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Articles Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Finally Finds Their Footing with the Nintendo Switch Online App

The Nintendo Switch Online app sure is a thing that exists,” I often thought to myself. Since its September 2018 launch, the companion application to the Switch’s online service amounted to little more than mobile software fodder, what with Nintendo’s own afterthought-like support of the feature. The underwhelming app touted an unnecessarily complex and tacked-on voice chat feature as its main selling point, something fans can already accomplish on their own with simpler workarounds through the likes of Skype and Discord. It’s always left much to be desired.

Last night, however, everything changed with the formal announcement of Version 3.0 for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and our first look at the supplementary “Smash World” feature for the NSOnline app. I’m happy to say that, with Nintendo’s familiar approach for additional support behind their fastest and highest-grossing Switch title, the app might finally be worth downloading on our mobile devices at last!

Now, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t the first compatible Switch title to receive special features through the Nintendo Switch Online app, preceded by Splatoon 2 and its companion “Splat2Net.” By itself, Splat2Net is a fun little optional app that enhances the Splatoon 2 experience by allowing players to track their battle stats, order special gear, see how much ink they splatted compared to the size of real-world monuments, and then some. The main problem is that Splat2Net was all by its lonesome in the first place, carrying the Nintendo Switch Online app as its only special feature for a single specific Switch title, thereby offering very little incentive for players to bother downloading the app.

That changes with Smash World. Backed by the staggering popularity and wide-spanning appeal of Smash, Smash World may be just the thing to make players sing a different tune. One word came to my mind as yesterday’s deep dive into Version 3.0 spoke of Smash World, and that word was “Miiverse.”

Miiverse was a fun and immersive Nintendo-centric social app that was criminally held back by the Wii U’s niche appeal and short shelf life. Nonetheless, the now defunct social network was a welcome addition to the two Super Smash Bros. games at the time. With Miiverse, players were able to share and download pictures and recorded videos from brawls, their own Mii Fighters, and custom stages. Plus they could follow other users and “Yeah!” each others’ content. Naturally, this all came to an unfortunate end as Miiverse shuttered in November 2017, but Smash World is picking up right where Miiverse left off for Smash players and then some.

All of these old features have returned, but the best part is that you can now take advantage of the same features on the go from the convenience of your mobile device. When last night’s presentation revealed that I can even queue downloads for custom stages right from the app, I could not help but gawk in disbelief, realization, and then excitement. The gimmick in creating new Spirit teams from your phone is also a fun perk, but one I feel might not be as utilized in light of the overhauled social capabilities backing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, starting later tonight.

Smash World is bringing exactly what the Nintendo Switch Online app was missing, something I wanted so much without knowing it until I received it: social networking à la Miiverse to further enhance the NSOnline experience. I can concede that it may be unrealistic for every single Switch release, especially given the exponential number of games releasing on this system, but at the very least the app should strongly support Nintendo’s own online multiplayer games in a similar capacity to Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

For example, the Miiverse-like integration in Ultimate demonstrates that certain re-releases and sequels from the last generation can regain these features thought long gone. Mario Kart TV could return to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, once again giving players a proper platform to share their highlight reels and best races. A similar feature could easily be applied to Mario Tennis Aces, ARMS, and Nintendo Entertainment System NSOnline, each with their own unique flair and special features to further compliment the basic experience like dedicated tournament setups.

Hell, if Smash World will allow players to share their own unique stages, there is absolutely no way that Super Mario Maker 2 won’t do the same later this year with its own NSOnline mini-app. If anything, Super Mario Maker 2 could be the best thing that will happen to the mobile app when it comes to integrating special features. It could allow players to upvote their favorite levels, upload their own creations and download others, and comment on other users’ levels both within the game and from the comfort of the app.

In fact, why limit NSOnline to just a mobile phone app? Ease of accessibility will only lead to a wider appeal, after all, as Miiverse took further advantage of your browser with its own website — a given since it was its own little social media network. There is no reason why the complementary features within NSOnline should be limited to just an app! How much more convenient would it be if we could order special gear via Splat2Net, queue custom stage downloads via Smash World, and follow our favorite Mario Makers via a dedicated Super Mario Maker 2 mini-app all from the convenience of our computers?

Let’s be honest, we only subscribed to Nintendo Switch Online out of necessity so that we could keep playing online multiplayer games with friends. The fact that the online service itself didn’t even improve since we started paying for it only left a bad taste in our mouths, which makes the likes of Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus much more appealing in spite of their higher price points. Selective save data backups, few special offers, NES NSOnline replacing the Virtual Console, still no special game discounts, and an underwhelming smartphone app only soured that taste further.

As of tonight, however? Things might finally be taking a turn for the better. Nintendo Switch Online is finally starting to draw some appeal thanks to the inclusion of the service-exclusive Tetris 99, and from where I stand, the companion app has begun scratching the surface of its full potential at last by using Miiverse as its inspiration, and we have Smash World to thank for it. Hopefully, this momentum will carry forward into the future with NSO both as a service and as a portal continuing to improve.

But sheesh, it took them long enough!

We asked before what you thought of Nintendo Switch Online back with the service’s launch, but has your perspective on it changed in recent times? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Articles Mobile Platforms PC

The Hard Truth: Google Stadia’s All-Streaming Platform Is Not “the Future of Gaming”

I am not a gamer” probably wasn’t the best choice of words for Google CEO Sundar Pichai to open the company’s tell-all presentation at the 2019 Game Developers’ Conference yesterday. Nonetheless, there might not be words any more fitting to illustrate the mega-corporation’s foray into gaming with the reveal of their new gaming platform, dubbed “Stadia.” Unlike the big three with Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony, this aspiring fourth player is forgoing the traditional route of home consoles and intends to upend the gaming industry as we know it with an exclusively digital, streaming-based service. “The Future of Gaming” is not a claim to make lightly, so let’s take a closer look into Google Stadia and what it means to accomplish in the industry.

Google Stadia tried to make a good first impression yesterday, and on the surface level, I will say it accomplished just that. With a catchy name, simple premise, and sleek controller design, it also presented the following:

  • To the average consumer, Stadia spoke of the ability to pick up and play games off of any device that runs Google Chrome, which sounds like a great idea on paper. And not simple games like the running dinosaur when you’re not connected to the internet (more on that later), but rather big-budget AAA titles like Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and id Software’s upcoming Doom Eternal.
  • To developers, it spoke of untapped potential and no barriers. Cross-platform multiplayer, transferrable save data without console barriers, games that can host up to a thousand simultaneous players in a single lobby, a wide variety of development tools right out of the gate—if studios can think it, Stadia can make it happen.
  • To players on top of game performance and graphics, Stadia spoke of graphical prowess and visual fidelity that far outshines the high-end PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. The two most powerful consoles currently on the market were snidely referred to as being from “the last generation.” Stadia plans to run games at 4K and 60fps by default, and then evolve to the presumed future industry standards of 8K and 120+fps.
  • To content creators old and new trying to make ends meet, it spoke of integration with YouTube in recording in-game footage at 4K and 60fps, looking up walkthroughs, hosting seamless multiplayer matches, and sharing save-states with your audience. It spoke of high-quality offerings coming soon for creators to enjoy under Google’s newly founded studio, Stadia Games and Entertainment, run by former Ubisoft and Electronic Arts exec Jade Raymond.

This all sounds way too good to be true. After all, deals with the devil often come with a catch or two.

It’s clear as day what Google is poised to accomplish with Stadia. It isn’t just looking to join the big three in competing for your hard-earned dollar in the gaming industry. It isn’t just happy with YouTube Gaming playing second fiddle to Twitch, or YouTube itself simply hosting Let’s Plays and walkthroughs. It wants to become the textbook definition of gaming.

Google is attempting to paint a golden future of gaming in its own image, but all I saw during the keynote were red flags.

I admit, I love the idea of picking up and playing any game off of any device with the Chrome browser, regardless of hardware performance limitations, be it PCs, laptops, phones, or tablets. What I don’t love is how that idea is wholly dependent on my unreliable internet connection. Regardless of how Stadia struts its stuff, the promise of native 4K resolution and 60fps stability means jack if my connection isn’t smooth, let alone existent on bad days. Meanwhile, there are a ton of gamers out there who have worse experiences with internet connectivity than I do.

Additionally, Google may have the technology and be ever eager to launch it in North America and Europe later this year, but existing infrastructure and pricing models for internet connectivity, owned by oligarchic ISPs, aren’t prepared to accommodate such a radical shift. As Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad put it, it’s a matter of saving up thousands of dollars to invest in a PC or console and games, versus spending thousands on your internet bills for exceeding your cap because you spent several hours playing games on Stadia. At this point, Stadia as an avenue for gaming stops being affordable for serious but non-wealthy gamers.

This is without getting into mobile providers and their own paltry data caps, because what good is there in streaming a game on my phone when I only have so much data to go around? I’m better off staying at home and hoping my wifi doesn’t suddenly decide to shut down. Hell, what good is stable internet in this fragile political age where net neutrality can be stripped away by corporate lobbyists and their political allies, who can then hobble or cut off the average consumer’s internet without notice or reproach? They gleefully do so without shame, even while human life is threatened, such as when Verizon erroneously throttled internet connection for firefighters during the California wildfires last year. What worth does stable streaming have in such a world, and why should ISPs be trusted to not exploit Stadia?

Speaking of streaming, our next crimson banner raises the issue of Google Stadia being a stream-based digital-exclusive platform. While physical media ages and decays with the passage of time, the conveniences of digital media are hard to overlook, but consumer rights have not quite caught up with the rise of digital storefronts compared to physical products. This is not an issue exclusive to Stadia, but for the most part, you don’t own digital games at the end of the day, be it on the Nintendo eShop or your iPhone’s App Store—you purchase a license to download and access the software. While it varies by region, that typically means no refunds (what with grace periods being a very recent thing on PC), no preorder cancellations (to note, Germany has recently taken Nintendo to court over exactly that), and no trading said software licenses with other users. Plus, when a digital-only game disappears, it disappears forever if without a physical alternative, piracy notwithstanding. Titles like Konami’s P.T. demo and Ubisoft’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game are two such examples.

At the very least, if you already have a given game downloaded onto your system, the risk of losing it or having it pulled from your account is far less likely, which is more than can be said about Stadia. Google’s keynote joked about egregious download sizes on existing consoles before grandstanding on the convenience of streaming their games, but if shaky internet is one obstacle, a consumer’s already tenuous “ownership” of a digital game on Stadia is another big one. On a digital store, titles can already be pulled at any time, be it due to questionable content, expiring license agreements, a publisher pulling support altogether or filing for bankruptcy, or what have you. On any other system, if you had the hindsight of buying and downloading said game, you can still enjoy it. On a stream-based, online-only platform? It’ll be gone forever, regardless of whether Stadia may be subscription-based or its software can be “purchased.” And this is all without considering retail games with heavy monetization practices thrown into the mix.

Moving on, I find it perplexing that Google would speak highly about a symbiotic relationship between Stadia and YouTube, as though it will be this upcoming golden age of content creation and monetization for gamers. The truth of the matter is that this golden age has already come and gone, and Google has already proven time and again that it takes YouTube for granted. Ever since Google assimilated YouTube as a subsidiary in 2006, their attitude towards its userbase has been a neglectful one, to the point where YouTube seems to be flagrantly flippant towards content creators. Moderation is left to some arbitrary algorithm that constantly changes against the content creators’ wishes without warning. This, among many other issues, includes:

  • continuing to bury smaller channels and supposedly “unsafe” LGBTQA+ content while happily recommending alt-right conspiracy videos
  • falsely and randomly copyright-striking videos in a system that has no qualms about upholding the doctrine of “Fair Use,” with video game footage among the usual suspects, leading to stolen ad revenue the creator won’t ever get to reclaim
  • heavily favoring entities who flag videos with copyright violations for any reason, whether they own the source content or not, which gives victimized channels—who can’t afford to take legal action or have their appeals to YouTube denied—little recourse except to pull the video or risk having their channels deleted
  • burying videos from channels users are already subscribed to, to the point subscribers need to click on an additional bell icon just to be notified of new content from their favorite YouTubers
  • pulling monetization at random because the video suddenly isn’t deemed “advertiser-friendly,” again without proper cause

That is the platform Google wishes to piggyback Stadia onto. If gaming really is “the backbone of YouTube” as they claim, then Google should be putting more visible effort into supporting the platform in this light, rather than pay lip service and turn the other cheek. If they really want to find ways to connect to creators, they should start by properly moderating their own network with a human approach rather than operating an imperfect piece of coding analyzing content without context, which has continued to harm creators rather than support them. In this case, why should YouTubers feel confident in Stadia at all, when they always find themselves punished and undermined by the video platform they’ve been trying to support and make a living on?

The only real reason YouTube kept getting away with this for so long is because there is no viable alternative to a video platform as massive as YouTube, aside from Twitch streaming. What about the likes of Dailymotion and Vimeo, you say? Well, they certainly exist at least, but they are no competition.

Finally, Google is way too big an entity to be trusted with acting with self-accountability in perpetuity. Cynically speaking, their handling of YouTube implies that they are seemingly content with letting it stagnate for content creators while they continue to cater to the big name advertisers and cable networks. On a much more worrisome note, however, the amount of personal information Google tracks from its users should be considered uncomfortably invasive—while Google does not sell this information to outside parties and isn’t known for data breaches like, say, Facebook, how long will that accountability last? Why should we, as gamers, allow Google to further broaden the scope of their international surveillance into our consumer habits and commercial intentions unchecked?

If anything, I felt uncomfortable watching the Stadia conference unfold with that in mind. Google’s long-term plans hinge on being a one-stop-shop for all things video games. Google is painting itself as the future of gaming, and it puts the onus on its competition with their obsolete, clunky consoles of yesteryear. The Stadia is being fashioned as the Netflix to the big three’s mistakenly labeled Blockbuster, encouraging players to abandon consoles and go Google in spite of the Stadia’s own glaring shortcomings.

In short, the old adage goes “There are no stupid people—only stupid questions,” and yet Google Stadia seems to pride itself on being the answer to a question nobody posed except Google. Cloud-based, always connected, streaming-powered games may well be a future avenue of gaming, but it certainly isn’t the future. There are way too many obstacles and faults that need to be corrected both within and outside of Google before Stadia can confidently pose such an inquiry. At best, Stadia’s boasting comes off as naive in light of all of the above. At worst, it comes off as arrogant and pompous, not unlike certain crowdfunding campaign bombs such as the Ouya.

Microsoft and Sony have always been neck and neck on console performance, and seeing Google try to raise the graphical standard will only push them to do the same. Nintendo, on the other hand, has always been content to do its own thing, and this approach has paid off tremendously for them lately with the Switch. These companies aren’t going to go the way of Google Health or Google+ anytime soon, even with Google’s lofty ambition for a Chrome-powered, homogenized gaming landscape with the Stadia.

When people think “Google,” phrases often associated with the company include “innovation,” “the future,” and “that thing grandma calls the internet.” Yet all I saw was a worrying lack of self-awareness—befitting both Google’s status as one of the leaders in tech today, and Pichai’s opening line of “I am not a gamer“—in Stadia’s nascent steps. It’s heavily reminiscent of the ill-fated OnLive service, what with Google pitching Stadia to a wide crowd of developers in hopes of garnering more support for the exact same product. Hopefully for the company, those missteps won’t lead to a repeat performance, provided more concrete details come soon that could either make or break the Stadia’s enterprising appeal.

The future of gaming can include Chrome, there’s no argument against that, and I am curious about how the new studio’s first-party offerings will shape up. Despite all of its hopes, however, there is no immediate danger of Google Stadia becoming the blatant “be all, end all” of gaming that will substitute or replace the real thing anytime soon, so long as Google continues to misunderstand what gamers actually want.

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Articles Columns Nintendo Nintendo Switch Retro Wii U

Don’t Cross Your Fingers for These Wii U Games to Make the Switch

It’s been two years since the launch of the Nintendo Switch, and in that short span of time, a decent chunk of Nintendo’s key titles for the Wii U either have been ported to the hybrid or saw much more refined sequels. We’ve already spoken at length about eleven games from that system that could possibly make the switch to Switch following Super Mario Maker 2 in June, but now it’s time to take a look at the games that will more than likely be left on the cutting room floor.

These honorable mentions are the games that didn’t quite tap into their full potential, wound up as stinkers, or are so dependent on the Wii U’s dual-screen functionality that a port to the Switch would be plain impossible. Let’s take a look at the list together below!

1. Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival (2015)

After New Leaf was released onto the 3DS seven years ago, fans have been itching more and more for a new, mainline Animal Crossing, to once again experience a simulated life in a relaxed and happy neighborhood of friendly anthropomorphized animals on their home console. All the Wii U offered during its short lifespan was a poorly received party game in the form of amiibo Festival, which—as the name implies—heavily relied on the use of Animal Crossing amiibo to be played, to the point that it cannot be downloaded on its own off the eShop.

By itself, sure, the Board Festival might not be worth bringing back, but that might have only been the case because it was by itself. A party game for the series can still be fun if done right, but it alone as a spin-off will probably not appease its fans. After all, said fans have resorted to satanic summoning circles to bring about the next core Animal Crossing game.

Not to say correlation implies causation, but we are just so happening to get a core Animal Crossing title for the Nintendo Switch later this year. While some Wii U games like Smash Bros. got bigger and better sequels, I can easily see an inverse of this scenario for amiibo Festival where it could be integrated into the upcoming Animal Crossing as a bonus couch multiplayer mode to the actual game fans have waited years for. It would get all those lingering Animal Crossing amiibo off the shelves all the faster, that’s for sure!

2. Devil’s Third (2015)

“Honorable mention” is a very generous way of putting this next one.

Devil’s Third, spearheaded by former Tecmo developer and creator of Dead or Alive Tomonobu Itagaki, had a tumultuous production period under Valhalla Game Studio. Development began with the studio’s founding in 2008. A game of hot potato in securing a publishing deal saw the title change hands between Microsoft Game Studios, THQ right before it capsized, South Korean studio Doobic before it also went bankrupt, and then finally Nintendo, when the latter had been in desperate need of new games for the stagnating Wii U.

The game was critically panned once it came westward and was considered to be one of the worst games of 2015. Its release was poorly supported by Nintendo of America, and saw little promotion and few copies printed. Hell, the American branch even considered withdrawing publishing support altogether before launch, unlike its Japanese and European bodies. Its poor reception was pegged to its campaign, inconsistent framerate, graphical presentation, and microtransaction-heavy online multiplayer, though some critics did give Devil’s Third credit for its presentation and gameplay. The online multiplayer was later available as a free-to-play PC title in Japan as Devil’s Third Online under a different publisher in 2016, but it shuttered less than a year later.

With the Switch hosting as ample a library as it has now, I doubt that Nintendo would reach out to secure a port for one of the Wii U’s biggest flops. Itagaki did say he envisioned a trilogy for the franchise, though. Maybe with a bit of extra elbow grease in development and an olive branch extended by another publisher, he could find some life left in Devil’s Third yet.

3. Nintendo Land (2012) + Game & Wario (2013)

I’m grouping these two together as they share one same problem I touched upon earlier, so my thoughts will be very brief.

Nintendo Land (a cute little launch title revolving around a topically Nintendo-themed amusement park) and Game & Wario (the Wii U’s own WarioWare minigame collection) are essentially glorified tech demos. With both games revolving nigh entirely around simultaneous GamePad and TV screen interaction, a Switch port for either is an outright impossibility due to their strict dual-screen gameplay mechanics and asymmetrical multiplayer appeal. The same can also be said of smaller party games on the Wii U, like Wii Sports Club, Wii Party U, and Sing Party, though I doubt many tears would be shed for these losses.

While we can certainly count on a possible new WarioWare for the Switch (with more than 16 microgames, please), I do hope some of the ideas and minigames in Nintendo Land can be salvaged for a future title, or—better yet—as their own bite-sized games available off of the Switch’s eShop.

4. Paper Mario: Color Splash (2016)

The Wii U’s swan song before the launch of Breath of the Wild, Paper Mario: Color Splash was effectively the last major Nintendo game released exclusively for the platform. It was, in many ways, a step up from the dismal Sticker Star for 3DS, featuring better presentation, writing, and music, but it was also more of the same with a half-baked, tedious, and ultimately unrewarding battle system.

Like the 3DS prequel, the battle system was meant to take advantage of the dual-screen nature of the system, revolving around single-use cards to execute attacks. Players would have to sift through their assortment of cards on the GamePad, color them in, and then flick them back to the main screen. The way the battling gameplay works would be too cluttered and drawn out if shunted into a single screen system like the Switch.

Unfortunately, the future of Paper Mario looks bleak. Despite the better critical reception compared to its predecessor, Color Splash sold poorly. All eyes were already on the recently unveiled Switch, and fans who were burned by Sticker Star steered well clear of its immediate sequel. The absolute last thing we would want Nintendo to glean from this is to assume fans don’t want Paper Mario anymore, especially as they strayed further and further away from the RPG formula we grew up with and loved with more “experimental” games. As excellent as the Mario & Luigi games are, there can be room for more than one role-playing Mario series in their wheelhouse.

We just want Mario Story again, damn it.

5. Star Fox Zero + Star Fox Guard (2016)

I deliberated hard on which Wii U list I would put the PlatinumGames-co-developed Star Fox Zero and its companion title Star Fox Guard. After thinking on it for a long while, I’ve concluded that Zero and Guard have probably been written off by Nintendo as possible Switch ports, and I have three reasons as to why that might be the case.

First reason comes down to the game’s… unique control scheme. While most of the stages are traversed from start to finish in traditional Star Fox fashion, the tedious dependency on the GamePad for aiming and shooting enemies might make retooling the entire experience for the single-screen Switch be a bit more trouble than its worth. As for Guard, the constant switching between displays for invading robots would probably be too clunky on a single screen.

Second reason revolves around the very identity of the game, let alone an identity crisis for the Star Fox series as of late. A hypothetical Star Fox Zero on Switch would essentially make it a Switch re-release of a Wii U reboot, following a 3DS remake of a Nintendo 64 re-imagining based on the SNES original. That’s about half the games in the franchise revolving around the same premise. At this point, Star Fox fans—myself included—want something new for a change.

This brings us to reason number three.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas, for many, is scratching that itch of a new Star Fox experience in an unlikely toys-to-life crossover none had seen coming. While a multiplatform title, the Switch version outsold its other iterations by leaps and bounds. It lucks out all the more with special content including Fox McCloud himself as a playable character, complete with his own customizable Arwing and unique missions. And if that’s not enough, Falco, Peppy, and Slippy will join the fun in a free update coming in April.

At least for now, we know Star Fox is in good hands at Ubisoft in the short term, but if Platinum and Nintendo do somehow make a Star Fox Zero + Guard port work for the Switch in spite of my skepticism, I know I’ll certainly be picking it up.


While the sun may set forever on these Wii U entries, we can always cross our fingers for sequels to shine in their place on the Switch.

We finally have the new console Animal Crossing we had dreamed for years coming later this year, and while we have some Star Fox content on the system, I hope the stars will align for a bonafide game to drop sooner rather than later. It’s been a long time since Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door launched on the GameCube, and the games that followed still fail to capture that same magic it refined following Paper Mario 64. With Wario, we know it’s only a matter of time before he shows up with another moneymaking microgame scheme, and hopefully Nintendo Land doesn’t spell the last we see of Monita and her theme park attractions based on our favorite franchises.

And then there’s Devil’s Third.

…yeah I’ve got nothing else to add.

Articles Columns Nintendo Nintendo Switch Retro Wii U

Expect These 11 Wii U Games to Make the Switch to Switch

The ill-fated Wii U had a number of issues that held it back from achieving the unreal commercial success of its revolutionary predecessor, the Wii. Right out of the gate, consumers were confused over the branding and questioned whether the “Wii U” was only a GamePad peripheral for the Wii; the system itself was heavily marketed toward young children and their parents, which didn’t help in furthering the old stigma “Nintendo makes kiddie games”; its unique hardware made it difficult for third parties to develop or port their own games onto the console. So on and so forth.

For all its quirks and woes, however, there was one thing that couldn’t be taken away from the Wii U. That is its own little library of quality, must-have video games that helped the little system that couldn’t stand out as long as it did. Nowadays, rather than sinking into obscurity forever, more and more of the Wii U’s greatest hits are seeing either a renewed shelf life or their legacy refined on Nintendo’s landmark hybrid system: the Switch.

Since the Switch’s launch, Nintendo has kept a steady stream of big name titles releasing on a near-monthly basis, and to further pad out this nigh consistent stream of heavy hitters, the gaming giant has since been porting some of their best work over from the Wii U. Games such as Mario Kart 8 and Hyrule Warriors came roaring back with a vengeance, packed with all the downloadable content from their last go-around under one deluxe, definitive package. Some, like the over-the-top Bayonetta 2 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (with extra Funky Kong action!), finally got the opportunity to shine on a brighter stage compared to their previous shot under a dimmer limelight.

Then there are those—like Splatoon, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and Super Mario Maker—that weren’t ported, but were instead followed by amazing sequels that completely blow the Wii U originals out of the water in almost every conceivable regard. Enter Splatoon 2, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and the recently revealed Super Mario Maker 2.

The Nintendo Switch launched in early 2017, and we’ve only just broken into 2019 with a good chunk of the Wii U must-haves already brought over. But we’re still missing a few key titles. That’s why I took the liberty of looking at all of Nintendo’s major releases on the Wii U that hadn’t yet gotten the port treatment and determined which titles I feel are more likely to make the switch to the Switch in the future.

For simplicity’s sake, we won’t go over Wii U eShop releases like Dr. Luigi and Pushmo World, nor will we discuss third-party games.

Let’s check out our possible ports-to-be!

1. Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water (2015)

The Switch has a niche little library of horror games, including Bandai Namco’s Little Nightmares, Red Barrels’ Outlast, and the growing presence of Capcom’s Resident Evil series. Few recall, however, that Nintendo has a little horror franchise of its own, and no, I’m not talking about Luigi’s Mansion.

Fatal Frame is a mature series of survival horror games co-owned by Koei Tecmo and Nintendo, with the crux of the gameplay revolving around using the Camera Obscura to fend off evil marauding spirits. Naturally, the Camera Obscura as a concept was a perfect fit for the Wii U GamePad, as demonstrated in the fifth installment of the series: Maiden of Black Water. This allowed the player to explore the haunted Mt. Hikami with the Camera in their own hands, using the GamePad’s gyroscope function to aim the lens around and take exorcizing snapshots.

While Fatal Frame 5 did utilize dual screen gameplay as its main draw, players are granted the option to play somewhat traditionally just as in past games via a single screen, with the camera viewpoint front and center when drawn out. With some minor adjustments to the UI, the game could function on Switch with a single screen just fine. Ubisoft had done the same when porting ZombiU to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, under the more appropriately titled “Zombi.”

With that said, while Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water could be ported to the Switch without a technical hitch, the original Wii U game did not launch under the most favorable circumstances internationally. Mixed critical reception aside, the game was doomed to a smaller audience in North America with an eShop-only release (further putting off potential players with nearly 14GB of data), so overseas demand for Fatal Frame Switch might be pretty minimal as is.

Will we ever see Black Water get ported, or will a new Fatal Frame entry take its place? Only time will tell.

2. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (2015)

Will it be tricky to pull off? Maybe. Is it outright impossible? I certainly don’t think so.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse was the super tuff pink puff’s only outing on the Wii U. For the GamePad-powered system, it was a perfect fit for the adorably claymation-stylized sequel to the Nintendo DS title Kirby: Canvas Curse, which saw the player use the console’s stylus to draw paths for the ball form-locked Kirby to follow.

While the Switch should have no trouble running the game, the stylus-dependent controls for Rainbow Curse risk being lost in translation, as there is no stylus marketed for or packaged with the Switch. That said, any old capacitive stylus that can be used for smartphones should be able to interact with the Switch’s touchscreen just fine, should a player not want to use their own fingers to smudge up the screen at least.

This, at least immediately, solves the problem from a portable perspective, but that still leaves some questions for Docked mode. There is no second screen in your hands to draw lines onto while Kirby rolls along on the main display, but that doesn’t mean there are no alternatives available. Motion control with the Joy-Con could simulate the same experience of drawing lines to make paths for Kirby if calibrated properly. Failing that, a traditional control scheme would simply allow players to draw lines by holding down a button and guiding an on-screen stylus with the circle pad.

And should that fail, the game could simply be re-released as a Handheld/Tabletop-exclusive via the eShop. It wouldn’t be the first digital-only Kirby title!

3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (2016)

2017 saw the simultaneous launch of the Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In 2018, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition followed. This year marks a full-blown remake of 1993’s Link’s Awakening, leaving the confines of the Game Boy. At this rate, annual Zelda releases for the system are likely to be expected, with two games on the sidelines ready to fill such a role.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess first launched for the Nintendo GameCube and Wii in 2006, with developer Tantalus assisting in porting the game to Wii U ten years later. The proof is already there that the game can function just fine without the GamePad, while a possible Switch re-release could keep some of the quality of life adjustments that were made before, such as the Ghost Lantern, Wolf Link transformation being tied to a single button, and the reduced number of Tears of Light to collect.

If there is one thing that I would change, it would surely be the glaring accessibility issue surrounding the Cave of Shadows. The Wolf Link-exclusive gauntlet came with the Wii U version of the game, but it was tied exclusively to the Wolf Link amiibo, thus barring off players who hadn’t been so lucky in procuring one of their own. Perhaps this bonus dungeon could be made available to non-Wolf Link amiibo owners as a late game reward—thus allowing them to obtain the Colossal Wallet—and the amiibo would simply give players immediate access like in the original re-release.

Plus, a Wolf Link reprint would give players another chance at having the lupine hero accompany Link in Breath of the Wild and boost its health via the Cave of Shadows subsequently—a Switch re-release would save players the trouble of procuring a Wii U for it.

4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (2013)

As for the other mainline Zelda to hit the Wii U, it’s another remaster. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD brought a few improvements to the GameCube original that should definitely stick around for a hypothetical Switch re-release. Personally, I can’t imagine a Wind Waker anymore without the Swift Sail, a reduced reliance on Triforce Chart decryption, and a toggleable Hero Mode.

There are also certain features a Wind Waker HD re-release could take advantage of that weren’t present in the original Wii U launch. As the game preceded the rise of amiibo, a Switch version could easily make use of the litany of Zelda amiibo already available on the market, at the very least replicating their functionality from Twilight Princess HD: Link amiibo refilling arrows, Zelda amiibo refilling hearts or magic, Ganondorf amiibo doubling damage (which could stack on Hero Mode), and so on. Perhaps there could be a special use for the Wind Waker-themed amiibo as well!

Plus, with the Nintendo Switch embracing social media interaction through direct Facebook and Twitter posting, it gives players all the more reason to take dumb selfies with the enhanced Picto Box, just as they have recently done with the Sheikah Slate in Breath of the Wild. The only real casualty to a Wind Waker HD Switch version would be the Tingle Bottle item, as it relied on Miiverse for players to exchange bottled messages through the now defunct service. I wonder what Tingle would hand you as a reward for breaking him out of jail at that point… Perhaps something involving functionality with a brand new golden Tingle amiibo?

It would be cool if Nintendo threw together a Zelda compilation for the Switch at some point down the road, or at least packaged these two together to make the wait for the rumored Skyward Sword HD that much shorter. But that’s a whole other topic for another day.

5. NES Remix Pack (2014)

Well, why not?

Not quite an alternative to the old Virtual Console at the time, NES Remix & NES Remix 2 were great tributes to the vintage titles from the dawn of home video game consoles. With challenges pulled from a combined 28 NES titles, the compilation saw players complete missions based on spliced moments of gameplay, or “remixes,” that changed up a given title or mashed it up with another. An example of the latter saw Kirby face off against Whispy Woods à la Kirby’s Adventure with a ton of Boos closing in every time he looks away, or Link climbing the steel beams of Donkey Kong without being able to jump over the barrels.

A Switch re-release would be pretty novel, and trying to beat other players’ records on the online leaderboard would be fun. That said, the inclusion of multiplayer-centric remixes would certainly go a long way what with the Switch’s multiplayer appeal.

All that’s left to tie the package up would, of course, be the inclusion of both Super Luigi Bros. from the Wii U version, as well as Speed Mario Bros. and the Famicom remixes from Ultimate NES Remix on 3DS, and then we are golden.

Failing that, if Nintendo were to consider a possible SNES Remix

6. Pikmin 3 (2013)

The ever elusive fourth installment in the Pikmin series continues to sit in this weird limbo of being “almost complete” and “not a priority.” Should the day Pikmin 4 finally touches down on our planet still elude us further into the unknown future, the next best thing would be to port Alph’s foray on the Wii U over in the meantime.

Pikmin 3 put three new Koppaite astronauts center stage—the aforementioned Alph, joined by Brittany and Charlie—on their desperate quest to save their home planet from famine. The game launched fairly early in the Wii U’s lifespan in July 2013, but it did benefit from extra downloadable content in the form of extra map packs up towards the end of the year. Naturally, a Nintendo Switch version would package the game with all the old DLC included, just as existing Wii U to Switch ports have done before it, so newcomers wouldn’t have to miss out on the definitive edition of Pikmin 3.

While the Wii U GamePad provided some added functionality to the game via the conspicuously familiar-looking KopPad, a port to the Nintendo Switch would thankfully be relatively seamless, as the game was perfectly playable to completion via Off-Tv Play in the past. With the Switch’s ability to play games on the go, we would finally get a bonafide portable Pikmin game!

7. Super Mario 3D World (2013)

There is absolutely no way Super Mario 3D World isn’t already destined for the Nintendo Switch. The writing on the wall is as clear as day.

First, the famous plumber’s other big adventures on Wii U have already been ported to Switch. We’ve got New Super Mario Bros. U plus New Super Luigi U, Super Mario Maker getting a sequel this summer that will include 3D World content, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker—itself being a spinoff of 3D World based on the Captain Toad stages. This all leaves 3D World as the only mainline Super Mario game remaining. If Super Mario Odyssey‘s number of units sold is of any indication—it sits quite comfortably as the second bestselling game on the Switch thus far, with nearly 14 million units—we can assume that Switch owners love 3D Mario.

Second, I shouldn’t even have to mention how the game’s four-player co-op already lends itself well to one of the Nintendo Switch’s selling points, being immediate multiplayer access thanks to the Joy-Con. Two players can sit down and enjoy the game together as one of four playable characters, each based off of their portrayals in Super Mario Bros. 2 way back in the day. Mario the all-rounder, Luigi the high jumper, Peach the floater, and Toad the quickster are all here, present and accounted for, with new power-ups like the wall-scaling Cat Suit and the duplicating Double Cherry.

There’s not much I can think of that needs to be added to a Super Mario 3D World Switch port, save for the cut 3D World stages from the Switch release of Captain Toad in favor of Odyssey-themed maps. The vanilla game was perfect already, although some stages that required GamePad functionality (be it via the touchscreen or blowing into the microphone) will definitely need fine-tuning.

8. Tokyo Mirage SessionsFE (2016)

Many a developer has hopped onto the Nintendo Switch gravy train, and while Atlus is a big name who remains mysteriously absent thus far, a big splash from the SEGA-owned subsidiary is still to be expected on the horizon. We know Shin Megami Tensei V is on the way as a Switch exclusive, but likely not for a long while yet, given it has only entered full-scale development around this time last year. A Persona 5 port to the system could be a very real possibility in the near future, as Joker will be stealing the show as a new fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate within the two months, and we’re expecting big P5 news in the coming weeks.

With Fire Emblem: Three Houses set to launch in July, we probably won’t be entertaining this idea for a little while, but there is little reason to object against Nintendo and Atlus porting Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE onto the Switch at some point down the line. This interesting experiment of a four-way SMT, Persona, Fire Emblem, and J-Pop idol culture crossover was a must for RPG lovers on the Wii U, though its niche appeal (coupled with the poor sales performance of the Wii U) did no favors in boosting its visibility.

The GamePad was responsible for a few special features, but nothing that can’t be relegated back onto a single screen with the Switch. The map can be displayed on another corner of the UI, and the Topic social app could be accessed via the pause menu. Package in the Costume and Hunter Pack DLCs, and a Switch port of Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE would be ready to go!

…that, and maybe with an English dub this time around.

9. The Wonderful 101 (2013)

With Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 behind us, plus the surprise Astral Chain and the anticipated Bayonetta 3 down the line, PlatinumGames has settled itself quite comfortably as a developer for the Nintendo Switch. While we know of two upcoming titles, there is one other possibility—another possible Wii U port that could make a wonderful addition to the Switch’s expanding library.

The Wonderful 101 brought champions of justice to the Wii U with a mixture of Saturday morning cartoon superheroics and that unmistakable Platinum flair, gaining itself a dedicated cult following that persists to this day. Despite its heavy reliance on the GamePad at the time, we know the game could be played traditionally via the Wii U Pro Controller in co-op mode, so any technical hurdles that might seem impossible for a Wii U-to-Switch transition should be a non-issue.

We know that PlatinumGames may have teased The Wonderful 101 for Switch in the past and that the studio has discussed the matter with Nintendo behind closed doors. Producer Atsushi Inaba also stated that he would love to see a Switch port come to fruition. So the question remains: will Wonder-Red and the Wonderful Ones be called on to Unite-Morph once more and fight off the looming Geathjerk threat?

We can only hope that day will come again soon.

10. Xenoblade Chronicles X (2015)

Xenoblade Chronicles came from humble beginnings on the Wii as a spiritual successor to Monolith Soft’s earlier works, before the developer became a Nintendo subsidiary. Since then, the series had grown and evolved considerably, leading up to the million-seller RPG that capped off the Nintendo Switch’s launch year: Xenoblade Chronicles 2. With its expansion pass promises fulfilled and the prequel Torna ~ The Golden Country released last year, this might be all we’re seeing for Xenoblade for a while, as the next new installment is a long ways away with development on a new RPG only just getting off the ground.

If only there were another entry in the series to tide Switch-owning Xenoblade fans over… Oh wait, there is!

Monolith Soft CEO Tetsuya Takahashi has spoken at length on how he wishes to port the more sci-fi-oriented Xenoblade Chronicles X over from the Wii U. Unlike the other games on this list, however, the challenge in porting XCX to Switch is much more obvious. The game is incredibly massive for a Nintendo title—the Wii U barely broke even to run it on its own in whatever format the game is obtained. Physical copies of X strongly suggested downloadable data packs to lessen the strain in properly rendering everything in-game, while the digital version of the entire game nearly takes up all the room in the deluxe Wii U’s hard drive, weighing over 20GB. In short, the game is very technically demanding.

Not to say the undertaking is outright impossible if we’re only looking at gigs, but it would be a hell of a behemoth to fit in a small Nintendo Switch cartridge. Whatever the case, I would love to once again journey planet Mira as my own custom avatar with Hiroyuki Sawano’s music backing the action, if it means I can do it all again in the comfort of my Skell from the comfort of my own bed.

The wind blows hard in December…~

11. Yoshi’s Woolly World (2015)

Perhaps it is too soon to think about our final port, what with Yoshi’s Crafted World coming out at the end of the month. Still, I would like to end the list on a high note with this utterly adorable game. I think platformer fans will want to sink their teeth into this one after finishing its aforementioned successor in March.

A spiritual successor to Good-Feel’s 2010 tight-knit Wii title Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Yoshi’s Woolly World wove together a cutesy world of yarn and cloth, patched with the familiar gameplay stylings of Yoshi’s Island. As players ventured through each world in their quest to stop Kamek and Baby Bowser’s villainous plot, they could swap out their Yoshi’s color pattern outside of the basic green, pink, or blue hue with more thematic patterns. These patterns ranged from themes such as Burt the Bashful and cows to ones based off of previous Nintendo hardware.

Woolly World also had the cutest application of amiibo compatibility I’ve seen yet, allowing players to change up their Yoshi’s color pattern to that of the corresponding character: be it a mustachioed Mario Yoshi, a speedy Sonic the Hedgehog Yoshi (down to the red sneakers), or a fresh-looking Inkling Girl Yoshi. The 2017 3DS port Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World took this concept a step further by allowing players to create and share their own custom patterns.

All we need now is a definitive release for the Switch, bringing in the extra features introduced in the 3DS version into an HD console experience. Yes, I would absolutely triple dip for this game!


Nintendo’s triumphs these days stem from a textbook corporate example of lessons learned, as their many missteps with the Wii U have since been corrected with the runaway success that is a true hybrid console experience provided by the Switch. Ever since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the company has made a strong point in ensuring their games from the last generation were not punished for their shortcomings. This has only served to increase the appeal of the Switch with a meaty line-up of quality games partly made up of yesteryear’s greatest hits.

While I scoped Nintendo’s remaining Wii U offerings on whether they may be ported to the Switch during its projected long lifespan, I would like to know what you think. Do you agree with my analysis on which games might make the cut, or did I miss any in particular? Are there any third-party entries that should also make the jump from the Wii U to Switch? Better yet, what other Switch ports from different systems altogether would you want to see?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and come back soon as we’ll discuss why some other Wii U games might not be as lucky.

Articles PlayStation 4 Xbox One

We Need to Stop Overhyping Games Like We Did With Kingdom Hearts III

Fans have waited so long for Kingdom Hearts III. The last main entry in the series, Kingdom Hearts II, released 13 years ago so there was a ton of hype being built around the newest game. For over a decade, Square Enix focused on meaningless side games and rereleases as we patiently waited for the true sequel to one of the greatest games of our childhood.

But there are some glaring issues with what I just said, right? There have actually been six major Kingdom Hearts titles since 2006, all of which include major story details that are relevant to the overall story of Kingdom Hearts III and future games in the series. The most recent addition to the main story only released two years ago.

Despite Square’s best effort, a lot of the “spinoff” Kingdom Hearts games did end up getting ignored by a large portion of Kingdom Hearts III players. Because of this, there are a ton of people that are blasting the game for not staying true to the franchise or for simply coming up short of expectations.

Okay, so a minority of players that haven’t kept up over the years are feeling left behind. Surely the people that followed along love the game, right? Unfortunately, the reception has been mixed. A good portion of diehard Kingdom Hearts fans have all brought up a similar feeling of disappointment after the game released.

So is the game just bad? I don’t think so. Kingdom Hearts III released to critical acclaim like almost every other entry in the series. As a fan of the series, I had a fantastic time.

So what is it about this one that didn’t sit so well with other people? Well, even those that have been with the series for every game have waited seven years for a full-sized Kingdom Hearts experience. With that kind of a wait time, some people are bound to set high expectations.

I think everyone had their own idea of what Kingdom Hearts III would be. Because of this and the long development cycle, a lot of hype was built up around everyone’s hopes rather than what we were being shown and told. I think that’s a horrible mistake to make as a community.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve undoubtedly seen that I’m upset with the Kingdom Hearts community, especially when it comes to people complaining about elements of the series that have basically become staples by this point. Things like awkward dialogue and the unimportance of Disney stories are valid complaints to have about Kingdom Hearts, but it’s insane to imply the other games handled it any better.

At that point, one thing became clear: Kingdom Hearts II is beloved by many gamers who have spent the last decade turning it inside out. For many, it’s their favorite game ever and I think these people were hoping to find a similar feeling with Kingdom Hearts III. It’s great to want that, but I don’t think we should expect that as fans.

Kingdom Hearts has been evolving as a series since 2006. Many new gameplay systems and story elements have been introduced since then, so I think it’s a little unrealistic to want Kingdom Hearts III to return to something that feels like you’re stepping right back into the last decade.

Let’s think of an alternate scenario for a moment. What if Kingdom Hearts III was nearly identical to Kingdom Hearts II? The game would have opened with 0.2, make you spend about one hour in each Disney world, send you to an original world where Final Fantasy characters interacted with you as five hours of exposition get dumped on you, spend another half hour in Disney world with some filler to get you to the proper level for the final fight, and then the game would have dumped the last five hours of plot on you.

Let’s say this game has snappier combat, dual wielding keyblades, and you can fight Sephiroth as an extra boss. What would people say about it? Would you enjoy it more? This game works pretty much exactly like Kingdom Hearts II but with all the worlds and story of III. Honestly, I think it would have been hated just as much.

You might think that’s crazy because that’s what everyone wanted, right? I don’t think that would go over well. Do you all remember what everyone said about The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess when it came out? People loved it. The game is very similar to Ocarina of Time but pumps everything up to 11.

But how is Twilight Princess remembered now? It’s not a bad game, but it’s often referred to as a clone of Ocarina of Time. It’s criticized for playing it safe and sticking to an old formula. Which game is remembered more fondly? I would argue Ocarina of Time is favored over Twilight Princess despite the latter doing most of the same things but arguably better.

So just like Twilight Princess shouldn’t have tried to chase after Ocarina of Time‘s nostalgia, I’m glad Kingdom Hearts III didn’t just rehash the same elements of Kingdom Hearts II. Does that mean it will be remembered more? That’s yet to be seen and it’s honestly hard to tell.

But if we keep using the Zelda analogy, I think I may have a theory. After the release of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, fans were waiting patiently for an amazing, realistic Zelda game for the Nintendo GameCube. We all know what came next.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was released to positive critical reception, but the fans were not having any of it. The visual style was too different, and the game was just way too different than Ocarina. Now let’s think about how Wind Waker holds up to Twilight Princess in 2019. I would argue more fans like Wind Waker now.

Again, I’m not sure how Kingdom Hearts III will be viewed in ten years. But I hope my explanations and analogies helped you see that overhyping a game can be dangerous. If you expect too much of one thing and get a surprise like Wind Waker, you’ll just end up having a bad time. If you ask too much for the same, you’ll get an underwhelming experience that feels like more of the same, much like Twilight Princess.

So when the next Kingdom Hearts is inevitably announced, don’t expect it to be like any of the other games before it. That way you can look at it as its own thing. It’s much better to be excited or disappointed about a game for what it is rather than what it is not.

Articles Nintendo Nintendo Switch

​Tetris 99 Makes Having Nintendo Switch Online Finally Worth It

Ever since it officially launched, I’ve been fairly critical of Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo’s answer to Microsoft’s Xbox Live and Sony’s PlayStation Plus. I find the NES lineup to be mostly lackluster, despite the inclusion of classic titles such as The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., and Metroid. Even the ability to play multiplayer with your friends isn’t a major selling point for me, seeing as I prefer single-player experiences. Aside from the occasional friendly (or not-so-friendly) bouts of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the value of Nintendo’s online service just isn’t there for me. At least, it wasn’t until the launch of Tetris 99.

With Battle Royale games being all the rage right now, games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite, and Apex Legends are finding massive success. Whereas all of these games are shooters, the most recent entrant into the genre spins into a new style: puzzles. During the Nintendo Direct this past Wednesday, Nintendo announced Tetris 99 (a Battle Royale version of the timeless puzzle classic, Tetris), which launched shortly after the presentation concluded. As the name suggests, you’re dropped into a virtual colosseum along with 98 other players. In order to survive, you must outlast your opponents by, well… playing Tetris.

The core mechanics of the game remain the same. As Tetriminos fall from the top of your playing field, you can rotate them in order to lock them in place at the bottom of the screen. Making a line of blocks clears the line, causing the stack of pieces above it to fall down. Clearing lines is essential, as if your tower extends past the top of the field, you lose. To increase the challenge, the blocks start falling at increasing velocities over time, making it that much more critical to think on your feet and react to what the game throws at you.

Tetris 99 isn’t the first time Tetris has gone multiplayer. If you’ve ever participated in a Tetris battle, you’ll know that line clearing does more than just prolong your life. The act of clearing lines doubles as both an offensive and defensive tactic. At a basic level, the more lines you clear, the more garbage gets sent to the other player, thus pushing their tower closer to the death threshold. Defensively, if garbage is waiting to be placed on your playing field, clearing lines acts as an eraser, wiping out at least some of the impending doom hanging over your head.

These mechanics lie at the core of Tetris 99, with the extra ability to target specific players. If you’re good at multitasking, you can specifically target any player in the game (though you don’t know who they are—you only see their Tetris board) by using the left stick or touchscreen. For those focused more on the actual Tetris field, you can also tell the game to target one of four groups of players: those close to death, those who have killed off the most players, anybody attacking you, or any random player. Proficient use of this system can make or break your game. Without getting too far into the other mechanics, Tetris 99 has some additional aspects that aren’t made clear by the game (this is really the only major fault I have with it), but which can significantly boost your chances of winning as well.

Unfortunately, being an online, multiplayer-only title, Tetris 99 requires a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online. However, Tetris is one of my all time favorite games, so I absolutely had to bite the bullet and resubscribe to the service so I could check it out. I’m glad I did. I’ve only played a few hours’ worth of Tetris 99 so far, but I find it increasingly hard to put down. Two-player Tetris can already get intense, but the addition of 97 other players cranks it up to a level I’ve never before experienced. I tend to rank somewhere in the 30-40th place range, but once I tasted my first top 10 finish, I knew I had to keep going until I got that sweet, sweet victory.

And win I did. It was easily one of the most satisfying multiplayer moments I’ve ever experienced. After being slammed with garbage from my few remaining opponents, I found myself with a completely full playing field, barring the one square in each row I needed in order to clear that line. Thankfully, the game isn’t over until you lock a piece above the threshold, and with only one piece remaining until my demise, I avoided the only piece I couldn’t use. What happened next was 20 seconds of nothing short of pure magic as I miraculously cleared line after line, bumping up my combo meter with each clear. By the time I had cleared half of my tower, the game stopped. I had done it. I won.

I’m not afraid to admit that when I saw that 1st place ranking, I wept. For the briefest of moments, I was on top of the world. My thirst for victory was quenched, or so I thought. Quickly I realized something had changed. No longer was I satisfied with just one win. I wanted more. I needed more. And that’s where I find myself as I write this.

It’s surreal that I find myself speaking with such adoration for a multiplayer title, but Tetris 99 is definitely worth all the praise I can give it. Not in a very long time have I been this enthralled by a multiplayer game. It’s now the sole reason I plan on keeping my subscription to Nintendo Switch Online active. I’ve paid a lot more for games that I only wind up experiencing a fraction of, simply because I ignore the multiplayer component of them. But for half the price of a new game, I have access to one of the best multiplayer experiences I’ve ever had for a year. With more content planned for the future too, it’s well worth the price of admission to satiate my yearning for the thrill of one more kill. Just one question remains though—where am I dropping?

Articles Columns Nintendo Nintendo Switch

The Troubled Tale of Retro Studios and Metroid Prime 4

Today Metroid fans woke up to a shocking video from Nintendo that somehow managed to disappoint and exhilarate them at the same time. Nintendo Senior Managing Executive Officer Shinya Takahashi announced that all the hard work Nintendo has put into Metroid Prime 4 over the past two years is being scrapped and the project is starting over from scratch. However, this reboot will be handled by Retro Studios, the team behind the original Metroid Prime Trilogy. How in the world did this all come to be, and what does it mean for the future of the game?

Retro Studios was once an independent developer with numerous projects in the works. Nintendo saw their potential and acquired the company, re-purposing them as a first-party Nintendo studio focused on making 3D Metroid games. They developed three entries in the Metroid Prime series under producer Kensuke Tanabe with some oversight by Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto early on. The trilogy of games received critical acclaim, and the first Prime game remains the highest-selling entry in the franchise to date.

After this, Tanabe moved Retro over to another classic Nintendo franchise in need of a revival: Donkey Kong Country. Without Retro to develop the next 3D Metroid, Nintendo turned to Yoshio Sakamoto (a co-creator of the 2D Metroid franchise) and Team Ninja. The result was Metroid: Other M, a game that saw mixed reviews and sales so poor that it quickly found itself in the bargain bin at most retailers. Meanwhile, Retro continued their streak of impressive marks with the well-received Donkey Kong Country Returns and its successor, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. After the latter game launched in early 2014, the studio went almost entirely silent.

During this quiet period, drama was unfolding behind the scenes. Tanabe left Retro Studios and teamed up with Next Level Games to create Metroid Prime: Federation Force, a spin-off title that launched to mediocre review scores and abysmally low sales numbers. According to a detailed report from Liam Robertson, Tanabe’s departure from Retro wasn’t exactly on great terms.

According to Robertson’s sources, working under Tanabe was no picnic. He was a tough boss who was known to “explode with great passion” if a developer made a mistake or challenged one of his creative decisions. However, this authoritarian style alone wasn’t enough to cause a rift, as his subordinates viewed him as a competent leader. What caused Retro and Tanabe to have a falling out was the level of control he maintained. Retro staff believed they had earned the right to have a little more creative freedom, but all of their decisions had to go through Tanabe first before being relayed to Nintendo executives in Japan, and he wasn’t as receptive to their ideas as they would have liked.

As a result, Nintendo reportedly pulled Tanabe away from Retro Studios in 2014, shortly after the release of Tropical Freeze. He had apparently butted heads with Retro staff throughout the game’s development, compelling Nintendo to find him a new team to manage. This gave Retro the extra freedom they so desperately desired. So what did they do with it? And what would become of 3D Metroid after the failure of Federation Force?

Nintendo and Retro have given us zero official hints about Retro’s activity over the past five years, but reports have leaked out in the meantime. Last year numerous sources claimed that Retro Studios was working on a Star Fox racing game, and Eurogamer stepped forward to corroborate them. But was Retro really working on a racing game for five years? Perhaps not. The same day that the Star Fox racing story surfaced, Kotaku and Game Informer reported that Retro canceled one of their games after development went south. Kotaku believed this project to be separate from the rumored Star Fox game, while Game Informer wasn’t sure either way.

So has Retro been secretly developing multiple projects? If so, that would seem to be a relatively recent development. Eric Kozlowsky served as an Environmental Artist at Retro Studios from 2011 till August of 2015. Following today’s breaking news, he tweeted outUnless Retro has grown to a two game studio since I left, I guess this means the game I was working on when I left in Aug 2015 is’t happening anymore? I honestly have no clue. Excited for everyone there though! I know they’ll do an amazing job!” As of August 2015, Retro apparently only had one game in development, although we still don’t know if it was the Star Fox racing project or something else entirely. For what it’s worth, Kozlowsky was silent on Twitter when the rumors about Retro and Star Fox circulated last year.

Whatever the case may be, Retro has spent five years working on something (or some things) and they still have nothing to show to the public. Meanwhile, the 3D Metroid series has struggled in their absence. Nintendo knew they had let fans down with Other M and Federation Force, and they wanted to earn back some goodwill. Because of this, they showed up to E3 2017 with a short teaser trailer promising Metroid Prime 4 for Switch. Nintendo later admitted that the game was still in the earliest stages of development, but they couldn’t resist whetting the appetites of their disappointed but faithful fans.

After E3, Nintendo confirmed that Tanabe was leading the charge on Metroid Prime 4, working with “a talented new development team.” Nintendo wouldn’t reveal their identity, but they were likely unmasked early last year. The speculation began when a Lead Designer at Bandai Namco Singapore claimed they were working on a “First Person Shooter/Adventure” game coming exclusively to Nintendo Switch. Eurogamer later reported that their sources had confirmed this project to be Metroid Prime 4. Eurogamer later updated their report to state that in addition to Singapore, the Japanese branch of Bandai was working on the game.

Between Nintendo, Bandai Singapore, and Bandai Japan, development continued on quietly throughout 2018 with no real public updates. The silence was finally broken by Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime last November. At the time, Fils-Aime stated that Metroid Prime 4 was “well in development” and that Nintendo internally knew when they planned to release it. What a joyous update! It sure sounded like some major progress had been made. Unfortunately, Reggie spoke too soon.

Almost exactly one month from then, something strange started happening at Retro Studios. Throughout their entire five years of silence they occasionally trickled out hiring ads, but in December of 2018, they opened the floodgates. Retro went on a hiring spree to recruit all kinds of new developers, including a VFX Artist, a Physics Engineer, an Art Director, a Technical Artist, and most recently, a Graphics Engineer. In the case of the Art Director, they were looking for someone with over 10 years of experience, hinting at a pretty major project. Thus, it seems likely that Nintendo’s decision to pull the plug on Bandai’s Metroid Prime 4 and bring back Retro likely happened between Fils-Aime’s statement on November 14th and the beginning of Retro’s hiring spree on December 13th.

With Retro struggling to put together an original game and Nintendo struggling to launch a good 3D Metroid without them, it looks like a “two birds with one stone” solution was reached, and Retro was put back in charge of the series that made them famous. But is this a happy reunion? Retro and Tanabe allegedly divorced due to creative differences. Is Nintendo forcing them back together against their will?

Hopefully, that’s not the case, and we have reason to believe it isn’t. Game Informer Senior Editor Imran Khan has done some digging, and his sources tell him the situation isn’t a problem for Retro. Nintendo was reportedly unhappy with the uneven development of the game over the past couple of years. With studios in multiple countries working on the project (as indicated by Eurogamer), it was seemingly progressing well in some areas while struggling in others. This could potentially explain why just two months ago Fils-Aime believed it to be right on track. Because of this, Nintendo wanted to restart with development centralized under one roof. Retro reportedly wanted to be the ones to take over and presented Nintendo with a pitch to show what they had in mind. Nintendo was impressed with the pitch, and the Prime series returned home to its original development studio.

So what does this mean for the future of Metroid Prime? Well, for starters, we’re in for a long wait. That said, the franchise is hopefully back in good hands. If Retro truly requested the project, then whatever bad blood they have with Tanabe is not serious enough to keep them from working with him again, and they may even have a little more freedom this time around. Hopefully, they use it to restore 3D Metroid to its former glory.

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What Was Your Favorite Game of 2018?

It’s officially a brand new year! 2019 is sure to be another great year with exciting titles like the Resident Evil 2 remake, Kingdom Hearts III, a new Animal Crossing, and so much more. Before we charge ahead into the new year, let’s take one last moment to look back on 2018 and appreciate the games that challenged us and brought us joy and excitement.

As someone who primarily games on Nintendo Switch, it was something of a quiet year, at least in terms of AAA games. Nintendo had few first-party releases for the first nine months, then launched three massive hits in the final quarter. Super Mario Party, Pokémon: Let’s Go, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are all fantastic games that have been consuming all my free time over the holiday season. Each one is a worthy candidate in its own right, but I’d say they all felt a little too familiar to stand out as game of the year material.

Instead, I’m going to choose a title that totally captivated me when it launched much earlier in the year. I’ve never been the best at platformers, but something about Celeste just made me want to keep trying again and again and again until I got it right. The gameplay alone is outstanding in its clever design and ever-escalating challenge, and that’s all wrapped up in an emotional story, a beautifully-crafted retro aesthetic, and one of the best video game soundtracks I’ve ever heard.

So what was your favorite game of 2018, and what made it stand out above the rest? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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What Old Games Do You Want to Finish in 2019?

Happy New Year, Gamnesia family. 2019 is finally here, and with it will come many new games that we’ve been eagerly waiting for. Kingdom Hearts III and the Resident Evil II remake both come out later this month, Jump Force will launch in February, and numerous other games like Psychonauts 2 have been given vague 2019 release dates that hopefully won’t turn into 2020.

But with all these new games, we might get distracted from our old library. Many gamers make jokes about buying games during Steam sales and never playing them, but surely we should make time for old games and not just play the newest blockbuster titles. We’ve collected many, many games over the years, and I say that part of our New Year’s Resolution should be to finish up some of our backlogs.

Personally, my list is a bit too long for me to handle. At the top of my list is Persona 5, which I think I’m almost finished with, but that could very well mean I have more than ten hours of gameplay left. Xenoblade Chronicles X and Octopath Traveler are also too-long RPGs on my list, but I know I’ve got way more than ten hours of gameplay left for those. Additionally, while I have beaten Banjo-Tooie, I have never finished the original. In full, my list is as follows:

  • Persona 5
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
  • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
  • Octopath Traveler
  • Ogre Battle 64
  • Day of the Tentacle
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Obviously, I probably won’t be able to finish all of those games, nor do I expect to. But if I can get a few of those games taken care of, I’ll consider that a job well done. Readers, what are the games in your backlog that you hope to finish up before you get distracted by what 2019 has to hold?

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Pokémon: Let’s Go is Perfect for Adults With Busy Lives

You may not know this, but I’m a busy man. In fact, I’m so busy, I’ve been inexplicably absent from Gamnesia for over a month. So I don’t really play games 100% to completion anymore, especially when it comes to RPGs. As a young adult that finds himself working most of the time, I needed a Pokémon game that’s easier to digest. Thankfully, I think Let’s Go has given me exactly what I asked for.

I’m picky about my RPGs in general. If I feel like the game has a lot of unnecessary padding, I usually drop it. Because of this, I’ve quit several critically-acclaimed games only about a quarter of the way in just this year, such as Ni no Kuni II and Octopath Traveler. I have nothing against these games; they just feel like a waste of time.

I also felt this way about Pokémon Sun and Moon. These games have an incredibly dull opening that dissatisfied many fans of the series, and the overall main story tends to drag on and never really gets to the point. These games brought a lot of changes to the series that I thought were fantastic, but I just couldn’t commit the time to get through it all.

I was hoping Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon would help fix my issues with the originals, but it only left a worse taste in my mouth. The game was left largely intact, and most of the new content just padded the game out further. I was ready to give up and call the seventh generation of Pokémon a fluke. I hoped Game Freak could redeem themselves with the next set of games. But then they announced Let’s Go.

I had mixed feelings when these games were announced. I had lost interest in Pokémon GO just a few months after it came out, but I was eager to get back into the world of Pokémon and try to enjoy myself again—I just didn’t know if Let’s Go would be the game to pull me back in.

So I tempered my expectations and remained mostly neutral about these new titles. Some of you may have listened to the episode of Switched On! where I talked with Ben and Steven about the game. At the time, it still hadn’t won me over. I liked some of the ideas Game Freak was going for, but nothing really stood out to me overall.

November 16th rolled around, and something happened that I wasn’t quite expecting: Pokémon fever. Everybody on my Twitter feed was posting about Let’s Go in some way. Most were talking about how fun it was as they showed off their Pokédex and shiny Pokémon.

I couldn’t believe it. Was I really missing out? I had every intention to wait for the game to go on sale in a bargain bin later on. But if the game wasn’t going to be a critical flop, maybe it was best to go ahead and give it a try.

So I caved. In fact, I bought two copies: Let’s Go, Pikachu! for me, and Let’s Go, Eevee! for my wife. As I explored the world of Kanto again, I realized the spinoff I had been so unsure of was what I had been looking for in a Pokémon game all this time.

Pokémon had just become too stale and tedious for my busier lifestyle. So it really did take removing some of the slower elements of the game to spark my interest again.

For example, random encounters no longer involve actually battling Pokémon (for the most part). Instead, you catch them all much like you would in Pokémon GO, where you spot them in the wild and then throw Pokéballs at them. This speeds up the game tremendously and lets you decide very quickly whether you want to spend time trying to catch a specific Pokémon.

This mechanic is not without its flaws. The motion controls are often flawed, and wild Pokémon can run away from you after a few unsuccessful attempts at catching it. But all of its wonkiness aside, the new catching system speeds things up and kept me engaged for much longer play sessions than I ever had with any of the previous titles.

But the feature that really makes this system work for me is being able to see Pokémon roam around on the overworld. I might speak for a small portion of RPG fans, but I think random encounters are outdated and shouldn’t be used anymore. Being able to choose when you want to fight is the best thing any RPG can do for you—and being able to choose what you catch is the best thing a Pokémon game can do for you.

This feature is so important to all players, even the ones who crave a more “hardcore” Pokémon experience. I remember EV training my team when I was in middle school. You run around in the grass for a bit, and if you don’t find the Pokémon with the right effort values, you run around in the grass some more until you do. Even though EV training is nonexistent in Let’s Go, it is so nice that you can actually see the Pokémon before entering the battle. This shaves off so much time and it really helps you know if going to a certain patch of grass is even worth it.

These are the two most important features of Let’s Go to me. I know Game Freak will probably go back to the classic battling system in future games, and that’s okay. But they would be committing an absolute crime if they didn’t keep Pokémon on the overworld before you fight them.

Outside of the catching mechanics, though, Let’s Go doesn’t beat around the bush. Within minutes, you’re on a new adventure and filling up your Pokédex. This is likely because the games follow similar story beats to Red, Blue, and Yellow, but I would like to think that Game Freak is listening to fans and is starting to realize that three-hour tutorial sections just don’t cut it.

One criticism Let’s Go has faced is its simplicity. Some people find the games to be too easy. I’ll raise a counterpoint: Pokémon has always been easy; it’s just less tedious now. I think future Pokémon games can stand to learn a thing or two from the Let’s Go titles. Grinding is less of a chore, dungeons are much simpler to get through without random encounters every five seconds, and you always have a Pokémon box with you for fast and easy changes to your team.

I haven’t had this much fun with Pokémon in years, and I have high hopes for the next game in 2019. Pokémon: Let’s Go is a breath of fresh air for anyone who hasn’t been happy with the series for quite some time. It shaves off a lot of the extra padding Pokémon has become notorious for, and it’s a perfect game for a busy lifestyle.

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What’s the Best Game You’ve Received For Christmas?

As the year draws to a close, friends and families are gathering together in celebration in many parts of the world, and many lucky children woke up to video games under the tree yesterday. I personally enjoyed a nice evening of battling my brother in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and it got me thinking about gaming memories from Christmases in past years.

One of the best would have to be getting a Nintendo 64 with Super Mario 64 in the late ’90s. Money was tight growing up, so video games were a rare luxury. We had a SEGA Genesis, but we owned few games and had to make do with renting them at the local VHS store on the weekends. Along with my brothers, I was entranced by the sight of those 3D graphics, and we excitedly set out to collect every last star in the game.

What’s the best game you ever received for Christmas? What are some of your fondest Christmas gaming moments? Share your stories in the comments!

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Giveaway: Take One of Our 1,000 Beta Keys for Aftercharge

This is a giveaway, folks — no fancy work required! Take a beta key for multiplayer game Aftercharge.

Hey, you! Yeah, you. I’ve got a bunch of keys for a closed beta with your name all over them! Well, your name is just on one of them. There are lots of names this time of year, as I’m sure you can imagine. But don’t worry, you’re on the Nice list. But only if you take one of these beta keys for Aftercharge.

Chainawesome Games is gearing up for the January 10, 2019 launch of their competitive multiplayer game, Aftercharge. I’ll let them tell you all about it!

Aftercharge is a 3-vs-3 competitive game pitting invisible robots against an invincible security squad in high-octane tactical skirmishes. Six glowing structures called extractor are at the center of the gameplay and serve as the objective for both teams. The robots have to coordinate their attacks, create distractions and sneak around to destroy them. The enforcers on the other hand have to cover as much ground as possible and use their abilities wisely to spot the attackers and stop them before they can destroy all of the extractors.

Features

Unique blend of fresh mechanics
An invisible team fighting an invincible team, reviving allies instantly with no limit and zero cooldown on abilities are only a few mechanics that make Aftercharge a shooter you’ve never played before.

Bite-size competitive matches
The teams are small, the maps are small, the rounds are short, the action is always within sight and it never stops.

Asymmetrical characters
Choose from a different character pool on each side with widely different abilities and roles to vary your team’s strategy.

Online multiplayer and matchmaking
Team up with players anywhere around the world and face off against opponents of similar skill level.

This ain’t no regular beta, folks — this is a 72-hour event, running today, December 14 at 12 pm EST through December 16. Good thing you’ve got the beta’s official Discord server right here in this handy link — use it to coordinate with other players and keep up with the action as you go!

So go ahead, fellow robots, and get into the action!

We have 1,000 total keys to give out. Just redeem one using the widget below, and you’re all set! If you have any issues redeeming, feel free to email me at [email protected] and I’ll help ya out.

Aftercharge is slated for a January 10, 2019 release. Check the beta out while you can, now through December 16!

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Here’s the Five Best Changes in Pokémon: Let’s Go

Game Freak’s phenomenally popular Pokémon franchise has followed the same basic formula for 20 years, and with great success. However, the most recent titles, Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee, introduced some major changes. Many of these changes were intended to make Let’s Go more similar to Niantic’s mobile hit Pokémon GO, while others were tweaks or new ideas intended to make the games more user-friendly. Naturally, many fans are divided on whether or not they like this new style. I’ve personally criticized a few elements, but there are other areas where Let’s Go is absolutely crushing it. Here are the five best changes made in the new games:

Seeing Pokémon on the Overworld

Many of my favorite RPGs, such as EarthBound, Paper Mario, and Chrono Trigger, share a common gameplay feature: enemies appear on the overworld. I’ve never been a fan of random enemy encounters, and I’ve often found them disruptive and frustrating enough that I lose my patience for the games in which they are present. Pokémon is a rare exception to this rule, but I love it despite these random encounters, not because of them. And running into my 50th Zubat in a half hour sometimes tests that love.

Game Freak’s decision to ditch random encounters in Let’s Go alleviates that frustration, but it does so much more than just that. Seeing Pokémon spawn in grassy areas and run around in the wild is an absolute game changer. It adds a whole new level of excitement and wonder to the experience, and it immerses players in the Pokémon world like never before.

Getting charged by a playful Growlithe pup, chasing after a waddling Psyduck, and seeing herds of wild Ponytas galloping down Pokémon Road are just some of the delightful experiences you’ll encounter in Let’s Go. From the first Pidgeys and Rattatas of Route 1 all the way through the trials of Victory Road, seeing these beloved creatures from our childhood all over the map really brings Kanto to life.

Swapping Pokémon With Ease

We’ve come a long, long way since the original Pokémon games. Remember the frustration of manually switching boxes in your PC when they filled up with Pokémon? Or finding out, too late, that you couldn’t catch a wild Pokémon because your current box is full? These awful limitations were left in the dust years ago, and Game Freak decided to take the evolution of the user-friendly approach one step further in Let’s Go.

Pokémon: Let’s Go allows you to swap out any Pokémon at any time. Your Pokémon Box is easily accessible from the menu at any time, so you don’t have to worry about getting halfway through a cave only to realize that you left a much-needed Pokémon in storage. And if you catch a wild Pokémon when your party is already full, you can immediately check it out and see its stats without trekking to the nearest town.

This mechanic is a welcome simplification in Let’s Go and fits well with its theme of giving players a relaxing experience. Implementing it in main series games would also make them more user-friendly, though perhaps a few tweaks are called for. Having the ability to swap out Pokémon while in a Gym or even the Elite Four can make things pretty easy, so some restrictions (which could easily be toggled on or off in the settings) would make sense.

Expanding the Role of Ride Pokémon

The first generation of Pokémon games lightly dabbled with the idea of letting players ride on their Pokémon with HMs like Surf and Fly, and Game Freak would continue to evolve this idea until the introduction of Ride Pokémon in Sun and Moon. This idea was improved and expanded in Let’s Go, allowing players to ride eighteen different monsters.

While Sun and Moon restricted Ride Pokémon to short bursts in specific areas, Let’s Go allows you to hop on anywhere with sufficient space on the overworld. Whether you’re towering over cave-dwellers while riding your Onix, speeding around the world on an Arcanine (my personal choice), or clinging to the belly of a Snorlax, it’s a wonderful experience that will bring a smile to your face.

On top of that, some of the Ride Pokémon in Let’s Go fly rather than walking. This lets you move at impressive speeds while avoiding obstacles that would normally slow you down, and you can even encounter rare and powerful Flying-type Pokémon floating above the ground. Soaring through the air on the likes of Charizard, Dragonite, and Aerodactyl has been one of the biggest highlights of my time with the games.

Secret Techniques

One of the most common struggles in older Pokémon games was the task of making sure your team featured all of the HMs you needed to move around the world. Some of these special moves, like Flash and Cut, were practically worthless in battle, but you could find yourself stuck if you didn’t use up some of your precious move slots to keep them on your team. This often resulted in players using one of their six main Pokémon solely for carrying around HMs, rendering them a liability in battle.

Game Freak has experimented with replacing them in various ways in recent entries, and Let’s Go does the best job of this yet. HMs that are actually useful in battle, like Surf, have been turned into TMs, and the others have been replaced by something called Secret Techniques. These abilities are now all learned by your partner Pokémon, Eevee or Pikachu.

Even if you take your partner out of your lineup of six active battlers, it will still ride around on your head or shoulder on the overworld, and it can still use its Secret Techniques. Additionally, they don’t even take up any of your partner’s move slots. It’s a wonderful new system that makes it easier than ever to travel around the game’s overworld without unnecessary hindrances or battle restrictions.

Getting the Perfect Pokémon

IVs, or Internal Values, are an integral part of building a competitive team full of powerful Pokémon. Every monster you encounter is immediately assigned IVs, and getting a Pokémon with perfect stats can be an intensely frustrating and drawn out process. Sun and Moon alleviated some of this with the introduction of Hyper Training, which allows you to improve a Pokémon’s IVs after they’ve reached level 100. Let’s Go makes this even easier by introducing an IV Judge function that lets you see exactly what stats you’re working with. No math or third-party IV calculators required!

Let’s Go also makes it easier than ever to ensure that wild Pokémon have decent IVs to begin with. If you catch multiple of the same Pokémon consecutively, you’ll start racking up bonuses, including extra EXP and item drops. Eventually, as the chain gets longer, the Pokémon you encounter will naturally have better stats. You can use this method to guarantee that a wild Pokémon will have perfect IVs in up to four stats, and by trading Bottle Caps for some hyper training, you can easily perfect the remaining two.

Another way Let’s Go makes it easier to get the perfect Pokémon team is by letting you set the nature of wild Pokémon… for a price. Pokémon natures generally raise one stat’s max potential by 10% while lowering another by the same amount. If you need a specific nature for a Pokémon, you can simply head to Celadon City and pay a fortune teller to make it so. It’ll cost you ten thousand, but it ensures that every Pokémon you encounter for the rest of the day is the nature you selected.

Finally, there’s EVs… or AVs… or whatever the heck we’re calling them this generation. The point is, Pokémon has always had a system in which you can boost your stats through the use of certain items. In the past, you also gained EVs from every fight, and you only got enough EVs to max out two of your stats. In other words, battling the wrong Pokémon could lead to investing EVs in the wrong stat. In Let’s Go, battling no longer impacts these values. Instead, all this stat-boosting is done via candies, so you can battle whoever you want, whenever you want, and still have your stat boosts turn out the way you want.

In fact, Let’s Go allows you to max out every stat, and the ceiling is much higher than in previous games. This may not be a welcome change for people used to the competitive balance of previous generations, but it certainly simplifies the process of making a perfect Pokémon. And if these stat changes mean that Game Freak can’t find a way to transfer Let’s Go Pokémon to future titles (which is something they’re still hoping for and working on), it will simply become a unique competitive scene of its own.

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RWBY Theory: The Truth About Humanity’s Origins

RWBY Volume 6 has gotten off to an impressive start filled with action, confrontation, and most recently, a ton of lore. Episode 3 saw Ruby and friends finally learning the truth about Ozpin, Salem, and the gods. But questions about Remnant’s past are like the heads of a hydra. Cutting one down just leads to two more growing in its place. To those who like to theorize about the future of the show, that’s all the more reason to be excited. If you’re caught up on the show (or just don’t care about spoilers), keep reading to dive headlong into a theory about the true origins of humankind, as well as the Faunus. 

Previously we had been told that humankind was created by the gods of Light and Darkness, imbued with the powers of Creation, Destruction, Knowledge, and Choice. While this is largely true, it’s far from the whole truth. Humanity, as it turns out, has two origin stories. The god of Darkness wiped out the entire populace (excluding Salem) in a fit of rage at her arrogance, but later humans would come to populate the earth once more. We also learned that Faunus were apparently exclusive to the second genesis of sentient beings.

What’s not made explicitly clear is how humans returned or why the Faunus appeared the second time, but not the first. Did the god of Light recreate humankind? If so, why did he choose to add the Faunus into the mix this time? He demands that humankind learn to “live in harmony” and “set aside your differences,” which has some speculating that the Faunus were created as a test for humankind. I don’t believe this to be the case, and setting the Faunus up as an object of hatred would be a fairly malicious act if it were. Instead, I believe a close examination of his words implies an origin outside of creation by gods.

Speaking to Ozma, the god of Light declares, “Mankind is no more, yet your world remains, and in time your kind will grow to walk its face once again.” He establishes a future timeline and chooses the word “grow” to describe their return, none of which is consistent with the idea of them simply being created by the gods once more. Instead, I believe mankind (and the Faunus) came into existence through evolution, although the gods were likely the catalyst for that process.

If you go back to the show’s first episode, Salem (unnamed at the time) narrates the history of mankind’s creation, and she states that they were “born from dust.” This is a common theme in ancient mythologies, but in the context of the RWBY universe, what if it’s referring to the very dust that enables humans to harness the elements? I propose that the power of dust impacted the evolution of the animals of Remnant (which we know survived the genocide), causing many of them to gain intelligence, thus leading to a wide variety of sapient life, instead of just humans.

The reason that this didn’t happen the first time around, I believe, is because dust wasn’t present. As we know from Volume 6 Episode 3, the god of Darkness shattered the moon while abandoning Remnant, and its shattered fragments rained down on the planet in a fierce storm. I believe this is the origin of dust on Remnant, as well as the spark that brought mankind back and gave birth to the Faunus. In the World of Remnant video on dust, Salem (as the narrator) remarks that mankind doesn’t know how dust came to exist. As this line is spoken, the camera zooms out to show the planet from space. Perhaps this was an early hint at its origins, hidden away years ago.

As I was writing this article, I learned that Eddy Rivas would soon be answering questions about the episodes on the recap show, RWBY Rewind. Rivas is Rooster Teeth’s “Lore Archivist,” which means it’s his job to keep track of the facts and stories in all of their shows, so he’s quite the expert. Naturally, I decided to tune in and see if he had anything to offer before publishing, and boy did he ever.

Rivas was asked how the Faunus came to be when they weren’t around before, and although he stopped short of giving a clear answer, he dropped some important hints. Rivas explained that some scenes and lines that would have clarified things further had to be dropped to save time but “a lot of pieces are there that the episode does confirm if you connect some dots.” He also called the return of humans a “life finds a way” situation, which would seem to lead more credence to the idea of evolution. When Ellie Maine, a co-host on the show, brings up evolution as the likely cause, Rivas starts to agree, but is interrupted by another question.

Later the hosts speculate that the dust-like remains of the original, annihilated humans could have caused the evolution of humans and Faunus, and Rivas responds. “You had pieces of the moon falling. You had all kinds of crazy stuff going on down there. Nobody knows.” None of the other hosts had brought up the moon rocks as a possible catalyst, so Rivas choosing to mention them specifically after teasing that the pieces of the puzzle were there only furthers my confidence in this theory.

Was mankind truly “born from dust” their second time around, and did it come from the moon? If so, what other secrets could it be hiding? And does any of this relate to the mystery of the Silver Eyed Warriors? Hopefully we’ll continue to learn the answers to these questions and more as this season rolls on!

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A Note From the Editor-in-Chief

Hey, everyone! I just want to take a moment to explain what’s happening here. Gamnesia is a website dedicated to news about video games and the culture that surrounds them, and that’s not changing. Gamnesia will always be about the games. However, when we post articles or memes (on social media) about anime-related games, we’ve always gotten an extremely positive reaction from our viewers. There are a few of us here at Gamnesia who are big fans of anime, so from time to time we’ll be trying out articles like this. If you guys like what you see, we’ll keep ’em coming!

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Should Game Freak Keep Making Pokémon: Let’s Go Games?

Game Freak just released Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee into the wild, and millions around the world are touring Kanto and capturing monsters left and right. Series producer Junichi Masuda has previously indicated that if the games are successful, they could become a continuing series, existing alongside the more “core” entries in the franchise. Now that you’ve had time to go hands-on or at least watch footage, do you think Game Freak should keep making Let’s Go games?

From a business standpoint, it’s an easy yes. I’ve previously expressed that Let’s Go is one of the best ideas Game Freak has ever had, and I still believe that’s true. However, the twin games aren’t without flaws, and many of them relate to the GO-inspired mechanics. While I don’t think they should be scrapped (especially if Game Freak wants to keep converting GO players), they at least need some tweaking.

The internet has plenty of mixed opinions on the games, but one shared by many is that playing without motion controls, with a more standard controller, should be an option. It makes the game more accessible to people with injuries or disabilities, as well as to those who just aren’t a fan of motion controls.

My biggest issue with the game is probably the heavy emphasis on luck. Without the ability to paralyze or injure wild Pokémon, I’ve wasted countless Great Balls and Ultra Balls landing Great and Excellent throws and getting nothing to show for it. A lot of this frustration could be alleviated by making berries more common and more effective, and by reducing (or eliminating) the rate at which wild Pokémon bat your throws away or just run away altogether.

Game Freak has a money maker on their hands that they can easily keep going for years to come. If they make a few tweaks to keep things more user-friendly, they can count on me being along for the ride.

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What Did You Think of the Detective Pikachu Trailer?

Over 20 years after the series made its debut, Pokémon is finally getting its first official live-action movie, but it’s not following the formula of the main series games. Instead, Hollywood turned to a little-known Nintendo 3DS spin-off game called Detective Pikachu. We’ve known that a film adaptation has been in the works for quite some time, but yesterday we finally got our first look at the movie, including Ryan Reynolds as a talking, crime-solving Pikachu. Was it everything you were hoping for, nightmare fuel, or something else entirely?

I was skeptical when the team behind the film began talking about “hyper-realistic” Pokémon, and seeing them for the first time was definitely a bit jarring at first. However, by the end of the trailer, I felt like I could get pretty comfortable in the Pokémon world crafted by Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary. Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu is an interesting choice (sorry, Danny DeVito fans), and I think he works pretty well.

By choosing to go with Detective Pikachu, instead of a more standard Pokémon game, they can also avoid focusing on the concept of what essentially boils down to professional animal fights. Given the realistic look, it might be hard to pitch a script about little kids having their pets battle like in the games.

Overall, I think it looks like a fun movie. I’m not expecting a masterpiece by any means, but it should bring a lot of joy to children and children at heart around the globe. Do you feel the same, or do you have another take? Sound off in the comments!

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What Do You Hope to See Announced at The Game Awards?

As 2018 draws nearer and nearer to its end, numerous outlets will be handing out awards. The Game Awards, hosted for the fifth year by creator Geoff Keighley, will certainly be a popular awards show with millions of eyes tuning in to see not just accolades, but also teasers and reveals for upcoming games. With Keighley teasing that this year will feature more announcements than ever before, what do you hope to see?

As I speculated in our news coverage of the show, I think Nintendo could be prominently featured. Sony opted not to hold PlayStation Experience this year (usually scheduled for December), and SIE Worldwide Studios Chairman Shawn Layden indicated that it’s due to in-development games not being ready for the spotlight yet. Meanwhile, Microsoft just held their own event, X018, and they seem to be focused on
preparing for the next generation. Either could be featured, but Nintendo is the safest bet to have at least one game shown.

As for what they could show off, it’s been almost a year and a half since they teased the existence of
Metroid Prime 4. That was announced as a tentative title, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see it re-revealed with its true name and gameplay footage at The Game Awards. Also possible is the rumored Star Fox Racing game from Retro Studios. And we could always get a more extensive look at recently revealed titles like Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Animal Crossing, which is rumored to be near-complete.

Of those options, I’d personally prefer to see
Metroid unveiled. If Nintendo really wanted to wow the audience, I’d love to see them surprise us with a double whammy. Nintendo is rumored to have a 2D Metroid in the works as well, so why not unveil both? After all, Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion launched around the same time in 2002.

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Three Ways RWBY Can Improve in Volume 6

Back in 2012, Rooster Teeth unveiled the Red Trailer, giving the world their first ever look at a new anime-styled web series called
RWBY. The show’s unique 3D style, diverse characters, and outstanding soundtrack helped it rise from humble beginnings (remember the “shadow people” caused by Volume 1’s low budget?) to become an international success, and it never stopped changing and growing along the way. 

That’s never been more true than in recent years, as the tragic death of
RWBY creator Monty Oum during Volume 3’s production has forced the remaining writing and animating staff to carry out Oum’s vision without his guiding hand. Soon after this, the team switched over to Maya for animation, giving it a whole new look to go with the new feel. Understandably, the show has experienced highs and lows during this transition, but those Monty left behind have stayed true to his life’s mantra: Keep moving forward. With the debut of RWBY Volume 6 just days away, it’s time to look back on how the show has fared with the changes brought by recent volumes, and how it can continue to grow and improve heading into the future.

Naturally, this exploration series will be filled with references to key moments in the story, so if you want to avoid spoilers, avoid this article. For everyone else, let’s dig in!

Keep Battles Focused and Fluid

Let’s get something out of the way up front: There’s no replacing Monty Oum. His unique style is something that can’t be perfectly replicated by anyone, and we shouldn’t expect that. What we
should expect from the current animation team (and the people directing them) is engrossing, captivating battles that make use of the show’s many diverse characters, semblances, and weapons. This is an area where, at times, Volumes 4 and 5 fell short. Volume 4 received a fair amount of criticism for both the quantity and quality of its fight scenes. While Volume 5 increased the number of fights substantially, many fans (myself included) still found much of the action to be a little underwhelming.

This is largely due to the pacing and flow of battles, and it’s an area where the show has been shooting itself in the foot lately. When characters stop fighting mid-battle and stand around and talk, it’s disruptive to the action and often makes little sense in context. A prominent example of this is when Team RNJR battles Tyrian in Volume 4. The villain attacks our heroes (one at a time, for some reason) for about twenty seconds. Then he leaps onto Nora’s hammer and backflips off of it so hard that he slams into a building on the fifth story and breaks through the wall. He then jumps down and talks for a full minute. 

The whole scenario is just… bizarre. If Nora had used her hammer to fling him or smack him into the wall, it might make a little more sense. Instead, he voluntarily backflips five stories into the air and through a wall for no reason, and then immediately jumps back to the ground. It was just an excuse to put some space between him and the heroes so that a dialogue sequence could ensue, but it completely disrupts the fight’s pacing. And it doesn’t stop there.

After a few more seconds of action there’s another break when Ruby shoots Nora with electricity (supercharging her, unbeknownst to Tyrian), and Tyrian stops fighting to laugh and comment on the irony. Nora smacks him with her hammer, but he blocks the blow… and the action stops again. Tyrian once again does a totally unnecessary backflip to land on top of a building and then there’s another 30 seconds of dialogue. If you’re keeping track at home, this fight has been about equal parts fighting and standing around and talking thus far with a constant shift back and forth between the two for no real reason. 

This problem is fairly persistent in the past two volumes. In both the opening and final episodes of Volume 4, Team RNJR is given
generous amounts of time to stand around and talk by the Geist and Nuckelavee Grimm. The former is at least knocked down by Ren (and takes its sweet, sweet time getting back up) before the huddle, but the latter just stands by and lets it happen for no good reason. Then in Volume 5, our heroes are on the “Why in the world are you just standing there?!” side of the equation during the attack on Blake’s house. Early in the fight, Blake uses her semblance to freeze two members of the White Fang to the ground, completely immobilizing them. One swift knock to the head, and these two would be out cold, no problem. Instead, Blake, Sun, and Ghira literally stand around and talk about taking them out for a full 30 seconds. While this is happening, the two villains are clearly and obviously using their weapons to melt the ice, and our heroes just stand there and let it happen. 

Once again, it’s both disruptive to the flow of the battle and also nonsensical. Soon after this, the credits roll, leaving fans to wait another week for the fight’s resolution… but they wouldn’t get it then either. The White Fang’s invasion of the Belladona household is split up into four total chunks that were spread out across three episodes. It makes the whole experience feel disjointed.

Compare those examples to two of my favorite fights in the past two seasons (and in the show altogether) and you’ll notice a big difference. In both the Qrow vs Tyrian fight (Volume 4) and the Cinder vs Raven fight (Volume 5), a few choice words are exchanged before and after the battle, and the action is largely uninterrupted in between. The skirmish between Yang and the bandits (Volume 5) is similarly smooth and uninterrupted, even if it is on the short side. As a result, all of these fights are significantly more engrossing than the start-and-stop action of the other battles.

It’s also not
just dialogue that can be disruptive to the flow of battle. Sometimes the action disrupts itself. This is most apparent in the lengthy battle at the end of Volume 5. Over a dozen heroes and villains are gathered in one room for a fight that will span four episodes. What could go wrong? The answer is plenty. Don’t get me wrong, those episodes contain some fantastic moments. Jaune’s emotional outburst and eventual unlocking of his semblance is wonderful, and seeing Oscar/Ozpin in action is a real treat. Unfortunately, attempting to focus on that many fighters at once leads to many of them being poorly utilized. 

Mercury has what may be my favorite fighting style in the show, and with Yang in the room the setup was perfect for a rematch of their Volume 3 fight. The two do spar, but as the camera constantly shifts around the room from fight to fight they’re rarely the focus. You never get to see the two actively engaged in combat for more than a few seconds at a time, and as a result, their rematch amounts to little more than few punches and kicks squeezed in between other people’s fights. We also see Qrow and Raven lock blades (after previously being told by Leo that they’re an even match), but the entire clash is just 23 seconds long… 19 of which is them talking to each other. Then the two jump off screen, never again to be seen locked in combat. 

Ruby is similarly given little time in the spotlight, just quick cuts here and there. At one point she steps in to defend her sister and declares “I’m angry.” Alright! The two sisters charge at Mercury and Emerald, setting things up for a potentially awesome battle. And then the scene cuts away. When we finally return to the action (an episode later), Ruby gets her one big moment in the fight: Mercury disarms her, so she headbutts him. This is meant to reflect Ruby’s growth in “hand to hand combat,” as Ozpin previously chided her about her lack of skills in that department and headbutted her in a sparring match. It’s an underwhelming contribution to the battle from the show’s flagship character, to say the least. Her lack of usage in battle is only made worse by the fact that we never once see her use her semblance in Volume 5. Volume 4 did an excellent job of showing her growth in using it, as she’s learned to manipulate it to the point where she can practically fly. Then in Volume 5 it’s completely forgotten. 

Making meaningful use of so many characters at once is a huge challenge, but one way Volume 6 can improve on that shortcoming is by making better use of team-ups and team attacks. At one point in the big Volume 5 brawl, they even give fans false hope of this. When Blake joins the fray, Ruby shouts out “Checkmate,” a code name for Weiss/Blake team-up attacks. Unfortunately, you guessed it, the camera cuts away and we don’t actually see it happening.

In terms of time spent on fights, Volume 5 is a vast improvement over the previous volume, but much of the action was underwhelming. Hopefully Volume 6 marks a return to more fluid battles that keep fans immersed in the action. 

Don’t Waste Any Dialogue

One of the biggest problems that plagued Volume 4 (and much of Volume 5) was the matter of pacing. Volume 3’s catastrophic ending led to the four titular characters being separated, and the opening episode of Volume 4 introduced multiple new villains. As a result, the show found itself switching between five different storylines. When most episodes are only around 15 minutes long, this makes it damn near impossible to give any one of the stories the amount attention and screen time it deserves. Thankfully, Team RWBY and their closest allies have all been reunited, so the story can stay much more focused going forward, but there are still other issues to address. 

A common complaint Volume 5 received is just how much time was spent on dialogue, and just how little was actually said. Personally, I don’t mind talk-heavy episodes, but the shorter episodes make it crucial that
RWBY makes the most of those moments, whether that’s pushing the overall story forward, breaking the tension with lighthearted humor, or developing the characters through touching, emotional scenes. Volume 5 had 14 episodes to work with instead of the usual 12, so fans were hoping for a deeper dive into the characters and lore of the series, but much of that extra time was instead spent on unnecessary recap. 

The most egregious example of this is Raven’s chat with Weiss and Yang at the bandit camp. Yang demands that Raven use her semblance to transport her to Ruby, and Raven accepts on the condition that Yang first listen to what she has to say about Ozpin. How tantalizing! Ozpin himself admits to having made “more mistakes than any man, woman, or child” in history, and we’ve seen how willing he is to manipulate and use people, even children, without fully informing them of what’s at stake. This man has some skeletons in his closet. We also know that Raven was once extremely close to him, and ended up rejecting his ways and striking out on her own. If anyone has dirt on Oz (and reason to spill the beans), it’s Raven. This scene comes shortly after Ozpin reveals a small portion of his backstory to team RNJR, so Raven giving a darker, alternate version of events would be the perfect follow-up. Perhaps we could learn what exactly happened to Summer Rose?

Unfortunately, most of what Raven reveals is information that the audience has already known for a long time. Raven explains that she and Qrow were born bandits, that the Grimm have a leader named Salem who wants to destroy the world, and that magic exists. After this, there’s an unnecessarily dramatic sequence in which Raven transforms into an actual raven… something the audience has known she could do for years. The true purpose of this whole scene must then be about how the girls (and especially Yang) react. Strangely, of all the information revealed, Yang specifically gets hung up on the fact that Ozpin gave Qrow and Raven the ability to transform into birds. When she later confronts Ozpin, she doesn’t ask for a full explanation of who Salem is, her history with Ozpin, or the extent of the dangers they face. She’s still hung up on the bird thing, and apparently furious about it. Yang’s conversations with Raven and Ozpin are spread out across two episodes, and they both just feel like wasted moments filled with odd reactions. 

On a more positive note, I feel compelled to point out that Weiss
does have a meaningful moment during the Raven encounter. While she has little reaction to Raven’s words, I was touched by her genuine concern and understanding when she asks if Yang is okay, and follows up by letting her know “It’s okay if you’re not okay.” It marks a dramatic growth in her character over the years. Compare it to her treatment of Blake in Volume 2 where she sensed her teammate was upset and responded by jumping up on a chair and loudly demanding that she open up and talk. The show capitalizes on this development later in Volume 5 when Weiss again has a heart to heart with Yang, helping her see that each person carries their own unique brand of pain and loneliness with them. 

Not wanting to ask Oz the important questions must run in the family, because Ruby similarly misses a major opportunity to do so. One of the show’s biggest mysteries is the true nature of Ruby’s silver eyes and the magical powers associated with them. They’re brought up right from the start in episode one, and five years later we still only have vague hints about their power from Qrow. Yet when Ruby approaches Oz to question him in Volume 5, she doesn’t even think to ask about them, even though Oz is perhaps the one person who could answer her. This is all in spite of the fact that Oscar (who is interlocked with Ozpin’s soul) even mentions her eyes the first time they meet. 

All of these issues were amplified by the fact that Volume 5 had a lengthy span with no battles or major action sequences. When multiple episodes in a row focus almost exclusively on dialogue and character interactions, those moments need to count. 

Flesh Out The Villains

As I previously touched on,
RWBY is taking its sweet time shedding any light on the thousands-of-years-long war between Oz and Salem, which is the central conflict of the entire show. The writers and animators have done a brilliant job of bringing Salem’s personality to light. She comes across as highly intelligent, cautious and calculated, and intensely intimidating, but her origins, power, and ultimate goal remain almost entirely shrouded in mystery. Understandably, some secrets can’t be revealed right away or the show will lose some its suspense, so I can’t fault the show too much for keeping the main villain somewhat of an enigma. However, the lack of a developed backstory is not an issue that’s exclusive to Salem.

The majority of
RWBY‘s antagonists are just like Salem: Well-established personalities with little to no established backstory. Roman Torchwick was a delightful character that came and went without a hint of his history beyond the fact that he’s into organized crime. Neo, his loyal sidekick, remains a total mystery. We know that Mercury killed his own father, an assassin and alcoholic, but what does he gain by aligning with the enemies of mankind and putting his life on the line for Cinder? A brief flashback scene reveals that Emerald was a starving thief living on the streets when Cinder found her, but was her decision to join the forces of evil really as simple as wanting food and a roof over her head? A single line from Raven calling him a “disgraced scientist” from Atlas is all we know about Dr. Watts after two volumes, and we know even less about Tyrian, who was introduced at the same time. 

Then there’s Hazel. He was first introduced in Volume 4 and described by Oz as “Someone from my past. Someone who should not be taken lightly.” Well now, isn’t that interesting? What dark secrets can we learn from their history? The answer turned out to be profoundly underwhelming, and poorly delivered. During the lengthy battle at the end of Volume 5, we finally learn that Hazel had a sister who enrolled at one of the academies and died on a training mission. This is explained so quickly and quietly (by Ozpin’s soul, to Oscar, its host) and in the middle of the battle that it’s easy to miss. It simply has no impact, and feels out of place mid-fight. 

Hazel goes on to ask Ozpin “How many more children must die for you?” He projects righteous indignation at Ozpin’s use of children in his plans… yet he has no problem serving Salem, who also uses children and wipes out innocent people out by the hundreds, regardless of age. In truth, his hatred of Ozpin has nothing to do with the bigger picture. It’s a personal grudge due to the death of his sister. But because the audience has never seen his sister (and didn’t even know she existed at all until the scene where her death was mentioned) there’s really nothing to latch onto to make Hazel seem sympathetic or even particularly interesting.

The biggest shortcoming of all has to be the lack of backstory for Cinder Fall. Although Salem appears to be the show’s primary antagonist, Cinder has served as the main on-screen threat ever since Volume 2. She’s cunning, confident, manipulative, strategic, and abundantly cruel. And after five volumes, we still have no real clue why. All we’ve really been told of her motivation is that she desires power. What drove her to such a lust for power that she’d be willing to make a deal with the devil? What is her ultimate goal? And how did she come to know of Salem?

Fortunately, Volume 6 should be the perfect opportunity to explore some of these questions. I don’t believe that her fight with Raven truly resulted in her ultimate demise, and promotional art for Volume 6 seems to indicate that she’s returning. Salem’s decision-making and Tyrian’s general insanity seemed to give Cinder cause for concern over the past two volumes, and a near-death experience seems like the perfect opportunity for Cinder to do some soul-searching about where she came from and where she hopes to go from here. Let’s hope we get to see all of that play out.

One last opportunity
RWBY has for significant villain development in Volume 6 comes with the show’s journey to the Kingdom of Atlas. Therein lies a character who is ripe to become the most well-developed antagonist in the show. The only problem is that he’s currently one of the good guys. Ever since his introduction in Volume 2, James Ironwood has been one of the more complicated and intriguing pieces of the RWBY puzzle, and he’s now perfectly positioned for a heel turn. 

Now, I’m not suggesting that he could suddenly join the dark side. That would be absurd. But Ironwood’s personality and the circumstances of the past few volumes could propel him to take the kind of actions that would make him a hero in his own mind, but an antagonist to the main cast. He craves order and security above all else, trusts no one but himself, and wields an incredible amount of power. He’s arrogant enough to run both the schools and military for the world’s most technologically advanced kingdom, he had no qualms about bringing an army to Vale against Ozpin’s wishes, and he boasts about holding two seats on the Atlas council. Politically speaking, he may very well be the most powerful man in the world, and he has an overwhelming sense of duty to live up to that position. 

In previous volumes Ironwood had Oz and Glynda to balance him out and keep him from being overly aggressive, but since the fall of Beacon he has been isolated from the Inner Circle. As Salem’s schemes plunge the world deeper into darkness in chaos, Ironwood’s natural response is to seize control. Since Volume 3 he has shut off dust trade with other kingdoms (potentially crippling their defenses, playing right into Salem’s hands) and closed off the borders of Atlas, letting no one in or out without the council’s permission. The last time we saw him, he was slamming his fists angrily on Jacques Schnee’s desk and shouting, all while hinting to Jacques that he may soon supersede the council altogether and seize absolute control of Atlas. He’s teetering on the brink of tyrannical dictatorship, and one good push is all he needs to go over the edge. 

As we know from Volume 3, Ironwood’s Atlesian scientists have been conducting research on aura, the very essence of human souls, in secret. They’ve created Penny, an artificial being capable of generating an aura, and they’ve even created a device that can rip the soul out of one person and forcefully implant it in another. What else is Atlas hiding? As the days grow darker, how far will desperation push Ironwood to take this sort of experimentation? And if anyone should try to stand in his way, how will he respond? What happens when Oscar/Ozpin disapproves of his methods? And where will Winter’s allegiances lie if Ironwood and Weiss end up on opposite sides of a conflict? 

From Salem all the way down to Emerald,
RWBY has plenty of great villainous personalities to work with, and it’s time to flesh them out into full characters, complete with some history and motivation. Toss in some moral ambiguity with a character like Ironwood, and you’ve got the right ingredients for some extremely compelling and meaningful showdowns. 

A Note From the Editor-in-Chief

Hey, everyone! I just want to take a moment to explain what’s happening here. Gamnesia is a website dedicated to news about video games and the culture that surrounds them, and that’s not changing. Gamnesia will always be about the games. However, when we post articles or memes (on social media) about anime-related games, we’ve always gotten an extremely positive reaction from our viewers. There are a few of us here at Gamnesia who are big fans of anime, so from time to time we’ll be trying out articles like this. If you guys like what you see, we’ll keep ’em coming!

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Giveaway: Take One Of Our 5,000 Keys For The Uncertain: Episode 1

This ain’t no contest, buddy – we’re literally giving these Steam keys away for The Uncertain: Episode 1 – The Last Quiet Day.

Do you get frustrated when you don’t win contests? Upset when someone else steals the prize you so desperately wanted? Do you shout to the heavens in anger when someone else is announced as the recipient of a prize? ComonGames understands, so they’re here to bring balance back to the world.

They’ve given us 5,000 copies of the acclaimed first episode of their series The Uncertain. To win, all you have to do is click below!

I’ll let developer ComonGames take it from here:

Imagine making moral choices in a world devoid of morality. Logic rules this world, and every decision is just a set of zeroes and ones. Most concepts take a whole new meaning, and some get completely abolished. Luckily reasonable beings, even if not human, always have a choice.

The Uncertain: Episode 1 – The Last Quiet Day is an episodic story-driven adventure game set in a post-apocalyptic world. In the first episode you see it from the perspective of an engineering robot RT-217NP, who seems to be very curious about the human race, long extinct in wasting wars. Experience the mysterious vibe of each of carefully explored locations. Test your skills, solving diverse puzzles. Make fateful decisions and discuss intriguing matters to find out the whole truth being kept from you.

Key features:

  • Classic 3D Adventure with unique story
  • Beautiful graphics and immersive atmosphere
  • Original indie soundtrack
  • Made using NVIDIA GameWorks HBAO+, DoF, and FXAA technologies

It certainly seems humanity has a knack for always going extinct.

To get your hands on a key, all you have to do is use the widget below. Too easy. (Also maybe tell your friends because hoo boy we’ve got a lot of these codes to give out.)

Like what you played? ComonGames is developing Episode 2 – Light at the End, and they have taken to Kickstarter to get the project up and running. Show your support for the series by backing it to help see the episodic game to completion!

The Uncertain: Episode 1 – The Last Quiet Day is available now on Steam.

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What Do You Think About Nintendo Switch Online So Far?

Nintendo Switch Online officially launched last week to some mixed reception. The company’s first subscription model for online play is missing a lot of key features that draws gamers to other services like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, causing some people to call it a ripoff. However, the service is incredibly cheap for what it does offer, and a select group of Nintendo fans is appreciative of the benefits that are being offered.

Subscribers of Nintendo Switch Online have access to a current library of 20 NES games, the ability to play online with friends, cloud saves for select games, and special offers that will be revealed as the program moves forward. The classic games library will also grow as time goes on. At the moment, North America is expected to receive three new games each month for the next three months. All of this is available for the low price of $19.99 per year—potentially less if you split a family membership with friends and family.

However, there are some limitations. The online infrastructure for Nintendo’s games needs a lot of work. In my personal experience, connection issues are still a problem. Hopefully, this is something Nintendo can address now that people are paying to play online. The mobile app associated with online play has gone mostly ignored by people as well. In most cases, players are using other chat programs like Discord.

But that’s not all. The NES collection of games has to be logged into every seven days to confirm your membership with Nintendo Switch Online. This wouldn’t normally be an issue for most households, but the Nintendo Switch is a portable system. If somebody was on vacation for two weeks with no internet access and wanted to play Super Mario Bros. on their way back, they couldn’t do it on the Switch. While it is understandable that Nintendo would require validation for the subscription, it would be much better to let users buy these titles individually so it wouldn’t require an online check-in.

On the other hand, the service provides an excellent way for users to play classic NES games with each other like never before. You can play them at home, on your lunch break, or anywhere you want to really. This is something a lot of people want, and it’s exciting to think that Nintendo will be expanding the library going forward.

Another hot topic of Nintendo Switch Online is cloud saves. It’s awesome that users will finally get a chance to upload their save files online so they can back them up in case anything happens. We also got confirmation earlier today that the saves are not automatically deleted if your subscription lapses, which many had feared was the case. Even so, Nintendo is limiting this option to certain games, skipping hit titles like Splatoon 2 and Pokémon: Let’s Go. This is a missed opportunity for the company and another point of contention for people not happy with the service.

As you can see, there are many pros and cons of Nintendo Switch Online. Personally, I’ve been enjoying the service, but I think it needs a little work. What are your thoughts on the program so far? Are you enjoying your subscription? Did you decide to pass it up for now? Let us know in the comments below!