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2:43 PM on 10.12.2014  

Shade's Guilty Pleasures: Top 10 Fetishes

Lately we've had some people here who thought they could turn us on by listing some of their favorite fetishes in video games and otherwise. Well I think I speak for at least one person when I say that they utterly failed. I mean, spiders? Eight legs, but no skill. Succubi? Who the fuck would be turned on by a literal seductive sex demon? And humans? That's the most disgusting thing I've ever heard. I mean, have you even SEEN me? Not in a million years.

So instead, let me do this the right way. These are the things that get me turned on. I'm pretty sure that means they are the universal standard of sexiness, because that is precisely how fetishes work. Also fair warning: all or some of these may actually be true.

10. Destructoid Cblogs fads
- When we all join in.

There's nothing better than some group action if you ask me. And if the group in question consists of all of our Dtoid friends, it's like a little slice of heaven coated in paradise. That's why I love it whenever the Cblogs gets a new blog fad going. Dibs, fetishes, random excitement, 10 things, it's all in good fun.

Sometimes I like to start, sometimes I like to join in later, and sometimes I just like to watch. Whatever the scenario, one thing's for sure: it always gets me off.

9. Bows
- Dem curves.

There's something profoundly erotic about bows. The curve of the wood, the tightness of the string, the tension before release, the arrow plunging straight into its soft fleshy target...
Okay so I just made all of that up on the spot. But damned if it didn't sound convincing.



Whatever the case may be, at the end of the day bows are just cool, as are the folks who wield them. None of this "up close and personal" bullcrap, just a nice clean shot from several yards away is all you ever needed.

8. Femme Fatales
- Danger is sexy.

There are so many examples here; you've got vampires, demons, assassins, witches, and who knows what else. Not succubi though, that'd just be weird. It's often said that women go for the bad boys, but if we're going to be honest with ourselves, men aren't that different. There's something to be said about the woman who could rip either of your heads off if you so much as looked at her wrong. An air of mystery, of danger, goes a long way sometimes.

Especially of they look like this:





                                               - Awesome rack on her though.

7. Luigi
- Lean green sex machine
What, do I really have to repeat myself? WE'VE BEEN OVER THIS. Everyone is already firmly aware about Luigi's appeal, and then some.

6. Cat girls
- Purrfec*punched*

One could theoretically argue that "cat girl" falls under "dangerous" and is thus already covered by entry #8. To that I say "Shut the hell up, it's hard enough to come up with 10 of these as is!"

Besides, don't cat girls have a sex appeal all of their own? You know they do! The cute little ears, the (hopefully prehensile) tail, the eyes, the agility, the fur and claws: cat girls are the whole package! That is if you weren't looking for anything doglike, but let's not kid ourselves here. 

Let me give you an example. Do you know how sexy Rosalina usually is? Actually pretty sexy, but there's only so much you can do while trying to retain that regal air about you. So let's see what happens when we cattify her:



Hot dang son, girl cleans up nice.
That's the power of cats right there. And Rosalina's not even a natural catgirl! Watch what happens when we find someone au naturel.





Truly, their own spot is well deserved. And not just to drag this out to 10 entries I swear.

5. Credits Music
- The afterglow.

JoyfulSanity says that Battle Themes are often great. He's not wrong, but I've got a different proposition. The best, and therefore sexiest, music in video games is also some of the most underappreciated.


Can you hear the sexy oozing from that song? It's like porn for your ears.

The Credits Theme is almost always one of my favorite songs on the entire OST, even though you're only likely to hear it once. Maybe a handful of times if the credits aren't skippable. I love them because there's often such an amazing sense of accomplishment associated with them. You just beat the final boss, saved the world, and now you're being treated with a victory lap of amazing music accompanying the names of awesome people.

The game is doing nothing short of celebrating you, and the music is specifically made to convey that perfectly. It's the best feeling ever.




(Note to self: this entry needs to be a full blog someday)

4. Art Styles
- Draw me like one of your Japanese watercolors.

Realism is boring. There, I said it. Games trying to emulate reality as best they can with CGI are completely on the wrong track. The Dead or Alive girls aren't hot; they're just creepy. They're lifeless and weird and gross.


- With some exceptions.

What you should do to make your game look as sexy as possible is something completely different. You have to develop your own style to stand out from the crowd. Use that color, accentuate those lines! Do whatever you need to do to make people notice you. It's how old 16-bit sprites still manage to look good today, while the polygons of yesterday have aged faster than prepubescent boys could fap to them.

Okami? Show us how it's done.



Oh yeah. Just look at that art. Isn't that just the artiest? It is.
Holly Valance eat your heart out. (Also, marry me?)

3. Twins
- Where you see "palette swap", I see "threesome".

Have you ever come across a woman who was so beautiful that you thought to yourself: "Damn, I wish there were more of her!"? I know I have.

Well that, my friends, is exactly the kind of predicament God invented twins for. Or in the land of video games; palette swaps. You can have two of Samus:



Shiva Sisters:



More Kirbys than you'll know what to do with (if you lack imagination):


And finally, alternate timeline Lucinas:

2. Midriffs
- T&A is overrated.

If you scroll up just a little bit, you may or may not notice how most of these people are covered to a more or lesser extent, but still manage to show off their midriff. There's a very good reason for this, namely that there's nothing sexier than a well-toned core.

Don't believe me? Feast thine eyes.








(...What? Just because I'M into girls doesn't mean I can't be objective about this!)

1. Eevee

You knew Eevee was cute. Fluffy. Adorable even. The adorablest. But did you know that Eevee's sexy too?


You do now. You're welcome.

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5:10 PM on 10.02.2014  

I've got Smash Bros HOLY BAAAAAALLS



4:40 PM on 09.21.2014  

Smash Bros. Character Claim: I call dibs on Luigi!



Yes my friends, it's that time again. A new popular fighting game is coming out very soon, and the hype is rising. 3DSes (or is that 3DSi?) are being pushed to their limits, minds are filled with thoughts of combat, and bodies are being readied.

This can only mean one thing. It's time to tear yourself away from whatever unimportant shit it is you're doing right now and claim dibs on your favorite character before one of the cool kids runs of with them! Remember that all is fair in love and dibs, so you've got to be quick!

In fact, while you slowpokes weren't paying attention I went ahead and got the first pick.
I HAVE DIBS ON LUIGI, and don't let me catch ANY of you trying to violate this sacred pact. I know all about you dirty Luigi-stealers and I won't stand for it; is that understood!? Good.



Now I know that you are all intimately familiar with the many many reasons why Luigi trumps everyone, and I don't want to sound patronizing by explaining to you what you already know. Yet the ancient laws of dibs stipulate that I explain my choice, and I am nothing if not a loyal dibs-abiding citizen.

So why the Lean Mean Green Machine, Mr. L, the Green Thunder, the Eternal Understudy, the King of Second Bananas, the Other Guy?

1. Luigi beats Mario at his own game.
Let's say that you were this world-famous plumber whose sole claim to fame is that you can jump a whole bunch. Jumping is cool, being world-famous is cool (trust me on this one), and while occasionally a giant turtle kidnaps your girlfriend you have a good lot in life.

And then it turns out that your little brother jumps better than you.



Look at that pathetic red guy, just barely able to clear that tree in the background. Look how much he struggles to lift his fat ass off the ground even the shortest distances. Then look at Luigi's gloriously majestic leap. Now that is what you call a jump. What's more, the guy doesn't even look like he's putting in any effort. "Oh I'll just jump like a goddamn superstar real quick, because that's how I roll", is what he seems to be telling the world.

And it's been like this ever since 1988, when Super Mario Bros. 2 first recognized Luigi's clearly superior abilities. Ever since that time Mario has essentially been delegated to the loser bench, because who the hell cares about a plumber who can barely even jump?! I know I make MY plumbers do jumping contests to win my favor, and I can't be the only one.

"But Shade," I hear ye unbelievers ask, "if Luigi is truly better than Mario in every way, how do you explain his slippery running controls?" A fair question for those who lack an insight into Luigi's mind. The explanation is simple: Luigi gimps himself to give everyone else a fighting chance. Already when Bowser kidnaps Peach Luigi has to constrain himself so that Mario doesn't feel left out. He has to give his brother the impression that he matters, and with all of the ladies Luigi's already getting he couldn't care less if Mario runs off with Peach. So when Mario finally caves and asks Luigi for his help, it goes without saying that Luigi doesn't want to solve all of Mario's problems in like five minutes tops. That wouldn't be very sporting, and Peach would drop Mario like the useless sack of bricks he is. So in order to not outclass Mario too much, Luigi pretends to have problems with running. He's a bro like that.

Luigi is taller than Mario, slimmer than Mario, younger than Mario, I'm going to assume more intelligent than Mario, has a better mustache than Mario, jumps better than Mario and just allround is a better person than Mario. Or anyone, for that matter. Both the ultimate lady's man and a man's man, Luigi is the best there is. Captain Falcon eat your heart out.


(c)kaeveris.deviantart.com

2. Luigi is the original Green.
Did you know that Shigeru Miyamoto invented the color green just for Luigi? It's true!
Before his first appearance in 1983, there was no such thing as "green". Traffic lights were red and blue, trees were bright orange, and grass was purple of all things. Can you imagine what purple grass must've been like? Unsightly, that's what!

But with Luigi's first appearance in Mario Bros., the world was forever changed. At first people were dumbstruck by this beautiful new assault on their eyes. Then slowly but surely they grew to accept the color green for what it was, and began to incorporate it into the world at large. And that is how we eventually ended up with green grass, green traffic lights and green energy. Unfortunately that knowledge has been all but lost to the new generation (I blame public education), but I for one shall never forget Luigi's profound impact on all of our lives. 

Indeed, there's a very good reason why they call Luigi "mr. Green". He truly is the mr. Green.

Incidentally, this is also the explanation for why Luigi was so awesome in his role as Grass in that famous musical "The Mystery of the Fiery Hat of Social Awareness." But don't take my word for it:



3. Luigi has a killer airgame
I already talked at length about Luigi's stellar jumping abilities. But while these may serve him well in mainstream Mario games, they truly shine in Smash Bros.

Personally, I'm a huge air player in Smash. This is an element that no other fighting game series can truly match, and one that I like to exploit to the fullest extent. There's something incredibly satisying in tossing your opponent off the stage and then jumping after him for the finishing blow.

Given my love for aerials in this series, it should come as no surprise that Luigi and I get along incredibly well. Almost like a reverse Little Mac, Luigi barely has any reason to ever be on the ground at all. I'd go so far as to say that anytime you spend more than 10 seconds not being in the air as Luigi, you're playing him wrong. He jumps high, falls slow, and has some quick aerials at his disposal that hit surprisingly hard and are easy to chain together. In Melee his biggest strengths were his forward and down air. In Brawl his forward was nerfed while his backwards was improved, so all that really changed was which direction you needed him to face. His down air remained good and his neutral was more relevant than ever. 

I love playing Luigi for his ability to quickly dish out more aerials than you can keep track of, and for being able to follow your opponents wherever they may go. With his vastly improved recovery options in Brawl, there was almost no place to run from this guy. Pair that with a good forward Smash, an incredibly useful all-purpose Down-B and one of the weirdest yet most satisfying Final Smashes, and you've got my favorite fighter in the game.

In fact, Luigi is so good in Smash Bros. that he can win against anyone by doing absolutely nothing.



4. Luigi has character, dark secrets
Out of all of Nintendo's characters, there aren't many that you could say truly have a personality to them. Luigi though? All of the personality. All of it.

In all of his recent appearances, Luigi has been the coward of the group. That alone set him apart from everyone else. While Mario would just blindly rush into a house full of ghosts like some kind of disinterested stoic, Luigi is more mindful of his surroundings and has the decent sense to be scared out of his wits. Good on him. Of course I would argue that this is simply a ruse to make Mario feel better about himself, but the point still stands that there's more to Luigi than meets the eye. Whether just a coward that faces his fears to save his friends or the ultimate hero who pretends to be scared so his brother doesn't look as bad, it's clear that there's more to Luigi than just his staggeringly good looks.

What makes Luigi truly unique, however, is his dealings with his dark and mysterious past. We know little about where Luigi came from and what made him who he is, but he has been dropping hints that there may be something sinister going on for years now. What is the Negative Zone, and how is Luigi able to summon it? Why did he change into Mr. L so easily in Super Paper Mario? What exactly did he do with Princess Eclair of the Waffle Kingdom and how is he able to come cheer on Mario while also being on his own quest? Just what did he see when he stared into the abyss of Shy Guy's face?

There are hidden depths here that need to be explored, and I think spending time with Luigi in Smash Bros. 4 is the way to do it. There is...something behind Luigi's eyes, and we need to find out what. For all our sakes.



5. I MEAN JUST LOOK AT THIS SUAVE MOTHERFUCKER
There's only so much Luigi that I can explain. Some things you just need to see for yourselves.


- Cutting a tree down with fingerpistols.


- Having the very best V for Victory sex.


- Reprising his role as Grass.


- Blasting off again.


- Coming back to annihilate fucking everything


- And finally, leaving his mark on the world.

Call your dibs now!
I think that just about covers it. By way of REASONS and LOGIC I have carefully explained why I have dibs on Luigi for Smash Bros. 4 for 3DS. He is mine and mine alone, so you have been warned. Now I know that all of you fellow Smashers are very upset, but there is no need to cry longer than a couple of days or so. There are still plenty of characters left in the game, and while they may be a far cry from the man in Green that doesn't mean they couldn't be somewhat decent still. I guess, maybe? If you squint?

You can still call your dibs. You have that power. It's been inside you all along. Go out there, and claim your Smash Bros. character before everyone else does and all you're left with is Jigglypuff. Or heaven forbid, Dark Pit. I look forward to seeing your no doubt well-reasoned blogs on the matter.

At any rate, I think I've made my point here clear. Luigi is amazing, Luigi is great, and Luigi is mine.

MINE.

SHADE OUT.



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7:10 PM on 09.19.2014  

Shade's American Food-gasms (NVGR)



When I sat down to write my Recaps a few hours ago, I realized that it has been at least a couple of weeks since I talked about what my stay in the US is like. I mean, I still really want to talk about Bravely Default as well (Weapon Magic + Two Handed + Valkyrie = fun x profit), but for now it might be fun to give you guys another outsider's perspective on your country. It turned out so big that I figured I'd just go all out and turn it into a blog!

First things first: everything is still going well, and I'm having tons of fun. So yay!
Second: over the past few weeks I've been doing a lot of experiments. Food experiments, that is. What I mean by that is that I've been sampling damn near everything I could get my hands on. Food you can't get in the Netherlands, food you could but prepared slightly differently, food I've never even heard of, the works. In particular I've been focusing on those foodstuffs that you often hear about in movies/cartoons and the like but which I have never actually seen before in real life because the Dutch aren't exactly the biggest demographic in the world. It's been a great experience, although those extra pounds are quickly starting to add up. For now though, that's future Shade's problem.

So let me take a moment now to share some of my results!

1. General comment: Choices. Like, way too many of them.
Okay, before we go into specifics can I just say something here? Realtalk, America.
You seriously don't need twenty different kinds of everything.

When I ask for a burger all I want is a goddamn burger. What I don't want is be dragged into a WRPG Dialog Tree about what kind of burger I'm going to eat. Rare, Medium, Well-done, it honestly isn't that big of a deal. And how the fuck is Medium-Well even a thing? Also, when I tell you that it doesn't matter whether you give me French fries or fried potatoes as a side dish, it genuinely doesn't matter and looking at me sheepishly until I've made my decision isn't going to help either of us. You're the experts here, just give me whatever's good!

Similarly, what am I supposed to do with this:



That's peanut butter. Which is to say that ALL OF THOSE ARE PEANUT BUTTER. This isn't even all of it, I could very nearly make a panorama photo out of this. Are Americans just so picky that they just want their one very specific kind of peanut butter and nothing else? It boggles the mind.

Okay, by now you may be wondering why this is so weird to me (disclaimer: I'm obviously not actually mad). Well, in the Netherlands we don't get nearly as many choices of foods. When I go to a Dutch restaurant, I pick something from the menu and that's it. They're not going to ask how I want it prepared: they'll just prepare it like they always do for everybody. At best you can ask them to skip the sauce or toss in some extra bacon, but otherwise what you see is what you get. And that's fine, really. I trust the kitchen staff to whip me up something good; they'd be out of business already if they couldn't. As for grocery stores: when I go to my local Dutch grocery store, they will have two different kinds of peanut butter: creamy and chunky. If they want to be fancy they'll have four kinds: name-brand chunky/creamy and cheap chunky/creamy. That's all you're going to get, and I've never felt like I was missing out in my peanut buttery life experience. This coming from someone who eats it by the truckload.

I will say that the variety here is quite amazing sometimes, and it makes the experimentation process that much more fun.

2. Pig in a blanket
A hotdog, yet not a hotdog. Also much better than the regular variety.

3. Ben & Jerry's Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream

This may sound weird to you. But yes, even foreigners watch Stephen Colbert. I'm one of them, and a huge fan to boot. Unfortunately, while Ben & Jerry's certainly exists in the Netherlands we don't get nearly as many different flavors (see #1). As a result, I've never had Americone Dream before. 

That is, until:



It's great! I love caramel something fierce so this was like heaven in a cone. Comedy and ice cream, is there anything the man can't do?

4. Mountain Dew
Mountain Dew is not a thing overseas. I don't know any store that sells it. I tried it here in the US because of the meme value. You know, the whole Doritos and Mountain Dew thing? (we do get Doritos in the Netherlands by the way)

The good news is that I now know why nobody sells it overseas. The bad news is that this reason is because Mountain Dew is terrible. I'm pretty sure that so far this was the only experiment that I can say legitimately failed. Almost everything else has been either good or at least edible, but Mountain Dew fucking sucks.

5. Breakfast Pizza
Come on America, you don't eat pizza for breakfast. There are rules. Just like you're not supposed to have alcohol until at least somewhere in the afternoon, there are hard limits on pizza-time. Breakfast does not fall within those limits.

No matter how great it would be if it did.



6. Burgers
I thought I knew what burgers were. I really did. You go to McDonalds, they put some meat on a patty and slap some cheese on it, and you've got a burger. This is far from uncommon even in Europe, so what could they do in the US that completely overturns this completely normal burger dynamic?

Turns out, everything.
American burgers rule.

The Netherlands doesn't have burger places like you do here. You get burgers at McDonalds or Burger King, but there's no such thing as "Bobby's Burger Palace" or "Bolt Burgers" which serve burgers topped with everything but the kitchen sink. The fact that these places tend to have much better meat also helps matters tremendously, not to mention that they make them so big they literally have to stick a cocktail pick into it just so it doesn't fall apart.

I'm especially partial to a heaping helping of bacon on my burger, but the variety of cheeses here is also nice. The weirdest one so far I've had today though; a burger with cheese and potato chips. Because that is a thing now (not going to lie either, it kinda works), and that's simultaneously weird and amazing to me. Apparently these guys once had a meeting and someone went:
"You know what, people love burgers right? You know what they also love? Potato chips."
....
"We're doing this."

I fucking love this country.

7. Lack of licorice, frikandellen and stroopwafels
It's not all good, having to eat in a foreign country. For the most part I've been able to eat what I always do. I've got my veggies, meat and potatoes, and as far as afternoon snacks go it's not like chocolate chip cookies are like this alien concept to me. 

Nonetheless, there will always be some things that you miss out on. The things I miss most right now are Dutch licorice (are the Dutch seriously the only people who like licorice? The stuff is everywhere where I'm from), stroopwafels (which are cookies filled with caramel syrup and are thus the bestest thing ever) and the frikandel (an almost exclusively Dutch snack food sausage that you eat with your French fries. Trust me, they're amazing.)


- Frikandellen, one filled with ketchup, mayonaise and topped with onion.


- And stroopwafels. You have no idea how badly I want these right now.

8. My fortuneless Fortune Cookie
Chinese restaurants are huge in the Netherlands. I wouldn't be suprised if a good quarter of all the restaurants in the Netherlands was some sort of Chinese place. More power to them, because Chinese food's great!

Yet despite the incredible number of these places, I've never had Fortune Cookies before. It's not a thing that Dutch Chinese restaurants will give you, because apparently there's this sense that it's stereotypically American or something like that. I dunno, it doesn't make much sense to me either.

So after my first meal at this local Chinese place in the US I finally got my first Fortune Cookie!
...and it was empty.
I have no fortune.

Thanks, Obama.

9. Oreo-flavored everything
You can get Oreos in the Netherlands, but only in their normal cookie variety. It turns out though that Oreos can be put onto almost anything to make it amazing. Chocolate-centered Oreos, Oreos with peanut butter, Oreo ice cream and I swear to god the moment someone thinks to put Oreos on a burger it will absolutely happen.

It's pretty safe to say that I've never appreciated Oreos quite in the same way as I do now. They're much more delicious than I ever gave them credit for and really do make everything from yoghurt to ice cream that much better. Remember though; in the Netherlands they compete with stroopwafels, which is not a battle that one could win. Which leads me to the following conclusion:

Caramel Oreos, guys. Make it happen.

- Well I'll be damned.
- Well I'll be damned.

10. American Beer
By now it may start to sound like American food is inherently better than anything in Europe, or that I led a sad existence in the Netherlands before coming here. That obviously isn't true. There are many things in the Netherlands that are great as well, and not all of my US experiments have been entirely successful.

One thing in particular that Americans aren't very good at is beer. Almost all of the US beers have been decidedly inferior to anything German, Dutch or Belgian. Given the choice I will order Heineken at any bar that has it, because there's really no contest here. The only beer I've found that's somewhat decent is Yuengling, but even that just tastes like not-as-good Heineken.

You've got to step up your game guys, this is a vitally important area you're missing out on!

Upcoming experiment: Twinkies.
And those are the current results of my US food experiments! I've gotta say that in most areas you guys have done a great job, so be proud! Nobody does unhealthy foods quite as well as you do, and that's gotta count for something. I'm not done yet though, I've got a couple of months of experimenting ahead of me still.

Next up on the list is getting myself a Twinkie. Because Zombieland.
I shit you not, that is literally the reason I want one.



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6:12 AM on 07.10.2014  

It's not the size that matters: My first Con + Walking Dead Season 2 Giveaway!

Yesterday I had to spend almost the entire day on the train, so I figured I might as well do something productive with my time and get a head start on this week's recaps. This week was pretty special for me, so there would be plenty to talk about. However, as I was working the feeling crept up that I might as well blog about this. And since I have something to give away too, I want to make sure people take notice. Besides, since I'm posting this on my own Recaps day, that's at least one more blog to make the whole thing seem a little less barren. Because I'm smart like that.

So what's this all about? Well, last Sunday I went to a gamer's convention for the first time ever. That probably isn't too special for you guys across the pond, but I didn't know we even HAD Cons in the Netherlands, so for me it was quite the pleasant surprise! The thing was called EpiCon (kinda lame, but what can you do?) and it was mostly for gamers but with a little fantasy stuff and zombies thrown in. It was not very large at all, but despite being a relatively smalltime event the organization had managed to use the available space efficiently, so there was still plenty to do. The Netherlands is a tiny country, so a huge event isn't exactly to be expected anyway.

Besides, it's not the size that matters, it's how you use it.



The event would surely pale in comparison to what other people might be used to, but I had a lot of fun regardless.

For one, I got to play a bunch of upcoming games, including a demo for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! That was one of the highlights for me, because it's looking to be a great game. I got to play as the Enforcer class, who can summon two drones to help him out: Wolf for offense and Saint for healing. And by "can summon" I basically mean I had them out at all times. I really like classes with pets in RPGs so this one suited me just fine. Wolf and Saint certainly don't have the same "sawblade with wings" quality that Bloodwing had, but they serve their purpose well. I also got to check out the gravity mechanic and the limited oxygen. Basically, you can jump really high and cannonball back to the ground to do decent damage to anything near the impact site. It's pretty fun, and it definitely helps if you get swarmed by enemies. Finally, while we were running around killing dudes, we received instructions from a cockney kid called Pickles, who I swear is voiced by Luke Triton from Professor Layton. It's not just that his voice is the same; he talks exactly like Luke, except with more swears. Hearing normally well-behaved and gentlemanly Luke swear got a few chuckles out of me, that's for sure. The Borderlands demo wasn't very long (although I could swear everyone in front of me in line took at least twice as long as I did), but overall I was down with the low gravity and my class. Looking forward to the full game!



There was also a booth to play Evolve, but the line was so damn long it wasn't worth it. Instead I played a little bit of Mortal Kombat X (which is Mortal Kombat, but now with X) and some indie games by up-and-coming Dutch developers. I saw a shmup inspired by Geometry Wars, another shmup that let you switch between two different locations on the fly, and a very slow Zen game where you control a group of adorable floating creatures who you can split up in two groups (after which you control them with the two control sticks, like in Two Brothers) to solve puzzles. Not the most impressive games around I guess, but they seemed worth my time when they eventually get released. I do love shmups, after all. Some of them are on Steam Greenlight already, so keep an eye out! Already established Dutch devs were also present to talk about their games and the development process at large, like Abbey Games (Reus). No Vlambeer though, unfortunately. Would've loved to meet those guys.

Finally, some eSports were hosted, so I took some time to watch the Starcraft 2 finals. I know buggerall about Starcraft, but the matches were pretty fun to watch and decently easy to follow. Ignite vs. uThermal, if anyone knows those names. Afterwards some Hearthstone matches were hosted, but I know even less about Hearthstone than Starcraft, so I didn't stick around to watch those.

Overall, I enjoyed myself at the game stands for quite some time, even though the choices were pretty limited. I didn't even have to make use of the big lounge area they had set up, because I was kept occupied at all times. It's a shame there was no chance to play upcoming WiiU games or something, but in the Netherlands you take what you can get.



Apart from games, there was a stand where you could buy replicas of all sorts of video game, fantasy and anime swords. They had Sting and Orcrist, Kratos' Chaos Blades, Keyblades, and lots and lots of others. I was THIS fucking close to buying a Master Sword, but my friend dragged me away before it was too late. I did manage to get the seller's card, so who knows! I'd love to own a Master Sword, you have no idea. There was other swag as well at different stand, but most of it wasn't really for me. I eyed an Attack on Titan shirt for a while, as well as Thorin's key, but ultimately left with only a new GameCube controller to show for it (gotta prepare for dat Smash Bros!). That fucking Master Sword though. Goddamn. It wasn't even that expensive either.



One other thing they had was a large set where people were LARPing some Game of Thrones, including the throne and everything. It was a little silly, but everyone involved was having a good time. Besides, you could get your picture taken on the Throne, which even as a non-fan I just couldn't pass up.

Speaking of pictures, there were a lot more cosplayers around than I expected! I honestly didn't think we had it in us, but I guess the Dutch are a little more creative than you'd think. I saw lots of Star Wars people, a Lightning, Chell, Link and Zelda, two or three Lara Croft, Catwoman (Tim Burton version) some folks from League of Legends, Elizabeth, a couple of female Assassins (I wanted to tell them that they shouldn't exist because they're too difficult and too expensive, but I contained myself) and a bunch of others. I told myself in advance that I wouldn't bug every cosplayer for their picture, but that was pretty difficult to hold myself to. At one point I saw a Nazgűl wandering around and I couldn't keep myself anymore. So now I have photographic evidence that I was stabbed by a Nazgűl. That's a win in my book!





- After which he offended Fantasy puritans everywhere by sitting on the Iron Throne

All in all, I had a terrific day. The atmosphere at EpiCon was MUCH better than expected. You see, I have a terrible image of Dutch gamers, Dtoid members excluded. Our one gaming magazine is almost entirely geared towards shooters and sports, with hardly any Nintendo love, let alone indies. It often seems like the new Call of Duty and the new FIFA are the only games that matter, while Shovel Knight can go fuck itself. Dutch gaming forums aren't much better either. As such I was worried that the whole Con thing would be swarmed by dude-bro gamers who don't know their Zelda from their Link, which wasn't helped by calling the thing "EpiCon" and devoting a good chuck of attention to Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Fortunately, my worries were unfounded. Apparently there are many more "real" gamers in the Netherlands than I gave them credit for. The people there, most of them my age so early 20s, were genuinely excited for the eSports, gave the indie devs the attention they deserve, weren't above lounging somewhere to play some Pokémon on 3DS, absolutely fucking REVELED in the swords and other swag, and all in all seemed like the kind of people I don't know nearly enough of. Props to all of you! Thanks!



GIVEAWAY TIME
Ah yes, but I promised to give something away, didn't I? Well, upon entrance to the Con everyone received a Steam code for a Season Pass of The Walking Dead Season 2. As I understand it, this will net you all the Episodes already out, as well as giving you the new ones once they release. Now I haven't even played Season 1 yet, so I might as well give this away! Checking the store page for this game, I see that I already have three Dtoid peeps who want this game in my Friends List; you are automatically entered! Everyone else can just leave a comment here saying that you want in. No hooks or challenges or whatever (although I guess you can if you really want to), just ask. I'll collect all the entries next Monday and draw a winner!

Raffle is over, Sir Davies won!   read


8:00 AM on 06.06.2014  

Because MARIO KART: 5 New Tracks I'm Excited About!

Remember when we did "Because VIDEOGAMES" (here), when we all took a moment out of our days to appreciate that videogames are pretty amazing? Well, I feel like it's been way too long since then, and I'm sure we all have new things to be excited about. Come to think of it, it's been way too long since I blogged, period. So let's fix that.

For me, that new thing is definitely Mario Kart 8. Goddamn it's so much fun. I really enjoy the anti-gravity mechanic, the visuals and music are great and overall it's just nice simple racing goodness. It's been ages since I played a Mario Kart and I'm not even sure if I've ever owned one before, but the new one has been worth every penny already. So what better game is there to take the first steps in delivering more excitement?! None.



And with that, let's see if we can kickstart some "Because [INSERT VIDEOGAME HERE]" excitement, with my 5 favorite new tracks in Mario Kart 8, and perhaps next week I'll follow it up with my 5 favorite retro tracks.

"But Shade, I want to hear about the things you hate about videogames! I feed off nerdrage and the tears of the fanboy! Surely even Mario Kart 8 can't be all good?"

Oh alright, fine. I know how to deal with jaded Internet assholes. The WiiU's messaging system sucks a fat one so it's hard to get your friends to join a game, the roster is severely lacking, and Blue Shells still ruin your day if you don't have a Super Horn.
There. You happy now? Then let's get to the fun part!

______________________________________________________________________________

5 New Mario Kart 8 Tracks I'm Excited About
First things first, what does it take for a track to get me excited? Three things, for the most part: visuals, music and fun. None of these should come as any surprise. It's been duly noted by pretty much everyone that Mario Kart 8 looks amazing, I mention my love for video game music all the fucking time, and fun just speaks for itself. Any stage that manages to combine all of these aspects is almost guaranteed a Top 5 spot, but even having one of the three can be amazing in its own right.

See for yourself!

- 5. Mario Circuit



I can't think of a better stage that exemplifies what Mario Kart 8 is about than Mario Circuit, the first course in the Flower Cup. Its design is based off of a Möbius strip which twists and turns all around Peach's castle. While the course itself is fairly straightforward, I find it to be a lot of fun. The track transitions from being upside-down to rightside-up seamlessly, so you'll barely notice that anything's amiss until you're cruising straight past the castle tower which may or may not be obeying the laws of physics. Definitely a nice touch from a visual standpoint there. There's a good reason why this track was chosen for the game's cover art: Mario Circuit is Mario Kart 8.  

But the main reason I enjoy this track so much? I smoke people here. I don't know what it is about this track, but it feels fast. My main character at the moment is what I like to call Shooting Star Rosalina. I use Rosalina on the Comet Bike with Cyber Slick wheels and one of the gliders that ups acceleration. This gives her great top speed, decent acceleration, weight and handling, but terrible traction (what does traction even do, though?). Let me tell ya, she's right at home on Mario Circuit. Nice long stretches to put her top speed to work, and the few turns you have to make are just wide enough to smoothly drift along the inside. Lots of fun all around!

- 4. Bowser’s Castle

 

I used to hate Bowser's Castle in earlier Mario Kart games. I remember doom and gloom, annoying 90-degree corners, and everything trying to kill you everywhere all the time. Fortunately, the latest installment of the dreaded fortress is much better this time around.

It might be less colorful than the other tracks in the game, but it's as fun to race in as any, with obstacles that are actually cool this time around. Take another look at that picture above and tell me that a giant flaming stone Bowser Golem thing punching the track isn't epic as balls.

It also has pretty damn bitchin' music if you ask me.



So, Bowser? I know you like renovating and all, but please try not to change too much for our next go, alright? Your place is great just the way it is.

- 3. Electrodrome

Electrodrome is quite possibly my favorite track in the game from a visuals point of view. Which kinda sucks, because it's incredibly difficult to capture in screenshots. Youtube to the rescue!



There's a lot of neat touches to this level that are hard not to appreciate. From the neon everywhere to the giant disco balls and boomboxes along the tracks, the rainbow trail your kart leaves behind on certain parts, and the NPCs "groovin' to da beat" (that is a thing that people say, right?), it all comes together to make a wonderful themed stage. This being a disco-level, due attention was obviously also paid to the music, which is both a lot of fun and fitting with the theme.  

But now that we're getting to my Top 3 favorite new tracks in Mario Kart 8, a track will have to do more than just be visually and musically interesting to earn its spot here. Fortunately, Electrodrome is also quite fun to play indeed, and another nice example of a track where Shooting Star Rosalina is at her best. Corners that are just tight enough, anti-gravity bump boost thingamajigs (<-side note: Word actually knows "thingamajig" and even has synonyms for it. What the shit) scattered all over the place, and enough opportunities to stretch that top speed to its limit, for Electrodrome you can keep those silly low weight class characters to yourself.  

- 2. Sunshine Airport



Admittedly, I have no idea whatsoever how Mario & crew got permission to host kart races at an active airport. I imagine the paperwork must've been horrendous. Still, I'm glad they persevered, because Sunshine Airport is one of the most fun stages in the game. And be honest, if in real life you could race at an airport, wouldn't you do it too?

There are quite a few things that make this stage my second favorite stage in Mario Kart 8, but the most important ones all stem from the "active airport" bit. Not even 10 seconds into the first lap you're already driving underneath a Boeing 747 decorated with Mario imagery, and not 10 seconds afterwards you get to drive across a plane's left wing, through its body and out at the other side. Additional planes come and go in the background, and some will look like they just barely missed you. Very cool. But one of my favorite things is actually far more simple, and that's the sweet little shortcut you can take if you drive straight across the luggage conveyors at the very end. You skip a turn and get a trick boost as a bonus, at least as long as you don't slam your face into someone's suitcase!

The music, finally, is not exactly one of my favorites in the game but very serviceable nonetheless. It's nice and summery, not unlike what I would play if I were to go on holiday, started to lounge in my massively uncomfortable airplane seat and OH FUCK WHY ARE THERE PEOPLE DRIVING ON THE WINGS?!

- 1. Eevee



Never mind, wrong blog.

1. Mount Wario



Ah, Mount Wario. Without a doubt my favorite track in the game, and not just from the new ones. First of all, I really like the setup here. This is the only stage in the game where you're not driving around in a lap but have a single long course with a distinct beginning and end. And when said beginning is inside a helicopter and said end is all the way down at the bottom of a mountain, it becomes even more fun!

I like this stage a lot in that you're always driving at a downwards angle: it gives a nice sense of speed and a feeling that you're getting somewhere new. Along the way there are lots of other cool things to do as well. You get to drive on waterfalls, through a cave, you get to do tricks on fallen trees and snow hills, and you get to slalom through gates that must have been left-overs from Mario's run in the winter Olympics. The final approach to the finish line, where you're gliding off of a huge slope, is especially satisfying (if you're in first place doubly so), and it's neat that you can wait for the other players to arrive after you've finished rather than just watching the CPU make a mess of your victory run.

And the music? Why, inspired by Super Mario 3D World of course!  



Greatness.

Honorable Mentions:

In fact, "greatness" is what I would use to describe almost all of Mario Kart 8's new stages. Like I said, I'm not exactly on expert on this series, so I'm not sure how the good-to-bad ratio was in previous games, but for the most part this game nails it. Water Park with its giant underwater O-turn, Cloudtop Cruise based on Mario Galaxy's Gusty Garden, Sugar Rush Sweet Sweet Canyon ripped straight out of Wreck-it Ralph, Shy Guy Falls making you drive up and down waterfalls, the new Rainbow Road's sweet-ass satellites, all of it is fun. I think the only stage I actively dislike is Dolphin Shoals, but even that's more because I suck at it than anything else.

As for the retro stages, lots of great stuff here too, but maybe I'll save that for later. It does need saying though that Royal Raceway looks absolutely fucking gorgeous in this game. What with all the flowers and everything? The WiiU can do some sweet visuals if it puts its mind to it.

____________________________________________________________________________

These were once again just a couple of things I was excited about. Why? Because MARIO KART!

Video games are still amazing, fun, exciting and all the other good stuff. So what have all of you been playing? Are you excited Because MORTAL KOMBAT, Because DARK SOULS II, Because WATCH_DOGS, or something else? Or perhaps, of course, just Because VIDEOGAMES?! Let me know in blog or comment, because I love reading all about it!

In the mean time, me and Shooting Star Rosalina are going to be found on the tracks.


- Goddammit Yoshi, stop checking out Rosalina; she's not even the same species! Hell, you're barely humanoid!   read


4:02 PM on 04.09.2014  

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright review: "That reminds me of an OBJECTION!"

"Every murder has an answer"

It is not every day that two visual novel gaming icons meet face to face, and it is even rarer to find a case where both icons fit well together despite their vastly different art and gameplay styles. Nonetheless, Level 5 and Capcom have managed to give both puzzle fans and aspiring lawyers just that with Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright. It might still be a bit of a wait for any US fans, but the game is worth the wait in gold.



It goes without saying that a British professor of archeology and an American/Japanese lawyer don't just meet by pure chance. Even though it appears that the Professor Layton and Ace Attorney series share the same universe, what ultimately brings the two unlikely heroes together is nothing short of magic. Literally. The story begins when one of Layton's old students has managed to find a strange town called Labyrinthia and in the process rescued a girl from the witches hunting her. The witches catch up to them though, and ultimately it is up to Layton and Luke themselves to keep this girl, Espella, safe. This proves to be their undoing, however, as the witches suck them into a magic book that instantly warps them to Labyrinthia.

Meanwhile, Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey are just chillin'. Phoenix has been enlisted in a lawyer's exchange program with the UK. While there, he has to defend a strange absent-minded girl from being found guilty of (for the first time in the series) something other than murder. During those proceedings Phoenix and Maya are confronted with the same magic book and find themselves in Labyrinthia as well.

From there on out a tale of magic, witches, murders, Stories and much more unfolds. In Labyrinthia magic and witches are very real, and there is a mysterious figure called the Storyteller who basically writes the future. It will require both the puzzle-solving skills of the gentleman professor and the outside-the-box thinking of the ace attorney to get to the bottom of the many mysteries of the town stuck in fantasy.



The above is just about all that I can share about the story without going into spoiler territory. That said, the plot of Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright takes some definite twists and turns throughout its 20-hour run. Some of them you'll see coming, others definitely not. The story is also quite dark this time around. Witch trials are very real in Labyrinthia and those found guilty will be burned alive without hesitation. We also see several counts of (attempted) suicide as well, with one instance of attempted child suicide. For me this only served to draw me ever deeper into the story, as I find "dark as fuck" to be just inherently gripping, but I'm warning you all the same. All in all, the story is well paced and well told. New mysteries keep popping up even up until the final hours of the game, and you're given plenty of material to work with in order to forge your own theories. Moreover, story progression isn't just restricted to the Professor Layton portions of the game. The Ace Attorney-style court cases have an major bearing on the story as well, causing them to feel just as relevant as anything the Layton team comes up with if not more so. Don't be surprised if a major revelation isn't the result of an investigation but rather of a witness spilling the beans. The game's endgame is particularly well done; when you hit the final chapter you will not want to put your 3DS down until you've seen it all the way through. To be honest I always find the endings of Professor Layton games to be kind of hit-or-miss, but I'd place this one squarely in the "hit" camp. Although it's probably still advisable not to think about it too hard.

The characters that inhabit this magical world feel like they came straight out of the Professor Layton-verse. They tend to have their own little quirks and mannerisms, but you will meet more serious people as well. In my opinion they're not quite as funny as the characters you would find in the Ace Attorney series, but they fit well within the bounds of Labyrinthia and interact well with both sets of characters. It helps that all of them have beautifully animated 3D models and are still expertly written. The same goes for the voice-acting. There are quite a bit of voice-acted lines this time around; with one or two exceptions they fit very well with their characters and bring some much-appreciated life to the cast. Professor Layton himself is (still) the standout in this field, but even one-off witnesses sound completely believable. The one downside presentation-wise is that Phoenix' model looks like a step down from the one we have already seen in Dual Destinies and his voice sounds a little bit off sometimes. On the other hand it is incredibly nice to see Maya fully animated and voiced.  

Despite how good any side characters are, the main draw of this game is inevitably going to be the interaction between Layton, Luke, Phoenix and Maya. Rest assured that there is indeed plenty of interaction and it is without a doubt the highlight of the game. While Phoenix and Layton have vastly different personalities they work very well together, and the lovely assistants hit it off almost immediately, with Luke even adopting the moniker of "ace apprentice". Over the course of the game you'll also see some mixing and matching of characters, so that you won't be stuck with the two distinct duos throughout the entire game. This even transitions into the gameplay. The good professor is very helpful during the court cases (in which he even gets to shout "OBJECTION!" at multiple points), and the ace attorney likes to try his hand at a puzzle every once in a while too. As far as crossovers go you can't get it any better than this and honestly I didn't expect the IPs to intertwine as much as they do. The final few hours of the game in particular are a shining example of how crossovers should be done.



While the story and the characters are arguably the biggest draw for any fan of Layton or Phoenix, this game wouldn't be complete without a healthy mix of puzzles and cross-examinations. Fortunately, Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney delivers plenty of both. In fact, the game provides an almost 50-50 split between the two different gameplay styles.

During one part, you get to walk around the town of Labyrinthia. You will search the background for hint coins, talk to the quirky characters mentioned above, and research the many mysteries of Labyrinthia. Most importantly, of course, you get to solve the characteristic Professor Layton puzzles. In what I thought was a nice touch, many of these puzzles have a medieval theme, dealing with knights and witches and the like. Unfortunately, this time around the puzzles are almost all quite easy. Many of the puzzles you can't actually fail because they only end when you've found the solution, and even the few pure logic-based puzzles that have been included are unlikely to stump any seasoned gamer. Out of the 70 puzzles that are in the game there was only one occasion where I legitimately failed, and only a few that took me longer than a couple of minutes to solve. In contrast, there were only a handful of puzzles that I would count among the better ones of the series. Anyone playing this game purely as a Professor Layton fan will probably find the game lacking in this regard. That's not to say that solving puzzles isn't still fun, but it definitely would've done the game good if the difficulty had been upped somewhat.  



During the investigation/puzzle-solving parts of the game, there are several points in the story where shit hits the fan. For the most part, that means that people get murdered by witches. What follows is a full-on Ace Attorney trial done in the style of the infamous witch trials. This brings with it certain noticeable changes to the gameplay. First of all, everyone in the courtroom is more hostile towards Phoenix than ever. Everyone, judge included, has already made up their minds that your client is guilty as sin and should be burned on the spot. They're not called witch trials for nothing, after all! They tend to ease up towards the end of the game, but for the most part you're fighting a steep uphill battle. This isn't helped by the fact that in medieval times there is very little evidence for Phoenix to work his magic with. You can't check a magic staff for fingerprints, because there's no such thing as fingerprinting in Labyrinthia. Crime scene photos don't exist either, and the artist sketches you do get contain dubious information at best. Fortunately, the ace attorney gets a few new tricks up his sleeve to deal with a world in which magic is real. For one, you get a tome of magic that explains how every magic spell works, which you can then use to your advantage. This leads to some interesting scenarios, as it becomes perfectly viable to claim that the real killer was simply invisible. If such a spell exists and there is evidence that it has been used, all possibilities are still on the table.

Perhaps more importantly, you get to cross-examine multiple witnesses at once. In doing so you can set the witnesses up against each other and see whether their stories match up to your liking. Because of the number of witness that you have to examine, however, they tend to be less interesting than those you’d expect to find in an Ace Attorney game, with most having one defining quirk and little screentime. The final case has one instance where the system works brilliantly, but I can't help but feel that it fell a bit short during the rest of the game. There is one witness in the prologue case that channels the Ace Attorney spirit with gusto, fans of the original game and/or Dual Destinies will find a few funny familiar scenarios and the participation of Professor Layton and Luke helps to soften the blow significantly, but the cross-examinations don't reach their full potential.


- The witnesses are most certainly not above conspiring against you.

One final thing to mention is that both the background art and the music managed to stand out in my mind. Backgrounds are always highly detailed and particularly towards the endgame you will come across some startling backdrops. The music meanwhile is a great selection of both familiar Layton and Wright music, with some original work thrown in. Anyone who has played either of these series will doubtlessly find some familiar stuff in here, as you'd expect from any good cross-over game. My personal favorite was a beautiful music-box version of the Turnabout Sisters theme from the original Ace Attorney, which played at exactly the right moment to make me tear up a little.  

Ultimately, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright delivers an excellent Layton-esque story complemented by court cases that feel right at home in the setting. With puzzles that are easier than they needed to be and cross-examinations that are not as wacky as one might expect, the gameplay won't astound any longtime fan. Fortunately, the interesting story and especially the great interaction between the two IPs makes this a game that is nonetheless more than worth playing. For the price of one you get a good Professor Layton game paired with a good Phoenix Wright game, joining forces to make a great crossover experience.

  read


3:34 PM on 02.25.2014  

NVGR: Shade is coming to the States! (and I'd love to come say hi)

So here's a little update about me outside of my usual Thursday Shadeisms (because I like to pretend that people care). I just felt like sharing the good news without having to wait for my "turn". Also, random thought: this is the third blog I've written in a row which title starts with my name. I dunno what that says about me. That I still like my internet-name, I guess.

ANYWAY.

Ever since I started law school in the Netherlands I wanted to participate in one of my university-wide exchange programs. Basically, our university has official relations with a number of universities abroad (ranging from Japan to Canada to everything in between) and they will help us get a placement abroad, funding, housing and the like. Everything to make it easier for us to actually go somewhere. Myself, I was even luckier than most: because I finished at the top of my class in my very first year of law school, I received €500 extra to study abroad.

However, between my first year and now, I hadn't been able to participate in one of these exchange programs. Every year something would come up that prevented me from going. Some of it was my fault, some of it was not, but at the end of the day I was still stuck in boring old Holland. But since this year right now was the last time I could possibly go anywhere, it was now or never. I made extra sure that my application was in order, that my grades were up to stuff and that I took an English as a Foreign Language Test (which I aced, by the way).

Well shit paid off, because after all these years I finally got in.

I get to go to the United States!



Specifically, I get to go to the George Washington University in Washington DC.
I'm going from about the start of September to somewhere in January, so one full semester. During that time, I'm going to be brushing up on my American Law and I'm going to further pursue my own interest in Human Rights Law and in ICT Law. US Human Rights Law in particular sounds fascinating to me because of how different you peeps approach basic human rights compared to how we do in Europe. Whereas your First Amendment is almost sacred, us Europeans are of the view that there's definitely a certain limit to fee speech and that you can't just say any ol' bullshit and get away with it. But on the other hand, gay rights are far more developed in Europe than the US, and we've seen last year that if there's anyone we shouldn't trust to respect our privacy, it's the US government.  

It's all so strikingly different that I'd love to get some first-hand experience in the one city where it all happens. That city, of course, being DC.

But as we video gamers understand better than anyone, all work and no play doesn't make for a very exciting trip. So during those months I'm going to be in the US, I'd love to go see things, do things. So if you've got any tips on what to do when in DC, by all means share them. Or any tips on which video games to bring on the plane or anything else you can think of. Just shoot!

But perhaps more than anything, I want to meet you!


- Yes, you.

Even though I'm far from the only "foreigner" on this little internet-home of ours, the vast majority of us are still American. So I figured, what if some faithful Dtoid visitors were located in the DC area? I could totally go say hi when I'm there!

And that's what this blog is for, really. I've been on Destructoid for years, but never really had the chance to meet the people behind that avatars that have come to mean so much to me. With my upcoming half-year trip to the States, now would seem like a better time than ever to do exactly that.

So, do any people here live in the Washington DC area? Of course in the city would be best (that way I wouldn't have to pay for a tour guide, duh), but if you think you're worth driving a couple of hours for, I'm sure I can squeeze you in (although that may or may not depend on your willingness to play Super Smash Bros. with me). For example, I definitely plan to visit New York during my stay; that's a kind of distance I could easily deal with. Note that I'm not asking for housing or funds or whatever, I can manage that on my own just fine. Still, it would be nice to have a friendly face in unfamiliar territory, to hang out with sometime or just to show me around once and then deny any connection.

So if you're in the area and want to meet a 'toider from the legendary land of hookers and blow, that'd be awesome! I want to take the time to see all that I can, and that includes you!



(I'm probably also posting this on the forums later, but the Cblogs feel like my eHome more than any other part of the site, so it's only fair to post here first.
Finally, on an unrelated note: I'm sorry for being so absent from the site lately. I'm going to try getting back in the game here. Reading and commenting on you Cblogs is on the top of the list. You guys so deserve it. Tell you what: if I forget I want you to come to my house and punch me in the face. Or watch me sleep, if you're into that. That'll teach me!)   read


7:02 PM on 12.20.2013  

Shade's 2013 GOTY award winners! (are all Mario)

As we approach the end of the year, we must obey the ancient video game law of coming up with our GOTY awards or risk spending an eternity in gamer hell (which I'm pretty sure is just a room with only a Virtualboy and a CD-i in it). However, whereas other people will tell you dirty lies like that The Last of Us had the best story this year, or that The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was the best portable game, I am here to dump a bucket on TRUTH over all of you. You see, none of those games deserve to win. There is only one GOTY this year, and it should win in every single category.
That's why I'm here, the only objectively objective award awarder on the internet. So let's get started with the first award!

Spoilers for Super Mario 3D World. Yes, seriously. I'm putting a spoiler warning up for a Mario game. I have my reasons. Long story short, if you have not yet beaten the final boss FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY HAVEN'T YOU BEATEN THIS BRILLIANT GAME YET?! Do you actively hate having fun or what!? But other than that, please do skip past "Best New Character". Trust me.
__________________________________________________________________________________

- Best Platformer
There were a lot of great platformers this year. Rayman Legends is a very notable one, and even New Super Luigi U might deserve a shot at the title. However, there was another game this year that simply ran away with this award. Not only that, it put on a catsuit and played with the award like a ragdoll.
And that game is Super Mario 3D World!



I can't remember the last time I had such fun with a game. The level design is spot on, there are a ton of cool mechanics to play with and Mario's cat suit arguably adds more to the platforming genre than it has any right to. Moreover; multiplayer in a 3D platformer! Surely, no other game this year was able to compete.

- Best FPS
Okay, so you're going to have to help me out with this one, because I wouldn't know a good shooter if it slapped me in the face and then teabagged me.
Anyway, I think people liked Bioshock Infinite this year. That was a good one, right? Does The Last of Us count as a shooter? Because I guess then it might have a shot as well.
...Actually, you know what? Fuck it. I've got a much better idea.

You know what this is?



This is a Fire Flower. You know what it does? It lets Mario, or Peach, or whoever, shoot fireballs from their hands. That's right, shoot fireballs. Not only that, the Mario gang can also pick up Boomerangs to throw at enemies and they can even wear cannons on their heads to really put the hurt on all the baddies coming their way.

There can be only one conclusion. The best FPS of the year is none other than Super Mario 3D World.

"But surely", you say, "3D World's shooting mechanics aren't in first person?"

...
Now look here, if you're going to split hairs you can go bugger off and make your own damn GOTY list. Super Mario 3D World is the best FPS of the year and that's all I have to say about that.

- Best Racing game
There were many great racing games around this year. At least I think there were? Yeah, probably. But look at the top right corner of this screen and tell me what you see:



That's right, Super Mario 3D World has a timer in every level. Do you know what that means? It means you could totally speedrun this game if you wanted to. In other words, the game gives you a special incentive to race through every level. Hell, it even added a character to the roster whose defining ability is being able to run faster than the others! And what about the level where you're running across a track from Mario Kart? It even has the right music! And surely you must have noticed Bowser's sweet ride in the screenshot above?

Truly, there was no racier racing game than 3D World in 2013. As such, it would be nothing short of completely and utterly unfair not to reward it with the Best Racing Game of the Year Award.

Congratulations Super Mario 3D World, you deserved it.

- Best Fighting game
Before handing out the next award, we have to take a look at the essence, the very core, of the genre. What makes a fighting game a fighting game? Is it the quick combos and the super moves? Is it the mind games you play with your dreaded opponents? Or is it simply killing your enemies stone dead by whatever means necessary?

Clearly, it must be the latter. Otherwise, why do spam tactics exist? Riddle me that, Batman!
So the question must be, which game allowed you to kill your enemies stone dead by whatever means necessary more or better than any other game? Let's see now; jumping on people's heads, scratching them to death with your claws, throwing shit at them, swiping at them with your tail, attacking them with your galaxy-enhanced spins, multiplying yourself and doing all of the above with twice the power, the list is virtually endless.

No Divekick, Injustice or Killer Instinct is going to match that. As such, they are clearly unworthy of the title of Best Fighting Game of the Year.
It rightfully belongs to one game, and one game alone. Super Mario 3D World.


- And until you can find me another 2013 game in which you could grow huge and stomp the shit out of everyone, that's the way it's going to be.

- Best Action-adventure
Action!


- Adorable, ADORABLE, action.

Adventure!

- And deceptively military-based adventure at that.

Put them both together, and you simply cannot deny that Super Mario 3D World wins! You CAN.NOT.

- Best JRPG
As we all know, JRPGs are about one thing, and one thing only; dressing up your characters. Leveling up, you say? Intriguing plots in large open worlds? Don't be ridiculous. As Square-Enix is quickly showing the gaming world, the quality of a JRPG is measured by its dressing-up features. The more eccentric and unpractical the better!



However, even though it looked like Final Fantasy XIII-3 had the JRPG category in the bag for 2013, it didn't come out in the West this year. Tough luck, Barbie Lightning! Even if it had though, there was one game this year that managed to trump even Final Fantasy in its dressing-upability.

Because while Lightning may have had her moogle suit, the Mario crew was already taking dressing up to the next level. They famously dressed up as cats, they could wear Goomba hats, Boomerang bros were among their targets and even Tanooki weren't safe from being turned into a costume. Let's see Lightning match that! (she can't)

But more than that, Mario's costumes all had something that Lighting's severely lacked: functionality. Now I'm sure that her outfits do something in her latest games, but I refuse to believe you would even notice it with all that hammering on the "Auto Battle" button you're going to be doing. In contrast, Mario's cat suit alone let you climb up any wall and do bad-ass lunge attacks and dive kicks. Indeed, Mario's cat-suit is quite possibly one of the best pieces of clothing to dress up your characters with.

Thus, Super Mario 3D World is objectively the best JRPG of the year. You can't fight me on this.

- Best WRPG
Did any good WRPGs even come out this year?! No? But that won't do at all, we gotta have a winner at least!
...
Hold on, I think I got it.

For lack of any worthy entries, I'm going to have to give this to Super Mario 3D World by default. Congrats!

- Best Strategy Game
And the winner is XCOM: Enemy Within!
In what may very well be one of the best expansion packs ever released, XCOM Enemy Within shows tha-



The winner is Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm! Starcraft II may very well already be one of the best strategy games of all time; the fight between the Protoss, Terrans and the Zerg has captured many a gamer's imagination, and has led to a multitude of sleepless nights. So when a huge expansion comes around, you can bet your butt that we will sit up and take notic-



The winner is Fire Emblem: Awakening! 2013 was a great year for the Nintendo 3DS, and perhaps nowhere was that fact as evident as with the latest installment in the Fire Emblem series. With a story that transcends time itself and the addition of many new gameplay mechanics, it truly showed what turn-based strategy could be. Moreover, its characters were hard not to fall in love wi-



The winner is Super Mario 3D World, just because.  

- Best Sports game
Ah, and here we are at what must surely be the single most boring category in every edition of the video game awards. Because come on, who the hell cares whether FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer was the best soccer game of the year? Or did you want to go the route of American Football and give it to Madden onehundredandeleventyseven-2? Fuck no.

Fortunately, this year there was a game that can make even a shitty category like sports worthwhile. It is a game in which you can play sports like a sporty...sportsman. Person. Whichever. Anyway, you wanna throw baseballs at people? You can! You'd rather take your best aim with exploding soccer balls? Sure deal! Or are you well enough in touch with your feminine side that you'd rather simply stick to gymnastics? Well, sorry, but I don't think we ca-OF COURSE WE HAVE THAT.



It has the MOST sports. All of them. All of the sports. How could I ever live with myself if I did not award it the victory?! I couldn't. Super Mario 3D World is by far the Best Sports Game of the Year. Sports.

- Best Story
I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who once said that "brevity is the soul of wit". And if he wasn't, fuck it, he may as well have. Still counts.

The point is this; if brevity is the soul of wit, then obviously the brevityiest game must obviously be the wittiest. That's just grade school logic right there, no way around it. And it was without a shadow of a doubt Super Mario 3D World that had the briefest plot this year. Bowser kidnaps fairies. That's it. We get no context, no motivation, no nothing. In fact, let me show you all of Super Mario 3D World's dialogue.



Can you feel all the brevity coming through your computer screen RIGHT ONTO YOUR FACE?! Don't answer that, off course you can. And what's more, along with that brevity comes just a total SHOWER of wit. Don't lie to me, you're completely covered in wit right now and you damn well know it.

I think I've said enough. Super Mario 3D World clearly has the best story of the year. Now go clean yourself up. Wit stains horribly.

- Best Multiplayer (co-op)
Co-op games are always a lot of fun, especially if it's on-the-couch-style. Nintendo for many years now has been absolutely killing it in this field. From the multiplayer in New Super Mario Bros., to Donkey Kong Country, to Kirby's Epic Yarn and Return to Dreamland. But 2013 was the year in which co-op really shined. The latest Mario game gave us the possibility of playing four player co-op in a 3D game, with each character having their own little ability no less.



Super Mario 3D World particularly encourages players to work together. Getting all of the green stars and the stamps in each level requires a keen eye and a little platforming prowess, which your friends are sure to be able to help you with. Each friend can even use his or her character to compensate the weakness of your own. In the end, you can carry each other across dangerous chasms, earn a crown for helping your friend defeat a bunch of bad guys or collect some coins, and you can wait for your partner at the end of the level so you can have the satisfaction of reaching the goal together.

Can't get more cooperative than that! So Super Mario 3D World wins!

- Best Multiplayer (competitive)
Alternatively, you can toss your buddy in a pit, steal his crown and screw him out of reaching the flag pole with you. Can't get more competitive than that!

Super Mario 3D World wins....again!

- Best Music
Now, you know what, I think I'm just going to let this entry speak for itself.
Please Mister Music, will you play? (<- cookie for the reference)






- bbain take note.



Enough said, it's Super Mario 3D World.

- Best New Character
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...Meowser.



No contest. I don't even care anymore about any suggestion you wish to make. BOWSER IS A GODDAMN TIGER. Super Mario 3D World wins.

- Best Boss fight
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...Meows-

Wait. Didn't we already do this? I think we have. You see, Meowser isn't just the best new(ish) character, you also get to fight him! Obviously, right? Anyway, if you didn't think that a Mario could deliver an epic final boss, you are sorely mistaken. Being chased up a building by five of those guys makes for an intense experience that is only rivaled by...
by....
Well, nothing!

So Super Mario 3D World wins....again.

___________________________________________________________________________________

And now, we've arrived at the winners for each individual console. Which of the above games will take the prize for best game of the system, and possibly the best Game of the Year? The suspense is killing me!
So let's start, off course, with the WiiU.

- Best Wii/U game
The winner is...
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD!

Congratulations, Mari-
Hold up. That can't be right. I mean, Wind Waker HD was a great game and all, but best WiiU game of the year? I kinda expected some other game here.
...
Just wait here for a second, I'm going to go talk to the jury, see what's up.



...Okay, so me and the jury had a little "heart-to-heart", and it turns out that the actual winner of Best WiiU Game of the Year is none other than Super Mario 3D World! Congratulations!

Apparently every single member of the jury meant to say Mario from the start, but simply misspelled it. They're all dyslectic, you see? Easy mistake.  

- Best Xbox 360/One exclusive
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.



No but seriously, nobody cares.
...
Oh, and it's still Super Mario 3D World.



- Best Playstation 3/4 exclusive

....I got nothing.This is harder than it looks, alright?!

- Best PC exclusive
I want you to play along with a little experiment of mine. Put your right hand fingers on your keyboard's arrow keys, and the left ones on two neighboring buttons of your choice. I prefer Z and X, but just do whatever. Now, close your eyes and pretend you're playing Super Mario 3D World.

...

Congratulations! You just played the best PC game of the year.

- Best Handheld game
Come on, I don't have to explain this to you, do I? You've seen the WiiU, haven't you? And you have noticed the GamePad.



It has a screen on it, and you hold it in your hands. Ergo, it is a handheld. Also I just used the word "ergo" which means I won the argument just now. I'm pretty sure that's how discussion works.
So now that we have irrefutably established that the WiiU GamePad is a handheld console, what game would deserve that title of the Best Handheld Game of the Year? The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds? Tearaway? Shin Megami Tensei IV?

Oh who am I kidding, you already know that it's Super Mario 3D World.  

__________________________________________________________________________________

-- Overall Game of the Year

And here we finally have it. The Game of the Year, the game of games, the one game to rule them all, 2013 incarnate. Which of the diverse titles above will achieve this great honor and go down in history forever (because that is how history works)? Will it be Super Mario 3D World? Or maybe Super Mario 3D World? Or perhaps we'll see a stellar come-from-behind victory for Super Mario 3D World? Or will fan-favorite Super Mario 3D World claim the prize? Place your bets now!

And the winner, of the 2013 Game of the Year awards...

is...

dramatic emphasis

...

SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD!

In what must be one of the biggest surprises of the year, the latest Mario adventure, which had already snagged the trophy for every single other category, even somehow those it had no reason being in, wins the most prestigious award of the entire year: a star shaped ball of yarn!
Have fun with it, you guys! But do be careful.



I SAID BE CAREFU-
Well shit.
...

Oh well, I guess you can always come back next year to try your hand at becoming the Game of the Year 2014. Your odds are looking great!   read


3:30 AM on 11.09.2013  

Contest WINNER: Congratulations to...oh dear...YOU?!

Thanks to everyone who entered my contest! We had great entries all around, and I hope the developers of The Typing of the Dead took notice of that blog, because the game would become all the more amazing if all of your brilliant words were to make it into the game.

By the way, my own words would have been "hijinks" and "shenanigans" because those are straight-up the best words in the English language. They're completely perfect for what they are.
....yeah, you see why I asked you guys now?

Anyway, enough small talk! Let's get to what we're all here for, the winner!

It's!  



Congratulations PhilKenSebben!

Well, you know what this means. Time to start sucking up!
In the contest thread Phil announced that he just wanted The Typing of the Dead, but what he does with the rest is completely up to him. I sent him the rest of the list, so who knows, you might get contacted after all. But just between you and me; I hear that Phil likes to get his butt fondled. Who knows, it might help.

By the way, Phil's words were:
Waffle Meat
Worm Dingle
Testicular
Rabbit Chungus
Savory Gravy
Manly Pickle
Choke Fornication
Massive Mexicans
Bottled Chum
Mayonnaise Taco
Leaping Pus
Frisky Dingo

Truly a worthy winner.
Congratulations again, and have fun typing zombies to death!
Finally, another round of thanks to Wrenchfarm and OpiumHerz for giving most of these games away in the first place.   read


4:13 PM on 11.01.2013  

Contest: Wrenchfarm's sloppy seconds + Typing like your life depends on it!

Thanks to the ever generous Wrenchfarm's awesome contest I found myself with a truckload of great new games to play, because studying is for chumps.

However, the awesomeness of this contest could not be contained by one Steam account alone. Oh no. When my Steam Library saw how many new games were coming its way, it flat-out rejected some of them. The Binding of Isaac? Steam wouldn't take it. Dark Souls? No can do. Pathologic, courtesy of the lovely Opiumherz? Denied. 
Of course, the little fact that I already owned these games may have been a relevant factor too, but I still hold that it was probably just the awesomeness.

And that's why I've decided to give the people of Destructoid a second chance to win these great games!

To reiterate, we're talking about:



Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, on Steam. 
Chances are if you're on Destructoid you know about Dark Souls. Do I really need to tell you more about it? No I don't. It's brilliant and you want it.



The Binding of Isaac, including Wrath of the Lamb, also on Steam.
One of the best and most addicting roguelikes ever. Buckets and buckets of content, ranging from cool new power-ups to new levels and the largest number of "final" bosses ever seen in video games. Also poop.



Pathologic, on GoG.
The first game of Ice-Pick Lodge, who later went on to do the surreal The Void. This game got high praise for its atmosphere, which if you're any kind of fan of horror games you'll know has been missing from most mainstream "horror" titles for a while now. Can the indies do better? You decide!

______________________________________________________________________________

But I can hear you thinking. Snickering almost. "Oh Shade", you'd say, "isn't that like the lamest thing, like, ever?" I'm not sure when you became a valley girl, but fine. "You're giving away Wrench's games you already had anyway, and you expect us to love you for it?"

NO!

We're having none of that nonsense here. In the spirit of Halloween I'm adding two games of my own into the mix! Why? Because I bloody well can, that's why. And because VIDEO GAMES.

The first is an indie game I already had in my inventory for a while, so it's high time to pass it on to someone else. I love this game dearly though, from its brilliant art directions to its gorgeous music. I'm talking about the original Trine! What does Trine have to do with Halloween? ....it has skeletons, I guess? Yeah, let's go with that. So skeletons equals Halloween and therefore we add to the winnings:



Trine, on Steam. 

But that's nowhere near the best part, because there's one more game coming the winner's way. Here we have a game that nobody saw coming. It just popped up on Steam a few days ago with an equal mix of "What the fuck?" and "Fuck yeah!"
Quick question: What's the best way to defeat zombies? Shotgun? Axe? Flamethrower? Tallahassee?

All wrong. All so very, very wrong. What do you use to kill off zombies? Keyboards, motherfuckers! Oh yeah, we're going there.
And with that, we add:



The Typing of the Dead: Overkill, on Steam!
(note that this game also includes regular The House of the Dead: Overkill)

Now ain't that a lovely batch of games right there? Damn straight it is. And winning them is easy! All you need to do is answer a simple question. So far, the screenshots of Typing of the Dead have given us some great words to kill zombies with. "Ample buxom" is my favorite, but "May I eat you" and "UNICORNS" are top-class zombie-killing words as well. Still, there have to be even better words out there. And that's where you come in!
I want to know from you:
"What words would you type to kill zombies?"

The winner will be picked at random from all the entries. I'll let this contest run for one week, that is until November 8th. After that I'll contact the lucky winner!

EDIT: Contest over, congratulations Phil!   read


6:56 AM on 06.12.2013  

A Nintendo Fanboy's E3: A Fit Hopespot for Creativity

Hello, my name is Shade, and I'm a Nintendo fanboy.


- Hi, Shade.

I love Nintendo. I love their games, their handhelds, their overall quirkiness, and yes, even their consoles. I wouldn't be a gamer today if it wasn't for Nintendo, and they made many of my favorite games of all time; I owe them one. More than one, come to think of it.

So while everyone else was out slamming the Xbox One and hyping over Sony's presentation, I was doing other things. Working mostly, because hey, someone's gotta do it. Microsoft consoles have never interested me in the slightest, to the point where my only response to the Xbox One is still to have a good-hearted laugh about the entire mess, and while Sony is already much more interesting to me, it's still not enough to convince me to watch its entire presentation. But I'm still a gamer, and a self-proclaimed Nintendo fanboy at that, so every year I make a point of following Nintendo's conference live. As we all know, this year it was a Nintendo Direct rather than a press conference, but it ultimately came down to the same thing.

So how does someone like me feel about this Nintendo Direct?
It was...decent. Nintendo showed plenty of games, and pretty great ones at that. A new 3D Mario, Donkey Kong Country, the untitled Monolith Soft project, and Smash Bros. were all awesome games that you can bet your ass I'm going to go out of my way to buy. There was a problem, however.

Nintendo's Creativity
I have always defended Nintendo's use of its old IPs. I see a lot of people complaining about another Mario game, another Zelda, and so on. These people think that Nintendo is unoriginal, that they don't have a grain of creativity left. After all, if they still had cool ideas, why aren't we seeing new characters anymore? Is Pikmin really the best they had? Myself, I have always rejected this notion very strongly. Nintendo actually has more creativity in its right pinkie toe than most developers do in their entire body.

The reasoning is very simple; just because Nintendo decides to put its familiar faces out there doesn't mean they don't have new ideas anymore. Just look at the Mario series, for example. It started as a 2D platformer, which saw several other installments all vastly improving the tech and Mario's abilities. On the Nintendo 64, however, it took a massive leap into the third dimension. Super Mario 64 singlehandedly changed gaming, and the Mario franchise, forever. The next Mario game, Super Mario Sunshine, also changed the formula significantly. Mario was given a new setting to play around in, new goals to fulfill, new enemies to fight, and a boatload of new abilities all combined in FLUDD. Next, of course, came Super Mario Galaxy. While it was the standard fare of Mario running and jumping around trying to save Peach, Galaxy saw a whole slew of new mechanics by virtue of the planetoids he now inhabited. The new physics made Super Mario Galaxy an adventure unlike any seen before.  


- Pictured: Creativity

As such, over the course of a couple of games, all starring the familiar plumber completely unchanged, Nintendo showed creativity in gameplay that few other developers can even begin to match. And that's not even taking into account the spin-offs, such as the always awesome Paper Mario series.  

The same goes for many other series. Metroid went from a 2D action-adventure to the massive secret-ridden Super Metroid, to the amazing 3D version that was the original Metroid Prime, to an entire new control scheme in Metroid Prime 3. Even Metroid: Other M tried to change up the formula by having a mix of 2D and 3D, and a focus on story. I actually liked Other M more than most, but since it's a controversial game let's just leave it at that.

My final example will be Zelda. The Legend of Zelda was originally a top-down 2D game, then became a side-scroller for its second adventure before returning to top-down again. It too took the jump into 3D, and gloriously at that, with Ocarina of Time. Majora's Mask changed things up by adding time mechanics as well as the ability to change into a bunch of different characters. Wind Waker turned the world into an ocean, making level progression vastly different from the previous games. The DS games both turned the control scheme on its head by making it touch-only. Finally, Skyward Sword (and Twilight Princess to a lesser extent) implemented motion controls to give the player direct control over Link's sword, paving the way for many creative new ways of using it to solve puzzles and defeat enemies.

It's true that Nintendo banks on nostalgia a lot. It's also true that many of the games I mentioned just now could have been new IPs. But hey, we all love Nintendo characters, so what's the harm? As long as the gameplay is as unique as it is, by all means slap a familiar face on there. I don't need Prince Fluff when the game can be made equally well with Kirby. Even Kid Icarus: Uprising featured an old character, but they gave him such a massive overhaul that he's barely even recognizable anymore. Isn't that just as good as a new IP? The face is the same, the game is different.

That, right there, is the Nintendo I love. That's the Nintendo that made the world fall in love with its characters. That's the Nintendo I'll fanboy over.
That is my Nintendo.



Unfortunately, it's not 2007 anymore. It's E3 2013 now, and Mario Galaxy has been done. So has Metroid Prime 3 and Skyward Sword. I'm ready for Nintendo to show its stuff again. But after watching the Nintendo Direct, I have to wonder. Where is my Nintendo?

Directly Safe
During the Direct, Nintendo showed a number of games from existing franchises. As I've explained above, I don't mind that at all as long as they're unique and interesting. Unfortunately, I didn't get that impression this year. A lot of the stuff they showed seemed like regular continuations of what Nintendo has already been doing. A lot of it seemed simple. Safe. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD looks absolutely fucking fantastic, but it's still just The Wind Waker again. Mario Kart 8 is...well, it's just kind of Mario Kart 8, isn't it? Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is another game that looks amazing, but where's the difference with Returns? New enemies and camera angles? Underwater levels? Seems a tad weak, to be honest. And what about Pikmin 3? It's going to be great, but what is it going to do differently?

Even the announcement of the new 3D Mario didn't blow me away like it should have. When it was announced that we were going to see the new WiiU Mario, I was ready for the new step. The game that is to Galaxy what Galaxy was to Sunshine. We didn't get that. Instead, we got Super Mario 3D World. Again, it looks like a fine game that I'll be buying, but at the end of the day it seems like it's going to be pretty much the same as Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS. I actually got confused and thought that it was a 3DS game at first (the title doesn't help).

Besides that, a number of characters remain on the sidelines while Nintendo focuses all of its energy on Mario and Link. Why haven't we heard anything about a Star Fox game for WiiU, for example? When will we get a new Wario platformer again (Shake it was amazing)? How has Metroid been doing since Other M? Come to think of it, how are things progressing with Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei? And most importantly, what happened to Captain Falcon? He could've been great for WiiU, as I've already pointed out last year, but he's nowhere to be found. These are all series that could easily bring something new to the table, or at least something that we haven't seen in a long time. Unfortunately, none were present yesterday.  


- The new Smash Bros. was announced, but Captain Falcon hasn't been in a new game since Brawl. That's kinda sad.

The only game they showed in Nintendo Direct that got me excited not just because it's a Nintendo game but because it seems to want to do something new was X, the otherwise untitled Monolith Soft project. This may be the fanboy in me speaking (I'm a Monolith Soft fanboy just as much as a Nintendo one, if not more so), but I thought it looked fantastic. It takes some notes from Xenoblade, always a good sign to me, but it also strives to make a fully seamless open world, has monsters which have far outgrown what Xenoblade was able to show, seems to have a big focus on transforming mechs, and has been hinted to include online multiplayer. Those are things that get me excited enough to think that it may be something more than just a safe sequel. The Wonderful 101 is another game that looks really quirky, fun and unique, but it's not Nintendo's own.

Maybe I'm being too negative over this. After all, Mario Galaxy had Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid Prime had Metroid Prime 2, and Zelda had Twilight Princess and Spirit Tracks. All followed an old formula without much innovation, but we still saw cool new things afterwards. Hope is not lost, obviously. Maybe we're just at the point in time where all series simultaneously take a bit of a break before going into full overdrive again. We also have that new WiiU Zelda to look forward to, after all.

A Fitting Hopespot
Regardless of how much of a sign Nintendo's showing yesterday was for its game design philosophy from now on, there was one thing that got it exactly right. One thing that shows me that Nintendo's still got its stuff. One thing that shows my Nintendo. And it may not be what you think.



It's the inclusion of the Wii Fit Trainer in the new Super Smash Bros.

At first, this may seem like an odd thing to say. Doesn't the Wii Fit Trainer represent everything we don't want? Doesn't she represent Nintendo's fall into casual bullshit nobody cares about? How could she possibly be the best thing Nintendo's done all week?

Because it's the silliest fucking thing!

At first, I honestly didn't know what to make of her inclusion. I was confused. But the more I thought about it, and the more I saw from her, the more I realized that this is perfect.
Like Sakurai said in his Smash Bros. developer video, nobody saw her coming. This is pretty much undeniable, yeah. Nintendo is showing that it still knows how to dig deep and surprise us. Sure it would be cool to see Shulk make it into the game (I told you didn't I? Monolith fanboy), but what could possibly be cooler than going on www.smashbros.com and seeing a new trailer for a character you never even imagined possible?

But more than that, Nintendo has managed to make a character whose only purpose in her own game was to "show you the moves", if I may quote a certain someone, into a veritable fighter. They even managed to take a whole bunch of yoga moves and tie them to the various abilities we know and love from the Smash Bros. series. She dodges by doing a yoga move, she does a smash attack by doing a yoga move, she poses for a taunt, she twirls hoops around for an Up+B attack. She does all these thing that you wouldn't think could make sense for even a second...and yet they do! She's a normal human, a standard fighter, and yet she looks hella fun to play as right between Bowser, Samus, Kirby and the rest of Nintendo's best and brightest.  

The utter strangeness of her inclusion makes her so special to me, paired with the fact that she works so well. Just think about it! At some point during the past year, Nintendo must have had a internal roundtable. They were discussing which characters to include in the next Smash Bros. Mario and the old gang are all in of course, but who should be new? The main character from Animal Crossing would be a good fit. He's already had his own stage in Brawl, after all. Who else? Maybe we could get Mega Man in here, since we had Sonic already? Let's see, more. And right at that moment someone, some amazingly brilliant eccentric gloriousness of a person, stood up and said "You know what we should do? We should get the Wii Fit Trainer in there!"

And they rolled with it.



That's the quirky, silly, creative Nintendo I love. That's the Nintendo that's showing me they can take anything, and make it awesome. The Wii Fit Trainer is my hope that Nintendo will find its creativity again, and that Super Mario 3D World isn't the prime example of Nintendo starting to just play it safe.

She embodies my Nintendo this E3.

  read







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