All posts by Randy Marr

Randy Marr is a writer and a lover of video games. He can't get enough of them, and it's quite an unhealthy and expensive way to live. But that doesn't seem to matter, he keeps on trucking as it is. Currently Randy works in an entry-level IT job for a reputable global company. On the side he writes about video games, writes up video games, and writes random stories about various things.

Smash Bros. – The Next Generation: Skyloft

 The Land of The Goddess

Way up high in the sky so blue.
Way up high in the sky so blue.

Honestly, it was a pretty damn good assumption that Skyloft was going to be featured as a Zelda: Skyward Sword stage in some way. The question was more of a “how” than an “if.” And that “how” came out a little cooler than I thought! Warning! A might bit of spoilers for Skyward Sword‘s events lie within the article, so read on carefully!

Concept art of Skyloft.
Concept art of Skyloft.

If you’re into the whole mod scene, you may have seen Project M‘s stab at Skyloft, and honestly I rather liked it. It appears they took a chunk off of the western portion of Hyrule Temple, another sky-bound island stage first used in Melee. Then they dressed it up in Skyward colors, and had it slowly rotate around the Island of Skyloft. A fairly “Smash” stage, if I’ve ever seen one, and impressive as hell from a group of independent modders. I found the ability to put the entire Skyloft asset in the background, with birds flying around, and not dropping a frame to be quite impressive! But what the team over at Smash Bros. had in mind is a bit different, although equally impressive!

More Skyloft concept art!
More Skyloft concept art!

It appears, from videos, and the odd screenshot, that Skyloft is taking on the same ‘roll’ that Delfino Plaza took in the Smash Bros. Brawl, in that it’s about random platforms cruising around the town and stopping off at various locations. I’d call it a “Tourism” style stage, if I had to give it any kind of designation.

Smash Bros Brawl's Delfino Island.
Smash Bros Brawl’s Delfino Island. Imagine Skyloft as being something like this!

Were I to make this stage, and arguably, it’s a good thing that I’m not, I would have centered it around the statue of the Goddess Hylia. I find that to be the sort of central zone of the suspended city. And after a certain time benchmark, I would have it recreate scenes from the endpoint of Skyward Sword and plummet to the world below. This would give a segment of time where the level is low-grav, similar to the falling iceberg in Glacier Summit from Brawl, and ultimately end with a bit of a scenery change. Maybe even a visit from a certain somebody, who comes up along the side and eats people, a’la Bulbin from Distant Planet.

Versus the terrible dragon!
Bowser and Link dance atop Skyloft!

You can get your first look at the stage in action in the original trailer for Smash Bros. Wii U. Keep in mind that Sakurai has confirmed that the 3DS and WiiU will both sport the same roster of characters, but entirely unique levels. As somebody who oddly cares more about the levels than the characters, I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. With that in mind, remember that this stage applies only for the Wii U version, and that the 3DS version will play host to levels from portable Zelda titles, such as Spirit Tracks. But more on those to come…

Hat's off, Mario! Enjoy the breeze~
Mario overlooking Skyloft

What do you think? Are you excited to see Skyloft represented? DO you appreciate the Tourism style, or does any particular area call out to you as the strongest? I’d love to hear your comments below!

Art of the Sacred Realm from A Link to the Past. Looks an awful lot like Skyloft, doesn't it?
Art of the Sacred Realm from A Link to the Past. Looks an awful lot like Skyloft, doesn’t it?

The Symphony of The Goddess

For this installment, I’ll be talking about some choice cuts for the Skyloft stage from Zelda: Skyward Sword. I should note upfront that I used the implementation of console-based game stages on Wii U, and portable-based stages on 3DS to help me make some decisions in my playlists. With that in mind, let’s start with the low fruit on the tree:

Skyward Sword – Ballad of the Goddess


Kind of the central theme of Skyward Sword, this particular version of Ballad of the Goddess actually didn’t show up a whole lot in the game. In fact I don’t think it did at all, which is weird. Regardless, I can already tell you this song works for Smash, because it was in the Project M. stage for Skyloft.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – The Sky


It might start off a tad understated, but this song really picks up into a powerful movement that would wonderfully accompany a stage with as much movement and exploration as Skyloft appears to have. Of all the other songs in Skyward Sword to use for Skyloft, this would be the biggest crime to ignore.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – Demon Lord Ghirahim


Admittedly, a tad too dark and chaotic on its own, Ghirahim’s theme makes a tremendous Smash song nonetheless. I would certainly appreciate if there was like a stormy alternative to Skyloft that this could play during.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – Clocktown


This particular version was taken from www.terriblefate.com, a site designed to advertise a remix album of music from Majora’s Mask. The album’s quite brilliant, and it highlights just why I want to see Clocktown used for Skyloft. I would say, even more than Skyloft, Clocktown is -the- most bustling, realistic town in a Zelda game.5 You can watch people live 3 full days of their life in this little world, and it’s crazy. The overall upbeat nature of it truly does work for a stage set in Skyloft. You could even have a “one minute remaining” version that uses the Third Day version of the song.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – Howling Melody


One of my favorite songs in Smash Bros. Brawl was the Ocarina Medley from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. In that same vain, there’s musical gold to mine in a remix of the howling themes from Twilight Princess.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Title Theme (MOKA mix)


Even if we see the title sequence music to Ocarina find it’s way into the next Smash, I’m sure it won’t be this version. However, I rather love this mix a great deal, so I thought it worth mentioning. It has enough tempo and nostalgic overtones to fit flying around the dreamy city of Skyloft.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker – Outset Island


Like Wind Waker before it, Skyward Sword featured a much more care-free hero enjoying life in their own little paradise before danger strikes. It is in that same vein that Outset Island’s theme should come forward to the Skyloft stage. It’s fun, it’s casual, and it’s reminiscent of our youth. It’s the perfect kind of song for an island shared with family and friends. While on the subject, there’s also a really great OC Remix track out there that combines Outset Island’s theme with a lamentful love song.

And you, my gorgeous, and very tasteful reader? What are your thoughts on great Skyloft music? Drop links to your favorite songs below!

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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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.