Monthly Archives: January 2014

Q & Nyuuron Play Turtles in Time Re-Shelled

Here’s a short preview of Q & Nyuuron’s playthrough of Turtles in Time Re-Shelled.

For more check out Qequalshappiness on Youtube!

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4 Things about Nintendo

I didn’t really intend this to become a Nintendo themed month, but seeing how just about everyone in the video game world now has to put in their two cents, I might as well.

It all started when Nintendo announced it was lowering it’s sales projections for the year, from 9 million Wii U units and 15 million 3DS units sold, to 2.5 and 13 respectively.  This forced even President Iwata to admit there was a problem and Nintendo would have to restructure to accommodate these new numbers.  Naturally, everyone on the internet has their own ideas what this means for Nintendo’s future, which is what I intend to go over here.

Here are the 4 things being said about Nintendo right now!

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Nintendo will drop hardware support and become a 3rd party software publisher instead.

Nintendo knows exactly how successful this move would be.  After all, Sega did this and look at them now — needing Nintendo to front the money to publish the next installment of their most successful series in two decades, Bayonetta.

It’s unfair to judge how well Nintendo would do as a third party publisher if only one company in gaming history had done it; good thing there’s more than one example.  Atari, makers of the Atari 2600, were tossed between various owners before filing for bankruptcy last year.  Thus, we have two examples of former video game hardware manufacturers that went into software publishing, and are still struggling financially.

Switching gears to only developing software may improve Nintendo’s position in the short term, but as the evidence thus far shows, it is not a good solution for the longevity of the company.

-Nintendo will start making games for mobile.

This was rumored by some news sources, but was shot down by Iwata soon after.  Of course any Mario fan would love to have a copy of Super Mario Brothers on their iphone or android device, but Nintendo moving to that platform is a slippery slope.

Let’s take an example.  Let’s say EA decided to be crazy one day and said, “We’ll publish Dragon Age: Origins again, and we’ll put it on our Origin shop and make it available on Steam as well.”  If that happened, how many people would purchase the game off of Origin?  Practically noone, as Steam is the more widely used PC gaming platform right now.

What’s that have to do with Nintendo?  Nintendo is still selling their old games on the E-Shop.  Should they put those games up on the App Store, they would be effectively abandoning their own digital platform — a platform that supports the hardware they’re trying to sell.  Much like the previous situation, this would be a short-term revenue solution, but provides virtually no long-term benefits.

-Nintendo will make a new console.

Nintendonews.com (not an official Nintendo site) recently posted a scoop that Nintendo had another console in the works.  While the source of the information on this is suspect, I have no doubts Nintendo is working on the next console.  Why?

While the Xbox One was still an up-and-comer, Microsoft reps made assertions that the new console could be a viable platform for the next 10 years.  While it’s true that Microsoft could simply be exaggerating, it’s hard to ignore that the video game world just came out of the longest gaming generation to date.  If Microsoft is even remotely accurate, they will be settling in for a long hardware cycle about now.

Nintendo never made any claim that the Wii U was going to be the system to last until 2020 and beyond.  If we’re presuming about a 5 year console cycle for the Wii U, then it only has about 3 years left.  So, I do believe Nintendo should be cooking up something in their research and development department by now for a potential launch in 2017.

This doesn’t mean nintendonews is accurate, however.  If the specs they posted are in fact true, I anticipate they will change drastically between now and launch.  If Nintendo is a hardware sales company as much as it claims to be, then it makes sense their hardware workers are moving on to the next task by now.

-Nintendo is going to go bankrupt.

It’s great to see so many people concerned for Nintendo and their well-being, especially after so many other companies struggled recently.  Some seem to forget, however, that the original Wii was the best selling console of last generation.  Meanwhile, the 3DS finally found it’s footing and is out-selling it’s competitor the PS Vita by a wide margin.  Nintendo still has a slew of quality titles in production for the Wii U coming as well, so sales are likely to improve, not get worse anytime soon.

Nintendo has weathered the storm before, and will do so again.  The next console will come.  In the meantime, Nintendo needs to concentrate on building a better marketing strategy, and keeping enough quality titles coming to keep it’s customers happy.

Above is an opinion of the author.  Facts presented are backed by research found at gamesindustry.biz, nintendonews.com, joystiq.com, prnewswire.com, polygon.com, and wikipedia.org.  Author does not own Nintendo or any Nintendo properties mentioned in this article, and does not own a Wii U either.

Super Smash Step-Brothers Double Feature: Daisy & Waluigi

Welcome to a special double edition of Super Smash Step-Brothers.  Today, we’ll be discussing two potential entrants into the Smash Brothers series, mostly because both tend to come up in discussions of each other more often than not. Without any further ado, let’s talk about the lovely Princess Daisy and the despicable Waluigi!

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Different Strokes

While having some similarities, Daisy and Waluigi have very different histories.  Daisy originates from Super Mario Land, being that game’s particular objective.  Since Peach didn’t have a first name yet, Daisy was also the moniker user for the princess in the Super Mario Brothers movie (starring Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo).  In the games however, Super Mario Land was Daisy’s only foray into what is considered the ‘Mario canon.’  She appeared in the first Nintendo golf game, NES Open Tournament Golf, as Luigi’s caddie.  Subsequent Mario Golf titles would later include Daisy as a playable character.  Eventually, her path finally crossing with Waluigi in Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color.

Waluigi, on the other hand, was an original creation for Mario Tennis.  While developer Camelot felt it reasonable to pull in Daisy as a partner for Peach, Wario was sadly without a counterpart at this time.  Waluigi was created to have an ‘evil’ Luigi to pair with Wario in doubles matches.  He was moderately successful, due to filling a niche that was left vacant in the Mario sports universe.

The relative success of Mario Tennis catapulted Waluigi to stardom, and raised Daisy’s awareness levels to new heights.  From here, both characters were placed into more Mario sports titles, such as Mario Hoops 3-on-3 and Mario Strikers.  They were also incorporated into later installments of the Mario Party and Mario Kart series of games.  Waluigi was also featured as the antagonist in Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, and was featured as an assist trophy in Super Smash Brothers  Brawl.  In addition, Peach touted an alternate color scheme to resemble Daisy in Super Smash Brothers Melee and Brawl as well.  Things look good for the dynamic duo to finally break through into the realm of Smash as fully realized characters.

The Luigi Test

Things look good at least, until one starts to analyze the characters a little bit, and realize they come up somewhat lacking as compared to other characters already in Smash Brothers .  How they lack is something I’ve been covering since Step-Brothers began, but since Mario series characters make up about a third of the Smash cast, I can actually cite examples this time.  So, then, let’s take a look at a few other Mario characters and see how they fit into the Smash Brothers roster.

We’ll start with the brother in green, Luigi, first added to the Smash Brothers series in the original Super Smash Brothers for the Nintendo 64.  This is a good place to start, as Smash 64 came out before Luigi had his own Gamecube game, before the Mario & Luigi RPG games came into being, and before he had the year 2013 dedicated to him.  Luigi had been surprisingly absent from much of the N64 action — featuring mostly in the Mario Party and Mario Kart titles during this time.  Even the last two Mario games for the Super Nintendo — Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island and Super Mario RPG — had a significant lack of Luigi in them.  So for purposes of our test, Luigi is the perfect example.

Firstly, despite Luigi having been excluded from games for a long while, he was still well known among fans at the time.  Mario was more or less a household name at this point, and Luigi was not far behind.  What’s more, Luigi’s absence was actually felt among the fan base.  While the core Mario titles were good, the lack of Mario’s brother was certainly noted.  Luigi had a legacy that went back to Mario Brothers, the game that brought the jumpman to stardom.  Mario may have been on top of the world, but it was atop his younger brother’s shoulders.

Secondly, Luigi had appeared in at least one game that defined a specific personality and skill set to Luigi.  Super Mario Brothers 2 featured Luigi, Princess Toadstool, and Toad as playable characters, each with their own abilities.  In Luigi’s case, he was able to out-jump his younger brother, though he was a little slower and not as strong.  As minuscule as it sounds, those are abilities that are very specific — being able to do everything Mario can, though better at jumping and not as fast or strong.  His personality, on the other hand, is inferred.  Luigi is always being compared to Mario, and trying to be as good or better than his brother.  From this point, games that incorporated differing skill sets for Mario characters would use this as a template for Luigi from which they could expand.

Lastly, believe it or not, Luigi did feature as a protagonist in a game during the Super Nintendo era.  In Mario Is Missing, the player plays as Luigi scouring the real world in search of his brother Mario.  The game was a little off-putting to some, as it was an education-puzzle game more than an action-adventure.  However, it was the first adventure Luigi embarked on without his brother.  So, Luigi also has at least one signature title at this point.  Based on this we have at least 3 characteristics to look at with future Mario series entrants:

1) well-known and significant to the franchise

2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters

3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character

But no test is complete without a control test, so let’s put some other Mario characters under the knife:

Wonders of Wario

An easy test of our hypothesis is Mario’s criminal opposite Wario.  Wario was not included into the Smash series until Super Smash Brothers Brawl, so we will only look at titles prior to that — which are still significant.

     1) well-known and significant to the franchise: 

While Wario doesn’t have quite the history of Luigi, he is still fairly significant to the franchise.  He served as an antagonist in Super Mario Land 2, and was the first non-Bowser antagonist to be featured in subsequent games.  By the end of the Super Nintendo era, he had replaced the Koopa Troopa in Mario Kart, and had been featured in every Mario Party title.  His presence was felt throughout the Mario sports games, despite not featuring in Mario canonical titles very much by this point.  Of course, his lack of presence is made up for in his own spin-off series, which ties into a later part of our test.  In conclusion, Wario passes the first part of the test handily.

result: PASS

     2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: 

Next we have to look at Wario’s distinctive style.  While it is not fully addressed in all Mario games, Wario tends to follow a pattern in his distinctiveness from Mario.  He is always rude, greedy, physically fatter than Mario, but also physically stronger as well.  His characteristics, however, are far better defined in his own WarioWare series, which had gone from the Game Boy all the way to the Wii at this point.  WarioWare defines Wario as lazy in addition to his greed, as well as having a rather short attention span.  He is also a motorcycle enthusiast, separating him from his step-brother Mario even further.  He also loses the traditional plumber duds for motorcycle gear in WarioWare, giving him a completely different aesthetic.  Naturally, I think this makes Wario perfectly qualified by our Luigi standard.

result: PASS

     3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: 

Lastly, as previously mentioned, Wario had several spin-off titles of his own.  Starting with the Wario Land games on the Game Boy, he also had Wario World on the Gamecube.  His most successful spin-off, however, was the WarioWare series, which gave Wario a large supporting cast, as well as a unique genre of games to call his own.  Therefore, Wario is a shoe-in for category 3 as well.

result:PASS

The test results are as follows:

1) well-known and significant to the franchise: PASS

2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: PASS

3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: PASS

Despite what dissenters may say, Wario has earned his place in Smash according to this test.  However, let’s look at one more for comparison.

Rosalina’s Robbery

One of the latest announcements at the time of this writing was the reveal of Rosalina as a playable character in the next Smash Brothers for Wii U and 3DS.  This comes as a surprise to some, as Rosalina is a very fresh character to the Mario Universe, having debuted in Super Mario Galaxy on the previous system, the Wii.  This also has a number of fans somewhat upset, since she seems to be included to the detriment of other characters in the Mario universe (similar to characters I’ve covered before).  However, she is the first new pick from the Mario franchise for the new Smash game, so let’s give her the Luigi test.

     1) well-known and significant to the franchise: 

To start, it seems Rosalina is lacking in significant aspects.  After all, with only two core titles, a couple of Mario Kart outings, and an appearance as a hidden character in Super Mario 3D World, she has nowhere near the presence as many other characters in the series.  However, there are some loopholes Rosalina falls into.

One of which being that she is one of first female characters in a core Mario game not featured as a damsel-in-distress (the first being Princess Peach Toadstool in Super Mario Brothers 2 who subsequently became a damsel again).  Rosalina doesn’t need saving herself, but instead aides Mario (spoilers: and Luigi) in tracking down, defeating Bowser, and saving Peach.  Every lead lady in the core franchise, from Pauline to Peach to even Daisy, has been a damsel-in-distress at some point;  Rosalina is the exception.

Furthermore, while I would not say Rosalina is well-known, it does appear she is well-liked.  Scouring youtube posts (the best place to go for a daily dose of vitriol), most don’t hate Rosalina as a character; most just aren’t really aware of her.  Those that have played Mario Galaxy, however, generally approve of her as a Smash Brother — so she may just barely squeak by on test number one.

result: PASS

     2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: 

Next, we have to look at her skill-set and determine how distinct a personality she is.  Honestly, she blows this one out of the water.  Being in control of the Lumas and having magic and a ship to manipulate space and time makes her significantly different from just about any character in the Mario Universe. In addition, she’s the first humanoid magic-user ally Mario has had since Super Mario RPG (other magic users have either been villains or particularly non-humanoid).  Her powers are subtle however, and not very extravagant.

Her backstory, told in a story book in Super Mario Galaxy, paints her as a loving, compassionate, motherly character, the likes of which never before witnessed in a Mario title.  While Peach could be defined as caring, we rarely get an opportunity to witness it, and we certainly haven’t seen her in a mother role (those pesky Koopa kids!).  So, even if we had failed her on point 1, she more than makes up for it on point 2.

result: PASS

     3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: 

Lastly, of course, Rosalina has not had a title of her own, and was not even a playable character in a core Mario title until Super Mario 3D World.  She has to fail the third test, right?

I would argue the opposite, as Super Mario Galaxy (and to a certain degree it’s sequel) have more to do with Rosalina than it ever did with the rest of the Mario cast.  She helps Mario and Luigi save Peach from Bowser, but Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Bowser are simply doing what they always do.  The story of Rosalina’s past in Mario Galaxy is the far more unique, and far more engaging than Mario saving Peach in space. Rosalina’s ship, her story, and abilities are what make the Galaxy games not only possible, but compelling.  Without Rosalina, Super Mario Galaxy would look just like another Super Mario 64.  So, for that reason, I argue she cheats this one a bit as well.

result: PASS

The results are a little different, but still look promising:

1) well-known and significant to the franchise: PASS

2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: PASS

3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: PASS

Admittedly, Rosalina is not an A student like Wario on this test, but she manages to slide in just barely.  Her being a character introduced in a game with stronger than usual story-arc seemed to help somewhat.

According to her example then, a character can still get in with a compelling story, or strong presence.

So, now it’s time to judge Daisy and Waluigi by the Luigi test.

D is for Daisy

We’ve already talked a bit about Daisy, so let’s go ahead and put her to the test.

     1) well-known and significant to the franchise: 

We already know that Daisy has played a role in Super Mario Land.  After that, she fell into obscurity.  Even now, she’s never appeared in any other Mario titles that were not Sports related. This hurts her recognition somewhat.  Her recognition is both aided by the Super Mario Brothers movie, but harmed as well by being associated with it.  By this point, most recognize the blonde bombshell Peach as Mario’s princess, so Daisy is left by the way side.  She’s well known enough to the fan base that I can give her partial credit at least.

results: PASS

     2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: 

Daisy is another princess like Peach, and is possibly Peach’s sister.  She may also be in a relationship with Luigi, though that too is vague.  That’s the most you can really get out of Daisy.  She was a young lady that needed rescue, much like Pauline before her.  She’s described as a tomboy in manuals and other material, but we are never really shown that.  It could be inferring that because she shows up in the sports games, she’s a tomboy.  However, she’s never doing anything in those games that Peach herself isn’t also doing; therefore, how is she more of a tomboy than Peach?  This isn’t helped by the fact that Daisy really isn’t given any story of her own to help define her, and isn’t put into a scenario where she can be easily compared to her compatriots without technical knowledge of a sport interfering.

results: FAIL

     3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: 

Daisy has no titles of her own, except for Super Mario Land, where she is no more defined than Pauline or Peach at the time.  She is never developed on a personal level, and has no amount of significant back story.  She unfortunately receives 0 points.

results: FAIL

Daisy’s results are pretty abysmal:

1) well-known and significant to the franchise: PASS

2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: FAIL

3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: FAIL

Even though we gave her a pass on question 1, she still falls short in the other two categories.  She’s hurt primarily by her reliance on sports titles to define her, which doesn’t allow for much definition at all in terms of personality.  It might help if we had some explanation to why she disappears whenever her sister is kidnapped… or why Bowser never bothers kidnapping her.

7 for Waluigi

Waluigi we’ve also covered quite a bit, but let’s see how he does.

     1) well-known and significant to the franchise: 

Waluigi was created to be a partner for Wario in doubles.  It is claimed that he is supposed to be an antagonist to Luigi, much as Wario is to Mario; however, this is never specifically shown.  Waluigi has appeared as a primary antagonist in Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, but even then, he’s harassing both brothers, not just the one.  Waluigi is recognizable to some fans, but saying Waluigi to anyone outside the gaming universe, will probably result in head scratching, if not confused laughter.

results: FAIL

     2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters: 

Waluigi is tall, lanky, and evil.  He has characteristics defined more or less by the two other characters he’s meant to imitate.  Sure he looks cool, but he does not exhibit any more greed, cleverness, or stupidity than his fatter, stockier counterpart Wario.  The sports games don’t really show us he’s particularly interesting outside of these aspects.  Wario doesn’t bring him along for the ride in the WarioWare games either, so he misses out on that as well.  He may know how to dance though.  Okay, give him a point for that.

results: PASS

     3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: 

As stated a couple times already, Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix features him as the antagonist, where he does about what one would expect from a Mario antagonist in a dance game.  If Bowser or Wario weren’t big clumsy oafs, they would probably have been featured instead.  It’s debatable whether the DDR game counts or not though, and he never really went on to other titles that featured him specifically as an antagonist.  As stated before, he is not featured in his brother’s or step-brother’s spin-off games either.  We’re never really privy to what makes Waluigi tick as a villan, but I suppose we don’t always have to in a Mario game.  I was feeling generous, but I still can’t be swayed to grant any points on this one.

results: FAIL

Based on these results, Waluigi isn’t looking too hot either:

1) well-known and significant to the franchise: FAIL

2) distinctive characteristics that separate them from other characters:                                                                                           PASS

3) significant titles or spin-off titles featuring the character: FAIL

Waluigi is not really a character; he’s a caricature.  He has no particular significance to the Mario series, and he has no characteristics aside from being basically two other, more prominent characters mashed together.  His stand-out game only features him because of his build, not any other more substantive reason.  Even if I awarded him a point on question 3 anyway, he still doesn’t have enough to make the cut.

Now Play Nice

Granted this test isn’t completely objective, but I do not feel that Daisy and Waluigi are fully qualified in any category, whereas Rosalina excelled in one of them at the very least.  Daisy and Waluigi are simply characters that exist in the franchise when they need space filled.  They do not define franchise; they do not support the franchise.  The Mario series was there before they existed, and the series was not dramatically changed with their inclusion.  It will not change to an significant degree should they pass into obscurity again either.  I look forward to a day that isn’t true, but for now, that is how they stand.

Probability Forecast: “Highly Unlikely, with a chance of Unreasonable”

If either character was made a playable character in the new Super Smash Brothers game, I’d probably have to eat a Mario Kart 7 box to stop my eyes from rolling.  I still place them ahead of many of my previous subjects due to lack of legal issues involved.  Them appearing as assists and alternate costumes is perfectly acceptable, but I would question Sakurai’s priorities including them into the player character roster.

But don’t take my word for it.  Let your voice be heard!

State of Smash: 1 -3 -2014

Welcome to the New Year!  My first order of business is getting caught up on the Smash Brothers News again.  While they did reveal a few interesting assist trophies, I’ll be focusing more on the playable characters they revealed since my last installment.

Marth

He was added in November, and is not really a surprise.  The man that brought the Fire Emblem series to the West through Melee has every right to remain in the cast.  Add to that the fact he has always been a well balanced and strong character in the games as well, and he’s pretty much the perfect contender.  Not really much else to say really;  a great character and it’s good to see him in the cast again.

Rosalina

After probably the biggest tease at the beginning of the trailer, we finally see the other, other Mario princess confirmed as a playable character.  I’ll admit, while I’m not specifically drawn to the Mario Galaxy series, Rosalina always struck a cord with me for some reason.  She’s easily the most interesting addition to the Mario cast since Super Mario RPG, and in some ways pays homage to it (being from outside of Mario’s world, and Geno’s true form can be easily construed as a Luma).

Her fighting style looks incredibly complex, with her having to coordinate with her attacks alongside her Luma compatriot.  It also changes color, indicating that it has different modes of attack somehow.  I am very intrigued and perhaps for the first time excited about for this title now.

Zelda

Lastly, Nintendo revealed screen shots for another Nintendo princess — Zelda.  Unlike many of the screens we’ve gotten in the past though, these are much more coy about her abilities — in particular the absence of her sheik form.  It makes me wonder if they actually have some changes in the works, or if the Smash team is just teasing everyone again (hint: it’s most likely the latter).  Still, it’s good to see her back as well, changes or not.

We’ll have to see if Nintendo can maintain that momentum as we close in on the game’s launch sometime this year.