Gamecube Platform RSS Feed | Gamecube RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Super Mario Sunshine Blooper Surfing Guide Mon, 28 Sep 2020 10:31:25 -0400 Henry Stockdale

Included as part of the Nintendo Switch’s Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection, Super Mario Sunshine brings a classic adventure to modern audiences but with it come some old frustrations. That’s particularly evident in Sunshine’s second stage, Ricco Harbor. Unique to this location is Blooper Surfing, something that can really be a pain.

In this guide, we’ll give you tips on how to best tackle this challenge, as well as which Bloopers are the best and how to change Bloopers. 

How to start "Blooper Surfing Safari"

“Blooper Surfing Safari” appears in Episode Two. The game immediately points out a cave that has its entrance covered in Gooper oil, a result of your previous boss fight with Gooper Blooper. 

As you begin, a wooden pier appears to your right. On it are three different colored Blooper Racers: Green, Yellow, and Pink. It’s important to choose your Blooper carefully as each has different attributes.

Which Blooper is the best Blooper? 
  • The Green Blooper has the best handling but the lowest default speed
  • The Pink Blooper has the worst handling but the highest speed
  • The Yellow Blooper offers an easy middle ground

All three Bloopers can reach the same top speed, which you can adjust by simply pushing the joystick forward.

Navigating the race course

The racecourse itself contains numerous obstacles including spikes, spinning walls, stationary blocks, moving blocks, and more, so be careful.

Colliding with any objects will cause Mario to lose a life and corners are rather tight. As such, we recommend the Green Blooper here but keeping that top speed high where possible.

Get a Shine for completing the race (and a secret one later)

Completing the course in under 45 seconds will reward you with a Shine Sprite. If you beat it but take longer, the Pianta won’t be impressed and throws you out of Ricco Harbor instead.

After completing Episode Two, a secret Shine Sprite can be obtained by replaying "Blooper Surfing Safari" and beating it in under 40 seconds.

For better odds of success, make use of shortcuts by jumping over the two walls near the end, rather than cornering them.

Blooper Surfing in Episode 6

Blooper Surfing reappears in Episode 6, “Red Coins In The Water." As you may have guessed, this involves collecting eight red coins in a race across Ricco Harbor.

To start this race, ground pound the big red switch. You'll only have two minutes to collect them all, so be quick!

Like before, there are numerous obstacles to avoid but your best course of action is to follow the trail of yellow coins, as these lead to each red coin. Here are the exact locations of each of the red coins: 

  • Three are located between the floating buoys.
  • One is spotted by the platforms near the helipad
  • One next to the submarine, you’ll have to jump to obtain it.
  • One is wedged between two boats
  • One is found underneath the helipad.
  • One is located under a platform.

After collecting all of the red coins, return to the pier to collect the Shrine Sprite. Be careful, though: you can crash if you're not careful. 

How to get off a Blooper

To avoid crashing into the pier or the ring-wearing Pinata when going for the Sprite, it's best to get off your Blooper. To do so, jump into the red Rocket Nozzle box, located in the southeastern section of the map. You'll see a red steel platform within the major construction zone, and the Nozzle box is on top of it.

You’ll need to go out of your way to do either of these, but the alternative is just riding into the Shine Sprite, which risks running yourself into the pier and undoing all your hard work.

That's all you need to know about the Blooper Surfing Safari and how to get off a Blooper. For more on Super Mario Sunshine and the other games in the 3D All-Stars collection, be sure to check out our other 3D All-Stars tips articles, including how to get Yoshi in Sunshine and how to get the wing cap in Mario 64

Super Mario Sunshine Yoshi Guide: How to Get Your Dinosaur Pal Sat, 26 Sep 2020 11:41:40 -0400 Henry Stockdale

Super Mario Sunshine is finally back, coming as part of Nintendo Switch’s Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection. Like in many Mario adventures, Yoshi joins you along the way, but if you aren’t careful, you can make significant progress before he even shows up. As such, you might be wondering how to unlock Yoshi as they're needed to eventually reach the final level.

By following the steps in this guide, you’ll soon be reunited with our trusted Dinosaur companion. Luckily, Yoshi can be found quite early on in Super Mario Sunshine.

How to Get Yoshi in Super Mario Sunshine

Unlock Pinna Park and defeat Snooza Koopas

Your first step is unlocking Pinna Park, which is available after collecting 10 Shines and witnessing Princess Peach getting kidnapped yet again. You need to complete Episode 4 of this stage, “The Wilted Sunflowers," which involves getting rid of some Snooza Koopas across the Park’s beach area.

That doesn’t involve any special requirements, so just wait until they get flipped over and jump on them to defeat these enemies.

Beat Shadow Mario

After finishing the stage, Shadow Mario appears in Delfino Plaza, and he has a stolen Yoshi Egg. It’s a standard chase sequence for Sunshine and like always, you need to keep hosing him down with F.L.U.D.D until he falls.

Once Shadow Mario is defeated, you can begin the process of hatching the Yoshi Egg. 

Yoshi Egg Location

After the Shadow Mario encounter, the egg appears in a different location. It can be found to the left of your starting point upon loading up Sunshine, on a nearby roof. 

How to hatch the Yoshi Egg

It’s not as simple as getting Yoshi to come out of the egg, though. Yoshi Eggs signal a fruit they want, which must be brought to them before they emerge.

Fruits can be found at the fruit market near the Lighthouse, and different fruits change Yoshi’s color. The iconic Green Yoshi isn’t among them, sadly, but there are three other options:

  • Orange Yoshi – Papaya or Pineapple
  • Pink Yoshi – Bananas or Coconut
  • Purple Yoshi – Durian or Pepper

The colors signal more than just a visual change, though. Yoshi can spray enemies with a unique juice attack that turns them into specific platforms.

  • Orange Yoshi turns them into stationary platforms
  • Pink Yoshi turns them into ascending platforms
  • Purple Yoshi turns them into forward-moving platforms

Juice also dissolves the orange goop barriers you find across Delfino Plaza, which cannot be breached by F.L.U.D.D's standard water spray.

Note: You may have noticed the red pipe across Delfino Plaza's rooftops with a pineapple stuck in it. Get Yoshi to eat this to unlock Sunshine’s 5th stage, Sirena Beach.

Does Yoshi appear in other locations? 

Outside of the Plaza, Yoshi only appears in a few different chapters across each area that usually make use of the juice attack to reach different areas.

How to keep Yoshi alive

Yoshi also has a juice meter, which they slowly go through as you play. If the juice meter runs out, they’ll disappear. To keep Yoshi alive, you must feed them more fruit via their tongue grab.

Make sure Yoshi doesn't touch deep water either; any contact will make them immediately disappear.

That's all you need to know about finding Yoshi in Super Mario Sunshine. If you're looking for more help with 3D All-Stars, be sure to check out our other 3D All-Stars guides, including how to find the wing cap and blast the wall away in Mario 64

5 Pokemon Spinoffs That Don't Suck Fri, 31 Jul 2020 12:26:15 -0400 Josh Broadwell


Pokemon Pinball/Pinball Ruby and Sapphire


Whoever first floated the idea of Pokemon meets pinball was a very smart person. Don’t get me wrong: Regular pinball’s great and all. But the original Pokemon Pinball and the Ruby and Sapphire version took it to another level. In keeping with the version gimmick, you had two table styles to choose from with different layouts and, more importantly, different Pokemon to catch. 


Instead of space-age bumpers and plain ol’ pins, you had Shroomish or Voltorb to rack up points with, Pikachu to catch the ball — if you were lucky — and Diglett or Psyduck to shake things up and knock the ball around. 


These were way more than just a Pokemon skin stretched over a pinball table, though. Shooting the ball to the right spot or spinning one of the flippers enough activated several different modes, all built around catching Pokemon (quelle surprise, I know).


What ‘mon were available depended on the location you started out in. The original would put you in or near cities from Red and Blue, though the R&S version did away with cities for more generic locations only, like caves and such. 


It was, and still is, an incredibly addictive feature for a pinball game, even if the bumpers did seem to bear some kind of ancient grudge against players and almost always shot the ball somewhere other than where the Pokemon was.




That's it for our best Pokemon spinoffs. Has another Pokemon spinoff captured your heart that we didn't cover? Let us know over on Twitter, and be sure to hit that share button to spread the Pokemon love.


Pokemon Colosseum/XD Gale of Darkness


“I want a Pokemon game with a dark story.” So did Genius Sonority at one point, and that’s how we got Pokemon Colosseum and its very good sequel Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness.


Well okay, that might only be partly true and mostly conjecture, but I stand on this hill. 


Regardless, you can see an inkling of that desire in both games anyway. Colosseum builds on Pokemon Stadium’s DNA, only instead of just giving you big, flashy 3D battles and very little else, you get a full Pokemon game. 


The evil teams in both hearken back to the original Team Rocket’s brutal treatment of Pokemon, and it’s your job to both stop them and bring their abused ‘mon back to the light. Yes, that’s where Shadow Pokemon came from.


Genius Sonority dialed the zaniness up to 500, too, with some of the most memorably bizarre characters the series has seen. It was a breath of fresh air before Pokemon seemingly became stuck in its own success and couldn’t experiment anymore.


They weren’t perfect, though. There were a lot of limitations in both stories, with plenty of room for more narrative — and basically more of everything else. Battle Mode was billed as the big draw for Colosseum and was happy to destroy you if you hadn’t trained your transfer Pokemon like a pro. But both were still a promising venture into story-based Pokemon that sadly hasn’t resurfaced. 


Pokemon GO


Of course, Pokemon GO is on our list. It’s almost impossible not to include it on any best Pokemon spinoff list. Tons of people love it — even folks who normally wouldn’t touch a Pokemon game.


Entire communities as large and vibrant as the mainline Pokemon communities have spun up around it. The real success, though, is how GO has developed since launch. 


Traveling around (safely) to find new ‘mon hanging around your town is fun, and training them is fun. Until it gets old fast. Expanded Gym battles, PvP battles, and regular rollouts of new Pokemon have kept things fresh since GO first released.  Regular events help in a big way too, like the recent Team GO Rocket Shadow Pokemon event.


And best of all, it’s a live service game that doesn’t try and eat your wallet. It’s totally possible to do and obtain everything you want just by enjoying the game — unless you live in a rural area with terrible service like me, in which case you’re left watching sadly from the outside.


Probably the most impressive part of GO is how Niantic’s adapted it to work in the coronavirus climate. The get out and walk game can be played and enjoyed at home, which really should have been the case to begin with for accessibility reasons. 


But regardless, it’s a different way to make Pokemon a fun part of your daily routine and probably does a better job than the mainline games of achieving The Pokémon Company’s goal of uniting everyone around Pokemon.


Pokemon Snap


With the recent New Pokemon Snap announcement, it’s the perfect time to sing the praises of the original Pokemon Snap once more. Snap really was ahead of its time. Just look back at other games that released in 1999 and think about it. 


Tomorrow Never Dies and Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation released alongside the likes of Legacy of Kain and Shenmue. There were cartoony “kids” games too, of course. Donkey Kong 64, Tarzan, and Spyro 2 all came out that year.


But they all ask something of you, want you to do something. Save A. Smack B. Accomplish C. What does Pokemon Snap want you to do? Chill out and take pictures of Pokemon doing adorable things in their natural habitats.


Yeah, you’ve got objectives to complete. Yet you’re still free to enjoy the scenery and not even worry about moving yourself around. Mock its chunky pixels if you will, but it was fresh and new at the time. 


It’s the sort of alternative gaming experience Harvest Moon started pioneering, but that’s only recently gained a lot of momentum thanks in large part to indie games. It’s not really a stretch to say games like Bird Alone found their roots because of the experience Pokemon Snap pushed for.


Pokemon Trading Card Game (Game Boy Color)


On paper, the Pokemon Trading Card Game for Game Boy sounds like a gimmick at best and an exploitative rabbit hole forcing kids to buy Pokemon cards at worst. You learn the basics of the game, see how all the cards work, collect them all, and battle with virtual opponents to become the best.


“Doesn’t that sound like something fun to do with real friends and cards that cost money?” No. You don’t need friends. Just play the game instead. You've already spent your money. 


And oh, is it brutal. Like Shin Megami Tensei levels of brutal. But the idea of introducing folks to the card game worked wonders. Even with the basic card sets available at the time, you can't help but play over and over again. 


Strategizing is mixed in with a good reward system as well. Win a fight, get some snazzy new cards to start the cycle all over again.


Japan got a sequel. Sadly, the West didn’t, and this sub-series also died quietly, which is odd considering how the TCG just keeps expanding. I'm not salty. Not salty at all. 


After more than 20 years, Pokemon’s spawned plenty of mainline games and remakes — and even more spinoffs. Like most, Pokemon spinoffs aren’t exactly uniform in quality.


Some are great, like the Pokemon Pinball games (more please). Some have good ideas that never quite reach full their full potential (Pokemon Channel and Conquest). And some should just be locked in Mimikyu’s storeroom and left to their fate (lookin’ at you, Pokemon Dash).

We don’t care about the crappy ones, though. We’ve rounded up five of the best Pokemon spinoffs from the classic to the more recent and reminisce about what makes them so great.

Paper Mario's 5 Most Memorable Moments Thu, 09 Jul 2020 12:24:06 -0400 Josh Broadwell


Paper Mario Color Splash's True Ending


Paper Mario: Color Splash was bound to be a divisive Paper Mario game, but it still has its fair share of good moments.


Spoilers ahead, of course.


Conceived in that odd period where Nintendo insisted it knew what fans wanted and needed because the Wii and DS sold well, Color Splash continued Sticker Star’s unfortunate — and unnecessary — trend of trying to distinguish itself separate from RPGs. The result was still ultimately an RPG (go figure), but one with a few vital points taken out.


The trade-off was getting to enjoy the gorgeous environments and colorful characters Mario encountered this time around. Huey might not get the most attention, being cursed as the obligatory tutorial character. But he’s one of the best side characters since The Thousand Year Door. That’s largely down to having more personality than the likes of Kersti, who was basically just a Starlow rehash, or the Pixls who just… existed. 


Huey’s a scrappy lil’ guy with a wide range of emotions, some quick-witted retorts, and a penchant for breaking the fourth wall in as dry a way as possible. Maybe it’s because you’re in his world, restoring color that he represents, but Huey also seems more closely tied to Mario and the Color Splash journey.


So you really feel it at the end when that one thing happens, much more so than the end of Sticker Star. It’s the first time since TTYD where Paper Mario managed to pluck the heartstrings again, even more so because you don’t necessarily see what happens next unless you get the secret ending.


There are no Disney-style Mario tears to bring Huey back to life this time. It’s a subtle moment where Huey (in the yellow circle) rejoins the fabric of his world, and this story comes to an end.




Our picks for the best Paper Mario moments are just the beginning. The series is brimming with memorable moments, so sound off in the comments and let us know yours! Paper Mario: The Origami King is set to release on July 17, here's to hoping for many more memorable moments to this new entry to Mario's most unique spin-offs.


Luigi as Mr. L


Poor Luigi. He’s been in the limelight just as long as his sainted brother, but despite having his very own (and very fun) spinoff series, Luigi never gets the same kind of love and attention. Paper Mario adds insult to injury most of the time.


In the original, Luigi quietly stews in his own jealousy while Mario’s off on a grand adventure. His only reward for tending the home fires, making sure meals are cooked, and generally whiling the time away by pining for a better life is leading the parade on Mario’s return. Mario’s parade — not his.


In The Thousand Year Door, Luigi tries setting off on his own adventure paralleling Mario’s. He’s off to rescue Princess Eclair in the Waffle Kingdom. Do we get to hear about it? Only in long bouts of exposition. 


Super Paper Mario finally sees Luigi come into his own. He’s briefly playable, but more importantly, he’s a recurring enemy. He even has a big destiny and important role to play, as foretold by the ancients.


Granted, Count Bleck brainwashes Luigi and turns him into Mr. L. to “help” him fulfill that destiny. But you gotta know Mr. L constantly harassing Mario, attacking him, and trying to be the hero was really just the true Luigi crying out for validation and love. Poor Weegee.


Bowser Doing Anything in The Thousand Year Door


Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga started Bowser on his road to comedic relief. But Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door proved the Koopa King’s talents were decidedly not strongest in the evil villain department.


TTYD shifted Bowser from the primary antagonist role he occupied in the original Paper Mario to that of wannabe bad guy always left behind.


Bowser never catches up to Mario, let alone Peach, until the very end. Which is just fine, since it leaves plenty of room for a variety of antics between him and Kammy Koopa.


These are definitely some of the game’s — maybe even the series’ — funniest moments, whether Kammy’s mourning the loss of her brown bag blimp lunch after Bowser refuses to take a ride or Bowser’s terrorizing the inhabitants of Rogueport.


His role in TTYD also made Bowser playable for the first time ever in Mario games, which is kind of a big deal. It probably isn’t a stretch to say the Bowser segments were the precursor for the Mega Mushroom. You have two goals: destroy as much as possible and get swole while doing it.


These aren’t touching like Peach’s segments. They’re just fun because breaking things is fun and breaking things as Bowser is even more fun.


Peach + TEC


The first Paper Mario introduced a side story for Peach. It was an interesting way to give Peach a new level of relevance while showing off life under Bowser’s occupation, but it also felt somewhat non-essential.


Peach outwits Bowser’s cruel and dense guards to find information that helps Mario on his quest. Maybe it would have been different if Peach’s segments were more common.


Either way, non-essential is definitely not how you could describe Thousand Year Door’s side story for Peach. It’s miles ahead of the original, and aside from being probably more relevant to the overall story than Mario’s own actions, it actually managed to be touching as well.


Slight spoilers follow.


Peach is once again held captive in an enemy stronghold. This time, she strikes up an unusual friendship — unusual because it’s with a computer, the X-Naut main system TEC XX. It’s friendship for Peach but something more for TEC, who falls in love with the Mushroom Kingdom’s most eligible princess. That’s a strange scenario that could easily just seem farcical.


But repeated conversations and interactions where TEC proves his devotion, plus that bittersweet dancing mini-game and TEC’s final sacrifice, make it touching and add a great deal more weight to Peach’s role in Thousand Year Door, particularly when considering what TEC knows about the X-Naughts’ plans.


Yes, it’s technically a series of best moments, but Peach and TEC’s story is still one of the best Paper Mario moments.


Meeting Your First Partner


Meeting Goombario in the original Paper Mario might seem like a strange choice for one of the best Paper Mario moments, but it was a sign of something big and new for the famous plumber and a big step up from his previous RPG adventure.


Don’t get me wrong. Super Mario RPG is a great game with plenty of memorable characters (looking at you, Geno). It’s also very much a Mario-meets-Squaresoft game.


All of Mario’s new partners and friends in Super Mario RPG, and even the villain, are slightly random. A talking cloud-mellow, what's basically Pinocchio in blue, and an evil sword thing determined to supplant Bowser as Chief Bad.


There’s nothing wrong with that. Heck, it’s the kind of adventurous experimentation a lot of games need anyway — but Mario embarking on a brand-new adventure with Mario characters by his side like we see in Paper Mario is something special.


Here was the start of a journey delving into the Mushroom Kingdom and putting its stars at the forefront instead of leaving them as supporting cast. And more than that, it gave everyone much more personality, even former enemies.


The irony of a Goomba idolizing Mario (how many of your forebears has his squashed, Goombario?) is uniquely Paper Mario, but even aside from setting the game’s comedic tone, it showed there was a lot more to the Mushroom Kingdom than just jumping high.


Paper Mario is one of Nintendo’s most beloved spinoff series, and it’s not hard to see why. Every game, even the iffy ones, are oozing with charm and character. And every game has at least one big standout moment that grabs your heart, breaks new ground for the series, or is just incredibly fun and ridiculous.


With Paper Mario: The Origami King lurking just over the horizon, we’ve combed through the Paper Mario series and picked out five of the best Paper Mario moments ever.

8 Fun, Weird, and Scary Animal Crossing Fan Creations Sun, 09 Feb 2020 10:00:02 -0500 Josh Broadwell




Brutus the Bulldog doesn’t exist. That simple fact hasn’t stopped Animal Crossing fans from talking about, drawing, and fearing the purple bulldog hellmonster for 18 years. Back when Animal Crossing launched on the GameCube, sinister rumors swirled about a purple bulldog who may one day show up in your village.


What would he do when he got there? Well, like any good story, the tale of Brutus and his wrongdoings grows with every telling. He sends mysterious letters to some, letters in binary code. Others, he invites to his home, only to freeze their game and then disappear once it reboots.


Still others talk of Brutus kidnapping their favorite villagers (so, Hazel is safe for all time, in other words). But the worst of all is the Brutus who’d gleefully delete entire villages, sometimes all at once, sometimes doing it one row at a time like the true monster that he is.


Except he isn’t. Because he’s not real.




This doesn't even begin to cover all the fantastic Animal Crossing fan creations out there. But it does serve as an important reminder that whether it be funny, creepy, warm, or something else entirely, Animal Crossing means something different to everyone. And that's exactly how it should be.


If you liked what you saw here, make sure to give us a share or a retweet and pass the love around!


Tom Nook in Ghibli


This piece by Sea Knight doesn’t have a name, hence my attempts above, but it’s one of my favorites from the great deal of trawling through fan art done for this piece.


It imagines Animal Crossing in a very not-Animal Crossing style, but it gets to the heart of what makes the series so special: that warmth characterizing so much of Studio Ghibli’s work (unless you’re a film called Tales from Earthsea). It helps that Ghibli deals in snapshot, daily-life moments like this in many of its films too, where venturing down the dirt road to the general store is as much of an event as setting out on an adventure.


That’s what Animal Crossing is all about, finding beauty in the small things.


Isabelle the Witch


Here’s another Isabelle-centric piece, because she’s just so darn wonderful. Here, we get to see Isabelle cutting loose for a change, freed from the responsibilities of work and able to pursue whatever task catches her fancy. Jessica sees her pursuing the life of a witch, which probably explains why that one spot in the woods was mysteriously not a good place for your jungle gym.


It’s okay, though. Because this is Isabelle, she’s naturally a super-cute witch who paints the world pastel with her starry-eyed spells, and that’s okay by us.  What could she be cooking up in the cauldron? Kibble, perchance?


No, I suspect it’s a potion to help her beat you down even harder in your next Smash Ultimate match.




This is definitely one of the odder creations out there. Instagram user Welcome to Thizzle Crossing decided to create a Pocket Camp prison, housing the worst animal offenders in the village, staffed by animals as well. Bob’s the thug guard with a water gun (gasp!), while Truffles happily mans the front of the prison, keeping all grody evildoers inside with, like, impeccable style.


The real mastermind of the operation sits almost out of sight monitoring the computer system, back turned to the camera, shades on inside. It’s Animal Crossing dystopia, the Panopticon come to life.


What’s especially fun here is how you can easily imagine a story behind each character’s participation since Animal Crossing has such distinct personalities. Goldie: “I… I bit Timmy Nookling after he tried selling me the doghouse I already lived in! *sobs* I’m so ashamed!”


Jack's House


Animal Crossing is full of special characters, from the everyday ones like Tom Nook to holiday figures we only see once a year. But, apparently, they don’t live anywhere because we never get to see their houses. Tom Nook gave his fortune to an orphanage, so maybe he lives in a hostel paid for by the local Business Association, but the travelers who make your holidays jolly have no such luck.


Fortunately, Pretty Pretty Pixels dreamed up a house for our favorite Halloween trickster, Jack. It’s suitably creepy, with a dark tone (what else would you use for Halloween?) and blurred textures. Blurred though they may be, we can still get a glimpse of the Creepy furniture Jack hands out if you do his bidding on Halloween.


That the clock’s teeth stand out the most is a particularly nice touch, along with Katrina’s glowing red eyes.


Rainy Day Friends


Poor Digby didn’t get too much attention after he was introduced in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, unless you were really keen on the design showroom. Despite his important role in Happy Home Designer, you still didn’t get to see him do much then either. 


Why does that matter? Because this GIF from sarcastically exists to show us how much we need to see his adorable interactions with sister Isabelle. Both puppers shoulder a ton of responsibility — which is one reason why we showcased Isabelle for International Dog Day last year. But it’s just too cute seeing Digby in the role of responsible brother. Poor Isabelle, probably too busy thinking about where your next Public Works project should go, forgot her umbrella, and got caught in the rain. 


Luckily, Digby happened by with one to spare, seeing as he’s got his raincoat. If you’re really in a Ghibli mood, as I apparently am at the time of writing, you can see a parallel between this and the iconic cover for My Neighbor Totoro — though this isn’t confirmation Kapp’n’s vehicle in New Horizons is the cat bus.


The Main Street


At the beginning of this piece, I mentioned we’d be covering a variety of Animal Crossing fan creations, both good and potentially disturbing. This one happily straddles both categories. It’s a Roblox fan game called The Main Street. On the one hand, it's well done to the person who made it ... since that had to be a lot of work.


On the other… it’s kinda' creepy. It somewhat faithfully re-creates AC: New Leaf, but there’s just something slightly off about the environments. They’re eerily empty most of the time. Some of the models seem a tad off, too, like they might follow you to the train station and do something horrible once your back’s turned.


I don’t think it was designed as a vehicle for disturbing Animal Crossing fan stories, though. Apart from the scary-looking locations themselves, a big part of the creep factor probably comes from the perspective. 


Still, this is all coming from someone who probably couldn’t render a shoebox in Roblox, so again, respect to the creator here.


Will The Train Ever Arrive?


Will The Train Ever Arrive is a gorgeous lil’ GIF from @huttaburger. It hearkens back to the first Animal Crossing game — well, the first in the West at least — by placing the focus squarely on the Train Station, a fixture not seen since 2002.


It’s a rainy spring day, the flowers are blooming, and you’ve even got messages waiting on the bulletin board. But when will the train take you to meet your friends? *sigh*. It perfectly captures the low-key yet colorful life that is Animal Crossing.


What’s more, the artist even created it in a GBA style, further adding to the nostalgia of it all.


The world is full of weird and wonderful things, and that goes triple for the world of fan creations. The nature of Animal Crossing means there are tons of different ways to interpret the game and its lovable talking animal inhabitants, all without even venturing near rule 34.


For this piece, we've gathered up eight of the most outstanding Animal Crossing fan creations. Some show the darker side of the Crossing world, others are about Isabelle, while some others are also about Isabelle. Then, of course, some just remind us why we love the game so much.


First up is a bit of nostalgia.

Skies of Arcadia Developer Seeks to Start Movement for Sequel Tue, 14 Jan 2020 17:18:55 -0500 Erroll Maas

Programmer Kenji Hiruta recently tweeted an image of an autographed illustration of Skies of Arcadia by illustrator Itsuki Hoshi and said that he would send it to a randomly-chosen fan overseas by the end of January 2020. To receive the autographed illustration, fans only need to follow him, send him a direct message, and retweet the initial tweet.

In a follow-up tweet, Hiruta stated that if a movement like this gains enough traction, SEGA might consider developing a sequel to Skies of Arcadia, further stating in a reply that he would "really really want to develop it".

Last year, Kotaku interviewed producer Reiko Kadama, who doesn't think Skies of Arcadia needs a sequel, although she had interest in making one in the past. And while Kadama disregarded the question when asked about a port on modern platforms and feels that the GameCube version is the "Director's Cut", she didn't completely deny the possibility either.

Skies of Arcadia originally launched for the SEGA Dreamcast in Japan on October 5, 2000, with North American and European releases coming afterward. Skies of Arcadia later received an enhanced port on the Nintendo GameCube known as Skies of Arcadia: Legends in Japan as well as North America and Europe once again. Both versions of Skies of Arcadia were critically acclaimed.

In addition to its GameCube release, Skies of Arcadia was also planned for release on PlayStation 2 and PC, but both were ultimately canceled. A portable iteration for the Game Boy Advance was also considered, but it never released.

In 2012, the trademark for Skies of Arcadia was renewed and an HD port was expected for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 alongside other SEGA titles like Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, and the Sonic Adventure series. But once again, it was never released. Characters from Skies of Arcadia have made cameo appearances in other SEGA titles such as Valkyria Chronicles and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, which also features a race track based on the game.

Will Skies of Arcadia finally be able to make it to modern platforms? Or will the ship sink yet again? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more news and info on Skies of Arcadia as it develops. 

The Best and Worst of Pokemon — Trends Through the Gens Wed, 18 Dec 2019 09:00:01 -0500 Josh Broadwell

Pokemon has been around for over 20 years, spawning eight generations of mainline games and countless spinoffs. We've seen series come and go in that time, some quietly fading from existence and others, like Fire Emblem and Zelda, evolving.

The Pokemon series has a rich legacy to build on with every new entry, though surprisingly, the evolution of Pokemon is less straightforward than merely improving every time. 

Pokemon's journey is thornier than an angry Ferrosseed, full of tweaks and experiments that should have worked but didn't, some that did work and got left behind, and some that completely baffle the mind.

With the latest Pokemon games  Sword and Shield  smashing sales records left and right, we decided to dig into what makes the series work and where it falls flat. We're only talking mainline games in this retrospective, though, because the spinoffs are a whole 'nuther creature.

The Best and Worst Pokemon Regions

Pokemon didn't start having actual stories until Gen V, so there's not much use comparing them. Instead, it's the region that helps contribute to each generation's personality.

Some regions are bland, but hassle-free, while other regions present more challenge and visual interest at the expense of convenience. It's understandable, though, because designing a host of new creatures and an entire world for them is a lot for a small team working on tight deadlines.

When You Give Pokemon Crayons and Construction Paper

Mentioning Sinnoh right away seems a bit contradictory. It's the place that introduced "HM bloat" after all. Whoever thought creating Defog and Rock Climb while making them mandatory HMs was obviously in desperate need of an extended vacation.

Outside of that and some iffy bits on Mt. Coronet, Sinnoh may be the last great Pokemon region in overall design — at least for a while.

Sinnoh presents a good balance of long, tough routes with plenty of environmental points of interest, plus some shorter routes that cram challenges in a tiny space. On top of that is a generally wider variety of designs, especially compared to Hoenn, with snowy routes, mountaintops, sea routes, flower fields, and stone cities. Every section of Sinnoh is unique.

That's part of the game's central premise, too: the idea of a diverse and varied world full of different kinds of life. What's particularly interesting here is how it builds on failure.

Hoenn tries to create a region based on a plot theme in land versus sea, but that flops. In theory, a region split between land and water sounds interesting. However, you can't do all that much on the water other than swim. Diving is just swimming underwater, and then you swim some more. The towns and cities are afterthoughts.

Sinnoh benefits from being a bit less rigid with making the theme the central focus, letting the general idea of a wild world created by different Pokemon take hold.

PokeGlobe Trotting

And then it stopped.

Easily the worst aspect of region design is when Game Freak decided to explore other cultures. It's a noble idea, exposing young people to different ways of life. But the result — at least for a while — turned out like a Pokemon version of "It's a Small World," prioritizing over-the-top references to other cultures instead of doing anything exciting or meaningful.

Gen V's Black and White started a trend towards PokeTourism, moving away from the idea of a region built around a story concept and making the region itself the concept.

The only thing is, Pokemon's NPCs are too one dimensional to make that push towards other cultures work well, so it relies on the entire region to pull it off. Unfortunately, the U.S.-vibe Unova is supposed to give off doesn't continue outside Castelia City, and even then, it doesn't serve much purpose other than showcasing the Nintendo DS' hardware capabilities.

There's the entertainment city Nimbasa, but Jubilife and Goldenrod already have that covered. Opelucid is just Blackthorn with a twist. The entire eastern half of Unova has no relevance to the main game. And then you get places like the vast Icirrus Moor, which is big, and that's it. 

Kalos is a Unova repeat, sending you around a big circle, hitting all the main terrain notes: rocky, ice, seaport, flashy big city, and so on. There are a few French-inspired things added as dressing, with some story about a 3,000-year-old zombie king that can be filed under "H" for "hash-induced."

Alola does the same thing, making a meal out of the Hawaiian location without integrating it into the story or gameplay mechanics.

Galar, The Happy Medium

Sword and Shield's Galar region is a happy marriage of these two concepts, of planned design that emphasizes culture. It's inspired by a specific culture again, yet it's just a few aspects that get the focus. These are built into the area's core, like the Champion Cup. Everything else flows from there.

That makes Galar a sharp contrast to the superficial regional flavors of Alola that are constantly shoved in your face but don't do much else.

It's true we still have some forced regional dialogue in Galar. Again, we also have vast open spaces, exciting cities, and enough varied geography to offset the same-y-ness of the ice, forest, and rocky settings. The routes are still not quite as impressive as those well-worn Sinnoh paths, but the Wild Area exists to make up for that.

If Game Freak is going to keep creating regions based on specific cultures, hopefully, the changes we saw with Galar continue.

The Best and Worst Gym Leaders

Outside of the regions themselves, another important aspect of any Pokemon game is who you face as your primary opponents: the Gym Leaders and the Elite Four.

The Gym theme is one of the staler aspects of Pokemon and has changed the least over time. You can bet there's always going to be a Fire, Water, Grass, and Rock-type Gym, with other types in rotation, like Psychic, Ice, and Dragon. That means there are only two candidates for "best Gym Leader rosters."

Shattering Expectations in Diamond and Pearl

The first two games of Gen IV shook up the Gym system. Not like Sun and Moon did, through complete abolition, but by throwing curveballs with Gym-themed Pokemon that can take out your team.

A good many of the leaders toss in at least one dual-type Pokemon after the second leader — Maylene's Lucario and Meditite, Byron's Bronzor, Candice's Medicham, and half of Volkner's team. Crasher Wake might be more traditional, but his Gyrados can crush a fragile Electric-type in seconds.

Typically, you get Gym Leader rosters with either pure types. Platinum nerfed this feature with more traditional and less challenging Gyms, unfortunately, and we haven't seen it since.

Even the Galar Gyms in Sword and Shield are relatively traditional, though the inclusion of Gigantamax Pokemon — with special Gigantamax moves — from the third Gym on does shake things up.

Alola, The Confused One

Talking about Gyms and changes throughout the series means we must naturally touch on Alola — again. There isn't much to say here, though your opinion will naturally vary.

Gen VII replaced Gym challenges with Trials, but these can't be considered improvements. Some people like them, but I don't see how "which dancing Marowak is different??" can compare in any way to "challenge this super-strong Gym leader."

These always end with a battle against a turbo-powered Pokemon anyway, so why even bother with the goofy mini-game? It was a further step towards patronizing players and assuming young children are naturally stupid, and it's a mechanic that hopefully never comes back.

If something has to be changed, why not go for typeless Gym Leaders, taking the original Sinnoh concept further?

Then there's Galar's move towards putting Gym Leaders in your path more often, which also opens some possibilities for the future of Gym challenges. In short, significant change isn't always for the better, especially if that change is done only for the sake of change.

The Best Elite Four

Unlike Gym Leaders, the Elite Four does tend to vary wildly from game to game, though with no real visible trend (unless you count "rehash"). With a different set of trainers focusing on different types, you'd think there wouldn't be a way to compare them.

However, there are some definite winners and losers when it comes to the Elite Four, and the Elite Four exemplifies the struggle with the change that Pokemon has faced from the beginning.

Karen Will Be Your Opponent

Johto does a lot of things right, but the Elite Four isn't one of them. Will is an altered Lorelei, Bruno is as ridiculously easy as ever, and Koga isn't much better. Then we have Karen, the Agatha of Johto.

Karen is a trainer meant to take advantage of an underused type, except oops — there aren't enough Pokemon of that type to make it work. Johto introduces the Dark-type Pokemon, with a total of three Dark-type Pokemon: Umbreon, Houndour/Houndoom, and Murkrow.

Karen uses them all, though Murkrow doesn't count. And even though Murkrow isn't a pushover, the Pokemon wasn't much to write home about until Gen IV introduced its evolved form, Honchkrow.

So Karen has to supplement that missing piece with two non-Dark types the same as Agatha, opting for Poison instead. Sorry, but the manager says you're wrong: Vileplume isn't a Dark-type, KAREN.

Hoenn — Prepare for Trouble

After the too-familiar Johto Elite Four, Hoenn's diverse types and brutal opponents are hugely welcome, and you can see a bit of that Sinnoh Gym Leader philosophy on display here.

If a member of the Hoenn Elite Four doesn't have a dual-type 'mon to mess you up, they pack obnoxious status moves or monster Pokemon  like Walrein or Drake's Altaria  that can destroy you before you even have a chance to do anything.

The big standout here, though, is Steven. No, a Rock-type Pokemon trainer isn't that special on its own. Two generations of Brock then Roxanne saw to that. What makes Steven unique alongside his dual-type team from Hell is how he's the first Champion who isn't Lance, which means he's also the first Champion who doesn't use Dragons.

Steven didn't completely shake up the Champion mechanic — that happened with Cynthia — but it was an injection of newness into a formula that would have become stale very quickly with another Dragon master.

Sinnoh — And Make It Double

The Sinnoh Elite Four follows a similar path as the Hoenn League and ups the challenge — like, y'know, the strongest trainers in the region should do.

Diamond and Pearl toss dual-types and weird roster members in the mix, much like Flint's Lopunny and Drifblim. Diamon and Pearl was the first time it seemed like the top trainers earned that title since they tried to be well rounded. Plus, it forced players to bring a well-rounded team, except Bertha, who was crap.

Platinum nerfed that again but increased the overall power of each Elite Four member's team with more and stronger Pokemon for each — except Bertha, who is still crap.

Cynthia is the real star, though, even more than with Steven. That she's the first lady Champion is one thing, though Pokemon never had problems with strong women. It's not even because she is like Lance 2.0 with the significant role she played in the story. No, Cynthia is the first Champion with a diverse roster of Pokemon custom-made to trash you no matter what, and it's telling she's the only trainer not to get a significant roster change in Platinum.

Remember Me?

Alola doesn't really have an Elite Four until it does at the end. Then it's just the same Kahunas you already fought — for the most part.

There's some interesting story integration, but it's a bit stale feeling.

Kukui has a few glaring weaknesses and a roster seemingly chosen at random that make the fight anticlimactic compared to Cynthia or even Kalos' Diantha. This, combined with the story that takes center stage throughout the games, means your League fight is sort of just a thing that happens and whatever.

Moving Back Towards the Center with Galar

Galar, unfortunately, has a similar setup, where you fight some of the same Leaders you fought before. However, it improves on the Alola formula in a few key ways.

The story integration works a bit better in Galar since Sword and Shield are built around everyone vying for a spot in the League against the Champion. Plus, you end up with a total of seven fights instead of the usual five. It's the closest to the Pokemon anime that any game has gotten, with the idea of multiple rounds.

More importantly, each opponent has at least one 'mon meant to throw you off like the Hoenn and Sinnoh Leagues, with Raihan's near-invincible Duraludon being the best example of the lot.

Leon is one of the best Champions since Cynthia as well. Not only does he give you your first Pokemon, but he's also held up as the pinnacle of the Pokemon world. It imbues the match with an urgency missing for a long time, helped by Leon's relatively challenging and Cynthia-like roster that will put your skills to the test.

It's a good lesson, and one Game Freak hopefully takes to heart. 

The Pokemon — Best and Worst Pokemon Design

Pokemon design doesn't follow much of a trend, either, though one could argue the road got a bit bumpier after Gen III. It's easily the most divisive topic as well. You might hate my favorite Pokemon, and I could think your favorite Pokemon is complete garbage. Heck, some Pokemon literally are complete garbage.

Pokemon design has always bordered on the bizarre. There are animal-inspired designs like the Squirtle family mixed in with seductive Psychic humanoid creatures and genetically modified mutants. That doesn't leave much room for saying any Pokemon is "bad" or "weird," but it's safe to say Game Freak tends to do its best work when the developer isn't tied down to previous generations.

When Old Was Still New — Johto and Hoenn

Johto is a bit of an exception to that rule. Game Freak designed 100 new Pokemon to populate the region. Still, instead of rehashing the Kanto bug trilogy or making another new bat 'mon, these older Pokemon live alongside the new ones. Such a design felt like a healthy balance between nostalgia and newness, with plenty of fresh designs to make it sparkle.

Gen III did the exact opposite, and it was a smart move despite being a bit of a gamble. For it to work, the designs had to be exciting and engaging — and they were. Gone are most of the familiar faces, and in their place waddle strange little rabbits called Whismur, deadly sloths, and a familiar-seeming caterpillar. Still, none of these have much to do with their specific region; they just exist.

Look, It's New! Just Kidding, It's the Same Thing

Looking back, you can see Gen IV is where things started to get a bit confused. The Sinnoh Pokedex is notable for how few completely new Pokemon it adds, with many of them just being different variations on existing 'mon. Some can reasonably be called palette swaps as well, like the Starly line that isn't Pidgey — but is basically Pidgey — or Fat Persian, er, I mean "Purrugly."

Gen V tried adopting a Hoenn model, with a whole massive new roster of completely new 'mon, but it also suffers from Sinnoh syndrome.

Yeah, a lot of these new Pokemon were great, like Zebstrika and the Litwick family. But a lot of them were variations of what came before, and it just seemed like ticking the boxes: Rock-type and Fighting-type families that require trade to evolve? Check. Normal/Flying bird trio? Check. Two bug lines, one aggressive, the other not? Check. Version exclusive Grass lines? Sigh...check.

From there, the trend has been increasingly towards the familiar, with Gens VI and VII giving us massive Pokedexes with less than memorable new Pokemon, or if they are memorable, they get swamped by the hundreds of other 'mon vying for attention.

Regional Pokemon Flavo(u)r

Interestingly, Gen VIII has the fewest new Pokemon of any recent game, yet these stand out the most. Part of that is because we didn't see them all until later. But the other part is how they're handled. Just some slight tweaks to the formula keep it seeming fresh.

Your Rock-type Rolycoly is a dual Fire-type, is fast, has high special attack (??), and doesn't have to be traded to get its final evolved form. There's a cutesy Normal-type right at the beginning, but it's a freaking monster squirrel-tank that can power through most opponents. There's a new Bug line, but it's weird, and it's a Psychic radar to boot, and the new Flying line is part Steel — not new in itself (Skarmory), but it's how it's handled that makes a difference.

The familiar is still here, and you can forget Blipbug and get your Caterpie if you want. Like in Gen II, the new and old complement each other, and like Gen III, there's enough difference in how they're handled to convince long-time players this is a brand new adventure.

Even the silly ones like Alcremie have a purpose, and more importantly, you get to interact with them. You have to whip Milcery (not literally) to get Alcremie, find out if Sinistea is authentic or forged, and push Farfetch'd to greater heights of bravery until it evolves.

Like with the Champion Cup, this is yet another way the Galar region makes the Pokemon world feel more alive and closer to the anime. Even if there aren't as many new Pokemon, this is the best way forward for the series. It doesn't require shaking the formula up that much.


It's surprising to see a series as revered as Pokemon have a bit of a design potluck from the beginning.

The core gameplay might remain the same, but there have been a lot of changes in how these things are implemented. Region design experienced a bit of a crisis when it went from Japan-only inspiration to global. Still, hopefully, the design team has a better idea of how to make them interesting from here on.

The same goes for the Gym Challenge and Elite Four. Chances are, though, feedback on difficulty and overall goals for the next gen mean there probably won't be any identifiable pattern or logic in how the games' challenges move forward.

The Best and the Worst of the Fire Emblem Series Examined Wed, 19 Jun 2019 16:16:03 -0400 Josh Broadwell

While Nintendo's E3 2019 presentation and Treehouse Lives didn't give us all that much information about the upcoming Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the Big N offered enough of a taster to get a good idea about what to expect.

From a series-busting change in the combat system to a massive cast of characters, mysterious enemies and a continent at war, the trailer showed off a lot of new content. Most important was revealing the game isn't just a school story and includes a time-skip partway through. It looks like FE:TH is set to be one of the better Fire Emblem games in a long time.

Of course, that designation begs the question: "What makes a good Fire Emblem anyway?"

The answer would likely vary greatly depending on who you ask. Here we're going to go over some of the key facets of the series and highlight the titles that did it best and worst. Certainly, not all Fire Emblem titles are created equal.

The Story Aspect

Any Fire Emblem lives or dies by its story, and the series is definitely a case where story is greater than or equal to gameplay.

The mechanics might be spot-on, but it's difficult to put a lot of time and work into a game that doesn't make you care or want to find out what happens after that chapter. Make no mistake: Fire Emblem games tend to require a fair bit of work, unless you break them of course.

Best Fire Emblem Plots

The Tellius Saga

Fortunately, most FE stories are good, even the very basic ones like the first game, titled Shadow Dragon in North America. Yet there are some that stand above the others as the best Fire Emblem plots.

It's pretty difficult to split Path of Radiance from Radiant Dawn in terms of story because the one isn't complete without the other. They do stand strong on their own, but together, their overarching story is dramatic, grand, and compelling.

One of the most interesting features is the conflict between Beorc and Laguz. In PoR, it seems like a unique side story that adds background and makes the world seem deeper. It isn't until you near the end of Radiant Dawn that you find out it's the source of the entire arc's conflict, that fighting and prejudice between two groups of different appearance and heritage reached the point where it threatened to destroy all of civilization.

It's helped along by some storytelling flair as well. Playing from different perspectives was nothing new to the series at that point. However, Radiant Dawn's splitting the narrative into three parts that eventually come together created a compelling sense of tension. It centers everything around the many, many problems plaguing the land and how they were affecting characters you either knew from the first game or became acquainted with in an earlier part of this one.

That the stories are fraught with betrayal and rife with surprise reveals about certain characters' backgrounds, like Soren, Greil, and a certain bishop, means both games easily retain the player's interest throughout the 70+ hour combined story — which is good, since neither is exactly a cakewalk.

Worst Fire Emblem Plots

Fire Emblem: Fates

The Fates games get a lot of flak from series fans, and, well, it's deserved in terms of plot. After chapter 6 and The Big Decision, it just doesn't really go anywhere. The middle chapters in all three branches are basically variants of "We must defeat Opponent X, and to do so, we shall travel — a lot."

There aren't any major plot twists, except ones the games telegraph loudly from the beginning, e.g. who the traitor is. No minor antagonists really stand out either, unlike, say, Sonia from Blazing Blade. It doesn't change in Revelation, either.

That's not from lack of material. The unnamed continent has what seems like a rich history to explore, particularly the relationships between the various subgroups that live there and the two main powers. Then there's the resistance movement, the concept of the Faceless, how the conflicts affect others — plenty of interesting areas to explore.

The problem is Fates is a concept-based game that relied too much on the idea of branching paths at the expense of making those paths interesting.

Map Design

Map design is up there with story in terms of importance. It's pretty difficult to get immersed in a game when the stage maps are dull, uninspired, or just plain easy; it is supposed to be a strategy game, after all.

Unlike story, not all FE games sport quality maps, and even the good games in this category still have some that turn into a slog. The maps that are good stick with you for a long time as part of the overall experience — how they tested you, what strategy worked after failing 50 times, how it was fine until X unexpectedly showed up.

Best Fire Emblem Maps

Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade

Known just as Fire Emblem in the West, the 7th title in the series boasts a number of quality maps that test he player's ability and often require a few retries until you learn exactly how they work. The Peddler Merlinus and The Dread Isle are shining examples. Darkness and fog of war, respectively, are added on top of already difficult maps, crippling your vision and making the sense of relief at finishing with everyone alive tangible.

Then there's Cog of Destiny, which looks deceptively simple, but forces you to use every character wisely to defend against hordes of reinforcements.

Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest

Conquest easily wins out over the other two Fates games in this regard. Not only does it bring back conditional victories, like in Eternal Stairway and Unhappy Reunion, but it throws all kinds of obstacles up at almost every turn. Cold Reception is an early case of this, and it's especially interesting because you can technically make it easier on yourself by not trying to visit each house. Bitter Intrigue is another one that punishes you for trying to charge through too quickly, even while you have a limited number of turns.

Voice of Paradise is probably the best, though. Not only is the setting completely unique to the entire series, but the method of progression is as well. There are ways to completely cheese it, which is still difficult, or you can buckle up and try to fight your way over the boats; bottlenecks are usually your friend in FE, but here is another story entirely.

Worst Fire Emblem Maps

Fire Emblem: Awakening

First, let me say I like Awakening on whole, but even I can't deny its maps aren't that great. They're largely linear affairs, with very few obstacles except in some stages like Emmeryn and... well, that's it actually.

The rest of them except a few towards the end tend to be full of open spaces. You can patiently move your entire army from one end to the other, gang up on the boss, et voila. Mad King Gangrel is one of the worst offenders here, with Naga's Voice being another.

It's not that these aren't challenging; they can be. It's just there are only so many times you want to deal with the same basic, open map style. The Paralogues are where the more interesting designs are, but it's a problem when the most dynamic designs in a game are relegated to its side stories.

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

It might seem a bit unfair to put Sacred Stones under the bad category.

Many of its maps, like Phantom Ship and Victims of War, are quite good. The problem is they don't really do much different from Blazing Blade, with a few exceptions. Refining what works well is by no means a bad thing, but some changes in environment, style, or even just obstacles would have improved.

The other issue is how most of the maps turn into slog-fests, Scorched Sand, Darkling Woods, and Two Faces of Evil in particular. There's nothing like taking 20 turns just to trek across the map to the objective for ruining immersion.

Supporting Casts

One of Fire Emblem's biggest strengths has almost always been its dynamic supporting casts and the accompanying relationships players can build between them.

To test this claim, just play Shadow Dragon and then a more modern title. The difference is immediately noticeable, because the older titles didn't develop other characters as fully.

Despite being called "supporting" casts, these can make or break a game. Good characters with depth or fun personalities make you want to spend time in the game, learning about them and developing their skills. In other words, they make you want to play Fire Emblem.

Best Fire Emblem Support Casts

Fire Emblem: Awakening

Issues with map design and some narrative indecision aside, Awakening has a stellar supporting cast, helped along by some excellent localization from 8-4.

Each character almost pops off the screen — and no, that's not a 3D joke — with their own quirks, fully developed personalities, and most importantly, interesting stories. It's all made even better with the game finally opening up support conversations so almost everyone can have a chat with, well, almost everyone else.

Obviously, there are characters more appealing than others; Gaius, the cheeky, candy-obsessed thief with a heart, Morgan the oblivious, and the wannabe Lothario Virion. The list could basically include the entire cast. 

That's because even the tired trope characters have at least one scene or characteristic that makes them feel fresh. Ricken in particular stands out. He's the usual "boy who wants to be grown up." Despite, or maybe because of, his overall immaturity, his interactions with Panne and Maribelle demonstrate a higher level of emotional awareness and compassion than many of the other characters.

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

Sacred Stones makes up for its recycled map concepts with a pretty strong cast of supporting characters. Some might not be quite as dynamic or entertaining as the Awakening cast — Moulder, for instance.

However, they compensate for amusing quirks with more meaningful interactions between each other, interactions that make the player want to find out more or keep using those characters. For example, Neimi and Colm's relationship makes you want to keep them together, Cormag needs to be rehabilitated, and Marisa's and Tethys's backgrounds are awfully mysterious.

The game does still have its stand-out characters, though. L'Arachel and her retainers easily steal the show, and Lute is a strong follow-up for Serra whose interactions with Artur create an entertaining foil for the more serious characters.

Worst Fire Emblem Support Casts

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright

Birthright really got the short end of  the stick with its supporting cast. For whatever reason, the Nohrian side has all the interesting and bizarre characters, from Charlotte and Benny, to Arthur, Odin, and, of course, Peri the bloodthirsty madwoman.

The Hoshidans get arguments about who serves their lord better — two separate sets, in fact: Hana and Subaki, then Oboro and Hinata. Hayato is Ricken revisited, only without many redeeming qualities, the ninjas don't say much (not altogether surprising), and Rinkah just falls short.

The reason? They don't have anything going for them. Setsuna and Azama are the only ones with unique personalities, along with Orochi, though the latter only gets some depth with Kaze, Corrin, and Saizo. Even many of the support convos seem forced and stretched out to get to that A or S-rank mark, because there isn't anything to say. It's odd and frankly disappointing.

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

If you've played Radiant Dawn, then this needs no explanation. The game doesn't let you get to know the supporting cast at all. In a bizarre turn of events, the game did away with regular support conversations in place of very short, non-essential speech snippets that are supposed to be like bonds of some kind. They offer battle benefits — and little else.

It's a huge missed opportunity, too. The cast is full of promise, especially given the wildly varying settings that shape their experiences. The Dawn Brigade is one of the most rag-tag band of companions in the series, and then pretty much every playable character and some extras get thrown together towards the end.

Maybe at the time, it was a logistics nightmare coming up with all those possible conversations, or it was an innovation gone wrong. Either way, it makes for a very bland experience outside the main story and fails to deliver on the promise of the unique cast.


With Treehouse Live keeping much of the plot and gameplay hidden for now, so close to release date, it's too early to say whether Three Houses will exceed in any or all of these categories.

In the end, though, all of this is pretty subjective, because a series made up of so many intricate components is bound to appeal to different people in different ways. What to me might be the worst map design in the series could be someone else's favorite — and that's okay.

New Horizons is The Best — and Only — Direction for Animal Crossing Tue, 18 Jun 2019 11:02:56 -0400 Josh Broadwell

E3 finally gave people their first glimpse at the upcoming Animal Crossing Switch game, titled Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The good news is it looks amazing. The bad news is we can't get our hands on it until next year.

That's okay, really. Not only does it mean the dev team gets to be real humans with a work-life balance, but it also means they have the time they need to really make this a stand-out game. And it looks like it's going to be a stand-out game.

Past titles have played it safe with innovations and doing new things, striking a balance between innovation and safety that sometimes leans a bit too far towards the latter than the former. However, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is making a big step forward for the series, even bigger than New Leaf, and it's exactly what Animal Crossing needs to keep it fresh and appealing for years to come.

Tried and True

Animal Crossing's debut was much like Harvest Moon's: it was a completely different kind of game that shattered all traditional notions of gameplay. You were completely free to do whatever you wanted, interact with townsfolk as much or as little as possible, and even live in a dingy 4x4 house for your entire game if you felt like Tom Nook needed to find other sources of revenue.

Yet that innovation and its popularity put the series in a bit of a difficult place. On the one hand, changing things up too much could potentially alienate players who loved the formula first used; on the other, making future entries too similar to previous installments means there's little incentive to play.

It's a position Animal Crossing grappled with for a while and not always with successful results. The developers focused more on the multiplayer aspects when making changes for Wild World and City Folk, taking advantage of wireless communication and trying to implement more activities people could enjoy in their friends' towns.

Changes for single player mode were conservative at best and regressive at worst. WW ditched the major holidays in favor of drawn-out affairs the player couldn't participate in. However, it did expand villager conversation variety and add new request types, along with new furniture. The world became rounder, but smaller as well.

Other major changes included Celeste's observatory and the ability to see the sky; the latter might sound mundane, but it adds a special sense of wholeness to the town.

Rather than being a big step forward, it was more like a refinement that tried to recapture the same sense of of the original, but for new audiences. With a goal like that, it's understandable the team would be careful how much they changed.

Urban Stagnation

City Folk suffered from that approach, only with the Wii as the platform — and by exactly the same approach, to a fault. It's still a charming game, but apart from having all the special characters in one place and an upgraded aesthetic, there isn't much new in a positive way.

What it did do was severely pare down villager interactions . No longer could you shoot the breeze with your favorite animals or pester them for requests until at last they remembered that video tape they loaned out. Instead, you had no communication options and had to deal with a few responses on repeat for an hour.

The disappearing grass function was a strange innovation as well. Presumably meant to create paths in the town, it resulted in a lot of brown instead and some very thin grass. That might not seem like a big deal, but in a game where the goal is making your town as beautiful, or as whatever, as you want, punishing you for walking around said town doesn't seem very beneficial. (It's worth noting the New Horizons trailer shows you making paths specifically, so huzzah; your grass is safe forevermore.)

Overall, none of these negatives are really all that bad, though. The games are still incredibly fun, and it's easy to sink a ton of time into them. The problem comes when you look at them and realize you could get largely the same experience regardless of which title you chose.

Election Time

New Leaf came and changed all of that with a simple mechanics change. Making the player the mayor initially came off as a gimmick, but it opened up a vital aspect of living in an AC town: making it completely your own.

The Town Ordinances addressed a long-standing problem for fans who didn't have a school-based schedule by letting stores open earlier or close later. The sheer convenience of making villagers focus on town beautification can't be overstated either and saved those poor flowers from neglect.

More important was the introduction of Public Works Projects. These special, sometimes wacky, items could be placed anywhere — well, almost — in any combination, and there were a ton to unlock. They also gave players something to work towards other than repaying a home loan, which goes far in providing incentive to keep playing.

It also introduced the start of something new with furniture: customization and new placement options. The series has always been about living your fictional life your way, and New Leaf finally started to make that possible.

It couldn't really be replicated, though. Many fans and critics lamented City Folk's recycling of Wild World. There's no way Animal Crossing could have directly continued what New Leaf started without repeating that situation, getting stuck by just adding new Public Works Projects, some new furniture and ultimately displeasing consumers.

Communal Island Paradise

So it doesn't try to. New Horizons makes a clean break from previous Animal Crossing concepts, taking the major, most enjoyable features from the series and doing something new with them.

Moving the game out of a traditional town and into an exotic new location is, like many positive changes in the series' history, minor on the surface. After all, E3 interviews with the game's director confirmed most of the town building aspects will remain recognizable. However, it creates an atmosphere of new beginnings (hence the game's name) that, recognizable progression or not, does make even familiar tasks seem fresh.

The main feature of populating an island greatly contributes to that as well. With New Leaf, the focus was firmly on you. Even though you can determine where your neighbors live, it seems like this is meant to be a more cooperative outing.

You're all in the same boat, held under Tom Nook's merciless iron thumb until you pay back your loans and can move out of your tents. Plus, unhappy villagers will leave the island, and it looks like fellow islanders will contribute a lot more to the community's well-being, if their gardening activities in the trailer are anything to go by.

In other words, not only are you taking part in village/island life per usual; you're all working together to make that life. It's basically the fully realized fulfillment of the original Animal Crossing's promise all those years ago.

New Horizons borrows from Happy Home Designer and Pocket Camp in what looks like highly effective ways as well. The half-grid placement makes a return from HHD, and it seems as if you can use it to plant tightly knit garden projects, among other things.

But the more exciting feature is placing furniture and items outside.

Your Island, Your Way

This time, your town really can be your own, and you can change it however you want, whenever you want. Public Works Projects are great, but they're specialty items mostly, like the Jungle Gym, or classic buildings like the Lighthouse. New Horizons lets you create a temporary campsite, as we've seen, but assuming there are no limits to what you can place outdoors, the possibilities will be limitless.

One thing I'm most excited about, though, is the item crafting. Pocket Camp introduced us to it in a sense, and New Horizons is taking it to greater heights. Nook Miles rewards are sort of like the Meow Coupons add-on in New Leaf, tasking you to complete certain quests to get rewards. But not having every item or piece of furniture you want available immediately provides an even more compelling reason to keep playing.

You're trying to earn or find recipes, or items to make something new. Sure, you're probably going to get stuck trying to find a certain recipe, just like waiting for years on that one piece of furniture Nook never seemed to stock. However, searching them out, finding the ones you want, and making your island community into something unique puts the focus more firmly on players than even New Leaf's mayor feature did.

Multiplayer was never Animal Crossing's strong point. There just wasn't enough to do, and the chat functions weren't quite up to snuff, unless you liked playing right up against your TV thanks to the Wii Speak's obnoxiously short cord.

Yet it seems like New Horizons will be a step in the right direction for multiplayer as well. Obviously, most of its multiplayer features are still under wraps, but we did get a glimpse at something the series has needed for so long: playing with friends and family at the same time.

Because Animal Crossing's multiplayer offerings were so limited, it never made sense you couldn't at least play with the other people living in your own town and work together. Well, okay, I'm sure it does make sense from a technological standpoint, but it was a huge bummer nonetheless.


New Horizons is an appropriate name not just because the game takes place on a new island over the horizon.

This looks like this is the first time Animal Crossing will really give you the reins in your town and finally add greater purpose to all that item and furniture hoarding... er, collecting. It's a completely new outlook for the series, even while it retains its beloved roots — and it's hopefully setting a pattern of innovation for future entries as well.

Resident Evil 2 Remake and How Capcom Found Its Way Tue, 15 Jan 2019 16:24:03 -0500 Josh Broadwell

Resident Evil is a series with a curious history marked by many highs and lows. However, the upcoming Resident Evil 2 remake looks to keep things consistent, continuing what Capcom established with its excellent Resident Evil 7.

After catapulting to fame during the era of the original PlayStation, the Resident Evil franchise plateaued with the smash hit that was Resident Evil 4. Despite being well-received at the time, this entry showed signs of the series rapidly moving away from what initially made it great.

This continued with Resident Evil 5, which prompted some fans to reflect on the franchise’s move away from survival and horror towards something more akin to Call of Duty, though the entry was also well-regarded after its launch.

Resident Evil 6 followed this trend and failed miserably as a result— at least in terms of satisfying critics and consumers — but there’s more to its failure than just a move away from survival tension. The series had become bloated by that time, with grandiose storylines and farfetched plots that asked players to suspended their disbelief without offering a rewarding return.

The Revelations spin-offs tried correcting these problems, but they still struggled with convoluted plots and mixed gameplay styles.

Finally, Capcom listened to players and delivered Resident Evil 7, the critically acclaimed return to Resident Evil’s survival-horror roots. It’s a fantastic game that manages to recognize the turns that the series took in other entires without being crippled by them.

This led to a self-contained, nail-biting thrill-ride from start to finish. That's a good thing for classic Resident Evil fans, because without the success of Resident Evil 7, there probably wouldn’t be the highly anticipated Resident Evil 2 remake.

Halcyon Days


The first three Resident Evil games weren’t exactly unique in the survival genre, but it’s the survival elements that make them stand out and propelled the series to fame.

Limited saves, limited space for items and weapons, and very limited ammunition create an incredibly tense atmosphere where players have to weigh each action carefully as they plan for some unknown and deadly future. At times, the games are downright brutal.

It’s a clever method of immersion, making the player think like the character they control. But the old Resident Evil games throw all of that at players at once, and they have tank-like controls that require players to rotate in order to change directions.

Were it not for Capcom executing the atmosphere (complete with excellent pre-rendered backgrounds), horror, action, and survival so well, the controls could have completely ruined the experience. However, as it is, they add to the tension and setting, and they are a significant part of why some fans consider these three to be the best Resident Evil games.


Any good horror experience requires just enough story, sprinkled with tantalizing mystery, to keep audiences invested and present a good reason for why the events are happening. While tension is really what makes the Resident Evil series scary, the stories they tell offer exactly that.

For example, while Chris and Jill investigate the mysterious Mansion in the original release, they slowly uncover clues as to why these hideous monsters exist to begin with.

Crimson Heads and Cerberus fiends get the blood pumping when they chase your poor tanky characters down a long hallway, but it’s when you figure out that Crimson Head used to be a human experimented on that it all gets a lot creepier, especially when players encounter Lisa Trevor. It’s no Silent Hill, but it’s disturbing nonetheless.

As the series continues, so does its horrifying plot. For instance, events spiral out of control in Resident Evil 2 when the entirety of Raccoon City becomes contaminated, leading to the eventual destruction of the city in Resident Evil 3. All of this death, tragedy, and destruction centers around greed and the desire for power.

Fantastical as it is, the story passes muster because it combines just enough humanity and reality with the obvious video game elements, and, more importantly, it keeps everything under control. The three games take place over a roughly six-month period, and Umbrella and the government take pains to ensure everything remains completely unknown outside the few survivors of the Raccoon City Incident.

A Turn for the Worse?

And then we come to Resident Evil 4.

Leon Kennedy survives chaos and destruction, like any good hero, and he now works as a special agent investigating the kidnapping of the president's daughter by some Spanish cult. Resident Evil 4 turns the series into a kind of James Bond meets the Da Vinci Code plus zombies affair.

The survival is still there, of course, and exploring abandoned, ominous huts and creepy cathedrals has a nice effect. But the plot is a mix of derivative and overly-complicated, introducing a new type of virus (that does the same thing as the T Virus), a new mysterious rival organization (that does the same thing Umbrella did), weird cults, presidential kidnappings, and more.

Resident Evil 5 tries to pick up Resident Evil 4's plot threads and link them to earlier hints at Umbrella’s activities overseas, but, in doing so, it abandons the essential survival element that made Resident Evil, well, Resident Evil.

Sure, the action is exhilarating and lore fans will appreciate the plot expansion, but Capcom got the wrong message here. The company believed fans wanted action games, and it lost sight of its artistic vision.

Pursuing profits meant creating material fans never really asked for to begin with — at least not from Capcom. Innovation took a backseat to pandering, and the company's reputation suffered from it (and from a certain controversy associated with it).

Resident Evil 6 is the culmination of that misguided pursuit. Thematically, it’s a mess, with the four diverging plotlines each using different gameplay styles. None of these offerings are fully developed, and there is very little in the way of horror, grotesque monsters, or puzzles (outside of Ada’s campaign). Basically, it's not even a Resident Evil title.

The plot is even more unbelievable than you’d expect from a horror title. Raccoon City was destroyed, so no one knows what happened, but it’s not very likely that all of the passengers on flights will turn into zombies while multiple international governments collude on some obscure weaponry plot without at least someone getting wind of what’s going on. Not to mention that a president’s daughter turning into a zombie and eating her father is bound to get some attention.

And there’s always that slight impression in the back of your mind that Tom Cruise is going to jump out and save the day during the next cutscene.

Back to Basics

But oh, how Resident Evil 7 changed things.

The game was developed concurrently with the remake of Resident Evil 2, though, of course, 7 came first. That two teams worked on two similar, back-to-basics titles strongly suggests that Capcom got the message about what fans want loud and clear, but without 7’s success, one wonders whether the company would have seen the remake of through to the end.

Longtime fans probably have an idea of why Resident Evil 7 was so successful, but it’s worth breaking down anyway. The most obvious reason is the return of the survival and horror elements, and while inventory management might not be as brutal as before, you still must think carefully about what you’re doing, especially since everything wants to kill you.

Furthermore, Capcom likes to experiment with camera angles, but choosing first-person for 7 was vital for the game’s atmosphere and creating a unique experience. Exploring 7's plantation mansion in third-person — even in HD—would be far too similar to exploring Resident Evil and Resident Evil Zero’s mansions, and it would have repeated Resident Evil 6’s mistake of recycling the Raccoon City Incident.

First-person also increases the horror factor exponentially, both because it’s a new approach and because it makes 7’s setting more intimate.

That level of closeness is what really makes 7 so great, as it creates an overall scarier experience. Wandering the plantation house and grounds while knowing that no one can hear you or save you makes for an incredibly tense experience.

It’s even more tense when the stakes are so personal, with Ethan’s wife’s life in the balance and the terrible choice between Mia and Zoe that players have to make. It's a return to the style of the original three games, as it emphasizes the human element, particularly when players learn how the Molded came to exist and what (and who) Eveline really is.

However, it also allowed Capcom to ignore the tangled mess the House of Umbrella created. RE7 is very much tied to the Umbrella saga, and there are nods to the stories in other games, what with Chris’s connection to Blue Umbrella, but all of that is literally miles away from Ethan.

As with the original, all the player knows is what’s going on in front of them, and the story unfolds as Ethan learns more about Eveline and the Bakers. It doesn’t preclude a grand tale, but it does mean the game is a lot more focused and can tell a better story through its gameplay.

The Next Logical Step

How does that relate to Resident Evil 2’s remake, you might ask? In several ways.

First, Capcom learned to balance innovation with tradition. 7 showed just how much fans wanted survival-horror to return to Resident Evil, and now Capcom seems to understand it’s okay to give horror-driven gameplay back to fans on a regular basis.

It makes sense then to go back to RE2 right afterwards, and it shows fans that the company is serious about what the series will be about from here on. It also offers a chance to expand once again on the formula that made the first (and seventh) so successful: survival.

Notably, 2 is even more of a survival-horror game than 7 or the original Resident Evil, offering higher stakes, more claustrophobic environments, and an ever-present sense of panic about what’s going to happen to the city. Certainly, Resident Evil 2’s remake will pull in even more fans because of this approach and its expanded environment.

Then there's the lessons in gameplay innovations that Capcom learned from 7. Successfully implementing camera and control changes in that entry means that the company now knows how to navigate the difficulties of re-creating Resident Evil 2 for modern players.

Additionally, it also makes it okay for Capcom to reinstitute the third-person angle without feeling like something drastically different had to be done. Innovation can be small-scale and still have impact, and knowing this likely influenced Capcom’s decisions to faithfully reproduce RE2 while making only necessary changes.

7’s story made returning to 2 feasible as well. While engaging, there’s no denying RE2’s plot is a lot simpler than later games, which could have seemed like an odd jump if players went straight from 6 back into 2.

Instead, it’s a logical step, allowing new fans that were drawn in by 7 to uncover the origins of Umbrella and its mutants without having to venture back into the more recent games. The stylistic differences could cause them to completely lose their taste for the series.

Whether the remake would have happened anyway, there’s little doubt that 7’s success ensured Capcom would put as much effort into recapturing the dark grandeur of the series as possible.

Looking Ahead

But then there’s the question of where the series heads from 7 as well, with some fans wanting it to expand like the original release of Resident Evil 2 expanded on the first Resident Evil. Capcom is reportedly keeping an eye on fan responses and is toying with the idea of using urban settings again instead of sticking to exotic, far-flung locales.

That makes RE2 remake an ideal experiment for seeing where the series can go next. Should fans love Raccoon City as much as they once did, it’s likely we’ll see an even better city setting next time.

Regardless, Capcom has learned its lesson. What fans are likely to get from now on is a combination of what sells and what the company wants to create.

It’s a fine line to walk between caving in to consumer demand and still giving developers room to create, but with the Resident Evil 2 remake setting the tone for future installments by leaving Capcom in no doubt as to what sells (and what developers should create), the monster of greed and innovation has, hopefully, been tamed for good.

Most importantly, Resident Evil 7 ensured the remake would be a success from the get-go. Longtime fans might have bought 2 to experience what they once loved, but without 7, it’s unlikely many new people would have given it a try, especially knowing it’s a remake of an older, clunkier game.

Instead of being a one-off return to the glory days of old, the Resident Evil 2 remake is set to take a position as the herald of greater things to come. It marks the transition of one of the best horror game series around back to more horror, more challenges, more intrigue, and most of all, more fun.

Why Some Folks Just Can't Let Melee Go Tue, 01 Jan 2019 06:00:01 -0500 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is out, and despite the fact that it has proven to be the best-received entry in the series thus far, some folks are already over it.

If you've spent any time around the competitive Super Smash Bros. scene, you know that there is a relatively small, but incredibly vocal, contingent of players that swear that Super Smash Bros. Melee is not just the perfect Super Smash Bros. title, but that it's the pinnacle of fighting games in general, the most perfect and complete competitive fighting game ever made. You've seen them.

So the question, then, remains, what's so special about Super Smash Bros. Melee? Why can't players at both the casual and competitive levels just move on to a newer, shinier game with more content? Why do people keep playing Super Smash Bros. Melee when other, better options exist?

There are a bunch of answers to this question. A few are satisfying, a few aren't.

It Came Out In 2001

This is probably the least satisfying, but most compelling answer to why folks still play Super Smash Bros. Melee. The simple truth is that the game came out over 15 years ago, and fans have used that time not just to hone their skills, but as a whole, to refine Super Smash Bros. Melee's metagame to the point where it has pretty much been mastered in a way that few other video games have.

And when I say metagame, I don't mean mind games that players use to get an edge. For competitive gamers in the fighting game community, the metagame is the set of rules that exists one layer deeper than the game itself. This includes advanced strategies, sure, but more importantly, the concept of a metagame deals with which strategies are optimal at any given time. Metagames for titles get refined as folks play the game at high levels and learn, say, which characters are more powerful than others, or which moves are the quickest, or what combos can confirm a kill.

All this is to say that age is on Super Smash Bros. Melee's side here. Professional players like Leffen or Mang0 will be hesitant to jump ship and move to another title specifically because so much time has been spent essentially solving Melee. Which brings us to the next point...

Almost None Of The Advanced Techniques from Melee Will Help You In Later Titles

One of the biggest knocks on competitive Melee is that the barrier for entry is insanely high. In order to even move around the stage fast enough to keep up with the competition, you have to master wavedashing – and that's just moving around. God help you if you want to actually learn how to string combos together.

For new players, this is intimidating. It's a lot easier to jump in to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate where the game holds your hand a little bit as you learn the advanced techniques. Not only is there more room for error, but the techniques themselves make more sense logically than air-dodging into the ground to skip across the platform.

On the flip side, for players that have spent years mastering these Melee techniques, it would be patently insane for them to jump ship and essentially start from scratch in a new game, since none of the advanced techniques carry over. Melee was so fun to learn because these techniques were discovered by players; many weren't even intended by the developers. It was like a treasure hunt, and when a new technique was found (like the now-questionably-legal Ice Climbers infinite grab) it was something special. It felt like the player was bending the game's rules to their will, because they kind of were.

Newer titles don't have that kind of mystique, since they're patched so often. Again, moving from Melee to Ultimate would really represent a major step backward from players at the most competitive levels. The games play completely differently, and that works in Melee's favor. It's unique, singular, and frozen in time.

Brawl Was (Mostly) a Competitive Dud

I firmly believe that, had Super Smash Bros. Brawl not featured Meta Knight as a playable character, or taken the misstep of introducing random character tripping as a game mechanic, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Though The Subspace Emissary was one of the best things the Super Smash Bros. series ever gave us, Super Smash Bros. Brawl was underwhelming as a competitive game, so much so that when the game was released and Nintendo was pushing it as a competitive fighter, players almost immediately returned to Melee, much to Nintendo's chagrin.

Comparing competitive Melee to competitive Brawl is almost unfair.

Melee is violently, nauseatingly quick. If you blink, you'll miss something – a gigantic combo, a frame-perfect technique, or a heartbreaking edgeguard. It's the kind of competitive game that keeps a viewer on the edge of their seats at all times – there's literally never a dull moment because every player is in danger of losing a stock at any time.

On the other hand, Brawl is painfully slow and floaty. Sure, there are some quicker characters, but as the metagame developed, it became clear that the optimal strategy in Brawl was to wait for your opponent to attack. Not to mention the fact that organizers had to outright ban an entire character from the game in worldwide competition because he was so overpowered (to this day, no other Smash title has done this – even Bayonetta in Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U was only banned in certain areas). And on those rare occasions where something cool does happen, a character will trip over nothing and render everything moot.

The result of this is that competitive Melee players dropped Brawl pretty quickly, which in turn meant that those players spent that entire Wii console generation refining and perfecting their Melee skills. By the time Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U was announced, it was too late. Players had already committed to Melee for too long.

But Here's The Thing...

Folks often pooh-pooh Melee players as old, entitled, and elitist. That may or may not be true – certainly, the Melee scene is harder to break into since any new player will have to put in a whole lot of work to catch up with folks who have a 17-year headstart. But for that reason, that insane barrier to entry, the Melee scene is not as large as it once was.

Around the country, the trend has been established: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a young game. That's not to say that it's a new game, though that's certainly true, it's to say that the competitive player base is incredibly young. Speaking from personal experience, a good majority of the folks I see at weekly tournaments in Chicago are under 20 years old.

Many weren't even born when Melee came out.

In contrast, Melee players certainly aren't old (Hungrybox, the current #1 player in the world, is just 25) but they are definitively older than the Ultimate player base, if only by a little. None of the top 10 Melee players in the world are younger than 20.

This makes sense – it's an older game, so the player base will be older, but it's also a bit of a problem for Melee moving forward. Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U was an okay competitive game, but was hamstrung somewhat by a smaller install base. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, on the other hand, is moving copies at blazing speed on the red-hot Switch. Even more staggering is that this is the first time a competitively viable Super Smash Bros. game came out on a widely successful Nintendo system since Smash 64. Both the Gamecube and Wii U struggled to compete with competition from Sony and Microsoft.

All this is to say that Ultimate is primed to have the largest competitive player base in the history of the series, and that doesn't bode well for Melee tournaments, at least at the local level. The game is already siphoning folks from the competitive Smash 64, Project M (a fan-made mod for Brawl that made the game play more like Super Smash Bros. Melee), and yes, even the Melee scene. Of course, some of this is to be expected when a new game comes out, but if those players stick around for the long haul, Ultimate's success could cannibalize smaller Melee events.

Having said that, Melee tournaments at major events like EVO will always be amazing, hype-filled bashes, and that's not going to change anytime soon. Folks at the top level of play will be enjoying Melee until the heat death of the universe, something that was assured as soon as the magic words “Wombo combo” were uttered on that fateful day so many years ago.

Killer7 PC Remaster Released on Steam Today Thu, 15 Nov 2018 15:37:49 -0500 Greyson Ditzler

The remastered PC port of Grasshopper Manufacture's cult classic shooter Killer 7 was released on Steam today with surprisingly little fanfare. The port was announced earlier this year and was developed by NIS America.

Although the release date for the game was nebulous, the bizarre, arthouse GameCube/PS2 game from auteur game designer Suda51 is now on Steam for $20. There is also a 10% discount for a limited time.

Killer7 was the first game from Suda51 and Grasshopper Manufacture to make its way to North America, and it is still the only game that Suda51 had complete creative control over.

In the years since its release, the game has become a cult classic because of its hybrid gameplay, unique presentation, and highly unconventional, intentionally vague story loaded with mature and disturbing subject matter. 

In the game, players assume various roles within Killer 7, a group of mysterious shapeshifting assassins who are the United States' only line of defense against a deadly terrorist cell called the Heaven Smile. In a world where nuclear weapons and international airport travel have been completely decommissioned, global conflict has slowed to a crawl. However, intrigue between Japan and the U.S. could lead to enormous nuclear devastation.

The game kickstarted Suda51's career in the West and solidified his and Grasshopper's initial fanbase.

Top Five Kirby Spin-Off Games Fri, 07 Sep 2018 14:32:57 -0400 Lee Forgione

Kirby fans know that the series falls into two categories. There are the classic platforming action games like Kirby Star Allies and Kirby's Dreamland, and then there are the experimental games that shove Kirby into every possible scenario from racing to pinball. Some of these titles are hit or miss but most of them are pretty fun. Here are the five best Kirby spin-off games.

5. Kirby's Pinball Land (Game Boy)

Released on the Game Boy in 1993, Kirby's Pinball Land kicks off the tangent of side games Kirby would star in over the years. More than just a pinball game featuring Kirby, this game involved ascending through a series of levels by shooting Kirby past the top of the screen. The third screen up is where a Warpstar could be found that would take you to a boss fight against Whispy Woods, Kracko, and the Poppy Bros. After clearing all three stages, you must face King Dedede in his famous boxing ring.

This game pulls all sorts of tricks to stop you in your tracks like having characters throw you back down if you run into them and freezing up the pinball flippers so you can't knock Kirby back up. It's still a fun game to this day and can be found in the 3DS eShop for only a few bucks, so give it a try. 

4. Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble (Game Boy Color)

Utilizing a motion-sensing device built directly into the game cartridge, Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble let players control the direction of Kirby by tilting the Game Boy Color in various directions. The goal was to guide Kirby through a series of obstacles and hazards to the end of the level. Jerking the Game Boy Color upward made Kirby jump, adding an extra layer of skill to the game. There are eight worlds, each with a boss battle at the end, as well as an assortment of mini-games. A sequel was in the works for the GameCube and would have used the GBA adapter to control Kirby, but this game was ultimately canceled.

3. Kirby Canvas Curse (Nintendo DS)

One of the most unique experiences from HAL Laboratory featured the touch screen of the Nintendo DS for its control scheme. In Kirby Canvas Curse, you guide Kirby to the end of each stage by drawing rainbow lines on the touch screen to move him along. Drawing loop de loops gives Kirby a boost of speed which helps clear trickier areas. This ability is limited, however, by a bar that depletes as you draw, so you have to carefully plan out each route while keeping an eye on this meter.

Tapping Kirby will either propel him forward and damage enemies or unleash whichever copy ability you're currently using, including Wheel, Beam, Stone and more. Featuring eight full worlds, boss battles, and some really fun mini-games, Canvas Curse sits near the top of the Kirby side-game hierarchy. A follow up to this game, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, was released on the Wii U with mixed reception and a new clay model art style. 

2. Kirby Air Ride (GameCube)

The first and only Kirby racing game was also the only game in the series to be released on the GameCube. Throwing its own unique spin on the genre, acceleration was not activated via holding a button pressed down. Instead, each vehicle moved on its own and the A button was used to pull off speed boosting moves, use copy abilities, and come to a complete stop.

There are three modes to play around with, Air Ride, Top Ride, and City Trial. Air Ride is your basic Grand Prix featuring several sprawling tracks to race through. Top Ride presents a top-down view of a small self-contained track full of power-ups and hazards, while City Trial, the most popular of the three modes, puts players on a huge map together. The goal is to break open boxes and collect different power-ups that boost your top speed, turning, acceleration, and more. There's a set time limit, and at the end of each round players are pit against each other in a mini-game such as a battle royale or a drag race. Which power-ups you've collected will determine your success rate.

1. Kirby's Dream Course (SNES)

Last but not least is Kirby's Dream Course for the SNES, which I consider to be the crown jewel of the bunch. This game puts an interesting spin on golf as the goal is not simply to go for the hole. Before you can do that, you must first clear the board of all its enemies and the last enemy standing will turn into the hole. There's a variety of copy-abilities available to help you navigate the board. The Fireball ability sends you burning through the stage in whatever direction you're facing and the Freeze ability helps you pass water hazards by freezing it solid, allowing you to slide across.

Adding another layer of strategy to the game is the ability to curve your shots in different directions and keeping Kirby bouncing by pressing the A button upon landing. If all of these copy-abilities and special moves are orchestrated in a perfect fashion, it's possible to get a hole-in-one on every course. Anyone who can pull this off on some of the later courses is an insane genius as it takes a ton of dexterity to pull this off. 


What did you think of this list of Kirby spin-off games? Are there any games you would have liked to see make the cut? Sound off in the comments below.

GloGo Review: Send the Ball Home Thu, 30 Aug 2018 11:34:49 -0400 Allison M Reilly

Do you know the scene from Happy Gilmore, where Happy yells at the ball after he fails to sink the putt?

"Are you too good for your home? Answer me!"

GloGo by Accordion Games is the video game version of that scene.

Released in January 2018, GloGo is an arcade, puzzle game where the player sends the ball toward its hole (a.k.a home) at the end of the level as fast as possible. Players are the ball, using a keyboard or joystick to control it. Obstacles, such as holes, walls and moving blocks, add difficulty and ensure the "way home" isn't a straight line. The game is a neat concept, but at times so frustrating, you want to punch that guy too.

And GloGo knows it. Rage quitting is one of the Steam achievements.

The Environment Isn't the Problem

GloGo and Accordion Games nail the aesthetic. No frustration here.

The music is perfect for GloGo, reflecting the concept's simplicity while adding flair when the game's objective never changes. Each level has its own track, but the entire soundtrack is dubstep, so I don't recommend this game if you hate electronic music. However, the music doesn't get in the way of the gameplay. Players can easily spend 20 minutes on a level going for the fastest time possible, and the music doesn't distract or get stuck in your head.

The neon color scheme is also a great choice. The bright colors add pizzaz but also make it easy to see the obstacles. I also like that certain objects are always specific colors. The ramps are green, the moving blocks are blue, the ball is white. The neon colors also contrast well against the white ball and black floor. Everything in the game is easy to see and identify; there's no confusion about what obstacle is coming up.

The Platinum is a Lie

Ultimately, GloGo doesn't get a higher rating because it doesn't have a good balance between speed and precision. Level 11, for example, requires so much precision that players need to complete the level several times before thinking about how to do the level faster. Yet, Level 11 is full of jumps where the player won't clear the jump if they're not going fast enough. Ultimately, there isn't much room for players to learn and master levels at their own pace. This can make getting through some levels infuriating.

The platinum times are just about impossible to get. For each level, there are five awards: participation, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Any time matching the participation time or slower earns a participation trophy. In the above photo, to earn bronze, the player needs a time of 20 or 21 seconds. Under 20 seconds earns silver, while a 22-second time will earn the participation trophy.

There are Steam achievements for platinum times that no player has achieved yet. Level 1 has a platinum time of 7 seconds, meaning to get the platinum award, players have to complete the level in under 7 seconds. Six seconds may seem easy but unlike Level 11, there's not much precision to Level 1. It has a straightforward solution, the ball also only goes so fast, and the levels do not provide speed boosts. GloGo consists of 16 levels, four sets of four. The difficulty progression is somewhat steep, but that's expected with only 16 levels. Each level, after the initial learning phase, takes between 10 to 60 seconds to complete. So, finding another second to cut out of seven is tough to do.

Something else GloGo is missing that would greatly improve the experience is an options menu. For example, I would love an options menu to turn off the tutorial messages that come up throughout the first few levels. The messages are helpful for my first playthrough, but break the immersion when I'm trying so very hard to hit platinum-level times.

The Final Putt

Overall, GloGo is a neat concept that invigorates the purest of tryhards and satisfies some casual gamers. For me, I don't want to quit GloGo because if I quit, the game wins. It's a one-player game meant and designed to be beaten. If I can't beat it, who can? But, completing a game so the game doesn't win isn't a very compelling reason to play. Knowing how unforgiving it is to learn each level, I don't look forward to it and I don't expect many other players to look forward to it either.

Another 10 Badass Video Game Characters You Shouldn't Mess With Thu, 26 Jul 2018 10:25:41 -0400 Edgar Wulf


Ryo Hazuki

Shenmue (1999)

Shenmue's Ryo Hazuki may not be the most skilled fighter, but he gets the job done.


After being forced onto a path of revenge, Ryo must evolve from a regular, impulsive teenager into an imposing martial artist, learning new moves and styles from masters across Japan and Hong Kong. Ultimately, he develops his body and spirit to face the ultimate adversary, Lan Di. After almost two decades, his story is yet to reach its finale.




That is it for this list. If you think a character is missing, they may be on the original list. If they're not, then comment down below on who you would like to see and, as always, stay tuned to GameSkinny for more badass compilations.


Kazuma Kiryu

Yakuza (2005)

This man has been through it all; he has felled numerous skilled fighters, dealt with a thief of female underwear, and even taken care of a baby. A chairman of the highly respected Tojo Clan, Kazuma Kiryu is a master in many fields, including martial arts, which he gracefully employs to protect his friends, children, and simply beat up random punks on streets who annoy him. 


Yakuza's Kiryu has a distinctive dragon tattoo covering his back, he enjoys drinking whiskey, fishing, and singing karaoke. Call him.


John Marston

Red Dead Redemption (2010)

Perhaps one of the most tragic heroes in gaming, John Marston knows the definition of dire straits all too well. Compelled to reunite with his family, who are being held captive by the government, Marston embarks on a harrowing journey through the chaos-sphere that is the Wild West. 


He is an outlaw -- a criminal, even -- and has no doubt committed numerous questionable deeds. But despite that, it is almost impossible to not relate with his noble intentions.


Red Dead Redemption's John is a deadly sharpshooter -- especially during his signature "Dead Eye" mode -- and takes down many opposing factions on his quest which, ultimately and unfortunately, leads to a bittersweet conclusion



The Last of Us (2013)

Ellie might seem harmless enough; after all, she is just a child in the original The Last of Us. Past experiences and many gruesome events, however, have conditioned her to become a merciless killer -- being able to stand up for herself and those she cares about.


She learns that, in a world where nobody can be trusted, a switchblade and a sniper rifle are your best friends. Them, and that Joel guy who has taught her how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by monsters. That helps, too. 



Doom (1993)

Not the fanciest name for someone who rips demons apart with his bare hands, but, thankfully, actions speak much louder than words. Doomguy is the eternally silent protagonist of the Doom series, one of the most historically significant franchises in the industry.


He is agile, brutally strong, and remorseless; he doesn't have a love interest, though he may or may not have a special relationship with his signature chainsaw or destroying hordes of Hellspawn.



Darksiders II (2012)

Death is the main character in the sequel to Darksiders, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and a brother to the first game's protagonist: War. He uses stylish scythes to slice and dice his opponents while employing stylish, yet devastating combos to come out victorious. He even transforms into a terrifying reaper to finish off his most resilient foes.


The mask -- which Death never removes -- is not only for aesthetics: it adds a depth of mystery to the character, making him even more badass. 



Devil May Cry (2001)

Dante's twin brother -- Vergil -- is already featured on our first list of 10 Most Badass Video Game Characters, but Dante deserves a spot just as much, if not more, than his brother. 


Possessing the enhancing power to transform into a demon -- much like his evil sibling -- Devil May Cry's Dante gives preference to oversized swords. However, he never lets go of his trusty handguns (Ebony and Ivory), which he uses to soften enemies up before cutting them into pieces.


At times, Dante may act somewhat cocky and playful, but he always backs it up with unprecedented skill.


Big Boss

Metal Gear (1987)

Solid Snake may be considered the main protagonist of the Metal Gear Solid series, but let's face it: he wouldn't even exist without Big Boss.


Boss' first appearance was in the original Metal Gear, though he didn't become a playable character until much later when Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was released. An unfortunate encounter with his former mentor leaves him with countless bruises, dislocated joints, and broken bones; later on, he even gets his eye shot out.


Despite all that, he manages to complete his mission, earning him the legendary title -- Big Boss. The rest, as they say, is history. 


Aranea Highwind

Final Fantasy XV (2016)

This gorgeous blonde may very well be the most stylish Final Fantasy character in over a decade. She joins Final Fantasy XV's party of heroes as a dominating force -- however briefly -- and adds an amusing flavor to their conversations.


Aranea dons stylish battle armor and employs an impressively-sized lance during combat, which, of course, decimates her opponents. Beautiful, confident, and strong, Aranea Highwind is not hesitant to take on multiple foes at once -- and deals with them in brutal, timely fashion.


Ada Wong

Resident Evil 2 (1998)

Ada first appears in Resident Evil 2 as a supporting character, but she later plays a much more significant role in Resident Evil 4, where she receives her own story scenario: Separate Ways.


Her personality and background are rather mysterious, though she seems to have an affection toward a certain someone (ahem). Ada tends to prefer lightweight, conventional weaponry like handguns and machine guns, but when push comes to shove, she is also a deceptively skilled hand-to-hand combatant.


In a franchise full of badass characters, Ada often gets overlooked by casual fans, which is just too bad. 


As it turns out, our original list of the 10 most badass video game characters needs an update. I mean, there are more than 10 badass characters in the pantheon of gaming. Surprising, right?


That is why we decided to whip up a follow-up list including more of those badasses; 10 more, to be precise. Some of these characters are defined by superhuman strength, some by unique traits, some by the armory of weapons they possess, and some by the events they've endured. Ultimately, they are all bound by the same uncanny traits: individually completing meaningful tasks, defeating their enemies and, basically, getting sh** done.


Much like our original list, this one is based on two simple criteria:

  • Only one character per franchise (per individual list)
  • \n
  • The character is playable at any point in the particular series in question or must represent a playable party of characters
  • \n

Let's get started. 

7 Forgotten Video Games in Desperate Need of a Sequel Wed, 27 Jun 2018 10:27:43 -0400 Edgar Wulf


Skies of Arcadia


Known in Japan as Eternal Arcadia and widely regarded as one of the best RPG's of all time, Skies of Arcadia tells a unique tale about a group of air pirates and their struggle against an oppressive empire. It's a story underlined by a strong political motif.


The game features a diverse cast of memorable characters, both heroes and villains, as well as a vast 3D world which is open to exploration in a fully customizable airship.


Engaging in ship-to-ship combat acts as one of the game's main highlights.


The game was launched exclusively on the Dreamcast and later ported to the GameCube as Skies of Arcadia: Legends which included additional exclusive content.


There are no official news on a potential sequel, but considering the recent revival of the Shenmue saga, this gem of an RPG may yet see the light of day.




That concludes the list. Is there a game you love which has a long overdue sequel? Let us know in the comments below, and for news on sequels as and when they are released stay tuned to GameSkinny!


Mini Ninjas


A surprisingly great game published by Eidos Interactive in 2009, Mini Ninjas is a charming title bursting with a palette of color and animation.


Its engrossing world and complete lack of violence make it appropriate to players of any age -- including young children -- yet it's not a childish to be ignored by adults, either.


Its story focuses on five distinctly unique little ninjas who are tasked with an arduous mission of thwarting the plans of the evil Samurai Warlord. There are many exciting activities to partake in along the way, collectables to discover, and funny bosses to defeat.


There's currently zero information on a sequel, but the game has received numerous ports and spin-offs and will likely be included in Square Enix's future plans, who is now owner of this title.


Haunting Ground


Another great, off-the-radar title by Capcom.


Despite being a spiritual successor to Clock Tower 3, Haunting Ground can very well stand on its own. Largely thanks to its gripping plot, eerie atmosphere, and its in-your-face "Peeping Tom" nature.


It tells a story about Fiona, an 18-year-old girl who finds herself imprisoned in a castle, with barely any memories on how she got there. She is subsequently chased by various terrifying inhabitants of the castle and befriends a dog named Hewie, who aids her in the quest of a successful escape.


Much like God Hand, this title did not sell too well and was met with a diverse range of critical responses.


Nevertheless, the game's positive aspects were highly praised and it has since developed a loyal fanbase which no doubt hopes for a sequel in the not-too-distant future.


God Hand


Unfortunately for God Hand, it was a game released late into the sixth console generation. This amazing brawler hit the store shelves in the U.S. during October 2006 -- a mere month before the launch of the PlayStation 3.


God Hand is all about over-the-top action and humor, mind-boggling, thumb-twitching combos, and a complete disregard for the laws of physics. It helps the game has a wide assortment of incredible boss battles -- almost all of which Western players should have the privilege of experiencing.


Its "mediocrity" was met with little critical acclaim, at least initially. Since its release, however, the game has garnered a lot of positive attention and is included in many noteworthy compilations (such as this one ^_^).


Given the poor sales, a sequel is unlikely. But perhaps Capcom will provide Gene -- the game's main protagonist -- another chance. The original is available for download on PSN.




There's more than horror games on this list, I promise.


This title went widely unnoticed by the general gaming community and was received by the critics with lukewarm fanfare. Nonetheless, it provided a more than decent survival-horror experience on the PlayStation 2.


The player controls Dennis Riley, a U.S. Marine who, together with his partner Roger, must infiltrate a secret research base in Antarctica after receiving a distress signal. Extermination plays out similarly to other games in the genre, such as Dino Crisis and Resident Evil.


The game features a predictable storyline and a glut of cheesy dialogue, but it's redeemed by great sound design and atmosphere, heavily resembling John Carpenter's movie The Thing.


It was among the first titles on PlayStation 2 and was used to showcase the console's capabilities, therefore selling reasonably well for the time. Alas, a sequel is highly unlikely, though one can dream.


Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem


An unusual title released exclusively on the GameCube was made even more unusual when taking Nintendo's generally family-friendly ecosystem into context. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is an M-rated horror game and, more importantly, pretty darn good at that.


At its core, it's very much like any classic Resident Evil title, especially given its third-person perspective and "tank controls". The concept is kept fresh by an intriguing story, featuring multiple playable characters across numerous historical periods and a unique Sanity mechanic.


The sanity meter, upon reaching a certain threshold, would not only affect a character's composure but sometimes also simulate a lifelike failure of the console's hardware: in a very Kojima-esque manner.


A canceled sequel was in development and a spiritual successor titled Shadow of the Eternals is, allegedly, still in the works.


Nintendo owns the rights to the original name, so it's anyone's guess if it will officially return. But with the Switch seemingly embracing some aspects of the Mature genre in titles like Doom, there is hope. 


Alan Wake


One of the strongest exclusives on the Xbox 360, even though it was later released for Microsoft Windows, Alan Wake masterfully combines ideas from series like Silent Hill and the vibe of TV shows such as Twin Peaks into a terrifying whole.


It follows the story of an acclaimed writer who is going through a creative crisis and decides to take a break by going on a vacation with his loving wife. A potentially romantic getaway quickly turns south as grisly events from a mysterious book written by Alan -- unbeknown to himself -- begin to unfold.


A sequel was in development but got canceled due to the first game's slightly underwhelming commercial performance, which was partially attributed to a high rate of piracy.


That said, the game has amassed a devout following and Alan Wake 2 is not necessarily out of the question.


(Please note: Alan Wake's American Nightmare is not regarded as a sequel. It is instead a DLC.)


While many publishers often don't have second thoughts about flooding the market with annual revisions of their most commercially viable franchise, not every publisher takes that path. Some games are forgotten and their legacy, however big or small, neglected and swept under the metaphorical rug.


However, some fans are persistent and vocal enough to bring old IPs -- or even whole series -- back to life; Shenmue I & II HD serves as an excellent example of such dedication. Other, less fortunate titles are forever ignored, without merely a hint of a potential resurrection.


These unfortunate outcasts are mostly kept alive by loyal fans who express their appreciation of a particular video game or franchise via cosplay, music, and original artworks, for example.


There is a valid argument to be made that some stories should remain singular; developing a sequel would just complicate things. However, if certain titles receive the privilege of being released annually, then even a one-off follow-up to any of these entries wouldn't hurt, especially given their prolonged absence.


This compilation is comprised of games which have to date had only one official main entry and not released for at least five years.


Click "Next" on the bottom-right to view these games in alphabetical order.

8 Games That Could Be Considered "Art" Sun, 18 Feb 2018 13:13:05 -0500 buymymixtape123

Video games have come a long way from the 8-bit sprites of the 80s. Games now rival other forms of media in art style, storytelling and music. Video games are as much of an art form as a movie or a piece of music. Here are eight games supporting this thesis and showing the boundaries gaming pushes as a art form.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt  

The Witcher 3 is as beautiful as a game could get. Just peering over the horizon while the sun is setting is just as soothing as looking over a real sunset. Furthermore, the narrative and music are exceptionally good, rivaling other popular high fantasy stories like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. I remember the first time I played this game back in May 2015, and just riding through Velen for the first time on Roach and taking in the sights and sounds of the world changed the way I looked at gaming. This game made me realize that gaming is art.


Cuphead is one of those games many gamers would look at and think it's a 1930s cartoon. Cuphead is brilliantly designed and stays true to the 1930s cartoon look, even having the strong film grain cartoons and movies of the past used to have. This run and gun, boss rush game is notorious for its hard difficulty but just taking the time to appreciate the art that this indie studio, Studio MDHR, made is enough to make you fall in love with this game.



Bioshock is a game on this list that's artistic for more than its art style. This doesn't mean Bioshock isn't a beautiful game, just going down into the underwater city of Rapture in the first few moments is going to make your jaw drop. But the narrative is what pushes this game into art territory. The game pushes you to think about what is wrong and what is right, and even comments on tyrants and the struggle of power and narcissism. Not a lot of games cover subject matter like this, and Bioshock does it beautifully, to the point where you want to know what is going to happen next in this amazing story. Bioshock is more than a game; it is a piece of art.

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

There is one moment in gaming I will never forget and it is the moment at the start of Breath of the Wild, where Link first comes out the Shrine of Resurrection and looks over the horizon of Hyrule for the first time. At this point of my life, I never thought a game would surprise me like that and this moment did to the point of tears. Breath of the Wild isn't a perfect game, but it is art in every aspect of the word. The attention of detail Nintendo did with the landscape of the world, the cartoonish but beautiful graphics all show how gaming is art. 

The Last of Us

The Last of Us shows that video game narratives can be just as compelling and serious as a feature length movie. The Last of Us story of Ellie and Joel as they survive together in a post-apocalyptic world is heart wrenching, addictive and bittersweet. Not to mention that this game is beautiful and dark, which the PS4 remastered port expands upon. This game's story is so beautifully crafted that it's well-known outside of gaming. Even non-gamers know of this title and enjoy Naughty Dog's creation.  


Journey is one of those games that will impact you immensely in the short time it takes to beat. It isn't hard and doesn't have complicated mechanics, but it uses beautiful visuals and music to tell an emotional tale of a robed individual in the vast desert. Journey's soundtrack was so beautiful that it was nominated for a Grammy in 2013, one of the highest awards in music. If after you play Journey, you still don't think video games are art, you may have to get your head checked out.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker was hated when it was first announced. Nintendo went for more of a cartoony, colorful experience than following the graphics laid out in Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask. But, people came to notice how beautiful this game really was and how fun the game is in general. Nintendo really focused on facial animation in Wind Waker, where Toon Link makes a certain face when he swings a sword or tries to push something that is too heavy for him. Also, the game is gorgeous for its cel shading graphics. This games still looks as good, if not better, than games coming out on the Switch.

Shadow of the Colossus

Shadow of the Colossus is beautiful because of how little it does compared to other games. Other games on this list earn their beauty from a wide arrange of colors and architect. This game does not have any of that, as there are no towns to go to, nothing to really look at and no other quest besides killing all of the Colossi around you. It is similar to Journey, where the game takes you on a emotional roller coaster without really doing much. This is the beauty of gaming: it is able to tug at your heart strings just through gameplay, art style and music alone, without a direct narrative putting it all together. If you are unsure if Shadow of The Colossus is in fact art, please check out the PS4 remastered that just came out recently.

There you have it, eight games symbolizing why video games can be considered art. When it comes down to it, if any other media like movies and music can be considered art, then video games should be as well. 

Mario Kart Tour Coming to Mobile in 2019 Fri, 02 Feb 2018 12:27:35 -0500 Nilufer Gadgieva

A longtime favorite party game, Mario Kart is coming soon to a device near you -- yes, that's right, your phone. Mario Kart Tour will be available on both iOS and Android devices at some unspecified point between April 2018 and May 2019. 

The Mario Kart series has stood out as a signature of Nintendo since the first game on the SNES in 1992, and various iterations have been made and available on every single Nintendo console since.

Nintendo announced the coming release on Twitter on the 1st of February:

Nintendo's first mobile game was Super Mario Run in December 2016, which received 200 million downloads, and then Nintendo followed suit with Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Of course, Nintendo fans were elated with the releases, and many are eagerly anticipating this one.

With a new Mario movie coming up and the development of Mario Kart Tour, our friendly Italian plumber is getting more of a spotlight than ever.




10 Epic Mario vs. Bowser Boss Battles Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:12:48 -0500 ReadyPlayerPaige


10. Super Mario Odyssey


One of the hottest and most trending games ever developed by Nintendo, Super Mario Odyssey finds Mario and Bowser at it once again. This time, Mario is out to stop Bowser from marrying the princess. Decked out in wedding attire, Bowser's hat is equipped with punching gloves at which Mario can toss Cappy in order to seize control. Avoiding the traditional fire breath in addition to other hats and tail swipes, Mario must get up close and unleash a barrage of punches at Bowser to send him into an electric fence. After a few successful attempts, Bowser is knocked unconscious, Peach is free, and the wedding is over.




Which Mario vs. Bowser battle is your favorite? Post your comments below, and thanks for reading!


9. Super Mario 3D World  


Bowser ups the ante in Super Mario 3D World, using a magical bell to transform himself into Meowser. In the final encounter of this game, Mario must scale the tower in order to save the magical fairies in Meowser's clutches. While Mario scales the tower, he needs to watch out for the sneaky Meowser's attacks. He can attack from sliding down, climbing up, swiping his tail, and bursting the tower and clawing him. After scaling up the tower midway, he knocks off Meowser standing on a POW box. Mario scales the building at super speed using a pipe, only to see Meowser cloning more enemies. Once Mario reaches the top, he has to knock Meowser off a bigger POW box while avoiding fireballs. After successfully doing so, Meowser flies into the air and explodes into fireworks, setting the captive fairies free.


8. Super Mario Galaxy 2


In Super Mario Galaxy 2, Mario and Bowser are at it again in space -- only this time, Bowser bought the heavy artillery. A mega-sized Bowser plans to smash Mario with his super fist, which Mario must avoid along with asteroid balls and electric balls. Luckily, Bowser gets his fist stuck in the moon, which allows Mario to walk on the asteroid balls and use them to his advantage. After stunning Bowser a couple of times, it looks like the battle is over. However, Bowser is tricky as always and finds a way to return to the battlefield. One last encounter sees Mario walking on the asteroid balls with plans to defeat Bowser one last time, which he does successfully. The dark galaxy world returns to normal, and Peach and Mario are happily reunited.




7. Super Mario Galaxy


Mario and Bowser battles go into zero-gravity mode in Super Mario Galaxy. Here, the longtime foes fight in space, which makes things much more interesting. On three separate moons, Mario must use his speed and maneuvers to attack his nemesis. On the first moon, Mario has to avoid Bowser's attacks. Then, Bowser turns into a rolling asteroid, which allows Mario to attack him by punching his face. Afterwards, Mario must use green, balloon-like objects to attack Bowser. However, he must avoid Bowser as he transforms into a spike ball trying to run over poor Mario. Finally, on the last moon, Mario must avoid fireballs, a spike ball, and being crushed. Fortunately, the moon is filled with lava, and if Bowser lands in the crystal-filled lava, it will burn him, allowing Mario to attack. Successfully defeating Bowser sends him to the lava below and allows Mario to fly away with the star.


6. New Super Mario Bros. Wii


Returning to his roots of platform gameplay but now with 3D graphics, Mario once again faces his nemesis Bowser in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Mario must rescue Peach from Bowser by avoiding his attacks and triggering a button that retracts the bridge, sending Bowser to his doom. At first it looks like Mario wins the battle, but it appears the princess was the wizard all along. Fooling Mario, the wizard uses his powers to make Bowser 10x bigger. Now running for his life and avoiding the gigantic Bowser's attacks, Mario sees Peach and a large trigger on the other side. After smashing the trigger, the lava begins to decrease, and Bowser is sent along for the ride. Finally, the princess is let out of her cage and reunited with Mario. 


5. Super Mario Sunshine 


There is nothing wrong with a family vacation, but that doesn't mean you have to kidnap someone and force them to go with you (apparently Bowser never got that memo). For the Mario vs. Bowser battle in Super Mario Sunshine, Peach, Bowser, and Bowser Jr. are swimming around in a giant hot tub atop Corona Mountain when Mario comes to save the day. This time, he has to face off against both Bowser's traditional fire breath as well Bowser Jr.'s mini-sub as he works to destroy the five platforms holding the hot tub together. Luckily, he has his trusty water pack, F.L.U.D.D. (Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device), to help him out. Once victorious, everybody is safe and sound on the island, including Bowser and his son, who will one day meet Mario again.


4. Super Mario 64


The evolution of Mario vs. Bowser battles jumped into 3D in the groundbreaking Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64. Meeting up high in the sky, Bowser has plans to defeat Mario once and for all, but in this three-dimensional world, Mario has some new tricks up his sleeve. In this epic boss battle, Mario has to grab Bowser by the tail and swing him around (almost like an Olympic hammer throw) into bombs just off the platform. However, his task is made no easier by having to constantly watch out for Bowser's fire breath. After three successful attempts, Bowser is defeated, and Mario uses the golden star to fly away and meet with his beloved princess.


3. Super Mario World


On top of Bowser's Castle, amidst a backdrop of thunder and lightning, our plumber hero has to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser once again in Super Mario World. This time, it is a much more complex battle than their previous encounters. With Bowser zipping around in a flying ship, Mario must throw Bowser's own toy-like minions, Mecha-Koopas, back at him, all while avoiding large, black balls and a barrage of fireballs. After Bowser has finally been defeated, Princess Peach drops down to Mario safely, and Bowser disappears to prepare himself for the next showdown with his mustached rival.


2. Super Mario Bros. 3


In his clash with Bowser in the classic Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario must again avoid fireballs and stomping as he attempts to escape the room in which he's trapped. Fortunately, every time Bowser attempts to crush Mario and misses, he smashes a couple of bricks into tiny pieces. No power-ups are going to defeat Bowser in this encounter; the only way to win this one is to make him crush all the bricks so that his own doing sends him plunging to the depths below. To add to the battle's complexity, Mario has to make sure that he himself doesn't fall! After defeating Bowser, he is finally reunited with Princess Toadstool.


1. Super Mario Bros.


We can't begin this list without the one that started it all. In the final level of Super Mario Bros., Mario has to reach the other side of a drawbridge without getting hit by fireballs and flying axes (not to mention avoiding getting stomped by Bowser). Luckily, Mario does figure out a way to send Bowser to his doom by activating a switch that retracts the drawbridge and drops Bowser into the lava below. After doing so, he rescues Princess Toadstool, and his adventure ends happily.


In my opinion, the Mario versus Bowser boss battles have to be some of the greatest hero vs. villain battles ever. Every time they fight, it feels different from their last encounters. No doubt about it, the evolution of their battles over the years has been very influential to the gaming world. It's time to take a look at ten of these historic rivals' greatest boss battles. 

The Race to Speedrun and Break Super Mario Odyssey Is in Full Swing Wed, 29 Nov 2017 11:54:58 -0500 ThatGamersAsylum

Speedrunning is a simple concept: try to beat a game as fast as possible. And on its surface, this seems like a very straightforward idea. You play the game and try to beat it -- except by going really, really fast. Ya know, skipping all the cutscenes and extra side missions, that sort of stuff. But it is not until you realize just how fragile and fallible the fabric of reality is in our favorite game worlds as well as the lengths to which human ingenuity can go that you can truly begin to comprehend speedrunning.

Where Did It Start?

Speedrunning’s roots can be traced back to the early 90’s. Doom offered options to record your gameplay, which led to websites cropping up around this feature. In fact, it is thanks to the accessibility of screen capturing technology and the ability to upload and stream large amounts of high-quality footage that speedrunning has become so popular in recent years.

Why Nintendo? 

Nintendo’s properties have always held a special place in gamers’ hearts and in our culture. We grew up with them, so there's a lot of nostalgia. Back in the day, when stuck between games that were relentlessly difficult and games that were often turn based, Nintendo found the sweet spot in testing our skills without breaking us down. They managed to do this all while being endearingly adorable but never patronizingly so. Combine this with the fact that many of Nintendo’s titles have aged extremely well, and you have a recipe for success.

Fabric of Reality

While many speedruns depend largely upon great skill, such as Super Mario 64's 120-star run, others actually take advantage of numerous glitches, which are often hard to pull off. Super Mario 64’s "any percentage" run, which has you completing the game as fast as you can regardless of how much of the game you actually complete, has actually been worked down from requiring 70 stars to beat to requiring none. This is thanks to a handful of glitches that were found over the years, most of which center around glitching through various doors that block your progression.

Perfect execution and taking advantage of obtuse, even impractical and sometimes glitchy strategies is where speedrunning sets itself apart from merely playing a game fast. Speedrunning delves into an entirely different side of our favorite games that we’d most likely never know about if it weren’t for the odd curiosity of human beings.

2D Mario has also stayed popular in the speedrunning community. 

Odyssey's Burgeoning Legacy

Following in the footsteps of its predecessors, Super Mario Odyssey has already started to form a robust speedrunning community. In fact, before it had even released, people were speedrunning playthroughs of the in-store demo. Yes, that means someone had to go to a GameStop, stand there for lengths of time that made employees scratch their heads, practice the demo over and over, and then whip out their phone or recording device to take care of business. And considering Jacob Babione uploaded at least six videos of himself speedrunning while at a GameStop, I think it is fair to say that some GameStop employees came to know him well, if only as “the weird guy that comes in and plays the Super Mario Odyssey demo for two hours, then records it and leaves without buying anything.”

I'm in love with the mental image of this whole scenario.

Just looking at SMO’s leaderboard shows how much it is constantly changing and just how much diversity there is among the competing countries. Of the top 100 completed times, the oldest time is only a week old, with most of the times being younger than three days old. Surely by the time this article is published, all of the numbers listed will be out of date, possibly by a significant margin. It is the youth of this vivacious community that makes it so interesting.

Half of the top 10 active games are Super Mario titles. 

On the forums you see topics cropping up that range from how to make certain types of speedruns more interesting for your average viewer to new glitches that can be used to shave time off your run. You see new first-place record holders nearly daily. And, of course, SMO is consistently the most popular among active speedrunners. If one thing has become clear, the legacy of Super Mario 64 speedrunning isn’t anywhere near dead. And from the looks of it, Super Mario Odyssey's fast start out of the gate bodes well for its ability to follow in Super Mario 64's footsteps.


Data obtained from

And a huge shout out to Summoning Salt, a YouTuber who has taken to making videos that go over the history of many popular, classic speedrunning games. His videos were a huge asset when researching this article.