Monthly Archives: June 2013

3 Worst things about Dynasty Warriors 6

The astute reader may notice that in my top 5 Dynasty Warriors games I left one particular qualified entry in the series off the list entirely. This was in part to leave suspense for who would have made the top spot, since a list of the top six out of six leaves little to chance. The other reason was the fact that there was too much to write about regarding the problems said entry in the franchise had. So, to alleviate any curiosity I have compiled a list of the worst sins this entry committed to the franchise. So to prepare for the upcoming North American release of Dynasty Warriors 8, I present:

The 3 worst things about Dynasty Warriors 6

3) Story Mode

The story in the Dynasty Warriors series was at times difficult to follow. Since nearly every game in the series prior to this took the position of telling the story from the character’s perspective, it made conveying the actual tale of the Three Kingdoms era difficult. Most of the time, the story in the game tried to follow the events in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel up to a certain point to which they simply couldn’t any longer. About half the games prior to this went about telling it strictly from one character’s perspective, while the other half tried covering the entire campaign. And each had their own advantages and disadvantages.

Dynasty Warriors 6 decided to tell character stories much like Dynasty Warriors 3, with cinematic cut scenes in between to show the characters and their motivations as their story progressed. This is a noble endeavor to be sure, but it suffered some issues.

First was the fact that, while Dynasty Warriors 5 took the subject matter fairly seriously and faithfully, Dynasty Warriors 6 did not. Much of the dialog is cheesy or overly dramatic, making it either unintentionally hilarious, or just boring. While the story has you play through various battles as before, some of the choices for storytelling for particular characters are unfathomable.

For instance, the battle in which Dian Wei saves Cao Cao’s life at the cost of his own is an early stage in his story mode (and he naturally doesn’t die either).  He spends the rest of his story mode shooting the breeze with other Wei officers, and fighting in other Wei conflicts he did not historically participate in. Another example, Diao Chan’s crowning achievement in the book was turning Lu Bu and Dong Zhuo against each other; her story mode in Dynasty Warriors 6 takes place after this has already occurred. This is insulting, not just to the franchise, but to those who actually bothered to learn about the time period.

What makes it worse is that the story is limited to only about two-thirds of the cast, with the rest being unlockable characters only usable in Free Mode. But we’ll cover more of that in the next segment.

2) The Cast

Now let it be known that reducing the cast of characters in the game is not always a bad thing. I am all for Marvel VS Capcom 3 paring down it’s roster from Marvel VS Capcom 2 in order to present a more well-rounded and better looking game overall. And I’m not entirely convinced this wasn’t the route Dynasty Warriors 6 tried to do at the start. After all, all the available characters have redesigned outfits and new weapon styles and movesets, which likely took a good deal of effort.

The problem is that a good number of the cast do not have story modes in the initial release for Playstation 3 and XBox 360. The majority of those without stories also share movesets with each other or other characters in the cast. For instance, Guan Ping and Zhang He both share the same halberd style, and Yue Ying shares the bow style of Sun Shang Xiang. A later release added more story modes and unique weapons for characters, and this version released on the Playstation 2. I’m not sure I understand how the first next generation title of the Dynasty Warriors series can have more features on the previous generation console. However, even this version didn’t flesh out all the characters that were just clones or mirrors of each other.

What’s more, even including the mirrors/clones, the cast still pales in comparison to the previous installment, and even that of Dynasty Warriors 4. I can appreciate tight knit, diverse cast, but if the designers going to resort to recycling movesets anyway, why not go all out and include as many as they could muster? It’s clear to me that this was not a decision made ahead of time, but an effort to throw more characters in late in development.

However, this isn’t what I consider the worst offender.

1) The Renbu System

This is likely the biggest flaw in the game’s redesign. I’m not sure if the Sengoku Basara series was taking away too much of TecmoKoei’s market share in Japan, but the new fighting system seemed to be directed squarely upon the combo system featured in their competitor’s games. Normal attacks now endlessly loop, allowing to build combos fairly easily, unless enemies are blocking. Charge attacks are replaced with a Renbu attacks, which form a combo when the button is pressed in sequence. However the length of the Renbu combo that can be performed is based on the size of the Renbu gauge — which fills up by building combos. The full Renbu combo is only available at Level 3 or the fully charged Lvl. infinity. With this new system, the designers could give every character a new and completely unique moveset.

However, this system created it’s own set of problems. Generally, normal combos were only effective when enemies weren’t guarding, and only certain Renbu attacks could break an enemy’s guard. One problem is that guard breaking attacks are different combinations for every character, and some are only very deep in their Renbu combos. This makes certain characters, like Dian Wei, nearly impossible to use in certain conditions or higher difficulties. This wouldn’t be an issue, if a player built up enough Renbu ahead of time. However, the meter degrades after not attacking over time, or getting hit by enemy attacks. This means that even stocking the Renbu to prepare for such situations is incredibly difficult to do with certain characters. Imbalance between characters is inevitable, but making some that are completely unusable in a game that encourages playing through with multiple characters is atrocious. This is particularly appalling when the series up to this point managed to avoid this problem for the most part.

Worth mentioning here as well is the customization tree all characters have, which is also tied to this system. Each character has their own tree, which grants branching options as a character progresses. Among these options are Renbu upgrades that allow access to levels 3 and infinite of the Renbu bar. That’s right, Levels 3 and infinity are locked out of regular use unless the player levels up their character enough to get obtain them, or obtains a power-up that grants level infinity for a brief period of time.  This puts further restriction on a players capabilities at the outset, rather than providing them the tools needed to progress.

Now, to be fair, Dynasty Warriors 6 did do a few things right. Strangely enough, the soundtrack is good — anyone who has not heard “Welcome to China” is missing out. Additionally, the scenery when played in single person mode is rather stunning on the newer consoles. The character redesigns, while hit or miss for certain characters, were certainly called for, as they were growing stale and certain characters were starting to get into a rut. I can also appreciate the amount of effort that clearly went into so many aspects of the game, but several crucial game decisions brought the game down to the lowest the series had been.

As much as I loathe this entry in the series, however, it was an entry that had to be made. In order to bring Dynasty Warriors into the next generation of gaming, it would have to shed off the baggage from the previous games first.  It would take a little more experimentation, however, before the series got back on track. But that’s a story for another time…

By the way, if you want to here more about the Dynasty Warriors, be sure to check out Musou Missives, and vote in the poll for the next entry in the series.

Post Mortem: Xbox One DRM

For those not already aware, the internet exploded when Microsoft dropped a bombshell in the form of an official statement regarding their ‘always online’ and ‘used games’ policies.  The link is below.

http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/update

Microsoft has decided to not backpedal a little, but to backpedal completely, making the Xbox One little more than a more powerful, more versatile Xbox 360.

If this was always an option, why did they try to go with the convoluted sharing system in the first place.  The reason can be found in their interview with CNN just as E3 was winding down.

From CNN:

Publishers, of course, have been the most forceful proponents of cutting off the used game market, with some suggesting that used games are comparable to piracy for their bottom line. But Mehdi said that Microsoft wasn’t simply “giving in” to publisher demands with its new game licensing terms.

Instead, it was trying to balance the needs of its four main “constituents,” including the consumer (who comes “first and foremost” he said), game publishers, retailers, and Microsoft itself as a company. …

…On the Xbox One, Mehdi said the company has “tried to… bridge the two in a way that no one has done — to give you the power of digital and then give you all this power in physical … . We know we’re providing a lot more value to consumers, but in that comes a lot of need to clarify, ‘How come disc? How come digital? How’s that work?'”

I think it’s very clear how this came about, given this statement, but it has several layers to it.  So let’s begin.

Layer 1 — Microsoft’s agenda

Microsoft has made known under no uncertain terms, it wanted the Xbox One to be a digital device.  It also has made no bones about wanting to compete with another big technology company, Apple.  Xbox One, was likely conceived as Microsoft’s answer to the Apple TV.  However, by providing access to AAA titles, it hoped to set itself apart and reach a demographic that the Apple TV would barely touch — the hardcore gamer.

This idea could stand pretty well, but would work best as a purely online device, similar to the Ouya.  Games would be digital, not physical, so not being able to access your games while offline, would make sense.  This would allow them to be both the hardware provider, and provide a service similar to Steam.  This would cut out a fair portion of their market, but it would be far less confusing by presenting it as something consumers were already somewhat familiar with.

Layer 2 — Retailers

The CNN article specifically references retailers, which means that GameStop got to say their peace on this at some point.  If Microsoft chose to move to purely digital, then GameStop would have no reason to carry or promote their device.  There was pretty much no negotiations to be made on this aspect.  Either the Xbox One still allows physical media, or GameStop refuses to promote it.

Not wanting to look bad with GameStop and other retailers, Microsoft had to support using physical media.  That wasn’t too bad of a stretch.  Since it had a disc drive for Blu-ray, it could install discs to the drive fairly easily.  This would allow users to still have a library saved to their hard drive and allow access across the internet.

Layer 3 — Publishers

Publishers, such as EA, don’t really like this idea of being able to install the game on the system with a physical copy, because of what could happen to that physical copy.  Unless the disc is required to be in the tray to play, there is no way to prevent the user from just passing the disc from one user to the next to the next, only getting an official purchase once.

This is likely where the internet check in and unique coded discs idea started coming into play.  By locking games to a user, Microsoft’s servers would be able to tell easily where physical discs went to.  However, it also meant that if the system was not connected to the internet, they would not be able to confirm that only one person was playing at a time.  So, while leading up to this, the internet connection was always a plan, a ‘check-in’ had to be established.  This also meant that at some point, they would have to prevent user’s from playing offline.

Layer 4 — the Consumers Weigh In

E3 was ultimately the crucible.  The whole idea had become very convoluted and confusing, likely even for the software developers working on it.  Even when asked at E3, it seemed like Microsoft still didn’t have a firm grasp of it yet.  They thought they were future proofing the system; instead, they were just confusing the heck out of everyone, including their own people.  Consumers over the past week have made it very clear that the PS4’s stance, keep everything as it is, is the stance gamers can and will get behind going into the next generation.

Microsoft backpedaled on this idea, very hard — perhaps too much so.  They dropped the online features of sharing a library completely, to go back to keeping the discs in the tray.  I almost regret this is the case, since there surely was some middle-ground somewhere to be had with this idea.  The problem seems that digital gaming, physical media, and consoles just aren’t fully compatible yet, and that could spell trouble as the gaming market slowly inches toward a cliff

Further Reading:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/12/tech/gaming-gadgets/microsoft-defends-xbox-one/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/update

Tech Feed: Why the Xbox One Won’t Suck

http://collectivelyscattered.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/microsofts-change-of-heart-the-xbox-one-and-the-less-clear-future-of-gaming/

http://fourversusone.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/xbox-180/

http://thinkinggamers.com/2013/06/19/surprise-twist-microsoft-removes-drm-policies-for-xbox-one/

Rev3Games: Xbox One Report: Computing Power, the Cloud, New Dashboard, & More

Miles923: XBOX One80: POLICIES CHANGED-DRM REMOVED – USED GAMES ENABLED

http://marcleoseguin.com/2013/06/18/the-crash-of-2015/

<— Musou Missives: Poll

Musou Missives: Poll

I have decided to go ahead and continue the Musou Missives series, as I still have plenty of things I want to discuss.  Warriors Orochi 3 has over 120 characters to discuss, so it’s not as though I will ever run out of things to talk about.  However, while there’s still plenty of characters I want to talk about, I’m sure there are plenty of characters you readers would like me to talk about too.

So, for your convenience I present the Musou Missives poll.  The poll holds a number of characters I plan to talk about, as well as a couple of suggestions.  Highest voted character gets to be in the October edition of Musou Missives.  I will tally the votes in September to give me time to get some good information to present.  Also, if you want to see a particular character that isn’t listed, post a comment so I can put on them on future polls.

The Candidates for your approval are:

Wang Yi – the True Woman of the Three Kingdoms

Zhuge Liang – the Sleeping Dragon

Gan Ning – the Jingling Typhoon

Ayane – the High School Assassin

Tadakatsu Honda – Supreme Warrior of the Warring States

Masamune Date – the One-Eyed Dragon

Please Vote Below, and stay tuned for more Musou Action!

Thoughts on Generation 8 [Redux]: Post E3

I had some thoughts after the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One were finally revealed. Now that we’ve gotten past the biggest conference in console gaming, I thought I would do a brief summary of my thoughts coming out of that conference, and see what has changed.

Nintendo

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Summary: 2014 is a good year for Wii U… maybe

Nintendo did attend the conference, but did not hold a large public press conference like it’s competitors. Instead they opted for posting a Nintendo Direct, and using an exclusive deal with Best Buy to get demos of the new games to users around the United States in addition to the show floor. The Direct gave Nintendo users high hopes, since they showed off a number of exclusive titles, such as Bayonetta 2 and Wonderful 101, and staple brands, such as Super Mario 3D World and Super Smash Brothers. These will be coming through to the end of this year, as well as some throughout the next (presumably).

What seems to be lacking, however, is a plan for where their brand is headed. While a truckload of good first party titles may have bought them a second wind, once the new generation of systems start filling out their libraries, Nintendo will still be in the same situation, likely with less third party support to keep them aloft.

Verdict: Unfortunately, little has changed. Nintendo is not going away anytime soon, but they’ll need a remarkable strategy to get ahead in 2015 and beyond.

Microsoft

Xboned

Xboned

Summary: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

Microsoft’s press conference was adequate for what it was. As promised, it focused on the games and not the console features — ironic since there was more concern over the console and policies than interest in the games for this conference. In addition, they revealed the console will release in November of this year, giving them a holiday season to look forward to. The stable of games presented looked good, and their exclusives looked like good draws to the console.

That was the case until the interviews started with developers. While Ryse looks good, it looks dramatically different from the Kinect-based title seen in previous conferences. Killer Instinct looks sensational, but it was revealed to have a free-to-play sales model, leading to some confusion. In addition, some of these “exclusives” are exclusive on a technicality. One of the early big exclusives, Titanfall will also be available on PC as well — making it a ‘console exclusive’. Project Spark will be releasing a Beta on Windows 8 platforms before moving to the XboxOne and Xbox 360.

To make the online connection requirement problem worse, Microsoft executive Don Mattick in an interview Geoff Keighley essentially told Microsoft customers to “Stick with the 360” if they don’t like the Xbox One’s online solution.

Adding insult to injury, the Playstation 4 not only undercut their $500 price tag by $100, but had a nice long talk during their press conference how their system would not impose the same restrictions as the Xbox One.

Verdict: This can still go either way for Microsoft. Much of it has to do with their strategy from this point forward. They are already working on some damage control by setting up interviews with larger media outlets, such as CNN. If they want to reach a broader audience, they should announce a subsidized version of the console soon, as $500 might be too high for the average consumer. Also, from this point, they can actually recoup some or all of their image by removing some of these features (which are mostly OS related anyway). Much of it really depends on their belief in, and support of, a silent majority that doesn’t care about these issues.

Sony

20130522-213421.jpg

Summary: In a three man race, you only have to be faster than two people.

General consensus has been that Sony ‘won’ E3. An interesting proposition, since no other public meeting such as this seems to have declared winners and losers — except maybe national politics. Such is the fervor and atmosphere surrounding the Playstation 4 conference. I mentioned before the jabbing at Microsoft’s Xbox One policies, which made most of the crowd relieved. While there were plenty of interesting games at the conference, in the long run it didn’t seem to matter. They could have walked on stage, said ‘No DRM,’ and walked off, and they probably still would have come out ahead of the Xbox One.

Highlights of the PS4’s coming titles include the following: the Division, a game in the Tom Clancey universe that has a massively multiplayer aspect; Elder Scrolls Online, which will be a ‘console exclusive’ to the PS4; and Drive Club, a driving title that will be free to Playstation Plus members at launch. Coming to the system also will be the long awaited Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy XIII Versus — now known by the name Final Fantasy XV (though later revealed for both next gen systems). While about half of their games appear to be a long way off, it is a well-rounded, if not terribly strong, showing.

What Sony lacked, for the most part, was energy. The Sony camp seemed to have less eye-catching or heavy hitting franchises as Nintendo, nor the fervor to speak on the details of their product like Microsoft. In essence, we learned more about what distinguishes it from it’s competitors than from it’s precursor the Playstation 3.

Verdict: While gamers are flocking to Sony in droves, there are a few interesting details to consider, which may effect other buyers decisions going forward. $399 seems to cover just the base system, a controller, and a headset. This does not include any Move or camera accessories, and does not include a Vita or other type of secondary controller. It’s worth considering whether a consumer who’s interested in these different features is willing to make purchases of separate accessories like this going forward. They also are not giving out a date yet. Timing is going to still be key if they want to move as many units as possible, and Microsoft has already claimed a good portion of the holiday season.

Conclusions

While this year’s E3 has easily divided gamers into their separate camps for the next several years, the true results are still months away — and it may take us a couple years before we can fully comprehend those results. This holiday season (or whenever the PS4 drops) will be a tipping point for the industry. Consumers vs Peddlers, PC vs Console, Mobile vs Portable will all begin to unravel as a new age of gaming falls upon us.

Microsoft will either realize their dreams of forcing the transition to digital, or not.

Nintendo will either rise from the ashes of obscurity, or not.

Playstation will either live up to it’s savior status, or not.

Console gaming will never be the same as it was in 2013, nor should it be.

Myself, I may do well to take a page from Yahtzee’s book.

Further reading:

http://airboundgab3.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/it-always-has-been-and-will-be-all-about-games-and-the-same-is-true-for-nintendo/

Don Mattrick Response to XboxOne, PS4 (video may be gone by the time this posts)

Rev3Games interview with David McCarthy (General Manager of Microsoft Studios)

CGBro’s E3 2012 Ryse Trailer

http://redringsofredemption.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/who-won-e3-2013/

http://gnarkill1134.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/microsoft-is-not-dead-yet-with-xbox-one/

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/12/tech/gaming-gadgets/microsoft-defends-xbox-one/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

http://thesaltminedotcom.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/killer-instinct-f2p-confusion-cleared-up-more-news-at-evo/

Playstation: How to share your games on PS4

http://redlinetechblog.com/2013/06/12/playstation-4-specs-revealed/

http://gaminggrad.com/2013/06/13/apparently-you-can-teleport-in-final-fantasy-xv/

Zero Punctuation: Next Gen Buying Guide

State of the Union Smash: E3 2013

Nintendo’s E3 Direct was full of interesting tidbits, but most significantly was the unveiling of an actual trailer and gameplay of the new Super Smash Brothers for Wii U and 3DS.  With it came the announcement of two characters, with a third confirmed in a separate video later.  Those three are Megaman, Animal Crossing Villager, and Wii Fit trainer.

Anyone who’s seen my predictions list will know by now that it’s failed in it’s accuracy.  I blame it on my lack of faith or understanding of either the Animal Crossing or Wii Fit brands or how you would make an effective character out of them.  I also put too little faith in Nintendo.  With Dixie coming back to the Donkey Kong Country franchise, and the inclusion of Peach as a playable character in Super Mario 3D World, Nintendo seems to be listening to it’s fans more than it had in the past– thusly, the addition of classic Megaman.

I will admit, while I haven’t done a Step-Brothers article on Megaman yet, he was on a short list of characters I planned to get around to.  I’m glad he came out when he did, else I may have lost a bet.  That aside, I don’t see this as a game changer just yet.  Megaman made a few waves just before Brawl launched, so it’s likley they worked him in to make it up to fans that wanted him in last time.  I doubt that this is just the tip of a third party iceberg.

I also noticed that thus far Snake and Sonic are absent from the cast right now.  I fully expect Sonic to show up in a separate trailer now that Sonic has an exclusive deal with Nintendo, but Snake is a big question mark for now.

I still have a few Step-Brothers articles in the works, and I will report any updates to the roster as they come, if only to compare to what I already thought beforehand.

Current known changes:

+Megaman

+Wii Fit trainer (F)

+Animal Crossing Villager (M)

? Sonic

? Snake

I’ll be giving some more generic impressions of E3 later once the conference is over.  Stay tuned!

Further Reading:

http://whatsyourtagblog.com/2013/06/11/mega-smash-bros-x/

Wii Fit Trainer Joins the Fray on Smashbroschannel

Nintendo Direct from Nintendo

http://mynintendonews.com/2013/05/18/sega-confirms-that-sonic-is-a-three-game-exclusive-to-nintendo-platforms/

Super Smash Step-Brothers: Krystal

Welcome back to Super Smash Step-Brothers, where we narrow down speculation and analyze arguments for and against possible additions to the new Super Smash Brothers game. We’re getting a major update tomorrow through Nintendo Direct, and so we will soon learn what Nintendo has in store for the next installment (if only a little).

In celebration, I took suggestions for today’s update, and got only a very few responses. So it looks like we’ll be talking about the blue fox Krystal today!

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Krystal is the last of a lost tribe from Cerinia, and self-imposed guardian of the Dinosaur planet, Sauria. She joined forces with Fox McCloud of the StarFox team to defeat the planet’s malevolent ruler, General Scales, in order to preserve the peace and tranquility of the planet. Afterward, she was inducted to the StarFox team as it’s first female member (though not the first female pilot in the game — a distinction belonging to Katt Monroe).

Krystal, unfortunately, lacks much in the way of characterization or character of her own as she is generally lumped into particular feminine roles in the few games she has appeared in. Despite her strong will, and caring attitude early in the game, she eventually serves as little more than a damsel-in-distress during her debut in StarFox Adventures. In StarFox Assault, while she becomes a pilot on the team, she is effectively the ‘token’ female, and proves to be less apt to space flight than most her male counterparts. StarFox Command does give her a little more depth, as well as other girls to interact with; however, the game can end with her leaving the StarFox team outright, leaving them for the StarWolf, marrying Fox and having a kid, or creating her own all female pilot team. With so many different possible endings, and no follow-up titles to clarify this (the only game following it being the StarFox 64 3DS remake), it’s difficult to gauge which version of Krystal is accurate. Without taking Command into account, Krystal ends up being little more than another princess, similar to Peach or Zelda.

That’s a shame, as Krystal is very interesting as a study for game developers and historians, due to the changes that were made during her debut title’s development. Originally, StarFox Adventures was a Nintendo 64 title under development by Rare, named Dinosaur Planet. The game featured two playable protagonists, Krystal and her brother Sabre. The game languished in development for a long time, to the point it was re-imagined for the Gamecube. The story goes that it was about this time that Shigero Miyamoto saw a build of the game and commented how Sabre looked similar to Fox McCloud, suggesting they make it a StarFox game. Oddly enough, they did just that — removing Sabre and sidelining Krystal in place of Fox as the protagonist. To add insult to injury, Fox ended up wielding the staff of power Krystal possessed through most of the development cycle.

In addition to being able to use the magic staff, Krystal possesses a unique telepathic ability, similar to Deanna Troi from Star Trek. This explains how she is able to communicate with creatures that otherwise wouldn’t speak (dinosaurs), and it is also an ability she uses to help her team during dog-fights — gauging enemy emotional states and motives during intense moments. It also helps determine enemy weaknesses, which is it’s primary game function.

This is where things get a little murky in regards to adding her to Smash Brothers. As a pilot, her most signature ability is one that is difficult to realize in a fighting game. While telekinesis and pyrokinesis are psychic abilities with some punch, telepathy is not a very visual ability, making it difficult to use, control, or avoid properly. Aside from that, there’s not really anything to distinguish her from other StarFox compatriots in terms of weapons or abilities. Therefore, she would likely end up as another character copying Fox’s moves.

The natural argument, then, is to take the staff fighting style from Starfox Adventures and allow Krystal to use it in addition to various magic abilities. While this seems satisfactory compromise, it comes with one major flaw: Krystal does not use the staff in Starfox Adventures. Surely she used it in the beta, and it is technically hers in the game, Fox just happens to find it. Still, the fact that she never actually wields it in game makes bringing her in with it is not an accurate representation. This creates somewhat of a problem with her as a playable Smash Brothers contender, and it doesn’t get much better for her, unfortunately.

While Krystal is technically the product of a third party (Rare in this case), she appears not to have the red-tape issues that other Step-Brothers have had. Having appeared in both StarFox Assault, StarFox Command, and making a cameo in Super Smash Brothers Brawl, it seems Nintendo doesn’t have any problems bringing the character out when they need to, so any affiliation with Rare seems to be a moot point.

However, her unique heritage does play against her. We should first make clear, however, that StarFox Adventures was unusual for a StarFox game. Unlike just about every other game in the franchise, the game has you running around on the planet’s surface, using magic, collecting items, delving dungeons, and solving puzzles. If this sounds similar to the Legend of Zelda series, that’s not coincidental — the original Dinosaur Planet was using the Legend of Zelda engine. As such, Krystal is very different from the majority of the cast, because her debut was so different from the rest of the series. Krystal is a magic-wielding telepath that protects peace-loving dinosaurs, in a series that spends most of it’s time in cockpits firing lasers. Because of this, Krystal becomes an anomaly within the universe she calls home.

One might say Krystal’s oddity is a refreshing change of pace, and a unique character like this should get some lime-light. However, I will offer two examples from my own predictions list as a counter to this. In the second part of my predictions, I stated that Fire Emblem will likely get a third entrant. I chose Micaiah with the same reasoning, a deliberate and refreshing change of pace. However, while Micaiah is anomalous to the Fire Emblem series for being a female protagonist that uses magic, she is not an anomaly to the world of Fire Emblem or feel of the games. Women of power and magic users are not uncommon in the world of Fire Emblem, it’s just that few games ever chose one as their main focus. Krystal, on the other hand, is the only character in her universe, that we know of, with her kinds of powers and abilities.

By contrast, having Fox, Falco, and Wolf fits into StarFox’s repertoire much easier. You have the ace pilot, his wingman, and his rival pilot. Removing Falco from this, as I suggested may happen, does not dilute this feel very much. By removing any of these characters in exchange for Krystal you disrupt the flow and feel of what their universe is about.

Warning Spoilers in video:

At the end of the day, Krystal simply isn’t a StarFox character, and is instead a victim of re-branding. Shoving aside Krystal and her world to make the game more ‘marketable’ left StarFox Adventures and Krystal feeling odd and out of place. I’m certain people at Nintendo trying to work with the franchise are aware of this by now. It could be argued that Nintendo may want to keep such a mistake out of the lime-light, and thusly refuse to include Krystal. Then again, R.O.B the robot and Toon Link were still included in Smash Brothers Brawl, regardless of mixed reactions to their games/products in the past.

However, the argument stands that Krystal simply doesn’t fit in StarFox very well. The only character she gets along with or has any strong affinity for is Fox, and only for the romantic angle. Panther from the StarWolf team shows interest in her, but it’s unclear if that is only due to her ‘token female’ status. She has no real connection with any of the other pilots on the team or even ones on other squads, which is why so many of the endings in StarFox command involve her leaving. As the 3DS remake implies, the series was StarFox before her, and it will continue to be StarFox without her. This, from my perception, is the most telling sign of her possible fate in the Smash Brothers franchise.

Probability Forecast: Fair to Slightly Unreasonable

In spite of the fact that I find the evidence against Krystal’s inclusion far more compelling, I still cannot shake my gut feeling I’m wrong on this one. Therefore, Krystal scores about the same as Geno.

To be more appropriate to my bet, however, I will put down two 3DS’s and 2 copies of StarFox 64 3D, one for the original commentator who suggested it, if Krystal appears as a playable character in the fourth Smash Brothers entry. So, Kaytea better keep your contact information handy if Krystal shows up in today’s Nintendo Direct.

Didn’t know you had a chance to win things by commenting? Well, neither did I. I may do another request contest again as time goes on, but we’ll have to see what the Big N has as plans first. Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions or requests, please post them in the comments below.

References:

Wikipedia entry for Deanna Troi

Arwingpedia entry for Krystal

feargm’s Star Fox Adventures – Fox meets Krystal (HD)

Yuriofwind’s Gaming Mysteries: Dinosaur Planet/ StarFox Adventures Beta (N64/GCN)

shadowracer091’s Star Fox Command Endings using clips from nightshade64

Xbox One is Xboned, or How I Grew Up and Learned to love Consumer Activism

For anyone who hasn’t read the latest out of Microsoft regarding their used game and online connection requirements, you can find it at this link (http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/main).

If you don’t want waste your time digging through that information to find the explaination, I don’t blame you. Here are the dirty bits:

Under Xbox One: A Modern, Connected Device:

“With Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library. Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.”

Under How Games Licensing Works on Xbox One:

“Xbox One is designed so game publishers can enable you to give your disc-based games to your friends. There are no fees charged as part of these transfers. There are two requirements: you can only give them to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once.”

“In our role as a game publisher, Microsoft Studios will enable you to give your games to friends or trade in your Xbox One games at participating retailers. Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers. Microsoft does not receive any compensation as a part of this. In addition, third party publishers can enable you to give games to friends. Loaning or renting games won’t be available at launch, but we are exploring the possibilities with our partners.”

While these are small excerpts from the overall page, it is very telling of the path Microsoft has chosen to take on used games and network connection. This of course has the necessary cornucopia of gamers calling down fire and brimstone around Microsoft and their choice of policies. This has lead to some claiming that these policies will lead to the failure of the platform and Microsoft’s credibility in the game-space. While the latter is certainly true, the former is far from determined; in fact, I suspect that the opposite is true.

I said in an earlier post that I believe the Xbox One, or as I loving refer to it as the ‘Xbone,’ stands to be the most successful selling system of this generation, and I still stand by that assertion even after this recent reveal. How? Why? Three reasons?

1) They aren’t targeting gamers

Their major marketing strategy isn’t about winning over the gaming crowd, just the average person. Homemakers who don’t want to search for the remote while carrying their children, fathers who want to watch the game and skype with buddies without missing any of the action looking away from the screen, frat boys who want more interaction with their sports, games, and sports games are all in the scope of who Microsoft wants interested in the Xbox One.

This strategy has worked before as recently as the previous generation with the Wii. Nintendo decided to target outside the spectrum of traditional gamers, and sold millions of units on that strategy, much to the chagrin of others in and around the industry. Apple did the same thing with the iphone and ipad, targeting outside the scope of wanton technophiles and made a killing with it. This is a tried an true strategy when selling hardware in this market, and one that will likely be successful again.

2) Consumers, not informed consumers

Microsoft is not banking on selling their product to people because of these new policies, rather they plan on selling it to people who know little to nothing about them. While the gaming community is alight with this new information, Microsoft is gambling that the general public will not be informed of this until they’ve already bought one — and by that point they won’t care. The fact that the three paragraphs I pulled required clicking two links, and scrolling nearly to the bottom of the page, means while they are certainly not hiding it, they aren’t going to bring it to the attention of someone just casually interested in the product.

This will change depending heavily on price point, and noone expects the Xbox One to be cheap. However, if they provide alternative payment methods, like they have with the 360 recently, selling it won’t be that much of an issue.

3) Gamer’s opinions won’t matter

This is what no gamer wants to hear, but in the end, Microsoft isn’t interested in the gamers that are still concerned over this.  Microsoft is hedging it’s bets that there aren’t as many gamers upset over this as the internet would have us all believe. Voices carry in a cave, and when darkness prevents everyone from seeing each other, it’s difficult to tell the echoes from the actual words.  Microsoft believes there are more echos than actual complaints, and their market strategy reflects that.

In addtion, Microsoft is counting on the same wave EA has been riding for a couple of years now — gamers will still buy games, even when they say they won’t. While EA has suffered critical backlash, and some financial quandaries, they’re still around and making games.  A company doesn’t live long enough to see two Golden Poo’s when noone is buying their product.  Truth is, if nearly as many gamers had boycotted EA as they said they have, EA would not have a leg to stand on right now. The end of the day, Microsoft is counting on the idea that even gamers that complain will buy the games anyway.  This is why E3 will likely be the turning point, as they likely have a good deal of great titles to show us.

So then, while I hate to admit it, the Xbox Oneis on more solid footing than most are giving it credit for.  Does that mean we should just bow down to our publisher overlords?  Of course not, but it requires the gaming community to mature and become active consumers.  Complaining on facebook, reddit, and twitter isn’t going to get the industry’s attention — buying products that don’t have these online and used game restrictions will send a stronger message.  That means, if the PS4 doesn’t have these features, gamers need to buy it up.  If not, it seems the only refuge is the Wii U that has been struggling for attention.

It also involves getting the word out to people who aren’t in the know.  Finding family and friends and educating them on the problems the Xbox One presents.  Encouraging others to buy products that do not support Microsoft’s initiative, or talking down friends willing to pony up cash for it.

This will not keep the Xbox One from being successful — that ship has already left the dock.  It will, however, put microsoft in an imposition provided the game industry survives this generation.  Going back to the Wii, even though Nintendo made huge numbers of sales at the beginning of last generation, as the generation waned, the gaming community’s lack of interest put them in the position they are now — floundering and begging for attention.  If this can be repeated with Microsoft, we may see them turn around in five or ten years to try an win back the customers they lost.

While such a scenario is not a devastating defeat of a corporate giant, it would still be a victory in the ongoing war for consumer-interest, which is what we all really want in the end.

Further Reading:

http://consumerist.com/2013/04/09/ea-makes-worst-company-in-america-history-wins-title-for-second-year-in-a-row/

https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRzmg51Lnz–8HiT9_0YinqipinlG1i0kxiY_ps9DfrX8BJ3LFA
http://m.cnet.com/news/want-a-new-xbox-360-for-$99-pay-for-xbox-live-for-two-years/57429189?ds=1
http://airboundgab3.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/and-the-looser-of-the-next-generation-war-is/
http://geekbravado.com/2013/06/06/xbox-one-when-your-customers-become-your-enemy/