The Switch-List

The success of the Nintendo Switch has been mentioned many times over the course of this year, thanks in large part to a stellar Year One library of games. So, instead of focusing on that, let’s talk about five potential Switch titles I want to see.


What began with a smaller lineup headlined by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild way back in March has now grown to include just about anything you can think of. From Nintendo’s own brand names both old and new, to big-name third parties, and even smalltime indie developers, the Switch has something for everyone. Moreso, 2018 proves to be just as bountiful for the Switch, with games like Kirby Star Allies, a Yoshi’s Woolly World sequel, and BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle primed for release.

Yet, while the Switch’s ever-growing library is a boon for many, the Big N especially, it can also get people wondering what else could make its mark there. Visions of franchises with games tailor-made for the hybrid’s capabilities are bound to tingle the nerve endings of many. There are bound to be plenty of wishlists for what people want to see in the Switch’s second year and beyond.

Present company included, of course.


For full disclosure, I’m going into this with very few “ground rules” to go off of, chief among them being that this is in no set order of most-wanted to least-wanted. Obviously, what I want to see needs to be plausible for Nintendo, meaning there needs to be realistic argument for a game’s chances at showing up on the system. That means nothing like ports of Horizon Zero Dawn or Cuphead will show up here, though those would certainly be sweet additions.

Also, I’ll be trying to shy away from what I like to call “gimmie picks,” or choices that are considered common among Nintendo enthusiasts, which means you won’t be seeing things like Animal Crossing or Super Smash Bros. on this list.

Other than all of that, just keep in mind that this is all personal opinion. With that out of the way, let’s get down to it.


Image result for Diddy Kong Racing
(Image courtesy of Nintendo Life)

Diddy Kong Racing
While a new Donkey Kong Country title following in the footsteps of Tropical Freeze is likely in the cards, I’d personally love to see Retro Studios revive another branch of the Country that hasn’t been touched for almost 20 years. Diddy Kong Racing was a kart racer ahead of its time when it launched on the Nintendo 64; in addition to a story mode, the game gave players three different vehicles to work with, and racetracks that took advantage of their capabilities. The framework for a DKR reboot is there, so it all comes down to Nintendo (and hopefully Retro Studios) ticking the right boxes. One thing they could do is make the gameplay more dynamic by introducing the ability to transform vehicles on the fly and adapt to changes in the course. Throw in a variety of environments and maybe a new soundtrack by original DKR composer David Wise, and we might have a challenger to Mario Kart’s throne on our hands.



(Image courtesy of Nintendo Life)

Kid Icarus
Once a prominent resident of Nintendo’s Island of Misfit Franchises, the Kid Icarus series found new life between a playable appearance by protagonist Pit in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and the series’ first entry in over a quarter of a century four years later. Kid Icarus Uprising was released on the Nintendo 3DS to glowing reviews, with the only hang-up for most people being an awkward control scheme. Otherwise, the game’s gorgeous visuals, chaotic gameplay, whip-smart humor and excellent voicework made it a 3DS hallmark. While producer Masahiro Sakurai said that a sequel wasn’t likely, giving this game the high-def treatment would be the next best thing, alleviating the control issues many had before and introducing the series to people who may not have played it. Plus, if it does well enough, that may be enough to get the gears turning for a full-blown sequel.


Image result for Mario & Luigi Logo

(Image courtesy of the Mario & Luigi Wiki)

Mario & Luigi
The thought of a new Mario RPG on the Switch is sure to bring up discussion over how Nintendo should approach it, and there’s bound to be a number of people who want Paper Mario to go back to its turn-based roots. While that would be nice, I would personally be all for a new Mario & Luigi RPG. Reason being, not only are those games fun and exciting to play, but they’re also some of the funniest games in the Super Mario series. Of course, the only question from there would be what exactly Nintendo should do next; from its humble beginnings in Superstar Saga, the series has seen the brothers jump back and forth through time, explored the innards of their perennial nemesis Bowser, walk through dreamscapes, and even team up with Mario’s paper counterpart. There’s still plenty that hasn’t been introduced in the Mario & Luigi series as of yet, such as Rosalina from the Galaxy games or the cast of Donkey Kong Country, so it can’t be that difficult to find a new angle to play off of.


Image result for Panel de Pon

(Image courtesy of Nintendo Wiki)

Panel de Pon
Nintendo’s been willing to take a chance on new franchises like Splatoon and ARMS, and the payoff for both has been excellent. So why not take the same chances and try to not just revive an older franchise, but bring one to the west? Panel de Pon is a fairly obscure puzzle game that was given a Yoshi’s Island reskin and turned into Tetris Attack over in the States. It’s an interesting kind of puzzle game where you clear out stacks of blocks rather than guiding them to where they should go like in Tetris or Puyo Puyo.  A game like Panel de Pon would make for some healthy competition with the current king of Switch puzzlers, Puyo Puyo Tetris, and with how speedrun friendly games like Super Mario Odyssey have been, Nintendo could make this a perfect game for races. With an overhaul to the game’s cutesy artstyle and maybe a gameplay tweak here and there, Panel de Pon could be a hit in the west in Nintendo wants to take a gamble on it.


Image result for Star Fox

(Image courtesy of Engadget)

Star Fox
Much like Fire Emblem, Star Fox has the potential to be an essential part of Nintendo’s bedrock. The issue is that Nintendo doesn’t seem to know what to do with it; the franchise has been in a constant state of stop-and-go, rebooting itself every few generations with a few games along the way. As annoying as it might sound to some, I do think that a reboot of Star Fox on the Switch could be what the series needs. However, the big difference is that this time, Nintendo shouldn’t follow the blueprints laid out by the original SNES title; keep the essential elements of the series, certainly, and Nintendo could even pull from other games in the series like Star Fox 2, which has received overall decent marks thanks to its SNES Classic release. But in general, Nintendo should make it discernible enough for it to stand on its own.  Whether they ask Platinum Games to try again, or even call on another developer like Treasure Games, having a solid Star Fox game on the Switch could be the start of something beautiful.


Will Nintendo answer all of these wishes? Realistically, no, but it never hurts to dream. There are other third party games I’d like to see make it to the Switch, but this piece has gone on long enough, so I’ll wrap it here and perhaps make a Part 2 later on. But I leave you with something that’s been said multiple times before, but bears a reminder: Nintendo has been on a massive tear this year, and if they keep playing their cards right, regardless of what comes out, Year Two is going to be just as amazing.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom

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Can’t Escape From Switching Fate

(Video courtesy of Arc System Works’ official YouTube page)

One of the most pleasant surprises to come out of last July’s Evo World Championships was the announcement of BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle. Hot off the heels of Central Fiction’s Top 8 finals, Arc System Works revealed that BlazBlue would be stepping into the world of crossover fighters for the first time. It was revealed that the series would be teaming up with characters from two other Arc System Works properties, Persona 4 Arena and Under Night In-Birth.

But to the surprise of many, ASW pulled out one last surprise that day: Rooster Teeth’s animated web series RWBY would be making its fighting game debut here, which meant Cross Tag Battle would be an unprecedented four-way crossover. On an afternoon full of tournament upsets and surprise reveals, this game stood as one of the best of the latter.


Following its July unveiling, ASW has been slowly snowballing momentum with new info. Three more characters were announced in September, and a playable demo was at New York Comic-Con earlier this month.

(Video courtesy of Arc System Works’ official YouTube page)

The real juicy news, however, came the week after Comic-Con. At Rooster Teeth’s inaugural RTX London event, Arc System Works revealed the systems the game would be featured on when it launches next year. These include Sony’s Playstation 4, Steam, and most-notably, the Nintendo Switch.

So. Show of hands: Who saw that coming?

Nintendo has already been having a monster year with the success of the Switch. 2017 has seen an embarrassment of great titles for the system, and there are even more on the way between the rest of this year and all of 2018. This now includes Cross Tag Battle, a title that most would’ve expected to not show up on a Nintendo console.

(Then again, nobody was counting on DOOM and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus to show up on the Switch, either, and yet both are on their way to the Switch.)


What does this mean in the long run? A few observations:

  • Cross Tag Battle gives the Switch another high-profile fighting game franchise for its portfolio in the form of BlazBlue. There’s already a decent array of fighting games for the Switch that include the likes of Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers and Nintendo’s own ARMS, as well as smaller upcoming fighters like Blade Strangers. But Arc System Works is considered by many to be one of the best non-Capcom fighting game developers in the industry. They’re responsible for three of Cross Tag Battle’s four franchises, as well as the upcoming Dragon Ball FighterZ (which could also see a Switch release if the demand is there), and their legendary Guilty Gear series. That’s a helluva feather in Nintendo’s cap.
  • Similar to the previous point, this reaffirms the notion that third parties are willing to work with Nintendo again. A nagging issue during the Wii U’s lifespan was the sparse third-party support, which forced Nintendo to rely on its own franchises and smaller indie developers to fill out the system’s library. Now, developers and publishers like Bethesda, Square-Enix, and Arc System Works are willing to bring the big guns to the Switch’s library. This could even attract developers and publishers that Nintendo didn’t mention last year when the Switch was first shown off.
  • Finally, while I might be reading too far into things, I believe that Cross Tag Battle on the Switch could open the door for future communications between Nintendo and Rooster Teeth Games. Obviously, it doesn’t mean we’ll see a Red vs. Blue Switch title or Team RWBY being in the mix for the next Super Smash Bros. entry, but if all goes well, Rooster Teeth may be keen to call on Nintendo for future game developments. In addition to Rooster Teeth web series properties like RWBY, Camp Camp, or next year’s Gen:Lock, original titles in the vein of Super Rad Raygun and BattleSloths 2025: The Great Pizza Wars could also find homes on the Switch. It’s all just conjecture, of course, but if Rooster Teeth Games and Nintendo strike an alliance, it could make for some interesting stuff in the future.

Nintendo, for the most part, has been hitting all the right notes this year. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2, and ARMS have been home runs, and Super Mario Odyssey is primed to put an exclamation mark on the Switch’s first year in the open. But what’s more, the fact that they managed to get a massive crossover fighting game like BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle on the Switch is a testament to how they’ve turned their fortunes around from the Wii U days. The only question that remains is where Nintendo could go from here.

Nobody truly knows the answer at this point, but I’d say the future’s looking pretty bright.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom

Where Have All the Smash Bros. Gone?

2017 has, so far, seen Nintendo return to the high life again, thanks in large part to the success of its newest all-in-one console, the Switch. From its modest launch lineup headlined by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the system has amassed an all-star library of games, ranging from new franchises to pleasant surprises. What’s more is that there are plenty more amazing titles on the way for 2018.

Yet, there’s one entry that’s still missing from the Switch’s already-vast catalogue. One that everyone has expected Nintendo to unveil at one point or another, and so far, it hasn’t happened.

(Video courtesy of the official Nintendo YouTube Page)

The Super Smash Bros. franchise is one of Nintendo’s crown jewels, a fantastical compilation of the Big N’s extensive history brought to life in the form of a platform-based fighting game. It also holds the distinction as both a fun party brawler for Saturday evenings with friends, and a competitive juggernaut for tournament-level players. Much like many of Nintendo’s other franchises, Super Smash Bros. has a little something for everyone.

With each new Nintendo console starting from the 64 era, a new Smash Bros. title has graced it. Melee was the king of the Gamecube (and is still a fixture of tournaments today), Brawl was one of the Wii’s finest, and the more-recent Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS took the series even higher on two systems; the Wii U version, much like Melee, also sees regular time as a tournament fixture. Now that the Wii U era has come and gone, the world turns its eyes to the Switch.


There have been a handful of major events this year where many expected Smash Bros. to make its presence on the Switch officially known to the world. The pre-release Switch event held in January showed off much of the system’s library, including the debut of Nintendo’s newest franchise ARMS, and next month’s Super Mario Odyssey. Sadly, Smash Bros. was not among the titles shown off.

E3 in June showed off even more for the Switch, with games like Kirby: Star Allies and a new Yoshi’s Woolly World sequel, and the more recent Mario & Rabbids Kingdom Battle, which has been met with critical acclaim thus far. Once again, however, Smash Bros. was nowhere to be seen.

Some even thought that the Evolution World Championship fighting game tournament series could have been a perfect stage to show off a new title, especially with Smash Bros. for Wii U’s Top 8 getting an extra signal boost on Disney XD. Of course, Nintendo wasn’t even officially there.

There have also been smaller Nintendo Directs where people have predicted the game to show up, but those seem too small in scope for the reveal of a series entry as grandiose as this.

So, with almost a quarter of 2017 left to go and many of the bigger gaming events in the rear-view, the question arises: When will we see Super Smash Bros. on the Switch?


It should be noted that this isn’t a question of whether or not the Switch will see a new entry in the series. At this point, a Super Smash Bros. entry on the Switch is as safe a bet as the Golden State Warriors winning the Western Conference in the NBA this coming season. This is more of a matter of when this new entry will see the light of day.

Also, I’m ruling out the possibility of this entry simply being a high-definition remake of Super Smash Bros. Melee, perhaps the most-beloved entry in the series by the hardcore crowd. Granted, this could happen at some point in the far-flung future, as Nintendo has some understanding of how big competitive Melee is. Not to mention, an HD remake could go a long way towards bringing the title into the future minus the CRT televisions many tournaments still use today. As far as the immediate future goes, however, an HD Melee is not in the cards.

That being said, the more-likely scenario is that this is a port of the Wii U and 3DS games, in line with the likes of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Pokken Tournament DX. All of the content from the previous games returns, including downloadable content such as characters and Mii Fighter costume parts, while also adding in some new goodies like brand-new characters, stages, and even game modes if possible.

Of course, this port wouldn’t necessarily need much more given how jam-packed the previous game was, but it never hurts to dream, right?


In any event, let’s get back to the question at hand. And as far as I can tell, there are two possibilities as to when we will see Super Smash Bros. make its Switch debut. The first, as luck would have it, is actually coming up very soon.

(Video courtesy of the official Nintendo YouTube page)

As of this writing, we are a week away from the third Nintendo World Championships tournament, the third in its history and first since 2015, when it was held prior to E3 that year. In the past, the Nintendo World Championships have been known to pull out one last surprise for the finale; the very first one showed off Super Mario Bros. 3, and the second showed off Super Mario Maker. So it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see the fate of the NWC title come down to a few rounds of Smash Bros. on the Switch.

The other possibility ties into another scenario that runs opposite of my first one: This game may not be a port of the previous games, but an all-new entry that won’t be out until 2019. That might seem far-flung, but keep in mind that 2019 is the series’ 20th anniversary, and Nintendo will likely want to celebrate it in style given how big it’s gotten over the years, both casually and competitively. And while it may seem like a long wait, the Switch is seeing no shortage of great games coming out over the next year, and there very well could be even more big titles beyond what we know of waiting in the wings. By that logic, it’s not like Nintendo is in dire need of a new Smash Bros. to bolster its sales.


Ultimately, I don’t know when it will happen, or what exactly it will be. For all I know, it could be either a bulked-up port, or a fresh entry to the series. It may come next year, or the year after. But mark my words; Smash Bros. will come to the Switch at some point in time. Right now, it’s all a matter of “Wait-and-See.”

‘Til we meet again,
Tom

Infinite Issues

When it was first shown off at the Playstation Experience last December, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite gave fans of the high-flying fighting game series a sense of renewed hope. People believed that Capcom wasn’t going to let the series languish in a Hell where DarkStalkers’ Morrigan Aensland and Doctor Doom filled the air with Soul Fists and Hidden Missiles, or Zero of Mega Man X fame singlehandedly ripped through entire teams on a few well-timed mix-ups. It was a whole new ballgame, with newcomers Captain Marvel and X (also of Mega Man X) leading the charge alongside series staples Ryu (from Street Fighter), Morrigan, Iron Man, and Captain America. Minds ran wild with possibilities of what could be. There was even confirmation of a full-fledged story mode, something the series never had until this point.

(Video courtesy of IGN)

It all looked amazing. So much so that you would even say it looked too good to be true. And sure enough, with E3 creeping right around the corner, all those hopes were swiftly dashed.


Between leaks of the game’s entire starting roster, their supposed subsequent confirmation, and its overall presentation (especially the face of Street Fighter’s Chun-Li), all of a sudden people began to look at Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite in a more negative light. The overall consensus from the public is that the game looked and sounded soulless, like a shell of its former glory that Capcom pulled out from their cellar to make a quick buck. And anyone who said anything positive about the game, specifically professional players like Justin Wong and Michael “IFC Yipes” Mendoza,” were labeled “Shills” for Capcom, with the belief that they were being paid behind the scenes to speak highly of the game.

As if that weren’t enough, there are people out there who want this game to fail when it drops this September. Most want it to fail because they feel it’ll give Capcom the wakeup call it so desperately needs after bungling Street Fighter x Tekken and Street Fighter V, both high-profile fighting game releases as well.

Because the fans know what’s best for Capcom. Clearly.

First of all, it’s disingenuous to say that people praising the game are being “Capcom Shills.” People who have played the game have sung its praises, for sure, but they have also expressed concerns with it, and still may have concerns even after playing. It’s also worth pointing out that being paid to promote the title without any sort of transparency is illegal on the parts of both Capcom and the people in question. Even if that were the case, why would those same players sing Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite’s praises while openly criticizing Street Fighter V? Doesn’t make much sense when you think about it, does it?

Second, the game’s failure isn’t necessarily going to result in positive change for Capcom. If, gaming gods forbid, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite does end up flopping, it could make Capcom see where they’ve been going wrong. I’m not denying that for a moment. The failure of one of their most beloved and popular series would more than likely force them to rethink their approach, perhaps more than ever, when it comes to developing and releasing games.

Alternatively, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite’s failure could also signal the start of another fighting game “Dark Age,” where Capcom steps away from developing fighting games, instead putting their efforts towards reviving older franchises and creating new ones; meanwhile developers like NetherRealm Studios and Arc System Works would pick up the baton when it comes to developing fighting games, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Of course, then you’ll have fans clamoring for a new Street Fighter or Capcom Vs. title, and the cycle will likely begin all over again.

To the detractors’ credit, I can see why they’re so upset with how this game is shaping up. At least, most of it. Allow me to begin by talking about the one thing I think Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite has going for it, and the one thing it needs to have going for it to get a passing grade: Gameplay.


Instead of the chaotic 3v3 battles people tend to associate the series with most, this game goes back to its 2v2 roots, but does so with a twist. The game trades in character assists and the dreaded X-Factor mechanic from the previous entry in the series for the ability to tag in a partner at any point in time. They also introduce Marvel’s Infinity Stones, which grant teams new tools that they don’t have normally, and the ability to trigger an Infinity Storm and enter a state where their stone’s powers are amplified to ridiculous extents; the Space Stone Infinity Storm, for instance, traps opponents in a cosmic box where their movements are limited.

This in conjunction with smaller mechanical additions like the ability to stop combos makes the game more open-ended with regards to team construction, tactics, and especially combo potential. Considering the series lives and dies by flashy combos, that’s a very good thing. It’s a spectacle to watch, one that’s bound to get even better once the final build of the game comes out three months from now.


When it comes to the graphics, the game is very touch-and-go. While I greatly prefer Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s comic book-style cel-shading and visual tricks, Infinite still, for the most part, looks great when it’s in motion. The animations look solid, and the color palettes, while not as vibrant as Marvel vs. Capcom 3‘s, still look good; this is especially true when characters perform a Hyper Combo or trigger their Infinity Stone’s respective Infinity Storm. It’s only when you look at still frames or concept art where you start to see the flaws. I mentioned Chun-Li earlier as a chief example of how spotty the game’s graphics look, especially compared to her models in UMvC3 and Street Fighter V, where she looks as gorgeous as she ought to in both games.

However, Chun-Li obviously isn’t the only character with this issue; others like Devil May Cry’s Dante and Captain America don’t look any better. Capcom has said that they’re going to look into tweaking the game’s graphics to make characters look less garish; nobody knows if they’re actually going to commit to making the game look better than it does now, and it’s hard to trust them when they’ve been known to lie about this sort of thing before. I’ll hold them to it for now, because there’s a chance they may actually stick to their word this time.


And now we come to the game’s roster, the one major hang-up that I personally have. The roster was leaked towards the end of May by a NeoGAF user named Ryce, and is as follows:

Marvel:
Ant-Man (Newcomer)
Captain America
Captain Marvel (Newcomer)
Dr. Strange
Gamora (Newcomer)
Hawkeye
Hulk
Iron Man
Nova
Rocket Raccoon
Spider-Man
Thanos
Thor
Ultron (Newcomer)

Capcom:
Arthur of Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins
Chris Redfield of Resident Evil
Chun-Li of Street Fighter
Dante of Devil May Cry
Firebrand of Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins
Jedah Dohma of DarkStalkers (Newcomer)
Monster Hunter of the eponymous series (Newcomer)
Morrigan Aensland of DarkStalkers
Nemesis T-Type of Resident Evil
Ryu of Street Fighter
Spencer of Bionic Commando
Strider Hiryu of Strider
X of Mega Man X (Newcomer)
Zero of Mega Man X (*Originally assumed to be Dead Rising’s Frank West.)

Now, assuming this is what we’re actually getting on launch day, there’s a few different ways to look at it. First off, the initial size of the roster isn’t that big of a problem. I can understand why people would be disappointed with it because of the bar set by Marvel vs. Capcom 2’s 56-man lineup, but I also feel like Capcom is trying for a soft reboot of the series, opting for a smaller, more-manageable roster to start with. That’s not a terrible idea for a new entry in a long-running fighting game series; in fact, the same argument can be used in defense of Street Fighter V’s initial roster being smaller but easier to balance at the outset. The size of the roster does contribute to the real reason why I have a problem with it, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

I’m also not broken up about the lack of X-Men characters, though that’s mostly because I can see why. The Avengers are the most recognizable of Marvel’s properties at the moment, much like the X-Men were when Marvel vs. Capcom began in the late 90’s. So, of course, Marvel will want to promote the Avengers as much as they did the X-Men before them. That being said, it’s worth noting that the entire series got its start with X-Men: Children of the Atom back in 1994, as well as X-Men vs. Street Fighter in 1996. So, not including any X-Men when they were part of the series’ origins just doesn’t feel right.

The ongoing rights issues with Fox Studios might be a reason for it (and I say this because I don’t believe Mike Evans’ notion of people not remembering the X-Men for a second), but the least Marvel could’ve done is try to spring for the rights to some of them. To be more specific, the most ideal X-Men to include would be Wolverine, arguably the face of the X-Men; Deadpool, easily the most popular of the X-Men if not the most popular Marvel character in general; and Magneto, Storm, and Sentinel, who are considered the three strongest characters in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and by extension the most memorable in the series’ competitive lore.

What I have an issue with is the fact that there are so few new characters joining the series this time around. Again, if those leaks are correct…and after E3 it’s looking more and more likely that they are…we’re only going to be getting seven new characters right out of the gate, which is a painfully small number for two companies with the variety of characters they have to offer. This also goes back to the matter of the starting roster’s overall size; like I’ve said before, I’m not overly concerned about the game only having 28 characters to begin with, but it wouldn’t be an issue at all if they had more new characters from the get-go. Having only seven of those characters being brand-new is a huge letdown, even if they seem to have interesting playstyles.

To give you an idea of how bad the newcomer count is, consider this: Of the 38 characters on Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s initial roster, 21 of them were brand-new:

marvel-vs-capcom-3-all-characters-unlockable-guide-screenshot-small

(Screencap from Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds‘ website)

Marvel:
Captain America
Deadpool (Newcomer)
Doctor Doom
Dormammu (Newcomer)
Hulk
Iron Man
Magneto
M.O.D.O.K. (Newcomer)
Phoenix (Newcomer)
Sentinel
She-Hulk (Newcomer)
Shuma-Gorath *As DLC
Spider-Man
Storm
Super Skrull (Newcomer)
Taskmaster (Newcomer)
Thor (Newcomer)
Wolverine
X-23 (Newcomer)

Capcom:
Akuma of Street Fighter
Albert Wesker of Resident Evil (Newcomer)
Amaterasu of Okami (Newcomer)
Arthur (Newcomer)
Chris Redfield (Newcomer)
Chun-Li
Crimson Viper of Street Fighter (Newcomer)
Dante (Newcomer)
Felicia of DarkStalkers
Hsien-Ko of DarkStalkers (Newcomer)
Jill Valentine of Resident Evil *As DLC
Mike Haggar of Final Fight (Newcomer)
Morrigan Aensland
Nathan Spencer (Newcomer)
Ryu
Trish of Devil May Cry (Newcomer)
Tron Bonne of Mega Man Legends
Viewtiful Joe of the eponymous series (Newcomer)
Zero (Newcomer)

And that’s before the subsequent Ultimate re-release. In addition to across-the-board balance updates to the previous cast and the overall game engine, the update added twelve new characters…11 of which were also brand-new:

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(Screencap from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3)

Marvel:
Doctor Strange (Newcomer)
Ghost Rider (Newcomer)
Hawkeye (Newcomer)
Iron Fist (Newcomer)
Nova (Newcomer)
Rocket Raccoon (Newcomer)

Capcom:
Firebrand (Newcomer)
Frank West (Newcomer)
Nemesis T-Type (Newcomer)
Phoenix Wright of Ace Attorney (Newcomer)
Strider Hiryu
Vergil of Devil May Cry (Newcomer)

Between both versions of the game, 32 of the 50 characters had never been in a Marvel vs. Capcom title before. It could be argued that 32 is too high a number and they should’ve brought back at least a few fan-favorites like Cable and Captain Commando. However, the point still stands that Marvel vs. Capcom 3 introduced a ton of brand-new faces, and to go from that to just seven initial newcomers for Infinite is a harder pill to swallow than the overall roster reduction.

The real sting in the tail is the fact that Capcom will be more or less holding back any potential new characters as downloadable content. This includes Marvel’s Black Panther and Mega Man X antagonist Sigma, both the first of six characters (with the possibility of more afterward) to be introduced in this regard. Sigma being DLC makes little sense because of his role in the game’s story mode alongside Marvel’s Ultron, and while Black Panther being DLC is annoying, the fact that he’s going to be playable at all is fair enough. As of now, it’s unknown whether or not the other downloadable characters will be veterans or other newcomers, but that’s neither here nor there.

While it might not be the biggest source of anger for most people in regards to this game, it seems like it’s a part of it, and if that is, in fact, the case, I agree with it entirely. If there were a better mix of veterans and newcomers on the initial roster, I wouldn’t have much of a problem with this; downloadable characters would simply be adding to an already-strong roster. As it stands right now, introducing only seven new characters and keeping more potential newcomers behind a paywall is questionable marketing at best, and at worst, forwards the general consensus that this game feels more like a cheap cash grab by Capcom than a passion project for longtime fans of the series.


There’s a lot more I could talk about here, but this article has gone on long enough as it is. Overall, I want Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite to succeed, and feel that it ultimately will. In spite of everything going against it, the gameplay still looks as fast and frantic as Marvel vs. Capcom should be, and I feel it’ll be a tournament pillar like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was before it. But at the same time, Capcom needs to listen to the pre-release criticisms the game is receiving and take them into consideration for the future. They already bungled their last few major fighting game releases in one fashion or another, and are failing to restore any sort of good faith while trying to resuscitate Street Fighter V; any more major miscues, and they run the risk of throwing away whatever is left of their good will with the general fighting game crowd. And that’s a road Capcom shouldn’t want to travel.


‘Til we meet again,
Tom

In Defense of the Jimquisition

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been out on Nintendo’s Wii U and their brand-new Switch for a few weeks, and has so far been the toast of the town. Rave reviews have pinned it as one of the greatest games in the series since Ocarina of Time, with its wide-open world being a recurring positive element among reviewers; the general consensus seems to be that the game is deserving of perfect scores all around.

Then there are those moments where the game gets a score that’s less than perfect, and this is where the fanimals are particularly rabid.


Jim Sterling, a longtime video game journalist and host of The Jimquisition, reviewed Breath of the Wild more than a week ago at the time this writing went up, and gave the game an overall score of 7/10, which constitutes a “Good” game by his standards. While he praised most of what the game has to offer, he stated that his overall enjoyment was gimped by elements such as weapon durability, stamina, and rain popping up at inconvenient times and making mountainous terrain difficult to navigate safely. Naturally, hardcore Zelda fans have jumped down his throat about this.


Now, to be clear, I have not played Breath of the Wild as of this writing. I’m still waiting on getting a Nintendo Switch due to personal reasons, and those same reasons have kept me from getting the game on the Wii U. My only “experience” with the game has come from watching other people play it.

That being said, I don’t see why Sterling should be taken to task just because he gave Breath of the Wild a less-than-perfect verdict.

Yes, Breath of the Wild makes a lot of bold changes to the classic Zelda formula. Not all of them are going to sit well with people, and that’s exactly what’s going on here with Sterling. It’s fine if you don’t have an issue with weapon durability, but that doesn’t mean Sterling should be admonished for thinking that the weapon durability mechanic is a problem.

Besides, it’s not like he outright hated the game. In fact, if you read Sterling’s review for yourself, you’ll see that in addition to his problems with the game, he praised several elements as well, including the difficulty, the “lived-in” feel of this incarnation of Hyrule, and all the little details strewn throughout the game. Just because someone enjoys something doesn’t mean it’s automatically deserving of a perfect score; heck, as Sterling himself demonstrated, you can enjoy something while also pointing out any flaws it may have. I’m sure I’ll disagree with his opinions if…and when…I eventually get to play Breath of the Wild for myself, but at the same time I’ll be willing to respect them for what they are: Opinions.


In short: Yes, Jim Sterling gave The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a 7/10. No, he did not commit a cardinal sin by not giving it a 10/10. Carry on.


‘Til we meet again,
Tom

Baton Pass, Part II: To Alola, and Beyond

Last time I talked about Pokémon, I offered my perspective on the most recent generation of the series. Now, with the latest generation almost ready to take the world by storm, let’s focus on what’s to come.

To this day, it still amuses me how the news cycle for this generation has played out. (And, if we’re being honest, it’s been far more fun than this past electoral cycle.) If you weren’t paying attention, here’s a brief summary of how the news cycle has played out:

  • February 26th, 2016: Sun and Moon are officially announced.
  • March to Mid-May: No news at all; not even anything from CoroCoro Magazine, a Japanese magazine publication that is notorious for leaking Pokémon-related information ahead of The Pokémon Company International and Game Freak’s official announcements.
  • May 10th: The first gameplay, starter trio, and legendaries are revealed.
  • June-October: Monthly news blitzes revealing mind-blowing new additions and features, with some smaller surprise reveals in-between.

Yeah. That’s pretty crazy. What’s even crazier is how they’ve been able to keep this up for almost half a year.

We get confirmation of new titles, things go bone-dry for a few months afterward, and then all of a sudden all kinds of new information pops up every month, most of it involving things people never would’ve seen coming otherwise. Things like Alolan forms, Z-Moves, and Ultra Beasts blew people away when they were first revealed, with the promise of adding new dimensions to the tried-and-true formula. That, to me, is a big part of why I think Game Freak has been keeping all the excitement and speculation going for as long as it has.

But as great as all these supersized info-drops have been, one of my hopes for these games is that there’s more to these games than what Game Freak and TPCi are letting on. The fact that we’ve been getting so much info on these games before their release is all well and good, considering we didn’t get anything for the better part of two-and-a-half months. At the same time, I still want there to be some element of surprise when it comes to what the games have to offer.

Something that I feel is missing in a lot of games these days is that surprise factor. Everything is unveiled before the games even officially come out, whether it’s through leakers or, in some rarer cases, the developers themselves. Even then, and with this being Pokémon’s big 20th anniversary, my hope is that all of this info they’ve dropped on us for the past five months is just part of something bigger. Not a small part, necessarily, but this game as a whole feels like something Game Freak has been working towards for a long time.

One of the few issues that I had with Generation VI as a whole was its story. Again, it was nothing really bad… just lackluster. I will grant that it had a tough act to follow with Generation V’s story, but even then it’s no excuse to follow up with a story that wasn’t just hollow, but also left a lot of untapped potential on the table; potential that could’ve been realized with a Pokémon Z, or an X2/Y2 like what they did for Black and White. Of course, we now know that’s never going to happen.

For Sun and Moon, I want to see what Game Freak can really do for a story. There have been little bits and pieces on what the games’ story centers on, such as what truly makes a Pokémon, which already sounds like an interesting concept to work off of. If Game Freak goes deeper with that concept, and truly delivers, we could have something really special on our hands. On top of that, strong character development is also welcome. The characters we’ve seen so far look fun and enjoyable, but there’s bound to be more to them under the surface.

A story-related hope I have is that Game Freak really surprises us with these characters and how they develop throughout the journey. I want to see something like Lillie, who’s against Pokémon battles normally, come to the realization that they’re not as bad as she makes them out to be. Or what about something like Guzma, for all the streetwise bravado he’s shown off, revealing a different side to his character. And possibly the biggest surprise of them all would come from the Aether Foundation; most people are pinning them as the true villains of the story, but what if Game Freak toyed with our expectations and made them a genuinely benevolent organization? I’d give them kudos for that.

…Maybe.

But above all else, the single biggest wish that I have for Sun and Moon is really pretty simple: That it’s just as fun as the previous games, if not moreso. Being a game enthusiast, I always hold out hope that the games I play will be enjoyable; basically, I’m a “Gameplay First” kind of person. They pull that much off, and they get a passing grade, it’s as simple as that. X and Y were already enjoyable as they were; they may have had a few hiccups to them, sure, but in the end, going through Kalos was still a treat. For Sun and Moon, I’m really hoping that they take what worked before, and go a few steps further with them. With the demo being out for a while, there’s a good feeling that Game Freak will answer the call in making this a great experience for any and all Pokémon fans. Whether or not that will translate to the full experience being fun is anybody’s guess.

Even with all the reveals we’ve been getting, and some leaked information coming out as well, there’s still a lot about Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon that we don’t know yet. Are we getting more than what we’ve seen for new Pokémon and Alolan forms? Is the Aether Foundation the real team of antagonists? What exactly ARE the Ultra Beasts? What happens once we clear the Island Challenge? We don’t have the answers to these questions yet. Thankfully, there’s good news: As of this writing, we’re a week away from finding out.

From Generation VI to Generation VII, Game Freak used Baton Pass.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom

A Sporting Chance

Nintendo made a huge splash when it unveiled its next big thing. What once went under the codename NX is now known as the Switch, a slick-looking console that can be played both at home and on the go; basically, it’s a home and portable console rolled into one package.

Real quick before we get to the actual topic, I think this is an amazing idea on paper. The ability to play video games virtually anywhere is going to be a massive boon for many game enthusiasts out there. And that list of third-party developers is nothing to sneeze at; you know you’ve got a good thing going for you with developers like Arc System Works and Bethesda in your corner. There are concerns with the hardware, obviously, and I do think that Nintendo holding off on announcing games until the beginning of next year is kind of worrisome. Overall, though, the Switch looks like it’s going to be a revolutionary new system, and I honestly can’t wait to hear more about it.

But enough small talk, let’s talk about something that came to mind when I saw the Switch trailer for the first time: Nintendo taking on the world of E-Sports.

At the end of the Switch trailer, Nintendo unveiled what looks like a sequel to their surprise hit from 2015, Splatoon. It showed off two teams going over possible strategies, and then heading out into what may as well have been a dead-ringer for Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The more I saw this scene, I got this feeling that the Switch would create a new avenue for Nintendo.

Then, it hit me: This could be Nintendo’s way of getting deeper into the world of E-Sports.

Before I get too carried away, let’s get one thing straight. I’m not saying that Nintendo is going to abandon the console gaming business in favor of cultivating competitive gaming scenes, and for that matter, I’m not saying they should. The Big N has always been about creating consoles and games for all audiences from Day One, and that’s never going to change. This is merely something that Nintendo could do in addition to that. They’re already trying to make strides in theme parks and movies, so why not branch out into one more medium?

Now, technically Nintendo has been involved in E-Sports before, at least to a degree. Games in their Super Smash Bros. series, specifically Melee and the latest entry for the Wii U, have been featured at several major fighting game tournaments in recent years, with Evo (short for Evolution, for those not in the know) being the most notable of them all. That’s not bad for initial exposure to the world of E-Sports, but who’s to say Nintendo can’t go deeper with this?

If Super Smash Bros. gets a new entry to the Switch (and if insiders like Emily Rogers are to be believed, it’s very possible), it would be the perfect foundation for a professional circuit, something akin to the Capcom Pro Tour for Street Fighter V. In addition to being a staple at major fighting game tournaments like Evo, the competitive Smash Bros. scene has plenty of exclusive tournaments like Genesis, Pound, APEX, and the Big House.

Imagine those tournaments as stepping stones toward something much grander.

It’s hard to say whether or not this will actually happen due to series director Masahiro Sakurai’s stance on Smash Bros. as a competitive fighting game. But considering how successful Smash Bros. has been competitively…one look at the attendance numbers of Smash Bros. for Wii U at Evo speaks for itself…Nintendo could open up new doors for the Smash Bros. series if they do something like the Capcom Pro Tour.

If Nintendo does get serious with an E-Sports venture, Splatoon is sure to be a part of those plans, what with how the first game absolutely exploded in popularity. While live tournaments have been possible with the first game, a new Splatoon game on the Switch essentially streamlines the process of conducting a tournament, with everyone being able to bring their own systems. Following this, another notable boon to having Splatoon on the Switch is that players on each team would be able to use their own specifically-tuned gear instead of having to rely on pre-made loadouts.

And why stop at Super Smash Bros. and Splatoon? When you think about it, Nintendo has a few series that could benefit from the E-Sports treatment. Mario Kart jumps out as a perfect first option for a professional league, and collaborating with The Pokémon Company International could yield a bigger, better Pokken Tournament circuit.

Some of Nintendo’s older franchises would make for great tournament games as well, if you think about it. Can you imagine an F-Zero pro circuit? Or an all-new Star Fox game with competitive multiplayer in mind? Sounds crazy, right? (Maybe that’s because it is, but you see my point.)

Or, if all else fails, we could see a new game from Nintendo that’s largely dedicated to tournament play. More specifically, a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA for short) with characters from across Nintendo’s wide stable of franchises, with gameplay similar to games like League of LegendsHeroes of the Storm, maybe even Overwatch in some respects. The game would still be accessible to game enthusiasts of all skill levels, obviously, but for those that really want to get more out of it, a tournament series would be the perfect thing to aspire for.

By this point, all of this may seem like the crazy ramblings of a guy who grew up with Nintendo and loves competitive gaming just as much as pro sports leagues like Major League Baseball. And, honestly, I can’t fault you for thinking that. That being said, my point still stands that the Switch could be a huge opportunity for Nintendo to branch out into more unexplored territory. Would they revolutionize E-Sports in any way? Probably not, but it would still be amazing to see them give it a try regardless.

The Nintendo Switch has a ton of possibilities. Maybe, just maybe, a stronger involvement with E-Sports is one of them. Until the Big N tells us more, only time will tell.

‘Til we meet again,
Tom