…in more ways than one (I’ll get to that in a little bit).
So, my first post in a long while is a reaction of sorts. Yeah, I’m not exactly thrilled about it either but hey, at least it’s encouraged me to get posting again. That aside, Nintendo have decided to celebrate Mario’s thirty-fifth anniversary with some new products and I’m going to give my unrequested take on the main feature of this celebration. I’m sure nobody cares, but, then again, I don’t particularly care that nobody cares. Here we are and here it is…
Nintendo have surprised everybody nobody at all by releasing a ‘Lite’ version of their Switch console. The Switch Lite is billed as a “compact, lightweight addition to the Nintendo Switch family, with integrated controls.” They also say that it is “dedicated to handheld play.”
In normal speak, this means a portable-only version of the Switch with joycons that can’t be removed and no TV output. So why would you even want to give a shit? Surely going backwards is a bad idea? Well, that’s what many said about the 2DS and look at how successful that was for Nintendo. In fairness however, the USP for the 3DS (it’s 3D effect) was increasingly under-utilised by developers and had always been divisive given how it gave some gamers negative side effects while others felt that 3D didn’t add much to the games so left it switched off anyway. In short, the 2DS had less to lose.
The Switch Lite however, loses some of the major selling points of the standard Switch (which will still be available to buy). You won’t be able to hook it up to a television for example so no more switching (hur, hur…get it? I’ll get my coat…) between the big and small screens. You also won’t be able to detach the controls for multiplayer. As far as I’m aware, both of these features have been a success with the Switch, unlike the 3DS’ 3D effect which wasn’t such a major loss when the 2DS hit stores. What’s more, an updated model of the standard Switch has apparently been released that improves battery life by upwards of 50% (depending on how you use the thing). This is a bit of a kick in the teeth for the Switch Lite before it has even been released.
So, er…why would you bother with the Lite? Well, it’s cheaper for starters. About $100 cheaper in North America. It’s also looking to be bang on £100 cheaper here in the UK too. That makes no sense when you consider exchange rates and values of currency but we’ll just ignore that. Obviously, you could pick up a used Switch unit bundled with games and accessories for the same price (or cheaper) than a brand-new equivalent so there is that to consider but not everybody wants to go for used hardware that other people’s kids have had their grubby mitts all over. Also, the Lite is meant to be more comfortable to hold and there is that added assurance of durability with integrated controllers that can’t be worn out or damaged by constantly removing/replacing them.
All of that said, I would buy a Switch Lite. “Why?” I don’t hear you asking. Because:
I’ve never owned a regular Switch so this wouldn’t be a downgrade
I have no room beneath/next to my TV for more consoles or docks. When you’ve been gaming for many years and like to keep older machines and games, you tend to run short on space pretty quickly. I have no more connections TO the TV left anyway…
I’m not likely to bother with local multi-player as I’m more or less a solo gamer these days
£200 for a brand-new example of a current-gen system appeals to me.
Now that that’s out in the open, I feel that I have to address my previous posts on the Switch because when the console was much younger, I made a series of posts about why I – as a Wii-U owner – wasn’t interested in upgrading to the (then) new Nintendo hardware. If you missed these three posts then here are some quick links to them:
One of my major gripes was to do with feeling shafted as a Wii-U adopter/supporter. After all, I’d bought into the weird console which turned out to be a massive flop that could have tanked Nintendo. I’d put money into buying the top-spec variant of the machine and multiple games. Then it was killed off fairly quickly for reasons that I completely understand and agree with. What I was more aggrieved by was the arrival of the ports – specifically upgraded ports of Wii-U games. These were games that I had already purchased and spent money buying the DLC for and now they were being re-released as “new” titles for a new audience who possibly didn’t realise that, for gamers like me, they were a “been there, done that” deal.
The second sting in the tail was that it reduced my desire to buy into the Switch when the best games were just rehashes. Again, I can understand why Nintendo did this because games like Mario Kart 8 and Pokken Tournament were fantastic games that deserved to sell more copies but their success had been restricted by the Wii-U’s limited appeal and tiny ownership. But the Switch also played host to a bunch of third-party ports of games that were available at a budget price on the likes of the PS4 and Xbox One, but were selling for £40 on the Switch. More old games that were of no interest to a cross-platform gamer such as myself.
Thankfully, we are now out of that period and the Switch has since come into it’s own as a worthy platform in its own right. I can now honestly say that there is enough exclusive or original stuff available to make the Switch a viable purchase for me. Obviously, I haven’t kept up fully with the releases so there will be things that I have yet to discover but off the top of my head, these are a few games that sell the system to me. Note: I’m not including the obvious Marios and Zeldas etc. because those go without saying!
SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy
Yes, the game was widely received as fanservice rather than a “serious” fighting game but even so, I still want to play this since I am a big SNK fan. Also, the game wasn’t granted a physical release on the PS4 and since I am loathe to download full games from PSN (due to HDD space, uncompetitive pricing and my crappy internet speed), the Switch retail copy is something I’d like to pick up.
Another fighting game that didn’t get a physical release on the PS4 and one that I was looking forward to for a long time. It has all the elements that appeal to me: 2D-style presentation, Kinu Nishimura art and characters from the 3DS’ Code of Princess. Again, I would prefer to have this on the Switch for the same reasons as SNK Heroines. Previously, it frustrated me deeply that games like this were denied disc releases on the PS4 (because I didn’t own a Switch!) but the cheaper entry point of the Lite changes all that up (or should I say ‘Switches’ it all up? No? Oh…).
Smash Bros. Ultimate
I’ve been ploughing hours into the Smash Bros. series ever since Melee on the Gamecube and I’ve yet to be disappointed by any of the entries in the series. The Wii-U game was one of the best things on the console and so the Ultimate follow-up for the Switch looked mighty appealing, especially given that it really does live up to its title with all of those characters. I can’t say I’ve ever really been into the online or super-competitive sides of the game but I’m confident that I would be able to extract more than enough single-player entertainment from the game to make the purchase worthwhile.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
I’ve fell out with Fire Emblem in the not-too-distant past. Awakening on the 3DS was a fantastic game that finally achieved the unthinkable and dragged the series into a more mainstream light. However, I did not enjoy Fates (a.k.a Camilla’s Breasts: The Game) at all. From how impossible the special edition (with the all-in-one cartridge) was to get here in the UK, to how I felt like I was playing a waifu simulator with an inferior visual design to what had gone before, I sacked the game off pretty early on. Three Houses is getting a good reception however and so it would the perfect chance to give FE another shot.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3
I’ve always enjoyed these games, regardless of what the critics say. I already have the Asian-English variants on the PS4 and Vita but this is an updated edition that I could take advantage of with the Switch’s region-free nature. Nintendo not region-locking the Switch was a shocker in itself but even more shocking is their relaxed policy towards censorship compared to Sony who have decided to clamp down on it. This means that the Switch is the best place to play Xtreme 3 and that’s not something I ever imagined me saying when the console first launched.
Ultra Street Fighter II
Granted, I wasn’t kind to this game when I wrote those original Switch articles. I said that it was an old game that Capcom had simply tarted up and added two new characters to before releasing it at full-price. I don’t support that kind of thing and never will. But I really enjoyed the original HD Remix (which Ultra is an upgraded version of) and if I could buy a used copy of this on the cheap then I certainly would. To be honest, it would be worth it just to play it on a handheld, wherever I am sitting because the OG HD Remix is sat on my PS3’s HDD.
So there you have it…I’ve more or less been converted to the idea of buying a Switch. I agree with all of the criticism that the Lite has received but at the end of the day, I think decisions like this have to be made on an individual basis. If, for example, I needed that TV Output or was looking to play a lot of local multiplayer then the Lite wouldn’t even be on my radar. However, it ticks a lot of my boxes and I think that £199.99 price point is quite attractive, especially now that I know I’d have more than enough games to get stuck into and make the purchase worthwhile.
I’m fairly confident that the internet doesn’t need any more opinion on this year’s E3 but look here for a moment: I need to put out some quick ‘n dirty content to stop this blog from completely flat-lining. If it hasn’t already, that is (I’ll let you guys be the judge of that). On a positive side, I don’t plan on boring you with in-depth E3 2019 analysis or any attempt at “complete” coverage. What this is going to be is my thoughts in quick-fire format.
But quickly, before I get into that, I’ll just give my brief thoughts on the event overall. Personally speaking, E3 hasn’t made me feel moist for some time now. A lot of what is big in gaming at the moment doesn’t really appeal to me. Nor does the push for more power and better graphics because I’m satisfied with what we have now when it comes to the aesthetics. Lastly, I have so many games still lingering in my “to play” pile that I don’t really need anything else so unless a game strikes me as “essential”, I won’t add it to my wishlist.
With that said, let me jump into those quick-fire thoughts on some stuff I saw…
Blair Witch Project
This one came out of nowhere and despite what I’ve just said about not being interested in hyper-realism, I was very impressed by the trailer. Blair Witch Project looks creepy as fuck and I would certainly be interested in experiencing the final product.
A new Xbox console
A new Xbox is coming next year and promises to be uber-powerful. At first I was like, “really? already?”. Then I checked the dates and was horrified to see that the Xbox One was released in 2013! Where has that time gone? The XBO and PS4 still feel new to me but I guess Project Scarlett will arrive at the end of its predecessor’s 6-7 year lifespan which is consistent with previous console life cycles. One thing I WILL say however is that I’m positive that the Xbox One, PS4 and their beefed-up X/Pro versions were touted as hardware that would last longer at retail and thus save consumers from having to keep buying new consoles. Perhaps I’m mis-remembering though. In any case, I’m really not interested in more raw power so I couldn’t care less about a new Xbox and the inevitable PS5 that will surely be announced in due course.
So there’s an Avengers game which isn’t surprising given the current popularity of Marvel’s superhero franchises and the Avengers movies. Ironically though, this game doesn’t look to be linked to the MCU despite looking eerily similar. The gameplay looks okay but nothing outstanding. And can somebody tell me why Black Widow looks like a man? One to try when it’s in the bargain bins methinks.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
The first part has finally been confirmed for 2020. Honest opinion: it looks better than it did before but I’m still not sold on the action-based gameplay. Also, I think they shrank Tifa’s boobs a little bit. Because progressiveness and all that boring jazz.
One thing that E3 2019 proved to me was that the Switch is now a very appealling console with lots of great exclusives on the horizon. The super-charming remake of the Gameboy’s Link’s Awakening is one such game. I had great fun playing the ‘DX’ version on my Gameboy Colour back in the 90’s so I would be down for this.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
I should be hyped for this because Fire Emblem WAS one of my favourite series’. Times have changed though and now all I see is the waifu content and anime tropes so I find it hard to want to be a part of the FE fanbase these days. What I need to do is try some of the other games that came after Fates (the games that killed my interest in FE) and see if my cynicism can be put to rest.
No More Heroes III
A Switch-seller for me that WILL be awesome by default. I don’t even need to see any more footage or gameplay to confirm this theory.
I loved Panzer Dragoon on the Sega Saturn so a remake was both surprising and welcome. I don’t necessarily condone excessive remakes over original games but nobody can deny that 3D games on the Saturn haven’t aged well. And that’s a shame when Panzer Dragoon has such beautiful world design so this is one instance where I will grant a free pass to a remake.
More Resident Evil ports…
This time it’s 5 and 6 to the Switch. My opinion on these? Just stop already. Enough with the ports of older Resident Evil games.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3
I missed the first two games back in the PS2 era because I was busy playing other stuff but by all accounts, the Ultimate Alliance games were solid action efforts and I know that fans have been shouting for a third one for some time. Also receives bonus plus points from me for NOT being influenced by the MCU.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2
It’s happening. I still haven’t finished the original though due to getting sidetracked by random exploration so I need to get that sorted at some point. I sequel that is set to follow the same formula took me by surprise but I’m not complaining.
Mai and Kula in Dead or Alive 6
No, I still haven’t bought into DOA6 but I liked these two character reveals. Kula has long been one of my favourite characters in KOF and so I’m looking forward to seeing her fighting style and breezy personality in DOA-vision. Mai was no real surprise having already successfully integrated herself in DOA5 but I’m a sucker for Ms. Shiranui’s charms (you can read that how you like).
Those are my brief thoughts on things shown at E3 2019. I’m sure I’ve missed lots of trailers and announcements but you’ll never find me watching the live streams of videogame events or sinking my time into those mammoth recap videos on Youtube. There’s actual gaming to be done you know.
Let me know what you thought and whether you agree or disagree with any of my verdicts.
Console exclusitivity…it sucks, right? By and large though, we have pretty much moved beyond these practices over the last few generations and while some may say that it ruins the individuality between platforms, I say “bring it on”. There’s nothing worse than not being able to play all of titles you are interested in without owning multiple systems that cost hundreds and hundreds of pounds each, not to mention the storage space required.
This generation has been pretty kind to me in this respect. Nearly everything I want to play is available on the PS4 with the only Xbox One exclusives able to invoke envy within me being Killer Instinct and Rare Replay. The arrival of the Nintendo Switch didn’t initially mix things up at all but as the decent exclusives began to flow, I was seeing more and more things I liked. The Switch is, after all, the first Nintendo console that I haven’t owned since the N64. That said, consciously deciding to NOT buy a Nintendo console will always automatically lock you out of their exclusive properties so there can be no hard feelings about not being able to experience the likes of Mario Odyssey if you make a decision not to purchase the hardware.
Unfortunately, it certainly does grate my gears when something like this happens, ‘This’ being Nintendo striking a distribution deal with NIS America to make the physical edition of SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy and Switch exclusive in the West.
It’s time to get my moan on!
The game had originally been slated for both the PS4 and Switch. I had personally been aware of the game’s general release window and was looking forward to picking it up but this crappy news only popped up on my radar yesterday. Annoyingly, there IS a physical release available for the PS4 here in the UK (and – I assume – the US) but to get at it, you have to buy the ‘Diamond Dream Edition’, a big Collector’s Edition box that comes with loads of extras and weighed it at around £100. Unsurprisingly, the asking prices for copies on ebay UK as of making this post are edging closer to £200. *sigh*.
This is my own fault for being a bit of a magpie when it comes to having a collection of physical games I suppose but downloading full retail games digitally has never sat well with me. DLC, retro re-releases and indie games…sure, that’s fine but when it comes to the full fat stuff, I want a box and disc for the shelf. Call it future-proofing or obsessiveness but I feel a bit deflated if the only option is digital.
Then there is the other consideration to take into account: The PS4’s HDD space and how fast that sucker fills up just with regular game installs, let alone full games. So the options left for me right now are:
Don’t buy the game at all
Buy digitally (yuck)
Import a physical Asian/Japanese copy but be locked out of any DLC
I will likely opt for the third route even if means not being able to purchase any DLC down the line. I just need to get a good price which is a lot more difficult when dealing with imports versus domestic releases which usually drop in value quite quickly if you are patient enough.
So thanks for that Nintendo though I’m not sure that this game will be the big exclusive hit that you hope for on the Switch.
[Disclaimer:yes, I am very late to be discussing this but I’m way behind on gaming news…]
Later on this year, Nintendo will be hitting us with another killer app for the Switch in the form of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the fifth installment in the fan-favourite smash ’em up which celebrates all things Nintendo while also managing to be a hot tournament favourite for competitive gamers. The game looks set to really live up to its ‘Ultimate’ suffix too thanks to the inclusion of every character that has ever been playable in a Smash Bros. game no matter if they are obscure, a relative clone of a more popular combatant or a licensed guest fighter. Everybody is in for the throwdown.
As you can probably imagine, there is a lot that can be discussed about such a game but surprisingly (or unsurprisingly if you’ve been around the videogame community long enough) the biggest talking point that I have seen cropping up across the internet is how Nintendo have decided to tone down the sexuality of Zero Suit Samus and…Solid Snake? The ACTUAL surprising element to this is that there appears to be greater outrage towards the smoothing out of Snake’s butt than there is for Samus losing a few cup sizes since the Wii-U/3DS Smash Bros.Yes, I have just typed that and no, I can’t quite believe it either.
While I would love to talk about Solid Snake’s butt definition, I’m more interested in the fact that the fan outrage to this change hasn’t been as fierce as I’d expected. After all, I’d like to think I’m pretty familiar with the gaming community having being a gamer since the early 1990’s and in that time, I have seen a lot of anger directed towards developers who censor their games or tone down specific aspects in order to not offend. To name a recent example, it wasn’t too long ago that Street Fighter fans were pretty pissed when Capcom manipulated the camera angles for Cammy and Rainbow Mika’s intro animations so as to hide a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it crotch shot for the former and an ass slap for the latter.
I should know because Iwas pretty annoyed about it. Not because I demand games to be as gratuitous as possible for no good reason but because I am 100% against the act of censoring or modifying existing designs/products/artwork in order to pander to the easily offended “won’t somebody think of the children?!?” brigade. In the case of Street Fighter V, I felt that this is what had happened: Capcom hastily commissioning a scrappy edit to a couple of harmless animations just in case somebody, somewhere would create negative press born of the crazy idea that a bit of mild sexuality is obviously the devil incarnate. Let’s overlook the fact that Street Fighter is built upon general violence, brutal holds and genuinely evil characters like Bison and Akuma. All of that is fine but Mika giving her big butt a provocative smack is just not on. Oh no.
But I’m going off-track here. My point is/was that I have seen enough of these kinds of scenarios over the years to be genuinely surprised that the reaction to Samus becoming less chesty wasn’t as volcanic as it might have been. Sure, I have read comments of outrage and dismay but the change does seem to have been accepted more willingly than I’d anticipated.
With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to discuss it. Was Nintendo right to tone Samus’ anatomy down and does it even matter anyway?
I feel that the place to start this discussion/debate is at the point just before Samus’s Ultimate re-design. The character had steadily grown more and more busty when you look at Metroid: Other M and also her appearance in Smash Bros. for Wii-U/3DS, the latter being particularly notable considering that her breasts were pretty damn big when the rest of her was reasonably slender. The game also included an alternate costume that placed Samus in a swimsuit-like outfit, further emphasising her sexuality and giving the Deviantart crowd much to cheer about. There was nothing inheritently wrong with any of this but it has to be noted that the character of Samus Aran had changed dramatically in a short space of time.
Samus is meant to be a tough-as-nails intergalatic bounty hunter. The fact that she turned out to be a woman beneath her externally masculine Power Suit was one of gaming’s earliest twists. The fact that she was also an incredibly attractive design was inevitable in a visual-orientated medium of entertainment. However, by the time we were playing Smash on the Wii-U/3DS, Samus was less about her action-packed exploits in space and more about her skintight bodysuit and physical appeal. The problem that many have pointed out is that Samus’ design has become less and less suited for her profession and background and had begun to border on daft. After all, those Smash 4 bunker-buster boobs can’t exactly aid her agility and it’s improbable that a hardened veteran of countless cosmic adventures and deadly battles against the likes of Ridley and Kraid should resemble a flawless supermodel beneath the armour.
So when we see that Nintendo have decided to tone Samus’ figure down, should we be less concerned about meddling for the sake of satisfying Nintendo’s traditional family-friendly audience and more interested in the fact that they might just be trying to get their heroine back to being more believable? It certainly seems to me that this process already began with Metroid: Samus Returns, looking at the concept art below:
In the Samus Returns art, the character has a flatter chest but is still an attractive design with a more than ample, womanly figure. This to me is getting closer to what a I believe a realistic Samus should look like beneath the armour. I’m all for the sexy-sexy in videogames (as my love for DoA confirms) but even I think that Samus should be an athletic woman in terms of build with some musculature. I would personally go even further with a shorter, more functional hairstyle and an even more athletic figure with more muscle.
Swinging back to the other end of the figure scale, it’s interesting to note that Nintendo originally described Samus Aran as a 6″3, 200 pound muscular woman (source: Nintendo Power) which would put her firmly in the amazonian category where you would expect a woman to perhaps have a more curvaceous, striking body. This was allegedly later re-conned to say that Samus is only that tall when wearing the Power Suit but even if we were take the original description of Samus as how she should look sans armour, the outgoing Zero Suit version from Smash 4 still wouldn’t make much sense. She wasn’t depicted as a mighty amazonian or an athletic girl – just a slinky blonde that had been given large, prominent breasts for pure sex appeal.
In this sense, it’s actually surprising that Nintendo had let us have this rendition of Samus for so long because they are traditionally a family-friendly company not known for sexualising their female characters, especially in Western releases of their games. They have also been quite strict in recent times when it comes to censoring games e.g. Tokyo Mirage Sessions (upskirt views blurred/blacked out, certain costumes edited to remove cleavage) and Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water (lingerie-style costumes removed). So you could say that this change for Samus is not surprising at all, especially when the Switch is doing so well and being marketed at an all-inclusive age range.
The flipside of the argument for greater realism is that gaming is meant to be pure escapism so if Samus has bigger boobs and the face of a model then…so what? Not much else in gaming is grounded in reality so why do we need to pick up on certain characters or games and ask for them to make more sense? Gaming is meant to be fun and it is meant to be fantasy so a push for greater realism on any level feels like a direct contradiction. A lot of people like to slate the Dead or Alive games for how their women are designed/depicted and while I am aware of a much larger and more complex debate behind the criticism, the games are ultimately daft and just harmless fun. I can only speak for myself but I don’t play these games and then have an expectation of real women to resemble the likes of Kasumi or Tina. It is escapism and fantasy.
Of course, cynical character design and sexy for the sake of sexy is never a very clever thing. I don’t however believe that Nintendo ever set out along this path when they designed Zero Suit Samus. Obviously they must be aware of the reasons for the character’s popularity but do I think that they (or associated developers) have intentionally set out to gradually increase her bust size in order to sell software? No, I really don’t.
Ultimately (pun 100% intended!), I am fairly neutral about what Nintendo have decided to do with Samus. On the one hand, I can’t deny that I like the bustier rendition of the character and I would certainly be aggrieved if Nintendo have actioned a reverse boob-job purely to appease the easily outraged. However, they have given Samus a slightly more realistic figure while maintaining overall attractiveness so I think to get too angry about this would be a bit silly provided the reasons are genuine and not born out of a desire to sidestep potential lashbacks from pressure groups. And as I detailed a little earlier, I would happily go even further and design a sexy, athletic/muscular Samus that strikes an even greater balance between looks and believability.
Besides, there’s always Deviantart for your E-cup (and beyond) equipped Zero Suit Samus…
I’m not a totally mainstream gamer (as you may have noticed) so when everybody got a bit excited over the likes of the new Fallout and Elder Scrolls games that were revealed at this year’s E3 event, I was pretty much nonplussed. It was similar case with many big names that were shown to be returning for sequels either later this year or in 2019. It didn’t used to be this way either because in years past, there’d be so much coming out of E3 events that I wouldn’t know where to look first and while this was great back then, I now see some value in only coming away with a few games that interest me. After all, money and time are both finite resources so not having around twenty upcoming titles on my wanted list is actually a positive thing. So what did catch my eye then?
Dead Or Alive 6
I’ve already spoken about DOA6 so I won’t rabbit on about it too much here. In brief, it’s another awesome-looking fighting game from a series I’m already a fan of so a brand-new installment is a good thing. Team Ninja are apparently trying to grow up at last (moving out of their parents’ house and getting a mortgage not yet confirmed) and tone down the boobs so that will be interesting. I’m hoping that they don’t go too far with the whole getting serious thing but I will definitely buy this regardless.
Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition
As a big fan of Namco’s Tales series, I’ve always been well served by owning every Playstation console to date. However, the last generation threw a curveball in the form of Tales of Vesperia, a critically acclaimed installment in the long-running franchise, which became an Xbox 360 exclusive back when Microsoft were determined to attract fans of Japanese games to their system. Save for the original black slab, I’ve never been an Xbox owner so I missed Vesperia the first time around and was pretty peeved that an eventual upgraded PS3 port remained a Japan-only release complete with incomprehensible language barrier. Thankfully, a new ‘Definitive Edition’ is coming to various platforms including (yay!) PS4 so I will at last be able to play this game. I’ve recently gotten back into JRPG’s and the Tales series with the two superb Xillia games on PS3 so this news is fantastic timing.
It wasn’t until it was pointed out to me on a gaming forum that I remembered Cyberpunk 2077‘s original teaser from waaaaaay back in 2013. That trailer ended with a statement along the lines of “ready when its ready” and boy, they weren’t kidding were they? Five years later, the game looks completely different and all the better for it. I absolutely adore anything Cyberpunk-y that even vaguely resembles the likes of Blade Runner or Ghost In The Shell so Cyberpunk 2077‘s detailed futuristic vision is right up my dystopian alley. I’m not sure whether it will a first or third person game at the moment but either way, this is something I will almost certainly pick up just for the art style alone.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD
The (very pleasant) surprise of E3 2018 has to be a the remaster of Metal Wolf Chaos for PS4 and Xbox One, due later this year. Surprising because of it’s obscurity and pleasant because of it’s notoriety as one of the sparse reasons to import Japanese games for the original Xbox. The game is a batshit-crazy mech-style affair starring the president of the United States and while the game itself isn’t meant to be anything super-special, it’s one of those that can sell itself on sheer madness alone. The original Xbox was a very western-orientated console that barely performed in Japan and as such, the number of games worth importing can be counted on one hand. Hardcore Xbox collectors have been spreading the word for years about Metal Wolf Chaos however so the fact that we will finally be able to play the game natively is very welcome. I am still genuinely shocked that something this niche is being revived but who’s arguing?. Not me.
Team Sonic Racing
Not strictly an E3 reveal since the game was already leaked pre-E3 but since a new trailer was shown at the event, I thought I’d throw it in here anyway. Developed by Sumo Digital who were responsible for the superb Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (THE best Mario Kart game to date), the footage revealed thus far shows only Sonic characters but even so, I have high hopes for this one based purely on how good its forerunners were. I’m not sure if I will enjoy it as much if there aren’t any additional Sega characters/representation as in Transformed but even so, it’s a racer that I’m definitely interested in. Fans of the Sonic Adventure era games will also be pleased to see the return of Crush 40 on soundtrack duties so open your heart for this one.
Fist Of The North Star: Lost Paradise
Even though I have no knowledge of the legendary Fist of the North Star, I have to take an interest in this awesome-looking beat ’em up purely because it’s from the same team behind Sega’s Yakuza franchise – one of my favourite things ever in gaming. The gameplay shown at E3 looked suitably brutal and over-the-top so this is one that I will be quietly keeping an eye on.
Resident Evil 2 Remake
It disappeared for a long time but now – just like one of its own zombies – the highly-anticipated Resident Evil 2 remake has resurfaced at E3 2018 (with a January 2019 release date) and man does it look good! Anybody who has played the original Playstation classic will instantly recognise the locations shown in the trailer but otherwise, it looks all-new with an over-the-shoulder Resi 4 style viewpoint and quite graphic, gory violence. I’m very excited for this game because RE2 is probably my second favourite game in the series after RE3: Nemesis and it’s going to be great to return to a virus-ravaged Raccoon City without all the baggage and divisive direction that some of the most recent sequels came with. I really hope that this a success and Capcom follow-up with a Nemesis remake in the same style.
Old-school FPS favourite Doom was a critically-acclaimed success when the franchise was recently revived but even so, this freshly-revealed sequel was still a surprise and a sweet one at that. Looking set to take its cues from Doom 2: Hell on Earth, Doom Eternal should be one hell (I’ll get my coat…) of a no-holds-barred blaster with a lot more enemy designs promised this time around. I still need to get around to playing the recent Doom reboot but Doom Eternal goes straight onto my wanted list based solely on how much I enjoyed the original games and their attitude of pulling no punches.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
I’ve not kept up with the Fire Emblem series since the superb Awakening on the 3DS and with valid reason. I found Fates to be an extremely dull follow-up that had taken too many anime tropes onboard and it had me questioning whether the franchise had become a waifu simulator. Not owning a Switch, I missed out on the Heroes spin-off and I’ve not as of yet picked up the last 3DS installment which was a remake of one of the classic Famicom Fire Emblems (so possibly all the better for it?). This newly-unveiled sequel for the Switch however looks mighty tasty with high production value. It’s certainly a step up from previous home console versions such as Path of Radiance which – while an excellent game – was a bit fugly in the graphics department and didn’t really push the host hardware at all. But then, am I calling the Switch a home console? Is it really? Regardless, this is the kind of thing that makes me want to a buy a Switch so it gets a huge thumbs-up from me.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
I honestly thought that I’d gotten over falling for Smash Bros. hype. After all, where could they possibly go from the last game save for mixing up the roster and adding in a few new bits from recent Nintendo games? How about an ‘Ultimate’ version featuring every single character – no matter how minor – that has ever been playable throughout Smash history? Oh and coming even further out of the left-field by granting the wild fan-favourite wish of a playable Ridley from Metroid? And the naysayers said it could never happen because Ridley was “too big” to be a playable character…
If the promotional artwork above doesn’t get you excited about this then I’m not sure what will. Bringing back everybody ever for one overcrowded character select screen is a simple move but a genius one that should please most people. Even more impressive is that Nintendo seems to have secured the use of all previous guest stars hence the return of MGS‘s Snake who hasn’t been seen since Brawl on the Wii. Again, I’m feeling the need to buy a Switch!
So that was E3 2018. Okay, so my “few games” turned into a ten-strong list in the end and Betheseda DID sneak in there thanks to Doom Eternal so call me a liar and sue me. The big absent elephant in the room was the Final Fantasy VII remake which seems to have vanished for the time being. Like Resi 2 though, I have no doubt it will use a Phoenix Down on itself and return before long. Shenmue III and Kingdom Hearts 3 were two other disappointments given how both games have been knocked back to 2019 now. Overall though, a pretty decent E3 showing and more than enough to get hyped for.
So far I’ve talked about why the Switch isn’t appealing to me right now and also the upcoming releases that potentially have the power to change my mind. The concluding part of my Switch ramblings is going to focus on the dream games that would certainly encourage me to part with my money if they were to ever see the light of day. Once more, I’ve organised my picks into a Top Five of no particular arrangement so without any further unnecessary talking…let’s go!
Yes, it’s the game that people have been demanding for years from Nintendo who seem wholly disinterested in bringing Captain Falcon and lightspeed futuristic racing back to a console near you. It didn’t happen on the Wii and it didn’t happen on the Wii-U either but there were a few teases last generation with the F-Zero-inspired Fast Racing Neo plus the F-Zero DLC for Mario Kart 8. A proper F-Zero sequel though? Nah; you’re dreaming, boy! F-Zero GX on the Gamecube was a stunning game: super fast, skill-demanding and beautiful to look at. The soundtrack deserves a huge mention too for being so flippin’ awesome (I have the soundtrack CD and listen to it regularly). True, it was a collab effort with Sega (and some Namco input) but even so, it’s a tragedy that GX remains the last main game in the series at this point in time (I’m not 100% on the release dates of the various GBA games…) and if Nintendo were ever to finally follow it up with a new installment that was at least on par with GX quality-wise, then I would buy a Switch to play it.
Disaster: Day of Crisis
One of the Wii’s true hidden gems, Disaster was a really fun survival game that mixed natural disaster survival with Time Crisis-style shooting sections to great effect. The Wii became known (sadly) for the many bad games that had motion controls shoe-horned in for no good reason other than to be seen to have implemented something. Disaster was one of those games that used motion controls in many different ways but in such ways that actually made sense and made you feel like you were interacting with the game rather than just flailing your arms for the hell of it. There was a cool first-person driving section for example, running away from walls of water or performing CPR. For a game that was stuck in development hell for a long time before finally surfacing, it was impressive that Day of Crisis managed to be so entertaining and that’s why I’d love a sequel. Yes, this is one instance where I would miss motion controls but give us another disaster scenario with some new characters and the same varied gameplay and I’d buy it for a dollar.
A proper Pokemon game
By ‘proper’ I mean a full-on handheld style adventure in 3D on the big screen. This may actually be a possibility if Nintendo do indeed wind their dedicated handheld focus down and pour everything into the Switch given how it is both a home and portable machine. In the past though, we have been cheated (I like to think so anyway) on numerous occasions. The two Pokemon Stadium games on N64 were essentially glorified 3D battles, Pokemon Colisseum on the Gamecube was a heavily simplified take on the traditional formula and its direct sequel – XD: Gale of Darkness – insulted by being more of the same with recycled locations and assets from Colisseum. The rest have been filler games such as Pokemon Channel or the shallow Pokemon Battle Revolution. Imagine if they made a full-on 3D, free-roaming world in a similar vein to Zelda: Breath of the Wild but with a bit more focus on story and (obviously) a more densely populated world? Imagine actually flying on one of your bird Pokemon and searching for new locations or travelling the seas and seeking out new islands just like in Zelda: The Wind Waker? The possibilities are actually huge and even though I’ve kind of fallen out with the franchise after Diamond/Pearl, I’d jump straight back in if my dream style of game hit the Switch.
A proper Paper Mario game
Once upon a time, Nintendo had an extremely endearing Mario spin-off RPG series on its hands. Packed full of charm, humour and challenge, these were seriously good RPG experiences with a beautiful art style to boot and so much creativity. I am of course only referring to the N64 and Gamecube installments of Paper Mario. I do personally like Super Paper Mario on the Wii but it was certainly different to what had come before. The real problems with the series began with Sticker Star on the 3DS and continued with Colour Splash on the Wii-U. It is said that Shigeru Miyamoto made the decision to bin off any original or Paper Mario-exclusive characters and this is why the newer games are populated with Toads, Koopas and…er…not much else. Bad gameplay design also reared its ugly head with certain areas of the games impassable unless you had a specific sticker or card which you may have to return to the hub world for and thus incur lots of painful, backtracking which needn’t have been necessary. Colour Splash did give out hints in advance in fairness but often by the way of cryptic clues which tended to frustrate rather than assist. The RPG style of the previous games was also severely watered-down and to cap it off, battles could often become impossible if you didn’t have the right stickers/cards. I did personally still enjoy these games to an extent (Colour Splash moreso) because the graphical style and creativity has never gone away but if Nintendo could give us a PROPER Paper Mario just like the old days then it would honestly be a system seller in my eyes.
The recent Mario games prove that Nintendo knows how to make beautiful water that you’d just love to leap right into. Couple this with the fact that racing games have never really died in popularity and I can see a Switch sequel to Wave Race being a very fun game. It’s another franchise that Nintendo has left to die in the wilderness with only a brief jet ski racing segment in Wii Sports Resort giving Wave Race fans any hope that something may happen. The major obstacle to a Wave Race resurgence would obviously be its general lack of popularity or recognition amongst the traditional famous Nintendo franchises but since this is a fantasy list, I don’t care. Make it happen and I will open my wallet.
So that concludes my series of Switch-related posts. Perhaps I came across as quite negative about Nintendo’s current console in Part 1 but the truth is, there are games on the horizon that could tempt me as well as the above dream sequels which would DEFINITELY tempt me. Thing is though, even leaving aside the fact that I feel burned for being a Wii-U owner, I also have a PS4 and various older machines so for me to invest money and time into another console…well, I need to be persuaded a little harder than others maybe. Thanks for reading and I will hopefully be back with some more regular posts very soon…
So last time (it’s been a while), I posted about why I haven’t been sold on the Nintendo Switch thus far despite being a Nintendo loyalist (in a non-rabid fanboy way) since the Gamecube. The release schedule of ports, upgraded Wii-U games and a general sense of feeling “forgotten” by Nintendo were my main reasons BUT I concluded by saying that I’d go away, have a look at the upcoming release schedule and report back with some games that might make me change my mind. Due to a bout of sickness (some form of super-cold of doom which is going around here in the UK right now) I haven’t been up to making that follow-up post but I’m back now with a Top Five list of upcoming Wii-U games that might tempt me to buy a Switch…
1. No More Heroes 3
If you’ve read my discussion piece on Suda51 then you’ll know that I’m a bit of a fan of No More Heroes and Suda51 in general. The first two games were a bit ropey as far as the technical side of things went but were immense fun thanks to the sheer style being served up with many side orders of out-there wackiness. I’m no longer 100% confident in saying that a Suda51 game will be definite hit (thanks to a few recent efforts being a bit disappointing) and wouldn’t even say that the likes of NMH3 are antidotes to the mainstream that we desperately need anymore BUT I would still like to play this based on how much I enjoyed the two Wii predecessors. The teaser trailer looks promising too so fingers crossed.
2. Mario Tennis Aces
Mario’s tennis outings have always been some of more enjoyable spin-offs starring Nintendo’s main man but recent installments have dropped the ball (hur, hur) somewhat. I didn’t play the 3DS version and the Wii-U’s Ultra Smash was widely regarded as a huge disappointment due to being a flimsy release with little content. Before that, the Wii received only a port of the Gamecube’s Power Tennis which in itself wasn’t a gold medal-winning game due to the divisive inclusion of super moves and the constant, unskippable cinematic animations that came as part of the deal. It’s actually the GBA version of Power Tennis that was considered to be last great Mario Tennis game and it isn’t hard see why. Gameplay was tight and addictive on the small screen and the accompanying story mode gave players something to sink their teeth into. It was a great game and it’s one that I still have on my shelf. Thankfully, Mario Tennis Aces is looking like it will make up for the run of disappointing sequels thanks to the inclusion of a story mode. I expect that the gameplay will be great as well and to be fair, that side of things hasn’t been the issue over recent years.
3. Fire Emblem Warriors
Okay, I’m kind-of cheating here because this game is already out BUT it made it onto this list because…I hadn’t realised that it had already hit the store shelves months ago! How did that sneak out? Talk about not keeping up with release schedules…sheesh. Anyway, I like Fire Emblem and I like the Warriors games from Koei so this should really be exactly my kind of game. The only sticking point for me is that they went down the fanservice route and filled the roster with Awakening and Fates characters. Understandable seeing as how they have to shift copies of the game but I was hoping for some more variety and not just the usual suspects that we’ve come to expect recently such as Lucina, Robin and Camilla’s over-worked bra. There are no characters from Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn for example. Looks like decent fun but I would have to buy it cheap which is never going to happen with the words “Fire” and “Emblem” together on the front cover…
Before I move on though, I will also make an honourable mention for the brand-new (traditional) Fire Emblem game that is slated for a 2018 release. There is no information or images as of yet however so nothing to go on. I will remain cautious due to how I currently feel about the series and the direction that Nintendo/Intelligent Systems have taken in recent years but even so, it’s got to be worth keeping an eye on.
4. Shin Megami Tensei 5
Before the increasingly-popular Persona series of RPG’s stole the limelight, Atlus also pumped out a fair few similarly dark (if not darker) RPG’s under the Shin Megami Tensei umbrella. In fact, many may forget that Persona 1-3 were released with the ‘SMT‘ prefix before the games finally found western fame and it was dropped. The “Megaten” games were great RPGs that offered something different and more niche versus the typical mainstream alternatives such as Final Fantasy and I’ve always been a big fan. Not much is known as of yet about Shin Megami Tensei V for the Switch but it’s being touted as an exclusive RPG for the system and it’s exactly the kind of thing that would make somebody like me sit up, look away from my Playstation and take notice. Of course, there’s every chance that Atlus might decide they need more return on their investment and also release SMT V for the PS4 but we aren’t privy to the details of their deal with Nintendo (if there is some sort of exclusitivity clause in action at all). For now, it makes my list.
I was a huge fan of Yoshi’s Woolly World for the Wii-U. The game looked beautiful with its unique thread-based visuals and was actually an extremely tough challenge to achieve 100% on; far more so than the naysayers slating it as a “kiddy” game would have you believe. It was the creativity oozing from what was on-screen that made me fall in love (as with Kirby’s Epic Yarn on the Wii) with Woolly World and Yoshi for the Switch looks set to run with that. The footage so far shows off a heap of interesting twists on the tried-and-tested 2D platformer and I’m impressed that Nintendo can keep finding ways to make their quirky platformers feeling unique. I’m definitely looking forward to this one, whatever the proper title for the game will be.
So that’s my top five (or top four if you discount my sly bit of cheating!). The third and final part of this series of Nintendo Switch-themed posts will focus on the games that I’d LIKE to see produced for the Switch…the kind of things that would definitely make me rush out and splurge on a console of my own. With this being Nintendo, there are loads of franchises that could tempt a veteran gamer like me…
“Well, why are you bothering to waste your time telling us that or moaning about something you don’t like?” I hear you ask.
Well, it’s a reasonable deal in fairness since I’ve been buying Nintendo’s home consoles since the Gamecube. I’ve bought into the platforms that struggled at market and I’ve defended the likes of the GC and it’s excellent first-party software as well as the Wii when uninformed types were saying “it’s shit” without even looking at the games. The Wii-U however? That was one child that needed the a LOT more defending than its older siblings and as an adopter of the console who stuck with it to the end, I actually feel quite aggrieved about the Switch and its success.
Now contrary to what you may be thinking, I’m NOT the kind of person who gets annoyed or even affected in general by the success of a product that I don’t wish to buy into so this isn’t going to be one of those rants where I tell people to “buy a proper console” or whatever. No, my grievance is simply with the fact that I feel at least slightly shafted by Nintendo. After all, some of the big games that have helped make the console so popular are things that I have already paid full-price for and enjoyed on the Wii-U. Mario Kart 8 for example is a fantastic game but I’m notbuying it again after paying out over £200 for a Wii-U, £40 (approx) for the game and then the DLC on top of that.
Other must-have games such as Pokken Tournament, Breath of the Wild and the upcoming ports of Hyrule Warriors and Bayonetta are all things that I have already played on the Wii-U. I suppose to sum up my gripe with the Switch, I would say that I think Wii-U supporters have quickly been forgotten. The likes of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe weren’t marketed as brand-new games but they certainly come with that image which is – in fairness – understandable given how a lot of people missed them the first time round on account of the Wii-U being such a relative retail flop.
But I paid a lot of money for these things and stuck by the Wii-U, comfortable with the knowledge that a small but perfectly-rounded library was no bad thing. The result of my loyalty is a follow-up console that I really don’t want when the best games currently available (Mario Odyssey aside) are things that I’ve already finished with. I can’t say that I think Nintendo actually care either because a large portion of the consumer base that have made the Switch a success are bound to be new customers who didn’t care about the Wii-U or even knew that it existed. We helped keep them afloat and now we have been ditched.
That sounds more than a little bitter doesn’t it? Well, let’s continue with an open mind and have a look at what else is available shall we? The first barrier I hit is a very familiar one that blighted the early days of the Wii-U: updated ports of old games from other consoles. You have the likes of Resident Evil Revelations, Doom, Skyrim and LA Noire – all great games that won’t suddenly become rubbish by being on the Switch but I’m only interested in new experiences. Obviously, these versions of previously-available titles will be improved or more “complete” than the originals and being able to play them away from the TV screen is a fair selling point but they just don’t do it for me. Then there is the pricing issue…Doom for instance is currently £40 on Amazon whereas I can pick up a brand-new copy on the PS4 for between £10-£15.
Yes, these new versions are probably aimed at people who DON’T have loads of consoles or are Nintendo followers only but the fact remains that many gamers have multiple machines beneath the TV these days. Heck, it has become kind of mandatory since the days of the Wii to own a Nintendo console + either a Playstation or an Xbox since multi-platform releases haven’t really been possible since the Gamecube given the technical gulf between Nintendo’s hardware and those of Sony/Microsoft. When they DO arrive they are late and usually compromised in some way.
Ultra Street Fighter II is the kind of game that is certainly my kind of thing given how I’m a die-hard fan of fighting games but the harsh reality is that the game is simply an updated edition of HD Remix which came out years and years ago on PSN/XBLA. It is a superb update of Super Turbo but I don’t fancy buying it again just for Evil Ryu and Violent Ken, unless there is a bit of a bargain to be had of course.
And away from the un-rewarded loyalty complex that the Switch has given me, this is the other main issue for me: excellent games that are difficult to justify buying unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or are SO Nintendo that even the concept of holding a Dualshock controller is like being asked to stick your naked arm deep into the bowl of a public toilet that has been clogged-up for weeks.
So let’s be clear: I’m not saying that the games are shit, nor am I saying that the hardware is shit. I’m saying that there is little to entice me into getting involved with Nintendo’s latest offering. I’m glad that the Switch has been a success because things didn’t look good for Nintendo during the Wii-U days and as much as I feel part of a forgotten audience, there’s no way I’d have wanted to see them throw in the hardware towel. Ironically, it seems that the Switch is an amazing prospect if you HADN’T shown your support in the previous generation and passed-up the Wii-U because all of a sudden, you have loads of genuinely great games to play that won’t already be familiar territory.
So this leaves me one final angle to cover: looking to the future. Are there any brand-new games i.e. not ports/updates inbound for the Switch that would make me want to buy one? Well, there are some that I am aware of but possibly others that I’m not so stay tuned for a follow-up post where I will discuss my findings.
Fighting games are probably my favourite genre in videogames. Outside of stimulating gameplay, I love the characters, music, artwork and even the stories (yes, really). I enjoy the pick-up-and-play gameplay which can last thirty minutes or even several hours if I want to get good at what I’m playing or simply because the game is that good. Unfortunately, the current generation of consoles has served up a few nasty disappointments such as Street Fighter V (unfinished on release, cynical F2P/DLC feel) and Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite (unimpressive visuals and – again – more fucking pre-determined DLC!!). The good, fair stuff is still out there (The King of Fighters XIV for example) but it seems that so much about modern fighting games is about cash-grabbing or telling us what add-ons we will be buying post-release before a game even hits the shelves.
If you want to try and fight “progress” then the best bet is usually obscure imports from Japan but this is a road that can lead to incomprehensible menus, purple hair and obscenely enormous breasts. Not that these things offend me but I just wish that I didn’t feel so apathetic towards the mainstream fighting game series’ and what they have become.
A game like Blade Strangers then is the kind of thing that I can get on board with. It’s going to get a fairly mainstream release in the West for several platforms (PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC) and is beautiful 2D-styled fighting game that looks very retro and features a mash-up of characters from smaller games such as Code of Princess, Umihara Kawase and Cave Story.
So far the gameplay looks like it could be quite intuitive and easy to get started with but with layers of complexity below the surface for old-school competitive players to get excited about. This gets a big thumbs-up from me because I want some depth and the scope for technical combos but I’d also like to be able to get into the game fairly easily and learn as I go along. For all the talk of being accessible for newbies, I found Street Fighter V (I know I keep bashing on it…) to be quite difficult to get into initially with the new combos/moves for existing characters and new V-Trigger system so anything which doesn’t make feel like I need to use the tutorials after years upon years of playing fighting games is welcomed by me.
Above all however, Blade Strangers simply looks like fun (remember that?) and I love a good crossover, especially when lesser-known characters/series’ are involved as they are here. Code of Princess was a big disappointment for me on the 3DS but I loved Kinu Nishimura’s artwork for the game and respected the stubbornly old-school gameplay so I’m really pleased to see these things being allowed to continue breathing in a sometimes stifling industry. It’s also nice to see Princess Solange continuing to strut her stuff in spite of all the criticism of Ms Nishimura’s scantily-clad design for the character, especially (surprisingly enough) in Japan. Nipple armour, a wispy skirt and a building-sized sword are all a King’s daughter needs to go into battle after all.
Blade Strangers is slated for a 2017/2018 release but I would be surprised if we see it this side of Christmas. Something to look forward to in the often dry post-holiday season at the least.
[Disclaimer – I do actually enjoy Street Fighter V…it’s just too easy to pick apart!]