of flash from Mario. He’s a safe bet, and I’m okay with that.

I guess we can establish his taunt is back?

Aesthetically, I like that we’re toning back the “Seriously Detailed” look of Smash, in general, and I think Mario is one of those prime examples of why. He was getting to close to Photorealistic Mario, and nobody wants that. Nobody. Did you just say “Well I do!”? Because you lied to yourself.

These… uh… titans? Clash? Where’d Villager get boxing gloves, anyway?

Sakurai has commented that he’s not keen on alternate costumes because they take away from the iconic look, but I have to respectfully disagree with this assessment on two grounds. One, some characters have multiple “Iconic Looks.” Sakurai himself recognized this by adding Doctor Mario as a clone in Melee, and by giving Wario an alternate costume in Brawl. While I understand it’s low on priorities, I think it’s a great place for DLC down the road. That’s right, I said it. It’s not a need, it’s a want, and I’m okay with ponying up a little more for a want. With that in mind, I’m going to be talking Alternate Costumes for any and all of my characters moving forward.

And I may have spilled the beans a bit early defending my position, but hey, let’s spell it out. Mario’s alternate costume needs to be a return to his Dr. Mario clone from Smash Bros. Melee. You just reskin his fireballs with pills and update the sound, and otherwise you’re just about done. The FLUDD can still be the FLUDD, though if I may point out, it’d be a lot better if it power-sprayed vitamins. Instead of splashy water noises, it would make clicky glass-bottle-of-pills noises.

He's heating up in this game!
He’s heating up in this game!

Those are my thoughts on the obvious return of Mario to the new series. Below are some additional screenshots of our favorite costume-swapping hero for you to enjoy.

As always, your fine self is more than welcome to post your thoughts in the comments section below! In the future, if you ever want to reference back to this specific article, I’ll have it permalinked under my Smash Bros. section on the navigation bar up top.

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PC Review – Remember Me

Note: This is for the PC version of Remember Me

 Remember Me is the first game developed by DONTNOD entertainment. Originally, it had a hard time finding a publisher, as many of them were reluctant to pick up a game with a female protagonist that also didn’t fatally kill every enemy you come across. Capcom eventually picked it up, and published it to three platforms (PC, Xbox, and PS3).  I played it on the PC, with an Xbox controller, on the hardest difficulty.  I didn’t attempt it on the mouse and keyboard, but based on how it plays,  I can’t imagine it would be a fun experience.

One of it’s strongest attributes is it’s music.  The soundtrack, composed by Olivier Derivière, fits the world perfectly. It adapts itself to combat, changes it’s style based on what’s going on, and is tremendously unique in terms of what it offers.  I would strongly encourage at least giving the excerpts a brief listen, courtesy of the Soundcloud link below. The soundtrack itself is availible on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon MP3 if you end up wanting to check out more.

Gameplay-wise, it has a lot of things in common with Arkham Asylum, where the emphasis is more on watching the rhythm of battle and reacting accordingly over mashing out a 46 button combo that you’ve committed to muscle memory. You only ever unlock 4 ‘combos’, all of which are pretty easy to remember and make sense, reinforcing a more simple, but effective, method of combat.  Where Remember Me adds it’s own sense of flair is the ‘pressen’ system.  You can adjust each strike to have one of four effects: damage, health restoration, Sensen cooldowns (more on that later!), and ‘chain’. Damage and health restoration are pretty self explanatory; the ‘chain’ ones simply take on the effect of whatever precedes it.   Sensen Cooldowns lower the countdown timer on your specialized abilities, which could be considered the ‘special’ moves.  Each one has a different effect–one allows you to openly freeform moves in a series of devastating strikes, another brainwashes a robot enemy to your cause before it self-destructs.  There’s more in there, and they definitely add a flair to the combat–they are prevalent enough so that you can use them freely, but not so common that they’re all you do.  It’s a simple system that’s pretty fun, though over a multiple-hour play session it starts to feel a -little- robotic. (I’m still riding the MGS Revengeance high, though, so I get withdrawals if I’m not bisecting a Metal Gear Ray in half.)

These are the specialized Sense Abilities you get. The game does a nifty slowdown mechanic to give you time to choose--but the combat doesn't stop!
These are the specialized Sense Abilities you get. The game does a nifty slowdown mechanic to give you time to choose–but the combat doesn’t stop!

Outside of combat, you have the typical Tomb Raider-esque platforming. Nillin, the protagonist, can climb, vault, and jump with the best of them.  The game’s sense of style is amazing here, too–you never feel lost, thanks to helpful HUD elements that show you all the safe spots to jump.  If you’ve ever jumped for a ledge in a game and missed just due to the fact it seemed like it should’ve been a safe haven, rest assured that doesn’t happen here.  And while you do have a sweet moveset for traversing the terrain, the game is unfortunately rather linear–there’s  a few branches where you can hunt down collectibles, but otherwise, it’s fairly straightforward.  Personally, that’s not a huge deal to me, but there were times where I wanted to go and explore Neo Paris in all it’s beauty.

Guys, this menu is gorgeous. Like seriously. So damn stylish -- and this is only the intro menu!
Guys, this menu is gorgeous. Like seriously. So damn stylish — and this is only the intro menu!

There was a few bugs here and there. Most often, a scripted event didn’t go off, leaving me without a ledge to jump to or elevator to ride.  These didn’t provide a major hurdle, as the game’s checkpointing is damn brilliant.  The feelings of “Oh shit, where was my last check point?”, so common with quite the number of games, didn’t occur here.  Other than that, the game ran smooth as silk, and I had no problems with the initial install.

In game UIs are really slick, and aside from your health/Sensen abilities, everything is rendered as something Nillin actually sees, thanks to her Sensen implant.
In game UIs are really slick, and aside from your health/Sensen abilities, everything is rendered as something Nillin actually sees, thanks to her Sensen implant.

Overall, Remember Me is a solid game.  There’s nothing that stands out, but the combat system has enough nooks and crannies to not feel completely redundant with other games. Where it shines is it’s art style and sense of self; it’s one of the few games where the world feels fully believable and fleshed out. The animations are top notch, too–Nillin gives a great sense of being wounded or confused or angry even when idle.  Ultimately, it’s something I think people should experience for at least the sights and sounds, and the gameplay isn’t something you’ll need to suffer through for getting from point A to B.

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New Super Luigi U is the real deal.

Downloadable… Expansion? Expansionloadable Content? Whatever it is, it’s legit.

by Randy Marr

Nintendo has a history of being genre-defining, especially in the realm of platformers. It’s hard to argue that Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario 64 didn’t set the bar for quality adventures about jumping on things. Every title in the series thereafter seems to push that bar a little more. Every game, that is, except for those with the words “New Super Mario Bros.” in it. Sure, the first one on DS was a breath of fresh air, but it’s been pretty stale since. They’re by no means bad games; they just doesn’t quite leave you a quivering mass begging for more. The poorly named New Super Luigi U, however, seeks to bring the series back to where it began: setting the bar for quality.

I know this makes me look bad, but I almost wanted to buy a boxed copy just for this awesome box. That’s the perfect shade of green.

At first glance, it’s hard not to roll your eyes. In less than a year we’ve had New Super Mario Bros. 2 (Actually the 3rd game in the series), and New Super Mario Bros Wii U. So maybe you’re at your wits end with red-hatted jumpers; and there’s not a court in the world that would convict you. But New Super Luigi U is different, if nothing else than from a business angle. It makes gold coins and sense.

New Super Luigi U gives you double your game, for a third of your price. Here’s how it goes: you’ve already bought New Super Mario Bros. U for $60 and you had your fun. The challenge mode was a neat addition, it flashes back to a Super Mario World style overworld map, and there were even a few pleasant surprises in the story. Then along comes New Super Luigi U. For just $20 bucks, you get a brand new adventure. Sure, whatever thinly veiled scraps of story that even existed are still there, sans the red hatted plumber. The overworld map is the same for those who memorized every cranny. But each one of those 80+ dots on the map have become an entirely new level to explore. These aren’t just remixes; these are brand new ideas and designs. Thus, you get the the same amount of gameplay from New Super Mario Bros. Wii U, for only an additional $20.

For most games, DLC implies a new character, horse armor, or maybe even a cute piece of story content. For some games (Mass Effect), that content can be better than 90% of the original game. Usually, you fill fairly satisfied. You probably have some neat new weapons to take back to your main game, or a few new achievements. When was the last time you bought content like that that lasted more than 5 hours? And how much more? And was it doubling the amount of game content you owned previously? Nintendo has done what Nintendo used to do and set the bar, this time on what it means to be downloadable content.

Here we see the immortal Nabbit mocking lesser beings for their inferiority.

I’d almost want to call this an expansion pack, judging by the $20 price tag and extensive amount of content… but even those only ended up being a fragment of the same content of the original game, and usually were more about continuing the story in a small way. New Super Luigi U isn’t satisfied with that. It wants you to have twice as much fun. It doesn’t hurt that, from a gameplay perspective, it is twice as much fun.

The genius in the design is where the developers created a mad-cap game with tighter, more challenging levels designed to be defeated in less than 99 Mario Seconds (Because I don’t know what else to call that obscure measurement of time). It’s about being fast, but careful, and it’s exactly what the series needs to bring back. It feels like some of the best Super Mario Bros. 3 ideas, put into a world with crazy physics and penguin suits. And where games like Ms. ‘Splosion Man have decided that dragging your level out to be 15 to 20 minutes is the best way to design your game, Nintendo’s EAD team knows that it’s short, sweet bursts of levels that truly keep you hungry for more.

The inclusion of Nabbit as a replacement for Mario was actually rather clever. In my case, my future-husband, Mike, isn’t the best at platformers. He often stops playing with me because he feels like he’s getting in my way. (Also because I’m an asshole to play any game with at all.) This changes that formula, because Nabbit, you see, is immortal. He cannot be harmed by anything other than falling down a pit. The trade off is that he doesn’t get to collect power-ups. It’s a little give and take that allows lesser-skilled players to stay apart of the action without having to be upsetting to the control-freak who’s running Luigi.

As a side note, the game is being sold independently of the DLC platform in about a month. You can go into a store and buy it on a disc for $30. Anyway, the reason I bring it up, is that if you haven’t picked up New Super Mario Bros. Wii U because you’re feeling Mario Fatigue, feel free to skip it. Pay a third of the price for the better half of the content.

Pictures make everything better!

New Super Luigi U is where the tightest gameplay from a Mario Game in years is coming from. The price isn’t out to destroy your wallet. I still don’t know that I want to call it DLC or an Expansion Pack. I guess, in the literal sense of the words, it is. But this content is showing that there’s so much more you can do with your game. In a world where publishers are so worried about used games and pirating, the best argument is right here. It’s not with customer-harming DRM or Online Passes; it’s coming out with amazing content and value like this that will give people the trust and the satisfaction that your product will only continue to grow in value down the road.

That’s my thought on the DLC content. What does my gorgeous readership think? Is this a good trend? Do we not like this? Isn’t Luigi just the best? Chatter away down in the boxes below!

Nintendo adds wireless multiplayer into a 3DS Virtual Console games.

Why now? And why only SEGA Game Gear Games?

by Randy Marr

The virtual console on 3DS has played host to some pretty spectacular games. Not only can you relive amazing titles from “them there good ol’ days,” you can find missed opportunities, give them state saves, and put them in a sleep mode for playing on-the-go. But one of the most bummer features is that there’s no way to play multi-player games that once used a Link Cable (or Link Cable Advance, if you’re one of those lucky Ambassadors). Sure you can get by on single-player experiences like Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Donkey Kong ’94, but what’s going to happen if and (who are we kidding?) when they release Pokémon‘s Red and Blue. With no way to connect via cords, the only way to do so is with some sort of emulation program. And for a while it seemed like that just wasn’t in the cards; after all, we’re two-plus years into the 3DS’s life cycle. But then came Columns, originally for the Game Gear.

Interestingly, the Game Gear games also have “Screen Settings” that allow for things like this game-gear shell around your screen.

I hadn’t noticed it before because I have a terrible problem of buying games that catch my interest and then ignoring them entirely, but Sonic: Triple Trouble has an entirely different Virtual Console interface than any other games. It has screen settings and button settings on top of it’s create/load restore point and reset buttons. But just last week, lost amidst all the crazy E3 news, another Game Gear classic, Columns, was released and came with a curious little button at the top that says “Local Play.”

When pressed, as you could imagine, it sets up the ability for two players who own a copy of Columns on their 3DS to play head-to-head in this match-3 puzzle game. Suddenly, we have the potential to trade Pokémon, to have a co-op run of Life Force from the NES, and to play the Game Boy Advance versions of Mario Kart and F-Zero on our modern-day piece of equipment. So… where’s the update?

Is this the alpha and omega of wireless Virtual Console gameplay?

Why do Game Gear games in general have a different interface? And why are only they able to hook up wireless gameplay? Is it SEGA who ports them and Nintendo just sends them out? Does SEGA have a specific requirement for their games? Now that we see at least the capability, can we expect the more important titles, like Pokémon, to have some sort of emulated Link Cable functionality? I don’t have any answers to these questions, but they’re certainly on my mind. It seems to me if you’re going to do something like the Virtual Console service, you either do it right or stop doing it entirely.

Welcome, by the way, to my first post on the brand new home for my ramblings and scrawlings. I hope you’ll stay with me; I have a lot of dumb things to say. But for now, what do you have to say? Have you ever played the game that we got before Bejewled stole our hearts and turned them into crystalline pieces for matching? How do you feel about this service being implemented? Hopeful? Hurt? Gassy? Feel free to drop a line below.