Smash Bros. The Next Generation – The Wish Seed and the Reset Bomb Forest

The Seeds of Conflict, Reaped

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One of the more sinister chapters of Kid Icarus: Uprising featured every clan of humans fighting a bloody war over the Wish Seed, a lie devised by the devilishly handsome Hades. It appears as though that very battlefield has been chosen as the backdrop for a Kid Icarus: Uprising stage on the 3DS version of Smash Bros.

From just that one screenshot there’s a few interesting details to look over. First, the background reminds me of another angle of the Fire Emblem flavored Castle Siege stage in Smash Bros. Brawl. There’s a large scale conflict in the background and you’re fighting your own battle in this crumbling construct. The tone and mood are a bit grim, and while I think something brighter may better suit Kid Icarus: Uprising‘s representation, I myself was looking for the Grim Reaper Fortress, so I really can’t complain.

The most interesting aspect of this stage, to me, is the shape we get of it. From just this segment we see two main platforms, and what appear to be 3 ascending pass-through platforms with a strange layout, considering the general lay out of Smash Bros. stages. If you took the left edge of each platform and drew a line to connect them, the line would move in the pattern of an exponential growth. The further right you go, the more narrow it is from the previous platform!

Part of me wonders if this is a vertical-scrolling stage that takes us above the conflict as (Spoiler alert!) Viridii drops the Reset Bomb, marking one of the darkest moments in a Nintendo game not called Mother. Even without the scrolling, I have to imagine that plays a part at -some- point, right? Even if the foreground is safe from the blast radius, or perhaps not being in front of a wall gets you blown out of the stage as a hazard. Who knows!

Can we at least hear from this guy?
I just wanna hear from this guy.

One of Kid Icarus: Uprising‘s greatest assets was the writing and voice acting, and I really hope that makes it into this stage, if not an Assist Trophy. But a conversation between Palutena, Hades, Viridi, and maybe even Pit just -has- to happen. It’s too good to let up! It could trigger like an Snake or Fox/Falco/Wolf’s Easter Eggs where you hit down on the taunt pad just quick enough to trigger a special conversation during the fight.

Concept Art for the Reset Bomb Forest, the level this Smash stage comes from.
Concept Art for the Reset Bomb Forest, the level this Smash stage comes from.

Symphony of the Goddess Palutena

Kid Icarus may not have been a perfect game, and honestly it wasn’t, but in terms of production value and cohesive vision, it’s hard to argue that any game on the 3DS, and in many cases, on console, has done better. From a brilliantly written and read script (thanks to the localization department, of course!) to system-pushing graphics, and all the way up the pleasure center of your brain with a fully-orchestrated, out-of-this-world soundtrack. It’s with that gushing praise in mind that I say choosing a setlist for one Kid Icarus: Uprising themed stage was a nightmare. I imagine the Wii U version of the game will have it’s own stage representing Pit’s homeworld, but without any foreknowledge I just wanted to go ahead and get all my Kid Icarus music loving done now. So here it goes!

Kid Icarus: Uprising: Opening


The song that sort of kicks off the whole thing. This song reminds you that you’re playing Kid Icarus, but let’s you know that it’s not the same game by adding the new Uprising theme into the mix. Admittedly not the perfect song for the dark and gloomy stage it’s set to, but a great piece none the less.

Kid Icarus: Uprising: The Return of Palutena


“It’s been too long, Lady Palutena!”

Another Kid Icarus classic rendition. Again, a bit too peppy, but too good of a piece to leave out.

Kid Icarus: Uprising: First Boss Fight


Something a little more suited for the battleground taking place in the back, this boss theme almost sounds like it came from Brawl. Sakurai is creative, I think, but he does have a bit of a recurring set of trends. Nothing bad, mind you! More like a signature!

Kid Icarus: Uprising: Magnus and The Dark Lord


I think this might be my favorite track in all of Kid Icarus: Uprising. I just love that openning minute or so, followed by the chaotic whirlwind. It’s a gorgeous orchestral piece that just screams of high-daring adventure.

Kid Icarus: Uprising: The Reaper’s Line of Sight


There’s a subtle beauty to the fact that the Reaper fortress is guarded by straight-firing laser beams. The Reapers in the original Kid Icarus were only berserk as long as you were in their line of sight. Who would have thought that their biggest weakness would be object permanence? Them having that kind of direct line-of-sight just suits them so gorgeously. As does this dark dirge featuring their chaotic theme!

Kid Icarus: Uprising: Dark Pit’s Theme


Where’d the Spanish guitar come from? Who cares, it sounds great! Dark Pit as a character would probably be a tad too… redundant, to say the least. I think we can all agree that a palette-swap Pit is all we need to cover that base. But that still doesn’t seem entirely fair to the nebulously aligned reflection, so let’s give his theme song a home, shall we?

Kid Icarus: Uprising: Medusa’s Final Battle


I’m not going to go into any story bits, let’s just focus on how dramatic this number is. It’s like a fine pageant of power and vocals. Understated, at first, but building into a brilliant crescendo, partially thanks to the snippet of Dark Pit’s theme, and then Pit’s triumphant overture.

Kid Icarus: Uprising: Underworld Gatekeeper


One of the things that started to happen more in the latter half of the Kid was a mixture of orchestral and synthetic music. Much like Mass Effect, this created a unique, and engaging soundtrack. This piece is heavier on the synth than any other, but that’s why I chose it. It’s a great little combat piece with some up-tempo synth and a strong, consistent beat.

Kid Icarus: Uprising: Viridi, Goddess of Nature


The setting this Smash Bros. stage pulls from prooobably should use it’s own theme, don’t you think? And that’s okay because it is an intense, high octane, synth-laced beauty of a track.

Kid Icarus: Uprising: The Three Trials


This song does a fine job of visiting the retro-side of things, and I think is the kind of throw-back track you really need in there. I’d be fine letting “Opening” or “Return of Palutena” take it, but I personally still vote for this track.

My word that is a lot of music! But that was hard to cut from the list of over 70 gorgeous tracks. What think you, my less-than-70 gorgeous readers? Did I miss your favorite track? Do you prefer the classic music in there? Is this your first time hearing the music? And if so, which is your favorite? Or whatever you wanna talk about, I’m lonely cool to talk about!

Smash Bros. – The Next Generation: Samus

The Original Bounty Huntress

Y can't metroid crawl?
The Samus has Landed

One of the original members of the Smash Bros. team, Samus is back and sporting a much edgier look. No, I mean it. Her suit has a lot more edges on it. A lot more convex edges, to be specific, giving her a very sleek, very sharp appearance. Frankly I think she’s never looked better, but I’ve got a thing for power armor.

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Dat sizzle.

Sadly we’ve had only one Metroid title since our Brawl; it’s the one she draws her redesigned appearance from: Metroid: Other M. There’s not a whole lot we can really pull from that, at least nothing new. I can only hope for some grapples of some sort to reflect her new brutal take-downs from Other M. But aside from that… I dunno. I’ve got a couple of stage ideas, sure, but that’s another discussion.

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What’s in there?

The real question here is whether or not Zero Suit Samus is still involved. Is she still even a character? Is that Final Smash swap mechanic gone? Has she gone independent? Seeing as how we have a screenshot of her busting out the Hyper Beam, I think it’s fair to assume that she sheds that slick new armor at some point or another, but I don’t say anything’s certain until I see it for myself. ZS Samus may have become her very own character, if nothing else than to be less system intensive for the 3DS version of the game.

3DS_SmashBros_scrnC03_02_E3
I’m sorry, what? I got distracted by that sweet kick.

I’m still gunning for a Fusion Suit costume swap, but the gal’s got a whole slew of amazing armors from the Metroid Prime as well. It’s asking to much, I recognize, to get a different suit for each color swap… but man. Wouldn’t that be nice? I did appreciate the color swap in Brawl at least being evocative of those other armors, if nothing else.

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Now that’s just cold, girl.

That that about wraps up out conversation about our armored heroine for now. What sayeth you? Do we want to see her Zero Suit mechanic split? Do we like her new armor? It’s okay if you don’t, you can be wrong sometimes! I still love you ~<3

And here’s the usual gallery:

 

Smash Bros. – The Next Generation: Pit

An Angel Descends Once More

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The hero of Kid Icarus: Uprising is in an interesting position. For starters, his most recent title was made by Smash creator Mashahiro Sakurai, putting him in a position to already be on the creator’s mind. This is a character that was resurrected from a 20-something year old grave and, for all intents and purposes, given a brand new life. Next to his Kirby stable, Sakurai knows none of the characters in Smash better than he knows Pit. That has some promising aspects.

If you’re unfamiliar with Kid Icarus: Uprising, the player has the ability to customize Pit with a series of “perks,” as well as a bevy of weapons of varying qualities and stats ranging over 7 types. Claws, cannons, bows, and Orbitars make up just a few of the weapons he can bring, and we’ve seen some of them already. So the  question is: what else?

It looks like we killed off the spinning blades forward+B special, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic about that. I’ve always thought that move to be extraordinarily cheap, especially since it can deflect- defeating the purpose of his Down+B Mirror Shield). Instead it’s been replaced with a new weapon, the Upperdash Arm.

The Upperdash Arm.
The Upperdash Arm.

His Mirror Shield, one of the ancient treasures found in the original, ball-busting Kid Icarus on the NES, was a deflective special in the previous Smash, but appears to have been upgraded to the Orbitars.

Or is this just a cutesy visual for his guard?
Or is this just a cutesy visual for his guard?

The door is entirely open for even more of Pit’s toys, but honestly I don’t think we’re going to see a whole lot more. It’d be cool to see him become just a hammer-space of weapons for smash attacks and mid-air weapons, but honestly I think that dual-sword-bow is going to continue being his main offense. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that arsenal show up elsewhere. I expect that we’ll see at least a couple of Pit’s weapons, like the Tiger Claw or Eyetrack Orbitars as pick-up weapons that fall to the ground for everyone to use. Pit himself might even go berserk and whip out a large cannon attack as a Final Smash, where he unleashes a barrage of fire on the stage.

Oh it's on.
Oh it’s on.

If I could use Pit’s post here to divert a little bit. I have a sort of broader idea for the new Smash Bros. games: perks and weapons. This means customizing your characters with a bevy of passive abilities like better jumping, or stat boosting items. Similar to the sticker system in Brawl’s single player, but designed for the full multi-player experience. Now, as Capcom X Tekken has shown us, that kind of deal can get game-breaky fast, so I don’t know how much we can look into it. But the idea of at least starting off with different items or boosts that can be triggered mid-fights is at least worth exploring. It was in the multi-player and single-player for Kid Icarus: Uprising, so it’s a system Sakurai has some history with. The legendary developer even mentioned that the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game will have some form of profile connectivity and customization, and this sounds like it could be exactly that.

Majestic.
Majestic.

My knee-jerk reaction is to say an alternate costume should be Dark Pit, but that’s just a palette swap (and was in Smash Bros. Brawl) from white to black. Instead I move to postulate that a better costume would put Pit in his armor of the Legendary Treasures, as seen most impressively in Kid Icarus: Uprising, but originally from the NES Kid Icarus title. Alternatively, we could dress him up like one of the guardians from Uprising‘s multiplayer, or even just give him something original like a festive little kimono.

A wild clash!
A wild clash!

Pit’s back, with a lot more possibility than most returning characters. I hope this spirit of rebirth and open-mindedness comes up with some interesting new ideas for the Smash Bros. series to tread. Honestly, I’ll buy it day one, no questions asked, but I’d really like this to be more than just another Smash Bros. game.

Taking aim at the stars.
Taking aim at the stars.

But that’s me, now it’s you. Your thoughts on Pit? Favorite weapons? Palutena (who I learned recently shared the voice actress of Liara in Mass Effect, and more recently, the sultry voice of Burroughs, your AI guide in Shin Megami Tensei IV.) Drop your comments in the boxes below.

Just below this sexy gallery, that is!

Smash Bros. – The Next Generation: The Boxing Ring

The Squared Circle

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To me, the most interesting thing about this stage right now is that we don’t know what it’s supposed to be from. The giant logo in the middle would suggest that, perhaps, it’s just kind of a generic Super Smash Bros. themed stage. Which is possible. It could even be this game’s take on Final Destination, with a desire to mix up the usual floating platform and turn it into a spectator’s event.

The telltale signs of this stage are the giant logo on the bottom, the gigantic screen in the back, and a crazy laser light show. You can catch some quick glimpses of it in action in the trailers, but nothing too prolonged, unfortunately. It’s a wonder if the ropes do anything on the side, like bounce characters or at least provide some sort of wall. It’s hard to imagine they do -nothing-. There’s no sign of a stage hazard yet, so this really does seem to be a vanilla-flavored stage with a neon-flashing lid. However, there are a few hints that might lead us into what else this stage could be.

First, let me show you the ropes!

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Look at the totally unnecessary level of detail in Samus’ blaster as she lays into Link. So awesome!

When you’re done admiring the game’s insane attention to detail, look at the coloring of those ropes in the background: Blue, white, white, red. It’s a fairly standard coloration, I admit, but it does bear an identical resemblence to these ropes:

Blue, white, white, red.

What’s more… if you look at the part of the initial Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS trailer, you might catch that the ropes are different!

Sorry ’bout the blur.

Red, white, blue white. Another fairly standard look for boxing rings, sure. But that means at -some- point in development, this was the color scheme, and were changed for the level from the cinematic. The importance here is that the ropes now directly correlate with the ropes in Super Punch-Out!!

That’s how your mind feels right now.

Finally there’s the Smash Bros. emblem, which, while not exact, does seem to be gussied up to be fairly similar to the WVBA emblems in Punch-Out!!

Smash Circuit?

At this point I’d be like 99% ready to call this stage a technically unannounced Punch-Out!! stage, but let’s think about this from the other angle. Three flaws come to mind. Number one: Why not just use the WVBA or Punch-Out!! logos? And number two: why is it suddenly so flashy? It seems more like a wrestling arena than a typically darkened boxing match. Heck, at first, I thought it might be a King stage. But that brings me to reason three: Masahiro Sakurai is developing Smash Bros., and he’s famous for one other series: Kirby. He himself is the creator and voice of King DeDeDe, whose castle famously features…. wait for it…

Another wrestling ring.
Another wrestling ring.

I’m less likely to consider this for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the lack of Kirby characters in the background of the smash trailer and a King DeDeDe face on the mat, but Sakurai himself has been surprisingly restrained in the Kirby love in Smash. But poor DeDeDe didn’t even get a stage to himself in the previous Smash, so it’s not out of reach that he’s just dressing it up a bit for the announcement.

My last theory is my personal favorite. You see, The Ice Climbers were born into Smash Bros. Melee not to represent just the game Ice Climber, but to sort of be the flagship for all of the old school NES titles. Early development of Melee shows Sakurai experimenting with Balloon Fight Guy as well. But after two Ice Climber stages, and the potential of the Climbers not even returning in the next game, where else in the old NES one-off’s do you root around for a stage?

How about Pro Wrestling on the NES.

The best cover, IMO.

The Famicon Wrestling Alliance needs some love, and this might very well be the stage to do it. Who knows, maybe favorites like Starman and The Amazon might show up and be a stage hazard… or PLAYABLE CHARACTERS! *pause for dramatic effects*

I’m not even remotely anticipating that, but I still like saying stupid stuff now and again.

In the end we don’t know much about the stage. It looks neat, might be “tourney legal,” and it’s a wrestling ring. Hopefully some more updates in the form of screenshots will illuminate the subject a little more for us!

Action!
Action!

 What think you, dear readers? Have I struck the chord of likelihood? Have I percolated the perception of your mind coffee? Am I just crazy, or am I just crazy enough? Drop off your comments below.

All angles on the arena thus far:

Review – Pacific Rim

In the grim, dark future, there is only rocket punching

The Kaiju genre of movies hasn’t seen a whole lot of love; the most recent attempts have been relatively weak contributions to the field.  I can’t say I’m a connoisseur of the genre, to be sure, but the more recent entries haven’t been fantastic. 1998’s Godzilla doesn’t seem to have many fans at all, and even Cloverfield seems to split rooms of people into two very opposed camps.  At the same time, there’s something about massive creatures, sent by fantastic forces to destroy humanity, being beaten back by the very species they were sworn to destroy that has always been majorly appealing.  Between that, and the fact it involves gigantic mechs (another fan favorite), there’s been a lot of buzz about Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim. While his films are generally always gorgeous, they’re not the strongest films either critically or commercially—sometimes even both. At the same time, he went into this fully aware of the genre and included pitfalls, trying to craft something that was both enjoyable and respectful of its origins.  So, how well did it do?

Cinematography

It’s not often any more that an action flick will feel substantial and thrilling during it’s more exciting moments. That isn’t the case here; the fights feel very visceral and believable, considering the on-screen subject matter.  This is partially due to the fact there’s no shaky camera going on here!  Many flicks rely on the “There’s an earthquake going on in the camera” school of action scenes; Pacific Rim instead relies on smart positioning and angling of the camera, all while keeping it stable.  This means you can see the actual blows on camera, which really helps bring forward the effects forward. As well, it lends weight to the blows; you can see the monsters recoil from the blows in a way that imparts just how much force a massive kaiju received via an elbow drop given by a nuclear-powered robot.

The effects themselves are incredibly well done, both CGI and set design. The world feels very cohesive; there’s not a difference between the mech design and fights compared to when the pilots are running about outside of the robots. It feels like a very authentic experience; the world was crafted as a backdrop of superior quality to the story, and it lends itself to the movie very well.  Regardless of it’s a lab scene or a fight, the artistic design is amazing, and it’s definitely one of the strongest points of the movie.

Soundtrack

Created by Ramin Djawadi, composer of the Game of Thrones soundtrack, the music hits all the right tones.  It’s intense during the fight scenes, and infuses the scene with an additional sense of urgency.  In addition, it often samples the same core theme in different ways, which helps create a singular, cohesive whole. (Noticing a pattern there?)  There’s synthesizer mixed with orchestral mixed with guitars, creating a series of tracks that are very characteristic of the movie as a whole.  The kaiju’s have themes that are fully of heavy brass and sound foreboding, where the Jaeger’s have a more guitar-riff heavy, triumphant determined sound—and the scenes where they interact mix both beautifully.

Story and Acting

The story would probably be one of Pacific Rim’s weaker points; while serviceable, it’s neither subtle nor nuanced.  Many of the events are something you spot the foreshadowing for miles away with almost 100% certainty.  At the same time, it’s not something that’s ham-handed or eye roll inducing in it’s execution.  The weakest part was the love story that seems more stapled on than anything else; it evolves in a predictable way, and ends in a scene that feels very “focus group wanted a love arc”. Other than that, the characters were well-established; while many of them fit previously defined archetypes, they aren’t horribly portrayed.  The acting was mostly above board; the most common offender against this is the previously mentioned love arc. Other than this, the interactions are well done, even if they tread well-worn paths.

The overall world’s story is one of the stronger parts, with a considerable amount of evident thought and effort put into crafting the world and timeline of the movie as compared to the character interactions.  You get a real sense of the heavy sort of history that you can see the weigh on both the world and the characters.  While it falls apart when you break it down to the way the characters move about, this IS a kaiju movie; story hasn’t typically been their strong suit, although Pacific Rim contributes quite a bit when it comes to creating a believable world.

Summary

If you’re looking for a good, substantial action flick, Pacific Rim should hit all the right spots.  The excellent pacing, music, and action scenes lends itself to an incredible theater experience.  It’s a well-crafted piece of eye candy at the very least, and at the most it’s a thoroughly enjoyable, robot-clobbering-monster movie. The CGI effects in motion are beautiful to behold, and it’s really nice not having action scenes that really on shaky cam to impart an action packed effect.

Smash Bros. – The Next Generation: Pikmin and Olimar

The Explorer in a Strange Land

Marching towards duty!
Marching towards duty!

Returning from his debut in Smash Bros. Brawl, this happenin’ captain is bringing back his army of slaves companions to take on all comers in Nintendo’s all-star smackdown!

Olimar’s sporting a much more detailed look this time around, updated for his appearance in Pikmin 3 with more colorful suit buttons and a built-in helmet whistle. Curiously, he’s lacking two of his new companionsT The winged and rock Pikmin are nowhere to be found… yet. Rumor has it that’s because somebody else from the Pikmin series might be joining, like Charlie or (fate’s willing) Brittany. But those can be discussed in more depth at another time!

Olimarrrr!
Olimarrrr!

Olimar was a surprisingly useful character, once you got to know him in Brawl. His requirement to yank up certain Pikmin and keep them in a rotation could easily be disrupted by your opponents, making life a little difficult. In return, his quick, almost unpunishable attacks made him quite a force to be reckoned with. Me? I just loved whipping Pikmin at people from a distance, laughing, and then running away.

I believe I've Pik'd your Poison for you, Mario!
I believe I’ve Pik’d your poison for you, Mario!

I don’t honestly see a lot changing with the ol’ cap, not unless we’re mixing in his new companions. Maaaybe we’ll see an update to his specials to reorganize them a bit? I dunno. I would like to see something more effective than the Pik-whip for recovery… That thing’s painful.

Oo, hey, girrrl!
Oo, hey, girrrl!

If alternate costumes become a thing, I think a Louie costume is a surefire bet. Another neat look might feature Olimar sans his glass helmet, or even in a giant patchwork Pikmin costume! He could have different colors for each of the different types of buggers!

"We sincerely hope that it's eyesight is based on motion..."
“We sincerely hope that its eyesight is based on motion…”

The most exciting thing about today’s announcement is that we may continue to see periodic announcements! It’s been roughly a month since Smash Bros for WiiU and 3DS were announced, so it’s not going to be the daily updates we were used to with Brawl, at least not yet. But even if it’s just confirmed characters returning, I’ll take whatever I can get! Any news is good news!

What think you of Olimar’s return? Excitement? Ambivalence? Frothing hatred? Electrify my brain with your glorious thoughts below!

Oh, and here’s a gallery:

Smash Bros. TNG Wishlist – Pushmo

The Big Push

Pushing Onwards
Pushing Onwards

The eShop has been kind of the bastion for newer ideas from Nintendo as of late. Chief among them is the critically acclaimed Pushmo. As its name implies, the game is about moving blocks forward and backward to create platforms to climb your way to the top. It’s really a clever little game and charming as hell. It would also make a great place to set a stage for Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.

When I originally started thinking about a Pushmo stage, it just involved the little red sumo guy, Mallo, moving parts of the stage around and forcing the battle to ebb and flow along it. But that didn’t feel big enough. I had a much more grand idea: turn Pushmo into the new scrolling stage, akin to Rumble Falls.

crashmo1
Are you telling me you -wouldn’t- want to fight on a giant blocky hamburger? I don’t even wanna live in your world.

The idea is that the little sumo dude is pushing and moving blocks and climbing along at the bottom of the stage, while redirecting the platforms that the combatants have to thrash upon. There could be cute little NES sprites formed in the blocks along the way, and as the stage gets higher, it just goes into space until finally reaching a pinnacle that shifts around a bunch until it all comes Crashmo-ing down to start over.

Balloon Fighter could be one of many references hidden in the stage as the fight takes upwards.
Balloon Fighter could be one of many references hidden in the stage as the fight takes upwards.

A lot of people on the internet have suggested Mallo himself become a playable character for the next Smash Bros. games. While I think it’s cute, I definitely don’t see that needing to happen. He has no moves, there’s not a lot to reference, and even among recent eShop characters, I can think of better candidates. *Cough*Dillon*cough*. That said, Pushmo and Mallo definitely deserve a home SOMEWHERE in Smash, and I think this stage is the perfect fit.

But what about my readers? Surely both of you have an opinion? Perhaps you’d care to share it? That would be so lovely!

PC Review — The Walking Dead: 400 Days

The Walking Dead: 400 days is DLC for Telltale Games’ Season 1.  However, it ends up being more of a prequel of Season 2.  Told in five short segments, it’s setting up for the second season, which is coming later this year. In each segment, you control one of five survivors through a defining moment in their life after the zombie apocalypse, ranging from “as it’s happening” to “over a year later.”  One of the strongest assets of the first season is the fact you spent so much time with all those characters that you were strongly attached to them.  How does this carry over to a much-shorter session?

There certainly isn’t anything quite as heart rending or moving as Season 1, but for being incredibly brief they still had quite the impact. There was more than one time during the segments that I flinched alongside the characters, or I was completely shocked by the turn of events.  Despite being short, the segments are masterfully well done—I blew through the hour and a half of content in a single sitting, but mostly because I wanted to experience more.  They are were well-paced and interesting. As well, they were also extremely varied; no two stories were alike, but they were all varied and interesting.  At the end of it, I got the sense it was not so much about the stories they were telling, but more about setting up established character prologues for the next game. Also very important—the decisions you make in this batch of DLC will carry over to Season 2! This means we’re having some choice into how the characters are going into the sequel.  Ramifications from decisions in 1 weren’t massive in terms of game play, but they changed up the way characters reacted in a way that was brilliant and organic; characters became more bitter or taken with you in a gradual way that felt very human.

“But I have zombie fatigue!” you might (understandably) say. And that’s fair! Zombies have been done to undeath, but that’s not what I’m recommending this for. Its stories are amazing; characters are developed on par with some AAA blockbusters in any media.  In 20 minutes, I formed an attachment to several of these characters that I’m looking forward to seeing how Tell Tale is going to develop these in the future. The zombies just happen to be a hazard; there’s no thought to the ‘origin’ of them, or where they came from.

The Walking Dead is an adventure game, though there’s not a whole lot of adventuring seen in these short vignettes.  The controls remain the same; you point and click on things in the background to interact with them, and movement is done with WASD. It’s a responsive, if simple, control scheme. My only annoyance comes when there’s a camera and control angle disconnect. For example, when you’re walking down a road that veers off to the left a little, and you hold W to go forward, you’ll go straight forward, and not along the curvature of the road.  Considering it otherwise nails so many small atmospheric and story cues, when it happens, it’s fairly noticeable.  Technically, it’s fairly solid.  The graphics aren’t groundbreaking, but they’re stylistic and very efficient; I didn’t experience a hiccup on the PC version. They do their job well, without any sort of flash or fanfare.  The music and voice acting are top notch, though—nearly every reaction is believable, both graphically and voice-wise. The score highlights the scene in the game; while there are no catchy tracks, it serves its purpose as ambient or scene-setting sounds in a way that only helps accent the events going on.

So do yourself a favor, if you find yourself craving a well-crafted, moving narrative packaged as a game, pick up Season 1 and 400 Days. Or, if you’ve already worked through Season 1, pick up this DLC to whet your appetite until the second season is out.  Also, there’s nothing as heart-wrenching in this one, so you don’t have to worry about shedding tears openly while your manly friends are in the room.

I mean, I would never cry during a game. Open weeping? Definitely off the table.

Note: Details are pretty sparse in this post. As it’s a new release, I wanted to hold off on discussing too much of the characters and events until some time has passed. Same reason why there’s no pictures.

 

Smash Bros. – TNG Wishlist: N

The One Who Protects Pokémon

We’ve yet to have a ‘summoner’ style fighter.

It’s easy to see why N might not be a favored character with some people… But there’s a unique idea here. Rather than just being a Pokémon Trainer clone, N’s mechanic revolves around him calling in Pokémon to help him. He has an aversion to keeping pocket pets locked in their little spherical prisons, so they’ll either hang around him or be quickly summoned in with his special attacks. For example, his Up+B could summon an Archeops to carry him up a short distance. His Forward-B could Klinklang to do a beam attack, and his +Down+B could could summon Carracosta to protect him with his shell.

N, not to be confused with n+, an amazing masochism platformer.

His Final Smash could be summoning Reshiram and/or Zekrom to drop some Fusion attacks on the stage. As for an alternate costume for this Sudowoodo-hugging hippy, I’m thinking maybe something of a more proper Team Plasma outfit. Preferably from Black and White 2.

We don’t have any character who uses summoning as a method of combat, and outside of pulling 3rd party characters, I think this is the best chance for a fighter like that we can get. Plus, he’s a great way to cram five or seven Pokémon from the fifth generation into the new Smash games. As it is we already don’t have character representation from the second or third generations. But we have to remain current, and aside from moving on to the 6th generation Pokémon X and Y games coming out here soon, this is where the focus should be.

And for my finale… Lot’s of burning things!

I’ve pitched this idea to people in the past and some people see the merit in it, others think I’m crazy. Where do you fall on this wishlist? Either way, stay tuned because I’ve got plenty more crazy ideas coming!

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Smash Bros. – The Next Generation: Villager

The Mayor Takes to Arms

"I am number one!"
“I am number one!”

It can be argued that Animal Crossing shouldn’t have a fighter. The closest thing to combat in that game is the inner conflict that occurs when you stand there with your bug-catching net behind Tangy and wonder if she deserves a good thunking. But that didn’t stop me from wanting the Villager in Smash Bros. Brawl, and It doesn’t stop me from being overly joyous at his presence in the upcoming Smash duology. And they got him more ‘right’ than I could have ever hoped.

The Tree is a metaphor for your soul.
The Tree is a metaphor for your soul.

In a video at E3, Smash Bros. creator, Masahiro Sakurai, outlined his design philosophy for the way VIllager plays. He says that Animal Crossing is a game about collecting, and for that reason Villager needs to use a lot of crap at his disposal. From dropping bowling balls on people, to chopping trees upon them, the Villager looks to be a very item-oriented character, but not necessarily one focused on zoning or traps, like one might expect. He seems like a weird indirect-attacker, and I’m interesting to see how it plays out. Especially the bit about being able to collect projectiles and then launch them back at your foes.

“Vwip!”

It really is hard to get a complete sense of what Animal Crossing‘s resident can do, and how exactly he does it. There’s not been a lot of solid footage about him in any way that demonstrates the different aspects of combat and how he takes them. For example, he can grow a tree and chop it down… but it’s a segmented move. Is it just spamming down+B? Is it a taunt that damages? And how does he grab items? Is it like a special thing he can do on a timed dodge? There’s a lot of interesting potential here, but it’s hard to see what exactly we’re looking at without some sort of demonstration video or real hands-on experience.

All we know is how little Villager cares for your competition. There’s fruit to be harvested!

If there’s one thing I really want to see come out of Villager’s appearance, it’s a proper use of alternate color variations, and even alternate ‘costumes,’ to be an excuse to put Villager in different shirts. Animal Crossing is about collecting things, and that includes awesome shirts like the Fish Bone shirt, the BB shirt, and the Aloha shirt. If they don’t pick these for color variations, there has been a bigger ball dropped than this bowling ball on Mario’s head.

And a great alt costume would be the female version of the villager.
And a great alt costume would be the female version of the villager.

Finally, I wanna talk about some of the small aesthetics we can employ to give Villager the kind of experience fans of AC can get crazy over. I think a great intro animation would have Kapp’n’s taxi cab pull up and the Villager hop out. I’d love to see a taunt animation that shows him pull out a random fish from his pocket and show it off to the camera, but really the best thing to put there would be different e-motes like the Cold Wind and Laughter. Sadly there’s so many good animations and so few spaces for taunts… I just hope they up the number to all 4 directions on the D-Pad! They could probably save a couple more for victory poses, but I want to make sure we at least get the “Paid off my loans” dance in there, somewhere. That’d even be a sweet li’l victory music for him. Although I think the best choice there would be the default Town Tune, complete with randomly changing note at the end.

A little nod to Balloon Fight! Probably his recovery up+B, if I had to guess.
A little nod to Balloon Fight! Probably his recovery up+B, if I had to guess.

Alright, I realize I’m nerding out -way- to much on the Villager. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see him, though, so I hope you’ll forgive my overblown enthusiasm. What do you think, though? Are we scraping the barrel for characters? Is he the perfect fit? What shirt do you want to see him wear the most? “Leaf” your comments below! (My god, am I really going to leave it like that? Yeah… Yeah I am…)

Gallery!

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