Who am I? A lover of the video game industry. I read about video games more than I play them. The various aspects and mechanics of design are what really intrigue me, and it's always fun to have a healthy debate about them.
One of the most exciting games coming from this E3, and one I’ve been personally looking forward to for a couple of years now, is the new Super Smash Bros. game. Or rather, games- One for Wii U and one for 3DS. While you can debate the merits of even having two such games when they lack proper cross play till the cows come home, the prospect of finally having a portable Smash game excites me. However, that’s not what I wanted to write about.
A new Smash Bros. game brings new characters to work with. And to a guy like me, who has nothing better than watching and rewatching these trailers over and over again, it means I’ve had a lot of time to sit and think about how these characters will play. We won’t completely know how the characters and their tools will work until we have the games in our hands, but there’s plenty out there that we can study. To start with, I’m going to take a look at the first revealed character: The Villager from Animal Crossing.
Since a character’s special moves often best represent the identity of the character, along with the fact they tend to be the easiest to pick out, I’ll begin with those. For most characters, their neutral special represents their signature attack; save for a few special cases where their signature moves fit a different slot, such as Sonic’s Spin Dash. In the case of the Villager, I feel this quote from Sakurai speaks for itself:
“Since the game he’s from is about collecting, he uses many things…And, just like in his game, he’s prone to pick up anything.”
The Villager was shown to have the ability to grab items and projectiles and keep them in his pocket for later use. I feel this, being the Villagers “signature” move, will be implemented as his neutral special. As far as how the mechanics of the attack actually work, it’s easy to assume that he will only be able to store one item at a time, with a second tap of the B button tossing out whatever he’s holding. My main question is whether or not he will be able to use it while holding an item. It is hard to say. In the case of Brawl, characters that spawned items to use either couldn’t use the attack while holding an item, like Link or Peach, or will drop the item to use their move, like Snake. However, it appears that the Villager isn’t actually hanging onto the item he stores after taking it out of his pocket, but rather is immediately tossing it. This makes it more likely that it acts equivalently to something more along the lines of ROB’s gyro, allowing the Villager the ability to throw stored items at the same time as holding an item. If he doesn’t have an item stored yet, it’s possible the Villager will store the item he’s currently holding – although that may get in the way of using it as a defensive maneuver against Samus’s charge shot.
His recovery move, or up special, seems to be the Balloon Fighter hat. In the trailer, he was briefly shown slowly floating, flapping his arms. It looks like the attack might work similarly to Peach’s parasol, in that it will lift him up quickly, and then allow him to slowly drift down to the ground. My guess is that unlike Peach, he won’t have as much control in his descent. Alternatively, it may act like a jump, forcing the player to continue to tap the B button to float up, while eventually reaching a point where you stop gaining height and instead only slowing the descent. Either way, the recovery looks like it will be slower in comparison to other characters, which combined with his probably light weight means recovery will most likely be the Villager’s weak point.
The most difficult special move to figure out is the side special. I see three possible candidates: the axe, the net, and the bowling ball. With the axe, it could end up working alongside the down special (which I’ll get to later), but I feel it fits the mold of a smash attack better. Between the net and bowling ball, I’m leaning towards the bowling ball, because of certain qualities the net has…which is again something I’ll touch on later.
Concerning the bowling ball, the main reason I’m guessing it is a special and not some other type of attack is that, save for Snake and Mega Man, smash attacks have a limited amount of range away from the user. The bowling ball has been shown to be dropped from ledges and falling a great deal. This detail makes it much more likely that it is the side special over the axe and net. For the attack mechanics, there isn’t much else to work with beyond that long drop, but it’s easy to guess it might roll along the stage if not used off a ledge. It’s possible it might even become a heavy item to pick up and throw, along the lines of Bonsly from Brawl. Assuming that’s the case, the Villager will probably only spawn one bowling ball at a time.
I saved the best – or at least my favorite – for last. His down special definitely appears to be planting a tree, if only because he has to kneel down in order to do so. It looks like it’ll take a few seconds to set up, but once you plant the seed and water it the tree will most likely stick around until you chop it down. I’m assuming that, like with the bowling ball, only one tree will be allowed on the stage at a time, especially because of how much it affects stage layout. I think the tree will act like a wall, with the very top being a platform. If that’s true, this could unintentionally lead to infinite chain grabs on any stage, a problem certain Brawl characters had on stages with walls.
After planting the tree, what happens to his down special? My two main theories is that it either transform into the axe swing, or that he simply isn’t able to use it until the tree is gone. Characters have shown both types of special moves before, with attacks changing based on certain conditions, but as I said above, I feel the axe is more likely to be a smash attack than it is a conditional special move. This leaves the Villager without a move slot as long as the tree stands, leading me to…
A character’s normals represent the majority of their moveset, including tilts, smashes, and aerial attacks. The much mentioned axe I believe to be one such attack. It’d be his side smash, letting him charge up the attack for stronger swings. While the tree was felled with two swings in the trailer, a fully charged smash might take out the tree in one hit. This may open up the possibility of other characters being able to chop at the tree, like Link, but I wouldn’t count on it.
The Villager’s up and down smashes are most likely his fireworks and shovel, respectively. It makes sense to me that him “charging” his fireworks would be loading up more rockets to ignite, shooting upwards or even moving at different angles in a manner similar to Snake’s mortar. This does sort of clash with my reasoning for not making the bowling ball a smash attack, but I feel in this case the fireworks do not fit anywhere else. As for the shovel, the Villager appears to quickly swing it in two directions on the ground, just like several other smash attacks in the series. Its effect of grounding opponents into the ground has only been shared by DK’s side special, meaning it’d make sense as a special move, but due to the existence of the tree I felt this was instead a smash attack. It’s possible the amount of time you charge the shovel affects the length of time a foe stays stuck in the ground.
His basic neutral attack is most likely him punching with boxing gloves on, as seen in one image with him fighting Bowser. I believe it’ll be a one-two punch, similar to a number of characters already in the game. One of his moves is him swinging an umbrella, which could either be his up or side tilts, or maybe even both. Then, one of his moves is pulling up a weed, which would most definitely be his down tilt, as it’s a quick downwards attack. Unlike his other moves, I don’t believe anything interesting will be happening with these attacks mechanically, except that the weed pull might end up having a large range for a down tilt.
The dash attack is incredibly easy to pick out, as he has a move where he trips over and drops a sapling. The potted plant hangs around for a few moments before disappearing, so it leaves me wondering if he might be able to pick it up to throw if the player is fast enough. As for his other normal attack shown, the slingshot, it appears that it is also his only aerial move shown off. Judging from the way he twists his body backwards to make the shot, it’s very likely the slingshot is his backwards aerial move, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he also used it for his forward aerial attack.
To finish things off, I saved one of the more difficult moves to judge: his butterfly net. Both of the times he’s been shown carrying the net, it was not in actual gameplay. The first instance was in the trailer, where it cuts away from gameplay footage to show a CG scene of Mario being caught in the net. The other instance is in a piece of promotional art, showing him swinging after a smash ball in the air. So if it ain’t a special move or a smash attack, just what the heck do I think he uses it for? Well…how about as his grab? He’s very clearly shown trapping Mario with it in the trailer, after all.
The only caveat with this would be its use in the art noted earlier. Either the art doesn’t represent actual gameplay, or he would be able to use the net in the air. I’m leaning towards the latter, as the other characters that also use some sort of item to grab opponents can use them in the air. However, the difference between Link’s hook shot and Samus’s grapple beam when compared to a butterfly net is that the former two are used as tether grabs in the air, as well as damaging attacks. This leads me to think that the butterfly net would represent one of two extremes. In Brawl, Lucas’s rope snake couldn’t hurt people, only act as a tether grab in the air. The Villager will have the opposite effect, being unable to recover using the net while having the ability to smack people around with it in the air.
Whew! That got longer than I expected. Until we see more from the Villager, I’m done with him for now. I’m really looking forward to giving him a spin, just from what we’ve seen from him so far. Then again, I could say the same about the famous Blue Bomber as well…
DISCLAIMER: I do not use Steam, nor have I played Mutant Mudds.
Jonathan Holmes recently put out an article on Mutant Mudds’ trouble with Greenlight. In it, he asks, among other things, why a person would not vote “Yes” to see the game on Steam, and why a person would “bother trying to actively stop any videogame succeeding?” One glance down into the comments would answer both questions – or rather, show why these are both terrible questions to ask.
As I stated above, I do not use Steam. Anything I know about Greenlight I’ve learned from other users, both in the comments of Holmes’ article and elsewhere. As I understand it, Greenlight presents you a game and asks if you would buy it. If yes, a “Yes” vote is added to a tally and the game is removed from your queue. If you vote “No,” it simply lets Steam you are not interested and, rather than counting against the game, simply removes it from the queue. Telling Steam to ask you again later puts the game back into your queue, to ask you again at a later time.
In the first two scenarios, the outcome is almost identical: the game is removed from the queue, and the game either has a “Yes” vote, or it doesn’t. That’s it. There isn’t a separate tally of “No” votes that somehow counterbalance the positive votes. All it means is that the voter is not interested in the game. Claiming otherwise is either a failure to understand the system or an attempt to bend the system to your whims. More importantly, though, is that it is outright disingenuous to your readers to claim that a “No” vote means you are actively trying to stop the game from getting onto Steam.
Holmes is not the only to display that attitude, however. If you dig through the comments, you can find this little gem:
This being the internet, I can’t honestly tell whether or not Mr. Dixon was joking. Regardless, though, the attitude it puts off is just flat out wrong. News Flash: just because you like the game and gave it a good review, does not mean everyone else wants to play the game. I’ve seen Mutant Mudds in action, both from the coverage Destructoid has given the game and from the small amount of promotion Nintendo has done for the game. If you asked me if I would buy the game, I would answer honestly and say no. The game doesn’t interest me, and it doesn’t even seem to be a very good game. That doesn’t mean I want to stop others from playing the game, though.
Asking everyone to up-vote the game on Greenlight is a disservice to your readers, a disservice to Valve, and a disservice to the game. You’re asking your readers to compromise their honesty, and then guilt-tripping them if they don’t. By voting the game up on Greenlight, when you will not actually purchase the game, you may create unreasonable expectations for the game to perform better than it actually will. Renegade Kid should look to this situation and, rather than saying people are trying to block the game from Steam, ask them why they do not find the game interesting. Keep that criticism in mind, and perhaps next time your game will perform better on Greenlight. Otherwise, you simply will not improve.
Ah Dragon Ball Z. Arguably the most famous anime of all time (it’s only real competition being Pokémon), and still insanely popular. There’s something cathartic about watching two grown, muscular, shirtless men beat each other…that came out wrong, didn’t it? Anyways, there’s only one problem with this series- there’s never been any great DBZ games! At best, we have Budokai 3, which is still pretty good. This is something that needs to be fixed! Let’s take look at what the past games did right.
This is the thing you see first. Good graphics do not make a game, but they certainly add to the experience. Now, I’ve seen reviewers and fans alike like the most recent games’ visuals the best. The games I’m referring to are Raging Blast 2 and Ultimate Tenkaichi. However…I have to disagree. They certainly both look good, but my favorite game of the series, in terms of art direction, is the first Raging Blast.
The reason is pretty simple- it looks the most like the show did. Rather than the smoother, more complex shading styles of the other two games, Raging Blast has some pretty damn good cel-shading that’s clean and colorful. If I’m playing a DBZ game, I want it to look and feel like a DBZ game. There’s only one flaw in this game, which is shared by the other two also- the mouth movements. The way the faces are animated are just…off. I can’t explain what’s wrong with them, exactly, but they do look wrong. Fix that problem and do a little touching up on the visuals and you’d have the best looking Dragon Ball game yet.
Most DBZ games have had pretty decent soundtracks, which work well when fighting to. However, my request is pretty simple- I want the music from the show playing. I think this is something Ultimate Tenkaichi did, but let’s go a step further. All opening and ending themes, as well as Kikuchi’s score. Not only that, but how about an option to switch to the old Funimation score as well? I can’t be the only one that’d like to hear Rock the Dragon again or duke it out to some classic Faulconer music.
This is obviously the most important part of a fighting game. Well, arguably the second most important in the case of a Dragon Ball game. There are two styles of DBZ games- the pure fighting game, like all games up to Budokai 3, and then there is what some like to call the DBZ-simulator, the Tenkaichi style of gameplay. And even though the simulator style is closer to the show, it isn’t really that good. Ideally, the next DBZ game will use Budokai 3 as its base.
It’s been a while since I’ve played Budokai 3, but I clearly remember it as the best. There was Infinite World, but I’m pretty sure that had some issues of its own. Budokai 3 doesn’t need much fixing. It does have some QTEs in it, but those occur mostly during special moves or when attacks clash, which I feel fits the game well. I would remove Dragon Rush, however, considering that it is essentially a game of chance.
Everything here is mostly obvious. You need to have the standard fighting game stuff, like Arcade, Training, and obviously Versus. Throw in the standard DBZ story mode and World Tournament modes, and you’ve matched every DBZ game in existence.
What I really want to see, though, is a character creation mode. Not that half-assed effort put forth by Ultimate Tenkaichi, but an honest-to-goodness character creation mode, at least on par with the PS2-era WWE games. Give use a variety of body type options, letting us be as short as Guldo or taller than Super Buu. Various clothing options, as well as other accessories. Give us some stats to change for the character, as well as a selection of moves from the ones already in the game. And…that’s pretty much it. I just want to be able to make my own characters to use in a DBZ game. Hell, give me a character creator that doesn’t suck and I’d probably buy the game anyways.
Before I move on, one minor note regarding the story mode- we’ve seen the DBZ story a thousand times now. Why not change it up a bit, like Budokai 2 did? Which leads me to…
Let’s get some What-if scenarios in this game. Probably Budokai 3’s biggest flaw was how it was a step back in this regard. The first Budokai, for example, gave us Super Saiyan Vegeta on earth, Freeza winning, and a Cell that absorbed Krillin. Budokai 2 kicked it up a notch further by offering a variety of fusion options, as well as letting Buu absorb a bunch of different people. Then Budokai 3 comes in with…nothing. The story mode deviated some from the show, and was pretty enjoyable on its own, but there were no interesting characters unique to the game. It’s a good way to inject some humor into the game, and allows us to explore the possibilities that didn’t happen in the show. What if Goku and Mr. Satan actually fused? What if Raditz was given a second chance, like Piccolo and Vegeta?
What if Namco Bandai made a great Dragon Ball game for once?
Y’know, I’ve been trying to write something for a while. Anything, really. The hardest parts of these blogs are the intros. A half dozen unfinished word documents and several ideas filed away later, this is the best I’ve got: Pokémon predictions. Well, these are less like predictions and more like speculations, but whatever.
Actually, this was one of those ideas I was ready to shelve. See, a few days ago a notice appeared at the end of a Japanese trailer for Black 2 and White 2 stating an important announcement would be made on January 8. I felt this meant we would see the start of the next generation of Pokémon, but I wasn’t too sure. Then I saw the news yesterday.
My body is ready.
Both the Japanese and International Pokémon websites updated with the same notice- a big announce for January 8. In the relatively short history of Pokémon, I can only think of one other time that the Japanese and International branches made a simultaneous announcement- the reveal of Pokémon Black and White Versions, as well as their respective mascots, Reshiram and Zekrom. For Pokémon fans, this is gonna be big. And thus, here comes the speculation.
Right off the bat, I’m going to say this: They won’t be Ruby and Sapphire remakes. Thinking that we will have remakes next is a common assumption amongst Pokémon fans, after we‘ve received remakes of both the First Generation and Second Generation games. However, a Pokémon generation has never been spread across more than one system, save for arguably the second one (Gold and Silver could be played on the original Game Boy whilst Crystal couldn’t). And there’s no way we’ll see yet another release on the DS. The 3DS has been out for a couple years now, and the release of Black 2 and White 2 on the DS was already pushing it. Nintendo is definitely putting the pressure on Game Freak to release Pokémon for 3DS.
Of course, they could release these supposed Third Generation remakes for the 3DS, can’t they? Aside from a flimsy trend, there’s nothing stopping them. And while that may be true, all games across a generation share the same core. Fire Red and Leaf Green may have had a slightly different presentation from Ruby and Sapphire, but they still ran off the same game engine. Making a game for the 3DS; however, would require more effort on Game Freak’s part: they would need to rebuild the visuals for the game to take advantage of the hardware, as well as account for the different online infrastructure and system capabilities. Simply put, this would require almost as much effort as a brand new Pokémon game.
Sorry for you R/S fans, but I don't think we'll be seeing these again any time soon.
With all of that out of the way…let’s talk about Generation Six! Well, quite honestly, there isn’t much to talk about. However, I can take a couple of stabs at what they will reveal in the coming months. Firstly, as I stated, it’s practically guaranteed we’ll learn the titles of the new games, as well as the Pokémon that graces the cover. The two cover Pokémon won’t necessarily have to be legendary Pokémon – after all, Red and Blue merely had starter Pokémon – but it’s a safe bet that they will be.
Another possibility for the first revealed Pokémon isn’t a legendary/cover Pokémon, but instead some regular Pokémon. In fact, the first revealed Pokémon is almost always a regular Pokémon. This will either be a brand new Pokémon that will receive marketing, such as Zoroark and Lucario, or it will be a Pokémon related to an older Pokémon, such as Munchlax. As of now, I’m leaning towards the later possibility.
Recently, the marketing for Japan has seen a push towards the Pokémon Eevee. A character introduced in the anime uses Eevee and its evolutions, and the upcoming Pokémon film will have a Pikachu short (as they always do) attached focusing upon Eevee. For those of you unfamiliar with Eevee, it is a Pokémon that can evolve into multiple forms. Ever since Gold and Silver, Eevee has had evolutions introduced in pairs during even numbered generations: Umbreon and Espeon, and then Leafeon and Glaceon. Here we are, at the cusp of the Sixth Generation, with a marketing push for Eevee. It seems likely we’ll see some new Eeveelutions on the horizon soon enough.
Pokémon's marketing department at work.
If that wasn’t enough, a recent advertisement for merchandise for Extreme Speed Genesect (the title of the next Pokémon film) included a watch that was blacked out, along with text that notes there will be merchandise revealed for “two more Pokémon.” Eeveelutions are revealed in pairs, right? It fits pretty well.
I can only see one problem with this. You see, every Eeveelution thus far is one of the following types: Fire, Water, Electric, Dark, Psychic, Grass, Ice. These seven types all have one thing in common: before Generation Four changed the battle system, they were types that dealt special damage, or damage that concerned the Special Attack and Special Defense stats. There is only one more type that is considered a Special Type, and that is the Dragon type. One type does not make a pair. This could mean we’ll only see one Eevee evolution and a brand new Pokémon, or we’ll have the first Physical Type Eevee (aside from Eevee itself).
A couple of examples of the Pokémon Eevee can become.
Now for a random guess here…the names of the games! If we’re returning to the old Pokémon with new Eeveelutions, what if we also went back to the original colors, Red and Green? Only this time, we also reflect the trend shown from the Second to the Fourth Generations, by naming them after minerals. How does Garnet and Jade sound to you guys? Garnet can be a red color, whereas Jade is typically a deep green, so it fits.
Of course, in the end this is all completely meaningless. It’s freaking Pokémon, after all. Aside from that, it’s just a short few days away now. Hopefully someone enjoyed this meager attempt at staving off boredom! Now if you excuse, I must go back to watching out for Pokémon news like a Braviary.
Technically, this is an eagle and not a hawk, but it's too badass for me to care.
With all of this news of people enjoying the heck out of their new-fangled screened controllers with that fancy internet connections of theirs, it’s only fair that I too got to enjoy such amazingness. So, without further ado, here’s my brand spanking new tech toy:
What? This isn’t what you were expecting? Oh. My mistake. This isn’t a Wii U at all, now is it? Well, I’ve had this Dreamcast I bought a year or two ago…just sitting here, with only one game for it. So, I did what any sensible person would do after letting it collect dust for two years- I bought stuff for it. And by “stuff” I mean that cool blue VMU (hey, those rhymed!) up there. I also got a couple of games through, erm, means.
Now that I’m armed with a VMU, and those two games, I can finally give the Dreamcast a real test run. First up, Sonic Adventure 2.
My experience with 3D Sonic games thus far has been…somewhat unpleasant. To put things into perspective, the very first 3D Sonic game I’ve played (discounting Sonic the Fighters) was Sonic 06. Yeah. I’ve also played Sonic Colors, but I wasn’t very enamored with that game. So, understandably, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Well, I actually like SA2! Fancy that, eh?
Okay, okay, but there’s a catch. There’s always a catch when it comes to Sonic. And that is the camera. Already I’ve inadvertently jumped off a cliff once because the camera was causing me some issues. It’s a major hindrance to deal with, but the game itself feels otherwise solid.
One of my biggest problems with recent Sonic games is that they toss Sonic through levels without much input from the player…and at speeds that are pretty hard to control. I get that speed is his shtick, but your games also have to be playable, you know? Thankfully, Sonic Adventure 2 seems to have struck up the right balance between speed and being able to PLAY the game. Knuckles also controlled fairly well, and Tails…well, Tails just kinda sucks. I’m guessing his levels may end up being my least favorite of the batch.
Something that I want to touch on before moving on is the cutscenes. Ignoring the fact that they want me to take a game where the military is chasing a hedgehog seriously, and also ignoring the infamously bad mouth flaps and animations, the voice actors…kinda suck. I remember reading a few years ago about people complaining about the 4Kids actors being used in the Sonic games, but after hearing these guys…all I have to say to that is “are you guys serious?” The 4Kids actors actually can, you know, act. Aside from maybe Sonic (who’s annoying with pretty much any actor anyways), most of the voices just make me cringe. Tails in particular is just horrible. Well, anyways…
Power Stone 2 is up next! Did I like it? In short…no, not really. I probably need to try out multiplayer before fully passing judgment, but from the time I spent adjusting to the controls and such, I feel as if it’s a tad overrated. There doesn’t seem to be too many options for attacks, and the system itself just lacks a lot of the subtle nuance from the Smash Bros. games, which Power Stone is oft compared to. I’m actually really disappointed that I didn’t like this too much. When I noticed people saying it was like 3D Smash Bros., I couldn’t wait to try it for myself. Instead, I got a slow paced, overly-simplified fighting game.
Some disappointment aside, I’m glad to finally be playing a good 3D Sonic game. And now that I have my VMU, I can look to playing some more old games in the future. When I’m through with Sonic, I will probably tackle Jet Set Radio. Fingers crossed that it deserves the hype it gets, eh? Now if you excuse me, I’m gonna go sulk over the fact that I don’t have a Wii U.
Pokémon is probably one of the most influential series for me, period. It was the first game I could call my own, having gotten it on my 5th birthday along with a Game Boy Color. The series got me interested in sprites, art (alongside Kirby), glitches and programming, and allowed me to meet many friends. I could very well be an entirely different person had it not been for this game!
This is a fairly accurate representation of me, sans Pokéballs (unfortunately). Yes, my hair really is that fluffy at the moment. And yes, I really do need that shave. As I said above, I’m not amazing when it comes to art, but I like to doodle and I do try to improve myself whenever I draw something.
Aside from Pokémon, my other favorite franchise is Kirby, which I’ve also written about before. I don’t seek out challenging games, preferring to keep around what I feel I can play, but that doesn’t mean I like to have my hand held. When it comes to visuals, I’m a fan of creative aesthetic design over raw power. Games like Metal Gear Solid 4 look lovely, but I prefer my Epic Yarns and Raymans.