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Friday, January 20, 2017

Game Art #77: Fire Emblem Gallery

The last time Fire Emblem had a spot all to itself in Game Art was back in Game Art #53. With the recent Fire Emblem Direct getting me jazzed for the coming games, I wanted this series to take center stage in this installment of Game Art. Plus, I had been wanting to showcase it again, so here we go.

By Maeka
By Miyuki Ruria
By Senano Yu
By Mami Matsunaga
By Yotsui Inabaro
By Kinoeneko
By tsuaii
By Lowah
By Hisame
By Hiyata

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Remix of the Week: An Underlying Problem (Shovel Knight)

Insert high praise for Shovel Knight here. Well, now that we've gotten that out of the way, we can move on to this week's remix. In all seriousness, all of the wonderful things you've heard about Shovel Knight are true. I'm pleased that the game was received by fans and critics so well and that it was given a physical release.

This week's remix is from gvgkid and he brings us what I guess you could describe as an orchestral rock arrangement of one of my favorite Shovel Knight jams, An Underlying Problem. His remix is the bees knee, all that and a bag of chips and every other horribly dated slang terminology you can think of to describe it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Concerns for the Nintendo Switch

As much as I love the Wii U, I cannot deny the fact that the system was a huge bomb, barely selling over 13 million units in the span of four years. Nintendo had probably hoped to recapture the success that it had with the Wii, but the company's poor marketing left many confused as to what the console was, often mistaking it for an add on for the Wii, when in reality, the Wii U was a new system entirely. While I am excited about the Nintendo Switch, there are a number of things that have caused me to a bit cautious about the upcoming system.

It sucks that Nintendo has adopted the pay to play online deal, but it isn't really surprising. However, it is downright insulting that Nintendo is going to "give" those that pay to play online a free virtual console game every month for one month. And once the month is over, they are going to take the game away. Yeah, Nintendo's version of giving you a free game for paying to play online is essentially letting you borrow a digital game. You don't even get to keep the sucker. At least Sony throws some free games your way on PlayStation Plus. Granted, they may not be the greatest, but hey, at least the games are free. Not even the most die hard Nintendo fan can defend such an appalling method of giving Switch online subscribers "free" games. With Nintendo's massive catalog of retro games they could really upstage Sony with by giving out actual free games, but no, like so many other things, Nintendo had to go and screw that up.

Now that we actually have to pay to play online, Nintendo's servers better have some pretty darn awesome connections. I played some Super Smash Bros. for Wii U online a week ago and my experience was a lag filled mess. My Splatoon matches last week were also bogged down by lag. Nothing like knowing you were out of range of a Inkzooka blast or a Kraken only to get splatted because the dang game is chugging along. I'll take lag free matches in Splatoon 2, thank you very much.

Don't sweat it if you can't get a Switch to play Breath of the Wild.
It will also be available on the Wii U.
Getting your hands on a Switch is already an uphill battle. 2 million pre-orders are already sold out and this is after Nintendo said they would have enough supply to meet demand. We've got another NES Classic Edition on our hands and I can already see scalpers scooping up the Switch and selling it for far more money than the original asking price. If you think $300 is a lot of money to drop on a Switch wait until you see those greedy scalper prices. I'm actually amazed Nintendo managed to sell over 200,000 NES Classic Editions, since finding one of the blasted things is freaking impossible. That would mean, Nintendo had to actually produce 200,000 units. And yet Nintendo can fill 2 million Switch pre-orders but cannot get an ample supply of NES Classic Edition consoles in stores? Huh. I have to admit that it is impressive that Switch pre-orders are sold out, which shows there are plenty of people out there that want the system, but Nintendo has done a terrible job with NES Classic Edition restocks so I have little reason to believe they'll keep the Switch in steady supply. After the Wii launched in 2006, consumers had a difficult time getting their hands on one. Demand for the system was high, but if we've learned anything from initial amiibo waves and the NES Classic Edition its that Nintendo is not above trickling out a small amount of product to increase demand.

I suppose I could also mention the Switch launch line up. 1,2 Switch has novelty that could get old really fast and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is also releasing on the Wii U on the same day as the Switch. Obviously Breath of the Wild will run better on the Switch but paying $300 to play a smoother running game is a bit too rich for my blood. Super Bomberman R looks and sounds like it will be really good and the Switch will be the only place to blow up friends and strangers in Bomberman's comeback game. While the Switch launch isn't spectacular by any means, it is in no way shape or form, a system killer. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and didn't have launches worth writing home about either.

We've seen the list of third party support for the Switch but how much do you wanna bet that EA will give the system two or three games and then bail as they did on the Wii U? We're seeing a beevy of ports that were already successful in past console generations as well. But again, in the Switch's defense, PS4 and XBO is high res port city of previous gen games.

I love the games Nintendo makes and I'll be getting a Switch eventually so I can play the games for it. But I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge mistakes that could potentially hurt the system. Nintendo is often they're own worst enemy, stabbing themselves and then twisting the knife.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Bomberman Returns

Konami, reviled as one of, if not the worst company in the video game industry dropped a bomb after Thursday night's Nintendo Switch Presentation. Unlike all the other bombs they've dropped, this one was good. because it was dropped by the cutest force of mass destruction in gaming, Bomberman. That's right, boys and girls, everyone's favorite little bomb planter is back in Super Bomberman R.

When the Switch presentation was closing, a number of games were flashed on the screen and I caught a one second showing of what I knew had to be a Bomberman game. What would make me assume such a thing? Simple: the way the explosion was portrayed. Everyone knows traditional bomb blasts in a Bomberman game go in a straight line when against a wall or make a cross explosion when nothing surrounds the bomb. Because of the unique way Bomberman's bombs go boom, anyone can recognize a bomb set by the little guy without being on top of the screen. Still, that one second I caught was hard to believe. A new Bomberman game? In the words of an anime character with his/her jaw to the floor, describing the someone's awesome power, impossible!

I thought the days of us seeing Bomberman and all of Hudson's previously owned franchises were long gone. After all, Konami did give console gaming a giant middle finger and ran off to make pachinko machines. Konami did say that they wanted to win gamer's trust back and given how they've pretty much taken a giant dump all of their franchises the past few years, one can see why most would look back at such words with arms crossed and eyes rolled, if they even bothered to look back at all. Well, I gotta say, bringing back one of my favorite robots in video games is a very good way to start rebuilding positive relationships with gamers.

Now I'm sure anyone that's played a FPS or even a third person shooter has taken an opponent out by means of  bomb. Yeah, you shoot stuff and people in shooters but bombs are more often than not, always a weapon in your arsenal. Blowing up strangers and your friends in Bomberman is completely different from blowing them up in shooters. In a Bomberman game, you are locked into a room where all players can see each other. The only means of taking out the opposition is by blowing them to smithereens. Sure, you collect power ups to make yourself a force to be reckoned with but when all is said and done, the bomb ends their pathetic lives. You don't stab them or shoot them, you blow them up and it is one of the most satisfying things in the world. There really is nothing quite like a tension filled multiplayer match of Bomberman.

Up to eight players can nuke each other in multiplayer.
If this isn't living, I don't know what is.

My friends and I had so much fun playing Super Bomberman, Super Bomberman 2, Bomberman Online and Bomberman Generations. You have not lived until you've swarmed your buddies with a line of bombs, see the look of panic on his/her face and let out maniacal laughter as their Bomberman dies a comedic death. Before GoldenEye and Perfect Dark, the first two Super Bomberman titles were our favorite four player games. Super Bomberman R supports up to eight players in multiplayer matches! I never got to play Saturn Bomberman, which allowed up to ten players so this will be my first time playing a Bomberman game with more than four players. Needless to say, I am very excited about it. Eight player multiplayer in Super Bomberman R is bot for local AND online.

If you get blown up, you can get revenge by dropping
bombs from outside the arena.
Bombemrn has always focused on multiplayer with a few exceptions (Bomberman Hero on the N64) but there's also a single player campaign that supports c-op play. I am a little interested to see what its about. I love the game's cutesy art style and cartoonish voice overs. I thinking going through it just for that alone will be worth the trouble.

No doubt many are concerned since Super Bomberman R is being published by Konami. Not only did Nintendo come together with Konami to help make Super Bomberman happen, but the game is being developed by former team members of Hudson so that does make me breath a sigh of relief. I'm hoping Konami doesn't decide to be Konami and find a way to screw this up because Super Bomberman R is one of my most anticipated Switch titles.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Favorite Tunes #171: Fake Mermaids that are Fake

Did you tune in for the Nintendo Switch Presentation? It had its share of high and low points but I'm even more excited for the system. Some of the games I really, really want aren't available at launch but at least Breath of the Wild will be. The Switch presentation did influence some of my track picks for this week's Favorite Tunes. Enjoy!

Counterfeit Mermaids - Shantae: Half-Genie Hero (Multi)

I just started playing Shantae: Half-Genie Hero and I freaking love it! This is actually my first Shantae game and I'm very pleased to start with this one. Jake Kaufman has never turned in a bad soundtrack and his work on Half-Genie Hero is of exceptional quality. I was temped to listen to the music before starting the game up but I'm glad I waited.

BGM 1 - Super Bomberman 2 (SNES)

There were a total of five Super Bomberman games on the SNES, but only two of them were released outside of Japan. Those two Super Bomberman titles were among some of the most fun I've ever had on Nintendo's 16-bit baby. Regrettably Super Bomberman 2 dropped the two player support that the single player mode offered from the first game, but the multiplayer mode was still excellent.

Pleather for Breakfast - No More Heroes (Wii)

Travis Touchdown is making a return! OK, so the translator completely botched that Suda 51 segment, but hey! Another No More Heroes game! Anyhoo, No More Heroes were some of the best third party offerings on the Wii and the music was to die for.

In Pursuit - Final Fantasy Tactics (PS, PSP)

I'm losing count of how many times I've gushed over this game's glorious music. It is just that dang good. Final Fantasy Tactics is an often praised praised game in spite of having a story that can be quite the convoluted mess while still being intriguing. The deep tactical gameplay system certainly doesn't hurt.

Midna's Lament - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GCN, Wii, Wii U)

Sassy and bossy, Midna has gone on to become one of the most popular characters in The Legend of Zelda series. Fans were all too excited to play as her in Hyrule Warriors (she is SO good) and she's a cool assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Speaking of which, her very somber theme was included as stage music. Nothing like knocking someone off the stage to this theme.

Fight 1 - Fire Emblem Gaiden (NES)

Fire Emblem Warriors? As in Fire Emblem in the style of Dynasty Warriors? Yes, please! I thought it was a good idea for The Legend of Zelda to take that route, but with Fire Emblem, it is even more fitting. You may be listening to this track and thinking "Hey, I've heard this before!" Yup, this track was arranged for the Super Smash Bros. Wii U score.

Favorite Tunes Database

Friday, January 13, 2017

Thoughts on the Nintendo Switch 2017 Presentation

After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, the Nintendo Switch Presentation has finally come and gone. Questions were answered, more questions were raised and thankfully, some of those pesky rumors have been shattered.

The launch date was announced early during the presentation. We all know the console would launch in March when Nintendo dropped the reveal trailer back in October, but they never gave us an exact date. That release date is now March 3, which isn't far off at all. I was thinking perhaps later in the month, but Nintendo wants us to get our hands on that thing sooner rather than later it seems.

What everyone and their mother wanted to know was the price of the Switch. Some were placing their bets at $250 but Nintendo revealed it to be $300. I can already see some gamers crying foul at the price of the system because "It's under powered." I love how they say this based off rumors when specs haven't even been divulged yet. I was hoping Nintendo would give us some specs during the presentation, but I guess they didn't want to bother with that during the event. The system is powerful enough to run the Unreal 4 engine on it and a certain highly anticipated game that will launch on March 3rd looks drop dead gorgeous. So even if it isn't as powerful as the PS4 or XBO, it looks to be packing some pretty impressive hardware under that sleek-looking hood.

1 2 Switch looks to be what Wii Sports and Nintendo Land was for the Wii and Wii U respective. That is to say, 1 2 Switch is a game that demonstrates the abilities of the Joy-Con controller. It is interesting to see a video game that is played by not even looking at the screen but I can easily see the hardcore crowd dismissing this game and labeling it as casual trash. Admittedly, it didn't really wow me during the presentation and I'm not too keen on checking it out but I'll probably give it a look although, I'd much rather have another entry in the Wii Sports series.

Arms. Hey, look at that, it is another one of those new Nintendo IPs that the company never gives us! I really like the character design and concept of this game and can't wait for more info to drop on it. The idea of using your actual arms to control the speed of your punches in game is intriguing  and will no doubt make for some sick mix ups.

Who isn't hyped for Splatoon 2? Not only am I happy to see new hairstyles for both Inklings but we're getting new stages, new weapons, new specials and new moves! That roll looks sick but I can see it being punished. Still, it is nice to have some evasive move that isn't whipping out your special or super jumping away.

I'd be a horrible, horrible human being if I didn't talk about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I don't think there was a single jaw that was not dropped. I mean, holy crap, that trailer was freaking awesome! The word epic is thrown around so much these days, but it definitely qualifies for this game. And it is a launch game? People were already hyped about the Switch before but Breath of the Wild being a launch title just kicked it in to overdrive. That right there, just made the Switch a day one purchase for a lot of gamers.

Mario games have always been fun but Super Mario Odyssey looks really fun. Like, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 3D World fun. I never thought I'd see Mario running and jumping around what looked like New York city. And he looked really good doing it, too! HD Mario games look better and better. And it is an open world Super Mario title, the first in the series.

Third party support seems to be very strong for the Switch and I want it to stay that way. One of Nintendo's biggest problems since the N64 days has been third party support on their home consoles. Sure. they've had it before but not like what we're seeing with the Switch. Nintendo has always had strong first party offerings and I'd love to see them have the kinda first party support they did back on the SNES and for the first time in a long time, it is looking that way. March is gonna be one lively month for gamers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Remix of the Week: Forest Interlude (Donkey Kong Country)

As much as the recommendations side bar on YouTube can be irritating, it has shown me some worthwhile content from time to time. This evening, I listened to an amazing jazz arrangement of Forest Interlude, one of my favorite tracks from Donkey Kong Country 2 and an all around great piece of relaxing music. This particular arranger was handled by a group of guys called The Consouls. These guys knocked it out of the freaking park. Not only is their covering of the original track solid, but the breaks away from the original tune are outstanding. David Wise would love the work they've done. What's even better is that you get to see them actually perform the song in the video below.