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Celeste Raises the Bar for Storytelling in Games

If you’re anything like me, you were probably ecstatic when Celeste got a Game of the Year nomination for The Game Awards 2018. It may not have won, but the team at Matt Makes Games did go home with two other notable awards: “Best Independent Game” and “Games for Impact.” The latter, according to the Game Awards site, is “for a thought-provoking game with a profound pro-social meaning or message.” If you’ve played Celeste or are at least familiar with its themes of struggling with depression and anxiety, you’ll know this award was very well deserved.

I’m hardly the first to write about Celeste‘s portrayal of mental illness—I’m not even the first here at Gamnesia to sing the game’s praises—but as someone deeply touched by the game due to my own anxiety, I wanted to talk about how Celeste brilliantly blends this story with its challenging gameplay, and why that hands-down makes it my game of the year.

Warning: There will be major plot spoilers past this point.

If you follow game criticism, you might know of the term “ludonarrative dissonance.” This refers to when a video game’s story and gameplay do not mesh particularly well. For a recent example, look no further than Octopath Traveler (a game I also quite enjoyed). The game follows eight protagonists with individual goals and narratives, who wind up traveling together for no apparent reason aside from giving the player a full party, as per the JRPG norm.

Since the order of story chapters can vary per player, Octopath makes no real attempt to intertwine the travelers’ separate tales. In fact, story cutscenes only feature that particular chapter’s protagonist—on occasion you see the protagonist tossed into a prison cell alone, only to have the full party appear in jail with them when gameplay resumes. The game attempts to compensate for this with optional dialogue scenes in which the leader chats with another character about the chapter’s events, but while entertaining, this comes off more as a tiny bandage than an actual narrative solution.

So why do I bring up ludonarrative dissonance? Because Celeste pulls off the exact opposite, blending the game’s story beats with appropriate gameplay and level design, thus bringing out the best in each part. Arguably the best example of this occurs during the story’s turning point in Chapter 6. After Madeline finally opens up to Theo about her struggle with depression and how that motivated her to climb Celeste Mountain, she thinks the solution is to leave behind her vices and negative energy, which have taken the form of the antagonist Badeline (typically referred to as “Part of Me” in-game, but Badeline is her official name according to Towerfall). This attempt to deny the parts of her that she hates backfires when Badeline retaliates and tosses Madeline halfway back down the mountain.

Farther into the chapter, Madeline realizes that Badeline, being “Part of [Her],” cannot be destroyed or left behind, and she tries to make amends, proposing they work together. Badeline, who shares Madeline’s fears and anxieties about the climb, pushes back at first, creating the closest thing Celeste has to a boss battle. The two eventually make peace, and as they merge into a more powerful form, the words “LEVEL UP” flash on-screen.

Celeste has no actual level-up system, but the player quickly discovers that Madeline can now do not one, but two mid-air dashes per jump, which aids her in finishing the climb in Chapter 7. Here, rather than ludonarrative dissonance, we see an excellent example of ludonarrative resonance (or harmony, depending on your preference): with her breakthrough in the narrative, Madeline becomes stronger in the game, which complements the game’s theme of coping with mental illness.

On a personal note, this and many other moments in the game’s story resonated with me and my own journey through anxiety — but as I got to the more challenging B-Side stages, I found that observing Madeline’s character arc also made me a better Celeste player. I’m typically the kind of gamer that can rage pretty easily at challenging single-player games like this; Celeste‘s post-game levels are no slouch! But during my run of the Chapter 7 B-Side, I had a different reaction.

When I started to rage, I considered Chapter 7’s premise: Madeline accepts Badeline as Part of Her, and through their new bond they become stronger together. As I thought about that, I found myself channeling my frustration into determination (here’s to you, Undertale!), which helped me push myself even farther before I needed a well-deserved breather. That moment of clarity was when I knew Celeste would easily be one of my top games of 2018, and ever since, I have tried to carry similar lessons with me on some of my more stressful or anxious days.

I could point to several other moments in Celeste that helped me process my anxiety or that I could strongly relate to, but for now, I would encourage everyone to check out some of the countless other articles and videos that have been made on that very subject. And if you aren’t one of the roughly half million people to give the game a shot, I highly recommend checking it out or at least watching an LP – especially if anxiety or depression plays a big role in your life too. Celeste isn’t a perfect symbol of these struggles, nor is it a substitute for real mental health treatment, but it’s a beautiful reminder that we’re never alone in that fight.

As the game’s director, Matt Thorson, put it in his Game Awards acceptance speech:

“If Celeste has helped you come to terms with mental illness … you deserve credit for that. That change came from inside of you, and you are capable of a lot more.”
— Matt Thorson

Keep climbing, my friends.

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Old School RuneScape is Exactly What Your Phone Needs

RuneScape was one hell of a game back in the day. Not only does it hold the Guinness World Record as the most popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game of all time, but its expansiveness is almost unheard of, from its massive game map to the quests and skills that rack up thousands of hours of gameplay. Unfortunately, the game was forgotten in time after a bout of updates that, to most, ruined the game. This included the removal of Wilderness PVP, restrictions on trading between players, and, years later, a complete revamp to the combat system that made the game more like a knockoff World of Warcraft than the browser MMO we grew up with.

This killed off most of the game’s loyal player base, but luckily, the team at Jagex gave us a revival in 2013 with the release of Old School RuneScape, a complete backup of the game’s beloved circa-2007 servers. Ever since, the nearly double-decade-old MMO has spiked in popularity, vastly overtaking the player base for the original game with nearly 100,000 concurrent users every day. It’s now one of the most popular games on Twitch, thanks to new hardcore game modes and esports-sized tournaments! They’ve ensured it’s what the fans want, too, thanks to a polling system that doesn’t simply update the game but also asks players their opinions before adding any new content updates or balancing. One of these polls has led us to a mobile version of the game on both iOS and Android, including cross-platform play with PC users, and boy oh boy, does it ever work smoothly!

If you’re like me, you aren’t the typical MMO player, but you stumbled across RuneScape as a child. It was one of the only games that could be played on any computer, and you’d spend countless hours playing during computer class or a trip to the library. I know I put more time into messing around with the community than I ever spent leveling my character and completing quests. But coming back to the game, I realized the depth and quality of this game still exceeds that of your average video game.

That said, if you’re really like me, then you’re skeptical about playing games on your phone due to the platform’s history of poor ports and cash grabs. Maybe you have a gachapon game, one of Nintendo’s mobile titles, or the battle royale flavor of the month installed—but never a game you’d invest time into like this. Thankfully, Old School RuneScape feels right at home with idle games when it comes to leveling up skills, and the combat aspect of the game plays out perfectly on mobile. Well, unless you’re a higher level and you require click intensive methods to get the job done efficiently.

For the uninitiated, Old School RuneScape isn’t your typical MMO. It is a full-fledged, ever-expanding world with 23 skills to learn, over 200 quests to complete, hundreds of music tracks to unlock, dozens of tasks to complete in Achievement Diaries in each city, and countless mighty foes to face off against—all of this with varying levels of skill requirements. You may train combat skills such as Attack, Strength, Defense, Ranged, and Magic, but you can also test your endurance with non-combat skills like Mining, Fishing, Cooking, and many more.

The leveling curve is one of the biggest appeals: it takes 13 million experience points to reach the level cap of 99, half of which you earn on your journey to level 91. It all pays off, though, when you reach level 99 and unlock a special cape for your achievement that not only offers stat boosts but acts as a status symbol in the game’s community. It can take hundreds of hours to get your first 99, but as you unlock more and start to earn more in-game currency, you’ll find the game opens up for nearly limitless opportunity, challenge, and satisfying rewards. If you’re a fan of grinding your brain to mush, or you’re a completionist, this is the game for you.

When it comes to quests, the difficulty level varies in the same way as skills do. Quests work a lot differently in RuneScape than in most games, too. As opposed to the watered down missions we see in video games today that force you down a path of monotony, this game’s quests actually feel like adventures. You’ll meet hilarious NPCs who send you on journeys that stretch all over the land. You’ll complete tasks that seem impossible, and you’ll find yourself in a lore so deep that any player would need a wiki. The rewards for some of the higher level quests are huge, including massive XP boosts, untradeable items, and abilities that make training your skills a more fruitful endeavor. These quests can take anywhere between a couple of minutes to a couple of weeks, and the payoff is almost always worth it.

However, the amount of content in this game can be hard to keep track of, and sometimes you just don’t want to go into a quest without research. Thankfully, Jagex offers its own community-run Old School RuneScape Wiki, which shows you the best training methods, walkthroughs for all of the quests, and details on every last aspect of the game. If you’re more of a watcher than a reader, you’ll notice that RuneScape has had a huge YouTube community since the video platform’s inception, with users like SeerzTheoatrix, and FlippingOldSchool hosting tons of guides on their channels. There are also a number of streamers with huge fanbases. The community as a whole is super helpful as well, with players and Jagex both heavily involved in the r/2007scape subreddit, hundreds of different player-owned clans to join, and all of the random people you’ll meet in-game who will typically answer any questions you may have while playing.

The in-game economy is also quite unique. In Varrock, a free-to-play city, you can find the Grand Exchange, a game-wide network that allows you to trade items with other players in a Wall Street fashion, with prices fluctuating due to supply and demand exactly like in the real world. You can find out which items are rising and falling in price on the game’s official website. This places value on the in-game currency in a special way, as this makes training your skills and flipping items for profit a worthwhile but dynamic endeavor.

Keep in mind, though, that since this game is populated with other players, there are some sneaky people out there who will offer to double your coins, give your armor a gold trim, or use other devious falsehoods to manipulate you and the game’s economy to their favor. It would be impossible for Jagex to keep track of every scam, but you can report anything suspicious to them with the press of a button. Always use common sense, and discuss with other players whether a deal is too good to be true. Two tips for newer players would be to avoid the wilderness until you understand it, as some other players may try to lure you there in an attempt to kill you and take your items, and to not enter Varrock from the south, as there are Dark Wizards lurking that can kill a starting player in just a single hit.

With all of this content though, there’s gotta be a catch, right? Well, if you want to experience the majority of what Old School RuneScape has to offer, you’ll have to pay about $10 USD for a monthly membership. There are no microtransactions or loot boxes; this game is all about your experience as a player. If you have the means to pay your membership dues with in-game currency, you can buy a membership bond for roughly 4 million GP, which earns you 14 days of membership at no physical cost. But what if you don’t have the money to start off your membership? What if you just want to try the game out? The free-to-play version offers the most popular areas in the game, 15 skills to level up using free-to-play methods, and 20 quests to complete before you make the decision to move forward or not.

If I’ve already sold you on the game, but you don’t want to play on mobile, third-party developers have created applets for PC, such as RuneLite that allow you to play the game with added interfaces that improve your experience even further. I heavily recommend this app, as it makes additions to the gameplay that don’t simply give you an advantage but actually offer up extra features such as item prices and skill levels that you don’t want to keep switching windows to check up on. If you don’t want any hand-holding at all, Jagex or third-party alike, play the game without the applet, and if you’re a fan of hardcore gameplay, try one of the game’s Ironman modes, which provide barebones abilities and limited trading that ensure everything you do is a fruit of your efforts. I’m here to talk about the game’s port to mobile, though, so without further ado, let’s get into what makes the game work in handheld mode.

Since Old School offers huge rewards at the cost of heavy effort, mastering the game has led a lot of people to believe in a system of “zero XP waste,” meaning that devoted players will stop at nothing to earn experience in-game. Thanks to mobile, this has never been easier, and RuneScape players are finally able to leave the house. After weeks of deliberation, I caved and purchased a membership for the first time in years to access the members-only mobile beta. In the past two months, I’ve managed to increase my total skill level from a meager 700 to a mid-sized 1150. I leveled up wherever I could find a decent Wi-Fi connection, from playing at work to waiting in line at the grocery store, and it was the same, if not better than simply playing on PC when I was training non-intensive skills such as Fletching.

However, I found minor difficulties in using higher-end combat methods that require a lot of precise clicking. Using game-tick based methods when skilling can be daunting on mobile, too, as it’s no secret how difficult precision can be on a mobile device. A Bluetooth mouse would likely alleviate these issues. I’m not keen on carrying one everywhere I go, but if you’re more dedicated to the game than me, you might not have an issue with it. Keep in mind, the customer-first approach might make certain gameplay elements easier for mobile users in the future, but as it stands on launch, you won’t have many problems unless you’re a higher level player. They have already improved magic training, enlarging the icons in your spellbook to show exactly what you can cast (rather than a big dashboard of tiny icons you might accidentally press). You can also zoom in with your fingers, and a button on the top left of the sidebar is re-programmable for a couple of different uses, including an option to drop inventory items simply by tapping on them. This can make training inventory-heavy skills just as efficient as the PC version.

When it comes to the audio and visual portions of the mobile port, you can choose to hear the iconic tunes and sound effects, even using the game as a sort of iPod for the game’s beloved soundtrack, or you can mute it all and open an app like Spotify in the background to listen to your favorite music. This kind of all-in-one entertainment on a small device is quite a marvel, and now that your computer screen has more space, playing at home now means you can play other video games, watch movies, or whatever else you want to do while logging hours in RuneScape. Graphically, the game looks like it’s a Java game from 2007, and that’s because it is. The simplistic graphics and animations have molded the game into its own wonderful, enticing atmosphere that many have failed to replicate.

During my mobile play, I’ve noticed some aliasing problems when devoting time to my Agility skill, as rooftop textures can flicker as you move and other tiny visual goofs may occur. I can chalk this up to a very old game being completely rebuilt for a different platform, and I hope these issues are fixed in the future. As it stands, though, you won’t notice these problems that often, and for most, it doesn’t even matter to the game as a whole. You should not come into this game expecting to be blown away by the graphics, but you definitely will be by every other aspect of it.

Old School RuneScape holds a special place in many gamers’ hearts, as one of the oldest MMOs still running, and it continues to be one of the biggest names in the online community through its player count, its massive following on Twitch and YouTube, and its countless memes. For seasoned players, the move to mobile might be enough to go back, and for new players, this is the perfect time to start. The love Jagex shares with its community isn’t simply heartwarming, but it stands as a fully realized pillar of the video game industry’s vision of gamers and developers working together to create a truly unforgettable experience. This game isn’t going anywhere, and I’m sure you’ll find the mobile version to be everything you’re expecting and more. Starting the game is free of charge, so don’t hesitate to try it! This is the ultimate mobile port.

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Our Verdict
Old School RuneScape: Mobile
The closest relationship you’ll find between developer and player, thousands of hours of gameplay, and a fitting mobile port that feels right.
A few non-mobile friendly button placements, and a few graphical issues, but expect these kinks to be worked out in the future.
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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!

Features Mobile Platforms Nintendo Nintendo Switch Podcast Retro Videos

Switched On! Reveals Three Nintendo Franchises That Need a Reboot

Welcome to another episode of Switched On! After taking a week off, we’re back to break down all the exciting Nintendo news from the past couple of weeks. Join Ben, Jeff, and newcomer Mark as we talk about Nintendo Switch Online, Pokémon, and more. We also give our impressions of the newly-launched Super Mario Party. For this week’s discussion section, we discuss three Nintendo franchises that need a reboot and explore what that might look like.

If you haven’t been keeping up to date with Switched On! so far, we also have an episode about the most recent Nintendo Direct, which you can watch here, and a second episode focusing on Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eeveeavailable to watch here. We also recently launched a second podcast called Gamnesia After Dark. It’s a more casual podcast where we talk about things outside of Nintendo, including other games, TV, anime, and more. You can catch the first episode by clicking here.

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Mega Man 11 Kicks the Classic Franchise Into High Gear (Review)

It’s been 8 years since
Mega Man fans have received a game in the franchise’s mainline series. Since Capcom’s reveal of Mega Man 11 late last year, many of the Blue Bomber’s fans have been anxiously awaiting launch day, and thankfully, the wait is over. Capcom is trying to kick things into overdrive by introducing a brand-new mechanic to the game, but the biggest question still remains. Does Mega Man 11 have what it takes to make up for the long drought?

Mega Man 11 starts off by introducing a younger Dr. Light and Dr. Wily. Wily has developed a new tool, dubbed the Double Gear system, which kicks robots into overdrive, allowing them to surpass the limits of their programming to do incredible things. With this tool, Wily claims that any robot can be a hero! However, there were major concerns with this research, which led to the cancellation of Wily’s research and consequently, the continuation of Dr. Light’s. Of course, Wily vows revenge. Many years later, he captures eight robot masters and installs his Double Gear technology in them, causing them to turn evil. It then falls on Mega Man to save the day. However, he must also make use of the Double Gear to stand even a remote chance.

The Double Gear system allows Mega Man to overclock either his strength or speed at will. Enabling the Power Gear allows Mega Man to fire more powerful shots, both charged and with his special weapons. The Speed Gear, on the other hand, slows down time around Mega Man, allowing him to better navigate a storm of bullets or stage hazards. I initially had many doubts as to this new mechanic, but these fears were soon put to rest. The Double Gear abilities are completely optional, though I grew to love the complexity this feature added as I progressed through the levels and bosses.

The Double Gear system places a lot of stress on Mega Man, however, and he can only use these abilities for a limited amount of time. They can be switched on and off at will, but having them active builds a shared meter which overheats upon filling completely, preventing their use entirely until it cools down. This system introduces a new gear item (found in both a large and small variety), which acts as an instant partial cooldown.

Generally, you can only use one Gear at a time, and swapping between them cancels the effects of the currently enabled one. At low health, however, Mega Man can enact his Double Gear technique, allowing both the Power and Speed Gears to be used simultaneously. This is more of a last-ditch effort, though, as once activated, it cannot be turned off. After overheating, it also causes Mega Man’s buster to fire weakened shots until the cooldown is finished.

While these abilities can be useful in completing the stages, I found them to be significantly more useful during bosses. Each boss has a desperation move that activates once it hits a certain health threshold. This attack activates either the Power or Speed Gear of that robot master, adding an extra layer of challenge to their boss fights. I won’t spoil anything, but there was a nice boss surprise waiting late in the game which caught me off guard for a variety of reasons, one of which was the addition of this desperation mechanic. Using the matching Gear was beneficial in limiting the efficiency of the bosses’ extra abilities, so much so that there was at least one fight I couldn’t beat without it.

In one sense, this Mega Man feels a bit more challenging than others. Most of the stages feel longer than traditional stages and have multiple checkpoints, as opposed to only at the midway point. This allows Capcom to throw more enemies and more stage hazards at you, thus increasing the danger contained within each level. Despite this length increase, the stages are quite fair, introducing stage mechanics at a basic level before ramping up to more difficult scenarios. I definitely had my fair share of moments where I was completely stuck on a level, but with perseverance (and some help from Auto’s shop), I emerged victorious.

In another sense,
Mega Man 11 feels like it’s a bit easier than some of the earlier titles. The main reason for this is the return of Auto’s shop. Collecting bolts throughout the stages allows Mega Man to buy various items and weapons. All of the traditional items make a comeback, as well as a large selection of upgrades. These upgrades range from automatically charging your buster, to increasing the drop rate of bolts, to eliminating ice physics. Mega Man 11 throws a lot of bolts at you, so much so that I never had a problem making sure I had enough to keep a full stock of energy tanks on me at all times, as well as being able to afford most every upgrade by the end of the game. You can also access the shop from the game over screen, which is a nice shortcut to having to exit the level, then re-entering it.

I also appreciated the addition of tutorials whenever you gain a new ability. Though
Mega Man 11 still plays a short video demonstration showing how new weapons are utilized, Capcom threw in an optional tutorial where you can play around with the weapon so you can get a feel for it (and its powered up version) without having to waste valuable weapon energy in the subsequent stages. It’s nothing too major, but I felt I understood the weapons a lot better after actually trying them as opposed to just watching how they’re used.

One last quality of life addition to Mega Man 11 is the ability to quickly swap weapons. Though this has been featured in earlier games, Mega Man 11 adds onto that creating a weapon wheel of sorts. You can now switch directly to any weapon in the game from any weapon without having to pause. While you can still scroll through weapons as before, this change will allow for easier swapping and some really cool speed tech for htose who like to go fast.

From a design and aesthetic perspective, the game looks and sounds absolutely beautiful. I’m sure some people will balk at the shift into 2.5D, due to the inevitable comparisons to Mighty No. 9. Rest assured though, Capcom has worked hard to make sure that Mega Man 11 features vibrant, detailed stages and enemies. One detail I appreciate a lot is that Mega Man’s design changes slightly depending on his equipped weapon. It’s not just a color change anymore—Mega Man’s helmet and buster arm change completely!

Each of the stages features different hazards and enemy types, which went a long way in giving them a unique identity. It wouldn’t be a
Mega Man game without a great soundtrack, and though I think there have definitely been better tracks, there have certainly been a lot worse. The only real complaint I have here is that the voice acting feels a little cheesy at times. It’s still a step up over the previous entries in the franchise, however, so I can’t complain too much.

After you beat the main game, Mega Man 11 features a number of extras in which you can partake. The big draw is the inclusion of some additional modes. Some of these are your more standard time attack and boss rush modes. Some of the more fun ones, though, challenge you to beat the stages while limiting how often you jump, a balloon popping trial, and a gauntlet of tough Mega Man scenarios. All of these challenges have leaderboards associated with them, so you can strive to be the very best and claim the number one spot! My favorite post-game feature is the ability to purchase items that allow for unlimited gear and unlimited weapon usage. These abilities will come in handy for anyone looking to gather some easy achievements.

Capcom really kicked the classic
Mega Man franchise into high gear with Mega Man 11. The title is everything I wanted out of a classic Mega Man game, and though I was initially skeptical about the Double Gear system, I love what its addition brings in terms of strategy and execution to the game. This is a game that should not be passed over lightly. I’m not sure what Capcom has in store for Mega Man‘s future, but if it is of the quality of Mega Man 11, I’m not worried in the slightest.

A copy of Mega Man 11 was provided by Capcom for the purposes of this review.

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Our Verdict
Mega Man 11
Challenging stages; Double Gear mechanic is a nice addition to franchise; Great artistic design; Fun side challenges
Some stages feel too long at times; Story is a little lacking
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Interview: What Does the Future Hold for The Settlers?

While
The Settlers—as a series of strategy games that originated in the ’90s—never reached the critical acclamation of Warcraft or Heroes of Might and Magic, it remains dear to many gamers. At this year’s Gamescom, the story about starting your own medieval colony and fighting other settlers returned, as Ubisoft announced not one but two games: The History Collection, which includes the first seven Settlers games, and a brand new game that reboots the franchise. Gamnesia recently had a chance to talk to Volker Wertich, the man behind the series and Creative Director for the upcoming reboot, about the past and future of Settlers.

I started playing Settlers 1 when I was a little kid, and I think a lot of people are very nostalgic about the first two or three games. And since they’re fairly old games, you can’t play them unless you have old hardware lying around. Have you seen a demand from fans wanting to play these old games again?

Absolutely. For the Settlers, there are fans of each. Some are fans of the older ones, some are fans of the newer ones, and some are fans of all of them. And you know, the series is very old now. I created the first one when I was only 21 years old, 25 years ago. And of course, those games don’t run on modern PCs, so we wanted to bring those games back on Windows 10.

Have you done any modifications to the older games?

Yes. The modifications will vary from game to game, but one thing we’ve implemented is multiplayer, both local and online. In Settlers 1, for instance, you can play local split screen by connecting two mice to your PC, so it’s really nostalgic. Now, I have to say that I’m not as involved with the History Collection as with the new Settlers, so I’m not sure of all the features. But I know that in Settlers 2 and 3 there is also 4K and multi-monitor support, which should help on larger maps.

Do you know if the changes made are done to improve the original games? Or is your goal more so to preserve the original as much as possible, while—as you mentioned—giving players some new tools such as online multiplayer and dual-monitor support?

The first priority is to make them work on modern PCs, but for the very first game we’ve improved the controls a bit to work a bit more like a modern RTS. We didn’t want to change too much, because this is really a celebration of the series and it’s also an opportunity to show people where the series began and where it’s going with the new game.

How does it feel for you personally to look back on the History Collection going as far back as Settlers 1 and then to the newest titles? Do you feel like you’ve constantly improved the series since then, or have there been mistakes along the way? And of course, how does that factor into the making of the next Settlers game?

Before we started developing the new Settlers game, we took a step back and looked at what’s been done in the past with Settlers. As I’m the original inventor of the series, I can say that there’s a DNA to the series that describes what the game is about and what elements a Settlers game should have. For instance, The Settlers has a strong sense of “What you see is what you get.” Ideally, every process of the game—every transportation process or production process—should be visualized. You should be able to see as many game variables as possible. It should not be like in Civilization [where you might have one farm providing one food but you never see the one unit of food visualized other than in the food counter]. You give commands to your minions, which will go execute those commands. This makes it nice to just watch the game, not just interesting. We call that the Aquarium effect.

Other examples of the DNA is that you also have a lot of freedom in the game and also having a relaxing click rate. Settlers is not about handling your mouse with perfect speed and click rate. And I think that for some of the past games, all that has been well executed, and with others we might have gotten a bit lost in the direction that they went. With the new one, we tried to focus on what makes Settlers unique. We think this is the best way to attract fans of the series as well as new players.

So, that was a long answer. *laughs*

It was a good answer, so it’s okay. Do you think that you will be able to appease both fans of the new Settlers game and the old Settlers games? Because they are quite different.

Absolutely. I think there must be some people who think it must be impossible to make everyone happy. But what I can say is that with an earlier build of the game—six months older than the build we are presenting here—we did a play test, and we invited people who have never played Settlers before. We invited fans of the older games and fans of the newer ones and we asked them if they felt like it was an experience of two kinds of Settlers. They then agreed or disagreed, and out of a score of 5, the average was 4.8. So I think we really have managed to find a balance.

What is the single biggest new feature in the game that you think people will enjoy?

Well, of course we have a systems that have appeared in previous games that we have renewed or redesigned. But there are also new features, and one of the biggest ones is different winning methods. There are ways besides combat to win the game, and it’s not just going to be collecting a score, something more deeply implemented into the game.

So the game is releasing in the fall of 2019. What are you going to do between today and 2019?

I can hardly foresee the future completely. We are currently at pre-alpha stage, so we have a lot of work ahead of us, and we also want time to polish the game.

There is a bit of a trend in the gaming industry to release a game quickly and then patch it post-release. Is that something you want to avoid?

That’s of course what we plan to do. This is a reboot of the franchise. So it’s crucial that we do a good job.

So is “The Settlers” the final title?

Currently, yes.

Okay, thank you so much for your time, and we’ll be looking forward to seeing more of The Settlers in the future.

We again want to thank Mr. Wertich for talking with us! Make sure to check out the official websites If you’d like to learn more about
The Settlers: History Collection or the newest upcoming game.

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Quincy Pringle is Combining the Best of Multiple Genres to Make His New RPG “OTHER”

In a world of countless RPGs, you might be worried that the genre is becoming stale over time. Unfortunately, many developers are too afraid to shake up the formula out of fear their games may not sell well. So while the big names play it safe, we turn to independent developers for innovation. Enter Quincy Pringle, a young developer who is ready to liven up the RPG scene with his new game OTHER: Her Loving Embrace. The game takes traditional turn-based battles and turns each one into an interactive experience. To see it in action, check out the short clip below.

I had a chance to talk to Quincy about his upcoming game, and he had a lot to share, including details about the game’s story, characters, additional gameplay mechanics, and much more. Quincy went into detail about his passion for game development, some of his greatest inspirations, and even some hardships he’s faced when working on projects in the past.

OTHER: Her Loving Embrace takes the classic turn-based RPG battle system and flips it on its head by turning each fight into an interactive platforming experience. How did you come up with this idea?

Early in 2017, I started making a small rougelike game that was intended to be a prequel of sorts to my other game project, Super Pretentious Underground Dungeon (SPUD), while also being a programming exercise. It was very by-the-books, with tiled movement, turn based combat, the usual for a good Rouge clone. I showed it to some friends, and while they liked it, they felt it was too derivative. So I knew I had to do something different.

Eventually, I had the idea of turning it into a turn-based RPG. I love RPGs; I’ve always wanted to make one but I also wanted to make something that felt fresh. The battle system evolved over several iterations and brainstorming sessions. It all started out with the question of, “How do I make the battles more interactive?” Some of my favorite games are RPGs with an interesting and interactive battle system, such as
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, or Paper Mario. I thought about making it a real-time action-RPG instead, but I felt like that would be a cop-out from the unique challenges that turn-based combat presents from a design perspective. Besides, I wanted to pay homage to old classics like Dragon Warrior and Mother 1.

I thought about how one would engage an enemy in real-life. There would be a lot of give and take, attack and defense. You wouldn’t just stand there and let someone stab you, and the neither would the enemy. I decided to try and toss in some code from SPUD to quickly get a platforming environment up and running during a turn-based battle, and it was like magic. It had all the hallmarks of a traditional turn-based battle scheme with a fun, refreshing way to engage enemies. I showed it to my friends again, and they agreed that it was an idea worth pursuing.

I think a lot of people find your take on the genre refreshing. You recently shared some clips of gameplay and it caught the attention of so many people. How did you feel about the initial response from the gaming community?

It’s been incredible. The exposure itself was amazing, but what really moved me were the vocal responses from all over the world. People have been sending me comments nonstop, and while it’s a lot to take in, it’s very motivating.

The combat system is obviously a huge draw to your game. Are there other mechanics or features you want players to get excited about that they may not have noticed yet?

Something I’m really excited to show later on is how the magic system works. Inspired by games like
Superstar Saga and the Legend of Zelda series, any spell or ability you learn has applications both on and off the battlefield. Players obtain most of these in dungeons, which are then used to solve puzzles, unlock new areas in the overworld, and find all sorts of secrets. In the context of a battle, some of these are passive, permanent upgrades, while others must be cast manually within their own unique minigame-like interfaces.

Overall, I am very much inspired by the
Devil May Cry series, traditional fighting games, and other favorites like Super Smash Bros. Melee. My design philosophy takes the “low skill floor, high skill ceiling” approach, so players dedicated to learning the ins-and-outs of the combat system will be greatly rewarded. If you’ve ever craved a turn-based RPG where you can wavedash, you might like OTHER.

I’m also very happy with the story and characters, and I think players will enjoy them very much.

I’m really curious since you mentioned it. Is there anything you’re willing to share regarding the story and characters of OTHER?

Of course!

Supernatural occurrences and manifestations have begun to pop up all over the great kingdom of Golden. While initially viewed as little more than nuisances, these spirits have become increasingly malevolent around the humble village of Chestertown, terrorizing it to a standstill. With Chestertown’s way of life utterly dismantled, the townsfolk are desperate for anything, or anyone, that could save them.

Gershom, a child working as a servant for the Duchess of Chestertown, is a quiet, gentle kid with a growing discontent for his way of life. After getting into trouble, he finds himself investigating the mystery of the spirits alongside a mysterious young man, who (despite barely having any magical power) insists on being referred to as a “wizard”. Realizing the town will pay any price for a solution to their troubles, he “befriends” Gershom and hatches his own scheme.

Players will investigate Chestertown and the surrounding countryside in an attempt to investigate and solve the supernatural threat. OTHER’s story is very character-driven, so expect lots of development and interactions.

I’m intrigued! Can you say how the title of the game ties into the story, or is that cutting too deep into spoiler territory?

The title “OTHER” is connected to the game in several ways. It ties into the spiritual themes, in which otherworldly, foreign beings act towards their own unknowable purposes. But it runs much deeper than that, and players will have to discover the true meaning behind the title on their own.

I’ve listened to some of the music for the game, and every track is incredible! Are you working on the soundtrack by yourself, or do you have other people helping you?

Thanks a lot Adam, I really appreciate that! It’s just me. I’ve been tinkering with music for the past ten years or so (I’m 22 now). The soundtrack in OTHER is inspired by the sounds of early game consoles and home computers, particularly the NES with extra FM channels (akin to Konami’s VRC7 mapper). It’s written in FL Studio with mostly free assets (various Genesis/Mega Drive samples for percussion, 3xOsc, Medusa 2, and Genny for those interested). I’ve always had a fondness for early audio hardware, and the soundtrack for OTHER is a great place to express my passion.

That’s incredible! I look forward to hearing more. What kind of theme or tone are you aiming for with the music in OTHER?

Well, my favorite game soundtracks/series tend to have music that’s either melody-driven and/or places a lot of emphasis on atmosphere. Shining Force, Castlevania Bloodlines, Cave Story, Mother 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Donkey Kong Country… the list of inspirations is too long. The gist is that I’m trying to get a nice balance of high energy and atmosphere to match the various intensities and emotions the game’s events call for. Sometimes the music invokes joy, other times sadness, or even pure rage. But overall, expect rousing tunes that make you want to explore a mysterious world and invoke a thirst for adventure.

So is there anybody else helping you in the creation of OTHER? I noticed you gave a few shoutouts to some people for the game’s visual design.

There are essentially four key people working on the project:

A very close and very old of friend of mine,
Evan Butler, is my producer/supervisor for this one. Sometimes I don’t do stuff, so he screams and throws blunt objects at me until I do said stuff. It’s a very rewarding relationship and this project would definitely not be possible without him. We worked together on a documentary about game collecting, localization, and the history of Mother 1 called “Mother to Earth”. It’s due out this winter, you should check it out. There’s a really cool interview we did with Keiichi Suzuki in it that you have to see to believe. And that definitely would not have been possible without Evan. He makes things happen.

My girlfriend
Kelly Kirsch is doing a lot of the character and enemy designs for the game. She’s in her senior year the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. She’s an exceptionally talented illustrator and animator, and she has been knocking it out of the proverbial park for this project. I am not biased at all.

There’s
Pik, a really swell guy who’s doing a lot of the pixel art for this game. Right now, the bulk of what he’s done is realize Kelly’s artwork into sprites. You guys are going to love how expressive the monster designs and dialog portraits are. He’s worked on other great projects in the past, such as Mother 4 and Project M. This guy is an absolute beast and I’m thrilled to have him on board.

Then there’s me. I do the programming, design, music, writing, and a bit of the art.

The other artists I mentioned on Twitter are DragonDePlatino and surt. They’ve uploaded some amazing environmental art and assets onto OpenGameArt which are being used in OTHER. They aren’t part of the game’s core staff, but I wanted to thank them regardless for their amazing contributions.

It sounds like you have a solid crew helping you out. I can’t wait to see the final product of what the four of you create together! You mentioned earlier that OTHER started as a prequel to another game you’re working on called SPUD. How strong is the connection between the two games? Will players be able to enjoy them as separate experiences, or should they check out both games to get the full experience?

SPUD takes place approximately twenty years after the events of OTHER, and features many of the same characters and locations. The connection between the two is very strong, and I definitely recommend playing both to get the full story, but they are still enjoyable and perfectly understandable on their own.

Unfortunately, SPUD is essentially on hold until OTHER is completed, since I realized I would need more money and time than I currently have to finish it accordance with my vision. Making games is my dream job, but sometimes you have pay the rent! Seeing as my next goal is to complete SPUD though, you’ll definitely be seeing more of it in the future.

SPUD is a game that seems to combine the best features of the Run and Gun genre. How different is it to work on a fast-paced game like SPUD compared to a turn-based RPG like OTHER?

Very different! SPUD is a much harder game to make than OTHER, for a few reasons.

One: an RPG battle system is basically a series of flags and checks, while SPUD’s combat is made up of a bunch of moving characters, projectiles, and enemy patterns on complex landscapes dealing with gravity and other factors. The way everything moves and interacts has to be carefully controlled in order for it to feel just right.

Two: SPUD’s in-game art direction is significantly more detailed than OTHER’s, with bigger sprites, more frames of animation, and more shading/detail on them. When you account for all the characters, enemies, and environments that require that extra attention to detail, the amount of time and costs involved rises exponentially.

Three: SPUD’s actual levels require a lot more work that OTHER’s overworld. From my experience, it’s a lot harder to make a fast-paced, intelligently designed platformer level that takes a large moveset into account than it is to make a
Zelda-style dungeon. It also ties back into the art issue: in order for the higher-fidelity art style to not feel empty and bland, you need lots of props and decorations for each level type.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely love working on SPUD. But it’s a whole different beast than OTHER that requires more time and effort to get just right, at least for me. One thing that is really great about working on SPUD though is that every time the gameplay starts to feel a bit old, it’s not too hard to come up with new concepts to freshen things up. The first time I implemented the game’s strafe-lock system, I got so excited that I didn’t do anything but work for a week.

It’s good to hear you’re at least having fun with it! On a similar note, what has been the most challenging thing so far when developing a game, whether it’s OTHER, SPUD, or one of your other projects?

It definitely was working on mobile support for
Super Coffee ‘n Donuts, a game I made recently that was published by Life Teen Inc. I had never made a mobile game prior to this, so I spent a decent chunk of time learning the various eccentricities of Android and iOS. While developing for Android turned out to be pretty easy, getting iOS stuff set up was a nightmare. It probably wouldn’t have been so bad had it not been for their deadline, since they wanted it ready for a Catholic youth ministry training convention. While total development time was around two months, I underestimated the amount of time that I would need during the final stretch and ended up working some serious crunch to get it done on time. It was totally my fault though, and taught me a valuable lesson about time management. I’m very happy with how the game came out regardless, and so was Life Teen.

I see you plan to launch a Kickstarter for OTHER at some point. What’s the best way to stay updated when that goes live?

I would recommend keeping tabs on the game’s
account on Twitter (@otherRPG), or my own account (@qpringle1). Both accounts will be posting concept art, gameplay footage, music and more, so if you’re interested in the game be sure to check them out!

Is there anything else you would like to say about either of your upcoming games?

I just want to thank everybody for their support and enthusiasm, it really means a lot. If any readers are further interested in what I work on, there’s links to my various social media outlets on my main website,
https://www.chimeralabs.io/. I’ll do my best to make OTHER a game worthy of your expectations!

I would like to thank Quincy for taking the time to talk to me about his upcoming projects. I’m greatly looking forward to both of these games. If you’re interested at all, make sure to keep an eye out for OTHER‘s Kickstarter when it goes live.

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Features

What Game Should Capcom Remake Next?

Resident Evil 2 captivated and terrified PlayStation owners when it debuted in 1998, and 20 years later, Capcom is preparing to bring the survival-horror masterpiece to a new generation. The Resident Evil 2 Remake will feature modern graphics (built in the RE Engine) and controls, modernizing it for new players. Capcom has also teased that more remakes are on the way, but which game should they tackle next?

I’ll be honest. My answer isn’t the most original proposition, but it’s a thrilling possibility nonetheless. It’s time for a true remake of Resident Evil 4 from the ground up. As one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved games of all time, Resident Evil 4 has been ported to countless devices, occasionally getting touched up a bit for the occasion. But it could look and feel so fantastic with a fresh start in the RE Engine. Given that the engine is compatible with Switch, they could even potentially revive the motion controls of the Wii version with Switch’s Joy-Con controllers.

What classic Capcom game would you like to see get another shot at life? What would you change to make it a better fit for modern audiences? Sound off in the comments!

Features

What Games Have You Been Playing This Summer?

2018 has been a fantastic year for video games, and its early months have been filled with critically acclaimed hits like Monster Hunter: World, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and God of War. We typically see less AAA titles released during the Summer months, but that doesn’t mean there’s a video game drought. Between remakes, remasters, enhanced ports, and indie games, there’s been a non-stop flow of quality games.

I’ve found myself glued to my Switch in recent months, playing a mix of first-party and third-party games. Mario Tennis Aces is great for some casual competition with friends on the weekend. The port of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker has me falling in love with the charming puzzler all over again. I’ve also been spending a lot of lazy time building in Minecraft’s creative mode. Mega Man X was a childhood favorite, so the Legacy Collection has been keeping me busy since it launched earlier this week.

Which games have you been enjoying this Summer? What’s your console of choice to beat the Summer heat? Sound off in the comments!

Features

Which Video Game TV Series Are You Most Excited to See?

As video games become increasingly more popular we’re seeing a rise in game-related video content in recent years. Video games movies have been a mixed bag in recent years, and now there’s a push for more game-based TV shows, including Street Fighter, The Witcher, Halo, and Resident Evil. There’s even talk of potential for a God of War show. With so many projects to choose from, which one has you most excited?

As a fan of Resident Evil, I’d love to be able to say I’m thrilled at the prospect of a TV show. Unfortunately, the live action movies (minus the first two) have me more than a little wary of how they may bastardize the franchise. I have higher hopes that franchises like
Halo and The Witcher will hold more true to the quality of the games, but neither franchise is one I’ve played extensively. The second season of Netflix’s Castlevania anime is probably the safest bet to be a hit, given the high quality of the first season, brief as it was.

Features

Gamnesia’s Best of E3 2018 Award Winners

Another exciting E3 has come and gone, and four members of the Gamnesia staff had the opportunity to head to Los Angeles for the convention. Over the course of the week we got to go hands-on with many of the fantastic games shown off during the press conferences, and we nominated some of our favorites for the Best of E3 award. We couldn’t choose just one winner, so we narrowed it down to three total winners, each with their own category. So without further ado, read on for Gamnesia’s Best of E3 winners, as well as the runners-up and honorable mentions.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Best Fighting Game)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is visually similar to the Wii U Smash (or Smash 4), and it also feels familiar in terms of gameplay. However, it’s much more than just a port, despite what some fans may think. Smash 4 is a good base to use for comparison, but there are some notable differences worth highlighting.

Everything is smoother, slightly quicker, and also has more of a punch added to it. Even weaker attacks have more of a knock-back than before and the speed that opponents are sent flying has been increased. This does make for some strange scenes where you can be sent flying in one direction quite fast, only to stop suddenly and start going in the direction you’re holding once the knock-back distance has been reached. In
Smash Bros., players who are knocked back usually start pressing buttons quickly after they’ve been launched as they want to regain control, and it’s not unlikely that Sakurai made this change simply to help players differentiate between when knock-back is in effect, as opposed to player-controlled movement.

Many moves have seen a reduction in lag, Ganondorf’s Down-B being a notable example. All Final Smashes have also been sped up. Everything in this game is quick and to the point. There are satisfying slow-motion moments when you connect a big hit that result in KOs where the camera zooms in on the action for just a split second. This is similar to what happens with Little Mac’s KO Punch or the Dragoon item, and it’s a welcome addition for those who’d like to gloat a little bit extra when getting a good KO.

Likewise, Assist Trophies are more straight-forward in the sense that most of them can now be defeated. Killing an Assist Trophy will now award you with a point or lose your opponent a stock, which can be pretty harsh if you get a poor Assist Trophy (hi, Starfy). However, it adds a layer of depth as you have to make sure you keep on fighting alongside your trophy—you can’t just unleash it, sit back, and relax like you could in the past. Top it all up with the return of directional air dodges, and you have a game that is a bit more tactical than in the past. This is a game where your choices matters and button mashing will only get you so far.

New characters include the Inklings and Ridley, both of which were available at E3. The Inkling is a bit of an odd one as many of his/her attacks consume ink. This is reminiscent of Olimar and his Pikmin, so if Olimar wasn’t your boy, you might similarly be a bit annoyed with the Inkling—especially since replenishing is done by pressing B while shielding, which isn’t very intuitive. Ridley is more straight-forward. He’s got decent range and his special attacks help him in the long-range game. Despite the wings, his recovery isn’t the best, but he makes up for it in the damage he deals. His Down-B can be absolutely brutal if you sweet-spot it, dealing some 60% in a single hit.

With
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, you can look forward to is a game that is as fun as any Smash before it and packed with more content than ever. With its massive roster of characters and polished, well thought-out mechanics, it has a chance of really being something that brings together Smash fans from all generations. Whether you’ve been a fan since the N64 or just picked it up with Smash 4, you should be excited for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate! (Impressions by Hombre de Mundo)

Runner-up: My Hero: One’s Justice

Another game to earn a Best of E3 nomination from Gamnesia on the show floor was
My Hero: One’s Justice from Bandai Namco. Based on the popular manga and anime series My Hero Academia, One’s Justice is a 3D fighting game with destructible environments and beautiful, comic book-inspired graphics.

It may not be as mechanically impressive as other games in the genre, but its visual style is a feast and its massive and diverse cast of playable heroes and villains should be endlessly entertaining. As someone who isn’t particularly skilled at the genre, I still found it pretty simple to jump into, and devastating my opponent with Todoroki’s combination of ice and fire attacks was a blast. This seems like one even casual fans should be able to enjoy.
(Impressions by Ben Lamoreux)

3 Minutes to Midnight (Best Indie Game)

E3 is home to the biggest names in gaming, but sometimes the best experiences aren’t the ones with the most brand recognition. E3 is also home to indie games hoping to get a foot in the door and share some of that spotlight. The brightest of these newcomers at E3 2018 was
3 Minutes to Midnight, a point-and-click adventure in the style of classic LucasArts games. Set late in the 1940s, 3 Minutes to Midnight follows a plucky young girl named Betty Anderson on her quest to uncover a secret plot to extinguish humanity. Betty, along with everyone else in her once-quiet New Mexico town, has lost her memories.

As with most games in the genre, this means we’re off to explore. Thankfully, this is an absolute joy in
3 Minutes to Midnight thanks to its gorgeous art style. The stylized cartoon look is rich in color, and backgrounds have a surprising amount of depth and detail. You’ll want to click everywhere and on everything to soak it all in…which is good, because you’ll need to find as many collectibles as possible to solve the game’s puzzles. In addition to the standard “find out which item goes where” gameplay, 3 Minutes to Midnight spices things up with a crafting system that lets you combine items to create better ones.This might be something simple, like combining a candle with citronella oil to scare away some pesky mosquitoes blocking your path, but there are also more complex and creative uses for crafting. By combining a plunger, a rope, a fire extinguisher, and some pipe, I was able to craft a plunger gun that functions as a hookshot.

The game also features a robust dialogue system with plenty of fun options to choose. Is Betty feeling sassy? Sympathetic? Impatient? Chances are there’s a response that conveys whatever emotion you’re looking for. Interactions with NCPs can be silly and lighthearted (like haggling with a raccoon over an item he’s hoarding in his trash can) or a little more on the dark side. The demo featured a disturbing, knife-wielding girl named Pammy who switches between several distinct personalities, so choose your words carefully! The game’s writing is witty and surprisingly deep, and the voice acting is pretty solid as well!

My time with
3 Minutes to Midnight was short but sweet, and it left me craving more. This was Scarecrow Studios’ first public showing for the game, but it certainly won’t be the last. This is one to keep your eyes on, especially if you’re already a fan of the point-and-click adventure genre. (Impressions by Ben Lamoreux)

Runner-up: Indivisible

Another outstanding indie at this year’s E3 was
Indivisible from Lab Zero Games. This action-platformer features a diverse cast of playable characters fighting their way through an enormous, beautiful world brought to life with hand-drawn graphics. The gameplay is “Metroidvania” in the loosest sense (based on the short demo it felt a little closer to a Shantae or Guacamelee title), but with an action-RPG twist.

Combat is a fast-paced visual feast involving up to four party members at once. Rather than battling enemies on the overworld or using turn-based combat, Indivisible‘s battle system is somewhat similar to Chrono Trigger. Each member of your party has a bar that fills up automatically, and when it’s full you can unleash an attack with a single button press. Alternatively, you can wait a little longer and allow it to fill up multiple times for a combo attack. Each of your four party members attacks with a single button press and fills up their gauge independently, so you can alternate buttons to keep a constant, rhythmic barrage of attacks headed towards your enemies. It’s a refreshing change of pace from other games in the genre, and it’s definitely got our attention. (Impressions by Ben Lamoreux)

Marvel’s Spider-Man (Best Open World Game)

While Sony’s new approach to their E3 press conference this year may have come off as less than spectacular, one of the few bright spots of their show was
Marvel’s Spider-Man. Insomniac’s take on the wallcrawler had a major presence at Sony’s booth, with a large section of it composed of a huge New York set piece (complete with newspaper racks distributing copies of The Daily Bugle). Once I made it past the hustle and bustle of the showfloor and actually got to play Spider-Man, I was greeted with a sensational open-world action game inspired by one of my favorite heroes. The graphics were amazing, and the voice acting and writing seemed pretty good (I didn’t notice any stand-out performances, but I only had the chance to watch one or two cutscenes during my demo). The sprawling map of New York had a variety of different collectibles to obtain and missions to do, including a boss fight. The demo was also very well made in my opinion, with plenty of time to beat up bad guys; I also liked that the time limit was flexible, allowing me one more go at Shocker after dying long after the demo’s timer should have elapsed.

What really made
Spider-Man shine, however, was the gameplay. Web-swinging through New York felt fluid and natural, and the combat was fun and engaging despite feeling a lot like past superhero games. The combat was heavily focused on attacking waves of enemies and countering when the appropriate indicator was shown, very much like the Arkham games. However, the inclusion of Spidey-specific powers—like a web pull that allows you to grab enemies, or a web shot that allows you to cover enemies in webbing—made it feel more like you were playing as Spider-Man and less like you were playing as Batman in red and blue tights. Much like the traditional combat, the game’s stealth combat also felt very Arkham-esque with unique Spidey tweaks. While past trailers had made me afraid that the game would be riddled with quick-time-events, I don’t recall seeing a single one in my time with the demo. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist in the game, but it makes me believe that they won’t overpower the rest of the gameplay in the final release.

As I stated before, the demo culminated with a boss fight against Shocker, who had recently escaped custody and was obviously up to no good. The fight consisted of three distinct phases, each of which required me to utilize different abilities in Spidey’s arsenal to avoid Shocker’s attacks while waiting for the opportune moment to strike. In order to defeat the boss, I needed to use Spider-Man’s web pull ability from earlier in the demo to throw objects at Shocker at opportune times. I felt that the fight was challenging enough, and made good use of one of the Spidey-specific attacks introduced earlier in the game.

Overall, I thought that
Marvel’s Spider-Man had fantastic gameplay and visuals, and the variety of things to do in the demo made the game superior to other open-world games I played at the show like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Skull & Bones. All in all, Spider-Man was the ultimate open-world game at the show, and it’s definitely a contender for one of the best games at the show. (Impressions by Elijah Holt)

Runner-up: Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion

Jake and Finn’s latest adventure is a 3D pirate quest in a flooded open world. The Ice Kingdom has melted, flooding the land of Ooo, and it’s up to Finn and friends to retrieve the Ice King’s crown and set things right. Pirates of the Enchiridion clearly draws inspiration from
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and that’s not a bad starting point for a fun adventure.

One big difference between the two games is that
Adventure Time mixes its action-adventure game with RPG elements, including turn-based combat when enemies are encountered. You’ll build up a team of four characters, each with their own special powers, as you explore the land of Ooo and progress the story. Most of my time with the game was spent watching a member of the development team sail around and show off the scenery, but I got to go hands-on for a few minutes at the end, and the game felt and looked great. If you’re a fan of Adventure Time, Zelda, or just exploring fun cartoon worlds, you’ll want to check this one out. (Impressions by Ben Lamoreux)

Honorable Mentions

It’s hard narrowing down the best of E3 to just a few games, and there are plenty of fantastic titles that didn’t quite make the list. Two more than deserve some recognition are
Mega Man 11 from Capcom and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Eevee from Nintendo and Game Freak.

The former felt like a return to form for the Blue Bomber, but with some fancy new mechanics and beautiful, modern visuals. The demo was challenging (as any good
Mega Man game should be), but not unfair, and I felt like I learned and improved with each death. The new Double Gear mechanic (which allows you to slow down time or fire a more powerful shot) was a welcome addition and didn’t feel overused. I came away from my hands-on demo feeling like this is the experience that Mighty No. 9 promised and failed to deliver.

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Eevee also deserve some love, and I’ve written more extensive impressions about them here. The short version of the story is that the Kanto remakes look, feel, and play wonderfully, and Let’s Go should be a fantastic treat for new and old fans of the series alike. (Impressions by Ben Lamoreux)

Articles Features Nintendo Switch PC PlayStation 4 Xbox One

3 Minutes to Midnight Was E3’s Hidden Gem

As one of the world’s largest gaming conventions, E3 is home to mega-hits from well-known franchises like
Super Smash Bros., Resident Evil, and Kingdom Hearts. While these games have certainly earned their place in the spotlight, one of the greatest joys of E3 is discovering hidden gems that aren’t already household names. If you know where to look, E3 is also home to passion projects from small, independent teams hoping to share their digital babies with the world.

One of the best at this year’s show was Scarecrow Studios’
3 Minutes to Midnight, a point-and-click adventure in the style of classic LucasArts adventure games. The game was playable on a laptop in a small booth at the edge of South Hall, far away from the long lines of West Hall games like Pokémon: Let’s Go and Marvel’s Spider-Man. It may have had a small presence, but it left a big impact.

3 Minutes to Midnight is set late in the 1940s. World War II is growing smaller in the rear view mirror, but that doesn’t mean the world’s a safe place. Somewhere in New Mexico, a secret plot to extinguish humanity has been set in motion. Our hero, Betty Anderson, wakes up to a deafening sound in the middle of the night and feels her house shake to the core. Even worse, she has no memory of who she is or what’s going on in her life. As it turns out, the entire town is just as lost as Betty. Time to investigate for clues!

The first thing you notice about
3 Minutes to Midnight is the gorgeous art style. The stylized cartoon look is rich in color, and backgrounds have a surprising amount of depth and detail. Like most games in the genre, exploration is a key element of 3 Minutes to Midnight. Thanks to these beautiful visuals, exploring every inch of this game world will be a joy.

At E3 the demo was restricted to the Crystaline Lake campground setting, which houses a rather disturbing and unstable little girl named Pammy. Little Pammy (whose surname turns out to be quite appropriate for the setting), is the entire staff at Crystaline Lake…or at least what’s left of it. Pammy has several distinct personalities, each with their own conflicting thoughts and feelings. As such, you’ll have to choose your words carefully to navigate through the minefield of conversation and get the info you need.

The game’s dialogue system is robust and engaging, often giving you a wide variety of responses. Is Betty feeling sassy? Sympathetic? Impatient? Chances are there’s a response that conveys whatever emotion you’re looking for. There were only three NPCs to interact with in the demo (or perhaps six or seven, if we’re counting everyone living inside Pammy’s head), but they were all interesting in their own ways. Even talking to a raccoon brought a smile to my face, as Betty can inexplicably understand its language perfectly, although the player only hears squeaking sounds. Betty attempts to negotiate with the critter over an item it’s hoarding in its trash can, but eventually diplomacy breaks down and you have to get the spray bottle.

Like most point-and-click adventure games, finding items is crucial for solving puzzles and progressing the story. You’ll want to click on just about everything to see if it’s a collectible or if your current arsenal of items can interact with it in some way.
3 Minutes to Midnight also prominently features a form of crafting that lets you create new items from existing parts. This might be something simple, like combining a candle with citronella oil to scare away some pesky mosquitoes blocking your path, but there are also more complex and creative uses for crafting. By combining a plunger, a rope, a fire extinguisher, and some pipe, I was able to craft a plunger gun that functions as a hookshot.

My time with
3 Minutes to Midnight was short but sweet, and it left me craving more. If you’re a fan of point-and-click adventures, you’ll definitely want to check this one out. Scarecrow Studios’ debut title is aiming to launch on PC (Steam), Mac, and Linux next April, and the developers are also working hard to bring it to Nintendo Switch as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You can keep up to date on the project by checking out Scarecrow’s official website, official Twitter account, and Steam page.

Articles Features Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Top Ten Anticipated Newcomers for Super Smash Bros. Switch (Part 2)

There’s no series that throws the collective Nintendo community into an absolute frenzy quite like
Super Smash Bros. The question of “which new characters will join the roster?” has been on everyone’s minds since we learned of the new game for the Switch, and we took a dive into our most anticipated characters with Part 1 not long ago. Capping off with K. Rool and Inklings last time, we move on to the final five of our top ten list!

5. BANDANA WADDLE DEE

“I’m not just a pretty face!”

  • First Appearance: Kirby Super Star (SNES – 1996)
  • Latest Appearance: Kirby Star Allies (NSW – 2018)

Masahiro Sakurai is renowned for fathering
Super Smash Bros., but the famed game designer still holds a lot of love for his breakout IP at HAL Laboratory with Kirby. Representation in Smash has continued to grow with each new game with standout locales like Battleship Halberd, the Fountain of Dreams, and The Great Cave Offensive, but the Kirby fighter count has been stuck to three since Meta Knight and King Dedede were introduced in Brawl. There is one little guy in the running for spot number four, however, and that is Bandana Waddle Dee!

The adorable and surprisingly strong Waddle Dee formally debuted in Return to Dream Land as Dedede’s loyal and capable spearman. Bandana Dee came through for Kirby on several occasions, such as assisting him directly in The Rainbow Curse, co-starring opposite to the pink puff in Kirby: Battle Royale, and tagging along as a Dream Friend in Star Allies. As his role in the series continues to grow, his well deserved inclusion in Smash would finally round up the RtDL crew, pay tribute to the most recurring Kirby NPC, and give Smash its very first spear-wielding fighter on top of it all.

From
Return to Dream Land onward, the mainline Kirby games went the Super Star route for complete Copy Ability movesets. So, when it comes to Bandana Dee’s moves, it’s only a matter of assigning key moves to his Specials both from the Spear moveset, alongside a certain other Waddle Dee variant to round it up. Let’s get the Spear ones out of the way first.

For his Standard, we have the Spear Throw: an easily spammable move that doesn’t deal too much damage but would annoy other fighters. Just like in the Kirby games, you could also charge it up to toss multiple spears at once with a Triple Throw.

For his Up Special, the
Spear Copter! This move doesn’t go all that high but it does travel pretty far horizontally when completely charged up. Any who get caught in the move will rack up percentage quickly, however, as the Waddle Copter stops for no one.

With the Spear moves out of the way, all that leaves are the Down and Side Specials, which we will dedicate to the Waddle Dee race’s most commonly used weapon of mass destruction: the deadly Parasol! In other words, Bandana Dee would roll into Smash with a hybrid Spear-Parasol weapon to better pay tribute to his roots.

Personally, I think the Parasol Drill works better as a Dash Attack, leaving the Circus Throw as an ideal Side Special. Trapped fighters will bounce atop Waddle Dee’s twirling parasol, then get tossed forward or upward depending on the direction held. The thought of something as small as a Waddle Dee spinning someone as huge as Bowser atop a teensy little umbrella is both fittingly comical for Smash and so gosh darned cute.

To round it up with his Down Special, Bandana Dee could execute the
Parasol Dive if in midair, or the Parasol Twirl on the ground, complete with spinning stars. Enemy combatants would get spun around Dee and thrown away as a bonus. The Dive is also useful in getting some minor horizontal recovery with its diagonal trajectory as well!

That just leaves the Final Smash, and I wasn’t kidding about “impact.” Some might recall that a Waddle Dee sporting a bandana first appeared in
Kirby Super Star, in a little minigame called Megaton Punch. Yes, this little dude could literally crack Planet Pop Star in half with his stubby little hands alone. Kirby is an innocent child whose main concern is his next meal, while Dream Land continues to thrive because Bandana Dee allows it to.

So if you find yourself up against Bandana Waddle Dee… Well, I’ll keep you in my thoughts.

4. CAPTAIN TOAD

“Ready for adventure!”

  • First Appearance: Super Mario Galaxy (Wii – 2007)
  • Latest Appearance: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (NSW/3DS – 2018)

It’s a guaranteed bet at this point that every new
Super Smash Bros. game will welcome new characters from Nintendo’s flagship franchise. Now that it’s more of a matter of which viable Mario character
hasn’t made the cut yet, there are few remaining standouts who would make excellent fighters in their own right, like the highly demanded Geno, the dastardly Waluigi, and the oft-mentioned Paper Mario. However, there is one character in particular who has been around since the very beginning of Super Mario that I feel is deserving of a position in Smash now more than ever.

The Toad subjects of the Mushroom Kingdom have often accompanied Mario on his journeys, and they’ve grown far beyond informing him that the princess was in another castle. Among them is one special Toad, a renowned leader of a Brigade of treasure trackers. Recognizable for his explorer’s outfit, heavy backpack, and headlamp, there is perhaps no better representative of the Toad species than Captain Toad himself, as well as Archivist Toadette as an alternate costume.

Out of the entire cast, Captain Toad would set himself apart with said heavy backpack weighing him down, keeping him as a grounded fighter with weak jumping capabilities. While he can’t jump at all in
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Super Mario 3D World, I can see him with
some jump height in Smash, but it would definitely be the lowest out of the entire cast. That’s not to say that Captain Toad won’t have air game, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

For his standard special, I look to his headlamp for a straightforward
Flash. This move is typically attuned to handling Boos, but overclocking it for Smash could quickly stun and burn other fighters with a decent amount of percentage, perhaps with an additional charging effect for a higher damage output.

Next, Captain Toad’s Side Special could be vehicular in nature, much like Wario Bike, Villager’s Lloid Rocket, and Bowser Jr’s Clown Kart Dash. The Toad Brigade leader would be able to summon a Minecart for a quick escape, but it would not be a viable recovery move as a result of its weight. However, I doubt any fighter would take too kindly to a minecart running them over or, when activated in midair, dropping down and burying them from above.

For his Down Special, we take a page out of Princess Peach’s playbook and look to Toad’s playable origins in
Super Mario Bros. 2 for a
Treasure Toss, plucking a randomized assortment of items out from the ground. These items would be pulled directly from Treasure Tracker, with Turnips as the most common ammo, occasionally switching up with Coins thrown in rapid-fire fashion, Super Gems, or a Super Pickax (which would operate like a weaker version of the Hammer item).

Then for his Up Special, Captain Toad has a few options that would share a common theme. These would be proportionally excellent recovery options that not only make up for Captain’s terrible jumping but also allow Toad to access his air game. Going in, I envisioned the
Propeller Mushroom from New Super Mario Bros. Wii: it would operate in Smash just as it would in its source material, providing Captain Toad decent horizontal and vertical recovery.

On the other hand, the good folks at GameXplain came up with a pair of options of their own, revolving around a moveset where CT can’t jump at all because of his heavy backpack. One idea would’ve had Captain Toad use his own backpack to slingshot him to new heights. The other, paying homage to
Super Mario Bros. 2, would see Captain Toad fly on his map just like the Pidgits fly their magic carpets. Braxton’s Big Dig on YouTube also came up with a cohesive Captain Toad moveset of his own, which I invite you all to check out.

Now, the Final Smash! My ideal finishing move for Captain Toad would take heavy inspiration from Solid Snake’s own Grenade Launcher from Brawl. Once active, CT would climb aboard the
Starshroom from his first appearance in Super Mario Galaxy, and, by aiming with a target reticule while standing in front of the camera, fling Giant Turnips with deadly force like in Treasure Tracker. The Final Smash would wear off once either time or ammo run out, at which point the Starshroom flies off and Captain Toad returns to the stage.

It’s been a long time coming for Toad to rise to
Smash outside of being Peach’s Counter. All but Toad from the original
Super Mario Bros. main cast have made names for themselves as stalwart fighters. With the likes of Captain Toad adding a unique spin to the character, it could be just the boost this loyal servant needs to stand in the ring with the very best.

Until now, we focused on our favorite longtime Nintendo heroes and special guests for new fighters. From here on out, however, we’re getting right into the good stuff as we approach the end and turn our attention towards new faces who made their big break in the last year.

3. REX, PYRA & MYTHRA

“We’ll show you what me and Pyra are made of!”

  • First Appearance: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (NSW – 2017)

Shulk’s inclusion in
Super Smash Bros. 4 was a harbinger of great things to come for Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade Chronicles, but I doubt even the Monado could help him foresee how much the series would’ve grown beyond a cult classic JRPG on Wii. Leading up to a million-seller sequel on the Nintendo Switch, you might say it salvaged the franchise? Eh? “Salvage?” Get it? …okay.

In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, it is said that after mankind was banished from the bountiful paradise of Elysium, they migrated onto the backs of colossal beasts known as Titans. These majestic creatures roam the endless cloud sea on a slow march towards death, with fewer and fewer Titans remaining as ages pass, until a young salvager accidentally awakens a legendary weapon known as the Aegis and challenges his world’s impending demise. Joining Super Smash Bros. Switch as a new face from Xenoblade,
Rex charges into battle!

XC2 mixes up the original Xenoblade gameplay with the introduction of Blades (the sentient embodiments of weapons), and Drivers (those wielding the Blade’s actual physical weapons). They act as partners, with Blades powering up their Drivers via buffs and other special effects. This key gameplay mechanic from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 would help Rex stand out from other fighters, as he would not be fighting alone. Wielding the Aegis, he would be accompanied into battle by the dual personalities of the fabled weapon: Pyra and Mythra.

Beginning with Rex’s Standard Special,
Aegis Shift would see Pyra and Mythra switch with one another (with the Aegis changing its respective form) and would operate similarly to Shulk’s Monado Arts. In Xenoblade 2, Pyra’s Battle Arts and Battle Skills buff up Rex’s offensive capabilities to increase damage, while Mythra’s main highlight—Foresight—increases his accuracy and evasion in turn. Rex would be capable enough in Smash on his own, but with Pyra boosting his damage output or Mythra heightening his speed for limited amounts of time, the tide of battle could change in Rex’s favor pretty quickly.

For his Side Special, we’d draw attention to his job as a salvager with one of his own Battle Arts:
Anchor Shot. This move is executed when Rex fires his anchor at an enemy from a distance and inflicts Topple. It would work similarly in Smash, with the first hit striking with sufficient damage before tripping up the targeted fighter. If you don’t get up quick, you might find yourself on the wrong end of his Side Smash, the Double Spinning Edge. Additionally, his Anchor Shot could double as his Grab to draw in distant foes.

To recover, Rex could rely on his
Rolling Smash Battle Art as his Up Special, a basic front flip before bringing down the Aegis hard with the added momentum. Give it some additional height for the jump, and boom! There’s your recovery move, but watch out if you don’t stick that landing over a pit.

His Down Special is where things start to get more fun. Depending on which form the Aegis takes, Rex’s Down Special would take on two entirely different iterations. If Pyra is on the field, her Blade Art
Flame Nova will take effect, summoning a ring of fire at a designated area; should Mythra take command, her Ray of Punishment would smite any poor fighter caught in the blast. We can take it a step further with Rex’s Customs switching between higher level Blade Specials: Prominence Revolt/Photon Edge and Blazing End/Lightning Buster.

Naturally, his Down Specials would be much more compact compared to their more spectacular executions in the source material. Whichever one is used, though, Rex will be completely invulnerable while Pyra or Mythra pull in from the stage’s background and unleash their special moves in his stead. That is not to say that damaging Rex in this state will be impossible, as his unique connection to the Aegis means that he, Pyra, and Mythra all share damage, unlike—say—the Ice Climbers, where attacking Nana yielded no additional percentage to Popo. Change your focus to the Aegis, and you’ll be able to retaliate and rack up the pain all the same.

Now Rex has pulled off a ton of jaw-dropping finishing moves in
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 that I’d love to highlight as his Final Smash, but some of these are borderline to explicitly spoilerific. So, we’ll keep things simple and stick with Pyra and Mythra’s Level 4 Blade Arts carrying over the same twist as before. Rex would have access to two Final Smashes and unleash one depending on which Aegis personality is dominant before breaking open the Smash Ball. With Pyra at his side, Burning Sword would incinerate other fighters with a focused pillar of flames; if Mythra is active, Sacred Arrow would rain down a storm of arrows to decimate the field!

I fully believe that Rex will make it into
Super Smash Bros. Switch; it’s only a question of how Sakurai and co. will pull it off. Come what may, it’d warm my heart to see not one, but two deserving Xenoblade characters join the fray, but if we could see one more from 2015’s Xenoblade Chronicles X

2. SPRING MAN

“Spring-a-ling!”

  • First Appearance: ARMS (NSW – 2017)

When the Nintendo Switch live conference in January 2017 finally gave us our first in-depth look at the shiny new system and extensive previews of Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Splatoon 2, we also got a peek at a unique take on the fighter genre in the form of ARMS. Featuring characters duking it out boxing-style with long-reaching noodle limbs and a bevy of gadgets with different effects for gloves,
ARMS is just the kind of off-brand, quirky, unmistakably Nintendo fun that would be a perfect fit for Super Smash Bros.

With that in mind, I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that ARMS‘ poster boy Spring Man (and alternate costume Springtron) will surely make the cut. With a moveset revolving heavily around the use of his spring-like limbs and his standard ARMS, Spring Man would undoubtedly be the Smasher with the longest range, though his blows would come off as average and leave him vulnerable once launched.

His Specials are where each of his standard ARMS would come into play. For the Standard Special, Spring Man could send out a long-range jab with his Toaster at the push of a button—a second button press could send out his other ARM for a follow-up cross. His Side Special, the multi-shot Tribolt, would be quicker and cover a wider area than the Toaster, but it would also be the weaker of the two.

For his Down Special, we have the
Boomerang, with a more straightforward execution compared to Spring Man’s other ARMS. With its wide arcs, the Boomerang ARM could cover both Spring Man’s front and back by arcing around him specifically. With Toaster, Tribolt, and Boomerang, you can mix and match your ARMS depending on which Special you unleash first then second: catch them with a Boomerang if they’re in too close, then push them away with a Toaster for the other, or go in with a Toaster first and surprise them with a Tribolt!

While this variety would give Spring Man plenty of options, he’d really only be at his best when players could best take advantage of his Charge ability. ARMS has fighters’ fists become supercharged for a short window upon landing from a jump, dashing, or blocking, and in Smash, skilled players could utilize this same effect to unleash Spring Man’s full potential. There’s also Spring Man’s unique ability in ARMS, where his weapons gain a permanent Charge when he’s low on health!

As such, either through skilled timing or a high enough percentage, Spring Man’s moves could each gain their own elemental effect. Toaster would burn his opponent and deal a decent amount of damage as a result. Tribolt would not only stop his enemies in their tracks, but stun them in place too. Boomerang would unlock its Wind properties and use it to keep incoming foes at bay.

There’s still his Up Special to consider, too. This move could have him punch the ground and bounce highly into the air then spin to deliver a devastating uppercut, in a move I’d like to call
Spring for the Top. This is based off of one of his victory animations and would be an effective leap for him…if used off solid ground. While usually useless in midair, though, he could still propel himself off the backs of other Smashers, which could also double as a kind of footstool. And when Charged, on top of lingering flames from the ground punch, using this move on midair foes for an extra leap could turn that footstool into a bonafide Meteor Smash.

Of course, while Spring Man gets a permanent power-up on the field once passing a certain damage threshold, the weaknesses I spoke of before are still very much there. Weave past his incoming ARMS as they zoom in, counterattack once it’s too late for him to pull back, and knock him off stage to secure your win!

Be warned, though. Should Spring Man break open the Smash Ball, then it’s all over for you once you’re within the reach of his ARMS: there’s no defending against that Rush. As for Spring Man’s passive ability to parry incoming attacks when he dashes, this would be better off as a Dash Attack.

If Spring Man isn’t alone, then I could easily see
Ribbon Girl join Smash as a viable semi-clone. Her Specials could be executed similarly to Spring Man’s with her own standard ARMS, each operating with their own Charged attribute: Sparky with electricity, Popper for wind, and Slapamander for fire. Also known to be light on her feet, “The Airess” is capable of jumping about up to four times and dashing twice, giving her air game and recovery potential unique to her, just as Spring Man’s low health PermaCharge is unique to him.


HONORABLE MENTIONS

Before we get to my #1 pick, I’d be remiss not to go over a few more
Honorable Mentions. There were many more candidates I considered for this list but ultimately had to cut, be it by my own unfamiliarity with certain characters or because I just don’t see them happening myself. Nonetheless, we’ll go over a few more names with my quick thoughts on each:

  1. Wonder RedThe Wonderful 101. Haven’t played the game much myself, but Wonder Red was one of the frontrunners in many fan-held polls around the time of the Smash Ballot, so I’m curious to see what kind of crazy Wonderful One moves Red could bring to Smash. Wouldn’t mind giving W101 a try should Nintendo and Platinum Games manage to have a Switch port in the works!
  2. MidnaThe Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. There’s no denying that Midna is one of the more popular Zelda co-stars in recent years, in part thanks to Hyrule Warriors and the Wii U re-release of Twilight Princess. While I’d personally love to see Midna as a fighter, she was only brought on board Smash 4 as an Assist Trophy. Chances are likely she’ll remain as such, but I would love to be proven wrong. Hell, we’d sooner see a new Zelda character than a decloned Ganondorf anyway…
  3. RidleyMetroid. HE’S TOO BIG. Okay, memery aside, I do feel Metroid is long overdue a new fighter. Much like I’ve expressed for K. Rool, Smash could really use more villains, and there are few remaining who fit the bill quite like Ridley. As I’m not too familiar with the character or franchise myself, however, I can’t quite picture a cohesive moveset for the draconic Space Pirate leader, and I’m sure I wouldn’t do him justice with what little I know. I’ll leave that to you good readers!
  4. IsaacGolden Sun. Not an inclusion I am against, but it unfortunately isn’t one I’m expecting this time around. Neither is he a character I know much about personally. I don’t think Nintendo has any inclination on bringing back Golden Sun anytime soon, and Sakurai previously noted that new characters with no future are unlikely to make the cut, but who knows? We saw Kid Icarus return with a vengeance in Uprising after Pit miraculously appeared in Brawl, so it’s certainly still possible.
  5. DecidueyePokémon Gen VII. Smash releases typically introduce at least one new Pokémon from a recent generation, but the keyword there is “recent,” as Gen III and Gen V were overlooked for more relevant Pokémon games at the times of Brawl and Smash 4. Now, not only is Gen VIII likely on the horizon, Eevee could very well be in the running as an honorary mascot with the recent confirmations of Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! Decidueye might be seeing some stiff competition now that it isn’t the only new Pokémon idea on the table, let alone a fresh one after Pokkén Tournament DX.

And now, without further ado, I would like to present my top prediction. She is a certain heroine who debuted on Famicom many years ago, a character I feel is an absolute lock for the new
Smash. I would’ve been surprised if no one bothered mentioning her…if not for one often parroted objection that I’m sure I’m gonna hear:

But Jeff, there are already too many Fire Emblem characters!

It’s almost as though
Fire Emblem has, by Nintendo’s own admission, become a major household name in recent years or something.

1. CELICA

“If it is our fate to cross swords upon this day, know that I will give it my all!”

  • First Appearance: Fire Emblem Gaiden (FCM – 1992)
  • Latest Appearance:
    Fire Emblem Warriors (NSW – 2017)

There is perhaps no better indicator to the average Nintendo fan of how far
Fire Emblem has come as a series than Smash. Thanks to the resurgence the franchise received with Fire Emblem Awakening and the then oncoming Fates, Fire Emblem saw a total of six representatives made up of new and returning fighters last time around. Now, with a new game expected to release on the Nintendo Switch this year, we’ll likely be bracing ourselves for this mysterious new protagonist to join the fray, but I doubt they will be the only new fighter joining Smash if so.

In 1992 came
Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second installment in the tactical RPG series. Gaiden told the tale of a continent divided between its conflicting founding dragons and their nations, before two children of fate would rise to restore peace to the land of Valentia. This Japan-only game would forever remain in obscurity, up until a complete remake came to the Nintendo 3DS family of systems worldwide last year under the name Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.

And with that recent installment, I would definitely expect one of its lead heroes,
Celica—née Princess Anthiese of Zofia—to join as a new fighter.

Celica is a remarkably powerful character who can use swords and magic right out of the gate, with her exclusive blade being the Beloved Zofia. While there is some overlap with Robin in the kind of magic she uses, we’ll be focusing more on her unique traits emphasized in Echoes rather than make her a direct clone. Additionally, as Celica saw more of a focus on flashy swordplay when she appeared in
Fire Emblem Warriors, our Smash moveset will instead look more into what she’s capable of as a spellcaster.

Beginning with her Standard Special, Celica can unleash
Seraphim, a mid-range holy spell unique to Gaiden and Echoes that deals significant damage to undead foes but is otherwise a basic magic attack that deals an okay amount of pain. In Smash, Seraphim would take a moment to charge before this angelic ball of white light is cast and sent off as a concussive blast.

For her Side Special, although we certainly want her to differ from other Fire Emblem reps in Smash, Dancing Blade (used by Marth, Roy, and Lucina in Smash 4) would be a perfect fit for her, as we see her wield her sword in a similar fashion to this move in Echoes. Within the game’s 3D dungeons, Celica gracefully swings her blade with style, poise, and finesse in a series of five swings you can loop over on again without rest. Ergo, Dancing Blade!

For her Down Special, Celica can rely on her signature spell
Ragnarök. In Echoes, Ragnarök is Celica’s most powerful combat Art, where she unleashes a volley of fireballs on nearby enemies. Granted, a spell that strong also comes at a cost: in Echoes, combat Arts are powered by HP, and Ragnarök is one of the most health-draining spells she can use. In Smash, Celica’s Down Special would be a double-edged sword that would add a fair amount of % on her for casting it.

For her Up Special, Celica has a wind-type spell she can use as a recovery move in the form of
Excalibur. In-universe, Excalibur is a more potent magic than Elwind, which Robin happens to use as a recovery move in Smash 4, but its execution in Smash would functionally be more or less the same. To differentiate, maybe more Air Blades could assist her ascent rather than Robin’s two?

Celica also has other spells in her repertoire, which would easily come into play as her Smash Attacks.
Fire, her starting Art in-game, can ward off incoming enemies with a potent blast on the ground as a Down Smash. Thunder can electrify foes as an effective Side Smash. Finally, for her Up Smash comes Aura, a skill which could raise a tower of light rings around Celica from beneath her and send enemies flying.

Last but not least, Celica’s Final Smash would make use of her own Ultimate Combat Art,
Ragnarok Ω. Once her foes are in range, the scenery would change as the Brand of Mila on her right hand shines, and her palms would alight with raging flames. The five fireballs summoned from her standard Ragnarok would then surround her opponents before meeting in the middle for a massive explosion!

On that note, there is one more Honorable Mention I’d like to bring up, and that is Celica’s Gaiden and Echoes co-star Alm. I hate to break up a pair of Fire Emblem heroes, but while I would personally love to see the other Heritor of Arcadia join Celica in Smash (after being unjustly snubbed from Warriors), I’m not so sure I can see it happening after further deliberation.

As to why, I see
Alm being rejected for the same reason Chrom—who was once in the running as a playable character in Smash 4—was, and that is Sakurai likely chalking up the Jasper Lion as “another plain old sword-wielder [who] lacks any unique characteristics.” Nonetheless, that didn’t stop me from coming up with a moveset, which I’ll quickly list:

  • Standard Special: Hunter Volley
  • Side Special: Double Lion
  • Up Special: Lion’s Leap
  • Down Special: Subdue
  • Final Smash: Scendscale

Even with Celica edging out Alm as the more interesting fighter, I would be a fool to ignore Sakurai’s own remarks about
Fire Emblem oversaturation in Smash and not feel a little apprehensive about my own prediction, hence why I implemented rule #3 for this list earlier on. Should no fighters be cut from the previous game, will there be enough new characters introduced from other major Nintendo franchises into Smash 5 to warrant a new Fire Emblem character? Or might we actually see some roster trimmings this time around to make room for the Zofian Princess?

Whatever the case, we might just find out as soon as this time next week.

GAME!

Well, this list has been a lot of things while putting it all together: fun, exhausting, enlightening, and
incredibly time consuming, to put it mildly, since I never wrote something quite this long before. But hey, whether I’m very right and happy that my favorites got in or very wrong but pleasantly surprised at fighters I never really considered, I know I’ll still have an absolute blast playing the new Super Smash Bros. once it lands on Nintendo Switch later this year—regardless of which new fighters come in.

These are just my own predictions though, so what about yours? Which new fighter would you love to see in Smash that I haven’t talked about? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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Articles Features Indie Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Top Ten Anticipated Newcomers for Super Smash Bros. Switch (Part 1)

There’s no series that throws the collective Nintendo community into an absolute frenzy quite like
Super Smash Bros. The March Direct capped with the tease of a brand new entry in the highly coveted crossover fighter franchise, and fake leaks, rumors, and speculations have pretty much taken over the internet at this point. Naturally, there is one big question on everyone’s minds with answers that pretty much define a new Smash entry: which new characters will join the roster?

Today, I’ll be going over some of my most anticipated characters for
Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo Switch! These are ten different candidates who aren’t necessarily my most wanted, but more so fighters I also predict have a strong chance at making the cut following the previous Smash Ballot. As a fun bonus, we’ll even go over possible moveset ideas for most of them!

Before we get started with the list, let’s cement a few ground rules.

  1. I won’t be going over Smash veterans who have been cut from previous rosters. Not to say I don’t want Wolf O’Donnell or Ice Climbers back, but let’s shine the spotlight on new characters for today (for the record, I am expecting Ice Climbers to return).
  2. I won’t waste guesses on fighters from upcoming games we know nothing about, so don’t expect me to talk much about “8th Gen Pokémon,” “Metroid Prime 4 character,” or “Fire Emblem 16 hero” since we have no material to work with.
  3. I won’t be discussing probable character cuts from Smash 4 to Smash 5 to “make room” for newcomers.
  4. These characters will be in order from “least” to “most likely” to land on the Smash 5 roster.

Without further ado, let’s start the countdown!

10. SHANTAE

“Ret-2-GO!”

  • First Appearance: Shantae (GBC – 2002)
  • Latest Appearance: Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition (NSW – 2018)
  • “Shantae Smashified” art by Omni Jacala and Chris Szczesiul

Among possible third-party newcomers, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect an indie character to join the roster this time around. The independent video game industry has grown and evolved considerably as of late, and many have found a great home in Nintendo consoles. With that in mind, I see two perfect candidates who best represent this side of Nindie gaming and can make for well-rounded fighters in their own right.

First, let’s start with
Shantae, the Half-Genie heroine of Scuttle Town!

Shantae’s humble beginnings go way back to a Game Boy Color passion project by Matt and Erin Bozon of WayForward. While the original Shantae being a late GBC release may have led to franchise obscurity, the eponymous genie girl came back with a vengeance in Risky’s Revenge on DSi. This was followed by bigger and more ambitious games in Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse on 3DS and her first HD adventure in Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.

Seniority in the indie industry aside, the next question becomes “What
can’t she do?” as Shantae has proven time and again just how fearsome she can be in battle, thanks to her potent Genie Magic and Ponytail Whip. As such, it’s only fitting that most of her Specials would revolve around her transformations, each with a quick startup around her captivating belly-dancing…

…save for her Standard Special, which would be something simple akin to a
Mighty Ponytail Whip: a stronger, Genie magic-infused flick of her hair. While such a move doesn’t necessarily exist in her games, it is a perfect embodiment of her trademark hair-whipping talent combined with her powers from her half-Genie side. This would differ from her standard attacks involving her hair by including the Attract power-up from her games, drawing in other combatants from a short distance for a mighty wallop.

Onto her Side Special, Shantae could transform into her Monkey form and launch herself as a
Monkey Bullet. In the Shantae series, this is typically executed when clinging to a wall first, but in Smash it could operate similarly to Diddy Kong’s Monkey Flip, where she’d travel a short distance mid-air in a perfectly horizontal line to either ram into other fighters or cling to them and attack with her Monkey Claw. She wouldn’t use this move indefinitely, however, as using it in midair and latching onto nothing would leave her falling helplessly.

Shantae’s Down Special would be relatively straight-forward, looking to her Elephant form for an
Elephant Stomp. In other words, a devastating Ground Pound, much like Bowser and Yoshi, perhaps with an additional burying effect and midair Spike, as elephants weigh a ton.

And her recovery? Easily her iconic and incredibly mobile
Harpy Flight, which would somewhat harken back to Pit’s old Wings of Icarus recovery from Brawl. To offset that kind of mobility, much like its predecessor, it wouldn’t last very long and would leave Shantae in a helpless state once it wears off.

Shantae has plenty of other Genie transformations at her disposal, but they can see other uses, be it something cosmetic like swimming on the water’s surface in Mermaid form or something useful like grabbing onto the wall in Spider form, like in her debut title.

Alternatively, provided Custom Moves return, you could also look into Pirate Gear borrowed from her arch-nemesis Risky Boots, as Shantae did when she’d lost her powers in
The Pirate’s Curse. The Scimitar + Risky’s Boots combo would work as a Side Special alternative, Flintlock Pistol as her Standard, and combining the Down Special Cannon and Up Special Pirate Hat would provide ridiculous recovery options. This all goes without even mentioning the variety of magical attacks and special items at her disposal, like the Pike Balls, Storm Puffs, and Fireballs. We also have a pretty good idea of how Shantae handles herself in melee situations thanks to the Fighter’s Gear and associated Relics she picks up in her adventures.


For a Final Smash, there’s nothing more defining to Shantae than the
Dance Parlor from her debut title. This could operate either like Donkey Kong’s Final Smash, where you have to time button presses to the beat, or it could just be a flashy trapping-based finisher like Mega Man’s or Captain Falcon’s, where the crowd-tossed gems would pelt poor fighters caught in-range of her Final Smash activation.

All in all, she would make for a terrific and unique addition to
Smash, and the more kickass heroines we have joining the roster, the better. Hopefully her popularity during the Smash 4 Ballot helped raise her chances!

9. SHOVEL KNIGHT

“Justice in Spades!”

  • First Appearance: Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope (WiiU/3DS – 2014)
  • Latest Appearance: Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (NSW – 2017)
  • “Shovel Knight Smashified” art by Omni Jacala

Now onto
Shovel Knight, master of the ancient code of Shovelry and a recurring presence in the indie gaming scene.

Yacht Club Games’ love letter to games of yore shines through the gameplay of the titular Blue Burrower. Sharing similar roots to Shantae, Shovel Knight’s design and gameplay cues were pulled from all-star greats of the 8-bit era—Super Mario Bros. 3, DuckTales, Zelda II, Castlevania, Mega Man—which made for one of the best gaming experiences of 2014. It also helps that Nintendo of Japan seems pretty fond of the character, that Shovel Knight was the first third-party property to get their own standalone Amiibo, and that the game saw more success on Nintendo platforms collectively than any other console family.

In a
Smash setting, the crux of Shovel Knight’s moveset could revolve around the signature Shovel Blade. This weaponized gardening tool is perfect for swipes, strikes, and scoops, and its Scrooge McDuck cane-like pogo bounce would make for a fun Down Air to cheese.

Shovel Knight’s Specials would likely rely around the Relics from their home game, but the Shovel Blade’s
Drop Spark should serve as the emblematic Standard Special. It is ideal for both close quarters and long range when used on the ground. In other words, those who get caught up in the actual shovel’s attack will rack up extra damage from the Drop Spark. Its main weakness, however, would carry over from the original game: it cannot be used in midair.

The
Propeller Dagger would easily serve as the Up Special, though its execution would differ somewhat from the source material. Rather than be purely horizontal, it could perhaps adopt a more diagonal trajectory for optimal recovery, with Customs switching up between the original strictly horizontal move and the vertically-oriented Rising Dagger. Anyone caught up in the blade or propeller would be swept into it similar to Meta Knight’s Drill Rush.

The
War Horn would make for a nice concussive blast with a hefty amount of knockback for a Down Special. It could work somewhat like Cloud’s Finishing Touch, though not as powerful, trading some knockback for extra damage. Power and knockback will differ between the base Down Special and its custom alterations.

That leaves the Chaos Sphere as a viable long-range Side Special option, bouncing around and knocking into other fighters while on-screen. Additionally, Shovel Knight still has a few projectiles hidden up their chain-mail sleeves—with the Throwing Anchor traveling a short distance for heavy damage, and the Flare Wand for longer range but less punch—that could make for Custom Moves.

All that remains now are a few other Relics and upgrades that could be included in specific contexts. The Dust Knuckles, for example, could easily be incorporated into Shovel Knight’s Grab, Pummel, and Throws. Meanwhile, the Mobile Gear could fashion itself as part of their Dash Attack to run down other fighters. Finally, the Shovel Blade’s Charge Handle already functions like a Side Smash and could easily be refashioned as an Up Smash, leaving his Trench Blade as a Down Smash.


When it comes to Final Smash concepts, a popular idea floating around the Internet involves the use of Shield Knight, who I personally feel would be better suited for the role of Assist Trophy. Plus, I already had three magic words come to mind:
Troupple King Dance. A familiar chiptune waltz plays for a perfect moment of soundtrack dissonance, and then, rather than enjoying the ceremonial ritual of the Troupple King and his fishy-fruity subjects, fighters would get pelted nonstop by troupples flying about the screen!

You might’ve noticed my use of “they” pronouns for Shovel Knight’s case. I have a feeling their possible inclusion in Smash might be similar to what we’ve seen with Villager, Robin, and Corrin, with players being able to swap between a male and female Shovel Knight, just like the game’s very own Body Swap mode.

Shovel Knight, much like Shantae, is a very capable candidate who can bring some much deserved indie representation to
Super Smash Bros. Armed with both name recognition and Nintendo’s own vouching, it’s not impossible to expect the Shovelrous hero to join the brawl.

8. RAYMAN

“Long ago, the primordial forest, deep and mysterious, witnessed the birth of
a man… uh, a vegetable? No, no, no… ah, a thingamajig.” — Nymph

  • First Appearance: Rayman (AJG – 1995)
  • Latest Appearance:
    Rayman Legends: Definite Edition (NSW – 2017)
  • “Rayman Smashified” art by Omni Jacala

Smash hoaxes are a dime a dozen, but one famed hoax took the web by storm a few years back, leading many to believe a certain character would appear as DLC before Artsy Omni revealed its falsehood. But for all we know, a full-on inclusion could very well be happening this time, especially after Nintendo’s new friendship with Ubisoft after Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle.

So, I’m gonna
go out on a limb and highlight Rayman for number 8! The protector of the Glade of Dreams has defended his realm from all sorts of evil, be it from raving rabbids, robot pirates, embodiments of darkness, or zombie grannies, and while he is a simple soul (albeit on the crazy side), Rayman’s dutiful heroism and athletic talents are the real deal.

The way he would control in Smash Bros would pretty much be airlifted straight out of Rayman Origins and Legends, which rounded out an arguably complete melee moveset: a four punch jab combo, directional kicks and punches for his air game, a spinning Dash Attack that doesn’t interrupt his running, landing from a jump into a roll to keep running or smash into the ground with his meteor Down Air, walljumps, tilt-input attacks, and so on. Rayman as a character would essentially be all about agility and proper
flow.

Even from
Origins and Legends, we have some ideas for his Smash Attacks. His Telescopic Fist could rear back for a Wind Up Punch as a Side Smash with ridiculous reach, and for his Down Smash, an earthquaking strike from his fists would cover both sides. For his Up Smash, we look to a move scrapped from Rayman Origins that was featured in the game’s teaser trailer, the “Propeller Updraft,” as…demonstrated on Betilla the Fairy—something that has no power but can blow opponents away, like a grounded Mr. Game & Watch’s Up Air.

Like that, we’ve covered just about everything for his basic movepool by pulling material from the two most recent mainline
Rayman games. As for the original trilogy, that’s where the Specials and Custom Moves come into play.

Rayman’s Standard Special could be projectile-oriented, with its default being the
Magic Fist, as featured in Rayman 2: The Great Escape. This technique allows Rayman to shoot fist-sized energy balls from his hands in rapid succession, which can travel a long way to pester other fighters. As alternatives, there is the Blue Punch from Origins—which could be stronger, but doesn’t travel as far and needs to cool down/reload after a few shots—or the Raving Rabbids-native Plunger Gun for a single power shot.

His Side Specials would mix things up with the Laser-Washing Powder power-ups from
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc. I’d go for the whirlwind-unleashing
Vortex as his default, to stick with a semi-consistent speed/wind theme. The electrifying long-reaching metal Lockjaw and the guided missile-launching Rocket Shot could both serve as custom swaps.

His Up Special would no doubt be the
Super Helicopter featured in various games, allowing Rayman to harmlessly fly up and glide gently down with his trademark hairdo. Letting go of the move, however, will have Rayman fall in a helpless state. For alternates, Rayman can focus more on horizontal travel with the Helicopter Glide, or shoot for verticality with the remaining Laser-Washing Powder we haven’t covered yet: the Throttle Copter.

For his Down Special, I’d focus on one move pulled from his debut, way back in the original
Rayman. That move is the
Magic Seed, which Rayman would plant into the ground or walls to sprout an extra platform. Comparatively, it would be a weaker take on the Villager’s Timber, as any fighter who gets caught in the instantaneous bloom would take some damage with vertical knockback. As for variants, there could be Timed Magic Seed, operating like a landmine, or Heavy Magic Seed, which would take a bit longer to sprout but deal much more damage.

To wrap it up with Rayman’s Final Smash, there’s probably nothing better suited to the character than
Moskito Bombardment, as featured in Rayman 1 and Rayman Origins. Rayman would hop aboard the Moskito’s back and either shoot down the battlefield with their proboscis or suck up other fighters to spit them out. Pretty cut and dry.


For all his speed and versatility, what would offset Rayman’s strength and nimbleness would be his fragility. I’d imagine someone with no neck, arms or legs who, in his recent ventures, can hardly take a hit himself without Bubblizing to death would likely come off as
incredibly light and easy to send flying, so keep that in mind should you choose Michel Ancel’s limbless wonder.

That should wrap it up for third parties, I think! Now, let’s shift our focus back to Nintendo with
one of the most requested first party inclusions from the Smash Ballot.

7. KING K. ROOL

“King K. Rool doesn’t do anything halfway! Hope you’ve said your goodbyes, fools!”

  • First Appearance:
    Donkey Kong Country (SNES – 1994)
  • Latest Appearance:
    Mario Super Sluggers (Wii – 2008)
  • “King K. Rool Smashified” art by Chris Szczesiul

When Rare was given the chance to breathe new life into the Donkey Kong name with Donkey Kong Country, the rebranded King of Swing needed a new force to contend with. Rare found the gorilla’s answer in the form of a crocodile, the superior species. Enter the reasonable, raving, derangeable despot at the helm of the Kremling Krew,
King K. Rool!

With his outstanding physique, unparalleled strength, and
impeccable singing voice, DK’s arch-nemesis and frequent banana hoard thief has a lot going for his regal self, on top of fans clamoring for his return. Smash has a distinct lack of truly villainous characters—really only Ganondorf and Bowser, while Meta Knight, Dedede, and Wario often serve more as anti-heroes these days—and K. Rool’s established villain status would finally add a plus one to that neglected quota.

The King of Kritters would classify as a deceptively speedy heavyweight contender, capable of shockwave-inducing ground slams and powerful uppercuts rivalling DK’s own impressive strength. He’s also the fanciful sort, adopting several aliases in his appearances: the brash buccaneer Kaptain K. Rool, the mad scientist Baron K. Roolenstein, and boxing champion King Krusha K. Rool. Alternative costume potential aside, his weapons and abilities from these boss encounters also make for great ideas for his Specials!

We have his
Kaptain’s Blunderbuss, with an unlimited supply of Kannonballs that can serve as his Standard Special. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll limit his ammunition to basic Kannonballs for the default, and save the spiked and twirling variants for his Customs. Kannonballs would go a short range and pack a decent amount of punch, but they could linger on-stage and get thrown around by other fighters. Of course, hitting the Blunderbuss with a Kannonball would cause it to explode in K. Rool’s face, but the returning fire will be devastating.

On the side, he could also use the Blunderbuss as part of his Dash Attack, with its flamethrower aspect propelling him forward while he barrels into other fighters.

His signature Krown Toss would serve as a long-reaching Side Special where K. Rool would throw and retrieve his crown in a manner similar to classic Link’s boomerang. Not really much else to say here!

For K. Rool’s Up Special, his recovery would be his
Helikopter-Pack from Donkey Kong Country 3. This would serve as K. Rool’s lifeline as well as his greatest weakness, as damaging the propeller could see him come loose and fall helplessly to his doom, or have him fly around uncontrollably to, once again, his doom.

K. Rool is known to be shrewd and sneaky, so his penchant for invisibility—as featured in
DKC2 and DK64—would be the perfect Down Special. While his shadow would make an obvious tell for his whereabouts, Kamouflage would allow K. Rool a few seconds to scheme his next move, operating like a shorter-lasting Cloaking Device. I did consider a ground slam and shockwave like we see him use in DK64, but I figured that would be a better Down Smash for a show of raw power.

As for Final Smash ideas, he could consume a
Crystal Banana and grow to Kraid-sized epic proportions behind the stage to become a weather manipulating, meteor-summoning, fire-breathing titan of pure chaos, as seen in DK: Jungle Climber. I initially considered him helming the Gangplank Galleon with cannonballs raining on the map, much like the Nintendo Week podcast originally envisioned, but I figured that would be much more fun as a new DK stage.


That being said, K. Rool hasn’t been around since his last appearance in
Mario Super Sluggers ten years ago. The series’ relaunch has seen no signs of the Kritter leader anywhere, with the role of antagonist instead filled by the Tiki Tribe and the Snowmads. However, there is the possibility that a new, standalone Donkey Kong Country game could see his long-awaited, and frankly long overdue, return.

Hopefully, with the likely outpouring of support for him in the Ballot, K. Rool could not only return in an upcoming
Donkey Kong game with renewed vigor, but also step in as Donkey Kong representative number 3 over the likes of Dixie, Cranky, and Funky Kong. Hell, like Inklings, there was a K. Rool Mii Fighter costume last time around, and now that Inklings are joining Smash in earnest, here’s to hoping!

Speaking of Inklings…

6. OCTOLING

“I’ll take your stunned silence as a YES!”

Cap’n Cuttlefish

  • First Appearance:
    Splatoon (WiiU – 2015)
  • Latest Appearance:
    Splatoon 2 (NSW – 2017)

The new squids on the block are finally joining
Smash in an official capacity after that DLC Mii Fighter costume tease! Native to Splatoon and its Nintendo Switch sequel, the third-person shooter and brand new big ticket Nintendo IP has quickly cemented itself as the company’s latest household name. With Inklings now in Smash, taking into account how loaded these squid kids’ arsenals are, their movepool has a ridiculous amount of material to pull from—so ridiculous that, even with Custom Moves, a single new character might not be enough to contain it all.

So, what better way to highlight more of
Splatoon‘s craziness than by including not one, but two separate fighters from the series? Once your fearsome adversaries in the games’ single player campaigns and now playable in Splatoon 2‘s upcoming Octo Expansion, I fully expect
Octolings to take up arms and joining Smash Switch as their own separate character from Inklings.

But Jeff, Octolings are basically clones in Splatoon! I hate clones because they’re useless and just take up my favorite character’s spot! Why can’t they just be an alternate costume, huh?

By Sakurai’s own account, most clones are unplanned and actually began as alternate costumes during the course of a new game’s given development period. If his team can
quickly churn out a bonus character for fun without taking up much time or resources, then why shouldn’t they? They simply exist as fun extras to choose from in an otherwise still varied and complete roster.

With that in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Octolings made into either an Inkling clone with distinct differences, or—due to the
Splatoon games’ ridiculously packed armory of Ink, Sub, and Special Weapons—their own unique combatant altogether. Either way, they would definitely come across as a perfect foil to Inklings like in the source material.

It’s also due to this ridiculous amount of potential that I’m actually going to abstain from coming up with a possible moveset for both Inklings and Octolings. There are simply too many variants at play for me to feasibly cement one moveset idea, as their weapons would without a doubt be incorporated into their entire movepool and not
just their Specials. We’d be stuck here all day on guesswork alone!

Additionally, when it comes to costumes, both races are wayyyyy too fresh to limit their wardrobe to so few options if Octolings were just an alt to Inklings, as designing your own unique squid kid is one of the most fun things to do in the games outside of actual Turf Wars. We’d definitely see many Inkling designs beyond just the OG Inkling Girl and Boy, with Nintendo pulling alternative costume ideas from both Splatoon and Splatoon 2. The same would likely apply to Octolings beyond the promo designs, be it dressing up as Agent 8 themselves, enemy Octolings, or the Sanitized designs we’ll be seeing up close in Octo Expansion.

In short, brace yourselves for the Inklings’ most notable foes to start splatting the Battlefields of Smash as their own territory. 2018 is the “Year of the Octoling,” after all!

CONTINUE?

This entry is quite long, yet we’re only halfway through the list. So for now, I’ll leave things at that and allow you to ruminate over the candidates I’ve brought forward so far. What do you make of these potential fighters? Can you see any of these predictions coming true, or do you have better ideas that you’d like to share with us?

I’d love to hear what you have to say, so sound off with your newcomer theories in the comments below, and come back soon to acquaint yourselves with the Final Five!

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Here’s the Complete E3 2018 Press Conference Schedule

Video game Christmas is upon us! In just over a week, we will see dozens of game developers, from tiny indie teams to massive AAA publishers, gathering in Los Angeles to strut their stuff. During E3 we’ll get a sneak peak at many of the most exciting titles releasing in 2018 and beyond. If you’re having trouble keeping up with all of the video presentations that have been announced for next week, we’ve got you covered.

In addition to the big three (Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo) you can expect shows this year from EA, Bethesda, Square Enix, and Ubisoft. There will also be the PC Gaming Show as well as presentations by smaller companies like Devolver Digital and Limited Run Games. The complete schedule (so far) is as follows:

  • EA – Saturday, June 9, 11:00 AM Pacific Time
  • Microsoft – Sunday, June 10, 1:00 PM Pacific Time
  • Bethesda – Sunday, June 10, 6:30 PM Pacific Time
  • Devolver Digital – Sunday, June 10, 8:00 PM Pacific Time
  • Square Enix – Monday, June 11, 10:00 AM Pacific Time
  • Limited Run Games – Monday, June 11, Noon Pacific Time
  • Ubisoft – Monday, June 11, 1:00 PM Pacific Time
  • PC Gaming Show – Monday, June 11, 3:00 PM Pacific Time
  • Sony – Monday, June 11, 6:00 PM Pacific Time
  • Nintendo – Tuesday, June 12, 9:00 AM Pacific Time

All times listed here are Pacific, as that’s the time zone in Los Angeles. If you’d like a more detailed breakdown of conferences by timezone, Cheesemeister3k on Twitter has complied a fantastic chart to help people around the world keep track of the shows. You can check out that graphic by clicking below. We’ll be streaming all the major conferences live as they air, so stay tuned to Gamnesia for all the exciting E3 news!

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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.

If
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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Battlefield V’s Release Date Makes No Sense Whatsoever

Last week, Electronic Arts and DICE hosted the formal reveal of the next entry in the
Battlefield franchise. Coming off of 2016’s lauded Battlefield 1, the team is returning the series to the fields of World War II in the new Battlefield V. There has been some contention from fans about the game since this event—the reveal trailer currently has over 55,000 more dislikes than likes—due to a variety of factors, some of which have nothing to do with the gameplay.

But the thing that bugs me most about this reveal is one that I’m seeing very few people discuss, and I’ve driven myself crazy trying to figure out why EA would do it. Because the chosen release date for
Battlefield V really makes me wonder if they’re intentionally sending this game out to die.

See,
Battlefield V is scheduled to launch on October 19, 2018—and for those of us who keep up with major game release dates, that should be rather surprising. Lately we’ve seen a number of titles that were planned for this Fall getting pushed back to 2019. While the devs have many reasons for these delays, gamers have also noted two major releases that are likely prompting these decisions: Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (launching Oct 12) and Red Dead Redemption 2 (launching Oct 26). Launching around either of those heavy hitters would no doubt greatly reduce most games’ sales figures, so this all makes sense. Yet Battlefield V has opted to be sandwiched right in between the two, and I cannot figure out why.

Whether you love or hate the franchise, there’s no denying that
Call of Duty‘s annual releases are consistently top-selling titles, ranking among—or even at the very top—of best-sellers for years. Even Battlefield has historically been unable to topple Activision’s giant; their best chance was undoubtedly in 2016, when the highly-anticipated Battlefield 1 went up against the much-maligned Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. But by year’s end, at least in America, Infinite Warfare was the one crowned as the highest-selling title of the year. EA even had a two-week head start back then, but they still fell into CoD‘s shadow.

And if there’s a studio that even Activision wants to avoid competing with, it would be Rockstar Games.
Black Ops 4 is launching earlier than ever in Call of Duty history, no doubt to give itself a few weeks to enjoy the spotlight before Red Dead Redemption 2 comes in to steal it away. Rockstar’s offerings are almost always grand slams, wowing audiences and becoming must-buys for gamers across the board. Mix that in with the hype surrounding their return to the fan-favorite Old West setting, and RDR2 is practically guaranteed to be another major success story.

This all makes EA’s chosen release date incredibly perplexing.
Battlefield V arrives one week after Call of Duty and one week before Red Dead Redemption, giving it no real window of time where it can stand out from the rest of the pack—CoD‘s sales will still be going strong in its second week, and Red Dead will almost certainly smash all competitors to dust when it finally comes out. From a business perspective, this date makes no sense.

None of that even factors in the resentment and distrust many have felt towards Electronic Arts ever since the disaster that was Star Wars Battlefront II. If ever EA and DICE needed to avoid competition, it’s now, as there are many gamers who may opt to play Call of Duty instead of Battlefield simply to spite EA. If the company just had a few weeks to itself, a few weeks where Battlefield V was the only major new FPS on the market, fans of the genre would have a much higher chance of caving to the desire for a new game to play. But going up against Black Ops 4 directly like this means that those gamers can avoid EA’s title like the plague and still get their FPS fix.

If the other two games’ dates had been announced more recently, I could have understood this decision; EA might then have still been in the middle of meetings about a new release date and opted to simply announce the game now and figure out when to delay it to later. But Activision revealed
Black Ops 4‘s release date back in March, and Rockstar finalized their launch plans at the start of February. Electronic Arts has had ample time to have these discussions, and yet they’ve still chosen to, essentially, cripple themselves right out of the gate.

Like I said, this has been bugging me ever since Wednesday’s announcement. EA is usually quite keen on getting the most cash they possibly can out of consumers, yet here they are practically throwing away a major opportunity to do so. I can’t make heads or tails out of it. I’m hoping that some of our readers will have an explanation for me. Until then, the best I can do is think of a phrase that Jim Sterling has used in the past to describe Konami. Maybe, at the end of the day, that phrase has come to apply to EA as well.

Maybe, at the end of the day, Electronic Arts is just another company that does not know how to business.

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Articles Features Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Ikaruga Feels Right at Home on Nintendo Switch

The critically-acclaimed
Ikaruga has been ported to numerous home consoles since its debut in 2001, wowing millions of fans with its clever twist on an established genre. Publisher Nicalis recently revealed that they’re bringing the classic arcade shooter to Nintendo Switch, and today it’s up on the eShop. Nicalis provided Gamnesia with an early copy for review, so we’ve been playing for the past few days. Does Ikaruga stand the test of time on Nintendo Switch?

Well, the first thing to establish is that I’m not looking at this game through nostalgia glasses. I’ve heard and seen a lot about
Ikaruga over the years from its passionate fans, but I’ve never actually played the game before. Booting it up on Switch was my first experience with the game, and wow was I unprepared.

At its core, Ikaruga is a fairly standard shoot ’em up. The screen scrolls up slowly, forcing you along into wave after wave of enemy fighter pilots. The key mechanic that sets it apart is polarity. You can switch polarities (changing your ship from black to white or vice versa), and each enemy you encounter is either one or the other. Enemies take extra damage from blasts fired in the opposing polarity. While white, you’ll absorb white energy blasts (powering up your shots) and be vulnerable to black ones, and vice versa. You’re always invincible to half the blasts on the screen, but you’ll need to stay sharp and react quickly to your environment to take advantage of this factor.

That’s really all there is to the main arcade mode, which isn’t a bad thing. The mechanics are simple and intuitive, but the challenge is immense. It’s bullet hell to the max, and if you’re new, you will die repeatedly. This tough-as-nails approach is perfect for an arcade-style game, and Switch is a perfect fit for it. With just five levels, the game can be beaten in a single sitting, but acquiring the skill level to do that is another story. Ikaruga beckons players to try again and again and again, getting a little better each time. The game also supports a two-player mode, so you can always tag a friend in to help you out. If it’s still too tough, you can always go into the settings to give yourself continues and extra lives.

Whether you want to play for hours straight until you’ve mastered it or just give it your best in short bursts is up to you. Thanks to Switch, you can have the challenge and gradual growth arcade experience anywhere in the world and without a pocket full of quarters. No arcade experience would be complete without an intense competition for the high score, and Ikaruga‘s online leaderboard offers that on a global scale. Once you’ve mastered surviving, you can start focusing on racking up a high score by chaining your attacks together and putting yourself in the line of fire to take out more enemies. Will you play it safe or risk it all for a chance at glory?

If you’re a fan of shoot ’em up style games, you won’t want to pass up Ikaruga. It’s a fantastic example of the genre done right and a challenging experience for veteran players with plenty of options to help out newcomers. Ikaruga‘s praise over the years is warranted, and the ability to take it anywhere you want on Switch makes it even better.

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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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Here Are Some Things You Should Know Before Getting Into Kingdom Hearts

2018 is going to be an exciting year for fans of the Kingdom Hearts franchise because we’re finally approaching the release of the grand finale to the current story arc, Kingdom Hearts III. For those both inside and outside the series’ community, there is an undeniable sense of hype surrounding this game. That much excitement is bound to draw in some newcomers, and that’s awesome! Now is arguably the best time to introduce yourself to the series. However, there are some things you need to know before diving in.

Regardless of the hype,
Kingdom Hearts never has been and never will be a perfect franchise. It has a ton of flaws you should know about before getting into it. This is coming from somebody who has been a loyal fan since the original game’s release 16 years ago. So if you’re thinking about catching up on the Kingdom Hearts series, take all of these things into consideration first.

The Story

You’ve probably heard of this by now. The storyline of the Kingdom Hearts series is a convoluted mess. However, there is a misconception as to why the plot is like this. Many assume the story itself is confusing, but that’s not really the case if you play the games in order of release.

Kingdom Hearts is filled to the brim with plot twists, retcons, visual storytelling, and many other elements that are important to pay attention too. If you play the games in the proper order, things will make sense and the particular plot points will have their intended effect on you.

For instance, you wouldn’t want to tell somebody what happens in the seventh season of a television show without the first six seasons for context. You would sound insane.
Kingdom Hearts works in a similar way.

With that being said, how are people so confused when it comes to the story? Kingdom Hearts used to span multiple consoles before the dawn of the HD collections. As it was before 2013, you had to own a PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance (unless you picked up the PS2 remake of Chain of Memories), Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, and a Nintendo 3DS (which could play the DS games, but it wouldn’t matter if you were picking them up on release day).

This caused a lot of confusion. At this point, there were seven games in the
Kingdom Hearts series. Kingdom Hearts and its sequel landed on the PlayStation 2, while numerous interquels, prequels, and even two sequels made their way to various handheld systems. With this confusing release pattern, many fans were playing the games out of order. Thankfully, this is easily avoided with the recent HD collections.

The HD Collections

This is by far the best way to experience Kingdom Hearts. These versions of the games have additional content, higher quality graphics, and even improved framerates on the PS4 versions.

With
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5 Remix and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, Square Enix has put the entire series on one platform. To get the best experience, you should play the entirety of 1.5+2.5 first in the following order:

  • Kingdom Hearts
  • Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories
  • Kingdom Hearts II
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
  • Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep
  • Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded

If you don’t like the gameplay of Chain of Memories, feel free to watch the cutscenes online. A lot of people learn the story this way. However, it is a really fun deck building game, so I recommend playing it. After you finish that collection, move on to 2.8 and play the games in this order:

  • Kingdom Hearts HD: Dream Drop Distance
  • Kingdom Hearts χ: Back Cover
  • Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep: A Fragmentary Passage

Wow, that’s a lot of games! Thankfully,
358/2 Days, Re: Coded, and Back Cover are all simply cutscenes stitched together like a movie. A Fragmentary Passage is also relatively short, since it was originally supposed to be the prologue for Kingdom Hearts III.

So
Dream Drop Distance is a remaster of a 3DS game. A Fragmentary Passage is sort of like the Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zero of Kingdom Hearts III. But what is this mysterious χ: Back Cover? It’s a lot different from the other games and it doesn’t even feature any of the familiar characters we know and love.

If you’ve stayed with me so far, awesome! I’m so sorry if I lose you after this next part, because things get very complicated when talking about this game.

Kingdom Hearts χ

After the release of Dream Drop Distance, Square Enix released a web browser game called Kingdom Hearts χ. The game is a prequel that predates any of the current games by hundreds of years. Many people shrugged off the cutesy style of the game, thinking that Square finally released a spinoff game that wasn’t important to the story.

But Tetsuya Nomura can’t be satisfied unless he makes you play a different
Kingdom Hearts game on every platform known to man. Kingdom Hearts χ, unfortunately, is presumably important to the story. Thankfully, the game finished a long time ago and all the cutscenes are available online.

Things are never this easy for
Kingdom Hearts though. In 2015, a mobile port of the game called Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ was released. This was originally thought to be a port of the mobile browser game. But like I said, it can never be that simple. The story of Unchained χ deviates from the original about halfway through the game. New elements start to pop up, and it starts to become clear why the games have two separate names.

About a year ago, the main plot of the game severely strayed from the original. Along with some additional story and game mechanics, Square renamed the game to Kingdom Hearts Union χ (Cross).

Originally, it was believed
Kingdom Hearts χ: Back Cover would streamline the events of the mobile and browser games so fans wouldn’t have to play them. But Back Cover contains information you won’t find in the mobile game. Unfortunately, the same thing can be said the other way around. The three titles coexist, and you have to understand them all to fully grasp the story.

The worst part about
Kingdom Hearts χ is the fact that Union χ is still going. The story isn’t even finished and is unlikely to be finished by the time III comes out later this year. On top of that, the Japanese version of the game is way ahead compared to the English version.

Now this might not be a big deal. Nobody has a clear answer as to how impactful
χ will be in the future of the series. But if the past has any answers to give, the games will probably be important.

If you’re still with me after all of that, there’s one more thing you have to know about
Kingdom Hearts before you start your journey. It’s a far less serious topic, but one that I’m sure will affect your enjoyment of the series.

Kingdom Hearts is Incredibly Goofy, Stupid, and Sometimes Cringey

When I played Kingdom Hearts for the first time, I didn’t question a lot of things about the game. The premise of Disney and Final Fantasy characters existing in the same universe wasn’t that crazy for a young child to grasp. Now, the idea seems quite ridiculous.

Every time I replay a game in the series, it’s hard to swallow some of the dialogue. The writing in general is incredibly cheesy. There are moments where I actually let out heavy sighs because a line of dialogue didn’t land appropriately at all. Lines like
“that was undeniable proof that we totally owned you lamers” are sometimes incredibly difficult to get past. So if you’re wanting to like Kingdom Hearts, you’re going to have to get over some bad writing.

While the story is gripping by nature, the sudden whiplash you’ll experience can be a bit much. One moment you’ll be jumping on a trampoline with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. Next thing you know, there’s a serious sword fight going on between two dudes with spiky anime hair. Simply put, the tone is inconsistent throughout. Seeing
Final Fantasy characters do goofy Disney things is strange. Seeing Disney characters go through super serious JRPG story arcs is even weirder. If you want to play
Kingdom Hearts, just be fully prepared to go through some of the dumbest moments you’ll ever experience in a video game.

So if you’ve made it all the way to this point and you’re still interested in trying
Kingdom Hearts, that’s great! The series has a lot more great things going for it. The story is incredibly engaging, the combat is fluid and improves with each entry, the presentation is absolutely gorgeous, and the worlds all have unique features from their respective Disney films.

Kingdom Hearts has a lot to love, but you have to accept its quirks. If you can’t accept a game for both its perfections and its flaws, it’s really hard to enjoy it. Right now is the best time to become a fan of this franchise. So if you made it this far, do yourself a favor. Pick up a copy of Kingdom Hearts 1.5+2.5 and 2.8. Once you play through those, you can join the rest of us and patiently wait for Kingdom Hearts III.

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