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  • Watching: Ed Edd n Eddy
  • Playing: X-Men
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Mid-2006 was when I became aware of an announcement that blew me away. A third Super Smash Bros. game was on the horizon. I was already spending hundreds of hours on Super Smash Bros. Melee with my brothers for the past few years before then, so I would already be down to play a sequel. One look at this trailer, though, and I realized just how huge this was going to be. In just the two and a half minutes the trailer spanned, Nintendo fans everywhere learned so much about what was to come.

It’s been ten years since Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out. I repeat: It’s been TEN YEARS since this game was released for the Wii. There has been a successor on two systems, and another is on the way. I just can’t believe it; for the longest time it felt like it didn’t even age a day. Only with the recent advances of technological prowess and clarity do I now think “Okay, yeah, this game does look somewhat pixelated these days.” But back then? You couldn’t tell me the Wii was underpowered compared to the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Nintendo knew exactly how to up the ante with the power they’ve got, and there is arguably no other game that looked as crisp on the system as Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Super Smash Bros. Melee was already a humongous step up from the Nintendo 64 original, but Brawl was crammed to the brim with stuff to play around in. I don’t even know where I could begin. Do I start with the core Smash Bros. gameplay? Or do I go on to discuss the numerous little features like demos of classic games and the return of virtual trophy collections? It’s like they saw just how much they could fit into Melee with its 9-month development time, and they wanted to see how much more they could fit in an even longer span of time.

How about the thing that coats the entire game, the fanservice? Never has a game felt more like a Nintendo love letter than this, thanks to (among other things) its widened roster of characters and elaborate stage designs. New characters include fan favorites like Wario, Wolf, Ike, and ROB, while series mainstays such as Mario, Link, Kirby, and Samus get brand-new attacks to go with their established movesets. Even third-party newcomers Snake – of Metal Gear fame – and Sonic the Hedgehog get the same kind of celebratory treatment as if they were native Nintendo characters! Stages felt less like simple battlegrounds and more like embodiments of the games they are based on, making it all the harder to want to play on the relatively flat Battlefield and Final Destination. My personal favorite’s the WarioWare stage, where it plays out just like an average marathon of WarioWare microgames.

 

That’s not to say all that is perfect, of course; some elements are better than others in every category. Sonic’s special attack is so overpowered that it alone is a reason why many people stopped turning Smash Ball items on. These attacks are usually avoidable and provide quite the visual flair at times (like Mario’s wavy flames and Captain Falcon running over people with his vehicle in the coolest fashion), but they can be pretty uneven in results. Just look at Jigglypuff’s; she inflates, then deflates. It’s incredibly rare for anyone to be blown off the stage even when standing next to her!

This kind of uselessness can even extend to certain regular attacks. For the most part, they are as effective as they are in previous games in the series. However, there is an oddball or two that’s sprinkled into the mix. Mario’s FLUDD attack come to mind since it just slightly pushes people; it’s a neat callback to Super Mario Sunshine, but is so worthless of a move that I never used it after the first time. And of course, characters tripping all of a sudden becomes a dealbreaker for the most hardcore players out there.

If you were ever fortunate to play Wii and DS games online via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, you’d likely have experienced the horror that was Brawl‘s online play. No ranking data is present, input lag and slowdown were always present, and you were unable to change settings unless you were playing against friends. Mario Kart Wii, which came out a couple months later, completely crapped on this online experience with its own.

Obviously, certain aspects of the gameplay don’t hold up as well as others, but the parts where Super Smash Bros. Brawl shines make some of the biggest everlasting impressions one could ever get from a Wii game. Offline customization options are through the frickin’ roof; you could make players be metal throughout the match, fight with up to 300 HP, and even build a surplus of your own stages with the tools the game provides you in the Stage Builder. They may be blocky, sure, but the possibilities never cease to satisfy. You could attempt to recreate other stages, build ones around games like Tetris, or just make the entire thing an elaborate hazard to troll CPUs with.

Unlockables were also massively increased; not only are the extra stages and trophies present and well accounted for, but now you have all kinds of music to discover, hidden demos for classic games, and stickers for use with the Adventure Mode. Stages now have more than two music tracks that alternate at random, but you can adjust the rate of how often each one could show up when a match takes place on the stage. Not only is the quantity extraordinary, but the compositions themselves are absolutely masterful. Never has the Super Mario Land pyramid theme sounded more epic, nor have the WarioWare songs been so fully realized. We even get to hear a lot of tunes from Sonic‘s history, including the main theme for the disaster that was Sonic ’06. Ahh, memories…

But easily the biggest change-up of all is the Adventure mode. Enter The Subspace Emissary, a big-budget platform-fighter that features an epic plot, cinematic cutscenes, and Nintendo characters coming together to save the world! Other than The Great Maze at the near-end of it, I fell in love with this inclusion. It was practically its own game, yet it serves as mere bonus content in this already-crammed Wii disc! It cemented the idea that Super Smash Bros. Brawl was more than just a Smash Bros.game; it’s the developers’ and Nintendo’s big-hearted Thank You to the fans.

Hardly any other game on the Wii (Heck, maybe even the entire console generation) was as eventful as this behemoth. If Super Smash Bros. Melee didn’t already demonstrate the true potential of the series, Brawl showed the level of effort Nintendo and co. would reach to provide an extraordinary experience. It may be overshadowed nowadays by Super Smash Bros. 4 and the upcoming installment that will be fully revealed by the time of this writing, but Brawl forever remains a shining masterpiece of Nintendo glamour.

  • Watching: Aggretsuko
  • Playing: Monopoly for Nintendo Switch
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Coming a few months after Link-a-Pix ColorBlock-a-Pix Color is Lightwood Games’s latest puzzle game for the Nintendo 3DS. That’s three games in this little series of eShop titles. Fortunately, the games prove to do their formulas justice, and Block-a-Pix is no exception to the unspoken rule.

Graphics

This game looks almost exactly like the last one, so I imagine all three games share the same basic visual style. There’s no expecting any major change-ups from one to the next, for better or for worse. Revealing what the image is at the top screen remains a satisfactory reward for clearing parts of a puzzle.

Audio

The 8-Bit music used here is different, but again, only one piece plays throughout the duration of the Block-a-Pix Color. It’s still a relaxing composition, and the sound design is generally soft on the ears. Nothing bad, but nothing making an impact.

Gameplay

Block-a-Pix plays similarly to the last game; you color the screen strategically according to the numbers that certain colors apply to. This time, you create quadrilateral shapes rather than mere lines. You manipulate them by dragging the sides with the stylus so they can cover more or less of the picture.

What’s interesting about this mechanic is that the solutions are not as obvious as the line-connecting style of play in Link-a-Pix Color was. The challenge is more prominent, making the “Eureka!” moments a bit more satisfying this time around. The challenge doesn’t necessarily pick up to a drastic degree, but the puzzles get larger as they go on, making for there to be more and more ways for you to miscalculate a stylus stroke. And as per usual, there’s a large quantity of puzzles, with a lot of the puzzles themselves being solid time sinks.

Verdict

This all makes for another stellar puzzler on the 3DS. It’s packed with puzzles, and the puzzles are fun to solve. It’s best played from a casual perspective in which you solve a few at a time, but I’m sure that’s the intention. If you haven’t already sunk your teeth into some grid-based puzzles, you could probably get started with Block-a-Pix.

Review copy provided by Lightwood Games

  • Watching: Super Mario All-Stars commercials
  • Playing: Street Fighter Anniversary Collection
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Earlier today, at the time of this writing, I was talking with a friend about the new Wreck-It Ralph 2 trailer. I said I wasn’t disappointed per se when I heard about the movie focusing on the Internet, because I wasn’t sure what to expect from this transition. However, the more we discussed about the film, the more I realized I actually had a lot more to say on the subject than I initially thought. At the risk of sounding like even more of a ranty supernerd than I already am, here’s what I have to say on the matter.

Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet is the sequel to 2012’s love letter to retro games. When it was first announced a sequel was under way, they said that it would possibly focus on console gaming and connecting online through them. At first, I was on board with this. When the first trailer popped up, however, I raised a few suspicions. Now that the second trailer is here, I think those suspicions have been confirmed.

The reason why The Emoji Movie crashed and burned on a critical scale is because it seemed to be written solely by executives with the intention of pandering to today’s kids. It wasn’t focused on telling a story but rather on shoving as many advertisements and modern technology as possible as a means to tell kids that they know what they like. Even though the execution couldn’t be further from that target.

Why did Wreck-It Ralph work, then? Easy: It may have been based around video games – and kids do like video games – but that wasn’t the focus. The video game theme, through all its bells and whistles, was just a foundation for the story to take place within. Even then, the video games and franchises that were represented in the movie were clearly not chosen by focus groups or executives. I’m 100% certain no one in the higher-ups ever said “You know who should be in this movie? That guy from Tapper. Kids these days play Tapper, right?”

They are all ’80s/’90s games that the creators themselves had fond memories of playing. Therefore, they were able to work with the theme in the way they wanted to, without any confusion or tangled messages (barring that a lot of the movie took place in a candy world filled with snack references and puns). They made the movie for themselves and that’s usually how the best outcome for any production is situated.

Meanwhile, Wreck-It Ralph 2 takes place in the freaking Internet!

Technically, the Internet was around when the now-retro games existed, but the trailers make it clear that the interpretation of the web is that of what’s going on today. Twitter! Snapchat! Amazon! Smartphones and tablets! They’re all here and in your face! There are no parodies of their logos or anything like that, either. Right as soon as Ralph and Vanellope make it to the movie’s take on the Internet, the product placement kicks off as blatantly as they could make it.

Actually, let’s backtrack for a second. What was Vanellope doing in the Fix-It Felix Jr.cabinet? Isn’t she unable to leave her game because she’s a glitch? Heck, where is everybody? Why are Ralph and Vanellope the only familiar characters we’ve seen so far? I get that these two have the most chemistry out of their interactions with anyone else, and maybe the film itself has scenes that answer these questions. Still, it feels weird going this far into promoting it without so much as seeing Felix show up for a second. They’re just gone as far as we can tell for now.

Back to the Internet talk, both trailers seem to just depict the duo screwing around with whatever they could find. I still know nothing about the plot because we’re not told anything other than “Hey, look at this thing!” This gets taken up to eleven when we see that they go to, of all things, a Disney website. They are promoting Disney properties and other Disney studios in a Disney film. The rest of the trailer shows these things off, from Stormtroopers chasing Vanellope to her encountering just about every Disney princess known to man and woman.

It’s all a bunch of silly shenanigans, sure, but do you see the problem? Not only are they trying to cram all the things today’s generation may connect to (and not the production team) but Disney is giving itself one big pat on the back with this chaotic display of their own properties shoehorned into a series that was once about neither the Internet nor established Disney characters. I can’t help but envision a bunch of executives dictating the entire thing. And there has been a lot of cases in recent years where executive meddling has been a complete hindrance to what could have been. Instead of being a love letter to retro games, they basically made Wreck-It Ralph a love letter to itself from itself.

To top off the idea of executives trying to pander to the modern demographic, the Disney princesses question if Vanellope was one of them. This scene opens up another can of worms by spelling out how the princesses are dependent on, in their words, “a big strong man”.

Feminism is a touchy subject when it comes to its portrayals. Ideally, it is meant to express the idea of equal rights for men and women. However, every time a female character in fictional media points out gender roles working against her, it gets immediately implied to the audience that she sees herself as inferior to the male characters rather than equal. She is written that way and given that personality by the studio. It annoys me how tone-deaf these productions get with the message, and this scene is no exception.

And let me get this straight, Disney and co.: You make the princesses list off all sort of things that happened to them, and you’re telling us that it’s the moviegoers’ fault they are seen as worthless? Give me a freakin’ break! You made the movies they starred in, not us. Vanellope answering in agreement to that she was dependent on Ralph is the cherry on top of it all; excuse me, the reason why she needed Ralph’s help in the first movie wasn’t because she was a girl, Disney. If that’s the case, she could have built her go-kart and test track herself, and take on other spoiler-y things that wouldn’t have been resolved without the goddamn title character.

All in all, I don’t think I’ll be seeing Wreck-It Ralph 2. This trailer let me know what the movie’s going to be like: Without the spirit or heart that made the first one good. I understand writing over a thousand words about a trailer sounds silly, but these are just the kind of vibes I’ve been getting from it.

  • Watching: Ed Edd n Eddy
  • Playing: Sonic Forces
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Earlier in the year, Pac-Man: Championship Edition 2+ graced the Nintendo Switch as the folks at Bandai Namco have continued their support for the console. I remember when it was initially announced, and thought the trailer looked so darn cool. My hype faded when I realized I had nothing to play the game on. It dropping onto the Switch was fantastic news, and surely enough, I picked up the game when it came out. I wish there was a physical release like the Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions, but just having this title is enough to satisfy me.

I am one of the biggest Pac-Man fans I know; I’ve followed the franchise since playing the Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga arcade cabinet at a bowling alley, and I’ve since owned all sorts of Namco compilations and entries like the Pac-Man World series among other games the yellow guy starred in. While his outings aren’t as consistent in structure as Marioand Sonic, I always look forward to what comes next. I’ve already heard good things about Championship Edition 2 when it came out on platforms, though, so my interest was already there prior to my purchase. I still am personally waiting for a Pac-Man World 4 to exist, but who am I to pass up on some good ol’ arcade-style fun?

Graphics

I don’t know who thought to turn Pac-Man into a neon paradise back in 2007, The people that came up with it sure had the right idea. Pac-Man: Championship Edition 2+ is a visual wonderland of glitzy walls and mesmerizing motion. If you grow a little tired of this look, there are many other graphical change-ups that can show up in Adventure and be applied in Score Attack. This ranges from styles inspired by Pac-Mania and Galaga to other cool ways Pac-Man and the ghosts could be envisioned. There are no Ghostly Adventures themes though; thank goodness for that.

Audio

I’m not always terribly fond of games that stick with a single genre of music, but Pac-Man: Championship Edition 2+ knocks the score out of the freakin’ park! This game boasts a techno-induced soundtrack and I love it to death. There are variations of each song that go up to ten whole minutes, and I willingly listen the whole way through because they are so amazingly catchy. In-game, the music goes perfectly well with the neon flair and speedy chaos. Outside the game, it’s like a rave is going off in my head and I don’t want to put an end to it. 

The classic sound effects also return in full force, with some subtle echoes added to mix it with the techno theme the game is coated in. A special mention goes to the ghost-chomping, because there is nothing more satisfying in this game than hearing this sound repeatedly go off in rapid succession.

Gameplay

On its surface, Pac-Man: Championship Edition 2+ continues the idea of its predecessor. You are looking at a massively spruced up version of Pac-Man, and the way it is spruced up is via a giant emphasis on fast-paced score chasing coated with a rad techno style. However, the game structures itself differently in a way that gives it its own special feel. The game’s speed is a lot faster in general; the arcade games feel like they move at a snail’s pace compared to this (barring the fact some cabinets are set so Pac moves really fast).

You start out eating up dots like usual, but doing so fills up a meter that – when filled it triggers a fruit or a Power Pellet to appear. There are four long chains of ghosts, but bumping into them doesn’t hurt due to how fast everything is. Only if the head ghost is annoyed by the bumping does it become an object you desperately need to avoid. The real threat in this game is the timer. In a way, bumping into ghosts is still a problem if it means taking precious seconds off your run. Fortunately, the elements are balanced in a way that provides a kinetic rhythm for players to follow along. Keeping this rhythm going is the name of the game, and Championship Edition 2+ wears this formula strongly.

There are also plenty of ways this formula can be experienced. The Score Attack is the highlight of the bunch, but Adventure Mode has a big dose of levels for the hardcore players to tackle. This Switch version adds multiplayer modes for two people to take on together, but I don’t have anyone else that’d play this with me, let alone one that would react as accordingly as the game demands. However anyone plays, the way it’s played remains the same: Pac-Man on hyper speed with all the aforementioned gameplay elements that come to fruition. It isn’t flawless; some Adventure levels can be a little too demanding for their own good while the boss battles are pretty lame. The core gameplay is too great to have things like that deter its staying power.

Verdict

Pac-Man: Championship Edition 2 is a great modern take on the classic arcade formula. It’s intense, it’s addicting, and it’s really fun! Frustration may kick in when being unable to reach a certain goal or score, but mastering the rhythm of the game’s neon mazes proves to be ultimately rewarding. It’s also an ideal fit for the Switch; the portable, accessible nature of the console makes it so much easier to kill some time by racking up points.

Copy purchased by reviewer

  • Playing: Legend of Kay: Anniversary
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Admittedly, when I first came across Jurassic Pinball, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get into it. I felt like the other pinball games on the Switch would have spoiled me rotten by now. Between the super-realistic and artful Pinball Arcade series and the fantastically original/licensed creations within the Zen Pinball series, Jurassic Pinball is in for heavy competition. Not helping its case was it stressing that it’s based off an officially licensed table despite the game itself having nothing to back up that claim. Guys, it’s okay to say your table is original. Licenses aren’t needed to make a pinball table look cool. This move just seems like you’re desperately trying to cling onto Jurassic Park’s coattails.

Since I usually like to play to the end to review a game, I wondered how I could feel I have enough experience to review this standalone pinball game. Then it hit me: I could try getting as high of a position in the leaderboards as possible. I selected my “Counrty” (They should fix that typo) and got crackin’.

About 20 minutes later, I got the #2 spot in the worldwide Top 10.

Graphics

The graphics are rather weak. It looks more like an early Playstation 2 title than something released in 2018. The framerate runs at about thirty frames per second; while not bad on its own, I do feel like it could have easily been higher given that the game isn’t utilizing that much of the Switch’s visual capabilities. There are still some neat touches, thankfully. I like the video screen that displays the score, and the blinking lights on the field add some flair.

Audio

Jurassic Pinball seems to try going for an atmospheric tone when it comes to the audio department. The music is not unlike what would play in a jungle full of dinosaurs, and the sound clips aren’t as pronounced as in tables like the ones featured in The Pinball Arcade. The most you’ll hear sound effects-wise are flipper clicks and bumper strikes.

Gameplay

Jurassic Pinball is a rather basic table. You’ve got a few bumpers grouped together, a couple slides, and some vulnerable panels on both sides of the game field. Opportunities to increase your score and earn an extra ball are there, but there are no ways to trigger Multiball or a Video Mode. The dinosaur theme is merely an aesthetic thing that doesn’t play into any of the mechanics.

As simple as it is, though, it’s also still enjoyable on account of it being a pinball game. Hitting the ball into anything on the field is good fun, and the flipper controls are responsive. Trying to get the highest score possible remains a satisfying task thanks to the online leaderboards, albeit there’s no other objective in the game.

Verdict

It’s not going to eat out of your time spent in any of the other pinball games, but Jurassic Pinball is an enjoyable – if undeniably flawed – little addition to the eShop. The $1.99 price is easy to swallow for some quick pinball action, and it gets the job done in that regard. However, one can definitely see where improvements could be made.

Review copy provided by EnjoyUp Games

  • Watching: Ed Edd n Eddy
  • Playing: Super Smash Bros.
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I was hoping this one would come to the Switch ever since I played Stern Pinball Arcademonths ago. FarSight Studios have already been great at converting arcade pinball cabinets to video game form with their previous installments so what else could I really expect from a release of The Pinball Arcade at this point in time? Well, a lot of fun for starters! I know I’m jumping the gun a little early by saying that but if you’ve played any of their Pinball Hall of Fame or Pinball Arcade games before, you know what you’re getting into. That’s not to say there’s anything to ignore, though.

As much as I hate to say it, the lack of Bally and Williams tables is a disappointment. I’m sure Farsight feels the same way; this isn’t a matter of the Switch not being able to handle those tables, of course. It’s more about the licensing contract to have the tables ported to begin with. It’s on the verge of expiring with no renewal in sight and players who have the previously released editions of Pinball Arcade have until June 30th before they get removed from digital stores. It truly sucks that the license expiring. It’s an oxymoron for Farsight’s goal to preserve pinball history in video game form and there are some tables from those companies I was looking forward to playing on Switch.

On the flipside, I found it kind of strange to find the Stern tables are here. I mean, I get that they technically originated here, but on the Switch they’re already available through Stern Pinball Arcade. I suppose they’re here to prevent this game from being called “Gottlieb Pinball Arcade”. The only differences between buying the tables here and in Stern is that Flight 2000 is available here and you’ll get to play a different Challenge mode involving a few Gottlieb and Stern tables (meaning you still have to purchase some Gottlieb ones). Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is even used again as the free table you start out with. I think the issue here could be rectified if the game were to detect that the players also have the tables in Stern Pinball Arcade, therefore declaring the Stern tables in The Pinball Arcade to be purchased already. That way, Flight 2000 and the Stern + Gottlieb Challenge mode serve as bonus goodies for those buyers.

I know it sounds like I’m beating on the game early into the review, but frankly I wasn’t sure where else I could pick at these things.

Graphics/Audio

You know, the thing with The Pinball Arcade is that you can’t really talk about the visuals without also bringing up the sound design. After all, the two go hand in hand in creating the feel of the cabinets each table in the game is based on. And man, these tables never cease to amaze me! Recreated in playable form for the public to get their hands on affordably, The Pinball Arcade’s tables look and sound exactly like the real deal. Even though Bally and Williams will be missed, the sheer number of varied styles and playfield designs can nevertheless be positively overwhelming. From the action-packed scenery in Rescue 911 to the colorful billiards-inspired display in Cue Ball WizardThe Pinball Arcade has these elements down-pat.

Of course, how can one forget the old-timey dings and pings of the machines that aren’t as technologically advanced as late ‘70s/’80s cabinets? Big ShotJacks Open, and Genieare examples of this era represented here as faithfully as their modern cousins. They aren’t as visually stunning as they are audibly punchy, but they are still interesting to look at if to see just how far pinball games have come since then. In fact, not only does 1987 table Victory feature a sleek racing-style design, but it also has background music so catchy that I willingly listen to it outside of gameplay sometimes. I also can never get enough of the voice samples from a lot of other tables.

Gameplay

The Pinball Arcade ranges from classic pinball of its purest form to modern pinball and all the bells and whistles that come with it. Although pinball can be seen as same-y from a bystander’s perspective, each table really delivers elements that separate each other from one another in fun fashions. These can be subtle changes (such as the way points are gathered and where bigger rewards are hidden) to ones more blatant (EX: Haunted House has two other areas containing flippers for the ball to access). And they are all executed as faithfully to the real things as humanly possible. Hitting the ball around feels perfectly accurate, and the layouts provide a lot of refreshing routes and challenges to take on.

Challenge modes have been a staple in the series for at least over a decade. This, however, is the first time there are multiple ones to take on. There are four in total, and they each have their own table sets for you to play through. The rules here are the same as always; you have to reach an established high score of one table to be able to move on to the next (although you can feel free to rack up as many points as you can for additional Challenge Points). I’ve always loved to play through these as levels in a video game, and the Challenges here proved to be no exception to that rule. For the most part, anyway. I did find one of them to be a bit too simple, though; with only three tables set at very low scores, I guess it was meant to be an entry-level Challenge. The others are up to par with my expectations. Weirdly there’s a slight chance the game would lock up from a software error when transitioning from one table to the next, but the game at least saves where you left off. They should probably fix that.

Even without the Challenges, there is still a ton to do with whatever tables you decide to purchase from the eShop. Each table has a series of Table Goals, essentially acting as achievements/missions you can strive for if you want to spice up your pinball game with something to do beyond grabbing scores. Of course, that isn’t to say the tables themselves aren’t fun to play on their own. I mean, you’re playing a complete replica of a machine you’d otherwise only potentially see in arcades or bars. There’s a reason why this series has gone on for as long as it has. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, I don’t know what you’re doing here. And there’s a whopping 36 available in total for The Pinball Arcade!

Verdict

If you’ve always been on the fence of getting into pinball gaming, you can always download The Pinball Arcade to play Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for free before digging into its content any further. After all, beyond that is a vast museum of games for you to play – provided you buy the downloadable packs they come in. Plentiful and exciting, The Pinball Arcade is as much of a must-have for pinball fanatics as Stern Pinball Arcade before it.

Review copy provided by Farsight Studios

  • Watching: Angry Video Game Nerd
  • Playing: Mega Man 6

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Since when was BurgerTime a series?! The arcade game was a 1982 classic, without a doubt, but I’ve rarely ever heard of sequels following up on the game’s legacy. The closest one I can recall is this one BurgerTime game for WiiWare that was poorly received by critics and is no longer available since the service shut down. Well as it turns out, the folks at Flying Tiger Entertainment dug up this apparent arcade sequel to BurgerTime, appropriately titled Super BurgerTime.

Graphics

Given the game’s 1990 date, you can expect Super BurgerTimeto be where the series got its 16-Bit makeover. The pixel art does look very nice and detailed; the backgrounds are pleasing to the eye as well. It’s generally a much busier, more colorful game in comparison to the 1982 original. Whether or not it’s as iconic is up for debate; there’s a lot less focus, rendering some enemies or elements to seem more chaotic. Still, I think the style has charm to it.

Audio

Super BurgerTime also has a 16-Bit soundtrack, and it’s okay-ish. The songs themselves are fitting for a game about a chef frantically trying to get some giant burgers ready. The quantity, however, is more on the abysmal side. Only two of them play in the entire game, one of which is playing for about 80% of the time! This is a game with varied worlds made of a series of levels; you’d think there would be more to the score than this.

Gameplay

For those unfamiliar with BurgerTime, the premise of the game is to knock ingredients down the platforms so they stack neatly onto each other as a delicious burger. You climb up and down floors to get to them, and weird enemies roam around like Pac-Man ghosts to stop you from making the burgers. You can defend yourself with pepper but there’s only so much you can use before it runs out.

Super BurgerTime doesn’t mess with the formula much. You have a jump button this time, as stomping on the ingredients is how you knock them off in this game (instead of running across them like in the original). Jumping is also useful for hopping over enemies, albeit certain ones are taller than your jump height. Also, enemies are everywhere in these levels.

Yep, this is another game made with the arcade mentality of artificially messing with difficulty for the sake of nabbing quarters. Super BurgerTime is not as affected by this as Bad Dudes, but there are still plenty of times where the sheer amount of enemies onscreen can screw you over. It makes the game feel awfully cramped at times, and you only have two very temporary solutions to get away from them. The boss battles at the end of each world, on the other hand, are easy. In fact, the final boss is actually the easiest level in the entire game. Lack of difficulty balance, thy name is Data East.

Verdict

I imagine anyone familiar with the BurgerTime games can find this title to be a fairly worthy purchase. I had my share of fun with it, negatives aside. You just have to be aware that they’re there, though. Super BurgerTime is fun, but the title’s balance issues can be a significant turnoff for some.

Review copy provided by Flying Tiger Entertainment

  • Watching: Arlo
  • Playing: The Adventures of Elena Temple
www.ticgn.com/reviews/review-l…

Light Fall… Where did I hear of this one before? Oh, right! It was one of the many games I got to try out at PAX South back in 2017. It’s funny how time marches on; it never occurred to me a lot of games announced for other platforms would make their way to the house of Mario as well.

Light Fall proves to be an interesting case in this regard. I said I was looking out for its release despite not even knowing it would come out for a platform for the Switch. I thought it was a very cool game that had plenty of potential behind it. It’s been well over a year since the last time I checked it out; do I still think it’s worth playing? Well, I suppose that’s what we’re here for.

Story

In this world, everything has basically gone to heck. Darkness prevails over light and as such, light objects tend to be the dangerous ones. You play as a young boy who is trying to look for a goddess he remembers getting along with. Accompanying him is this mysterious box that he is able to manipulate known as the Shadow Core. An old owl named Stryx takes note of this boy and his power so he travels along with the kid in order to keep him in check. The owl carries the usual traits you’d expect an aged character to posess; he’s a wise man but also has a habit of remarking about the boy’s reckless behavior.

Stryx also provides details on the various locations you’d visit and what has been going on around these parts. Naturally the story has a focus on the relationship between the two main characters as the old owl grows accustomed to the player. It isn’t like the player could change this narrative though. Stryx will go through all of the motions in the story no matter what.

Graphics

Without a doubt, Light Fall is a pretty game. I was always charmed by its uses of color; not many colors are used at all but the way they are utilized – especially with this contrast between light and dark – creates a very appealing world. The obstacles are also visually distinct from the backgrounds via the contrast so it’s not too hard to tell what may kill you and what is part of the environment. The frame rate doesn’t quite reach the ideal sixty frames-per-second mark but it’s certainly smooth enough for the action to click properly.

Audio

Orchestral soundtracks are great for atmosphere and Light Fall has plenty of that to go around. Just don’t expect much of the music to stay in your head for long. What’s more pronounced is the full-fledged voice acting. For the grand majority of the game, Stryx is the only one that talks whether he decides to explain the context of the levels the player travels through to commenting on the player character’s aimlessly youthful nature.

When I was going over my thoughts on the game from my time at PAX, I realized I said the voice acting is a bit too much like that of a Saturday morning cartoon. Not much has changed but I figure I may as well elaborate on why I say that. With the serious tone that the story has and all that happened before the boy meets Stryx, you’d think the his voice would have more emotion and concern to it. Instead, he sounds not unlike that of how old man voices usually sound in cartoon shows. This even applies to the second voice you hear much later in the game; he doesn’t sound like anything but a generic hammy bad guy. These aren’t bad voices but they don’t add to what the game’s story desires to convey.

Gameplay

Beneath the character interactions and stylistic atmosphere, Light Fall is a 2D platformer where you go from Point A to Point B. The little boy can run, jump, wall kick, and do some cool stuff with the Shadow Core. The Shadow Core makes up the bulk of the more interesting abilities the boy can do. Not only can it be used as a platform but you’re able to jump up to four times with it around. You can also use it to shield yourself from projectiles, as a key for some turning puzzles, or even as a fiery projectile.

It’s simply a lot of fun to perform these abilities – particularly jumping across large stretches of terrain. Light Fall takes great advantage of what it offers to the player by having level designs that are just challenging enough to test his or her newly discovered skills. This is trueeven when death is a slap on the wrist; checkpoints are generously placed most of the time. The only time I thought things went overboard was when I faced the final boss. It was exhausting enough to get to the third phase but there just had to be more to get through.

Verdict

Nevertheless, Light Fall gets a strong recommendation from me. It’s a quality title that does what it sets out to do, albeit with some relatively minor things that could use a change-up. The bigger positives of the title shine through in obvious fashions, and it certainly has a lot more to offer than the $14.99 price suggests. It’s as good of a game as I imagined it would be when I first played it last year.

Review copy provided by Bishop Games

  • Watching: Aggretsuko
  • Playing: South Park: The Stick of Truth
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We get a lot of retro-style games here on the Nintendo eShop. Most of these derive from the developers’ experiences playing all-time favorites like Super Mario Bros., Metroid, Zelda, etc. Certain others, however, like to play a wild card and re-introduce aesthetics that are less commonplace in the indie scene. Case in point is The Adventures of Elena Temple, an upcoming Switch release that pays homage to games that hail from ’80s computers.

Story

The title protagonist uncovers a secret underground tomb for the sole purpose of claiming the treasure hidden inside. Of course, the idea is for Elena Temple to find her way through this treachery to claim the much-desired riches. This narrative is really only to kickstart the gameplay, but to my surprise I’ve found the game’s menu to have a more interesting tale to tell.

The Adventures of Elena Temple is set up to be this lost classic made by a developer that just couldn’t catch a break as the game got ported to multiple platforms. It’s a funny read that some indies may actually be able to relate to, despite the fact that it’s fiction. I was actually hoping for the faux history to play a role in the game itself, as if you were playing through various years of the game’s existence.

Graphics

I was admittedly a little disappointed it was only an aesthetic thing, but the presentation is still nothing to scoff at. The backdrops and monitors (that parody products from the real world) make it look like you’re playing the game on the hardware it got ported to. The palette changes could have been just that, but the way it’s done instead is a great touch.

Elena Temple itself is a basic two-color game. The game obviously has limits when it comes to its conveyance, but it does what it goes out to do. Sprites animate with a couple frames each, and the objects are distinguished enough from the background and each other for you to tell what’s what and where you are able to go. It gets the job done.

Audio

The audio’s kind of on the weak side. With the palettes changing to go with what faux system the game is being played on, I don’t think it would have been a stretch to imagine the sound quality changing as well. However, Elena Temple sounds the same across all versions.

The sound effects seem to be made with the same sound effects generator that I use for my own pixel art games; I guess it works for this context. They could have been stronger and add to the game’s identity. There’s a nice variety of music whose order randomizes after every loop, but I think the final room could have used its own theme song to create a sense of intensity.

Gameplay

The Adventures of Elena Temple is a platformer where you explore a maze consisting of fifty rooms; the more you explore, the more of the map you unveil. There are eight diamonds hiding in the game and you have to get them all to unlock the final room, where the closest thing to a boss awaits. One the diamonds is hiding behind an area you have to unlock by collecting 99 coins. Coins are found often, so it’s not a steep requirement. Should you want to 100% the game, you’ll probably want to go after all 120 coins.

It’s a simple, enjoyable romp. Death is a slap on the wrist, but the game doesn’t focus on beating up the player rather does it want him/her to focus on navigating the map. There’s always some little satisfaction when making progress, whether it’s by collecting something or solving a room puzzle. The puzzles could have been more challenging, but they nevertheless keep the pace going. The game has a steady balance among its design decisions, and it’s a comfortable title to play through as a result.

Verdict

You can think of this as a gaming equivalent of snack food. It’s a great casual title that also pleases the nostalgia crowd. There are a few things it falters on; hardcore players might want a little more out of it given the relatively light difficulty. Elements like the sound department could be more consistent with its presentation. Still, The Adventures of Elena Temple shines through for the most part on account of the many things it does do right, and it’s well worthy of its $5.00 price point.

Review copy provided by Grimtalin

  • Watching: DuckTales
  • Playing: Sonic and the Black Knight
www.ticgn.com/pc/preview-coffe…

The Smurglian alien race has come to Earth and they’re looking for heavy metal, free Wi-Fi, and coffee. It’s up to you and/or a friend to stop them in the best way a throwback can provide: By beating the crap out of groups of them as you get to the end of each level!

If you have heard about Coffee Crisis on TICGN before, you may recall my interviews with the folks at Mega Cat Studios from last year and the year before that. This is a beat ’em up game not only inspired by the 90’s titles that thrive in the genre, but is also now available on a console from the era. You can pick up a copy of Coffee Crisis for the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive, among other titles Mega Cat created for old school systems. However, if this article is of any indication, they have been broadening their horizons regarding game releases. Coffee Crisis‘s PC release has been delayed a few times – it is now scheduled for May – but this is because the developers are adding in extra features not present in the SEGA Genesis version.

I was given the golden opportunity to try the newfangled Steam version for myself, and I have to say: It definitely feels the part. Although I haven’t played the original I could already see that the presentation is reminiscent of how Genesis games of old made the leap to SEGA/Mega CD hardware. The CD quality soundtrack replaces the relatively primitive Genesis soundfont and the samples of sound effects and voice grunts are much clearer. Oddly, there is still a password system as of this writing. I imagine battery saves costed extra for cartridges but this is a digital download; it simply doesn’t make sense to still have this feature now that it’s no longer on a Genesis cart. Hopefully the final version gets a proper save function.

Fortunately, the fun resulting from clocking baddies in the face isn’t obsolete. If you’ve played classic beat ’em ups like Konami’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles titles or the Final Fight series, you’ll have an idea of what to expect from Coffee Crisis. Moving around feels snappy, punching and kicking thugs is satisfying, and the levels don’t overstay their welcome. Jumping feels slightly delayed compared to the fluid nature of jumping in other games in the genre but the game otherwise balances out these three elements better than many games that see releases on modern consoles. It’s a positively retro game at heart and it shows – especially through its well-detailed spritework and backgrounds.

If you’re a fan of beat ’em ups or games of old, you may want to put Coffee Crisis on your radar. The game is looking to be a pretty rad brawler and any good game on Steam needs all the word of mouth it can get to shine bright among the continuous sea of oversaturation and shovelware on the platform.

  • Listening to: South Park: The Fractured But Whole's OST
  • Watching: Sonic Mania Adventures
  • Playing: Puyo Puyo Tetris

www.ticgn.com/reviews/review-s…

I don’t know why I expected anything else. Skee Ball is exactly what it sounds like: A Nintendo Switch conversion of the arcade attraction. It’s becoming increasingly obvious to me that there are two kinds of indie games on the Switch. The first is the kind that has effort put into it, and the second is the kind that is just a glorified few-minute activity hastily put onto the store with an inflated price tag. Take a good guess which category Skee Ball falls into.

Graphics

Boy, is this presentation bland. It’s not terrible, but it is so static it doesn’t look out of place from the era of Flash games. That probably isn’t something I should be saying about a game that costs TWENTY DOLLARS, but here we are. There are a nice amount of cabinet styles, I will give it that. If only they were more than just static renders. Everything feels mechanical, with no life found in the little animation there is.

Audio

The best category of the bunch, the audio department has a neat synthesized soundtrack going on in the background. There is also plenty of attention to detail regarding sound effects; each cabinet has their own variety of sound effects that play out in-game. Examples include the winter chimes of the Christmas cabinet and the electronic scoreboard of the default cabinet.

Gameplay

Throw the ball into one of several holes across the lane to get the highest score possible. If this sounds incredibly basic, that’s because it is. I know it’s easy to provide simple descriptions for even the most novel games out there, but Skee Ball does absolutely nothing to make the gameplay interesting. Have you ever played Skee Ball at an arcade before? Then you’ve played a superior version of this. Even taking into account this is just Skee Ball, it’s not the best game of Skee Ball it could be.

 

Once you figure out what angle and how much power you could put into a shot, you could score a good amount of points by abusing that position. Motion controls don’t appear to be a thing in this game; the developers claim Nintendo was rather restrictive with such, but then how did Schlag den Star manage to have motion controls as one of its own optional control schemes? Touch controls are at least present, albeit the motivation to use them is deterred by how much easier it is to score high with button controls. Still, I suppose it brings out the best of the game feel; it’s the closest it could get to actual Skee Ball regarding the motions and challenge.

Verdict

Nevertheless, if you’re going make a Skee Ball game for the price of $19.99, it better be an amazing game of Skee Ball. Yet, this title isn’t even above the kinds of browser Skee Ball games I could find online for free. In matter of fact, this is actually a port of a $3 mobile title. Although the original’s in-app purchases seem to be absent here, they still kept the necessity to grind for tickets; to unlock any game modes or extra cabinet styles, you need to earn big amounts of tickets. That means a lot of games of Skee Ball must be played just to…get the privilege to play slightly different variations of Skee Ball.

In short, you may as well skip this one.

  • Listening to: Jason Paige's Pikachu USB
  • Watching: Ed Edd n Eddy
  • Playing: South Park: The Fractured But Whole

www.ticgn.com/reviews/review-a…

You know, I think it’s safe to say the Nintendo Switch is swiftly becoming a Metroid fan’s console. Not only is Metroid Prime 4 on its way, but there are already about four Metroid clones I can think of that are already available on the thing. My personal favorite has to be The Mummy: Demastered, and I’ve written a review on it previously. With A Robot Named Fight, however, it’s evident that my not-Metroid escapades aren’t ending anytime soon.

What’s funny about all this is that I’ve never even played through a single official Metroid game. I only own Metroid Prime 3, and it remains in my oh-so-huge backlog. I thought the whole “Metroidvania” genre would scare me off due to the emphasis on exploration and whatnot, but I’m instead experiencing these games with ease. Maybe someday, I’ll pick up the 2D Metroids and play through them in the same fashion.

Story

Millennia of peace have passed since the mechanical gods ascended and left the lower order robots to cultivate the world. Unfortunately for those left behind, something forgotten and terrible stirs amidst the stars: the Megabeast, a pulsating moon-sized orb of flesh, eyes, mouths and reproductive organs – unleashing its children onto the world like an unstoppable plague.

As A Robot That Looks Suspiciously Like Samus Aran, you must go and stop the Megabeast to end all evils.

Graphics

Well, this certainly looks the part. It doesn’t quite match the superb pixel art quality of The Mummy, but A Robot Named Fight has plenty of crisp sprites and backgrounds for eyes to feast on. What it does have over Wayforward’s game is the way the environments play around with the atmosphere in terms of color and focus. Some areas could be dimly lit, while others have color combinations beyond the usual dark shades. The game looks pretty darn solid as a result of how successfully it conveys the terrain and the lively enemies roaming around.

Audio

A Robot Named Fight has a mostly atmospheric sort of soundtrack that wouldn’t be out of place from its inspiration. It assists in conveying the dark cavernous tones established by the elaborate spritework. There’s something about the instrumentals used that reminds me of the olden days of the Game Boy Advance. Maybe it’s because I used to own Metroid: Zero Mission when it was new; pieces like what plays during the cave segments give off this sort of nostalgic vibe to it. The sound design in general is effective and to the point, albeit certain effects such as the lighting gun are too loud and distracting for my liking. There’s not enough of oddities like that to deter the overall flavor, though.

Gameplay

If you’ve ever played a Metroid game before, you’ll know almost exactly what you’re in for. It’s a platforming game that branches out into an exploration extravaganza. Along the way are various kinds of enemies with their own unique patterns and behaviors. Killing them means gunning them down with your arm cannon and possibly other power-ups you find in this extremely huge connection of pathways and mazes. You’re able to fire in eight directions, and switching weapons is easy and intuitive. What makes this stand out from Metroid, though? Three words: Random map generation. No playthrough of A Robot Named Fight is alike thanks to the map completely changing every time.

This gave me war flashbacks of Vaccine, a Resident Evil-inspired game that used this “roguelike” element in the worst way possible. Thankfully, A Robot Named Fight avoids the pitfalls of randomization by smartly keeping the layouts of each room the same, only differing slightly depending on the progress made. The positions of the rooms, on the other hand, are constantly unpredictable. This also goes to the power-ups. There’s a plethora of upgrades and gadgets in this title; it’s actually insane! There are different kinds of ways to boost your jumps, set things on fire, see in the dark, etc. Floating orbs can also be a good help for collecting things or providing extra projectiles to fire at an enemy. There are even lots of items helpfully marked on the map as hidden within areas. Fellow robots can also offer random methods of upgrades at the cost of collectibles you find upon killing enemies and such.

Sadly, there is one overarching problem that has a habit of hurting me: The death penalty. If you die in this game, you have to restart the entireshebang over again. I can hear the “Dur hur this is the Dark Souls of Metroid games” coming a mile away as I’m on the subject of difficulty, but the fact of the matter is I don’t like to feel like my time is wasted when playing through a game. I don’t mind restarting over from a Game Over as long as the game in question can be beaten in a short period of time. I do enjoy some games that do that, such as Laser Disco Defenders. Like that game, A Robot Named Fight can be said to have a high learning curve despite its effort to ease things with items and health and energy upgrades (there is even a chamber that respawns you one time after death if you find it). The problem is this is a freakin’ Metroid clone; it requires much more investment and time than a typical arcade-style affair. Every time I spent over 30+ minutes during the playthrough only to die, I get infuriated and wonder what else I could have done with those 30+ minutes. My desire to try again could only go on for so long.

Verdict

This is where I get conflicted. It’s very clear to me A Robot Named Fightis a competently made game that utilizes a strong foundation and runs with it for an excellently executed map generation gimmick. When I play it, I have a lot of fun exploring and making my way through it all. But when I happen to get a bit too careless or realize too soon what an enemy has over me, that’s when my motivation to play again gets snapped in half. I imagine there’s appeal in trying and trying again and seeing what’s new after the fact, but I have no understanding as to why this mechanic is necessary. I’m sure the game could have its map generation work just fine without the harsh punishment. Even more baffling to me is there are technically save files and a password system, but neither are actually used to get you back to where you once were. This could probably even be changed with a simple patch.

What I’m trying to say is, at its core, A Robot Named Fight is a great game that has a ton to like under its belt. However, I can’t help but wonder what could have been if it was a little more lenient on Game Overs. This kind of archaic mentality does not work well with a Metroid-style game at all, except maybe for the streamers or speedrunners out there that willingly try and try and try again to better themselves. I still like this game, and I do give it a modest recommendation to those that don’t mind having to go through these lengths to get good. Yet, that recommendation would have been a lot bigger had it not been for this absurd implementation.

  • Playing: Tengai
Howdy. I figured I'd clarify a few things regarding my presence here on deviantart and the kinds of stuff I'm working on as of late. 

I realize that I haven't been putting out as much content as I've had before. Well, this is the result of some factors from the harsh realm of reality. You see, I've been in college for a couple years now; much like other creatives I've followed throughout the years that are within the same age group as me, college plays a part in slowing hobbyist creations down. However, there's more to my mentality than just that. After all, I still do have plenty of free time to play video games and write stuff like articles.

Let's talk Mystery of Melody Memorial. I've stressed that I wanted to do this ever since its initial conception in 2015. 2015....Crap. Oops! It's been three freakin' years since I thought of the characters I've grown to love and think about every day, and what do I have to show for it? 

Fact of the matter is I'm only human. I'm distracted by so much this day and age, including by my usual gaming/animation obsessions. There's a lot I have to think about as well. It's no longer just a matter of "Oh, I'm gonna make this game and in a few months it'll be jolly good fun!" I instead have recurring thoughts like "What companies should I apply to for internships?", "What if I could make this aspect of Melody Memorial a little better?", and "What could I do to carry decent momentum when my life solely depends on my own revenue?" I don't know if I'm supposed to have these thoughts at this point in time, but they are there, and they can sting my confidence at times. I think I've fainted. 

Mystery of Melody Memorial - Title Screen by RyanSilberman

I'm not saying I'm going to scrap anything. I will still very much make Melody Memorial, and I'll try my best to get it out by the end of 2018. I just...can't make any promises on whether or not it would really be pushed out by then. I also can't ensure it'll be as huge as I once planned for it to be; then again, there's a big difference between how long it takes for someone to beat my game and how long it takes for me to beat my own. Sweating a little... 

As for deviantart, I guess I'm just afraid if I spent much more time on works that aren't related to what I already work on, it'd be all the more time I have to devote to when there's already a lot I have myself doing. Writing TICGN articles, living a college life, and making games are all things I have to keep at a stable-enough balance. Even then, the latter is obviously something I need to pick up the pace on. Similarly, this isn't me saying I'm going to leave deviantart. I'm just justifying why I may not seem as active in uploading content.

With all this out of the way, let's talk about some positive things! :happybounce: 

Firstly, in stark contrast to the deviantart situation, I am totally active every single day on Twitter. Probably helps I could post whatever I feel like rather than just showing off work. I post all the time about my interests in games and cartoons, ranging from comments to photos and even updates on my original creations. You can also join in my discord server dedicated to Mystery of Melody Memorial - Although there are plenty of channels in the server for whatever else you'd want to talk about! I am a dummy! 

Twitter: twitter.com/RyanSilberman
Discord Server: discord.gg/XjxSESq

I've also got news regarding one of my older games, Dynamite Alex. I have a friend assisting me in porting the game to Nintendo Switch! La la la la The port itself is said to be able to be wrapped up as soon as within April, and I'll be trying my hardest to pitch this one proper to Nintendo of America so it could make it onto the eShop as soon as I get all the necessary materials! I'll be sure to let you guys know when it comes out as soon as the project is greenlit, and if it does, you can expect some more Nintendo Switch releases from yours truly. :) (Smile)   

Dynamite Alex thumbnail by RyanSilberman

Lastly, I dunno if I'll have this set in stone now, but I do think I'll try to make it to PAX West 2018..................That's all I wanted to say on that front. I am a dummy!  Maybe let me know if you're coming as well?

So yeah, that's the gist of everything. I'm a college student that wants to live but also remain creative, and that can get difficult sometimes. But you know what? That's just the way of life, and I hope and thank you guys for being as patient with me as I am with it. Have a good rest of your day.
  • Playing: Monopoly for Nintendo Switch
Hey, y'all. I'm looking for online streamers that are consistently active with, well, streaming gameplay.
I've started volunteering for Mega Cat Studios regarding their content curator list, and the idea is to round up people that are interested in checking out their games. Particularly this one as of late:

log-banner

Their latest game coming soon is Coffee Crisis; they're hard at work on it, and if you are interested in streaming the game or want to be notified of opportunities for streaming any of their future titles, please send me a note here on deviantart or a DM on discord (RyanSil#1969). You can find more info about it in the hyperlink I put, and/or you can look on Mega Cat's website and see what other cool stuff they've got.

You don't have to be popular. You just need to be active with your content.
  • Playing: Bridge Constructor Portal
(Reuploaded since the old TICGN page was taken down due to a server shift)
(Also, I will review Socks the Cat this month!)

About: This interview was conducted during the duration of the Kickstarter for an official release of Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill, a Super Nintendo video game originally meant to be released in 1993 but canceled for unknown reasons. The Kickstarter has since been funded and copies have recently started getting shipped.

Original date: 10/20/2016

Ryan (Me): What is your experience with the classic console that is the Super Nintendo?

Adam (of Second Dimension): The SNES was basically my babysitter in pre to early teens. Okay, that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but it was definitely the most played console out of every console I own or have owned to this day. There's so many amazing titles on it and franchises that really took off -it's the pinnacle of gaming to me.

Tom (Socks owner): The Super Nintendo is personally my favorite system ever. It was actually the first system I bought with my own money. I think it's an iconic system in that it brought something to video game systems we hadn't really seen up until that point, depth. The RPG's were the first to immerse you into a digital world. I'll always love the 8-bit era but 16-bit graphics are pretty dang sweet. 

What is your position in delivering Socks the Cat to the public?

Adam: My role in the campaign is to help with the testing, working with the programmer to find bugs and fix them, and to publish the physical copies. I've also helped coordinate the artwork with the artist and the rest of the team.

Tom: Honestly, I just want to bring a game to people that they've been waiting for for over 20 years. It's a cool, challenging and funny game. I think everyone who enjoys politics and/or video games should play it. It's been unavailable far too long. 

How did this idea to Kickstart the game come together?


Adam: This is more of Tom's area, so I'll let him give the details of that.

Tom: Well, at first after acquiring the game I wasn't sure how to release it. After getting the game 100% ready for manufacturing we realized we had no idea what the actual demand was. Was it 100 games, was it 100,000? We really didn't know. Utilizing Kickstarter allows us to determine the exact demand. It's also a great tool for exposure and advertising. We did however want to be different. Meaning, we wanted the game ready for production before ever bringing it to Kickstarter. I think we achieved that. 

Explain the game itself. What exactly is Socks the Cat?

Adam: Socks is a platformer, similar to games of the same genre of that era (Aladdin, Lion King), but in a political style. The game doesn't favor any party, as neither are safe from the satire you'll find inside the game. Some of the boss battles are pretty hilarious, and a lot of "did that just really happen?!" moments were had while testing the game out.

It's also not an easy game. Don't get me wrong, it's not the most difficult game either, but I wouldn't expect a lot of players to beat it on the first try.

Tom: It's its own game. Yes it's a platformer. Yes it's character driven, but we've never seen anything like it before. A challenging game that mixes politics, satire and some really cool end bosses. We love Socks! It's funny, quirky and witty. 

Considering the game was left unreleased until the Kickstarter becomes funded, are there any significant changes going to be made for the game itself?

Adam: There's not many significant changes, as the game was complete on the prototype, though it did have some bugs, one being a kill screen after level 7 or 8, others being some collision issues and some polishing here and there.

Tom: No. There were, which Adam addressed, but it's ready and tested for reproduction. 

How much of an impact do you believe these changes have?


Adam: One change makes the game complete. Like I was saying earlier, I discovered that after level 7 or 8, heck, it might've been level 6, the game screen turned into a pink striped background, and Socks just plummeted to his death until you reach a Game Over. Turns out, that was a boss room, and there were still a few more levels after that!

Other changes fixed some collision detection issues, and others just polish up some of the stage card screens. The prototype has many levels listed with 2 names, stating "Level 1 Name A or Level 1 Name B", for example.

Tom: Overall the game is much more playable and aesthetically pleasing than when we started, but it's still very true to its original form. One bug almost ended the project entirely. We were very lucky to have a great programmer who fixed the bug and got us back on track. 

Will the original "release" be available in a fashion?

Adam: (I'm not sure quite what you mean, but I'm going to answer as best as I can) We're releasing Socks in 4 ways: a cartridge only copy, a complete in box copy (box, manual, cartridge, and any inserts that may be added), a Limited Edition copy, which will contain a different box and manual art, as well as some additional goodies to go along with it, and lastly a Developers Copy which will be similar to the Limited Edition, but with additional goodies and the teams signature.

Tom: Absolutely, if we get the Kickstarter funded the original unaltered ROM will be released to the public for free. We realize this is an important piece of gaming history and I have no intention of keeping it to myself. I hope people will appreciate that. 

Is the digital version the ROM file or is it within an .exe or installation program?

Adam: We're still working out the details of the digital release, but we want to make sure that everyone can play the digital version without issues.

Are there any intentions to give the Socks the Cat name more exposure (i.e. digital releases on modern consoles or original sequels)?

Adam: We've discussed a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive port and decided to add a stretch goal to see if the demand was there. As for modern consoles, it's definitely not out of the question, but it's still a bit early to tell.

Tom: We'd love to but for now we really are just heads down and are only concern is getting the funding on the Kickstarter. We've had requests for a few different formats. 

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Adam: To control time. I seem to never have enough of it :)

Tom: This one is easy for me. While it's a typical response I'm going with flying. No more traffic, go wherever you want, see the world from a different view. 


Adam: 
Thanks again for taking the time to write us!

Tom: 
Thanks again Ryan!
  • Playing: Atomik: RunGunJumpGun
www.ticgn.com/nintendo/what-wi…

Nothing lasts forever. Nintendo fans are learning this the hard way with the upcoming end of the Wii’s digital games store. The Wii Shop Channel was the big N’s first gateway to digital gaming. While it started out with a slew of old games via Virtual Console, 2008 kicked off the WiiWare category, where original Wii games could be downloaded to the console from the Shop Channel.

A month from now however, you’ll no longer be able to put money into the Shop Channel to buy games. Your purchased games will remain available until 2019 but you better hurry if you want to get anything from the shop. Do you still have your Wii around? Want to put it to use and buy some games you hadn’t considered before? Well, hopefully this article will help! This is going to be a list of personal recommendations from yours truly. Their qualities may differ from one another but tastes are always different; there’s bound to be something here for you to enjoy.

Shin’en Multimedia’s Games

One baffling aspect of making something for WiiWare is that the game file can’t exceed 50 MB. It’s a miracle such a puny filesize didn’t put off as many developers as it could have. However, Shin’en Multimedia took this filesize into account and gave it the middle finger. The programming geniuses over there managed to put together games that would have had significantly larger file sizes if not for some clever compression techniques that got the games to fall under 50 MB. I’m talking about Jett Rocket and Fast Racing League. These two games are bosses in their own right.

Jett Rocket‘s a 3D platformer that takes clear inspiration from Super Mario Galaxy, the polish in its graphics to the responsive nature of its run ‘n jump gameplay. It’s obviously not as great as what critics dub the best 3D platformer ever, but still offers its own fun brand of level design and collectibles to look out for. Getting to hover with the jetpack also adds a refreshing variable to the game’s platforming mechanics.

Fast Racing League is the F-Zero-ish game you never knew you wanted. There’s a reason why this game has sequels on the Wii U and Nintendo Switch: People realized they wanted it. The hook with Fast Racing League is that it’s a quickly-paced racer with futuristic-looking hovercrafts a la F-Zero, but with an extra mechanic to use to your advantage. This mechanic involves color-changing, and it is the main mechanism for avoiding hazards of an opposite color and boosting from panels that share the same one. The result is a game that, while has its inevitable trial and error bits, is sure to satisfy hardcore racers’ cravings.

Konami’s ReBirth Series

Yes, Konami was still a games publisher back when WiiWare was in its heyday! Their best entries consist of new installments inspired by old-school franchises from their disposal. Contra: RebirthGradius: Rebirth, and Castlevania: The Adventure Rebirth are all modern classics that deserve to be played if you’re a fan of any of these series. My personal favorite is Castlevania; it may be a remake of a rather dull Game Boy game, but it is such a great 2D Castlevania experience that it’s not really possible to tell.

TellTale’s Games

Licensed video games are never good…Unless they are executed as well as these. Admittedly these aren’t the most ideal versions to pick up since they are available on other platforms for cheaper. Still, TellTale Games is noteworthy for bringing Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive Peopleand Tales of Monkey Island to WiiWare episode by episode. Both games are point ‘n click adventures that rely on humorous scripts (This was before TellTale focused on top-tier licenses and darker storylines) and clever puzzles. Strong Bad is the best game that could have ever come out out of the Homestar Runner body of work, and Monkey Island is the comeback fans have waited oh-so-many years to see.

Mega Man 9 & 10

If there was anything that popularized the idea of bringing an old franchise back to its roots, it’s the Mega Man entries on WiiWare. Mega Man 9 was an amazing new entry that harnessed everything that was great about the classic NES Mega Man games. Created by the same people that did the Mega Man Zero games (and went on to do the Azure Striker Gunvolt and Mighty No. 9 games), Mega Man 9 felt exactly like the oldschool platforming gauntlet that the franchise has been known for. Mega Man 10 was more of the same, but in a way that was welcomed by the community.

Retro City Rampage

Released on other platforms years ahead of its strangely delayed WiiWare release, Retro City Rampage is one of the last great games to ever be on Wii. Combining retro aesthetics with classic Grand Theft Auto, this game is an affectionate parody and embodiment of the ’80s. From the various situations Player winds up in to references galore, Retro City Rampage is an 8-Bit content-crammed thrill ride.

Excitebike: World Rally

Over the years, it seemed like Nintendo wasn’t sure how to use the Excitename after the release of Excitebike. They did make a sequel to Excitebike for the Nintendo 64, but it was this realistic motocross game that only related to the series in name only. Then games like Excite Truckand Excitebots come in to loosen the meaning of the prefix even more.

Folks, Excitebike: World Rally is a tried-and-true Excitebike game. It plays like the NES original but with modern improvements that make it much more fun. There are Grand Prix modes that allow you to play a series of courses, a level editor with track sharing, and there was even online play before the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service was unfortunately shut down.

Alien Crush Returns

Combining pinball with science fiction, Alien Crush Returns must have been the result of its predecessors gaining popularity through Virtual Console. There’s a mode that plays out like regular pinball, but arguably more interesting is the one where you play through a series of levels that ends with a boss battle against an alien leader.

Bubble Bobble Plus

This one’s a no-brainer if you loved the original game in arcades or on home consoles. It’s an addictive arcade platformer that can be played with friends locally. Shooting enemies with bubbles and popping them afterwards is as fun as ever; with the new levels being playable by up to four people, the fun can only be further shared.

The Bit.Trip Series

This indie series kicked off on WiiWare, and has become a collective mainstay in the public eye since. Each of the five games here (Bit.Trip Beat, Bit.Trip Fate, Bit.Trip Flux, Bit.Trip Runner, Bit.Trip Core) are fun twists on simple arcade-like gameplay formulas. Backed by its excellent rhythmic timings and stylistic graphics, the series as a whole is an entertaining set of energetic throwbacks to games of old.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

Granted, it’s not quite as good as the Genesis/Mega Drive games that inspired it or the recent masterpiece that is Sonic Mania. However, I still think Sonic 4: Episode 1 is remarkably solid as the video game it is. Obviously intending to hop on the revival train Mega Man 9 set, Sonic 4: Episode 1 provides a healthy set of levels to blaze through. Many of the levels have their own little gimmicks that make things interesting, and the challenge to collect all seven Chaos Emeralds remains an incentive to master the Special Stages and Sonic’s platforming abilities. It’s not a Sonic fan’s Sonic game, but it is a fun 2D Sonic game.

Mr. Driller W

Although lacking some features of a typical retail Mr. Driller game, Mr. Driller W still contains the fast-paced puzzler action the series is known for. Drilling through the colorful blocks can be quite the ongoing challenge, but collecting air packs and reaching as far as possible makes the overall experience rewarding in the long run. If you haven’t gotten into the series yet, W isn’t a bad place to start.

WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase

WarioWare D.I.Y. is this Nintendo DS spin-off of the WarioWare series where you get to make your own microgames for other people to play. This WiiWare counterpart has selections of its own microgames for you to play and download onto the DS game. You can treat it like a typical WarioWare game or put your newly created microgames onto the Wii to play on the TV.

Tomena Sanner

Tomena Sanner is easily the weirdest game of the bunch, but that’s all part of its charm. In this auto-runner, you press A right before colliding with an object to avert said collision in a ridiculously over-the-top fashion. Although on the short side, this game contains plenty of delicious craziness while it lasts! Definitely give this one a look if you’re into off-the-wall Japanese humor.

  • Playing: Monopoly for Nintendo Switch
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Oh, boy. This is going to be a long one.

Ginger: Beyond the Crystal was released months ago, but I never got around to it until now. Why? Well, a combination of other things/games keeping me occupied and the reception from other reviews deterred my interest in getting to it. Yet, its status in my mind as unfinished business simply had to be rectified sometime. Now that I played through it, however, I can say with quick ease that I never want to play it again. Given my love for platformers and creative looks, I had a hard time believing Ginger could be that bad. I went into it with modest expectations, and those expectations were increasingly shattered as I progressed through this travesty of an adventure.

Story

The game takes place in this world that’s inhabited by a bunch of Smurf-like creatures and monitored by an unseen goddess. For some random reason, the goddess abandons the realm and sends Ginger to set things right for her…even though she quickly comes back to it to inform him on what to do. Within the HUB areas, there are NPCs that grant missions for Ginger. The prizes? Materials for rebuilding buildings in their villages. Why should Ginger help these people if they aren’t going to help themselves with their own tools? From there, there are random varieties of characters and level themes. How do they relate to the overarching plot? Well, the last them is a fight with a giant flying fish, so I’d say they don’t at all.

While the characters may seem interesting, nothing they say is interesting. The dialogue is as cut-and-dry as it can possibly get, except with an unhealthy dose of consistent grammatical errors. The only standout lines in Ginger: Beyond the Crystal are the two times a villain says a mild swear; keep in mind this is an E-rated game (and not E10+, I literally mean E).

Graphics

When I looked at preview images for this game, I honestly thought there was an evident sense of creativity. You can really tell the developers were trying to make a magical landscape that players could get invested in by noting the set pieces and distinctive art styles. As a throwback to the era 3D platformers dominated the gaming scene, it seemed all too fitting for those things to be the case. Yet, Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is a trainwreck in action.

The game can only run in 60 frames per second if there are few enough objects present in the room. As soon as it reaches beyond that, the performance appallingly chugs. It constantly struggles to maintain even a framerate of 30, and there are lots of times where it depletes even at that point. The HUB areas are the worst offenders, while the Mario Sunshine-style platforming levels are the total opposite since there’s so little rendering necessary for those.

Problems don’t stop there, either. Some character animations are fluid and cartoon-y, while others are static and glaringly unpolished. In fact, I’ve encountered multiple visual glitches by accident, and some of them were easy to replicate. There are also many instances where the text box wouldn’t leave the interface because the game would only look out for the player pressing A to exit out of it instead of any other button (this is despite that the B button is able to advance dialogue, too).

Audio

The best category, bar none, is the audio department. There isn’t anything I could remark against the music, which is as atmospheric as it is appropriate for a 3D platformer. It’s the kind of stuff that would be right at home in the house of RareWare. While the sound effects are a bit more stock, they are nevertheless defined and mixed finely with what goes on onscreen. I also find the progression jingles to be nice and soft on the ears.

Gameplay

Holy Sugar Honey Iced Tea, playing this game is a monotonous nightmare!

Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is split into three types of levels, but it’s a “jack-of-all trades, master of none” sort of deal. Ginger has a double jump that can come in handy at times, as well as a punch that can one-hit-kill most of the enemies in the game. The game also likes to dress Ginger up in various costumes that behold special powers, but you can’t actually use most of them. They are only used to get Ginger into a position in a level that you otherwise cannot access. In that regard, all of them have essentially the same power but with different cosmetics. One power you can use at will is the one where you place bombs (even then, this power is obtained in around the final act); for absolutely no reason, the bomb is sensitive to collision with other objects, and its explosion can instantly kill Ginger. Ginger also instantly dies when falling off from a large-enough height.

Here’s where the problems lie within Ginger: Beyond the Crystal. It’s like the developers had been busy trying to come up with ways to prolong the game length in spite of its primitive mechanics rather than make any part of it fun. The HUB areas are abysmal to travel through because all they do is force the player through pointless timer challenges and fetch quests to increase the ability to move on to an actual level. The second HUB is particularly rancid since the low draw distance makes the view look incredibly foggy, therefore making it harder than it already is to find your way around in the first place. Should you go to a level or another HUB, you’ll have to sit through loading times that give Sonic 06 a run for its money.

Once you finally go to a level, you realize just how limited the 3D platforming is. When it comes to the genre term, you expect an open world with objectives you could approach in ways that are up to you. Meanwhile, Ginger here is confined to a small, linear space similar to that of levels in Super Mario 3D Land. But unlike Mario, Ginger has no sense of engaging design; none of the enemies behave too differently from one another, and the layouts are glorified hallways that only exist to pad out game time. Making things worse is when you go to a part that can’t be accessed because you’re actually supposed to go down a different path first. At first, arrows light up to point the way forward. Then the game soon forgets it ever started such a thing, leaving it entirely up to the player to hope he or she is heading the right way. Often, there’s a fetch quest incorporated into a level that makes you have to travel around parts you already visited just to please the NPC and get a move on.

And all this is without the level-specific BS! If the crap factor wasn’t already dialed up, some levels would have their own annoying features that distract and frustrate. You’d think being forced to repeatedly wiggle the right analog stick in certain areas would be where the suffering stops, but that’s actually one of the lesser troubles! There’s this haunted house level, for example, that’s filled to the brim with fixed camera angles. You also play hide and seek with a guy that has way too low of priorities to be considered a legit threat. Then again, he said “Damn” so he must be evil. Another horrid example is the circus level, where you escort a super-slow kid that loses sight of you as soon as you step away from him by a few feet. Said level also has a memory match minigame where you have to use bombs to uncover the pictures – keep in mind the bomb’s sensitivity to anything that touches it. You’d think the Mario Sunshine-style obstacle courses could be at least a little more creative than what’s found otherwise, but you’re instead treated to jumping challenges for every single one of these levels. There’s no variation in their difficulty whatsoever; the closest it ever gets to throwing in a new element is the use of platforms that disintegrate, and you can bet it doesn’t go far with it.

Then it gets worse. Visual glitches are far from the only kinds one will experience in this garbage! That escort mission I mentioned earlier? One time I got to it, the kid couldn’t move! It didn’t register to him that I was ready to pick him up despite me standing inches away. Before that, I faced another game-breaking glitch where I wasn’t able to shoot stars (the only other power I could use at will) in a minigame that required me to do so. One recurring bit that makes my blood boil is when a timer is triggered so suddenly there’s no way to react in time the first time around. And if you die while a timer is going off, it doesn’t reset. It keeps going, and the timer running out usually results in a bigger push back than if you were to just die. This spaceship level below has the absolute bottom of the barrel of these timer events. For whatever reason, the game holds your hand on basic details, but leaves you on your own when you need help most.

Above all else, THIS GAME IS AN EFFING SLOG!! I’ve been on and off of Ginger: Beyond the Crystal for days. After all the time I spent on this game, I feel I could have spent the that time playing a Zelda game instead. As I suffered, I thought about the other Switch games I bashed. Ben 10 was also a marathon filled with nothing but padding and boring, repetitive mechanics. Yet, it was several hours shorter than GingerVroom in the Night Sky was a horrendous indie title that like its concept wasn’t even planned halfway through, yet its unintentionally hilarious Engrish was more than I could ever get out of Ginger. Lots of hours spent playing Ginger, and what have I gotten out of it? Nothing. I’ve got nothing. This is coming from someone that got this game for free for the sake of reviewing it. Imagine how one would feel after having spent $19.99 to play it.

Verdict

The more I fought through Ginger, the more I despised it. The reason why this review is so long is because I wanted to get the most out of this page after all that I’ve endured in the game. After all, there is no way I’m going back into it! There is no point in the game that redeems itself, rather does it just continue to stagnate the whole way through. Do not be fooled by any interesting art or character designs; this is the worst game I’ve played on Nintendo Switch so far. To think there were plans for a physical release that have mysteriously gone quiet after this game’s digital release. I mean, really? I don’t even think certain titles coming soon could top it in how unbearably awful it is. Do not play this at any cost.

Now to never talk about this again.

  • Playing: ChromaGun
www.ticgn.com/nintendo/retro-f…

It’s the #1 game on the Gamecube, the biggest fighting game since Street Fighter II, and the only thing everyone cares about seeing on a Nintendo Direct. This game has been widely played and obsessed over since the day it released on Nintendo’s tiny little lunchbox. It’s been thoroughly used as a base for a plethora of fighting game tournaments worldwide. It’s…

SUPER

SMASH BROTHERS

MEELLLEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Super Smash Bros. was a sleeper hit on the Nintendo 64, but this successor was a whole different beast altogether. Rather than simply touch up on what made the original a joy to play, it aggressively went above and beyond to show that the Gamecube means business! You can’t say “Melee” without someone freaking out over it. The term itself has been far more associated with this game than anything else. If Super Smash Bros. Melee was a person, every tournament player would take it out for dinner and beyond. In fact, I’m willing to bet someone, somewhere, has married his copy of the game.

So why is it such a masterpiece in the eyes of gamers everywhere? Simple: It did so much more, and offered even more than that, compared to the original Smash Bros. The idea of Nintendo characters coming together to beat the crap out of each other has been massively amplified by the technical prowess of the Gamecube and the heavily increased effort poured into the development of the game itself. This wasn’t a project that was merely developed on the side during weekends; this was a full-blown sequel that wasted absolutely no time being built up in the 13 months it was created within. Old characters got expanded move-sets, an assortment of new characters showed up, and there’s a treasure trove of new stages, items, and modes to play around with!

The presentation in general was upgraded to a degree that not even a lot of other Gamecube games ever bothered to reach. Even in the tireless production schedules it went under, the folks at HAL and Nintendo made sure the attention to detail was as perfect as it could get. The graphics were slick, detailed, and filled with liveliness; players were practically playing a CGI cartoon starring all the Nintendo characters they’ve come to know and love. Despite the fighting style featuring a lot of hopping around and wacky item usage, the tight level of depth in the mechanics makes the fighting feel like how fans always imagined the characters would duke it out. You’re not just controlling Link; you are Link. He’s likely feeling what you’re feeling at the heat of the moment.

The core fighting style is relatively unchanged from before; you’re still playing in platforming levels trying to mercilessly slaughter your opponents with your character’s skills. With the many characters there are to play around with, you’re bound to get accustomed to at least one of them. The variety of play styles each one offers is demonstrated through the many moves that could be pulled off with just a button and a directional input. Kicks, sword slashes, and counters could all be accessed at will and can be mastered with enough practice.

Whereas the original Super Smash Bros. featured a measly dozen characters and a sole single-player mode lacking randomization, Melee has like a million Vs. modes and a bunch of single-player features that are leagues above its predecessor. There are even multiplayer features that…admittedly no one ever uses, like Coin and Bonus battles. If you want to have fun from the Special Modes, though, Giant Melee is easily the best one.

Super Smash Bros. Melee was filled to the brim with personality. It’s a love letter to Nintendo fans young and old, whether they feature a beloved character or reference more obscure properties that only the die-hards would know about. I mean, how many people have known about the Game & Watch games before the inclusion of Mr. Game & Watch? After that, how many people know all of the Game & Watchgames this character references with every single attack he does? Don’t worry. I won’t Judge.

Speaking of references, how about them trophies? If there was ever an incentive to keep playing Super Smash Bros. Melee, it was to unlock all of the several kajillion trophies in the game. Each one derives from a Nintendo game and has a description detailing its purpose in that game. There are trophies for loads and loads of different characters and items; for a game developed in such a relatively short period of time, it’s amazing how much the developers crammed into this virtual collection. You’d think they wouldn’t have been able to do this at all, but the fact they did shows how much they cared. It’s almost a shame a lot of them have to be unlocked through the in-game lottery machine.

Oh how I despise you, lottery machine. You feed the thing with coins you earn after playing matches in the game, mostly during the single-player stuff. It does tell you the odds of getting a new trophy out of it, but it always bites when the end result isn’t in your favor anyway. It hurts more so when you feed it a multitude of coins at once and still get a trophy you already have in your collection.

Let me tell you, my memories with Super Smash Bros. Melee go as far as to when I got the Gamecube for my 5th birthday (or maybe it was my 6th, I dunno). My first experiences with everything in the game are unlike what I’ve gone through with any other game. This game was an adventure in itself, and I was along for the ride. I played around with the many different modes like crazy. My brothers and I would fight off in Giant mode and make it so the only items available to use are Pokeballs. We’d wager all our coins on trophies every chance we got. Most important of all, we played matches like there’s no tomorrow. Then this screen sometimes popped up.

With a sound of an alarm and appearing out of nowhere, nothing freaked my little kid self more than this character unlock screen. What’s going on? Who was this mysterious silhouette? What threat am I to face? Then a one-on-one round occurs between me and the new character. As intense as things were, however, nothing was more satisfying than taking on the challenge thrown at me. Before video games had DLC and made it so you had to pay extra for new characters, Super Smash Bros. Melee already had them in the game; you just have to work for them!

While Super Smash Bros. Melee is this amazing fighting game that’s cherished indefinitely, it does have this underlying atmosphere that can get chills down people’s spines. It acts all stylish and appealing, then throws in a screwball when you least expect it. There’s sometimes no telling what could happen next. What happens if you beat up 100 wire framed baddies in Multi-Man Melee? Or if you hit a sandbag far enough as Yoshi in Home Run Contest? Now, I know these result in unlocks for characters and stages alike and can be downplayed as such, but this game can be freaking scary if you let it creep up on you with its more abnormal sequences!

The Adventure mode has a lot of weird quirks that can do this, from Luigi coming out of the blue to replace Mario in the first battle to the Underground Maze being populated by Redeads trying to snack on your character. However, these don’t come close to outright nightmare fuel like THIS UNHOLY ABOMINATION.

What is more a terrifying way to finish an already difficult single-player campaign than through this unexpected, extremely deformed, brutal variation of Bowser?!

If all of this is absolutely not what you expected an article on Super Smash Bros. Melee to cover, then there’s a good chance you either are a “hardcore” player or have been unfortunately accustomed to their lingo. As great as it is to see this classic live on in a continuously thriving community, one can wonder what the appeal may be to begin with.

You see, Super Smash Bros. Melee is sort of a happy accident in which this game that has all this amazing stuff in it just so happens to work really well as a no-frills one-on-one fighter. With the items off, and with stages limited to the most obstacle-less, gimmick-less possible (namely Final Destination and Battlefield), the lone thing standing in your way is your opponent and only your opponent. While it makes the gameplay arguably more focused and is ripe for players to gawk over, the cult around it has gone as far as to develop its own unwritten dictionary for the weird phrases and labels it coined. These include terms like “wavedashing”, “L-canceling”, “Randall”, “gentleman”, “dash-dancing”, and the list goes on.

If you wanna be a pro Smash Bros. Melee player, you have to be taken seriously. How so? First, you have to acknowledge that more than half the roster of characters is entirely useless if you want to win. Fox, Falco, Marth, and Captain Falcon are the only characters that you must play as. Sure, Samus, Peach, or Ice Climbers may sneak their way into the finals, but they delay the inevitable. You also must envision Melee as the only good Smash BrosSmash Bros. Brawland Smash Bros. 4? They are utter trash because they’re not Melee. You can’t wavedash or do fancy tech that makes Fox the victor in every round.

You play with items and fun stages? Wow, what a filthy casual.

Hopefully, my sarcasm is getting through to you. Let’s be real here: You don’t need this mindset to enjoy Melee on a competitive level at all, nor do you have to stick by these unspoken rules the try-hards established. Having fun is still the name of the game, and what could be more fun than breaking the unspoken rules? Here in college, I regularly face off against competitive Melee players with Dr. Mario and without any mechanical exploits. Doesn’t stop me from winning to the point where I’m dubbed “Ryan Sil. the God”. I sometimes like using Yoshi, Link, Samus, Pikachu, and even Kirby and Pichu if I’m feeling particularly smug.

However, the ideal way to play Melee is still with items and all stages. By playing without them, you have probably not even 10% of the entire game at your disposal. Some of the people I play with haven’t even known about some of the other content the game has to offer. For such an exhausting, extensive workload courtesy of HAL, you’d think these fans would appreciate it a little more.

There is one thing we can all come to appreciate, however.

That would be this video I took of the Adventure mode giving up on me.



  • Playing: Stern Pinball Arcade
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Oh my God, a Nintendo Direct is coming. It must be about one thing and one thing only: SUPER SMASH BROS., BABY! How do I know this? Well, I just have a gut feeling.

Ssh! Ssh! Quiet, now! The Direct is starting…

WHA?! What is this garbage? No one cares about puny little indie games! Or Mario Tennis! Or Dark Souls! Or Square Enix! Or whatever those Wii U ports were! I want Super Smash Bros.! Wah, wah, cry, cry, other baby noises.

Yeah, I’m going straight into the gutter on this one. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of hearing a bunch of self-entitled pricks hype themselves up by expecting everything from announcements that blatantly never intend to act like something huge is about to happen. I’m surprised I haven’t done an article on this topic sooner, to be honest. What pushed me over the edge was the unveiling of Two Point Hospital by – appropriately enough – Two Point Studios. The catch: SEGA is the publisher.

Leading up to the announcement was a countdown

and a picture of a lightbulb.

There were no references to Sonic or the Dreamcast to be found. The only hint word was “Two”. So obviously the Dreamcast 2 had to be speculated among other things that won’t exist.

I feel so bad. Not for the “fans”, but for Two Point Studios. They wanted to announce their new project and these oblivious packs of wolves didn’t know any better than to bash it all over because they realized it’s not titled Sonic Adventure 3. A quick Google search shows that Two Point partnered with SEGA to do a simulation game and their logo was clearly visible on the final day leading up to the announcement. Surprise, surprise, the simulation game is exactly what the announcement turned out to be. Of course that didn’t stop the replies from becoming a titanic mish-mash of salt and self-inflicted betrayal.

Two Point Studios deserved absolutely none of this. Yet here we are with most of the replies to the announcement tagging them as if they are any part of the problem.

SEGA “fans” are far from the only people to do this kind of crap. Let’s get back to talking about the Nintendo Direct, eh? Every. Single. Direct. Nintendo does these things to show their fans details of upcoming games for their consoles. Below is a diagram created three years ago summarizing the reactions of literally every Nintendo Direct announcement and aftermath. And it’s still incredibly relevant today (only with Super Smash Bros. also being part of the fan expectations).

This happens regardless of what Nintendo specifies beforehand. It could be a miniature Direct. It could be a Direct focusing only on indie games. Nintendo could scream into every fan’s ears “WE DON’T FREAKING HAVE THESE GAMES TO UNVEIL!!!” Yet these expectations get overly inflated to the point that if balloons could talk, they would tell the fans to chill the hell out. What’s even the point of hyping it up, anyway? Smash Bros. “fans” are only going to complain about it not being Melee anyway.

Guys, please pay attention to what the Nintendo Direct actually has to offer. There could be some great games that wouldd catch your eye. Sixty bucks is sixty bucks. Your time spent in a game you’ve always been waiting for is as valuable as your time spent in a game that you find yourself liking otherwise.

Want to know how to resolve any hype problem? By not expecting anything. By ignoring the incentive to conspire theories about an ambiguous picture. The greatest reveals happen by surprise; this is why companies like Nintendo keep things under wraps as tightly as possible. That “Wait, we have one last thing to show you” is the perfect reel to grab attention for something unthinkable. When it does turn out to be exactly what people have been waiting for, the results will have much more of an impact than they ever would be if the game in question was expected.

Case in point: Metroid Prime 4. It was smack dab in the middle of E3 but no one ever saw this coming. No hint was ever given beforehand. No teaser pictures before E3, no sneaky comments, nothing. Therefore, no one was expecting it to actually happen before watching the presentation. Not only that, but it’s okay to hype it up after the reveal because people now know Metroid Prime 4 really is going to exist!

Sigh…I’m sorry if I have been rather grumpy throughout the article. My thoughts on these things had been bottled up for a good while, and the incident with SEGA and Two Point was enough for me to buckle down and officially rant about hype trains. Hopefully this makes enough sense for you, the reader, to think twice before questioning a company’s stance on a game you’re waiting to be announced.

  • Playing: Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero
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Sometimes, games are kept within regional boundaries. The most notable examples are from Japan, which houses plenty of titles that international gamers wish they could get their hands on. As I was searching online for Nintendo Switch games the United States haven’t officially received, however, I came across an intriguing set of titles that were only ever released in German territories. One of these is Schlag den Star, a video game based on a popular German game show.

Good thing the Switch is region-free, eh?

Graphics

The first thing that comes to mind when I look at the game in action is the Wii era. The Wii was loaded with licensed titles coated with low-rate graphics, and Schlag den Star is no different in this department. Looking like an early Playstation 2 title at best, this game runs at 30fps and features the same kind of ugly 3D cartoon models as seen in other video games based on live shows from that console generation. Why has this been a standard for the genre? To appeal to kids? I think kids would be more interested in playing Mario than answering to quizzes.

 

Audio

I suppose the audio is the best category of the bunch, because it does play out exactly as you’d expect for a game show. It’s kind of stock (particularly the voice clips for characters you play as), sure, but it works. There just isn’t anything spectacular, and Elton’s deliveries seem rather tame for a host.

 

Gameplay

Schlag den Star has a few game modes to choose from, but all of them borrow from a selection of 25 minigames. Well, 13 minigames and 12 quiz formats. Yeah…I haven’t seen the actual show, but something tells me the quiz sections shouldn’t be this prominent. The game has a habit of going in a quiz-minigame-quiz-minigame pattern, though the minigames and quiz formats themselves vary. It’s possible for the game to go from having players pull a car to having them mark locations on a map of Earth. The modes are similar to each other in which you play through a series of randomly chosen minigames and quizzes, with the amount of them being the main variation. There is also a mode where you can pick whichever one you want to play. Interestingly, the mode representing the show’s structure has a unique scoring system where players can earn the same amount of points as what numbered round they’re playing. It helps allow for players falling behind to play catch-up quicker and it generally feels more rewarding when a person wins the round.

The minigames have controls that are easy enough to grasp; they all use the analog stick and the A button. For some reason, the game recommends using motion controls at times. To me, it raises the question: Why flick your arm to throw an in-game bean bag when you can get better results by just pressing a button at the right time? The motion controls aren’t too bad, but if you want to pinpoint your accuracy, button pressing is the way to go.

Unfortunately, the minigames themselves are not very fun. They are either badly put together or are just plain mundane. For example, the archery one has an awful first person view – not that it matters, since you can score big simply by pressing A at the right time anyway. Other minigames include dropping a coin through a piggy bank slot, securing a die if it rolls the right number, and whatever else that has littler depth than a mobile tap-fest. I suppose the quiz questions (which are strictly shown in German) are serviceable enough; even then, you’d have to endure a slow pace conjured by the sloppy character animations.

Multiplayer options are a thing in Schlag den Star, but I settled with a CPU for obvious reasons (not that having friends along would change my opinion of the game). The CPU can either be a worthy contender or outright braindead depending on the minigame/quiz. There were a few times where I’d leave the game alone to see if the AI would crack without my interference. Turns out I indeed won certain rounds by doing nothing! Two instances where the opponent would lend me victories include slipping up on the ladybug game and that quiz where you have to pick multiple answers.

Verdict

Yeah, it’s safe to say Schlag den Star isn’t worth getting from overseas. It’s the kind of bargain bin game that feeds into the mentality that licensed games will always suck. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever played on the Switch, but I have a hard time believing this is a retail video game made after 2002. Whether it shows through the crappy visuals or the overly simplistic minigames that somehow have gameplay issues, there’s an evident lack of care put into the game.