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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 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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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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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!

Columns News PlayStation 4 Virtual Reality

Jump Into the World of Kingdom Hearts with PlayStation VR This Holiday Season

Buzz for Kingdom Hearts III is at an all-time high. After years of development, the game will finally release on January 29th, 2019. Square Enix recently released a new trailer for the game, showing off the world of Big Hero 6.

But that’s not the only Kingdom Hearts goodie the publisher had up their sleeve. Square also revealed that they are working on a short, 10-minute VR experience that will bring players into the magical universe of the series.

Kingdom Hearts: VR Experience will take players back to their favorite moments from the franchise. It is being advertised as an “interactive video” that takes about 10 minutes to get through. You will also unlock more content as you play. While this information is vague, we do have a few screenshots that show off some gameplay. You can check them out here!

You can step into the world of Kingdom Hearts this holiday when the title becomes available exclusively on PlayStation VR.

Source: PlayStation

Columns News Nintendo Nintendo Switch

David Hayter is the Voice of Snake in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Many fans were shocked to see the return of Snake in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate earlier this morning. With that announcement, some were wondering who would be doing the voice of Snake this time around. Nintendo’s Bill Trinen and Nate Bihldorff have officially confirmed that David Hayter’s voice will be used for the character in this game.

Trinen and Bihldorff were also asked if Snake would comment on each of the fighters like he did in Brawl. Unfortunately, they had no further info to share, but they did fondly remember the day those lines for Brawl were recorded.

Are you glad that David Hayter and Snake are back? What are your thoughts of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Game Informer

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Pokémon: Let’s Go is a Genius Idea That Will Make More Core Fans

E3 is less than two weeks away, but The Pokémon Company couldn’t quite wait that long to spill the beans on their plans for the future. They held a special media presentation last night (watch it in full right here) and unveiled multiple new games. The big announcement that has everyone talking is Pokémon: Let’s Go (available in Pikachu! and Eevee! versions), a game that returns to Kanto and infuses the classic Pokémon formula with elements from Pokémon GO. Fans have reacted with a wide range of emotions that stretches from ecstatic joy to frustration and hate. Whether or not you think the Let’s Go games are for you, they represent an absolutely brilliant move by Game Freak, and they’re sure to boost the series for years to come.

I’ve seen a lot of people online saying Let’s Go just isn’t for them. If you’re in that crowd, I’d encourage you to give it a shot, but you might be right. It might not be for you. And that’s fine. Your time is coming. Until then, think about the people who fell in love with Pokémon as children but lost interest after a generation or two.

If you haven’t visited Kanto in nearly two decades, imagine having the chance to go see it again with beautiful updated graphics, much more user friendly controls and options, Pokémon roaming the overworld instead of appearing by triggering random encounters, local co-op with your friends and family, and your trusted Pikachu or Eevee at your side. You can ride an Onyx across the land or soar through the air on the back of a Charizard! It’s the game you imagined you were playing as a child, but for real this time.

The fact that you don’t have to weaken a wild Pokémon in battle before throwing a Poké Ball is not likely to be a deal-breaker here.
Let’s Go is going to be extremely attractive for many players with fond memories of Red, Blue, and Yellow who moved on from Pokémon years ago. This is all part of Nintendo’s overall strategy to attract older Nintendo fans who have stopped playing to Switch, and so far it has worked marvelously.

Let’s Go is also obviously designed to pique the interest of Pokémon GO players, which total 800 million since the game’s debut. Now, that doesn’t mean 800 million people are still actively playing the game, but don’t believe people who claim “no one plays Pokémon GO anymore.” That’s utter nonsense.

Pokémon GO may not be topping the charts across the world like it did at launch, but it’s still a massively popular and profitable game with an enormous active player base. According to industry analysts it still has over 9 million active players a month just in the United States alone. Globally that number is still in the tens of millions, and many of those people have never bought a traditional Pokémon game.

Jumping straight from
GO into the eighth generation of main series games would be a confusing and jarring shift for new players. However, if you take that core Pokémon formula, simplify it a bit, and pepper in some of the gameplay from GO, you’ve got something that is much more accessible to fans of the mobile game. Players can even import their favorite Pokémon from GO to feel right at home. Better yet, the game is set in Kanto and puts a new spin on the original story that started it all, so Game Freak is truly giving GO players a proper introduction to what made Pokémon great from the beginning.

If you’re still not satisfied with what Let’s Go has to offer, you don’t have to be. The Pokémon Company has already confirmed that they don’t consider Let’s Go to be the next true main series entry into the franchise. Game Freak is hard at work on the next true “core series RPG,” and it’s coming out next year.

This practically guarantees that the next two holiday seasons will be smash hits for Nintendo. The
Let’s Go games will boost Switch sales as both lapsed gamers from yesteryear and Pokémon GO fans look to upgrade their experience. Pokémon fans who aren’t impressed by Let’s Go will then be drawn the console the next year when the true “core” game launches. Everyone wins.

Let’s Go really does its job, it will impress its players but leave them wanting even more. Then when the next major entries launch in 2019, Let’s Go will serve as the bridge that brings GO fans to the core series for the first time as they continue to crave a deeper Pokémon experience. It’s a brilliant strategy that ensures the Pokémon fan base will continue to grow for years to come. Who knows, Let’s Go could even be expanded into its one series as a permanent halfway point between the “casual” and “core” Pokémon experiences.

Recommended Reading

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Articles Columns Features Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Needs a Portable-Only Switch in Time for Pokémon

Nintendo Switch has been a massive,
record-breaking success in its first year on the market. No doubt much of that success is due to the device’s hybrid nature, functioning both as a home console and a handheld. However, this dual nature isn’t without its downsides. Historically speaking, Nintendo handhelds almost always outsell their home console counterparts, and Switch’s $300 price tag definitely puts it closer to the home console camp economically. With the all-important launch of the first main series Pokémon games on Switch fast approaching, it’s time for Nintendo to get serious about reaching out to the handheld market.

Prior to Switch’s release, Satoru Iwata (the company’s now-deceased former President) teased a few things about his plan for the console. In 2015, he indicated that the console was based on a brand new concept and shouldn’t be seen as a successor to either Wii U or 3DS.

This would seem to be his description of the console’s hybrid nature. However, even before that, Iwata teased way back in 2014 that future Nintendo hardware after Wii U would be something completely different for the company. Iwata envisioned a Nintendo future in which there were no longer significant differences between “home consoles” and “handhelds.” Instead, all Nintendo hardware would exist as “brothers in a family of systems.”

Whether or not Nintendo still shares this vision for Switch in a post-Iwata world remains to be seen, but I’d argue that they should. Iwata made the decision to combine Nintendo’s once-separate handheld and home console divisions in 2013, and Switch is better off for it. Creating a 3DS successor with hardware distinct from Switch is a step backwards, placing a wedge between Nintendo’s development teams once again. Abandoning dedicated handhelds altogether after 3DS is also inadvisable, as Nintendo’s well aware that a low price point is
crucial in driving handheld sales longterm.

As Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima
recently explained to investors, there’s an important difference between a console that’s viewed as “one per household” and “one per person.” 3DS and all of its handheld predecessors fall in the latter category, and Switch falls into the former. When you’re talking about longterm sales potential, that’s a vital distinction, and it’s bad news for Switch. In fact, it’s the primary reason why Nintendo is still supporting 3DS and why they plan to do so until at least 2020.

“Consumers purchased Nintendo 3DS systems in numbers we expected last fiscal year. It has an ample software lineup at a price point that makes the system affordable especially for parents looking to buy for their kids. We expect that demand to continue during this fiscal year as well, so we will continue to sell the product.

“Given that Nintendo Switch is a home gaming system that can be taken on the go, this situation may change if it grows from being a one-per-household system to a one-per-person system. But the price of Nintendo Switch is not something with which most parents would buy a system for every one of their children in a short period of time. Moving forward, we will work to ascertain what kinds of play people want at which price points, and as long as there is such demand, we will continue to sell the Nintendo 3DS system. I see the product coexisting with Nintendo Switch at this point in time.”
— Tatsumi Kimishima

This is the longterm problem Switch faces. Consumers see Switch as a must-have for the living room, but not as a must-have for each of their kids. At $300, can you blame them? Nintendo’s solution to this in Japan is to start selling Switch packages that don’t include the dock. Nintendo is marketing this as a “second set” for your Switch, and it costs about $50 less, making it a little more accessible to consumers on a budget.

This option is a step in the right direction, but $250 is still a tough ask for a handheld when you’re hoping that families will buy it multiple times. That’s the price point both 3DS and Vita launched at, and both stumbled out of the gate. Better software and a price cut eventually salvaged 3DS, but Vita never recovered.

The solution to both the problems of Switch’s price point and eventually replacing 3DS seems clear: Nintendo should make a cheaper, portable-only Switch. According to Digital Foundry’s analysis, a docked Switch’s GPU clocks in at 2.5 times its undocked speed. In other words, when in handheld mode, Switch is only using 40% of its GPU power. A new Switch model exclusively designed for portable play could match the current Switch’s handheld quality while drastically undercutting it in price. A $200 price point would put a portable-only Switch much closer to the cost of previous successful handhelds.

If this is the road Nintendo chooses to travel, they should pack their bags and get hiking sooner rather than later. Pokémon, a franchise which has previously restricted its main series entries to handhelds, is on the way to Switch soon. With its social elements like trading and battling, Pokémon is exactly the kind of game where the distinction between “one per household” and “one per person” become so critical. Pokémon is a much better experience when you can play with and against your siblings (or roommates) instead of waiting for your turn to play the family Switch.

So how does Nintendo avoid branding confusion so they don’t end up with another “Wii U is a tablet controller for your Wii” nightmare scenario? In keeping with the theme of Pokémon‘s important role in the future of Switch, the rumored titles of the upcoming Pokémon games provide a suitable answer.

According to multiple sources (and backed up by domain filings), the two games will be titled Pokémon Let’s GO! Pikachu and Pokémon Let’s Go! Eevee, clear evolutions of the Pokémon GO brand. Nintendo could easily take advantage of this by offering them bundled with the newer, cheaper, portable-only Switch under the name Nintendo Switch GO.

Nintendo Switch is playable in three modes: TV mode, tabletop mode, and handheld mode. Switch GO would allow Nintendo to capitalize on the hype of the new Pokémon titles while accurately explaining exactly what the system is: a Switch that be played in its two on-the-go modes, but not in TV mode. A $200 price point, a must-have piece of software, and clear and compelling branding that ties the software and hardware together would all combine to make Nintendo Switch GO an extremely appealing product. Ideally, Nintendo would still want to get the $300 docked Switch in every home, but Nintendo Switch GO is the brother device in the Switch family that get it to the desired “one per person” state of past Nintendo handhelds.

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Articles Columns Features Indie Nintendo Nintendo Switch Retro

Nintendo’s New Approach to Classic Games is Great for Indies

Nintendo recently opened up and shared some info about the upcoming
Nintendo Switch Online membership program. One of the benefits of becoming a paid subscriber (other than playing online, which will cease to be free in September) is access to a library of digital NES games. As fans suspected, Nintendo has confirmed this means there are no plans for a traditional Virtual Console on Nintendo Switch.

While this marks a shift in strategy for Nintendo, you can bet that they still intend to bring their classic games to Switch in some form. Nintendo hasn’t elaborated on how they plan to release games from classic platforms like SNES and Game Boy Advance, but a likely option is that they will handle them similarly to the NES library. If that’s the direction Nintendo chooses to go, it’s
fantastic news for indie developers.

In the year since Switch launched, it has established itself as a paradise for indie games. Nintendo’s console has helped old games find new life, struggling developers get back on their feet, and previously unknown talents deliver surprise smash hits. Take a stroll around the eShop, and you’ll see some incredible success stories in the world of indie games.

The Zelda-inspired Blossom Tales performed so poorly when it launched on Steam that the developer was on the verge of bankruptcy. After three months on Switch, Blossom Tales had generated 20 times as much revenue on eShop as it had in a year on Steam. This sudden influx of cash brought developer Castle Pixel back from the brink. If it hadn’t been for strong Switch sales, they wouldn’t exist today.

Shovel Knight has been on the market for four years, but just over one year on Switch. Even so, Switch sales make up 17.6% of all Shovel Knight sales. The 8-bit platformer has sold over 370,000 copies on Switch (out of 2 million total) despite the fact that it launched on numerous other platforms years ago. Only the Windows and 3DS versions of the game have sold more copies, and that could easily change as Switch sales continue to surge.

Stardew Valley has sold nearly 1 million copies on Switch alone despite getting it a year and a half after its initial launch. Celeste is selling better on Switch than any other platform. The list goes on and on. If you take a quick glance at the eShop’s Top Sellers list at any given time, there’s a strong chance you’ll see around five or more indie games in the top 15.

The ability to take your games on the go with you is motivation for indies and AAA developers alike to bring their games to Switch, but there’s a lot more driving the success of these smaller titles than just portability. Nintendo sees Switch as a system that’s attractive to gamers that stopped playing. Nintendo is reaching out (quite successfully) to an audience that loved games in the 1990s and have slipped away over time. The Switch audience is ravenous for nostalgia. They want games that remind them of their favorite childhood gaming memories.

The lack of Nintendo-developed 8-bit and 16-bit games on eShop means that games inspired by them can thrive. Would Blossom Tales have been the miracle story it was on Switch if it had to compete directly with A Link to the Past and Minish Cap? Would Golf Story have topped the eShop charts shortly after launch if it was side by side with multiple Mario Golf games? Relegating classic Nintendo games to a service rather than individually purchasable items ensures that deserving indie games can continue to rise to the top and reach a wide audience instead of disappearing in the shadow of the classics that inspired them.

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3DS Articles Columns Features Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Why Nintendo’s Continued Support of 3DS Makes Sense

Nintendo 3DS has enjoyed a lengthy stay in the spotlight as Nintendo’s primary handheld since its debut in 2011. You might think the launch and
incredible sales success of Nintendo Switch (which can also function as a handheld) would spell the end for 3DS, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Nintendo envisions the two co-existing for some time, and they recently announced plans to make new 3DS games until at least 2020. Is Nintendo crazy to continue to support seven-year-old hardware when they’ve got that beautiful, HD Switch screen available? Maybe a little, but there’s a method to their madness.

The most obvious reason for Nintendo to hold off on totally abandoning the 3DS line is the install base. Nintendo Switch has sold
around 18 million units, which is an incredible feat at this early stage in its life, but the 3DS family of systems has sold a combined 72 million units. That’s a ratio of four to one. There aren’t really 72 million active 3DS players (how many people bought and never opened special limited edition 3DS consoles?), but there’s still probably more people playing 3DS than Switch today.

At $300, Switch isn’t exactly a cheap handheld. Its ability to function as a home console as well more than makes up for this, but millions of potential customers (especially parents with young children) need a cheaper option. As current Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima
explained to investors, there’s a world of difference between whether a console is viewed as “one-per-household” or “one-per-person.” Switch is still in the former category, while 3DS (partially thanks to its lower price tag) is thriving in the latter.

“Consumers purchased Nintendo 3DS systems in numbers we expected last fiscal year. It has an ample software lineup at a price point that makes the system affordable especially for parents looking to buy for their kids. We expect that demand to continue during this fiscal year as well, so we will continue to sell the product.

“Given that Nintendo Switch is a home gaming system that can be taken on the go, this situation may change if it grows from being a one-per-household system to a one-per-person system. But the price of Nintendo Switch is not something with which most parents would buy a system for every one of their children in a short period of time. Moving forward, we will work to ascertain what kinds of play people want at which price points, and as long as there is such demand, we will continue to sell the Nintendo 3DS system. I see the product coexisting with Nintendo Switch at this point in time.” — Tatsumi Kimishima

Still, no matter how cheap it is, there will come a time when 3DS is put to bed. Whether or not it gets down into that “one-per-person” price range, the active install base of Switch users will eventually pass 3DS. With Nintendo projecting another 20 million units sold this year, it might not take long. Compare the games coming to 3DS against some of the upcoming Switch releases, and there’s a world of difference.

Nintendo’s upcoming 3DS schedule is largely comprised of ports or remakes, including Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Luigi’s Mansion, and Bowser’s Inside Story. The only other Nintendo-published 3DS games on the docket are Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers, Sushi Striker, WarioWare Gold, which are all low impact franchises with small budgets. In other words, Nintendo isn’t really investing any serious resources into 3DS anymore.

These are all games that can be made quickly and cheaply to cash in on the existing 3DS base, but none of them are system sellers. Nintendo is past the point of attempting to drive 3DS hardware sales. This becomes clear when you shift your focus from the 3DS lineup to some key upcoming Switch games, including the next Pokémon.

Pokémon Sun and Moon were so successful when they launched in November of 2016 that Nintendo was caught off guard by a sudden surge in 3DS interest. 3DS sales had been on the decline for a couple of years, but the handheld became almost impossible to find in late 2016 and early 2017 due to Pokémon fever. This led Game Freak to continue supporting the system with Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, but we know the next main series Pokémon game is coming to Switch instead.

Fire Emblem is another example of a strong, system-selling franchise on 3DS (especially in Japan) that Nintendo has pulled from the aged handheld for Switch. Nintendo tested the waters with Fire Emblem Warriors in Switch’s first year, and now an all-new Fire Emblem game is scheduled to launch sometime later this year on Switch. Given that the new Pokémon game is also aiming to launch this year, it seems clear that this is a deliberate move to convert 3DS as owners as soon as possible.

There’s no doubt that Nintendo Switch is the superior console and Nintendo’s preferred platform for the future, but it’s not quite time to write 3DS off completely. Nintendo will spend 2018 (and beyond) releasing the kind of software that will compel 3DS owners to make the upgrade, but they’ll also continue releasing low-investment titles on 3DS to make some easy cash as 3DS slowly coasts into the history books.

Image source: Luis Alamilla

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Satoru Iwata Would Be Proud of Kimishima’s Presidency

On September 16th, 2015, Tatsumi Kimishima was faced with an impossible task: filling the shoes of Satoru Iwata. Nintendo’s former President was a gaming icon and a beloved figure, and his sudden passing was a tragedy that shook the industry. In taking the torch from Iwata, Kimishima inherited a company that was not only brokenhearted, but also struggling financially. Kimishima
was not Iwata’s first choice for the job, but he stepped up to the plate when no one else was prepared to do so. Three years later, Kimishima is preparing to step down and turn the Presidency over to someone new. Looking back on his brief, but important stint as President, I believe Satoru Iwata would be proud of what he accomplished.

Iwata’s Vision

From the beginning, Kimishima understood that his tenure at the helm of Nintendo was to be a transition period. At the age of 65, he began his term as President when most executives would be thinking about retiring or taking on reduced roles. He stepped into the role knowing that his job was to bring Iwata’s projects to fruition, maintaining his vision for the company while searching for a more suitable long term leader.

In one of his first interviews after being named President, Kimishima pledged to
stay the course and finish what Iwata started. That’s no small task when you consider how many irons Iwata had in the fire, but over the past three years Kimishima has lived up to his word in many ways.

Nintendo Switch is unquestionably the most important of the projects started by Iwata and finished under Kimishima. Iwata first teased the mysterious “NX” console just months before his passing, and two years later it launched to an incredible reception. Switch sales were driven by
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild but also by strong marketing. Under Kimishima, Nintendo made the decision to invest millions into the company’s first ever Super Bowl commercial just before Switch launched, and they’ve continued to give it a strong advertising presence ever since.

During Iwata’s final months as President, he had a change of heart regarding mobile games. Iwata had previously pledged that Nintendo would stay out of the mobile market, but in 2015 he
announced a partnership with DeNA and plans for five mobile games. Under Kimishima Nintendo has already released Miitomo, Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Dragalia Lost and Mario Kart Tour are both on the way, and there have even been rumors of a Zelda game for mobile. There’s still plenty of room for improvement and growth, but Nintendo’s mobile division pulled in ¥39.3 billion last year, or around $358 million. That’s not too shabby for a division that didn’t exist just two years ago.

Towards the end of Iwata’s life, he began to see Nintendo as not just a video game maker, but as
an entertainment company. He later elaborated on this idea by announcing plans for Nintendo theme park attractions and movies. These projects have also progressed swimmingly under Kimishima. Nintendo officially unveiled Super Nintendo World in late 2016, and construction kicked off on the first of three Nintendo theme parks last June. We also learned earlier this year that Nintendo is officially partnering with Illumination Entertainment on a Mario movie.

Iwata’s vision of a broader Nintendo entertainment company is unfolding right before our eyes, and Nintendo’s brand recognition is the strongest it’s been in years. Combine these new ventures with a top-selling new home console and a growing mobile market, and you’ve got a Nintendo that Iwata would be proud to see.

Nintendo’s Success

Image source: AdamzoneTopMarks

In addition to facing the daunting task of replacing Iwata and completing his projects, Kimishima had to restore Nintendo to financial stability. When Iwata passed in 2015, Nintendo was just starting to recover from three straight years of operating losses. Iwata took the fact that Nintendo lost money under his watch very seriously, even going so far as to
slash his own pay in half voluntarily.

Fast forward three years to today and it’s a night and day difference. Nintendo’s latest financial report to investors shows that the company had an incredible operating profit of
$1.6 billion for the past fiscal year—the most for the company since the height of the Wii and DS craze in 2010. Nintendo was never truly at risk of going bankrupt any time soon, but their bank account has a lot more padding these days. Nintendo reported cash and deposits of $4.465 billion back in 2015, but that number is up to nearly $7 billion today.

The company’s place in the hardware market was not strong in 2015. Wii U was a commercial catastrophe, selling far less than any major Nintendo home console before it. 3DS was certainly no failure, but its slow start (which led to a massive price cut just months after launch) cost Nintendo deeply, and it couldn’t compare to the selling power of the original DS.

Once again, the difference three years makes is almost unbelievable. Nintendo Switch has
sold nearly 18 million units in approximately 13 months, which is about 4 million more than Wii U sold in its entire life cycle. You might think that would spell the death of 3DS, but Nintendo’s dedicated handheld is still selling well enough that Nintendo plans to support it until at least 2020.

The continued sales of 3DS,
record-breaking first year for Nintendo Switch, and growing mobile division have all put Nintendo back on the map in a big way. This is never more apparent than when looking at their stock, as Nintendo shares have risen from ¥21,055 to ¥46,180. In other words, the company’s value has more than doubled under Kimishima. If Iwata felt responsible for the company’s financial struggles from 2012 to 2014, he’d be relieved and thrilled to see how profitable they’ve become since then.

Preparing for the Future

As a transitional President, Kimishima’s job was twofold: finish Iwata’s work and prepare Nintendo for the future. Kimishima began work on the latter almost immediately. Iwata’s death left Nintendo with a massive gap in leadership, so Kimishima set out to create
a future-proof system of creativity and decision-making at Nintendo.

As soon as he was promoted, Kimishima announced a
massive restructure for the company. This shake-up included the decision to combine Nintendo’s two most important development branches into a single group led by Shinya Takahashi. It was also at this time that Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda stepped back from their roles as General Managers. Both men still serve as advisers, but Kimishima believes it’s time for younger talents to have more decision-making power.

Since this initial restructure, Kimishima has stayed true to his word on the subject of promoting talent. Kimishima promoted Shinya Takahashi to be the head of Nintendo’s Entertainment Planning & Development Division, and under his guidance they just delivered two of the top-rated Nintendo games of all time:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. This excellence did not go unnoticed, and Takahashi has already been promoted again, this time to Senior Managing Executive Officer. At 39, Takahashi is much younger than many of Nintendo’s key decision makers in the past.

Yoshiaki Koizumi, who serves as Takahashi’s Deputy General Manager, has also been promoted for his hand in Nintendo’s recent success. When Koizumi wasn’t helping Takahashi oversee the development of Nintendo’s biggest games, he was serving as the lead developer of Nintendo Switch hardware. Due to the console’s immense success, Koizumi has been promoted to Executive Officer. Kimishima clearly prioritizes giving more influence to those who have proven themselves.

Lastly, Kimishima’s preparing for the future by choosing his own replacement. Kimishima
promoted Shuntaro Furukawa to Nintendo’s board of Directors in 2016, and since then the two have quietly been planning Nintendo’s future behind the scenes. As Kimishima has worked to make Nintendo’s internal leadership structure more in touch, efficient, and effective, Furukawa has been by his side, advising him on how to put more power in the hands of Nintendo’s younger creatives.

Furukawa, much like Iwata, will be more than just the President of a company that makes games. Iwata famously once said “On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” I believe he’d be happy to know that his long term successor is an avid gamer who has been obsessed with Nintendo since the days of the Famicom. If Kimishima is to believed, Furukawa also has a firm grasp of Nintendo’s core philosophy that won’t allow him to stray from what makes Nintendo special.

Mission Accomplished

No one could ever truly be expected to replace Satoru Iwata in the hearts of Nintendo fans, but Kimishima has accomplished more in his brief stint as President than anyone ever could have imagined. Under Kimishima’s leadership, Nintendo has launched a record-setting console, made a splash in the mobile market, branched out into theme parks and movies, and launched some of its highest-rated games of all time.

Nintendo has progressed from bleeding money to drowning in it, and there’s still more to come. In just three years Kimishima successfully capitalized on nearly all of Iwata’s ideas, elevated Nintendo from financial turmoil to tremendous profitability, and promoted some of the company’s brightest young talents to leadership roles to ensure Nintendo’s continued success in the future. Looking back over Kimishima’s Presidency, I’m sure Iwata would be proud.

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What’s the Worst Video Game Movie of All Time?

In recent years we’ve seen a surge of movies based (often loosely) on popular video games. The idea of seeing your favorite video game characters on the big screen is exciting, but history has shown us that Hollywood has a knack for mishandling them and botching what made their games special in the first place. Of all the game-to-film stinkers over the years, which is the worst of all time?

I can’t exactly narrow my answer down to just a single movie, but there is one particular game-inspired movie franchise that has been a bigger letdown than others. Despite what many people think, I actually enjoy the first two live-action
Resident Evil films quite a bit. Sure, the first one has very little to do with the games, but I always felt like it at least got the general tone of the early games down. It was tense, there was intrigue, and yes, it was a bit campy at times. The sequel, Apocalypse, wasn’t as enjoyable for me, but I appreciated that it borrowed heavily from the second and third games, and I enjoyed its action. The two weren’t objectively great films, but they were a lot of fun, and my friends and I used to watch them all the time when were teens.

From that point on, things went downhill fast. The first two movies contained the threat to a confined space, and the stakes felt so much more real. The characters were in real danger, and, if they didn’t succeed, the world would soon be as well. The third film,
Extinction, throws all of this out the window. Despite the ending of Apocalypse seemingly containing the virus, Extinction opens with the vast majority of the world being, well, extinct. On top of that, Milla Jovovich’s Alice character is basically an unstoppable god. What’s there to be afraid of at this point? The worst thing that could possibly ever happen already happened, and the main character is near invincible. Extinction also made very little effort to draw from the games, causing it to fail as a game-to-film adaptation and as a standalone product. It just plain sucked.

Paul W. S. Anderson continued to crank out three more movies after this (for some unfortunate reason), and the series only got more convoluted and nonsensical as it went. Although, to be fair, the games did the same with
Resident Evil 6. It’s an unfortunate squandering of an iconic IP with a lot of potential.

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Three Big Questions Dragon Ball Super Never Answered

Dragon Ball Super‘s run has sadly come to an end after 131 episodes, but that doesn’t mean the story is finished. We believe there’s a strong chance that the latest iteration of the hit anime franchise will return after a hiatus of a year or so. If and when it does, it’s got some pretty big questions to answer. In the meantime, we’ve got some theories of our own!

What is Vegeta’s New Form?

Dragon Ball Super introduced numerous new transformations throughout its five major story arcs, but the show wasn’t exactly on the ball when it came to explaining them. Little information is given to clarify the existence of new forms, like the one achieved by Trunks in his fight with Zamasu and Goku Black or the berserker form unlocked by Kale prior to the Tournament of Power.

Perhaps the most perplexing new form of all is the one belonging to the Saiyan prince, Vegeta. While both Goku and Vegeta are capable of harnessing the power of the gods by transforming into Super Saiyan Blue (another form which is only loosely explained), only Vegeta managed to unlock the darker blue form seen near the end of the final season. But what is this new form, how was it achieved, and what sort of power does it carry?

According to
Dragon Ball Heroes, Vegeta’s shiny new look is officially called “Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Evolution.” The regular Blue form was briefly referred to as Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (SSGSS), so it’s possible that this new form will eventually be shortened to Super Saiyan Blue Evolution… It’s really for the best.

Beyond its mouthful of a name, we don’t really know anything about the Evolution form, except that it’s extremely powerful. Fans have theorized that it could be the Blue equivalent of Super Saiyan 2, or perhaps a fully mastered version of Super Saiyan Blue.

There is some precedent for a Mastered Blue in the manga, but it doesn’t manifest itself in the same way as what we see in the anime. During Goku’s battle with Fused Zamasu he is briefly able to power up to 100% in Super Saiyan Blue without allowing any of his ki to escape his body. It’s extremely strenuous on his body, and he can’t hold it for long, but Vegeta takes note. Later, Vegeta trains intensely with Whis until he too can internally contain his ki at 100% of Super Saiyan Blue’s power. Just before the Tournament of Power, Vegeta even manages to surpass Goku’s ability to to maintain this mastered version of Blue.

A parallel can certainly be drawn between Mastered Blue in the manga and Vegeta’s new form, but there’s one major difference. Because the manga’s Mastered Blue form is achieved by keeping fully-powered Blue ki inside, it doesn’t give off any aura whatsoever. The Evolution form is frequently surrounded by a deep blue aura, so it can’t quite be the same.

Who is Zalama?

Another mystery in
Dragon Ball Super is the identity and backstory of a character that should, by all logic, be one of the most powerful and important beings in all of the history of the multiverse. Dragon Balls themselves are capable of incredible magic, but their power isn’t limitless. The dragon summoned by gathering all seven orbs together can grant wishes, but the scope of those wishes cannot exceed the power of the one who created the Dragon Balls.

This is important when you take the Super Dragon Balls into consideration, because the dragon they summon has no limitations on its power whatsoever. If Super Shenron can revive multiple universes that were completely erased from existence in the blink of an eye, just how strong is his creator? What type of being can undo destruction caused by Zeno himself?

We don’t know the answer to that, but we do have some clues. According to
a monologue from the knowledgeable Zuno, the Super Dragon Balls were created by the Dragon God Zalama in Year 41 of the Divine Calendar. These planet-sized orbs have been around for a long time. In fact, aside from Buu existing “since time immemorial,” Zalama crafting the Super Dragon Balls is the oldest known event in the history of the multiverse. He then programmed the magic orbs to disperse throughout Universe 6 and Universe 7 whenever they are used. Gods typically stick to their own universe unless they have some business in the territory of another, so distributing his powerful creations across two universes is rather unique behavior.

So who could be that old, that powerful, and that involved in multiple universes? One possibility is that he is essentially a counterbalance to Zeno. We’re told that Zeno alone rules as the supreme being of the multiverse, but is that the whole truth?

Each universe has a trio of divine overseers: A Supreme Kai (or a council of multiple Supreme Kais), a God of Destruction, and an angel. The Supreme Kai and God of Destruction are two sides of the same coin. The Kais create, the Gods of Destruction… well, destroy. The two are soul bound, and if one dies the other will perish as well. Together, they balance each other out and maintain order in their universe. Meanwhile, the angel is an attendant to the God of Destruction, filling the roles of both humble servant and wise teacher.

Above all of the universes and their divine hierarchies reigns Zeno alone, or so we’re told. However, the relationship between Grand Priest and Zeno seems virtually identical to what we see between angels and Gods of Destruction. If you follow this line of logic, you’ll realize we’ve never once seen Zeno create anything. We’ve seen him destroy people he doesn’t like. We’ve seen him destroy planets as part of a childish game. We’ve seen him erase entire universes before our eyes, and we’re told that he’s done it to six other universes in the past. Even when he erases all of reality in Future Trunks’ timeline, we get no indication that he has any intent of filling that void back up. Instead, he simply floats aimlessly through the nothingness.

If Zeno serves the role of God of Destruction (under the angelic eye of Grand Priest) for the entire multiverse, there must be a creator to balance him out. If Zalama’s power is great enough that he can restore eight universes at once, I can’t think of a better candidate. Let’s hope
Dragon Ball explores the story of Zalama in the future.

What are Frieza’s Ambitions?

Oh, Frieza, you crafty devil. Within seconds of being resurrected for the Tournament of Power he was sucker-punching Goku, and just minutes later he attempted to betray his entire universe. You gotta love him. Which is why I’m surprised that we didn’t get to see Frieza act out the kind of nefarious plan that would send a chill down the spines of the Gods themselves.

Just prior to entering the tournament (right around the time Frieza traps Goku inside a blast of energy from a God of Destruction), Frieza comes to a realization about the rulers of reality. With his new and improved Gold transformation fueling him and the Tournament of Power as his stage, Frieza declares he’s ready to manipulate the Gods.

Unfortunately, he never gets this chance. We get to see him manipulate Universe 6’s Frost early on, but the latter half of the tournament sees him repeatedly reviving Goku and sacrificing himself to give others a breather. Some may see this as the beginning of a redemption arc for the self-proclaimed Emperor of the Universe, but I see it as a calculation. I don’t believe Frieza has given up his divine ambitions, but he’s smart enough to see the big picture and know that those “noble” actions were necessary to prevent his erasure.

Long-term I can’t see Frieza being satisfied with anything other than supremacy over the multiverse. Now that he’s seen the peak of the mountain, I doubt anything will stop his drive to climb. Of course, he’s got a long way to go, seeing as he can’t even best Goku or Vegeta. If Frieza wants to shoot for a more attainable goal in the short term, he should set his sights on Beerus’ job.

It’s no secret that Universe 7’s God of Destruction, as great of a character as he is, is lousy at his job. To Beerus, being God of Destruction means taking decades-long naps and destroying planets at random when you wake up. Whis has often chastised Beerus for his laziness, and he has repeatedly pushed both Goku and Vegeta to surpass Beerus in power and challenge him for his job. The manga even shows that Beerus is despised by most of the Gods of other universes. While the audience may disagree, few in the
Dragon Ball multiverse would consider Beerus’ downfall to be lamentable. Frieza even has experience in the role, as Beerus has previously used Frieza as his instrument of destruction.

You may not think Whis would stand for someone as evil as Frieza serving as God of Destruction, but Beerus hasn’t exactly been a benevolent ruler. Whis also seems to have warmed up to the villain somewhat by the end of the tournament. Besides, if Frieza ever oversteps his bounds and destroys beyond what the universe can sustain, Goku and Vegeta are sure to respond.

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Are Loot Boxes a Deal-Breaker for You?

Ever since Overwatch skyrocketed to popularity we’ve seen a massive increase in the number of video games that include loot boxes. This trend made mainstream news thanks to the catastrophically poor reception of Star Wars Battlefront II, prompting politicians to consider regulatory legislation. The government likely won’t give loot boxes the permanent boot, but many fans are. When you hear an upcoming game features loot boxes, is it a deal-breaker for you?

For me, it all depends on how they’re implemented. If loot boxes give you items that aid your in-game progress, I start to take issue. If loot boxes give you items that give you an upper hand in multiplayer competition, I’m out. Games that restrict loot boxes to cosmetic options are less of a problem, but they don’t necessarily get a free pass. The fact that games like Overwatch have you spending real money to get in-game items you might already have is obnoxious to me, even if you do get some currency for it. I’d also like to see more developers disclose the full odds of obtaining any item, so players understand the gamble they’re taking.

Where do you draw the line, if at all, when it comes to loot boxes? Sound off in the comments below!

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What’s Your All-Time Favorite April Fool’s Video Game Joke?

Today is the first of April, and as always, that means it’s time to put on your skeptic hat, pick up your bullcrap detector, and wade out into the world of ridiculous jokes, pranks, and Half-Life 3 confirmations. Most April Fool’s jokes in the video game industry are easy to spot, but they can still be a lot of fun. Of all the gags you’ve seen over the years, which April Fool’s video game joke is your favorite?

For me, it’s a two way tie between a pair of jokes that had lasting impact. The first is IGN’s old
Legend of Zelda movie trailer. While I thought it was an obvious fake from the beginning, it was clear that they put a lot of time and effort into it. In fact, it actually succeeded at fooling many people, and even years later I’d still see that old trailer re-surface on Facebook from time to time. What I really liked most about this video is that the team behind it, RainfallFilms, made a name for themselves and continued to create quality productions, including a fantastic re-imagining of Metroid with a 1960s sci-fi vibe.

Another joke-turned-masterpiece is Google Maps’ Pokémon Challenge from 2014. This fun little app allowed fans to search for Pokémon via Google Maps, and that idea eventually became the basis for Pokémon GO, one of the biggest video game phenomenons in years. Not a bad follow-up to a joke!

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Gohan Was Dragon Ball Super’s Biggest Disappointment

One of the most iconic scenes in any iteration of the
Dragon Ball franchise is Gohan’s transformation into an ultra-powerful Super Saiyan 2 warrior in his battle against Perfect Cell. In that moment, Gohan transcended every known limit to become the strongest character the series had ever seen, surpassing both his father and Vegeta. A lot has changed for Gohan since then, and not for the better. Looking at him in Dragon Ball Super, you’d be hard-pressed to believe they’re even the same character. Now that Dragon Ball Super has finished its run (at least for now) it’s time to look back on just how big of a disappointment Gohan turned out to be.

It’s true that Gohan hasn’t ever quite had the same drive as his father. As a half-blood Saiyan, he lacks the unquenchable thirst for combat that’s shared by Goku and Vegeta. If he can help it, Gohan is a lover (and a scholar), not a fighter, but there are times when you
need to be able to fight in order to protect the ones you love. In this regard, Super‘s portrayal of Gohan falls short time and time again.

When Beerus shows up on Earth looking for a fight, Gohan transforms into his Ultimate form and rushes the God of Destruction, only to be defeated in a single blow. That in itself is nothing to be ashamed of, as Super Saiyan 3 Goku suffered the same fate against Beerus on King Kai’s planet, but the difference is in how that shortcoming impacted them.

Goku realized just how much room he still had to grow and just how dangerous the universe really is, fueling his passion for self-improvement to new heights. Gohan, on the other hand, admittedly fails to keep up with his training at all. A year later when Frieza is resurrected and invades Earth, Gohan’s strength has declined so much that he isn’t even completely certain if he’s able to go Super Saiyan anymore. Thankfully, it turns out he can, but he never manages to push past it to Super Saiyan 2 or Ultimate Gohan, and when he attempts to stand up to Frieza, the so-called Emperor of the Universe
completely defeats him without ever even leaving his seat.

Gohan is so utterly incapable of defending himself that Piccolo ends up sacrificing his own life to save Gohan’s in a moment that mirrors a famous scene from the Saiyan Saga of
Dragon Ball Z. While it’s nice to see Piccolo’s continued affection for Gohan, it’s a bit depressing to consider that the first time this happened Gohan was five years old. It’s time to grow up.

He seems to realize this for himself at the end of Super‘s second season. After finding himself as nothing more than target practice to Frieza, Gohan implores Piccolo to train him until he can become strong enough to protect those he loves. Could this finally be a turning point for the character?

In a word: no. Gohan
is seen training with Piccolo briefly in season 3, but this is just a cruel tease. When he finds out that his universe has been pitted against another in a tournament decreed by the Gods of Destruction, he volunteers to join the team. Just as quickly as he gives hope to his long-suffering fanbase, he rips it away. Seconds after volunteering to join the fight, he retracts his offer, remembering that there’s a conference coming up that he had planned to attend.

Gohan continues to sit out every major brawl over the course of season 3 and season 4 (no, for the love of Zeno, we’re not counting the Great Saiyaman), settling into his roles of loving husband and doting father. It’s not until the fifth season, when the fate of the entire multiverse is at stake, that Gohan finally returns to training and starts to get serious. Is
this finally his redemption? Well, that depends on how you look at it.

During the Tournament of Power we finally get to see Gohan win some key fights. He manages two solo KOs, pairs up with Piccolo for two more, helps Frieza take down Dyspo, and is part of a six man team that defeats Universe 3’s merged monster, Anilaza. He’s far from the fight’s MVP, but at least he makes his presence known.

One of his shining moments during the tournament comes when a Namekian from Universe 6 unleashes a devastating attack meant for Piccolo. In a reversal of roles, Gohan steps in front of the blast and saves Piccolo. It’s a beautiful moment that seems to be telling the audience Gohan is no longer a helpless child who needs defending. Unfortunately, the very next episode sees him getting knocked off the stage when he lets his guard down, and Piccolo is once again forced to rescue him. It’s a small but frustrating detail that undermines the impact of the previous episode.

In the end, Gohan is knocked off the edge and eliminated while helping Frieza defeat Dyspo. That in itself isn’t much of a letdown, and he actually made it further than I expected. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see any real improvement for the character. When Gohan (finally) resumes his training with Piccolo before the Tournament of Power, he once again unlocks his Ultimate form. However, Piccolo tells him that he has not reached the full extent of his power and that he can go much further.

Goku and Vegeta achieve multiple new forms throughout Super, and even surpass their limits to unlock new transformations during the tournament itself. Gohan…does not. Over 40 episodes after Piccolo senses that Gohan has a great deal of untapped potential (more potential than even Goku and Vegeta, according to Vegeta himself), Gohan still has the same limited arsenal of transformations and fighting techniques that he’s had since the Buu saga in 1996.

Dragon Ball Super has been a wild and enjoyable ride, but Gohan’s treatment sticks out as a shortcoming, especially when compared to the impressive development of characters like Vegeta and Android 17. Thankfully, it’s a near certainty that Super will return, giving Gohan another shot at redemption. The Tournament of Power was a step in the right direction for Gohan compared to earlier seasons. Hopefully witnessing the incredible power of fighters across the multiverse is enough to keep Gohan from suffering any further setbacks on his journey to reaching his potential.

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Don’t Worry, Dragon Ball Super Will Be Back Soon

It’s been a wild ride since
Dragon Ball Super made its debut in 2015. Goku, Vegeta, and friends have discovered other universes, battled gods, faced off against old foes, traveled to the future, and broken past their limits time and time again. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and Toei Animation recently announced that episode 131 will be the final Dragon Ball Super story. If you’ve been loving this Dragon Ball revival, don’t fret! There’s no way the series is gone.

The fact of the matter is, Dragon Ball Super is just way too popular for Toei to pull the plug for long. The Dragon Ball franchise is a huge part of what’s keeping Toei profitable. Since Super made its debut, overall profits for the Dragon Ball brand have skyrocketed. In 2014, Dragon Ball as a whole generated ¥1.174 billion, or about $11.2 million. In 2017, that number rose to ¥9.288 billion, or around $88.7 million. That’s nearly eight times the profits from just a few short years ago. There’s no way Toei is going to let that kind of money disappear.

The second thing to consider is that
Dragon Ball Super‘s narrative simply isn’t complete yet. It might seem hard to top a season where the fate of the multiverse is at stake, but there’s more story to tell. Toyotaro is the illustrator on the Dragon Ball Super manga, and he’s also series creator Akira Toriyama’s chosen successor. According to Toyotaro, the goal is for Super‘s story to catch up with the ending of Dragon Ball Z. While the bulk of Z‘s story wraps up with the defeat of Buu in Age 774, there are a few final episodes that follow a ten year time skip from the Buu saga. Dragon Ball Super picks up a few years after Buu’s death, taking place in between the end of the Buu saga and the final episodes of Z. The current Tournament of Power story is set in December of 780, six years after the Buu saga. That means there’s still another three and a half years left in between Super‘s current age and the ending of Z that Toyotaro wishes to revisit.

Next up on the list of clues that Super will return is the upcoming movie. A new movie (with Toriyama involved) is set to launch this December. Although there’s no official title for it yet, Toei Animation has confirmed that it will be the first movie to carry the “Super” title, and will follow after the events of episode 131. Even though Battle of Gods and Resurrection ‘F’ are set during the first two seasons of Super, they were known as Dragon Ball Z movies. Why switch branding to the Super name just as you’re retiring it? With the series taking some time off, launching a movie under the Super brand is the perfect way to get fans excited for the show’s revival.

Dragon Ball Super goes off air, it will be replaced in its time slot by the latest iteration of Gegege no Kitarō. However, flyers from Toei indicate that the show’s run is planned for around 50 episodes. With episodes airing weekly, Dragon Ball Super‘s time slot could become available again as early as April or May of 2019, just a few months after the movie makes its debut. Fittingly, April also marks the 30th anniversary of Dragon Ball Z‘s debut in Japan.

Voice actors from the show recently gave their thoughts on the finale, and several gave hints that the show will be back. Masako Nozawa, who voices Goku, Gohan, and Goten, stated that the show is “taking a little break,” but she hopes it will return “while the iron is still hot.”

Piccolo voice actor Toshio Furukawa expressed similar sentiments, stating “While this episode marks the end of the TV anime for now, I expect that it will probably start up again. Of course everyone should look forward to the movie in December, but also look forward to what will happen afterwards!

Krillin voice actor Mayumi Tanaka gave perhaps the clearest indication that the voice team expects to return, telling fans “Dragon Ball will definitely keep on going, so this doesn’t really feel like the final episode. The TV anime may end, but there’s still the movie and games…I think it’ll be back again before too long!

Toriyama himself has even hinted at a return, telling fans “Now then, the animated version on TV will be ending for the time being…” So
Dragon Ball Super is going away for awhile, but this is almost certainly not the end, and it’s probably for the best. The year off (or however long it may be) provides numerous benefits. Animators from the show can focus their efforts on making the upcoming movie a masterpiece. Toyotaro can take the year to get the manga caught up to the anime, and the English anime can catch up to its Japanese counterpart. Then, when the series makes its return, Toei’s team will have had plenty of time to plan, write, and animate the return of Dragon Ball Super.

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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Five Ways the Next Zelda Can Surpass Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was one of the highest-rated games of 2017, a decorated winner of numerous Game of the Year Awards, and is already one of the top-selling games in Zelda history. With the Champions’ Ballad DLC out in the wild, Nintendo has already moved on from this masterpiece and onto their next, confirming last December that the next Zelda is already in development. If you’re Nintendo, how can you possibly go about topping Breath of the Wild? We’ve got a few ideas in mind.

A More Original Setting and Story

Although not a reboot, Breath of the Wild marked a major shake-up to the Zelda series. Pushing aside the linear, narrative-driven progression of previous entries like Skyward Sword, the first Zelda on Switch gave players a vast, open world to explore and a story that they could uncover at their own pace. In addition to this retooling of the Zelda formula, Breath of the Wild also borrowed elements, such as clothing with defensive stats, from more modern action-RPGs that Nintendo has previously avoided.

Because Nintendo took so many risks with the gameplay, they ended up playing it pretty safe when it came to the game’s story and setting. The typical “Ganon’s trying to break out of his seal and take over Hyrule again” story is a little played out, but it was probably the right call for Zelda‘s debut on Switch. Breath of the Wild was likely the first ever Zelda for many players and the first in a long time for Switch owners who are just getting back into Nintendo. But now that you’ve re-established the franchise for a new generation, it’s time to freshen things up!

One option that would allow for direct continuity from
Breath of the Wild would be to explore the vast realm of Hyrule presented in Zelda II: Adventure of Link. Based on that game’s map, the “Hyrule” of most Zelda games is actually just a small portion of a much vaster world. In this comparison shot you can see how the entire map of the original Zelda game corresponds to just a fraction of the Zelda II map. Breath of the Wild‘s map roughly corresponds with it as well, with Death Mountain to the north (although Death Mountain itself is just in the northeast corner, a mountain range covers the entire border further north), a sea along the east and south coasts, and more mountains along the west and southwest parts of the map. With Ganon defeated (for now), a new threat could easily call for Link and Zelda to venture north to explore the world beyond for the first time in over thirty years.

We also know that
Twilight Princess began development as a sequel to Wind Waker but shifted gears early on. Over a decade later, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to revisit this idea. With the improved hardware capabilities of Switch over GameCube, Nintendo could craft much bigger, livelier islands with more content to populate the Great Sea. Imagine an ocean full of islands the size of the Great Plateau, each with its own unique environment, inhabitants, enemies, and quests.

Perhaps an even better option would be to craft a completely original world from scratch. One of the biggest reasons
Majora’s Mask has such a passionate fanbase is the way the game plucked us out of the familiarity and comfort of Hyrule and immersed us in a strange new land. Despite recycling the graphics engine (and even character models) from Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask felt fresh, foreign, and foreboding.

Bring Back Traditional Dungeons

The lack of traditional temples and dungeons is probably my biggest gripe in Breath of the Wild. Gone are the usual fire temples, water temples, and so on, replaced by the combination of Shrines and Divine Beasts. In the early parts of the game I found seeking out shrines, solving puzzles, and retrieving loot to be rewarding, but eventually I began to crave a more traditional Zelda dungeon experience. Upon arriving at my first Divine Beast, I quickly learned they would not fill that role either.

A good Zelda dungeon should blend exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat together inside an interesting and unique environment. Shrines tended to offer an either/or scenario when it came to puzzles and combats, and Divine Beasts focused almost exclusively on the former. Meanwhile, neither type of “dungeon” in Breath of the Wild offered much in the way of exploration or interesting surroundings. Specific puzzles may stick out to me as particularly clever, but the lack of individuality means there aren’t any dungeons that are memorable overall.

Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma has long been enamored with the idea of blurring the lines between overworld and dungeon, and Breath of the Wild missed out on a perfect opportunity to put this into action. Using your Sheikah Slate to ride an elevator down into a Shrine with the same basic design as the last 100 Shrines you visited is about as far away from that idea as possible.

Why not instead flesh out notable locations like the Statue of the Eighth Heroine, the buried Arbiter’s Grounds, or the Coliseum Ruins? With a little more effort put into the interior level design, any of these would make a fine dungeon. Because Breath of the Wild gives you freedom to climb all over just about anything, dungeons could be designed with multiple possible entrances, much like the Skull Woods dungeon in A Link to the Past.

Hyrule Castle was a good first step in this direction. You can transition from the overworld to the “dungeon” while barely even noticing, and there are multiple points of entry that don’t require any break in the action. Once you’re inside, you find you’re in a unique environment with its own map, there are rewarding collectibles that will permanently assist you on your quest, and there’s a real, named boss (not just a stronger version of an overworld enemy) to battle at the end. I’ll take that over a dozen Shrines any day.

More Permanent Items and Weapons

While I don’t agree with the critics that feel Breath of the Wild‘s weapon durability system was overly frustrating, I think there’s some truth to the complaints about constant weapon shattering. Unlocking a chest by battling through a horde of enemies, solving a mind-boggling puzzle, or uncovering a well-hidden secret area is a rewarding moment in Zelda games, but it can be a little underwhelming if you know your prize is going to become unusable after a few hits. There’s just not as much satisfaction in a earning a temporary item as there is in permanently upgrading your arsenal.

That’s not to say that Nintendo needs to flood the next Zelda game with unbreakable swords, bows, and shields. There are plenty of other absent items from Zelda‘s history that could improve Breath of the Wild’s successor. The Hookshot could be used for quicker traversal and for stealing enemy items. Iron Boots could return to open up underwater exploration and to protect Link from strong winds. The Lens of Truth could be used to uncover hidden objects and rooms. The Goron Bracelet or Titan’s Mitt could enable Link to lift otherwise unmovable objects. The series could bring back magic, like the Medallions of A Link to the Past or Din’s Fire from Ocarina of Time.

Breath of the Wild’s Runes were a good push in this direction, but giving them all to the player early on means less opportunities for player growth throughout the lengthy adventure. Whether it’s items from past games, an expanded arsenal of Runes, or new collectibles we haven’t imagined yet, the next Zelda would do well to keep the player rewarded with a steady stream of permanent upgrades.

Greater Diversity of Enemies

The land of Hyrule in Breath of the Wild is a remarkable feat of game development. It’s massive in scale, robust in content, and stunningly beautiful, and you can run, climb, and fly over every inch of it. With such a vast and wondrous Hyrule to explore, it’s a shame there’s so few unique enemy types to encounter along the way.

When I voyage into a frozen tundra I should be running into far more unique, ice-based enemies and far fewer Ice-Breath Lizalfos, Ice Keese, and Ice Chuchus. Breath of the Wild does an excellent job of creating diverse environments, but not of populating them with diverse enemies. Where are the Dodongos in Death Mountain? Where are the Deku Babas in the forest areas? Where are the Poes, the Dark Nuts, the Redeads, the Like Likes, and the Wallmasters?

You can only fight so many Moblins and Lizalfos before it gets old, no matter how many different colors they come in or how many different kinds of arrows they shoot at you. Having color-coded tiers of enemy difficulties is a good way of conveying enemy strength and player growth, but it’s not an excuse to skimp on the overall number of different monsters. Redundant monsters also exacerbate the earlier problem of effectively satisfying the player with treasure chests. When you’re killing the same enemy types for the thousandth time in order to get a weapon that will quickly break, it can feel like a bit of a grind at times.

A More Pronounced Soundtrack

I’ll be completely honest here. I was originally going to be really petty and go with “Something that lets you climb in the rain” here. I know it’s such a minor detail compared to the other changes I’ve called for, but it’s so frustrating that even after beating the game, I’m helpless if I’m caught in the rain on the side of a cliff. I can chop down Lynels and Guardians without breaking a sweat, but rain can still defeat me. I can’t count how many times I wished I could play the Song of Storms.

Of course, to do that Link would need some kind of musical instrument, which is something that was notably lacking in Breath of the Wild. Sure, Kass plays his ballads, but it’s not the same as Link himself. From the eight instruments on Koholint Island to the titular Ocarina of Time to the Spirit Flute, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing Link with a magical instrument. There’s just something fantastical about shaping the world around you with the power of music, and it’s an element that I missed in Link’s latest adventure.

In fact, Breath of the Wild was a little light in the music department in general. Large chunks of gameplay have no music at all, and much of the soundtrack is soft piano that all sort of blends together in the background. Towns and other important locations change things up a bit, but there just aren’t many songs in Breath of the Wild that have stuck with me like the Gerudo Valley music in Ocarina of Time or the Dragon Roost Island theme from Wind Waker.

The most memorable music in the game for me is theme that plays whenever Link is spotted by a Guardian. It’s intense and dramatic, and it instantly gets your heart pumping. The second you hear those first few keys played the tone is set for your terrifying encounter. A good soundtrack puts you in the right mood for whatever environment or situation you’re entering, and Breath of the Wild‘s music was often too subtle to do that as effectively or memorably as previous Zelda games.

Banner image source: De-monVarela

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Articles Columns Features Indie Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Five Must-Have Indie Games on Nintendo Switch

Nintendo recently treated us to another
Nindies Showcase, highlighting some of the most exciting upcoming Switch eShop games from independent developers. When these titles hit Nintendo’s online store, they’ll be joining an already robust arsenal of top-notch games from talented developers. You may have bought your Switch for first-party Nintendo masterpieces like Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, but there has been a steady flow of incredible games from smaller teams in between the AAA releases, and some of them are simply too good to pass up. Here’s five must-have indie games on Nintendo Switch!

Axiom Verge

If you’re a
Metroid fan and you haven’t picked up Axiom Verge yet, what are you doing with your life? Axiom Verge hits you right out of the gate with an eerily compelling sci-fi soundtrack and a retro-styled cutscene that would feel right at home on Super Nintendo or SEGA Genesis. Then it quickly drops you into a massive, alien overworld, and your adventure begins.

Axiom Verge combines the incredible explorability of a game like Super Metroid with an intriguing narrative told partially through cutscenes and partially by the ancient writings you find hidden throughout the land of Sudra. Each of the game’s nine sprawling regions has its own unique flora and fauna, color scheme, background design, and music that perfectly sets the tone for what lies within. You’ll want to explore every inch and uncover every secret.

On top of excellent level design,
Axiom Verge features a wide variety of upgrades, items, and weapons. Some are needed to progress through the game, but many are optional rewards gifted to the player for diligent exploration. With dozens of guns to choose from, there’s a weapon for every scenario and play style. You’ll want to grab as many as you can, because boss fights are intense, heart-pounding endurance matches with massive monsters.

Axiom Verge was crafted virtually singlehandedly by developer Tom Happ, making its high quality even more astounding. It’s not only one of my favorite indies on Switch, but one of my favorite games of all time. If you want to know even more about this impressive Metroidvania adventure, you can check out a full review here.

Current price: $20

Ittle Dew 2

The award-winning Breath of the Wild should be enough to scratch your itch for massive 3D Zelda games for awhile, but what about a more traditional top-down experience? That’s where Ittle Dew 2 comes in. Battle monsters, explore an exotic island, and tackle eight main dungeons (with just as many secret dungeons and special dungeons) in any order you want, all on a quest for loot and a magic raft.

Puzzles are where Ittle Dew 2 truly shines. Each dungeon is filled with a variety of imaginative puzzles that will challenge your brain. Protagonist Ittle is armed with four tools for puzzle-solving: a melee weapon for smackin’ stuff, a ring that creates blocks of ice and freezes enemies, a wand that can be used to move blocks from a distance, and good ol’ handy dynamite.These same items are used for bashing baddies as well. Ittle Dew 2‘s combat isn’t as polished as Zelda‘s, but it’s serviceable for a game that’s more focused on challenging your mind.

Exploring the island is an absolute joy in Ittle Dew 2. Each dungeon is part of its own unique, themed region, like the candy-coated shores of Sweetwater Coast or the Old West Pepperpain Prairie with its rivers of hot sauce. Each region also has its own distinct music, and every track is terribly catchy. The inhabitants of the island are all amusing, with Ittle Dew and her companion Tippsie often bantering with them in a way that reminds me of Banjo and Kazooie. It all combines for a charming atmosphere.

On Nintendo Switch you’ll even get some extra content in the form of the Dream World. This new region contains five exclusive dungeons that each present a unique challenge by only allowing you to use certain items. As you progress through these new challenges, you’ll collect cards that give you background info on the various characters and NPCs in the game, adding to the lore. If you want to know more about this Zelda-inspired island adventure, you can check out a full review here.

Current price: $30

Mighty Gunvolt Burst

Mighty No. 9, how you failed us. What was supposed to be a beautiful spiritual successor to Mega Man felt like a sloppy and soulless knock-off, but thankfully something good came out of all that bad. Mighty Gunvolt Burst is something of a de-make of Mighty No. 9 crossed over with Inti Creates’ Azure Striker Gunvolt series. Mighty No. 9‘s levels have been redesigned in an 8-bit style, and they can be traversed as either Beck or Gunvolt, with Ekoro joining after launch as DLC.

The run and gun gameplay feels much closer to
Mega Man right out of the gate, but the game’s real hook is its weapon system. Rather than following the typical formula of “beat a boss and steal its weapon,” Mighty Gunvolt Burst unlocks all the different weapon types from the beginning, but they’re all fairly puny to start out. As you progress through the game, you unlock upgrades that can be equipped to your gun by spending cost points. You can make your shots bigger, faster, dissipating, homing, and so much more.

Mighty Gunvolt Burst is an addicting action-platformer with the right blend of that classic feel and new features. It’s a little on the short side, but unlocking new weapon upgrades, experimenting with customization, and replaying levels for high scores will keep you engaged.

Current price: $10

Golf Story

I picked up Golf Story on a whim a few days ago, and I haven’t been able to put it down since. I’ve never been a huge fan of golf sims, but I remember having some fun with some of the simpler ones like Mario Golf: Advance Tour years ago on Game Boy Advance. After hearing some good things from friends and colleagues, I decided to give Golf Story a shot, and I got a lot more than just a golf game!

The story follows a former golfer returning to the sport for the first time in 20 years. You’re determined to make it big, but right now you can’t even get the coach at the dumpiest course around to train you! By engaging with the local inhabitants of Wellworn Grove and taking on their quests and golfing challenges, you’ll make connections, level up (increasing stats like power and accuracy), and make a name for yourself in the world of golf.

Quests range from battling an army of evil skeletons to tracking bothersome moles back to their hideout to smashing pumpkins because a possessed, talking stone said you should. The game has an off-beat sense of humor that, at its best times, reminds me of a tamer
EarthBound. Early in the game, challenges are just tutorials to teach you the basics and some useful techniques, but as you progress, NPCs will come up with progressively harder shots for you to tackle.

Golf Story is also much larger than I expected, as you’ll eventually leave Wellworn Grove to travel to other themed locations, such as the sunny Bermuda Isles or the frozen Coldwind Wastes. There are eight total areas, and each one is packed with a variety of colorful characters, side quests, challenges, and collectibles. Each area also has an official golf course (which you can replay as many times as you’d like to try to improve your score), as well as some smaller courses and a “secret course” provided by an NPC. There’s tons to do from start to finish, and you’ll be having fun the whole way.

Current price: $15


I’ve always been a fan of action-platformers like Mega Man X and Metroid, but I’m a lot more hesitant to pick up a game where the platforming itself is the game’s greatest antagonist. Tough-as-nails platformers that require precisely timed jumps through never-ending death traps have always been frustrating to me, but something about Celeste caught my eye during the January Nintendo Direct. I decided to give it a try a few weeks later, and it quickly became one of my favorite Switch games.

Celeste drew me in with a beautiful pixel art style and an engrossing soundtrack that’s equal parts soothing and haunting. Unlike many platformers, it also features a fairly impactful story. You play as a young woman named Madeline on a journey of self-discovery, and more literally, on a journey up a treacherous mountain. Madeline’s frustration and determination matches your own as you take on progressively harder challenges that will test your wits, your timing, and your sanity.

Thankfully, the game isn’t unfairly punishing. Levels are lengthy and comprised of multiple challenges, but each challenge is short, usually spanning only a screen or two. Much like
Super Meat Boy, you’ll instantly respawn at the start of a challenge after death. This means there’s no frustrating wait times between deaths, which is important due to the fact that you’re going to be dying a lot. If you find yourself too stumped to go on, the game’s Assist Mode allows you to allows you to modify the rules to reduce its difficulty. This includes options such as slowing the game speed, granting yourself invincibility or infinite stamina, and skipping chapters entirely. I never used this mode on my original playthrough, which means I died over 2,000 times reaching the mountain’s summit. I’m glad I toughed it out, because the feeling of conquering a brutal challenge after numerous failures is exhilarating.

Celeste also excels in the area of content, as every single level has an alternate, harder version called a B-Side that you can unlock. I’ve already put around 15 hours into the game, and I’ve only beaten half of the total levels. Throw in the challenge of getting a 100% rate for collectibles, and you’ve got a game that will keep challenging you long after the credit roll. If you want to find out more about this beautiful, brutal mountain-climbing adventure, you can check out a full review here.

Current price: $20

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