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Friday, October 21, 2016

Nintendo Switch Reveal Thoughts

Yesterday, the Nintendo NX was at long last revealed to the world under the title, Nintendo Switch. On a very rare occasion, I'm not late to the party, so I've decided to strike while the iron is hot and offer up some thoughts on the Nintendo Switch reveal.

The trailer for the NS was freaking great. As much as I love the Wii U, Nintendo failed on letting the public at large know what the system was. Many still look at the Wii U as an add on and not a successor of the Wii. With the NS reveal. this clearly isn't the case. No one is going to question what the NS is or mistake it for something it isn't.

Home consoles are great but we need a TV to play them and hauling them off for travel can be cumbersome. This isn't going to be the case with the NS. The off TV play of the Wii U has always been one of my favorite features about the system and I'm glad Nintendo is going to continue this with the NS, but taking it a step further. We can take the NS anywhere and enjoy it thanks to the tablet. On a bus, on a train, on a plane, on the beach. Even on the can if you're into gaming in the bathroom.

Look, ma, no wires! The NS has no cords attached to it. We're looking at a completely wireless game console. How cool is that? I thought it couldn't get any better than wireless controllers but a wireless console? I never thought I'd see the day. For a company that is often accused of being the dinosaurs of gaming Nintendo has shown that they can get with the times when they want to. Our phones and tablets, things that we use in our daily life are wireless so why nit make a console that is free of wires? I've been calling the NS a console but in truth, the thing is a handheld portable device as much as it is a home console. Nintendo has dominated the handheld market for over 25 years so it makes perfect sense to have the NS function as not only a home console but a portable device as well.

And the NS looks sexy to boot. I mean, just look at that thing and try to tell me it looks ugly. After digging the compactness of the Wii, it sucked to go back to a bigger Nintendo console with the Wii U. The NS looks stylish, slick and is smaller than the Wii U. Oh and that logo is simple but straight and to the point.

As excited as I am for the NX reveal, I do have some concerns. The detachable controllers are on the small side, which I can see being an issue for those with large hands. Nintendo likes to have their consoles be affordable but for what we've seen the NS do with that trailer, I have a hard time believing the NS will be cheap. With a price yet to be revealed, all we can do is guess, but I'd say $400 or more is a safe bet. Nintendo's history with third party developers/publishers on consoles has not been great since the Nintendo 64 days and while the list of third party companies for the NS looks impressive, I'm hoping Nintendo doesn't screw it up and many of these third parties abandon the system. The fact that the NS is portable will hopefully play in the consoles favor since again, Nintendo kills it on handhelds.

Remix of the Week: Cornered Mega Man X Remix

If you do not think the Cornered theme from the first Phoneix Wright game is one of the most badawesome things ever, there is something seriously wrong with you. Like, get professional help if you don't like it for some strange reason. But seriously, the song is freaking great. My New Soundtrack gives the theme the Mega Man X remix and it is every bit as awesome sounding as you'd imagine.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Introducing Nintendo Switch

Long code named the Nintendo NX, Nintendo has finally revealed its next generation console, officially named the Nintendo Switch. Gonna miss that NX code name but the Nintendo Switch name is rather fitting for what the console can do. Play on the TV, play on the tablet, play at home or on the go. 

Street Fighter II The Animated Movie Re-Release

In 1994, what is widely considered to be the greatest film adaption of Street Fighter was released. No, not that awful live action travesty. I'm talking about Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie. While the film mainly centers around Ryu, Ken, Guile, and Chun-Li get the most screen time, all sixteen fighters from the Street Fighter II games are featured in some form or another. While browsing around on Amazon, I was surprised to see Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie would be getting a re-release on October 25th, 2016.

SFII: TAM could not have been released at a better time. The early to mid 1990s was the peak of SF's popularity. 1994 was also the same year the box office live action bomb, Street Fighter came out, so the animated movie was a great way to wash the taste of that travesty out of our mouths.

A marvel on multiple fronts, SFII: TAM has gorgeous animation, stunning fight scenes, incredible music and a surprisingly good dub. Anime hadn't exploded in America at the time, so a good dub in 1994 was incredibly rare. Although, considering the talent on board, Steven Blum (Cowboy Bebop Samurai Champloo), Beau Billingslea (Cowboy Bebop), Lia Sargent (Trigun, Big O), Tom Wyner (Gun Grave), I guess it shouldn't come as that much of a shock. A lot of SF fans saw this movie around the time it was originally released. I didn't see it until 2004 when I purchased Street Fighter II Anniversary Collection on the PS2. Even thought it was edited, I was taken back by just how good this movie was.

There have actually been several re-releases of SFII: TAM. The uncut 2006 DVD release, the Street Fighter Anniversary Collector's Box, in 2012, containing an edited Blu-ray release,  and the Kaze, France Blu-ray release in 2013. This 2016 re-release makes will make the Blu-ray version more easily obtainable. While the DVD version can still be picked up, I'm happy to see this film get the Blu-ray treatment. If for some reason, you haven't seen this film, pick it up.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Making New Super Mario Bros. Feel New Again

When New Super Mario Bros. released on the Nintendo DS in 2006, it was a pretty huge deal. This wasn't just the release of a new Super Mario game. No, this was the release of a new 2D Super Mario game. Despite it's title, Nintendo does not count Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island as part of the Super Mario series and has effectively grouped it with the Yoshi games. Before New Super Mario Bros. released, the last 2D Mario we had seen was Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, which was released in 1992. Twelve years is a long time to go without a new 2D Super Mario adventure. So of course we ate it up. Fast forward ten years and four games later and the NSMB series doesn't feel so new anymore.

The NSMB games were made to cater to fans of 2D Mario. As great as Mario's 3D exploits were/are, backtracking through non liner levels wasn't to everyone's liking, especially when you consider a great deal of older fans grew up playing 2D Mario. The biggest criticism labeled against the NSMB games is that they feel too samey. And as much as I enjoy the NSMB games, it is kind of hard for me to find fault in that argument.

It was like 1985 all over again
when New Super Mario Bros. released in 2006.

Trying to keep a series that has been around for ten years fresh can be a daunting task. You can keep doing the same old, same old and have one set fans continue to come back or, you can change things up and risk upsetting another set of fans. Its a tricky business and if we've learned anything about Nintendo fans and gamers in general, it is that they can be quite the fickle bunch. As much as they shout for innovation and new, game changing features, we've seen them slam the door on that stuff with the quickness. But that's a discussion for another time.

I honestly don't think Nintendo needs to reinvent the wheel to keep NSMB feeling fun and exciting. Case in point, Super Mario 3D World. I've seen some people scoff at the praise SM3DW has received, saying the game was not innovative. And to them I say, well, duh! And then I shake my head in disappointment because of how grossly misinformed these people are. Of course SM3DW wasn't innovative. Anyone that thinks SM3DW garnered the accolades it did for being innovative is not paying attention. SM3DW got the wondrous recognition that it id because of the level design. The game's levels are insanely fun, charming, creative, imaginative, and most important of all, unfamiliar. It is incredibly rare to play a course in SM3DW that plays just like one you've played before. One course has you speeding across boost pads in a level that was clearly inspired by the Mario Circuit courses from Super Mario Kart, another one has you sneaking past Goombas in an Japanese-like dojo. The only time you'll start to get a sense of deja vu is when you reach a few of the brutally hard special worlds.

Super Mario 3D World doesn't bring anything new
to the table but that game is so much more fun than the last few
installments of the New Super Mario Bros. games.

If you were to ask me if the NSMB games should incorporate some of SM3DW's non samey level design, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!"That game may have had the token, fire, ice, grass and sky levels on the surface. But once I set foot into some of those levels, I was taken by surprise. I thought for sure that World 3 was going to be nothing but slip sliding slopes, but only one level (the first one) was an actual ice themed stage. It was a pleasant surprise to have my expectations played with and that one ice level of World 3 was pretty dang fun. Just because the overworld map is all desert doesn't mean every stage has to be nothing but sand.

SM3DW was so much fun because it took elements from previous games. Some of the best things of the Super Mario universe came from the black sheep of the series, Super Mario Bros. 2. Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad all play differently from one another and I was so happy to see that brought back in SM3DW. I think it is high time the NSMB games make each character control differently from one another. Actually, New Super Luigi U already did this by giving Luigi his higher jump and poor traction. The two Toads and Nabbit all controlled the same. I'm aware that this might take away from NSMBs simplicity a bit. but as it stands, the NSMB titles could stand to take some more risks and break away from that simplicity.

Only Luigi plays different but giving at least
one character different skills was a step in the right
direction for New Super Luigi U.

The NSMB games are also in desperate need of some new tunes. And I'm not talking about overworld map music. The sad truth is, the map music has changed far more than the stage music has. I love the Beach theme from New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but it's been used  in every game since its inception . The same goes for the Tower, Castle and Boss music from said game. We were fortunate to get a new Ground and Athletic Theme for New Super Mario Bros. U. Using the same themes since 2009 wreaks of laziness. Nintendo has some of the best musicians in the business. There is no reason for us to hear the same music in the next NSMB game.

One of Super Mario Maker's updates was keys. I love using keys as a means to get people to fight bosses, explore a level or block the path. Keys were a thing in SMB2 and to get one in that game, you had to run from Phantos. Why not bring that freaky mask back? He could be way more aggressive, shoot beams from his eyes and be a lot faster. Bring the Sniffets back while we're at it. We should be clobbering Shy Guys, too. What makes Pokey so special that he's one of the only SMB2 enemies to be included in the NSMB games?

On the subject of old enemies returning, how about some old power-ups? In New Super Mario Bros. 2, we saw the return of the Super Leaf. The Squirrel Suit is't too shabby but that let us glide, not fly. I can kind of see Nintendo's reluctance to not bring back the Cape Feather seeing as how broken the thing is. As busted as the Hammer Suit is, it doesn't let you skip entire levels and stay air born. And yes, I'd love to see the Hammer Suit come back.

A NSMB game will undoubtedly release on the NX. Despite all I've said, I really do enjoy the NSMB series, but I do hope Nintendo takes some more risks with the NX version.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Comic Book Fans Never Had It So Good

I have never been more excited to be a comic book fan than I am now. My love for comics has been renewed with a new perspective on the medium and I got another favorite super hero. There are a ton of reasons to be stoked for comic books right now. The only reason I could see someone not getting hyped is if they are dead.

There are a smorgasbord of high quality live action movies and TV shows for comic fans looking to get their super hero fix. CW has four nights in a row of comic book shows with Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. From what I hear, Arrow is getting better after the suckfest that was season four. Superman is finally making actual appearances on Supergirl and he's a really likable character, leaps and bounds better than than Zack Synder's version of Superman.

Marvel is killing it with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Captain America: Civil War was so much better than the comic book that it was inspired by. It probably helped that it was a loose adaptation of the graphic novel. Spider-Man was *ahem* spectacular in the movie and I cannot wait to see his solo movie next year. Dr. Strange looks like it's going to drop jaws and it already has me looking into picking up that sweet-looking Dr. Strange Funko Pop figure.

I should probably start watching Luke Cage already. My dad has already seen all of it and I'm the one that told him about it. Daredevil and Jessica Jones really impressed me and I already know Marvel is working their way up to the Defenders with Iron Fist dropping in 2017. And what I've wanted to happen finally is. Daredevil season one will release on Blu-ray in November. Nice to see Marvel's killer Netflix shows will be getting physical releases.

But it isn't just live action comic book adaptations that are making things great for comic geeks. Better availability of comic books always helps. DC has started releasing trade paperback golden and silver age versions of their key franchises like Superman, Batman, the Flash and the Justice League of America. The price of these books are pretty reasonable, too, ranging from $19.99 to $24.99. Not bad considering you get from over 300 to 400 plus pages of golden age/silver age comic goodness. I've been making my way through The Flash: The Silver Age Vol. 1 and I like it a lot. True, it is Barry Allen heavy, but DC has brought Geoff Johns Wally West Flash run back into print with books one and two already available and book three releasing in November. Mark Waid's run on the Flash will begin being collected in TPB format with the first volume dropping in December. Cannot wait.

Marvels TPBs tend to be more pricey. Most books in the Epic Collection line run the $34.99 to $39.99 route and are roughly the same amount of pages as DC's aforementioned golden age and silver age books. I find these are better purchased online as opposed to in stores to save some cash. At least some of Marvels older works are becoming more easily accessible. The Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Great Power collects a good chunk of the Stan Lee & Steve Ditko Spidey run and is a much cheaper alternative than buying The Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus Vol. 1.

I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the ever rising age of digital comics. After seeing ads for Comixology, I finally payed the site a visit. They've got tons of comics both new and old. I bought Spider-Man: Parallel lives and The Flash (vol. 1) #139 for chump change. I've always wanted to read Parallel Lives and I didn't feel like waiting until DC eventually made it to The Flash: The Silver Age Vol. 3 to read about the first appearance of The Reverse Flash. I can even snag a few books from Mark Waid's run if I get impatient and can't wait for December.

So we got stellar comic book shows, sweet flicks (on Marvel's end, at least) and comic book access has never been easier. I don't think there has ever been a better time to be a comic book fan than there is now. I'm off to read some silver age Flash stories and count the seconds until the next episode of the Flash hits the CW app.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Favorite Tunes #160: Here Comes a New Challenger

Aw yeah. You know what those five words mean. A new opponent has entered the ring. Yup, we've got music from fighting games this week. The only thing better than kicking the crap out of your opponent is doing it to some dope beats.

Those Who Fight (Version 2) - Ehrgeiz (PS)

This 3D fighter, released in 1998 and was famous for it's Quest mode. It was also notable for including Cloud, Tifa, Yuffie and Sepiroth from Final Fantasy VII as playable characters. It didn't get a digital release on the PSN outside of Japan and it isn't easy to track down a physical copy so expect to pay through the nose if you do. The game has some really cool and memorable music tracks, including an arrangement of FFVII's killer random battle theme. This track could have been in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Totally missed opportunity.

Jun Kazama - Tekken 2 (Arcade)

The first Tekken game I played, Tekken 2, left a huge impression on me, helping me fully embrace 3D fighters. The PS had some killer arranged tracks from the arcade versions music, but the arcade score was also quite good. Hearing this kinda makes me wish Tekken's composers would go back to this style of music.

Hitohira Reminiscent of Ketsui No Toki - Dead or Alive 2 (ARC, DC, PS2)

Talk about girl power. DOA is primarily known for it's hot chicks with huge boobs and said boobs jiggle physics. I haven't played a DOA game since DOA2 so I've been out of touch with the series for a long time. I can still recall that game's fantastic soundtrack, however, which let to the first inclusion of music from the DOA games in Favorite Tuns. Kasumi was always my favorite of the DOA gals.

An Empty Tome - Castlevania Judgement (Wii)

Back on the Wii, Konami took a stab at turning Castlevania into a fighter. The results proved to be disastrous, but hey, at least they were doing something with the franchise back then. Besides, that game gave us some pretty sick remixed tracks.

Theme of Jeffrey - Virtua Fighter (ARC)

I wouldn't really get into Virtua Fighter until the release of Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution on the PS2, an updated version of VF4. The game included a bonus 1VF 10th Anniversary game as a bonus, which was how I became familiar with the classic VF themes. Pai is my VF main, but I love me some Jeffrey theme music.

Flash Train - Street Fighter EX2 (ARC)

With the subtitle for this Favorite Tunes, you'd think I would have gotten to Street Fighter a lot sooner. It was really tempting to fill this Favorite Tunes with Capcom fighters, but I thought I'd be more diverse and give fighters from other companies some time in the sun. The EX series are Capcom's 3D fighters co-developed by Arika, a company that unfortunately owns the rights to the non Capcom fighters. This is why we've never seen Skullomania or Doctrine Dark in SF games since SFEX3 in 2000. Anyway, the music in the EX games is nothing short of fantastic. EX2 Plus has arrangements of EX2's music, but EX2's original themes are still incredible.

Favorite Tunes Database