Justin Weinblatt

 

  • Ten FF7 Moments That Would Be Awkward In HD

    The Final Fantasy 7 remake that everyone wanted is on the way. Part of me is eager to see the classic in HD, yet another part has mixed feelings. On the one hand, I […]

  • “I’m just going to stop you right there. You clearly had a set up in your mind of how you were going to make your argument. Then realized that the definition completely went against your argument. Here let me help you out in the definition part.”

    You do realize that my computer has a backspace key… right? If I realized my set up wasn’t going…[Read more]

  • First, explain to me why any content on my game cartridge should be blocked.
    Next, explain to me why the only way to unlock that content on my cartridge should require me to buy 10 dollars worth of plastic.

    After that, explain to me why these pieces of plastic that are required to play content that is already on my cartridge should be produced…[Read more]

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    Since DLC first arrived on the scene, gamers have been understandably skeptical about it. Complaints have ranged from DLC being overpriced, on disc content being paywalled, and customers being prevented from a […]

    • And yet I still want to collect them lol

    • First, explain to me why any content on my game cartridge should be blocked.
      Next, explain to me why the only way to unlock that content on my cartridge should require me to buy 10 dollars worth of plastic.

      After that, explain to me why these pieces of plastic that are required to play content that is already on my cartridge should be produced in limited quantities, so that only a certain amount of players with the game can play the content regardless of their willingness to pay.

      Amiibo are not as bad as horse armor. They are worse.

      Horse armor was simple cosmetic flair with no impact on gameplay. Worth 2 bucks? Hell no, but you weren’t missing out by not buying it. Meanwhile Amiibo inherently limits game content to a certain number of people. There is absolutely no reason that everybody who wants to play the content on their game card should not have that ability, even if they don’t want to play it. Even IF I was willing to pay 13 dollars for a character in Codename Steam I couldn’t. That is a viciously anti-consumer policy.

      Suppose Link wasn’t in the default Smash roster, and the only way to play as him was through buying an Amiibo, of which only 10,000 were produced. Can you imagine the backlash Nintendo would get for that? The only difference here is that less people care about Codename S.T.E.A.M., but that in no way means the policy is any less deplorable.

      Maybe the Amiibo will pay off in time, but that in no way excuses preventing customers from getting the content they want, when there is no reason that Nintendo could not offer it to everyone.

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    Top 16 (All) Mainline Mario Games

    Mario is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of his series (oh and Luigi too I guess). As my own personal celebration, I’ve been replaying the plumbers best games, and I’ve […]

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    For The Love Of God Stop Calling It e-Sports

    For a dark and shameful portion of my life, I worked as a retail clerk at a major national chain (I won’t name them here, but it rhymes with vest guy).  When I’m […]

    • “I’m just going to stop you right there. You clearly had a set up in your mind of how you were going to make your argument. Then realized that the definition completely went against your argument. Here let me help you out in the definition part.”

      You do realize that my computer has a backspace key… right? If I realized my set up wasn’t going to work, why on Earth would I leave it there?

      Before you ripped my quote kicking and screaming from its context, I explained why I didn’t want to use the dictionary definition. That is an argument that is terrible and frequently used, and I wanted to smother it in the crib. But alas, I failed.

      When was the definition of sports created? Does this definition predate electronic games? If so is it still relevant? Websters is devoid of social context. But if you love the dictionary definition so much, then fine.

      “a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other”

      Now explain to me why, by that definition, Scrabble is not a sport. Rules? Check. Competition? Check. Physical activity? Check. And, if you try to tell me that moving tiles doesn’t count as physical activity, then clearly it matters how demanding the activity is, and football is certainly FAR more demanding than Smash Bros.

      Is Chess a sport? Checkers? Tic Tac Toe? Dominos? Marbles? Operation? A belching contest? Hot dog eating contest? Synchronized swimming? Darts? Rock paper scissors? Battle of the Bands? Texas Hold Em? Iron chef? A ventriloquism contest? Extreme ironing? All of those meet the incredibly broad definition you present. That definition is broad enough to include virtually any competitive activity. Yet in our society we differentiate between sports and other forms of organized competition. That is why I said the definition was not worth discussing.

      “From Webster.
      5. Diversion of the field, as fowling, hunting, fishing, racing, games, and the like, esp. when money is staked.
      These players earn more money than any one of us (contributors to GotGame and affiliates) would even dream to earn. Considering the average salary is roughly $66,000. (http://www.simplyhired.com/salaries-k-professional-gamer-jobs.html) With the top paid gamers raking in roughly $200,000-$500,000 a year. Since most of the money is given to them from tournament pools, sponsors, and even fans it’s clear to see that money is staked in professional gaming. ”

      Context is key. You focus clearly on the money part, and completely ignore the “of the field” part. But, even if you ignore that, the argument still makes no sense at all. They make more money than me? What does that have to do with anything? A dentist makes more money than me. Does that make dentistry a sport? Are olympic athletes (who do not earn money) not athletes? Is Bill Gates the world’s biggest sports star? Totally irrelevant.

      “e-Sports are a thing. There is no difference between an League of Legends Pro to a Basketball Pro except for what they are spending hours practicing on to pay their bills. Players have even succumbed to stress. ”

      Again, irrelevant. Stand up comedy is stressful. Not a sport. SATs are stressful. Not a sport. Almost every job on the Earth is stressful. Not sports. Speaking of jobs, lots of people spend hours doing them to pay their bills. Yet, they’re not all sports. There is a difference between a League Player and a basketball pro. The difference is that they are engaging in different activities. Doesn’t make one better or worse, but it makes them different.

      The government can recognize esports as sports. Doesn’t make it so. The government also recognizes tomatoes as vegetables, but they are definitely not.

      In the link you posted, the Olympic committee clearly gives their rationale as a way to attract younger audiences. It potentially makes them money to say it’s a sport. Doesn’t make it so.

      The activities of playing football or basketball or boxing and the activity of gaming are so extremely different that it is ludicrous to view them as the same kind of activities. Even with sports as different as Judo and Football, many of the skills involved in one clearly transfer over to the next, because the activities are similar The actual physical activity involved in gaming and football intersect in only the most minute details.

      Can you think of some similarities? Yeah. But the similarities you present are too broad to be useful. Lots of activities require practice, make money, or are stressful. Yet the vast majority are not sports.

      Your analogy is deeply flawed. I’ll give a better one. It’s like going to a chef in a restaurant and saying, this isn’t a sport and you’re not an athlete. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t work hard at his craft, that his skill is less valuable, that he isn’t well compensated, that he is lazy, or that he shouldn’t be doing it. It doesn’t mean what he is doing is any lesser than what an athlete does. It just means that it is a different kind of activity.

      Of course, the chef is not likely to be offended, because he is not in the least bit insecure about what he does. It is an acceptable job, so he doesn’t need to latch onto something more socially acceptable to gain credibility.

      Edit: And, the point was not to insult professional gaming or professional gaming. The point was that if we call it a sport, people are going to judge it as a sport. People are going to focus on what gaming lacks that other sports have. Doing this invites negative comparisons. People are going to react negatively, because you are trying to sell it as something it isn’t.

      It’s like if you try to tell people Zelda is an RPG. Is it a game? Yes. Does it involve playing a role? Yes. So, you can define it as a role playing game. However, it lacks many of the traits that are common to what we call RPGs. Zelda is an awesome game, but if you judge it as an RPG, it would suck. Similarly, pro gaming may be awesome, but as a sport, it’s sorely lacking.

  • @Kuchiri That’s just absolutely and 100% false. Look up the sales data provided by Nintendo in their quarterly reports, and the sales figures from Sony and Microsoft. The market is most definitely not going for the Wii U.

    Does the Wii U have the best exclusives? Possibly. But the system is not selling well. Even Iwata has stated as much…[Read more]

  • The problem with the money in the bank argument is that stockholders expect the company to be making money. If they don’t make money, people at the top lose their jobs. The company will not go out of business if they continue on their current path, but people will be fired.

    As for the rest of your comments, I mostly agree. I bought the Wii…[Read more]

    • The market as a whole right now is going all for Wii U because Xbox One and PS4 haven’t had a hit yet that wasn’t marked with any negatives.

      The Wii U is currently king of this console war. It’s starting to feel like you are talking about the original Wii against the Xbox 360 and PS3. If not that, your mindset is stuck back there.

    • @Kuchiri That’s just absolutely and 100% false. Look up the sales data provided by Nintendo in their quarterly reports, and the sales figures from Sony and Microsoft. The market is most definitely not going for the Wii U.

      Does the Wii U have the best exclusives? Possibly. But the system is not selling well. Even Iwata has stated as much…[Read more]

  • @Smashbroslink If everyone knows that Sega went out of hardware because of trying to buck the console cycle, everyone would be wrong. At least partially.

    Did Sega’s 32X and CD hurt consumer confidence? Yes, but not enough to prevent the Dreamcast from having a successful launch. There were many other factors that led to Sega dropping out of…[Read more]

  • The major developers will generally design for a new platform, just to test it. Ubisoft at least would definitely try it, because they’ve supported basically every machine at launch.

    Assuming the power was in line with other systems, it would be easier to develop for. Nintendo could also switch their system’s architecture to be more similar…[Read more]

    • While other consoles had six or more years of full support. Developers are now looking at the Nintendo for potential of growth since the Xbox One and PS4 can’t do a release without completely failing. Most consoles take one or two years to start up anyways then they get three to four years of good sales. The Dreamcast was pulled right when it was…[Read more]

    • @Smashbroslink If everyone knows that Sega went out of hardware because of trying to buck the console cycle, everyone would be wrong. At least partially.

      Did Sega’s 32X and CD hurt consumer confidence? Yes, but not enough to prevent the Dreamcast from having a successful launch. There were many other factors that led to Sega dropping out of…[Read more]

  • I respectfully disagree with your respectful disagreement :). While 2014’s lineup was certainly amazing (Bayonetta 2, Mario Kart 8, and Smash were among the best games of the year), they didn’t boost Wii U hardware enough to compete with its rivals. The 2015 lineup does not look as strong in terms of system selling potential, even if it may be…[Read more]

    • And would Nintendo get third party support if they up and create a new console thus forcing developers that want to be on Nintendo to learn how to make games on a different engine. If Nintendo releases a new console and keeps the same core engine of the Wii U then Nintendo will be castrated with people asking ‘Why did you create a new console if…[Read more]

      • The major developers will generally design for a new platform, just to test it. Ubisoft at least would definitely try it, because they’ve supported basically every machine at launch.

        Assuming the power was in line with other systems, it would be easier to develop for. Nintendo could also switch their system’s architecture to be more similar…[Read more]

        • While other consoles had six or more years of full support. Developers are now looking at the Nintendo for potential of growth since the Xbox One and PS4 can’t do a release without completely failing. Most consoles take one or two years to start up anyways then they get three to four years of good sales. The Dreamcast was pulled right when it was…[Read more]

        • @Smashbroslink If everyone knows that Sega went out of hardware because of trying to buck the console cycle, everyone would be wrong. At least partially.

          Did Sega’s 32X and CD hurt consumer confidence? Yes, but not enough to prevent the Dreamcast from having a successful launch. There were many other factors that led to Sega dropping out of…[Read more]

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    Since this is the internet, and fans get very sensitive about these things, I’ll start by saying that I enjoy my Wii U.  It is the only current gen console I own as of now, and its 2014 lineup wreaked havoc on […]

    • I respectfully disagree with this.

      Nintendo rocked 2014, and with even bigger first party titles coming out this year and 2016 if they release a new console they will alienate half of their customers. They have a gold mine right now and we probably shouldn’t need to see a new console until 2018 at the earliest. The XBox 360 after their first major year pumped out great games for half a decade. So should the Wii U.

      • I respectfully disagree with your respectful disagreement :). While 2014’s lineup was certainly amazing (Bayonetta 2, Mario Kart 8, and Smash were among the best games of the year), they didn’t boost Wii U hardware enough to compete with its rivals. The 2015 lineup does not look as strong in terms of system selling potential, even if it may be superior from a quality perspective (of course E3 may bring some new announcements). I’m not so sure that Nintendo has a gold mine. They are making money, yes, but I believe that money is coming mainly from the handheld side.

        The difference between the Wii U and the XBox 360 is that the XBox 360 had third party support. The Wii U’s third party support is thin, to put it gently. I have no doubt Nintendo will continue to produce great games. I do doubt however that Nintendo can support the Wii U practically singlehandedly.

        It’s possible, nay probably, that some of Nintendo’s fans will be upset about the Wii U being cut off so soon, but I think that’s the lesser of two evils for Nintendo at this point. If 2015 sees a huge surge in Wii U sales, I’ll happily admit I’m wrong, but the current sales trajectory isn’t looking good.

        Thanks for reading and commenting!

        • And would Nintendo get third party support if they up and create a new console thus forcing developers that want to be on Nintendo to learn how to make games on a different engine. If Nintendo releases a new console and keeps the same core engine of the Wii U then Nintendo will be castrated with people asking ‘Why did you create a new console if you are using the same engine?’

          I guess what I’m asking.

          Do you really want Nintendo to make the EXACT same mistake Sega did fifteen years ago?

          • The major developers will generally design for a new platform, just to test it. Ubisoft at least would definitely try it, because they’ve supported basically every machine at launch.

            Assuming the power was in line with other systems, it would be easier to develop for. Nintendo could also switch their system’s architecture to be more similar to the XBox One and PS4, which would gain them some support.

            Obviously, I can’t guarantee that Nintendo would get third party support with a new system, but that’s far more likely then getting third parties to support the Wii U.

            As for the Sega analogy, I don’t think that’s apt here. Sega launched a year before the PS4. Nintendo, if they launched it in 2016, would probably have at least 4 years of hardware parity with their rivals. If Nintendo launches in 2018, then they’ll be launching about 2 years before their rivals, which would be more akin to the Dreamcast situation, where people are willing to wait for the next big thing on the horizon. Furthermore, Sega’s management was in turmoil, and the system never really had support from SOA. And the Dreamcast, in the US, was only supported for about 2 years. In 2016, the Wii U would have 4 full years on the market.

            • While other consoles had six or more years of full support. Developers are now looking at the Nintendo for potential of growth since the Xbox One and PS4 can’t do a release without completely failing. Most consoles take one or two years to start up anyways then they get three to four years of good sales. The Dreamcast was pulled right when it was starting to get good. If Nintendo releases a new console too soon, it will blow up in their faces.

            • @Smashbroslink If everyone knows that Sega went out of hardware because of trying to buck the console cycle, everyone would be wrong. At least partially.

              Did Sega’s 32X and CD hurt consumer confidence? Yes, but not enough to prevent the Dreamcast from having a successful launch. There were many other factors that led to Sega dropping out of hardware. One of the important one was a change in management to a person who wanted Sega to back out of the console business. This is combined with a low advertising budget, which led to an inability to counteract the hype of the PS2. That’s combined with a history of bad decisions (like Saturnday) and company debt. Sega’s add ons were a part of the problem, yes, but far from the whole thing.

              Furthermore, the cycle wouldn’t be nearly as short as Sega’s hardware, and the support would be far less limited. Assuming Nintendo dropped the Wii U cold turkey in 2016, that’d be four years. That would be a year less than the Gamecube. So, short yes, but not excessively so. It would also be 4 months MORE than the GBA. The short lifespan of the GBA certainly didn’t hurt the DS.

              And, I think you’re overestimating customers’ memory. Customers didn’t even hold a grudge against Microsoft for basically selling a defective product. If Nintendo’s next system (which was sort of announced today fittingly enough) is awesome, people will buy it.

              Anyway, even if you disagree, I thank you for taking the time to comment intelligently. Time will tell who is right.

    • The problem with the money in the bank argument is that stockholders expect the company to be making money. If they don’t make money, people at the top lose their jobs. The company will not go out of business if they continue on their current path, but people will be fired.

      As for the rest of your comments, I mostly agree. I bought the Wii U and currently have little desire for a PS4 of XBox One. But, the market as a whole disagrees. As a fan and a gamer, I have no particular desire to see Nintendo drop the Wii U. From a business perspective though, it’s a necessity.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • The market as a whole right now is going all for Wii U because Xbox One and PS4 haven’t had a hit yet that wasn’t marked with any negatives.

        The Wii U is currently king of this console war. It’s starting to feel like you are talking about the original Wii against the Xbox 360 and PS3. If not that, your mindset is stuck back there.

      • @Kuchiri That’s just absolutely and 100% false. Look up the sales data provided by Nintendo in their quarterly reports, and the sales figures from Sony and Microsoft. The market is most definitely not going for the Wii U.

        Does the Wii U have the best exclusives? Possibly. But the system is not selling well. Even Iwata has stated as much in recent interviews. The Wii on the other hand, outsold its opponents regardless of what you may have thought of its games lineup (which for the record was stronger than the Wii U’s in my opinion). You can argue against my opinions, but you can’t argue against facts.

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    So, you’ve upgraded from your now obsolete model 3DS, and you’ve noticed that 3D is actually pretty cool when moving the system a centimeter doesn’t ruin it.  Or, maybe you’re just happy to have a second […]

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    If the internet isn’t happy about something, they’ll let you know about.  Nintendo has been on the receiving end of a virtual tongue lashing for two recent decisions regarding their New 3DS line.  One criticism, […]

  • Super Smash Bros 3DS Demo: Gameplay and Character Impressions

    I was lucky enough to snag a code for the demo of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.  Needless to say, all unessential activities have been put temporarily on hold.  If you weren’t fortunate enough to snag a code, here are some impressions to hold you over till the 19th.

    Visuals

    After its humble blocky N64 origins, Smash has become a graphical showcase for Nintendo.  In this regard, Smash 3D (what I’ll be calling the game from now on) holds up well.  Sora and Namco have done a great job of playing to the 3DS’s strengths and minimizing weaknesses.

    Smash 3D’s graphical style has been changed from Brawl.  It has a softer cel shaded style that complements the game well.  On a technical level, the visuals are a noticeable step down from Brawl.  The textures are simpler and the backgrounds are less detailed.  This is expected considering the horsepower of the 3DS.

    With all of that being said, Smash 3DS is a great looking title.  While textures have been downgraded, animations seem more fluid.  The color palette has been altered to focus more on bright primary colors that help characters pop on the screen’s limited real estate.  Whether playing in 2D or 3D the game runs at a seemingly rock solid 60 FPS.  Even with 4 players on stage, a Pokemon, an assist trophy, and several items bouncing around, the framerate held up admirably.

    All in all, this is one of the best looking titles on the 3DS.  The most important elements for a fighting game are quality of the models, framerate, and fluid animation, and Smash 3D excels in all of these regards.

    As for the 3D effects, they’re what you’d expect.  If you enjoy the 3D feature on the 3DS, you’ll enjoy it here.  The game makes modest use of 3D elements, as you’d expect from a fighter, but there are some nice touches.  For instance, when the cuckoo item becomes enraged, cuckoos will flutter off-screen towards you.  The beam sword’s swing will extend ever so slightly beyond the boundaries of the screen.  Unlike some other 3DS games, the 3D is clean without much ghosting.  If you don’t like 3D in your games, Smash won’t change your opinion.

    Controls

    After playing Smash for over a decade on a Gamecube controller, players will need to adjust to the 3DS control scheme.  While the lack of a second stick will irk longtime smashers, the 3DS is more than serviceable as a Smash controller.  The circle pad is surprisingly comfortable.  Short hops and fast falls posed no challenge after a few “getting to know you” rounds.  Any button you need will be readily accessible and responsive.  The simplistic control scheme of the Smash series allows the game to translate to a portable with relatively few compromises.  The demo version doesn’t have the option to customize controls so you’ll have to deal with the default scheme for now.

    Gameplay

    Here, I’ll discuss the overall changes to the gameplay.  As many have stated, Smash 3D feels like a compromise between Melee and Brawl, albeit one that leans distinctly more towards the latter.  Characters have more weight to them than they did in Brawl, but won’t fall like they have stones in their pockets as in Melee.  Helping to balance out the game’s floatiness is increased hitstun across the board.  Brawl had such little hitstun that even some jab combos were not guaranteed.  The combo potential is still incredibly limited (which is a good thing in my humble opinion), but it is far easier to keep the pressure on after a hit compared to brawl.

    Landing lag has been adjusted on a move by move basis, but generally seems to be reduced.  In laymans term, this means that after landing during a jump attack, you can begin another action more quickly.  On a similar note, dash attacks have generally been improved across the board.  In Brawl, using a dash attack to do anything but punish a whiffed move was saying “please grab me”.  This time around, dash attacks either end quicker, or go further.  Most characters can space their dash attacks well enough that even if shielded, they can’t easily be punished.  With more viable dash attacks and more viable aerial moves, characters have more options to approach a defensive opponent.

    Ledge mechanics have been changed, and I’m still trying to get a handle on them.  If you’re holding onto the ledge, another character can grab it away from you.  This means that the timing on edgeguarding is very strict.  It was hard to test this element with a computer opponent, but it seems that there is a very small window after grabbing the ledge where an opponent can’t take it from you.  To me, this was a disappointment, but it is necessary to prevent people from abusing ledge invincibility as they did in Brawl.

    The combination of these and other factors mean that Smash 3D is a fair bit faster than its predecessor.  We’re not talking about Marvel vs Capcom or Melee speed here, but the game seems to strike a nice balance.  It is neither too fast to be accessible nor slow enough to bore veterans.

    With that out of the way, we can talk about the important thing, the characters.  The demo has five characters available, Mario, Villager, Link, Pikachu, and Mega Man.  I’ll give each their own section.

    Mario

    Mario hasn’t changed all that much from his days in Brawl where he was a mediocre character at best.  However, Mario benefits from the overall changes in gameplay.  Increased hitstun makes Mario’s juggling game stronger, and the decreased lag on a few of his aerials really helps him safely apply pressure.

    Mario’s gameplay (or at least my Mario’s gameplay) still revolves heavily around his back air, and up air attacks.  Both of these have seen subtle improvements.  Back air has less lag on landing while up air seems to be just a hair faster when coming out.  As with most moves, both have increased hitstun enabling Mario to chase air opponents more aggressively than before.

    Mario’s biggest change is also one of the simplest.  Mario’s down throw has nearly no knock back.  This may sound like a disadvantage to newer players, but it is actually a great thing.  Down throw can easily be followed up, most likely by a series of up tilts, leading to big damage at low percentages, especially to heavier fighters.  Even at middle or high percentages, Mario’s throw can usually be followed up by his up air.  I haven’t been able to chain multiple down throws, but even without a true chain grab this one change will help Mario immensely.  Mario now has an effective way to deal a big chunk of damage each stock, and is a more threatening character up close.

    In terms of special moves, nothing major has changed.  Fludd is still nearly useless as far as I could tell.  Fireballs are the same as you’d expect.  Mario’s cape is slightly faster which is nice.  Jump punch has higher knock back, but it’s still not all that powerful, and its risk outweighs its benefits of using it offensively.  As a recovery move, it works the same as ever.

    Mario’s smashes and tilts are also about the same.  The only change is his down tilt which has less lag and more hitstun.  This makes the move change from completely worthless to mostly worthless.  The move isn’t as terrible of an option as it was, but there are few situations where it is Mario’s best option.

    As a player who likes Mario, I’m cautiously optimistic.  Mario’s slight changes combined with the overall changes to the game’s engine have the potential to make him a solid character.  There is nothing to indicate Mario will be truly exceptional, but it seems like he could at least make it to average, which is a lot better than he was in Brawl.

    Link

    Link was one of the worst characters in Brawl.  You might expect that he would see some major improvements this time around, but that is not the case.  Link has certainly seen some improvements, but I’m not sure if all of those little changes will add up to big things.

    Links projectile game is largely unchanged.  His bow may be slightly more powerful, but it’s hard to say.  One change that is very noticeable is the utility of Link’s shield.  Like in Brawl, Link’s shield can nullify projectiles, but this time around it does so more reliably.  The effect activates quicker once Link is done with a move.  This may give Link an edge against rival projectile users.

    Link’s multi-hit forward and up smashes are both easier to hit fully.  His down smash remains unchanged.  In the air, link is similar to his Brawl counterpart.  His up air has an awkward looking animation, but this does extent the sword further leaving Link less exposed.  His down air is less powerful but doesn’t leave you as vulnerable as it whiffs.  Link’s forward, back, and neutral air attacks have not changed in any immediately noticeable way.

    As I mentioned earlier, dash attacks have been improved.  In Link’s case, this means a new attack based on his jump attack animation from Ocarina of Time and subsequent games.  This attack packs a wallop and can KO opponents around 110%.  The lunging element of the move makes it easier to punish whiffed attacks.  The move is not 100% safe, but it is much safer than the move it replaced.

    Aside from these differences, Link’s spin attack comes out quicker.  More importantly, with the changes to edgeguarding, Link’s spin attack is a much better recovery option.  He can also grab the ledge with his chain even if someone is holding it.

    The new ledge mechanics help mitigate one of Link’s biggest flaws, and a few moves have seen minor or major improvements.  Link is still pretty sluggish though, and his projectile game doesn’t seem effective against more agile foes.  Link does feel better, and very fun to use, but I don’t see him being that much better than he was in the first game.  Of course, I’m hardly an expert Link player, and there may be more subtle changes (particularly to his projectiles) that I’m not seeing.

    Pikachu

    I never played Pikachu much in Brawl, and I didn’t like him too much here.  On the plus side, his various multihit moves (back air, forward air, down Smash) are harder to wiggle (smash DI) out of.  His aerials have less lag if you land in the middle of one, particularly his forward air.  Pika’s dash attack lunges further making it easier to space the move appropriately and hits way harder than it did in Brawl.  Pikachu’s dash attack won’t KO until high percentages (150+%) but it’s a good option when an enemy just won’t die.

    On the negative side, thunder is a lot weaker.  It is quicker, but the thunderbolt doesn’t linger on the stage as long or do as much damage.  It’s upwards range is no longer infinite, but it does spawn a cloud that could spike enemies in a glorious fashion.

    Pikachu’s down throw has higher knock back (the opposite of Mario) which seemingly takes away Pikachu’s chain grab.  This leaves Pikachu without one of his most valuable tools.  It is unclear whether his forward through can still chain grab, but it could not against any characters in the demo.

    Aside from those changes, I didn’t notice much of not about Pikachu.  He feels a little more awkward to play as, but this is just one man’s opinion.  His quick attack could still do damage, although it has a bit more knock back, so maybe experienced Pika players will get more mileage out of him than I did.  It makes sense that Pikachu is a little less powerful here as he was one of the better characters in Brawl.  Hopefully, other top characters were also weakened to balance things out.

    Villager

    I didn’t expect to enjoy playing Villager as much as I did.  He/she is a very weird character, but not in a bad way.  I can’t decide yet if Villager will actually be good, but I’m sure he will be fun to play as.

    Villager looks like a spacing character with interesting spacing options.  Lloid rocked will be a big part of her game.  These projectiles are slow and take time to set up, but they take up a lot of space, and limit your opponent’s options.  The rocket does decent damage, and you can ride it which boosts its power.

    Villager’s down B will plant a sapling the first time it is used.  Once the sapling is planted, you can use down B to use your watering can.  This is primarily for watering the tree, but it also functions as a much weaker version of Mario’s FLUDD.  Once the tree is planted (which hurts the enemy when it spawns), your down B becomes an axe.  The axe can chop the tree down, which will do major damage to anyone standing beneath it.

    Villager’s down B is notable for two reasons.  Firstly, the tree becomes an effective shield that will stop projectiles.  For the time the tree is active (10 seconds or so) Villager has a safe place to camp.  This move also gives Villager access to the axe which can be used on opponents.  The axe is fairly quick and powerful, but has a lot of lag.  Sometimes, when the tree is chopped down, it spawns a piece of wood that can be thrown like Zero Suit Samus’ armor from Brawl.

    Villager can use his slingshot with forward and back air.  The pellets do more damage up close than afar.  They have low damage and knock back.  These moves may be useful against characters like Marth who rely heavily on aerials for spacing, but are hard to use against grounded opponents.  In particular, Pikachu was very difficult to target on the ground due to his size.  Up and down air attack with one, two, or three turnips.  The three turnip variety of the move sports good power, but the random nature of the move makes it an iffy KO move.

    When playing as Villager I struggled with KOs.  His bowling ball forward Smash was the strongest smash in the demo by far, but is sluggish.  It can be dropped off of edges which is fun if not always practical.  Villager’s fireworks up smash is nifty, but not very powerful.  His down smash buries opponents like a pitfall, but I was able to button mash my way to freedom quickly even at high damage.

    Aside from his forward Smash, Villager’s best KO move was hit up tilt which pokes opponents with a stick.  More often, I relied on chasing foes offstage and slingshoting them off the edge.

    My favorite attack for Villager is his dash attack which chucks a pot forward.  On the ground, the pot doesn’t go very far, but it will go further if thrown off of an edge.  This may not be practical in battle, but it is fun.  His grab uses a net which is also fun, but slower than other grabs.

    Villager’s recovery is a mixed bag.  His balloon trip Up B has incredible range, but he cannot attack out of it.  Any attempt to attack will put him in helpless state.  Villager users will have to be crafty if they want to make it back to the stage unmolested.  Lloyd rocket is another option that is well suited for horizontal recovery, but also leaves Villager vulnerable.

    Villager’s pocket move stores enemy projectiles for later use.  Villager can pocket pretty much any projectile and then some.  He could pocket Mega Man’s air shooter, he can pocket items like barrels and stop watches, and so on.  In item matches, this move is especially interesting, allowing Villager to store items for more opportune times.

    Due to his uniqueness it may be some time before Villager is figured out.  I didn’t have much success with him, but I had a hell of a lot of fun.

    Mega Man

    Mega Man is easily my favorite character so far.  Like Villager, the Blue Bomber has a playstyle that differs vastly from what we’ve seen in Smash history.  He may not wind up as one of the best, but I feel like Mega Man will be very annoying to fight against.

    Mega Man’s most notable feature is his Mega Buster.  The Mega Buster serves as Mega Man’s jab, neutral air, and forward tilt attacks.  Mega Man can fire three shots in a row, which don’t deal much damage.  The bullets have a tiny bit of hitstun, a little bit less than Falco’s lasers, and travel about 1/4 of the way across final destinations.  Firing the Mega Buster was able to negate most incoming projectiles.  Mario’s fireballs and Link’s boomerang could be taken out by one shot each.  Sturdier projectiles like Villager’s Lloyd rockets went down after 3 shots.

    Mega Man’s pea shooter is quite the hinderance that can constantly and infuriatingly interrupt your opponent.  The shots will stop moves in their tracks and stop momentum in the air.  This allows Mega Man to apply pressure consistently.  His Mega Buster is supplemented by a more standard projectile, the Metal Blades.  Metal Blades are nothing to write home about.  They’re a fairly basic projectile that deal low damage (6-7%) and knock back.  They can be fired at different angles, and if they hit the ground, they can be picked up as an item.  They can also be grabbed out of the air.  Mega Man can only have one on stage at a time.

    The Crash Bomber is a unique attack that functions as a less powerful sticky bomb.  The bomb isn’t all that powerful, but it serves as a distraction that allows Mega Man to keep up his projectile pressure while disrupting enemy offense. The Leaf shield is another projectile option, but I don’t see its usefulness.  It doesn’t protect Mega Man all that well, it does a pitiful amount of damage, and it prevents him from using his A moves.  It kills all of his aerial momentum like Game and Watch’s bucket, so it may be useful for that aspect, but as an attack I found it useless.

    To complement his projectile game, Mega Man has a decent set of aerials.  His flame sword is like a slower version of Marth’s forward air.  It’s not amazing, but it’s serviceable.  His back air is better.  The Slash Claw is a two hit combo with solid knockback that comes out quickly.  It’s great for attacking foes who are offstage and is an all around strong KO move.  Mega Man’s up air is air shooter.  He fires a tornado upwards.  Its range allows Mega Man to attack without getting too close, and it can carry opponents off stage at high percentages.

    Mega Man’s down B is the Hard Knuckle.  The Hard Knuckle has good range, and it can spike.  The range of the attack makes it a safe way to try to spike your opponent, and also a safe poke on stage. When used, the move has an odd hover effect for a moment which may prove useful.  Interestingly, the hard knuckle can be reflected by Mario’s cape.

    Using forward Smash will charge your Mega Buster.  The charged attack can travel about halfway across final destination at full charge.  It is a bit slower than average for a smash, but its range gives it some useful applications.  It can be used for shield pressure, punishing, and tech chasing in a way that other forward smashes can.  Conversely, it’s not as useful up close as other smashes may be, and it isn’t very powerful until it’s charged.  This move can be reflected and pocketed by Villager.

    Mega Man’s down smash and up smash are standard issue.  His up smash attacks above him.  It’s similar to Zelda’s up smash, but with narrower range and lower knock back.  His down smash shoots out fire on both sides, similarly to Squirtle’s up Smash from Brawl.  Down Smash is powerful, but only if you hit it as it starts.

    Mega Man can slide using his down tilt.  The slide is an interesting mobility option, and one of his quicker attacks.  If spaced correctly it is somewhat safe.  His dash attack is a good one.  Top spin covers a good distance making it good for punishing, and it can whittle away shields.  It’s not completely safe, but it doesn’t leave Mega Man too vulnerable.

    The Mega Upper is one of Mega Man’s best KO moves.  It functions a bit like Luigi’s up B.  If you hit the opponent right up close, it is very powerful, and can knock out lighter opponents at around 80%.  If you don’t hit it dead on, it does significantly less knock back.  While the move comes out quickly (relatively quickly considering its power), it is easily punishable on block.

    That’s Mega Man in a nutshell.  Mega Man has a lot of attacks that don’t do much damage, but hinder your opponent from doing what they’d like.  He can likely shut down characters who like to approach with short hopped air attacks, and his various projectiles spell trouble for bulky characters like Donkey Kong or Bowser.  Mega Man has an incredibly unique moveset, and it’s difficult to see how it will all come together.  I feel that once better Smash players get a hold of Mega Man, he’s going to pose problems to many fighters.  However, agile characters like Wario, or characters with reflecting moves may be hard to overcome.

    Overall Impressions

    All signs indicate that Smash 3D will be an excellent sequel.  The two new characters on display are each incredibly unique.  If the other newcomers (aside from clones) are as well-developed, then the diversity of playstyles on display will be incredible.  The game makes the most of the 3DS hardware and is very attractive, even if it does have to make some sacrifices compared to its console cousins.  Most importantly, the changes made to the core mechanics are for the better.  It will take some time to render a final verdict, but the game is faster, more fluid, and strikes a better balance between offense and defense than its predecessor.

    The bottom line is that even with five characters, one stage, and no multiplayer, I’ve managed to squeeze hours of enjoyment out of this demo, and I can’t wait to be done writing about it so I could play some more.  There is a good reason the hype for this game is through the roof, and all signs point to Smash Bros for 3DS delivering.

  • After what may be the rockiest console launch in history, the Wii U is finally starting to gain some traction.  Mario Kart 8’s effect on the console has been nothing short of remarkable, and has shown that there might be light yet at the end of the tunnel.  While I love my Wii U, there is still a ton of work that must be done for the system.   Here are seven changes that I think can help the Wii U become a turnaround story. As a brief note, I’m not going to mention true unified account systems.  Nintendo should definitely do that, and they are working towards it, but so much has been said on the topic that I have nothing to add.

    1.  Coins: Like Achievements But Actually Useful

    As humans, we like rewards.  Even meaningless rewards like gold stars and virtual trophies are enough to make people jump through hoops.  Achievements have been a part of the success of Microsoft and Sony.  While I don’t think Nintendo should simply copy their rivals, I would love Nintendo to create a unique take on the achievement system. In my mind, such a system would be an extension of what Nintendo does with Club Nintendo.  Achievements in games would be rewarded with coins.  Each game would have up to 100 unlockable coins, simlar to XBox Live’s 1000 Gamer Points.  The key difference here is that coins would be able to be redeemed for digital content, including Virtual Console games, DLC, or even speacial Amiibos for the truly devoted.  I wouldn’t expect the payoff to be much, but offering 2 or 3 bucks worth of DLC for 100% completion of a game would hardly break the bank for Nintendo and would encourage customer loyalty.

    2.  Let Me Use My 3DS As A Controller

    Nintendo can often be a bizarre company at times.  Back in the Gamecube days, they introduced a GBA to Gamecube connection cable.  This was an amazing idea that was too cumbersome to work in practice.  Naturally, with the DS and the Wii each selling like hotcakes and each sporting wireless capabilities, Nintendo would revive the idea.  Right?  Wrong. Nintendo should frankly be embarrassed that Sony is so far ahead of them in terms of connectivity between their handhelds and their consoles. Nintendo promised us from the beginning that we would be able to use multiple Gamepads for certain games.  At this point, convincing Wii U owners to drop 75-100 bucks on a second Gamepad seems like a longshot at best.  Allowing gamers to substitute the 3DS for a second Gamepad would open up new possibilities.  Four Swords-style games on the Wii U?  Yes please.

    3.  More Touch And Motion Based Games

    Here’s a suggestion that will surely irk many self proclaimed “hardcore” gamers. They love their controllers and hate change, but touch controls can offer new and interesting ways to play games.  When you think of touch controlled games, you’re probably thinking of Angry Birds or Where’s My Water.  When I think of touch controlled games, I’m thinking of The World Ends With You, Kirby Canvas Curse, Kid Icarus Uprising, Bowser’s Inside Story, and GTA Chinatown Wars.  The DS showed that touch controls can make even “hardcore” experiences better, so why not utilize that functionality on the Wii U? Perhaps more importantly, touch controls would eliminate some of the barriers that prevent newer gamers from playing the Wii U.  The Wii and DS succeeded because they allowed new players to enjoy gaming without needing to manage two joysticks and 8 buttons.  With the Wii U and its focus on more traditional gameplay, Nintendo has taken a big step back in this regard. Between the Gamepad’s touch screen, its traditional button layout, and Wiimote compatibility, the Wii U could offer new control schemes for hardcore and casual games.  Hopefully, Nintendo can take more advantage of these capabilities in the future.

    4.  Gamecube Games On Virtual Console With Online Multiplayer

    Nintendo certainly hasn’t been shy about using their past catalog to their advantage.  This makes it surprising that, aside from Wind Waker HD, Nintendo has been reluctant to exploit their Gamecube catalog. I’m not advocating more full priced HD remakes, but some more Gamecube games on virtual console would be nice.  And, since many Gamecube games featured exceptional multiplayer modes, I would be absolutely ecstatic if Nintendo added a way to enjoy these modes online.  I’m sure people would drop 20 bucks for an online enabled version of Smash Bros. Melee or Mario Kart Double Dash.  No reason to stop there either.  Nintendo could also offer online enabled versions of other classic games like Goldeneye on the N64.

    5. Revamp Miiverse

    Miiverse is a unique spin on the community features offered by Nintendo’s rivals.  The strictly moderated nature of the network makes for a more friendly, if slightly Orwellian, environment than that found on XBox Live, and hand-drawn messages allow you to add more personality.  Nintendo needs to take more advantage of this network. Ideally, Miiverse should be more like a message board, and less like a giant Facebook wall.  Gamers need to be easily able to precisely locate topic they’re interested in without sifting through hundreds of posts of drivel.  It needs to be easier to find posts about a part of a game you’re stuck on, or to find a place to discuss an awesome boss battle.  You should also be able to use Miiverse to challenge the guy who just beat you to grudge match in Smash, or send a picture of your first place finish to the girl you just powerslid past in Mario Kart 8. Nintendo was on the right track when they thought to create their own social network specifically for Nintendo gamers.  If used right, this network can create a uniquely Nintendo multiplayer community while making even solitary experiences seem social.  Miiverse still has a long way to go to deliver on its promise.

    6.  More DLC

    DLC doesn’t have to be a dirty word.  There has been plenty of worthless DLC used to separate fools and their money, but there has also been DLC that genuinely adds to an experience.  One example is Nintendo’s Super Luigi U DLC, which added 80 something levels of gameplay to New Super Mario Bros U for a very reasonable 20 dollars.  Compared to other companies, Nintendo has been pretty reluctant to dip their toes in the DLC pool.

    Nintendo’s key franchises tend to release once each console generation, so releasing DLC would make the wait between games more bearable.  You can only race on the same tracks of Mario Kart 8 so many times.  You can only do the same routine in Wii Fit U so many times.  You can only battle with the same characters in Smash so many times.  As long as it is reasonably priced, DLC would be a great way to extend the life of Nintendo’s games while also making some bank.

    zelda_wind_waker_wii_u_bundle

    7.  More and Better Bundles

    Nintendo debuted a Wind Waker Bundle for the Wii U, and hardware sales rose. Nintendo released a Mario Kart 8 bundle and hardware sales surged.  These limited edition bundles have allowed Nintendo to capitalize on big releases.  It’s puzzling that Nintendo hasn’t done more of them. Wii Fit U seemed like a prime candidate for a hardware bundle.  A $380 bundle with a Wii U, Wii Fit, Balance Board and a Wii Remote could have been attractive to lapsed Wii fans (assuming Nintendo decided to market the damn game).  The fact that Nintendo chose not to capitalize on nostalgia with a Wii Sports Club Bundle is bizarre.  Such bundles would help identify the Wii U as a clear successor to the Wii. On the flip side, Nintendo could also add some bundles geared towards the hardcore.  A Bayonetta 2 bundle with a pro contoller could be tempting to fans of the franchise.  A Smash Bros U Bundle seems like a no brainer.  Nintendo needs to be far more aggressive with their marketing, and new bundles every few months would be a way to ensure a steady stream of hype.   So those are some changes I’d like to see Nintendo for the Wii U.  I’m sure you have your own suggestions, so feel free to leave comments.

  • I originally thought the ending of ME2 would have had large scale ramifications, but turns out saving the reaper base doesn’t do much. Cerberus hates you either way, and it just makes the control ending a little easier.

    I get your examples of how the choices could be used to impact the ending, but I don’t think the technology is there yet. The…[Read more]

  • http://i.imgur.com/ZrHPY.jpg

    Mass Effect 3 was released nearly two years ago and was one of the finest games ever crafted…….. right up until the last 5 minutes.  For many gamers, a thoroughly amazing trilogy was decimated in 5 minutes of star child babble. Even an updated ending in the form of free DLC was not enough to ease gamers’ reactions.  I’m not here to convince you that Mass Effect 3’s ending was horrible.  That is self evident.  Yet, many games and movies have had endings that have been as bad or even worse without generating the amount of vitriol that Mass Effect 3’s ending created.  I’d like to provide a deeper look at why exactly Mass Effect 3’s ending was so hated and what it means to gaming in general.

    Why People Loved Mass Effect

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    Mass Effect didn’t become such a major franchise because of its gameplay.  The original Mass Effect was an awkward mix of RPG and shooter mechanics that proved unwieldy.  The RPG mechanics were too shallow to please RPG fans and got in the way of the, mediocre, shooter mechanics.  The series improved its gameplay by streamlining itself into a more traditional third person shooter.  While the gameplay was far smoother and combat was undeniably better, the series lost a bit of its personality in the transition.

    Mass Effect’s strength was in its story and particularly in its emphasis on player agency.  Throughout the entire series, players were constantly reminded of their active participation in the story.  In the first game, players were allowed to make several key choices that were reflected in later games (although some choices were sadly swept under the rug).  The choices made in the second game promised to have severe ramifications on the third entry of the game as some characters would live or die depending on your actions.

    Of all the narrative based games I’ve played, which is definitely not all of them, Mass Effect 1 and 2 most convinced me of my influence on the world.  In preparation for Mass Effect 3’s launch, I prepared about 4 different completed files to see how various actions would play out.  I had one file for each gender and alignment (Male renegade, female renegade, male paragon, female paragon) and made different choices along the way to see how the universe would be impacted.

    The Failures of Mass Effect 3

    ME3Demo_Anderson_CloseUp

    Hey wait a minute… I chose Anderson…

    While people tend to focus on the ending, the problems in Mass Effect 3 began earlier on.  It was disappointing to discover that many of the choices you made had limited impact on the story.  Whether you decided to appoint Udina or Anderson as the councilor for humanity, Udina will be the councilor by Mass Effect 3.  If Mordin is dead, another Salarian scienctist will take his place and serve the same function.  If Tali is dead, another Quarian will replace her.  If you didn’t save the Rachni, they’ll still be present.  No matter how faithful you were to Cerberus, the elusive man will still hate you by Mass Effect 3.

    There were of course some changes to the story both minor and major.  Saving the Geth and the Quarians is only possible under certain circumstances.  If Wrex is dead, it is possible to screw over the Krogan without popping Mordin.  If Garrus and Tali are dead, you’ll miss out on some great scenes with the two of them.  However, the influence your decisions have over your galaxy never seem to be as important as promised.

    The New Uncanny Valley

    The uncanny valley is a concept in gaming that points out that the more realistic games become, the more we notice small imperfections.  For instance, the faces in Mass Effect 3 are so convincing that it’s easy to notice that their mouths don’t look quite right in motion, something that never bothered me in a game like Final Fantasy 10.  The closer we get to photorealism, the more we notice non-photorealistic elements. We usually refer to the uncanny valley in terms of graphics, but the same concept applies to gameplay as well.

    The Mass Effect series promises a compelling universe shaped by player choices.  It promises that our choices will shape the galaxy.  It allows us to be the hero of an epic in a way that was never possible in other mediums.  We could never decide whether Luke Skywalker joined the dark side, but we could shape the intricate universe of Mass Effect 3, or so we thought.

    At the end of the day though, Mass Effect 3 is a game that is programmed by the folks over at Bioware, and there is only so much data.  The game has to culminate in a finite number of possible endings, and it is impossible to create one for every possibility.  So, you have the readiness system.  The readiness system is where the fourth wall crumbles and the hand of the creator reveals itself.  All of those painstakingly considered choices were boiled down to the most base video game concept ever… points.

    Samara survived the battle against the collectors?  Kudos.  25 points.  You couldn’t save the Geth?  Tsk tsk minus 500 points.  Upgraded the Normandy in Mass Effect 2?  Good going! Ten points.  Saved the Krogan? 500 points.  Chose to let the Rachni live?  100 points.  Saved the ascension?  70 points for you buddy.  All of those choices which you thought would have meaningful ramifications on the story are reduced to a simplistic point system.  You won’t see Rachni on the Battlefield nor will the Ascension swoop down to save you.  It is all reduced to a point system little more complex than Pacman eating dots.

    What do all of those points get you?  Well, they let you choose from one of three endings.  In the original ending, you literally had three palette swaps of a nearly identical ending.  The extended cut adds a more satisfying amount of detail, but the endings are still more or less the same.

    Gaming’s Next Frontier

    This is why I believe people truly hated Mass Effect 3’s ending.  Of course, the ending was bad in and of itself, but many games or movies have bad endings, and fans rarely demand a change (at least not with such a large and unified campaign).  But Mass Effect 3 was different.  By the time we reached the Citadel’s beam, we had 100% bought into the fantasy provided to us.  We truly believed this was our world and our story.  We were so sold on the universe and its authenticity that the eventual revelation that this was Bioware’s world and Bioware’s ending was all the more shocking.

    Just as visual flaws stand out more in a game that is approaching photorealism, the lack of control gamers have over a narrative is more striking in a game that has done such a convincing job of bringing you into the story.  Bioware’s amazing work in the area of immersion made it all the more disappointing when they had to take back the reigns.  Obviously, Bioware could not have truly crafted an ending that would incorporate the dozens of choices we made, but they came so much closer to a real breathing single player world than any other developer had that we believed in the illusion and were more disappointed when it ended.

    With the next gen dawning, all of the conversation has focused on resolution and framerate, and frankly, I couldn’t care less about either of those things.  What I want out of the next generation of gaming is for developers to work towards a game that can take the incredible work done by the Mass Effect team one step further.  Create a fully fleshed out and engaging narrative that players can truly shape.  This, far more than any visual enhancements, is what can take gaming to the next level, and hopefully developers are working on how to make the bold ambition of Mass Effect a reality.

    • I originally thought the ending of ME2 would have had large scale ramifications, but turns out saving the reaper base doesn’t do much. Cerberus hates you either way, and it just makes the control ending a little easier.

      I get your examples of how the choices could be used to impact the ending, but I don’t think the technology is there yet. The amount of data involved in making even the smallest decisions, like letting Garrus win the contest, impact the ending would be enormous. Even with the example you just gave, that would involve at least four different endings. One for Miranda being alive, one for Miranda being dead or non-loyal, one for Miranda living and a confident Garrus, and one for Miranda living with a non-confident Garrus. There may be more possibilities.

      While Bioware could have certainly done a lot more with the endings, I don’t think it would be possible yet to create the kind of truly variant endings you described. And that’s the problem really. Bioware wanted to make a truly interactive universe, but in the end they didn’t have the technology or manpower to truly do so. Because they came so much closer than other developers, their failure is all the more noticeable.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • There are very few games that get moral choices right. The one game I could think of that did a good job in this regard is Catherine.

  • 3DS-It-Prints-Money
    Soon after the 3DS launch, I glanced disappointingly towards the dust covered 3DS sitting on my desk.  I wanted desperately to enjoy the system that I paid 250 dollars for, but the games weren’t there.  How many times could I play the same missions in Pilot Wings?  How many rounds of Street Fighter IV could I play?

    Fast forward to about 3 years later and the 3DS has taken up about 90% of my gaming time.  The combination of portability, an awesome library, limited free time, and a long commute has made the 3DS my gaming system of choice.  The 3DS will be turning 3 in a few short weeks, so now seems like a good time to list my 10 favorite games for the little portable that could.

    As with any top ten list, this simply reflects the view of the author (me) and is not meant to be a universally accepted list.  I have yet to play every 3DS game. Most notably I haven’t played A Link Between Worlds.  Remakes and eShop only titles are not included in this list.

     
    10.  Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies

    The gaming industry is still clinging tightly to the idea that games have to be about beating waves of enemies and traversing obstacles.  With few exceptions, few large developers are willing to develop games that stray too far out of the established norms.  Phoenix Wright is one of the few series that bucks this trend and offers something completely unique; a lawyer simulation.

    Phoenix Wright has charmed gamers for years with clever dialogue and bizarre but ultimately compelling stories.  Perhaps most importantly, Phoenix Wright features rounded characters with complex motivations who grow and change throughout the story.  Phoenix Wright has more dynamic characters in its latest entry than most franchises will produce over their total lifespan.  Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies is a wonderful evolution of the point and click adventure genre and a worthy entry to the 3DS library.  While the title was an eShop title in the US, it was a retail release in Japan.
    9.  Resident Evil Revelations

    Resident Evil Revelations is a testament to how efficient developers have become at porting their graphics engine.  Resident Evil Revelations runs on a modified version of Capcom’s MT framework, and the game looks far better than it has any right to on the somewhat limited 3DS hardware.  Revelations also happens to be the best Resident Evil game in recent memory.  Capcom wisely struck a balance between the slow paced exploration of early Resident Evil games and the action heavy Resident Evils of modern times.  The game focuses mostly on exploring the Queen Zenobia, finding items, and fighting zombies in limited encounters, but it throws in enough high octane action scenes to spice things up.  The result is a game that pleases long term fans without alienating those of us with itchy trigger fingers.

    8.  Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance

    Square seems intent on producing as many spin offs as possible for the Kingdom Hearts franchise before launching Kingdom Hearts 3.  Thankfully, the awkwardly named Dream Drop Distance offered fans a fun diversion while they waited for Sora’s saga to continue in earnest.

    Unlike other spin offs which retread old ground or explored the saga’s backstory, Dream Drop Distance serves as a bridge between Kingdom Hearts 2 and Kingdom Hearts 3.  The game effectively progresses the Kingdom Hearts story for the first time in a decade, and it features an engaging battle system based off of the PSP title Birth By Sleep.  As with all titles in the franchise, production values are top notch.  If you weren’t a fan of the previous entries of the Kingdom Hearts franchise, triple D won’t change your mind, but it’s a strong entry in the series that sacrifices nothing for portability.
    7.  Animal Crossing

    However hard I try, I can’t describe why I love Animal Crossing.  By all laws of logic, the cutesy style, repetitive nature, and aimlessness should combine for a boring game.  For reasons I still can’t fathom, I spent months obsessively collecting bells, trying to improve my HHA score, sending letters to animals, and trying to collect Nintendo memorabilia.  I still have no idea why, but the desire for a larger imaginary house still gnaws at my soul.
    6.  Pokemon X/Y

     

    Remember when we thought Pokemon was a fad?  Fifteen years and four handhelds later, the franchise Pikachu built is still going strong.  Pokemon X and Y follow the same basic formula the franchise has been built on, but introduces changes both minor and major to balance gameplay and make online play more accessible.  The new fairy type helps to balance the power of dragon Pokemon, weather has been rebalanced, and moves have been altered.  Mega Evolutions add a new twist to gameplay while new Pokemon shake things up.

    More important than the changes to the Pokemon forumula is what has stayed the same.  Pokemon still offers one of the deepest and most replayable RPG experiences you can find.  If you want to dive into the world of Pokemon, you can easily spend dozens of hours building a stable of Pokemon, and dozens more testing their mettle against your fellow trainers.  If you’ve somehow made the mistake of dismissing Pokemon as child’s play for all of these years, you owe it to yourself to dive into one of the richest metagames you can find.
    5.  Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

    The original Luigi’s Mansion was a bit like Pilotwings Resort.  Like the troubled 3DS launch title, Luigi’s Mansion was a brilliant idea that was held back by a rather obvious time crunch.  Luigi’s mansion was a creative, charming, and beautiful looking adventure that just didn’t have enough meat on it.  Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon would fix that by combining the original’s winning formula with enough content to create a satisfying experience.

    Dark Moon is one of those wonderful games that can’t be mashed put neatly into any single genre.  The only game remotely similar to Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon is the original Luigi’s Mansion, but even that can’t claim to offer the same experience.  Dark Moon offers compelling and fleshed out puzzles, highly refined combat, continually creative uses the game’s core mechanics, gameplay tailored to a portable experience, and surprisingly awesome boss battles.  On top of that, it offers a ton of replay value which includes a surprisingly robust multiplayer mode.  Dark Moon fulfills the potential of its predecessor and them some.  This is one of the most unique experiences to be had on the 3DS or anywhere else.
    4.  Bravely Default

    The 3DS is certainly not at a loss for great RPGs, but few evoke the kind of nostalgia that Bravely Default does.  Bravely Default is unapologetic in its old school sensibilities.  Random battles with unseen foes?  Check.  Turn based battle system?  Check.  A high fantasy setting?  Check.  Destroyed village?  Check.  All of the proper RPG boxes are ticked.

    In lesser hands, Bravely Default could have been a reminder of why traditional RPGs have died out.  Instead, it serves as a reminder of why we loved these games in the first place.  Bravely Default shows that there is still plenty of innovation to be had within the confines of turn based battle systems by introducing an innovative battle mechanic that lets you store turns for later use.  This system combines with a charming story that embraces JRPG cliches, takes a few very interesting risks, and makes incredibly creative use of Street and Spot Pass.  If you’re one of those people who have lamented the changes in modern Final Fantasy games, then you owe it to yourself to look past the silly name and play Bravely Default.
    3.  Fire Emblem Awakening

    Trying to decide the placement of three excellent RPGs on this list was a tough task.  Pokemon X, Bravely Default, and Fire Emblem Awakening, represent the best of monster collecting, classical, and strategy RPGs.  In the end, Fire Emblem wins the battle of the RPGs.  Fire Emblem Awakening took the long established Fire Emblem franchise and polished it until it sparkled.  The production values of Fire Emblem are off the charts for a 3DS game, its gameplay is addictive and brutally challenging, and it features a wonderful cast of lovable characters.  The game’s varying difficulty levels add accessibility to the franchise, and the child bearing mechanics combine with Street Pass to add a level of replayability not found in previous Fire Emblem games.  Fire Emblem Awakening provides a great experience for fans of the franchise while also offering a great starting points for those yet to try the previously niche series.
    2.  Super Mario 3D Land

    The Super Mario formula has evolved in two different directions over the years.  The 2D “New” Super Mario formula is simplistic pick up and play fun can be rarely demanding anything more than a straight shot to a flagpole.  Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy have provided more innovation while focusing allowing for more exploration and focusing on the simple joy or Mario’s acrobatics.  Super Mario 3D Land successfully bridges the gaps between those two experiences.

    Super Mario 3D Land takes the simple format and structure of Mario’s 2D adventures and extrapolates them into the third dimension.  Mario’s options are scaled back, and his objective is never more complicated than finding the end of level flag.  In this way, Mario 3D Land is more similar to New Super Mario Bros than it is to Super Mario 64.  However, Super Mario 3D Land uses the 3D level design to inject a heaping dose of originality and innovation that has been sorely lacking in Mario’s 2D adventures.  With extra space and an extra dimension to work with, 3D Land creates an experience with enough simplicity to engage newcomers and enough innovation and brilliant level design to surprise and delight long time fans.  3D Land is one of Mario’s best adventures to date, and just one notch short of my favorite 3DS game.
    1.  Kid Icarus Uprising

    It’s strange that the industry will constantly complain about the lack of originality in gaming, and then spurn anything that dares to deviate from the norm.  Kid Icarus Uprising is a game that refused to settle for the conventional in any aspect.  It’s almost impossible to adequately describe what Kid Icarus Uprising is like to the uninitiated because there is no game quite like Uprising.

    Kid Icarus Uprising bucks tradition at every turn.  While most developers would have settled for a God of War style heavy/light attack affair, Kid Icarus Uprising has its own set of twitch based touchscreen mechanics unlike anything in the industry.  Instead of the standard Easy/Normal/Hard mode, Kid Icarus introduces a gambling based difficulty selection where you risk currency to increase the difficulty in hopes of better rewards.  Instead of unlocking a few different weapons throughout the game, Uprising offers dozens of weapons and an RPG style fusion system.  Instead of the typical simplistic Nintendo story, Uprising goes for a comedic approach while deftly bending the fourth wall with often hilarious pun filled running commentary.  Instead of distinct single player and multiplayer modes, Uprising links the two experiences and allows them to feed into one another.

    At every step of the way, Kid Icarus Uprising forges its own identity.  This naturally comes with a learning curve that ironically has scared off many people who complain about the homogenization of gaming.  Those willing to try something new will find what, in my opinion, is the best game on the 3DS and one of the best games made in the past several years.

    Well, after three years on the market, those are my favorite games on the 3DS.  Of course, I haven’t gotten to play each and every 3DS game, and my opinions are only the opinion of one man.  What have you enjoyed the most on your 3DS so far?  Let me know in the comments section.

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