Category Archives: Discussion

Smash Bros. Hype: The 5 Veterans I’m Most Excited to Play

Basically, my main characters.

For me, it’s just as much fun seeing an old favorite get redesigned and refit for the upcoming Smash as it is to see a new face enter the fray. That was the thought behind creating this list. Maybe it’s just a new costume, or maybe they were my main and I’m excited to see their changes (and new custom movesets!). Either way, these are the five veterans I’m most excited to see return.

5. Toon Link

I didn’t like the way Toon Link looked in Smash Bros. Brawl. The sort of Twilight Princess art style that all the characters had didn’t fit him. He looked drab and dreary compared to his trophies that used his Wind Waker model. I’m glad to see him in this new engine where he’s much more colorful and expressive. That alone is all I need to know about him to want to keep him as one of my main characters.

4. Bowser

Bowser was always a character I wanted to love but couldn’t. He just didn’t hold up well enough for me. I normally play as big, slow characters as it is, but something about him was -too- big and slow. That, and his move set just didn’t appeal to me. However, we’ve seen Bowser get a huge moveset makeover, and now he looks primed for combat. The most recent 3DS tournament at Comic-Con came down to a Bowser on Bowser fight, so you know he’s picking up playability. I’m excited to see where that new moveset takes him.

3. Pit

Similar to Bowser, I really wanted to learn Pit in Brawl, but couldn’t find anything about him I really liked. He was annoying, he felt cheap, and he didn’t have a whole lot of fun tricks. Most of that seems to have changed for the new game, and I’m hoping that’ll bring me around on Ol’ Pitty-Pat. From his better voice actor, to his revamped moveset, it seems like they’ve done a lot to make Pit more in line with what I wanted when I first picked him up.

2. King DeDeDe

He was probably my first love in Brawl. Everything was perfect as a long time fan of the Kirby franchise. Nothing was more satisfying to me than lining up that perfect hammer blow and KOing somebody at a relatively low percentage, just because I could. In the new Smash, King DeDeDe appears to be more expressive, and, hopefully, more fine tuned like Bowser. I’m interested to see what custom moves he’s going to mix up his arsenal with.

1. Ike

Ike was a character I couldn’t figure out for the longest time. Then one day, fairly recently, he just sort of clicked, and he’s been my main since. His outrageous knockback and damage potential, combined with his hefty weight, has made him a big favorite of mine. His new redesign makes him look like somebody actually capable of wielding a bodacious broadsword like his, and I really appreciate that. Like all of the previous characters, I’m very interested to see how he’s changed in the new game.

So those are my five faves, but what about yours? Do you have any returning characters you’re excited to see? Even if they haven’t been confirmed, who would you love to see return? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Smash Bros. Hype: My 5 Most Wanted Alternate Costumes

Playing Dress-Up with Nintendo Characters

Fighting games these days love alternate costumes. It’s a great way to have unlockable aspects of a game without necessary hiding your roster, or even a great way to make some extra cash post release of a game. We’ve seen some instances of alternate costumes in the upcoming Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS like a male alternative to the Wii Fit Trainer and multiple different Animal Crossing Villagers. I’ve decided to think a little more on the topic. Basically, these are costumes I’d probably pay money in the future to have if they’re not already in the game.

5. Majora’s Mask for Mii Fighters

Majora’s Mask is still one of my favorite Zelda games. It may not have held up as well in terms of raw gameplay, but the story and atmosphere still rank among the best in the industry. It’s not a secret that the mask itself remains an important icon in my life, and I always love finding it in games like Guacamelee, Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and Animal Crossing. So it should be no surprise that I want it to be one of the costume options for my Mii to don in the upcoming Smash Bros. games.

4. Cosmic Spirit for Rosalina

I’m very hyped for Rosalina. She’s easily one of my favorite Mario characters, and I always seem to enjoy what they do with her in any game they put her in. You may recall that she appeared in Super Mario Galaxy 2 to assist players on their journey in the form of the Cosmic Spirit. If not, there it is above! For obvious reasons, this would make an awesome alternate costume for Rosalina.

3. Rupee Armor for Link

It looks like somebody has already modeled this idea in Brawl, so that makes imagining it a little easier. The Rupee Armor was an awesome little armor set you could get in Zelda: Twilight Princess that made you invincible as long as you had rupees for it to consume. I think it goes without saying that we would remove that little caveat and just leave it a nice armor to put Link in, but just in case, I just said it.

2. Lobster Shirt for Toon Link

This idea was implemented into Project M, and I think it should be used in a more official capacity. The more casual outfit is my preferred way to play Zelda: Wind Waker, and I believe it’s just more visually interesting. Plus there’s a lobster on it.

1. Meowser for Bowser

My number one most wanted costume was the biggest surprise of Super Mario 3D World: Meowser. Bowser donning the cat bell and turning into the ferocious-yet-fuzzy villain was a highlight for that game. It was easily one of the best boss fights in Mario history. I think it would only be fair to bring this costume back for Bowser to terrorize his foes with in Smash Bros.

Those are just some of my costume ideas. What are yours? Sound off in the comments section so I can see what creative ideas you have!

Smash Bros. Hype: My 5 Most Wanted New Characters

In a perfect world, these challengers would approach.

It seems almost pointless to still talk about characters I want to see in the next iteration of Smash Bros. Between all the announcements we already have and the supposed leaks of upcoming reveals, there doesn’t seem to be much room left for speculation. But that’s not going to stop me. If nothing else, we can consider these ideas for future installments in the series.

Continue reading Smash Bros. Hype: My 5 Most Wanted New Characters

Smash Bros Hype: My 5 Most Wanted Stages

The places to be in the next iteration of Super Smash Bros.

A while back I ran a series of regular updates about the content I wanted to see in the next Smash games. With the Japanese release only 10 days away, I wanted to revisit that feature with some of the information we have now and give an update to my most wanted lists. Today, we’re starting with the 5 most wanted battlegrounds for clashing in Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS. 

5. Retro Corneria – Star Fox

There hasn’t been a new Star Fox in the 7 years since Smash Bros. Brawl came out, so there isn’t anything new to draw from. With that in mind, I suggest we go back to the original, which has never seen a stage in Smash.

The goal here is to replicate the look of the FX Chip in glorious HD. For the stage design itself, I would want something like a replica of the Lylat Cruise stage from Brawl, just refitted it was rendered in the FX Chip style. It could fly between different levels, like Lylat Cruise, but the most important thing is maintaining the SNES style of 3D graphics.

4. Skytown – Metroid Prime 3

Well before there was Bioshock Infinite, we were already sailing sky-rails in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Skytown was one of the game’s many amazing locations, and featured floating towers that were connected by rails. A stage based on a part of this city would be appropriate to Smash‘s floating stage design, and would also be a well-needed representation from the Prime series.

Man I really want an HD Metroid Prime.

3. Pushmo – Pushmo

Pushmo is easily one of this handheld generation’s best games, and certainly one of Nintendo’s best new IP’s. For those two reasons alone, it deserves an entire stage in the new Smash Bros. games. Imagine yourself having to fight on these squared surfaces that are pulled out by the game’s protagonist Malo. As the stage goes, he keeps pulling out new stacks of blocks, altering the landscape of the battlefield as the stage continues to endlessly climb upwards on a mountain of Pushmo. It would be a difficult stage to pull off, but I think it would be one of the coolest new locals in the games.

2. Fountain Gardens – Kirby’s Epic Yarn

In all honestly, I’m okay with anything at all from Kirby’s Epic Yarn, but it has to happen. The game’s gorgeous hand-stitched design needs representation on one of the Smash Bros. stages. It could take the form of Quilty Square, or a design based off the first level, or even a rotating map based on the game’s world map. I don’t care. It just needs to be a reality.

1. Sunset Shore – Donkey Kong Country Returns

Perhaps my favorite idea, and the most difficult to pull off, is a stage based on Sunset Shore from Donkey Kong Country Returns. The stage is simple: put together some platforms that are all flat colored with a gorgeous sunset background. Then, make sure all the fighters have a similar flat color with specific highlights depending on their most prominent features, just like in the picture above. It would be a painstaking task to do that to the 35+ characters we have, not to mention alternate costumes. But if it could be done well, I think it would be the most visually interesting stage in a Smash Bros. game to date.

What do you guys think of the list? Any stages you’d like to see in an upcoming Smash game? Let me know in the comments below!

Review: Shovel Knight

Retro concepts with modern sensibilities make for a brilliant game.

Every now and again we get another game that promises retro-platforming action. Spelunky, 1001 Spikes, Mega Man 9. Few actually manage to find what made retro games so great, and most of them forsake modern game designs to try and reach that “classic” feel. Shovel Knight manages to hit a sweet spot on both accounts, and the results are astounding.

Shovel Knight might sound ridiculous, but it is straight forward. You play as a knight who wields a shovel for purposes of combat and exploration. He also gets an array of sub-weapons to use, many of which that hearken back to games like Castlevania and Mega Man.

Using these weapons, you travel the world of Shovel Knight, defeating members of an insidious order as you fight to win back your beloved Shield Knight, a dear friend that was thought lost to The Tower of Enchantment. Traveling the world is a combination of Super Mario Bros. 3‘s overworld map and The Adventures of Link‘s villages. It gives a great sense of exploration to a game that otherwise features fairly straight-forward levels in the vein of Mega Man and Castlevania 3.

Gameplay within these levels feels very much like a more fluid Adventures of Link with swordplay replaced with shovelplay, which is now a word. You swipe can swing your shovel in arcs in front of you, or you can come down upon your enemies with a vertical shovel-drop. When combined with the aforementioned sub-weapons, you’ll find an incredibly gratifying gameplay system built into the game. The same method of combat is used to traverse platforming puzzles to find more and more treasure, a key component for buying new weapons and upgrades.

The level design is varied and compelling: from interesting puzzles using your shoveling skills to their utmost potential to perplexing paths that require sub-weapons and quick reflexes to navigate. Equally varied and challenging are the boss fights, each reminiscent of a variety of fights throughout video game history.

I can’t say enough about the music of the game. While it isn’t exactly true to the capabilities of the 8-bit era, it is evoking that same feeling of games like Mega Man and Castlevania. Jake Kaufman has put together an incredibly array of songs here that are well worth purchasing on their own from the game.

In the end, Shovel Knight is more than a game that just wants to invoke that “classic feeling” for a bullet-point. It’s a love letter to the great game design that brought all of us where we are now, and it shows.

Note: For what it’s worth, I played the game on the 3DS and that appears to be the place to play. The layered dimensions among the backgrounds of the game really make it pop, visually. The game in general really works well in a portable format, but it’s also available on Steam and Wii U, and I would easily recommend it there as well.

 

Review: Pushmo World

Pushmo returns in HD, and manages to rekindle my desire to shove blocks around.

The 3DS saw one of the most innovative puzzle games in recent memory with Pushmo a few years back. A simple downloadable title became one of the 3DS’s best games, if nothing else for the refreshing nature of it’s gameplay. It wasn’t about speed or necessarily skill, it was about thinking things carefully to get from the bottom to the top. Plain, simple, and immensely enjoyable.

Pushmo World seeks to bring that same innovative gameplay to the big screen. Admittedly, it’s not as fresh the second time, but it still delivers head scratching brilliance with a new batch of puzzles. You also get a more robust social feature through Miiverse, allowing you to find and endless assortment of user-generated Pushmo puzzles!

Here’s one I created! It’s kind of terrible, but you can scan the QR code into either version of Pushmo to try it!

What makes Pushmo great is it’s simplicity. The colorful art style, the peppy music, and the minimal amount of mechanics helps to keep the game clear and concise, and yet the variety of puzzles seems endless. The amount of innovation you get from a game about pushing and pulling blocks around never ceases to surprise me, even in the franchise’s second iteration.

Ultimately, Pushmo is a puzzle game only in competition with itself. It’s nice to see that Nintendo didn’t try and staple more weird mechanics into it, or re-introduce elements from the less favorable offshoot Crashmo (also available on the 3DS). What we have is a great game, in high definition, with nearly unlimited content. At the end of the day that’s all anybody could ask for.

Unplugged – Yomi Kickstarter

Fighting games meet poker in this extraordinary product.

(Editor’s Note: “Unplugged” is what I call my series of articles for analog games. It’s for card games, board games; really any game that isn’t a video game. I hope you enjoy.)

If you’re anything like me, you don’t have a head for fighting games. You want to get into them, they’re a blast to watch pros play, and they each have unique characters that you want to get to know. But you just can’t get past opening every fight by leaping forward and throwing a kick as your most advanced fighting tactic. Well for people like me, there is a solution in the card game called Yomi.

Continue reading Unplugged – Yomi Kickstarter

What would you like from a “Mario Maker?”

Recent E3 “leak” has me pondering…

With just a day before E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) starting proper, I thought I would have some fun with one of the supposed leaks going around. The craziest leak is a game titled “Mario Maker.” As seen above in this suspiciously blurry picture (taken with a 3DS?), there may just come an announcement during Nintendo’s digital E3 presentation featuring a game that involves making and/or Mario. But what could a game like this be? We won’t know until Tuesday if it even exists, but a game like this could just as easily be a real project. So I decided to make believe that it is real and talk about what I want it to be.

The obvious answer here is that this is a Super Mario Bros. level creator. Using either the 3DS or Wii U stylus, you plop down blocks and create your own levels. We’ve seen these types of ROM programs on the internet before, which is why I feel that this alone is too much of a low hanging fruit. If that’s all “Mario Maker” turns out to be, I think that’s cool, and I’d love to see sequels using Super Mario 2, 3, and World assets as well.

Then we can get into some sick shit.

But I do hope there’s more to this whole “Mario Maker” than a level creation/sharing tool. What if you could have access to a sprite maker to make your own enemies/stage designs? Heck, they could even go full blown Mario Paint and give you access to the same sound font that Koji Kondo once used to create the famous Mario tune we all know in our heads. This would allow level creators to also create original tunes to add to their unique characters and worlds, all using the Mario Bros. gameplay. Adding this almost Little Big Planet level of customization could really turn a simple ROM stage creator into a full-packaged game maker. Now -that- would be an E3 surprise.

There could also be a chance to add some of that NES Remix magic in here too. Nintendo could include other characters like Kirby or Samus. There was an old flash game, called Super Mario Crossover that allowed you to play through the original Super Mario Bros. as other NES favorites like 8-bit Link, or Mega Man. Tapping into Nintendo’s nostalgic collection of characters to play Mario games as could really open the whole “Mario Maker” project.

We’ll see if this is even a real thing come Tuesday, but for now it’s just fun to pretend what kind of things Nintendo could do, even if it’s sometime in the future. What kind of game would you want out of a “Mario Maker?” Drop a comment below and let’s speculate together!

Mario Kart 8 – A Hundred Word Review

Fast, gorgeous, and full of online fun.

MK8Shot2 Mario Kart 8 is probably one of the strongest Mario Kart’s to have come out. It’s gorgeous, fast, and entertaining.

As far as Mario Kart‘s go, you’re not getting a bunch of new territory here outside of the brilliant zero-g racing. Riding upside down and on walls never fails to be fun. Above all else, come to this game for it’s gameplay, but while you’re here, enjoy the bountiful visual feast blowing out of your screen.

The battle mode is the worst, but the online works phenomenally! Creating videos with Mario Kart TV and viewing them at Mariokart.tv is a blast. MK8Shot1 This is a new format I’m trying called the “Hundred Word Review.” Just like it says, I take only 100 words to describe my feelings towards a game. I’m doing this in an attempt to find a gimmick that appeals to folks. Quick, bite-sized reviews are the idea. Something to counterbalance the half-a-novel reviews you see elsewhere.

I could write a lot about Mario Kart 8, but I feel like these 100 words are all I need to say to tell you what I think of it. Let me know what you think in the comments. Does this format work for you? Am I omitting things? Do you like the idea of shorter reviews in general, or have I taken it to far? Please slap that feedback on the table so I can write more gooder for you.

Kirby: Triple Deluxe Delights and Disappoints simultaneously.

Still not sure what exactly is “Deluxe” about it.

Kirby: Triple Deluxe is a strange game. It feels as though it was scientifically distilled in a vat somewhere. It’s almost entirely inorganic and it ultimately left a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth.

Obviously, it’s a video game, and of course they’re all created in a studio somewhere so yeah, it’s just as “inorganic” as any other game. I think it’s more about taking risks and having interesting designs, and this game seems to be a one safe bet after another. It uses all of the formula’s that have worked in the past, and takes painstaking efforts to recreate them rather than make something new.

This is essentially the same Kirby we got on the Wii a few years back in Return to Dreamland. I would argue in favor of Return as a type of Kirby game that was trying to come back around to it’s roots, and it did so fairly well with some interesting multi-player options. This game is almost identical, without the interesting multi-player. Sure, the flimsy scraps of story are different, and yeah the worlds look much more interesting than they did in Return to Dreamland, but if you’ve played one you know exactly what you’re getting for the other.

Take for example the powers. We’ve seen Kirby copy abilities, put on cute hats, and interact with the environments a dozen times before. There’s only four new powers but even those don’t feel like anything different than we’ve had in the past. Archer existed in a different form in previous games, Beetle is essentially Suplex with a primary attack, and Circus is unique but functionally useless.

Ugh. This thing right here.

Then there’s the introduction of the Hypernova ability, which is arguably the game’s number one bullet point. To be blunt: it shouldn’t be. It’s a neat enough gimmick the first couple times, but after a while it becomes more tedious to see and use. All it does is kick Kirby’s trademark inhalation ability into overdrive, allowing him to suck up everything on screen. Occasionally there’s a puzzle or two to be solved with it, but honestly these are just long, treading, exhausting sequences that make me never want to revisit a good portion of the game’s levels.

And there is a good reason to revisit stages, at least in the eyes of this compulsive collector: keychains. Each level has collectible keychains scattered throughout it, some rarer than others, that are each an image from previous Kirby games. Honestly I’d love to have most of these in real life, but seeing them on the 3DS comes in a close second. You can also collect them via Street-Pass and Play Coins, and there’s a whole heck of a lot to unearth.

Making great use of the stereoscopic 3D.

I will say that some of the boss and level designs take time out of their day to make a strong argument for functionality in the world of stereoscopic three-dimensional gameplay. Even for a game that plays entirely on a series of overlaid two-dimensional plans, there’s a lot of action that happens between the foreground and background and it looks great. It’s unfortunate that most of these events are reserved for boss fights, and that even then they’re few and far between.

As for side modes, there’s your usual smattering. An unnecessary rhythm game, a boss rush mode, a somewhat enjoyable “Kirby Fighters” mode that might replace Smash Bros. for all of one evening. Upon beating the game you do get to replay most of it as King DeDeDe which I actually found to be more fun than a large portion of the main game, if by no other virtue than by removing the Hypernova sequences.

Prepare to lose all of an hour to this mode.

If I sound bitter about Kirby: Triple Deluxe it’s probably because I’m a longtime fan of the franchise, and this game is perhaps the least unique of them. I wanted something a little sharper and more clever like I receied with the likes of Epic Yarn, and Mass Attack. In the end it’s a fun little game, though. If you really like Kirby I’d recommend giving it a go, but if you don’t, it’ll by no means be an exception to your general feelings.