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Friday, March 31, 2017

Game Over for GameStop?

Remember Blockbuster Video? I sure do. Back in the day, this rental store was the place to go for video games and movies. Towards the late 2000s, streaming services started becoming a thing.Now Netflix and Hulu are large and in charge. And Blockbuster? The once great king of video rentals couldn't compete and faded into irrelevancy and it looks like GameStop could very well be joining them.

About a week ago, news released that GameStop would be closing the doors of up to 150 to 225 GameStop stores. You don't have to look hard to find a GameStop as they are literally everywhere, what with them being the king of video game retailers. Shutting down 2%-3% of your stores is no small thing. When you're closing stores as opposed to opening them, that's a big red flag that sales are down.

I know there are thongs of gamers out there that aren't shedding any tears over this news. It has become popular to crap on GameStop over the years with the way they aggressively push used games on customers and the low value you get for your trade ins unless you have a lot of games to trade. Game publishers certainly aren't going to be losing any sleep over GameStop's decline in sales as they've been a thorn in their side for a long time. GameStop's business model is used game sales and used game sales is money that game publishers never see. Through online passes and locking content on used games, publishers have been trying to fight GameStop tooth and nail but it looks like they are finally winning thanks to two words: digital distribution.

The popularity of digital downloads has only gotten bigger over the years because it is super convenient. Human beings are lazy at heart and it is way easier to download a game on the sofa than leaving your house, dealing with traffic, the weather and what have you to pick up a game. Now I love my physical games as much as the next guy but I cannot hate on digital downloads when it is cheaper on indie developers and especially when it comes to older games. Digital games also save gamers tons of shelf space and as a gamer that loves his physical media, I can easily look around my place and see how attractive going digital only is.

But as much as I enjoy a huge library of digital games, there's nothing quite like being in a store, browsing and coming across a game or accessory you may not even have glanced at had you not been out and about. This is how I've acquired a large assortment of my gaming figures, plushies and other gaming memorabilia. Yes, you can shop online for all of the things I just mentioned and I do regularly but I still enjoy the experience that comes with being in an actual store. It is something the digital download stores just cannot replicate.

On the flip side, a plethora of casual gamers could care less about everything I just mentioned in the above paragraph. The hardcore gamer may not want to hear this, but we are largely outnumbered by the casual crowd. If digital downloads allow them quick and easy access to a game, they could give two craps about a game they could actually put on their shelf.

Digital distribution is the way that publishers can finally give GameStop the middle finger they've been wanting to give them for taking so much money away from them via used sales for years. When your entire business model depends on used games and consumers would rather get their games quicker digitally, of course profits are going to plummet. There really is no way GameStop can compete against digital game downloads and more GameStop stores will more than likely be closing in the future.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Remake, Please! Vol. 1

Welcome to Remake, Please! A feature where I go on about remakes I'd really love to see and the things that could be done to improve upon the original.

Metal Gear (MSX2)

Many gamer's exposure to the original Metal Gear is the NES port, which Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima bashes whenever the opportunity presents itself. The game is certainly rough in a lot of places but the original MSX2 version is hardly exempt from criticism.

Even by 1980s game design standards, the original Metal Gear suffers from a pretty horrific inventory system, the worst of it being the way card keys function. Lots of doors are activated via card keys and these don't stack so you have to pause the game, look through the card keys to find the right one to open a doors, which are not labeled, by the way.

Rather than see Metal Gear itself in the NES version, the only machine that awaits Snake at the end of his journey is a giant super computer. Sure, you get to see Metal Gear in the MSX2 version, but you don't even get to fight it. Heck, Metal Gear isn't even activated. All you do is plant some explosives on the thing's feet and blow it up.

Those HD remakes of the the Solid games are all fine and dandy but I'd love to see Konami (with Kojima's involvement) take a stab at remaking the game that started it all. Think about it: voice acting, a vastly improved inventory system, area designs that don't look so similar to one another and more music because as great as Theme of Terra is, I wouldn't mind more music for all the times you're sneaking around Outer Heaven. Oh and definitely give us an an actual battle with Metal Gear.

The Legend of Zelda (NES)

I can see more than a few eyebrows being raised with this one. Am I actually suggesting that a game that helped revolutionize gaming and was a huge inspiration for the mega hit Breath of the Wild, could use a remake? No, I'm not suggesting such a thing. I'm freaking demanding. Don't misunderstand, I still like the first Zelda game and I'm grateful for what it did for gaming, but if any entry in this 30 plus year franchise could really benefit from a remake, it's the original game.

The Zelda series has often been accused of holding the player's hand in recent years (something Zelda producer Eiji Anouma has admitted to) but trying to play the first Zelda entry without a guide or some kind of assistance is like trying to navigate a cave at night time without a light source. To put it bluntly, The Legend of Zelda can be vague at best and cryptic at worst. Dungeons have numerous secret passages but not once does the game give you any sort of indication that a particular wall can be blown up. The same applies for burnable bushes as the look just like any other bush. And unless you have meat to feed the Moblin that's blocking your path in dungeon seven, you ain't going anywhere anytime soon. How on Earth would you know "Grumble Grumble" means he wants food?

Combat in the first game also feels very stiff, compounded by the fact that Link cannot move and swing his sword at the same time as well as only being able to move in four directions as opposed to the eight way movement A Link to the Past introduced.

2013's A Link Between Worlds was a wonderful return to the top down style of Zelda games and could be used as a basis for a remake of the original Zelda game. Eight way movement would make for much smoother combat, and it wouldn't be hard at all to let us know which walls and bushes are destructible. The original Legend of Zelda isn't as hard to go back to as, say, the original Metroid but it really does show it's age and it baffles me how many critics flat out don't even acknowledge the game's flaws. A remake of the original would make for the definitive version of the game and I'm sure Nintendo would throw in some bonus content such as new items and extra dungeons.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Favorite Tunes #178: Blast From the Past

Two weeks without Favorite Tunes? What gives? Well, you see, this game came out and it has made it really hard to not only play other games but do usual blogging. I'm pretty sure you know what that game is. *Ahem* Anyhoo, there's music from Gradius Gaiden, Blaster Master Zero and Space Megaforce among others.

Area 2 - Blaster Master Zero (3DS, NS)

Despite owning the original Blast Master both physically and digitally, I have never really played much of it. Blaster Master Zero, the remake, however, I have invested hours into and it is already shaping up to be one of my favorite games of 2017. The soundtrack is straight fire! I could be predictable and give the glorious Area 1 remix a spot here, but I really like the theme used for Area 2.

Speed - Gradius Gaiden (PS)

Regarded among some fans as the best game in the series, Gradius Gaiden was originally released on the PS in Japan only but would make it's way to the states in the PSP Gradius Collection. Being a big fan of Gradius, the is one of the few Gradius I've yet to play. The music is really freaking cool and this is hands down my favorite track from the game. With Konami making their way back into console and PC gaming, I'm hoping Gradius Gaiden sees another re-release.

Destroy Them All - Life Force (NES)

From one Gradius game to another, Life Force was released one year after Gradius in arcades and was ported to the NES where it recieved a few features not present in the original arcade version. The power up bar from Gradius was implemented, making it easier for the player to customize their power ups. Being a solid port, the game also kept the arcade game's difficulty so Nintendo Hard is in full force but the Konami Code does make finishing the game a bit easier. Life Force's soundtrack sounds pretty dang good on the NES. In particular, the final stage theme sounds a lot better than the arcade version.

Stage Select - Bomberman 64 (N64)

Bomberman '93, '94 and Bomberma Hero had all recieved Virtual Console releases but Bomberman 64 was left out in the cold. At least, until now. Bomberman 64 recently hit the Wii U eShop so if you don't feel like hunting down a copy or getting out the N64, you can buy the game digitally. Bomberman 64 is certainly one of the most challenging entries and you really have to put in work to get the game's true ending. It also has some of the best music. Here's hoping Bomberman 64: The Second Attack gets re-released as it is an incredibly rare title.

Hateno Village (Day) - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U, NS)

Like so many others, Breath of the Wild has taken up a huge part of my gaming time. Whether you're staving off Lynels or just exploring the vast open world, BOTW makes for a truly unique Zelda experience. I really like what Nintendo has done with the music in this game. This game has some really great town thems. Kakariko Village is a theme I love, but I have to give the nod to Hateno Village.

Boss Battle 2 - Space Megaforce (SNES)

Oh man, if ever there was a shooter that was in dire need of a re-release it is Space Megaforce, known as Super Aleste in Japan. This game could very well be my favorite Compile shooter and it fetches insanely high prices on the second hand market. It plays excellently, looks fantastic and the soundtrack is crazy awesome. Is this rock theme not the sickest thing you ears have ever been blessed to hear?

Favorite Tunes Database

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Motion Controls are a Thing and Gamers Need to Deal With It

The way we play video games has certainly come a long way in the short time the medium has existed. We've got rumble feedback, analog sticks to control the speed at which characters move and it is standard for all controllers to have two or four shoulder buttons. There was once a time we would mock our parents for waving the control around in failed attempts to get more movement the characters. Now? Well, in the past ten or so years, moving the control around in a lot of games is actually required to get the desired response. And for something that has been around for a decade, you'd think more gamers would have gotten used to it. You'd think, anyway.

No developer has been as big on motion controls as Nintendo. Since the Wii made them a huge deal during the sixth console generation, Nintendo has been very amendment at making them an integral part of the gaming experience, much to the annoyance of gamers that cannot stand the very notion that they have to do more besides press buttons to play a game. Some even refer to motion controls as waggle, which I guess is supposed to be some kind of dis or the short term for motion controls, but it really just shows their unwillingness to adapt to a style of play that has been around for a long time now.

ARMS supports motion controls as well as
the option to play without them.
There's one game we can point to that will made very motion controller hater say "See! This is why motion controls are a cancer!" I'm of course talking about 2016's Star Fox Zero. Fans waited ten years for the Star Fox team to return and when the crew finally came back on the Wii U, it was with motion controls and there was almost as much gripping over a certain open world game that is getting perfect scores and a certain YouTube personality that gave said game a 7. Star Fox Zero was by not without it's flaws. I'm one of the few that liked the game but even I have to admit that yes, there certainly was a learning curve to the controls. Star Fox Zero should have been one of those titles were you could have played without motion controls because as much as I do enjoy them, there is no denying that they were detrimental to the game's low sales and those low numbers.

Not all of Nintendo's games demand motion controls. The upcoming ARMS, allows for motion and non motion controls but if ARMS motion controls are much more beneficial to the player than the standard control scheme, a la Splatoon, those that are using their arms to throw punches will probably have a huge leg up over someone that isn't using them. Motion controls in Splatoon are freaking awesome. Aiming is so much faster than using the analog stick and it isn't hard to spot a player that's playing without them as they make for super easy targets. I haven't really played any of the 3D Zelda games that have implemented motion controls outside of Breath of the Wild but aiming a bow in that game just feels so natural and I cannot imagine aiming in a Zelda game or any 3D game without them now.

There's a reason a lot of gamers prefer FPS on PC: the control setup far more optimal on a keyboard and mouse than it is with a controller. That isn't to say FPS games cannot be enjoyed with a controller. It's just that aiming and shooting is much more intuitive. Rail shooters saw a revival on the Wii thanks to motion controls. With the Wii Remote, there was no need to have a gun peripheral to shoot up mutants because your standard controller made pointing and shooting as easy as breathing. (Man, I wish House of the Dead: Overkill sold better)

I get that there are times where you want to just sit back on the couch, hold the controller and press the buttons. But the thing is, motion controls are not a gimmick. The control pad has been a gaming staple for over three decades now. Rumble, shoulder buttons, analog sticks, all of those things are firmly cemented as a part of the way we play games. Of course every game that uses them doesn't do it perfectly. 3D camera angles still aren't flawless but they are a heck of a lot better than when they were first introduced. Motion controls are not going away, no matter how much gamers want them to.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Fanboys Losing it Over Breath of the Wild 7/10 Score is Just Sad

Have you seen review scores for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Everywhere you look, it is 10s and 9s. I wouldn't call BOTW the greatest game ever made, but it is an incredible title. The game has one of the highest ratings on Metacritic, sitting at 98. And then Jim Sterling reviewed the game and gave it a 7, bringing the game down a number. Hoo boy.

I don't think I need to elaborate on who Jim Sterling is, but for the three of you that are unaware, this is the abridged version. Mr. Sterling is a YouTube personality who makes a living ragging on the stupidity that frequents the video game industry. But it isn't all negativity as he does offer praise where it is due and while he has bashed Nintendo numerous times, he's also had good things to say about them such as the quality titles they make and how Nintendo handled DLC in Hyrule Warriors. Having said that, one would not be completely in the wrong for calling Jim a shock jock. Jim is a pretty funny guy but I definitely don't agree with him on everything and not every aspect of his humor is for me. Still, the by no means does the man deserve death threats for giving BOTW a 7 out of 10.

The man currently on raging Zelda
fanboy's hate list.
It really is pathetic that a portion of the gaming community, regardless of the size are so invested in a game or the score it receives to the point of it getting anything less than what they feel it deserves can cause them to riot. I mean, honestly, that is one 7 versus the throngs of 10s. People actually want blood for Jim bringing down BOTW's Metacritic score by a single freaking number in spite of the fact that it is still one of the top five highest rated games on Metacritic. The fact that there are people out there willing to kill over a 7 is straight up lunacy.

What really gets me is that a 7 isn't even a bad score! Reviews are placed on such high pedestals that anything that isn't an 8 or a 9 is deemed awful and in the case of a game that so many others have given high marks to, makes it seem as if Jim were saying BOTW is a bad game.

I love BOTW. The game is amazing and it can be tough to play so many of the other great games I was playing prior to starting it. But by no means do I think it is perfect. It has frame rate issues and the weapons breaking can get tiresome, but the good far outweighs the bad and I'm enjoying the game far too much to get upset that Jim does not 100% agree with his peers. Perhaps Jim just doesn't go ga-ga over the game like so much of the gaming community has. I mean, opinions do differ, hard as that might be to comprehend.

Jim Sterling has his fans as well as people that hate his guts. He's no stranger to controversy and his score of a 7/10 for BOTW is getting him just that. No such thing as bad publicity and all that so those that loath him, he's having a good laugh at this whole ordeal, which probably isn't even a big thing to him. I highly doubt it is the first time Mr. Sterling has received death threats and I doubt it will be the last, which makes me sigh with disappointment, when all these haters could, you know, just go off and enjoy the game.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

All These Game Flavors and Players Choose to be Salty

Hoo boy, 2017 is looking like it is gonna be the hotness! I finally got my PS4, recently found out it is region free and I'm already spotting games I wanna import. Yakuza 0 is awesome and I could not be happier to discover the wealth of old arcade perfect games on the Arcade Archives series. There are tons of what looks to be great indie titles on the way this year and after taking Blaster Master Zero for a spin, I can't wait to play more. So we got all this good stuff going on and rather than play some games, people would rather join the ever growing ranks of the hate parade.

Two of the biggest titles for Sony and Nintendo dropped recently, Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Both are mind blowing open world titles and should make anyone that owns a Wii U, a Switch or a PS4 happy. But instead of playing these two amazing games we have a bunch of fans arguing over which of the two is better, something I couldn't honestly give two craps about. Breath of the Wild is what I think about all day every day, but I still plan on picking up Horizon and all the other sweet PS4 titles I can finally play now that I own the thing. We've also got a bunch of butthurt  Sony fans that are raising all kinds of havoc over the plethora of 10s Breath of the Wild is getting, furious over the game's near 100 score on Metacritic. People are actually going to the site and giving it the lowest score possible in hopes of giving it an overall low score. Really, is that what it is going to take to satisfy these people? I fail to comprehend how a game that has already received wide spread critical acclaim getting a lower score will make one sleep better at night, but I all sorts of stuff keeps people awake in this day and age so whatever. Breath of the Wild having a higher score than Horizon on Metacritic does not make Horizon any less of a stellar game.

Haters could be playing this amazing PS4
title but they are too busy crying about Breath
of the Wild getting an overall higher score.
I guess what really sticks in a lot of people's crawl is all the positive energy Nintendo has been getting as of late. The Switch is a much talked about console that is being heavily advertised and Breath of the Wild is a huge success for the Big N. Haters are looking for any bit to chomp at to dissuade other people's enjoyment. "The launch lineup is so small!" "It isn't as powerful as the Xbox One!" "The screen is easily scratched! and my personal favorite "Ha ha, the Switch is defective, worse Nintendo system ever!"

Yes, the screen being scratched so easily is a serious eff up on Nintendo's part, one owners are already looking into ways to avoiding. While the  occasional faulty unit sucks to anyone that has this happen to them, haters sure are quick to forget that launch XBO and PS4 units suffered from the same problems. One of the issues ti take into account with being an early adopter is that the risk of defective units tends to be higher, especially in the era of HD gaming.

Some say it is a great time to be a Nintendo fan and while I do agree with that, I'd also like to say that it is a great time to be a video game fan in general. There is way too much good stuff currently out as well as on the way to sit back hating on others and what they enjoy. I got way better things to do with my time and hopefully, you do too. Happy gaming.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Regarding the DuckTales 2017 Reboot Negativity

Responding negatively is practically a knee-jerk reaction to finding out something from our childhood is being reinvented. Be it a movie, a game, or in this case, a beloved Disney cartoon. When I found out DuckTales was going to be rebooted in 2017 a year and a half ago, the panic button immediately went off in my head. DuckTales was a huge part of my childhood. I had already known of Donald Duck prior to watching it, but DuckTales introduced me to Scrooge McDuck, Gyro Gearloose, Magica De Spell, the Beagle Boys and a host of other characters from Carl Bark's legendary Duck universe. DuckTales was the reason I took an interest in finding and collecting those old Barks Duck stories and it is a cartoon that in this day and age, still holds up marvelously. If Disney didn't do the new DuckTales series justice, heads were going to roll.

In 2016, the first image of the the DuckTales reboot surfaced. The image alone distilled a lot of my fears. True, it wasn't using the same art style from the 1987 cartoon, but the style looks clean and I like the art direction the creators chose to go with. Further still, a trailer was released, showing us the the art style in motion along with the new voice cast. This trailer lit me up like a Christmas tree and needless to say, I am really looking forward to summer 2017 when DuckTales airs.

The DuckTales crew in 1987...

...And in 2017.
Two of the biggest criticisms labeled against DuckTales 2017 is the aforementioned art style. Why is it getting flack? Well, for the three adults that never saw the 1987 cartoon show, I can't imagine them having any gripes with it, but for everyone else, it is a visual betrayal. The new art direction is largely hated because it isn't a carbon copy of the original. The other complaint is the new voice cast, which is, you know, not the original crew.

Just about every voice actor from the original DuckTales cartoon series came back for 2013's DuckTales Remastered, but getting the original voice actors together for a game is far less of an undertaking than it is for an ongoing cartoon series. Alan Young, Scrooge McDuck's voice actor was in his 90s when he voiced Uncle Scrooge again and June Foray, Magica De spell's voice actress, is pushing 100 years of age. While DuckTales Remastered was a remake of the classic NES game, which was based off the original DuclTales cartoon, DuckTales 2017 is not the original DuckTales series and this is something a think a lot of us older fans are having a hard time understanding. Besides,

Launchpad and Scrooge made quite the pair
so here's hoping for more hilarity ensuing
whenever the two are on screen together.

I'd like to bring up two shows on Cartoon Network to debunk the complaints regarding DuckTales 2017. Two infamous cartoons. Yeah, you already know the ones I'm talking about, Teen Titans Go and the Power Puff Girls 2016.

The new PPG show does use the art style of the original PPG show. Is it any better for? Nope. Using the original art style cannot hide PPG 2016's many shortcomings such as horrible fight scenes, terrible writing and having the girls twerk, which apparently fine, but Ms. Bellum has to leave the show because she's too much for young children. Gah. The Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup all have new voice actress and I think they do a fine job, in fact, they voices in PPG 2016 is the least of that show's problems.

Donald made sparse appearances in the old
cartoon so I'm hoping he pops up more often
in the reboot.
Meanwhile Teen Titans GO! Actually does have the crew behind the hit 2003 Teen Titans series reprising their roles. Annnnnd the show is still a massive train wreck. It may primarily be a comedy show, but many of the jokes fall flat and if this show is trying to teach kids any sort of lessons, it is failing miserably. The thing with TTG! is that it wasn't meant to be a reboot, but it's own show. Lots of fans of the 2003 series hate TTG! with a passion, viewing it as a mockery of the original show. When Cartoon Network had their DC Nation block one of the numerous series of shorts to air was Teen Titans, which were comedic and had the Titans looking very much the way they do in TTG! The big difference from those shorts and TTG!? Those shorts were actually good. And funny. Two key things TTG is not. The 2003 voice cast isn't even close to being enough to making TTG a quality cartoon.

DuckTales 2017 has a different art style from the 1987 series and a new voice cast and I don't think those things hurt it in the slightest. David Tennant, the new voice for Scrooge, really surprised me in that trailer and I cannot wait to hear more from him. I'm hoping we get to see more characters from the comics that never made it into the old show and I really hope Donald Duck appears far more often. This new DuckTales series seems like it has the heart of the old show and ultimately, that is what really matters.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Konami: Is Winning Back Gamer's Trust Possible?

It is no secret that Konami has not been seen in a positive light over the past few years. Canceling Silent Hill games, chopping up Metal Gear Solid V, giving Hideo Kojima the shaft, treat employees like garbage and banishing the Hudson IPs they absorbed into some realm of darkness. Make no mistake, Konami deserved every single bit of ire gamers and critics sent their way.

When Konami was revealed to be on the list of third party developers making games for the Switch, a lot of us, OK, pretty much all of us were skeptical of what Konami could possibly bring to the table. They wrote off console gaming to go frolic in pachinko land. But after the Nintendo Switch showcase in January, Nintendo dropped a ton of trailers for games that didn't get much attention in the direct. One of those trailers was for Super Bomberman R, the first new Bomberman game in seven years. I never thought we'd see any of Hudson's old IPs again or anything else from Konami that wasn't some half attempt at a Metal Gear game. A lot of people picked up The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at launch and it is being talked about like the second coming of Ocarina of Time but I've seen tons upon tons of photos on Instagram where Super Bomberman R is right along side Nintendo's new baby. So if that is any indication, lots of people were looking forward to Bomberman's return.

Months ago Konami said they wanted to win back gamer's trust. Not an easy thing to do when they burned so many bridges to the point where the company was being viewed as the new Activision of gaming. Super Bomberman R is a wonderful gesture to try to get back in good graces with fans. Does it make up for all Konami's past bull bull? Certainly not but it is a step in the right direction.

I've felt that something else Konami could do to make things right would be to re-release their older titles. Besides the usual NES suspects that are Super C, Gradius, Castlevania I-III. On HAMSTER Corporation's Arcade Archives line, the scope for Konami's retro titles is a bit broader. On the PS4 they've released the arcade versions of Contra, Gradius, Gradius II, Life Force A-JAX, TwinBee, MX5000, and Mr. Goemon . Some of those titles are definitely on the obscure side so kudos to Konami and HAMSTER Corporation for giving us easier access to these games.

When I jumped on the Wii U eShop about a week ago, I was surprised to see Bomberman '94 and Gradius added under the label of new releases. The version of Gradius I'm referring to is the TG16 version, which was never released digitally outside of Japan. These were the first two TG16 games to hit the Wii U eShop, followed by Neutopia and Dungeon Explorer. The Wii enjoyed a host of TG 16 titles as well as Genesis games. I always felt it strange that for the longest time, the Wii U was home to only Nintendo systems when it came to releasing retro titles. Great to see more former Hudson IPs get re-released even if they came at the end of the Wii U's life cycle. I greatly enjoy the TG16 version of Gradius and I may scope out the aforementioned titles.

Now of course it takes a lot more than re-releasing old games and a new Bomberman title to get fans to smile in your face again. But, ya gotta start somewhere and giving gamers easier access to those old classics and putting Bomberman back out there isn't a bad place to start. I think Konami could do a lot better by getting the Silent Hill series back into the spotlight and not chop the next Metal Gear in half at the expense of making a quick buck. And while the company is giving us old games, can we get the NES version of Gradius II? And how about giving us Snatcher and Policenauts? Hey, a guy can dream, right?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Favorite Tunes #177: Synthetic Life

I'm assuming many of you have picked up your Switch and are enjoying Nintendo's new baby. Me, I've gotta wait a few months before I can get one. Anyway, this Favorite Tunes features music from that Zelda game everyone is talking about, FAST Racing NEO, and Gradius II among others.

Zora's Domain (Day) - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U, NS)

I really don't need to go on and on about the praise critics have showered upon Breath of the Wild. It could very well be a lot of people's choice for game of the year. I hope you're all enjoying the game. I gotta wait til Tuesday to get my copy but I cannot wait to go exploring. I have sampled some of the music, however, and I love this beautiful arrangement of Zora's Domain from Ocarina of Time.

Rare - I Am Setsuna - (PS4, PSV, NS)

So apparently this RPG called I Am Setsuna is a thing. A thing I was oblivious to until I saw the trailer for the Switch version of it. Setsuna must travel with her friends, knowing her life will be ended via sacrifice for peace. It turns out the soundtrack is piano based and while a lot of the themes are quite good, I can see why the song Rare was chosen for the trailer.

Synthetic Life - Gradius II (ARC)

If you thought the first Gradius was tough, Gradius II easily has it beat. Being made on more powerful arcade hardware, Gradius II swarms the player with enemies and in some areas, when you die, you really are screwed since it becomes impossible to survive without being half or fully powered up. Nevertheless, Gradius II is still a fantastic shooter. I'm very familiar with this tune because stage 2 is super hard for me and it is my favorite track from the Gradus II score. This game's synth is lovely.

Alphine Trust - FAST Racing NEO (Wii U)

I'm a bit jealous of my UK gamers. They got a physical release of this amazing, super fast racing game while we in America only got the digital version. Still, I'm happy to have the game at all. It looks great, the sense of speed ins mind blowing and the soundtrack is ace.

Battle - Bomberman '94 (TG-16)

I cannot tell you how happy I am to see Bomberman return and looking as cute as a button. If you didn't or couldn't pick up a Switch to play Super Bomberman R, Konami re-released Bomberman '94 on the Wii U eShop. It has multiplayer support for up to five players and you get to jam out to this theme while blowing your friends up. What more could you ask for?

Octopus Dance - Nintendo Land (Wii U)

What is largely viewed as the techo demo for the Wii U, Nintendo Land was one of the best games to make use of the GamePad. In Nintendo Land, you visited numerous attractions inspired by Nintendo series such as Super Mario, Pikmin, F-ZERO, and Metroid to name a few. Even the Game & Watch series received some form of representation in Nintendo Land. Why this track wasn't used on a Game & Watch stage baffles me.

Favorite Tunes Database

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lots of Games at Launch isn't Super Important

Well, we're here. At long last, the wait for the Big  N's next highly anticipated system, the Nintendo Switch, is very nearly over. It won't be long before we're nuking each other to the moon in Super Bomberman R, exploring the larger than life hand of Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and solving clever puzzles in Snipperclips. I'm not even buying a Switch on launch day and I'm still excited, largely because the Switch has the potential to enjoy the same success that the Wii did. The Switch is known far and wide by both casual and hardcore gamers and third parties seem very eager to make games for the system. And yet, the detractors are still trying their darndest to muddy the water.

One of the most common criticisms leveled at the Switch is that it has "No games!" Well either that or its "No games at launch!" I'll get to the launch line up in a minute. First, I'd like to tackle the aforementioned "The Switch has no games" argument that is rapidly running out of legs to stand on.

Did these people miss the indie game bombshell Nintendo dropped a few days ago? Some of those same games will be hitting the Switch before they land anywhere else and some are exclusive to the Switch. I've seen comments from some people that brush these indie titles off as unimportant because they use retro art styles or aren't super big budget, triple A titles. One comment even stated that it was "Sad" how Nintendo was reaching out to indies to get so much support from them on the Switch since indie games are made cheaper. As long as the games are good, I couldn't care less if the budget to make them is smaller than big budget developers. And the fact that Nintendo is so willing to work with indie developers with the Switch is a huge step up from the Wii U. Steam has benefited greatly from all the indie titles as well as Sony and Microsoft. The indie scene, despite not having pockets as deep as the triple A boys, is a thing and when you've got a line of them kicking down your front door to make games for you, that is a very big deal. Saying that the Switch has no games when a good chunk of those titles happen to be indie games is just willful ignorance.

The Switch launch line up only consists of a handful of games. That is actually a fair point, but it does make me roll my eyes when the same can be said for so many other system launches. Remember the SNES? Of course you do. The SNES is widely viewed by critics and fans as one of, if not the greatest video game console of all time and a golden age for Nintendo. SNES owners enjoyed rich first and third party support and in the end the console ultimately beat the Genesis, winning the 16-bit console generation. But the SNES launch lineup? I think a lot of people's CSMD (chronic selective memory disorder) is acting up because in terms of the number of games, it was abysmal. The SNES launched with only three titles, Super Mario World, F-ZERO and Pilotwings. But those three titles were pretty freaking good. F-ZERO wowed players with its dazzling speed and Mode-7 effects and Pilotwings was a great, very challenging flight sim that showed the visual and scaling prowess of the SNES and Super Mario World was the successor to Super Mario Bros. 3 and to this day, Super Mario World is universally seen as one of the greatest video games of all-time. Very few games released today can hold a candle to Mario's first 16-bit adventure.

So what does the Switch have? A handful of launch titles but one of those games is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game that many critics are singing the praises of. It also has Super Bomberman R, Bomberman's return to console gaming after having been MIA for seven years with eight player online and local multiplayer support. Snipperclips looks like some of the most fun local co-op you can have in a puzzle game. Not every launch title shows off the power of the Switch, but you could do a lot worse than what the Switch has on day one.

Conversely, the Wii U had a ton of games at launch and yet the system still had shade thrown at it from console war zealots and Nintendo haters. And in the end, that wealth of Wii U launch titles didn't really do the system much good. The Wii U was poorly advertised, Nintendo did not play nice with third parties and many people didn't even know the system was in fact a new, different system from the Wii. The Wii U, a system that had a ton of games at launch was a retail bomb, taking years to hit over 13 million units.

People love to look at the number of Switch launch titles and complain, rather than the quality of the games. Well, if the number of games at launch is more important then let's discuss the sub-par system launches of old. The N64 had two launch titles, Pilotwings 64 and Super Mario 64. The 3DS was nothing to write home about with it's diminutive launch lineup but went on to be a handheld juggernaut after a price drop and a more noteworthy games started rolling in the very same year it was released. The PS4 and XBO launches were pretty meh as well and for a good while, had more remasters of games from the previous console generation, some of those titles weren't even more than two years old. Despite all those remasters, Sony was still able to move over 6 million PS4 units in a very short amount of time. So, its cool when the PS4 gets games that other systems already had but it isn't cool if the Switch gets games that other systems already got? I'm really confused on just when the double standard is OK here.

If the number of launch titles is what makes a stupendous console launch, then we haven't had a truly good console launch in a very long time. "Not enough launch titles" may as well be the tag line of every single console that launches because if we're gonna throw that around with one launch, we should just do it with all of them. At the very least, it'll will make gamers a bit less hypocritical.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

10 Indie Games I'm Really Looking Forward To

Nintendo's Indie presentation on February 28th not only has me even more jazzed for the Switch but for all the great indie games coming out in 2017. While some of these games are exclusive to the NS, some are time exclusives, so they will be hitting other platforms in due time. Regardless, if you're a big fan of indie games, you've got a lot to look forward to this year.

SteamWorld Dig 2 (Multi)

The first SteamWorld Dig was a fan favorite and prayers for a sequel have at long last been answered with Steam World Dig 2. SteamWorld is a platformer, but the primary focus of the game is the mining. Armed with your pickax. you can dig both vertically an horizontally to unearth treasures and find hidden passages. Just don't get to dig happy with that pickax that you pull a Dig-Dug and off yourself by getting crushed by a rock. SteamWorld Dig 2 retains the dark, yet cartoon-like art style from the first game and if the one track we heard from the trailer is any indication, the music will be on point as well. If you missed out on the first Steam World Dig, you can get it along with SteamWorld Heist on the PS4 and Wii U for dirt cheap. Now if you'll excuse me, my pickax needs some love.

Blaster Master Zero (NS, 3DS)

Blaster Master. Two words that will make any fan of the NES era of gaming swoon. Sadly, the series has had it rough over the past few decades with fans and critics alike being in agreement that none of the follow up games have come anywhere near the 1988 original. Blaster Master Zero looks to change that. Sporting spiffy 8-bit style NES graphics, making it look like an HD NES game (is that even a thing?) Blaster Master Zero sets out to recapture the look of the original game and it looks really freaking good. The game will have side scrolling as well as top down levels so whether you're blasting enemies in Sophia, your tank or shooting it up on foot, Blaster Master Zero will always deliver plenty of action. Two player support sounds exciting and if you don't have a NS, you'll be able to play the game on the 3DS. The original Blaster Master was no cakewalk and Zero is being developed by Inti-Creates a, game developer known for pumping out some pretty hard games (the entire Mega Man Zero saga) so be sure to bring that S+ game. You won't have to wait long to get your grubby hands on this one as it releases March 9th.

Yooka-Laylee (Multi)

This vibrant platformer gives off a very strong Banjo-Kazooie vibe and it isn't hard to see why. Yooka-Laylee is being developed by former members from Rare. Just the like aforementioned game, players take control of two characters at once, taking advantage of each character's unique abilities to explore vast worlds ranging from ancient-looking temples, underwater caverns, a city made up of books and other crazy environments. Anyone that adored the Banjo-Kazooie games ought to love Yooka-Laylee and this game even has multiplayer support. The current Rare may be a shadow of its former self but the old Rare lives on in Yooka-Laylee.

Shakedown: Hawaii (Multi)

As much as I enjoy 3D Grand Theft Auto games, I do miss the top down gameplay from the earlier entries. That was one of the main reasons I enjoyed GTA: Chinatown Wars so much. It mixed the old with the new to create one of my favorite GTA games. Shakedown: Hawaii does give off the impressions of the early GTA titles, but you can tell it is still very much its own game. At heart, it is a top down run and gun shooter but you can do drive-bys, run people over and if you really want to upset Smokey, you can torch an entire forest. Who else is stoked to watch the world, or at the very least, the forests, burn?  

Flipping Death (NS)

Yes, yes, it looks like Tim Burton had a hand in the development of this game. The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corps Bride have some of the most visually appealing art styles in cinema, so I'm certainly not complaining with the way Flipping Death looks. But it isn't just the visuals that have my attention,. This game has "weird" written all over it and it is the kind of weird I can get down with. In Flipping Death you *ahem* switch between the world of the living and the dead. The ghosts that reside in the land of the dead need your help and you can aid them by possessing the bodies of the living. No doubt this is going to lead to all sorts of crazy scenarios and I can't wait to see them unfold. The characters appear goof in a good way, the voice work sounds great and hilarious and I'm really intrigued by the back the forth nature of the two world dynamic.

Mr. Shifty (Multi)

Someone at Tiny Build must have thought "Hey, you know what's a sick ability that doesn't get used nearly enough? Teleporting! That's make a game outta that!" OK, so the development process was probably more complicated than that, but because someone was thinking of quick vanishing acts, we got Mr. Shifty. This top down action/stealth game has you teleporting past bullets and lasers to deliver swift kills to pull off the sweetest heist ever. While your teleportation powers may seem OP, you are very much a glass canon as it only takes one hit for enemies to end you. You'll need to approach groups of foes with more caution. You can also get your enemies to shoot each other, which is always nice. Mr. Shifty sports a slick cel shaded graphical style and a  killer soundtrack, Shifty is quickly securing his badawesome status in gaming.

Graceful Explosion Machine (Multi)

I'm a huge fan of shoot 'em ups so when I saw Graceful Explosion Machine in action, I immediately sat up. Using different weapon types, you destroy swarms of enemies to increase your combo chain and rack up your high score and I can already see this game becoming quite addictive. The visual style is really cool and the NS edition will benefit from the Joy-Con's HD rumble feature. Kinda curious to see how that works for this game.

Wargroove (Multi)

Are you loving Fire Emblem but missing Advance Wars? Wargroove looks to be set in the midevil times like Fire Emblem but it is clear taking its strategy cues from Advance Wars. With 12 campaigns, four player support both online and locally, Wargroove sounds like a strategy fan's dream come true and  just might fill the void that was left when the Advance Wars games stopping dropping. The multiplayer already has me excited but Wargroove also lets you make your own maps and if those can be shared online, then the replay value of this puppy just went through the dang roof.

Celeste (Multi)

If you played Super Meat Boy and somehow managed to maintain some sliver of your sanity, this indie title is here to tear it away from you and send you off with the white coats. From the makers of Towerfall comes Celeste, a mountain climbing platformer that demands nothing but perfection from anyone that plays it. One screw up, one miss timed jump, the slightest bit of hesitation and you die. And to make sure your life is all the more interesting, you'll have to jump over spikes, climb up narrow passages and avoid all manner of things that kill you fragile little body in a single hit

Pocket Rumble (NS)

As much as I love the NES, the console was  wasteland when it came to fighters. By the time fighting games became big business, most developers had moved on to the 16-bit systems. Yeah, Pocket Rumble is obviously a far more advanced game than what the NES is capable of, but its hard not be be reminded of the NES when you look at the 8-bit visuals it has. Pocket Rumble uses a two button control scheme but anyone that's played fighters that use only a few buttons knows how complex they can get. Casual player swill be able to execute some quick combos with the A and B buttons but more dedicated player will string together combos that rack up hit numbers I'm scared to even think about.