Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Ultimate Smash Super Experience Bros. - My History of the Smash Bros. Series [Gaming]

With E3 revealing a lot about this game, I thought it was time to take a look at the Super Smash Bros. series and my experiences with it. I might have been burnt out slightly by how much focus Ultimate got throughout Nintendo’s showing, but it didn’t slice any part of that excitement away.

My experiences begin with Melee on the Gamecube, where I was introduced to a whole host of Nintendo characters. I was familiar with Pokémon, and the cast from Mario Kart: Double Dash, but everything else was completely new to me. From what I remember, the family didn’t get a Gamecube until around the end of 2003, which replaced the PS1 as main console until the PS2 slimline came around a year later. I didn’t have many games, but Smash Bros. Melee and Mario Kart: Double Dash – along with Sonic Adventure 2 and Pokémon Colosseum – were my main games for it around that time. You can see how little experience I actually had. If I was to run down all the games I could remember owning back then for all consoles [or at least those I’d played] the list would indeed be small, so you can understand how I wouldn’t have experience with a lot of the franchises within Melee.

I can’t remember who I tried first or anything of my first experiences, but I was happy with the game, and had found an attraction to Kirby. The pink floaty ball was the character I came to use most often, and has followed me as a main character in the series throughout. Another character I found myself using was Captain Falcon, along with occasional use of Link. I suspect that I had played most of the characters at first to see who I liked, but I was never competitive with it. It was just a fun game to pass the time. I liked the Adventure mode the most, with Stamina Smash being a second. I also liked the stages on offer, as it was giving me looks into the various franchises.

There’s not much to say on Brawl other than the fact it introduced Sonic the Hedgehog to the fight. I was definitely ready to try him out, but found I wasn’t understanding how to play him very well and went back to Kirby. For a small time, I had swapped from Kirby to Meta Knight, though I would always be going back to Kirby for lengths at a time. The Masterpieces were a great addition in my eyes, allowing me to experience the games these characters came from for the first time. I particularly liked F-Zero, and would always be returning to it. As for the main mode of Brawl, Subspace Emissary was good fun to play through, and seeing all these characters interact – while limited in interactions – was fun. It felt like a true adventure, though at times I would have trouble adapting to some of the characters.

When it came to the 3DS and WiiU games, I already gave my views on them with my reviews. I’d found a new character to add to my list in Duck Hunt Duo, and started using Link more. I also tried out some of the Fire Emblem characters and tried again with Sonic. The 3DS game was fun, with Smash Run being a fun mode to mess around in, but lacking the true feeling on an adventure. And while Smash Tour on the WiiU was fun for the first few rounds, it was quickly forgotten – even at meetings with friends where it was more common to put a game of Wii Party U on then onto some Mario Kart. I liked the 3DS game despite the screen and cramped space – which was made slightly better by swapping normal attacks to the Y button. For the WiiU, I came across a Hori Gamecube-styled classic controller and have used that ever since for all games I could.

And now to Smash Ultimate, where the series comes together into one package. From what we know, all characters are back. Every stage is looking to be back, so can we please also have Adventure mode back? It could even be expanded, since there’s a whole lot of new franchises in the Smash Bros. fold since Melee. Since this is the Ultimate game, I think it would be fitting for the original Smash to be included within – to give people a taste of how far the series has come.

It’s not just old things here, as the announcement trailer gave us Inklings from Splatoon as characters, and we saw more representation from the E3 footage – with a stage in the form of Murray Towers and an Assist Trophy in the form of the Squid Sisters. Ridley from the Metroid series is also new – finally making his way to the fight. A Mario Odyssey stage in the form of New Donk City also make an appearance. There’s many more things being added daily on the website, with some new songs already being present.

Now, I said about bringing back Adventure mode, but with the amount of franchises now within the series, having it play out the same as in Melee – where each franchise was represented as a section in the linear route – would be too long. Instead, I’m proposing the start to be Mario themed – like in Melee – with two branching paths to choose after. Two branching paths would go from that stage, with a merge happening with the inside line. The diagram below explains it better. It works as an expansion to Classic mode from 4-3DS where you’d have a choice where to go. While some franchises would still have to be represented with just a battle on a stage much the same as classic, there is scope to go beyond for some franchises. With Adventure mode, there was the Mario level being similar to a platforming stage, F-Zero had you running across the track while making sure not to get hit by the racers, and even The Legend of Zelda stage being an underground maze. While I’m not going into detail with what I’d want [maybe another time], there’s definitely room for several new franchises to get the adventure mode treatment.

With Adventure mode taking cues from 4-3DS’ classic, the proper classic mode can either be similar to 4-WiiU or be the more linear mode of the solo play. If we’re including Stadium mode as well, Target Blast needs to go. It would be crazy to have a different layout for all the targets per character, or even per franchise, but Target Test/Smash should return with different layout per difficulty. Multi-Man Smash and Home-Run Contest should be here as well. While I haven’t spent much time in Stadium in recent times, it’s still good for a quick blast every so often.

As for who I’m using in this game, the main one should be obvious. Kirby will be back as my main. Something I didn’t mention when talking about Smash 4-3DS/WiiU were the Mii Fighters – who also return here. I used them quite a bit in 4-3DS/WiiU, making sure to have at least one of each class even if I mainly used the swordfighter [the cyber skin allowing the sword to become near enough a lightsaber]. Depending on how they work in Ultimate, I’ll be choosing them. I definitely want to be trying out the Inkling, and I’ll be giving most a fair try. The DLC characters of 4-3DS/WiiU will be new to me, so I’ll be giving them a try as well.

There is a great amount of content already known, a number of adjustments made, and a few new things added. And still yet more is to come. This will be the best celebration of Smash Bros. yet, and here’s hoping that more new content is still under wraps for a great reveal.

Friday, 22 June 2018

What I'm Waiting For - E3 Special [Gaming]

This special E3 What I’m Waiting For is doubling up on the amount of games being covered. Usually there would just be two, but since I’m not covering thoughts from a previous version, I can afford to double up. I don’t think any of these things I’m covering will be surprise – except maybe one – so let’s take a look at the news games from E3 that I’m waiting for.

I’ll just get this one out of the way with first. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. The fact we don’t have any footage doesn’t quell the want for the game, nor does it supress ideas on what it could be about. All we know – from the official site – is that it follows a surviving Padawan of Order 66 shortly after that Order first fell.

We know there are surviving Jedi of Order 66. The second-tier canon had a lot of surviving Jedi, and even a few in the primary canon are known. But each survivor has a different story to tell. Since Caleb Dume – better known as Kanan Jarrus – has already had his story told, I highly doubt we’ll be getting that story in a different piece of media. That gives us a lot of freedom to explore where this Padawan goes.

My first thought is that it could follow a similar direction to that of the story found in Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader – where a few survivors try to find other Jedi but come to realise that doing so puts themselves in greater danger. The entire plot of the novel has relevance within primary canon with the mention of Murkhana and some business that Vader handled in the Tarkin novel.

There’s plenty of other ways to handle such a story – even tying it into the Siege of Mandalore if they wanted to – and I’m not going to mention all of them. I’m just noting that the story had better be a good one. Since this is a fair way off from a release, the first we’ll probably be hearing more about it is Star Wars Celebration in April.

I’m a big fan of Forza Horizon. I bought the Xbox 360 for the original and fell in love with it, and while I passed on the second, I soon bought it and an Xbox One [specifically the Forza Motorsport version] in 2016 just for the arrival of the third.

I’m all set for the arrival of the fourth at the beginning of October, then, and this is looking to be the largest of the series. Seasons arrive to give the world some visual flair and a change of events per season means there’s plenty to experience. Drivatars are still in the game for races, but the world will be populated by real players. Not to worry though, as they cannot mess you around unless a part of your co-op lobby, and you can revert to a Drivatar-populated world easily if you want to avoid seeing the randomness of others.

And as you’ve no doubt seen, that world in this game is the UK. We’ve already seen Scotland and the Lake District, but there’s a lot more for this country to offer, and with the visuals already looking vibrant it can certainly deliver. The visuals of the world are important, but so is the things to do. The Horizon Festival is now a year round party of automotive fun, with houses able to be bought in the cities and the countryside to live during the year-round festivities. While we don’t have all the details, I suspect the idea of the Festival is being changed up yet again for the better – expanding on what the third gave us but having it all open from the start.

The radio stations of the Horizon Festival are an important part of the experience, and have expanded each game. I suspect there’s not going to be much in the way of new additions this time, with the third game only adding one new station [not counting the Groove Music station]. I’m always tuned into Horizon Pulse, and it’s introduced me to several bands now in my music lists, chief among them Chvrches. For a new station, I wouldn’t mind one catering specifically to the old British rock classics, as I quite enjoy that particular genre of music.

Super Mario Party releases a few days after Forza Horizon 4, and is set on a return to the classic formula. I’m not a super fan of the series, having only had one per console on DS, 3DS, and WiiU. The DS game had that classic formula in place, and while I’ve had fun with the other two games, I’ve felt that the board game mechanics haven’t been the same. They felt more linear and restrictive, while the DS game had a lot more variety.

There’s not much that can really be said about it, but with what we’ve already seen it looks like the boards and minigames are offering variety. We’ve only seen two of those boards and a few of the minigames, along with the new multi-Switch games. The concept here is that two Switch consoles are linked and placed together to create a wider field of play, act as puzzle pieces, and possibly other ways. It’s a concept that was hinted at from a patent that Nintendo filed, and it looks as though that is finally a reality.

As for what the game includes, there’s eighty new minigames, possibly eight to ten total boards, and a wealth of characters both playable and non-playable. You’ve got the usual lot like Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, and Yoshi, along with the outliers such as Boo, Koopa, Shy Guy, Dry Bones, and new additions Goomba, Monty Mole, and Pom Pom. Toad has now become board game host again, with Toadette acting as star guard, and Lakitu and Kamek as helper and hinderer respectively.

It’ll be good to get back into the Mario Party, and also see how this rebooted series progresses in new games. These games are always good fun with friends, and this has one extra feature to do so in terms of online. While it is only minigames available to be played, it could expand in later entries to have online focused modes.

While I have little to say on this one, Daemon X Machina looked fun with an action-packed trailer, with the gameplay showing off just a bit of what is available in the full game. Seemingly based on the Armoured Core series, it features mech suits and fighting and an interesting visual of red and orange for its world.

Why I’m waiting for this one is more to see what it evolves into as a full game. The teaser was enough to get me interested in the world, but I want to see exactly what it is I can do within this world. There’s the fighting against enemies and using items within the world as weapons, but what of the other mechanics? What sort of missions can we be expected to take part in and will there be any side missions to make exploration worthwhile?

There’s a lot to be wondering about this game, including whether we will be able to organise some co-op bot-beating, but there’s time for seeing more on it next year. Hopefully the next time we see this game it has another trailer, this time focusing on the world and the lore of it. Probably wouldn’t make for as exciting a trailer, but it would get deeper into the game.

And that’s four games that I’m waiting for. Each of them offers something different, and it is no contest which I’m most excited for [hint: the one releasing the soonest]. This just covers the new stuff, though, with those we already knew about getting me more excited for them.

What I'm Waiting For Series