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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Remix of the Week: Jump Up, Super Star! (Super Mario Odyssey)

It was only a (short) matter of time before the remixes and covers of the Super Mario Odyssey vocal, mega hit Jump Up, Super Star! got tackled by throngs of fans on YouTube. There are already a few chiptune versions on the site but one you should definitely check out is Bulby's rendition. It has the same jazzy, bouncy feel of the original. As with all Bulby covers, you can download this one through Google Drive. But since this is a very popular track, the number of downloads for the time being has reached the limit. As of this writing, I'm still waiting to download this bad boy.

Jump Up, Super Star! MP3

Friday, June 23, 2017

The 3DS Isn't Going Anywhere Anytime Soon

The Nintendo Switch, which released on March 3rd worldwide this year has been killing it. Nearly 3 million units have already been sold since launch day. So yeah, the Switch is indeed the new Nintendo hotness. And yet with it selling like crazy, we've got some gamers that are wondering why Nintendo still continues to support the 3DS.

For Nintendo to drop the 3DS like a brick just because the Switch has been highly successful would be foolhardy. Yes, the company has made a  plethora of dumb decisions in their many years in the game industry but kicking the 3DS to the curb would be almost as face palming as partnering with Philips to bring us those horrid CDi Zelda games that Nintendo does not even acknowledge as part of the series. The reason the 3DS isn't going the way of the Dodo bird is simple: it still prints money.

The install base of the Switch at nearly 3 million is highly impressive, especially this early in the system's life. With the portable functionality of the Switch, I guess you could see why some would think there's no reason to keep the 3DS around, but here's the thing: there are far, far more 3DS units in the wind than there are Switch consoles. We're talking near 3 million versus over 66 million. And Nintendo should just forget about the 3DS because the Switch is a home and portable system even though the 3DS is at 66 million plus? Get outta here with that noise.

One system Nintendo did drop like a hot plate was the Wii U. The last first party release for the system was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nobody really has to question why the Wii U was so quickly disposed of. The thing barely reached over 13 million over the span of four years. Meanwhile, it is already looking like the Switch is going to outsell the Wii U by miles. The 3DS, which launched more than a year ahead of the Wii U absolutely destroyed it.

The Switch is still a hard console to find.

Despite the old hardware, the 3DS is still a viable system so it continues to get support from Nintendo, third parties and indie developers through physical and digital releases. The Switch is a system that is much harder to get your hands on, where as 3DS systems are plentiful. Nintendo said availability of the Switch wouldn't be like the NES Classic Edition but the console/handheld hybrid continues to be elusive. Doesn't make much sense to please one portion of your audience while neglecting the other just because shinny, new tech is the bees knee, especially when that old tech still gets you the money.

Samus Aran is coming to the 3DS in September in
Metroid: Samus Returns, a remake of the GB
Metroid II: Return of Samus.

Nintendo has games planned throughout this year and 2018 for the 3DS. Will the handheld be phased out? Oh yeah, of course it will. Eventually. However, anyone thinking that the 3DS is going to ride off in the sunset just because the Switch is also a handheld isn't seeing the bigger picture. The 3DS may not be anywhere near as powerful as the Switch but it still makes mad money and for that reason, it isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Return of Samus

If Nintendo proved anything this past E3 it is that you can elicit quite the joyous reaction from people with just two words and a number, especially is said two words and number are "Metroid Prime 4." It has been ten years since the last console Prime entry and the teaser reveal that the game is in development for the Switch had fans jumping and screaming for joy.

Most are ecstatic that a fourth entry in the main Prime series is in being developed, there is, understandably some cause for alarm. Retro Studios, the team behind the original Prime trilogy, is not at the helm of Metroid Prime 4. In fact, most of the key players that worked for Retro Studios have since left the company. No doubt that has some read flags waving wildly in people's minds but once upon a time, Retro Studios were newbies to the Metroid series and initial fan response to Metroid Prime in the development stages was quite harsh. When the game did release, it blew people away. The Prime games are viewed as a natural evolution to the 2D Metroid games and although they play from a first person point of view and there is lots of shooting, the Prime games still involve tons of exploration and have been dubbed first person adventure games. Sure, the new team behind Prime 4 isn't Retro but they should still be given a chance.

Samus Aran isn't just returning to consoles, though. The game wasn't shown in Nintendo's E3 Spotlight video but during Nintendo's Treehouse live stream, Metroid: Samus Returns, a remake of the 1991 Metroid II: Return of Samus on the Game Boy, was shown for the 3DS, making Samus triumphant return a one-two punch.

I have wanted an official remake of Metroid II for years. After seeing what Nintendo did with Metroid: Zero Mission, a remake of the original Metroid, I was dying to have Metroid II get remade. I actually played far more of that game than I did the original NES Metroid when I was a kid, but as an adult, I can see the blemishes of both the original Metroid and Metroid II very clearly. Both games lack an in-game map. The original Metroid allows enemies to get in far too many cheap shots and Metroid II's environments all look far too similar. Zero Mission is hands down the definite way to play the first Metroid and Samus Returns is shaping up to be the same for Metroid II.

No more samey looking areas for Samus to
explore in the re-imagining of Metroid II. 

Call me crazy, but I was never offended by the divulge Metroid Prime: Federation Force in the slightest. Fan reaction to that game was so overwhelmingly negative that it was akin to Toon Link's reveal in 2001. Oh, sure, Toon Link and the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker are much beloved now, but a year before the game came out, they were pretty much universally hated. Now I'm not saying you should shut up and take what you're given, but there is some irony in all of this. After Metroid: Other M and then the reveal of Federation Force, fans were petitioning for a "real Metroid game." Federation Force was revealed two years ago. What game has been in development for two years? Samus Returns. All the while fans were wasting their time to get a game they hated and (judging by the abysmal sales) never even played canned, a mainline Metroid game was being developed. A remake, sure, but a main series Metroid, nevertheless. And the entire time, Nintendo said nothing about it. I imagine Reggie and Yoshio Sakamoto were having quite the chuckle over this two years ago.

The Metroids in Samus Returns look more
intimidating than ever.
Something does trouble me concerning Samus Returns. I'm hearing that some fans of AM2R: Another Metroid II Remake are talking about boycotting Samus Returns, which is one of the stupidest things any Metroid fan could do. Yes, these people feel burned about Nintendo giving AM2R a cease and desist, but these same fans have been clamoring for official Metroid games for years and now that one is coming in a few short months, they want to boycott it? That makes zero sense and only helps to ensure that Samus will have fewer games to call her own.

Time for a reality check. The video game industry is a business. Whether fans wish to acknowledge that or not, the truth of the matter is that Nintendo and everybody in this business is out to make money. Metroid games have never brought in the money that Mario, Zelda and the Pokemon series have. The 1 million units that Metroid Prime sold in America, all of the aforementioned franchises bring in many times that amount worldwide. For fans to continue to be butthurt over Nintendo shutting down AM2R by boycotting Samus Returns, they are only helping to put Samus back in the grave. DoctorM64, the creator of AM2R was never angry with Nintendo for shutting his project down and after the reveal of Samus Returns, he tweeted that it was the Metroid II he's always wanted.

As a Metroid fan, I'm really looking forward to more information on Metroid Prime 4 and I cannot wait to play Metroid: Samus Returns. I was even able to preorder the special edition and I'll be picking up those amiibos on release day. While there is some uncertainty in the air, is is nice to have you back, Samus. I hope you'll be sticking around for a very long time.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Favorite Tunes #187: Let's Do the Odyssey

Well, E3 is over and regardless on who you think won, the real winners are of course, the gamers. There's games to look forward to later this year as well as 2018. I'm especially stoked for that PS4 Spider-Man title, Metroid: Samus Returns and, well, you read this Favorite Tune's subtitle, didn't you? Yeah, I am beyond jazzed for that one.

Pac-Jump Up! - Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 (PC, XBO, PS4)

If you were to ask me 6 months ago what my favorite Pac-Man game was, I would have answered without hesitation, Ms. Pac-Man. But now I've been exposed to Pac-Man 256 and Pac-Man Championship Edition 2. Currently, I can't decide which one I favor more, but I love Chamionship Edition 2's fast gameplay and ravetastic soundtrack. Pac-Jump Up! is my go-to song in this game.

Wolfduck Stage - Darkwing Duck (NES)

Released in 1992 and developed by Capcom, people often draw comparisons to Darkwing's NES adventure and Mega Man. Stage design is similar and the levels can be selected in any order you of your choosing. Darkwing Duck can also be a difficult game. And the soundtrack is freaking amazing. Yasuaki Fujita wrote the super catchy, jazzy music of Darkwing Duck, who was also the composer of Mega Man 3's soundtrack. Grab The Disney Afternoon Colleciton if you want to check out DW's 8-bit adventure.

Grandpix - ARMS (NS)

Did you see Mr. Yabuki during the E3 ARMS Open Invitational? Dude was SO close to taking an L but being the producer of the game, he showed that he is not an opponent to be trifled with. That was the kind thing that gets people more excited to play ARMS. The music to this game is pretty good, especially the Grandprix theme. I just love the so-easy-to-learn lyrics.

Molduga Battle - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U, NS)

Stop me if you've heard this one before. You're walking along the Gerudo Desert and you see a mini boss health bar appear and the music changes. Certainly caught me by surprise. It was an even bigger one when Molduga jumped out of the sand and I saw how huge he was. He was intimidating at first. Now? Now I just farm the sucker for parts.

Guile Stage (CPS1)- Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (ARC)

The theme that goes with everything. Well, most people tend to go for the CPS2 version of this theme but the CPS1 version is still very good. I haven't played a newer Street Fighter in years. Does Guile still giving the losers advice about being a family man?

Jump Up, Super Star! - Super Mario Oydssey (NS)

I cannot even tell you how many times I've listened to this song since hearing it days ago.  It is just. So. GOOD! But I feel like saying that undercuts how amazing of a song it is. I don't think we've ever had full vocal number in a Super Mario game.  What's more, it is sung by the Mayor of New Donk City, Pauline! That girl has skills! New Donk City is full of references to the Donkey Kong series from red girders atop buildings to locations and streets named after the Kong family. But there's even a reference in this song. At 1:25 into the song, the bass line becomes the 25cm, the track for the very first level of the original Donkey Kong.

Favorite Tunes Database

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Super Mario Odyssey Looks Super Lit

When Nintendo revealed Super Mario Odyssey back in January, what I had seen was enough to make me want to get my hands on a Switch. We saw Mario running around in a realistic looking city, complete with realistic looking people and he was platforming off his hat. Good freaking stuff. Then E3 happens and at the very end of Nintendo's spotlight, we see a longer trailer for Super Mario Odyssey. All of a sudden, I (and many others) are salivating in anticipation over this game.

New Donk City, topside.
When I saw Mario running and jumping through New Donk City, I could not have been anymore thrilled. As a lover of cityscapes, I am eating up the design of NDC. I don't think Mario has ever really gone through a realistic looking city in a 3D Mario game, at least not one like this. I want to explore every inch of NDC. No corner or stone is going to be left unturned and that goes for all of the vast worlds in Odyssey. Nintendo has stated that this game will be more in line with Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine and I'm very happy about that. With the Switch, the worlds in Odyssey look bigger than they've ever been in any Mario game and I'm glad the sandbox style of gameplay is returning to the Super Mario series.

You wish your hat was as cool as Cappy.
Mario's new pal, Cappy, greatly intrigues me. At first I thought he would merely be used as another platform tool, but Cappy is soooo much more. When thrown, Cappy allows Mario to take control of just about anything it lands on top of. Bullet Bills, Goombas, Hammer Bros., the citizens of New Donkey City, taxis, a T-Rex. I'm wondering what can't Cappy possess? And I SO want a Cappy hat for myself now. I've seen people rocking that thing at E3 and I need that in my life! If I cannot posses anyone that I throw it on, I will be very disappointed.

A word I've frequently heard being used to describe Odyssey is "Weird." New Donkey City could easily pass for a real life city. The citizens, rather than being the same or roughly the same height as Mario are much taller than him and look like real world, everyday people. Even some of the enemies you encounter look like they don't belong in a Mario game. For frying out loud, we saw Mario on a freaking scooter and unless the game is Mario Kart, then that is a highly unusual sight.  And yet, no one is complaining. The Super Mario games have always been weird and that's something that I've always loved about them. They've never been afraid to embrace weirdness and Odyssey is going full tilt with it. Super Mario Bros. 2, the most oddball game of the series was originally seen as weird because it was so different from the original Super Mario Bros. but much of the stuff in that game ended up becoming canon. heck, Nintendo eve n acknowledges the American version of Super Mario Bros. 2 as a cannon entry to the series. And we've actually seen Mario jumping with a radish in Odyssey, a clear nod to the "black sheep" Super Mario Bros. 2.

The song that was played during the game's January reveal was very nice but that super jazzy beat that was playing for the E3 trailer? I don't think there was a single person that wasn't tapping their feet, bobbing their head, or snapping their fingers as that song was playing. I've already listened to that song more times than I can count. And Pauline is the one singing it. From damsel in distress to the mayor of New Donk City with a killer set of vocals. Mario's first lady love has certainly come along way.

Super Mario games are fun. I'd argue that they are the embodiment of an enjoyable video game experience. Of course some Super Mario titles are more fun than others for different reasons. Super Mario 3D World may not have been on the same scale or scope as the two Super Mario Galaxy titles, but the general opinion is that 3D World was one of the most fun Super Mario games in years. Oyssey looks like it's going to take the fun of 3D World and run full speed with it on a much, much greater scale than any other Super Mario entry. Like the rest of you, I cannot wait to do this Odyssey.

Xbox One X Name is Infinite Face Palm Levels of Dumb

At Microsoft's E3 press conference on Sunday, the Xbox Scorpio, now know as the Xbox One X received a lot of attention. Touted as the most powerful console ever, the Xbox One X, which is yet another Xbox One upgraded system sports 4K gaming at 60fps at a price of $500. On top of being insanely powerful, it also has one of the stupidest names in the history of game consoles.

Say what you will about Sony's unoriginal names for their consoles but at least when they release a new home system, there is no doubt as to what the thing is. The PS2 was the successor to the original PS as the PS4 was the follow up to the PS3. Sony is very direct with system names. The name "Xbox One X" is so confusing it makes my head hurt. I suppose I really shouldn't be surprised. Microsoft has been on this dumb console name train for years, ever since the original Xbox One was unveiled in 2013. They followed it up with the Xbox One S, and now here we are with the Xbox One X.

Its as if Microsoft took a page from Nintendo (not one of their best pages), looked at the Wii U name and thought they could come up with something just as, if not more baffling and viola, the Xbox One X. I love the Wii U but no amount of love is going to blind me to the fact that that system flopped hard and one of the primary reasons was the name. Wii U was a name that left many people puzzled as to whether it was a brand new console or an add on for the original Wii. Seeing as how the Wii was Nintendo's best selling home console, it doesn't come as a surprise that Nintendo would want to replicate that success, wishing to ride off the coattails of the Wii name. Unfortunately, the name caused far more confusion than it did interest to the casual gamer and when all was said and done, the Wii U barely sold over 13 million units, making it (sales wise) Nintendo's worse console ever.

To the Xbox One X's credit, it isn't a successor to the Xbox One, but the third member in the Xbox One family. Still, Microsoft may have already potentially shot themselves in the foot by giving the system such a baffling name. For all the power under that compact hood, $500 isn't too bad, but that's still $500 for a system that's core function is to play prettier games. This may come as a shock to those that absolutely must have the most shinny, ultra gaming experience, but not everybody cares about super flash games. It certainly is nice that there will be a console out later this year that caters to that crowd, but the Xbox One X isn't gonna be for everyone and I'm not just talking about those that don't want to cough up 500 bones.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Bubsy is Back and Pigs Fly

We had some pretty nice weather last week. I was able to go outside and take a long look into the sky as I let out a peaceful sigh. But as I stared skyward, I saw something flying. It wasn't a bird. It wasn't a plane and it certainly wasn't Superman. It was a pig. As I live and breath, I saw a pig flying, defying the laws of gravity. Flying pigs mean one of three things. Game publishers have stopped with micro transactions. Those are still unfortunately a thing, so that wasn't the reason I saw airborne pork. Electronic Arts is still an awful company. So that can only mean one thing: Bubsy is making a comeback.

Be scared.

For those of you not in the know, Bubsy was one of the many platformers that came out in the wake of Sonic the Hedgehog's runaway success in the early 1990s. It was a time where "characters with attitude" were as plentiful as blades of grass. Unfortunately many of these pretenders were just that. Companies that wished to capture the same success of SEGA's Sonic only looked at what was on the surface (the 'tude) and made that the primary focus of their games. Tight level design? Good music? Pfff, who needs that crap when our character has so much edge to him? Bubsy had a few games but by the mid '90s, he was just a bad memory. You could do a lot worse than play a Bubsy title, but you could also do a lot better.

The question screaming in my mind (along with countless others, I'm sure) when news reached me of Bubsy's return was/is "WHY?!" Bubsy coming back is the kind thing that makes you stop and realize just how cruel and unfair life truly is. We can't get a new F-ZERO, Klonoa, NiGHTS or TimeSplitters, but freaking Bubsy, an obnoxious, talking bobcat, actually got the Life spell cast on him?! All those other games I just mentioned, people actually want to see those franchises return. Bubsy? No one wanted this cat to come back. Let's just say the multiverse does exist and on each Earth, something is different. The one thing that is constant on every Earth is that no one is clamoring for the return of Bubsy.

At the risk of being optimistic, the game could be better than his entries from 20 years ago.. I mean, his walking speed seems to be normal, so that's already a plus. Maybe there won't be an abundance of cheap deaths. Or blind jumps. You know, Bubsy had a number of one liners back in the day, but the one everybody remembers is "What could possibly go wrong?"