Category Archives: Rumor Mill

State of Smash 7-18-2014

This was a crazy week for Smash.  Thanks to the Gematsu leak, and a re-tweet from one of Monolith Soft’s writers, most fans were convinced that Shulk would be revealed on the 14th.  The morning of the 14th, however, Sakurai posted a trophy as the pic of the day… but not just any trophy.  Rayman, a character own by Ubisoft, is now confirmed as a trophy.  This threw speculation into overdrive for the next few hours.

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Finally, the trailer reveals, not one, not two, but three characters coming to the roster.  Two new characters from Fire Emblem were added.  Robin provides what I was looking for in my predictions list — a Fire Emblem character focused on spell-casting.  In addition, Lucina is the second confirmed clone character, borrowing most of Marth’s animations, but being smaller and faster while losing Marth’s signature damaging sword-tip.  Also, Captain Falcon was confirmed to be returning (not that we really needed any proof).

Sakurai took a little victory lap as well, by showing Chrom was not a playable character, just part of Robin’s final smash — a point of contention seeing how the Gematsu leak claimed Chrom was a playable character.

 

All this news brings many new questions to the forefront:

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1) How wrong was the Gematsu leak?

For those not aware, the Gematsu leaker accurately predicted Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, Little Mac, Mii, and Pac-man long before they were revealed around E3 2013.  The second leak of his predicted Palutena from Kid Icarus, Shulk from Xenoblade Chronicles, Chorus Men from Rhythym Heaven, a Pokemon from X/Y, and Chrom from Fire Emblem.  The revelation that Chrom is not a playable character seems to debunk the second leak outright, in spite of the fact that he seemed to get everything correct until that point, including Palutena and Greninja.

Some are attributing his information as being out of date, while others are dismissing it altogether.  I have a different theory.  In both leaks he seemed vague on certain characters — Villager was called “Animal Crossing Guy” for instance; “Pokemon from X/Y” instead of Greninja is another example.  This means the leaker, if he does have legitimate connections, does not have direct access to the information somehow. The fact that he missed Rosalina as a newcomer is also telling.

While watching some Smash footage on the Nintendo Tree-house, I caught myself asking who that girl in the dress was at one point.  It took me a few moments and her finally summoning the Luma to realize it was Rosalina.  From a distance, it was difficult for me to tell the difference between her and Zelda.  I think this may lend some evidence that the leaker may be able to see some of these characters, but not necessarily be able to accurately identify them.  We know that Chrom is in Robin’s final smash, so it’s possible he was mistaken as a playable character.

That still begs the question though — was Robin, a white haired male with a sword and spells mistaken for Shulk, a white-haired male with a sword and spells?  Was it the Chorus Kids from Rhythm Heaven he saw or perhaps they were just part of another Rhythm Heaven character’s moveset?

Or, since the leaker got one aspect wrong and 90% of the rest correct, is it reasonable to discount all of it?

What do you think?

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2) What’s the deal with Ubisoft?

Rayman showing up as trophy was completely out of left-field.  Thus far, we have not seen any trophies of characters from third party affiliates without some association to a playable character — Egg-robo from Sonic, Wonder Red from Capcom, etc.  Rayman seems to imply some relationship to Ubisoft.  However, we have not seen any playable characters as trohpies in pics of the day either.  With Rayman being something of a poster-boy for Ubisoft, it seems strange that he would be denied entrance into the Smash Brothers roster.

Some have speculated that since Ubisoft doubled-back on their promise of Rayman Legends being a WiiU exclusive that Rayman was subsequently canned.  However, that just sounds like too much drama, and makes Sakurai seem rather vindictive by unveiling this trophy when he did.  Sakurai’s a troll, to be sure, but he’s not an angry one.  What’s more, that theory is quashed by the fact that Rayman is still a WiiU exclusive in Japan.

More likely, Rayman was passed up for someone else… but who?

Ubisoft’s repertoire isn’t quite as varied as other companies, but here’s a few quick possibilities:

Sam Fisher from Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell

Sam Fisher is part of the stealth-based Splinter Cell games which have appeared on multiple platforms, including Nintendo consoles.  The Tom Clancy series hit big in the early 2000’s but hasn’t been as marketable lately.  The more realistic and western tone of the character doesn’t seem to gel with Smash or Sakurai though.

Connor/Desmond/etc from Assassin’s Creed

You can pretty much substitute any Assassin’s Creed character here, as the results would be about the same.  Assassin’s Creed has been one of Ubisoft’s most successful series, and has even had Ezio appear as a guest character in other fighting games.  Assassin’s Creed’s ties to our actual real-life places and time periods though, which may put a damper on Smash Brother’s wild and colorful world.  Assassin’s Creed was also successful through the early and mid 2000’s which falls into Sakurai’s blind-spot as well.

Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes

Suda51’s art style made the No More Heroes series a wildly different looking Wii exclusive.  Despite his more mature style, Travis Touchdown’s colorful and whimsical world would fit in an almost surreal way with the rest of the Smash Brothers.  Unfortunately, it’s unclear if Ubisoft is actually tied to the title, as they were the publisher for the games in the States, but not in Japan.

Prince of Persia from Prince of Persia

Ubisoft still owns the rights to one of the landmark platforming games of the late 80’s.  Released in 1989, Prince of Persia changed people’s perspectives on what was possible with animation in games, and inevitably lead to the grand spectacles we associate with many AAA titles now.  While series has hit rough patches throughout the years, it still has some life in it, with the last title coming out in 2010 and rumors of a new title in development.  Regardless, however, the Prince is a historical video game character that has appeared on Nintendo systems, and predates another Smash competitor, Sonic the Hedgehog.  His historical context is what puts him slightly ahead of the other possibilities on this list.

But of course, this could all be a red herring anyway.  Maybe Ubisoft did just send Sakurai a 3-D model for the heck of it.

 

All of this is speculation however… Always take with a pinch of salt.

 

What’s you’re take?

 

 

 

 

Rumor Mill: And Capcom goes to…

The bomb dropped yesterday that Capcom may soon be up for grabs.  While I don’t pretend to understand the logistics, basically Capcom’s shareholders decided they were ready and willing to be taken over by another company.  I can only assume they wouldn’t do this unless they had someone in particular in mind… but who?

Time for another breakdown:

Sega

Sega could use a break and acquiring new ips or another publishing house would be helpful.  Unfortunately, Sega really isn’t in the financial position to do this… heck they may be worse off than Capcom is right now.

Konami

Konami has been out of the game somewhat.  With the exception of the Metal Gear games, Konami hasn’t had too many big hits.  Acquiring Capcom and it’s licenses would be a good stepping stone into expanding it’s market again.  I’m really not sure if this is possible however.  Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metal Solid Rising Revengence were good, but not ‘it’ll buy us another company’ good.

Square/Enix

Square/Enix doesn’t have too many franchises that conflict with Capcom properties, so the new ips could give them some new well-known franchises to play with.  Unfortunately, Square/Enix’s acquisition of several overseas studios hasn’t gone as well as they hoped; adding a bunch of franchises that Square/Enix’s studios are familiar with handling may not be the best move.  Much like the other publishers I’ve listed, it may be far too expensive as well.

Namco/Bandai

Namco/Bandai are certainly a better fit with many of Capcom’s Intellectual Properties.  They are currently working with them on Tekken x Street Fighter also.  They are certainly in a better position than most Japanese gaming companies right now, but pulling a takeover may be too costly — especially with the number of other games they are currently invested in.

Tecmo/Koei

Tecmo/Koei aren’t in a bad way either.  Much like Namco/Bandai they have been playing it safe with many of their recent releases, and have done fairly well so far.  I’m not entirely aware of what Tecmo/Koei’s financial status is, however.  It’s difficult to judge exactly how likely this is, but I suspect them to pounce if they are certainly able to.

Activision/EA/Ubisoft

I lumped these together because these are the three biggest publishing houses, and all have an equal shot at this.  I can see potentially good things coming from an Ubisoft-Capcom or Activision-Capcom pairing, and am somewhat wary of EA-Capcom.  Nevertheless, my understanding is there are some legal conundrums to be had, as all three of these are based in North America; as such, they may not be able to acquire Capcom in such a fashion.

This leaves just the big three:

Microsoft

Microsoft has more than enough to invest in a take-over.  It makes some amount of sense too, as the Xbox brand in Japan has been struggling for many years.  Adding a number of popular japanese franchises could easily bring them back on top.  However, since Microsoft is also an American company, it may not have the option.

Sony

This seems like one of the best fits for Capcom.  Sony has had good relations with Capcom for many years, and certainly would benefit from having Capcom franchises exclusively on the Playstation 4.  As a matter of fact, Capcom’s big next-gen project Deep Down has already been confirmed as a PS4 exclusive in Japan. Being one of the big console companies, it seems like a logical choice.  However, Sony hasn’t been doing as well as it would like.  The Playstation 4 sold extremely well, but it pretty much had to in order for Sony to stay in the gaming market.  Sony other branches haven’t been selling as well either. It’s possible too that Deep Down maybe one of the only projects it sees out of Capcom for awhile.  It’s a close-call, but it comes down to whether or not Sony wants to take that risk of investing in something it may not be able to bank on until much later.

Nintendo

This would be an interesting turn of events to be sure.  Nintendo and Capcom haven’t always had great relations over the course of their long history; however, with Monster Hunter being a huge success on the WiiU and 3DS, as well as Megaman appearing in Smash Brothers, it seems the two companies are on good terms right now.  What’s more, Nintendo has expressed interest in acquisitions lately in the wake of frustrating losses.  Provided Nintendo still has some Wii money left in the bank, this could be a huge game changer for them going forward.  Much like with Sony, however, it would be risky, since other than Monster Hunter, Capcom doesn’t have much in development for Nintendo right now.

 

And then of course, there could be many other companies that could see investing in Capcom as a way to jump into the video game business.  We’ll have to see how this plays out…

 

references:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/219300/Capcom_shareholders_open_company_up_to_takeover_possibility.php

Rumor Mill: Super Smash Brothers Takes on Skylanders

I apologize for the lack of updates.  Work related training threw my schedule out of whack and it’s been a bear trying to get it straightened out.

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In the meantime, Nintendo recently had a press conference with their investors giving them a bit of a sneak peak of what to expect coming up soon at E3.  Amoung the stats and shifting focus, they spoke of a new idea, NFP.  NFP would feature Nintendo figures that could be used with the Wii U’s built in RF scanner to play not just a game with them,  but multiple games.  Much like Skylanders or Disney Infinity, players could use these figures to save and load data to the game. Unlike those, they suggested it would work differently for multiple titles, and possibly multiple platforms.  In conjunction with this, the 3DS will be getting an accessory that would work as an RF scanner as well, and Nintendo will reveal an exclusive game that will use this technology at E3.

With technology like this, it makes sense that Nintendo would want to use this with as many properties as possible, so the most obvious conclusion is, they should add this to Smash Brothers.  However, there are plenty of questions that come with that.

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Why would this be related to Smash?

Three reasons.

First, the Smash Brothers Direct mentioned that customizable character moveset options would be transferable between the 3DS and WiiU versions, but did not specify what that process entailed.  Using the RF scanning technology already built into the WiiU (the same technology the Skylanders use), one could easily store that data to be used by the same game, even one on a different platform.

Second, it fits thematically to the Smash Brothers universe.  Both Smash Brothers Melee and Smash Brothers Brawl used the concept of trophies coming to life and battling each other.  This is incredibly similar to the concept Skylanders and Disney Infinity have been using, only they have been using actual figurines.  Such a move doesn’t really feel unnatural to the Smash Brothers series; in fact, it feels more like the Smash Brothers’ theme fully realized.

Thirdly, this would also explain some of the changes being made to the game — in particular the removal of ‘transformations’ and making them separate characters.  For instance, Shiek in Melee and Brawl had her own set of trophies in-game.  These were separate from Zelda’s trophies, despite the two being technically the same character.  In this scenario, it would be more resource efficient and less confusing to the consumer for Shiek to have her own figurine and not share one with Zelda.  Thusly, these changes were made out of necessity of the platform.

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Would this actually work for Nintendo / Smash Brothers?

Nintendo holds some of the most well-known and beloved franchises in the gaming world.  A game that caters to gamers nostalgia and their wanton need to collect memorabilia of such seems like a pretty easy win.  What’s more, Nintendo has been trying to explore new revenue paths, and something like this could be just what they need from a financial stand point.

As for working with Smash, it depends how much they emphasize the figures.  If it’s just to store custom data for a few modes, it would work fine.  I think many would be upset if if went as far as not being able to play the characters without the figurines — essentially forcing players to purchase characters separately or in bundles.

Much depends on how they sell them, too — in blind packs or see-through packaging.  Blind packs will probably net Nintendo more money, but frustrate their fanbase more.  That being said though, I think some characters would not sell very well in see-through packs (Wii Fit Trainer, Animal Crossing Villager, Olimar, etc).  See-through packs could offer two, three, or four figure bundles however to make up for this.

What would this mean for the game?

To start with, we should expect a fairly conservative roster in this case.  For reference, I looked up the first Skylander’s series, and not counting rare and legendary versions of characters, there were about 33 figures in the first run.  Super Smash Brothers Brawl had 39 characters counting transformations.  In this case, I would suspect that the new games would feature, at best, the same number as Brawl, but more likely less.  There are currently 30 characters confirmed to appear in Smash for 3DS/WiiU, so there may not be too many left to reveal if this is true.

Aside from that, the only way this aspect would significantly impact the game is if they wall off content with the purchase of these figures.  Restricting players from playing large swaths of the cast because they don’t have an entire collection would likely turn more players off than get them invested.  For this reason, I think Nintendo would be wary of locking away content this way.

What does it mean for the Smash community?

This is a little easier to predict — I anticipate the community will be very divided on this subject.  More casual fans of the series may go either way on the issue depending on how it is handled.  Competitive fans will either be lukewarm to the idea or not like it at all.  However, I think there will be a new third sect that would grow out of this who will get a thrill out of the idea of collecting these figures.

If allowed to do so, I think this could change the Smash Brothers community for the better though.  Allowing people to take their figures they sought out to get their perfect custom setup installed on, and show it off to the world would be quite exhilarating.  For those not interested in the custom setups, they could still play the characters as they were by default and showcase their skill.  Those interested in adding to their rare collection of figures could meet more players who want to do the same.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because there is already a Nintendo property that thrives on this:  Pokemon!

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Conclusion:

While I realize this is all conjecture, I can see how Nintendo could use this to great effect in a Smash Brothers game.  Much of the success of it would rely on Nintendo’s willingness to invest in the idea and the players surrounding it.

If I were a betting man, as I am prone to be, I would probably bet against this happening though.  This seems like such an easy next step, that it likely isn’t going to be.  I would expect this to be used in a Smash game much further down the line if the figurines idea goes well though.

We’ll have to see what happens at E3 though.

 

Rumor Mill: 5 Exciting Things about Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors

I came back briefly from my hiatus to see Nintendo take the Internet by storm with it’s latest Nintendo Direct.  They exploded onto the web announcing new games, updates to old games, and on the whole making the Wii U seem like a worthwhile investment this Christmas season.  One particular piece of news that came from this was the announcement of the game tentatively titled Hyrule Warriors.

Now, Koei has tried their hand at Warriors games in fictitious settings, but aside from the Dynasty Warriors Gundam series, not many have taken off in the West.  The Warriors Orochi series has done fairly well, but it serves primarily as a mash-up of it’s historical games, so it almost doesn’t count.

Taking the formula into a world as rich, yet familiar as the land of Hyrule is a stroke of genius.  There is so much TecmoKoei can do with this setting, that it’s almost impossible to list all the possibilities (and my limited knowledge of the Zelda cannon certainly wouldn’t help in that regard).  Below, however, I have listed 5 things that could make this the most exciting title I’ve seen for Wii U yet.

5) Zelda Taking Charge

For the first time, we may get to see Princess Zelda as more than just the regal highness needs rescue, but as a monarch in the throws of war.  Zelda will have to become a war general to face the onslaught of Ganon’s forces.  In this installment, we may get to know and understand the suffering and sacrifice she must make for her crown and her people. The concept presents the possibility to explore Zelda a bit more as a person, and to understand why it is her lineage that holds the throne throughout the timelines.

4) Return of Familiar Faces / Reveal of New Ones

While I could certainly be wrong on this one, I see no reason why this title would have to be just about the conflict between Zelda and Ganon.  The holy trinity of Legend of Zelda (Link, Zelda, Ganon) should be upheld to be sure, but that doesn’t mean other characters from games past can’t get in on the action.  More mischievous characters, just as Vaati or Skull kid could be looking to take advantage of the situation.  The Sheikah Ninja clan could play a pivotal role in how the battles are waged.  The Gerudo tribe (presuming they exist in this timeline) could be torn between following their foretold leader, or facing utter destruction in rebellion.

Aside from characters and creatures that existed before, there’s also plenty of room for Tecmo Koei to introduce their own creatures and characters to the world.  The warriors series is somewhat notorious for strange and unusual interpretations of historical heroes; it will be interesting to see what kinds of characters they could add to the Hyrulian mythos.

3) Link as an Action Hero

Link is many things to many people (or nothing to noone as he’s mostly whatever you perceive him as).  However, while swordplay has always been a part of the Legend of Zelda series, it has rarely been the focal point.  Link is given a sword and shield because they are are the most rudementary solutions to his problems.  Instead, Legend of Zelda has always been more puzzle oriented, with combat splashes in-between.   Thus, Link is smart and capable, but not necessarily a fierce veteran warrior.

In this installment, that will no longer be the case.  The Link in the teaser takes on more enemies than some Links may have fought in their entire careers; and he’s fighting most of them all at once.  Link this time will not only be the hero, but he will feel like a total bada** while doing it.

2) Play as Someone Other than Link

Probably the most significant one for the series as a whole if true, we may finally see a Legend of Zelda game where Link is not the sole protagonist (not counting the terrible CDI games of course).  Warriors titles thrive not just on the action, but being able to see it from both perspectives of the battlefield.  For this reason, Warriors games are well-known for having some of the largest playable casts in gaming history; therefore, the prospect of Link being the only playable character in the game is highly unlikely.

This opens up a world of interesting characters to explore.  Could we see Zelda trading blows with the best of them in her own series?  Will Midna return to wreck dark devastation on unsuspecting minions?  Will Sheik appear to deliver the final blow from the shadows?

1) Hyrule at War

Let’s face it.  Link is always stopping Ganon’s plans before they get going, or showing up late to the party after Ganon’s already in control (in fact he does both in Ocarina of Time).  We rarely see Link holding the line against innumerable enemy forces protecting the common folk of Hyrule.  We never get to see the struggles Zelda goes through during her kingdom’s darkest hour.  We as the player are typically shown either the kingdom ignorant of the danger about to befall them, or the kingdom already in the clutches of the vicious lord Ganon.

By the very nature of the project — being Legend of Zelda meets Dynasty Warriors — one has to assume all-out war is going to take place.  The exception this time, however, is that Link will be in the thick of it.  We’ll see exactly how ruthless Ganon’s minions can be, as well as how heroic even the average citizen of Hyrule is.  Though much of this will be glossed over to a certain extent, I still find this concept exhilarating, thus making this one of the games for the Wii U I’m most excited to see come to fruition.

In conclusion, more than any title I’ve seen come out of Tecmo-Koei or Nintendo recently, this has a great amount of promise for me, both as an old-school Nintendo fan, and a new-school Dynasty Warriors buff.

What do you think?  Could this help turn Nintedo’s Wii U around?  Will Hyrule ever be the same?  Let us know in the comments below.

Legend of Zelda and all affiliated characters are property of Nintendo.  Hyrule Warriors, and Dynasty Warriors are property of Tecmo Koei.  Above is simply my opinion and speculation and should not be taken as fact.

Rumor Mill: Pokemon Fighters

While re-evaluating my content, I’ve noticed I have a tendency to post at length about topics that are mostly speculation and hearsay.  Therefore, I decided to add a new category of articles I’m calling — the Rumor Mill.

So, since Pokemon X and Y are coming up, it feels natural to talk about Pokemon.  However, since Nintendo is being very tight lipped about it’s newest installment, let’s talk something a little more tangential to it, and something that pertains more to this site’s more traditional material.

Above is Jwittz speculating on a few seconds clip of an upcoming Pokemon Wii U title, which appears to be a Pokemon fighting game — specifically a possible Pokemon fighting tournament.  Alright I’m game… let’s list off the top 10 Fighting Pokemon to be included in Pokemon Fighting Tournament U (title pending).

Rules for Speculation:

1) I am limiting this list to Pokemon that are Fighting type.  They can be Fighting-hybrid types, but one type must be Fighting.

2) One Pokemon per evolution line.  In other words, of the Tepig -> Pignite -> Emboar line, only one can be included in this list (even though Tepig is Fire only, but you get the idea).

3) Blaziken and Lucario are not included in this list, mostly because the clip we saw more or less confirms them (and as per rule #2, this rules out Riolu, Combusken, and possible Mega-evolutions of them as well).

Top Ten

10) Meloetta

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Meloetta only makes the bottom of the list because it’s questionable whether or not it counts as a fighting type.  Meloetta has two types dependent upon which Forme it is using — normal/psychic in aria forme, and normal/fighting in pirouette forme.  I think it should be included in such a game though, since it’s ability to switch types could be translated to switching playstyles mid-fight.  This would make for a very interesting and very technical fighter.

9) Heracross

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The big blue beetle from Generation II was a serious boon with the advent of Steel and Dark types.  Heracross is the only Fighting type with an exoskeleton, and has a massive horn which he can use to spear opponents.  Granted he gets torn apart by Psychic types, but in a Fighting tournament, you have to have a crazy weird contender of some kind, and Hercross fits that just fine.

8) Machamp

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This is one of the Pokemon I think everyone thinks of when they think of fighting Pokemon.  For old school Pokemon fans, Machop was one of the earliest Pokemon you could catch, so it only makes sense that his line be included.  Aside from that, Machamp would be a really interesting dynamic, being one of the few humanoid Pokemon with more than four limbs.  I can see him be either extremely challenging, or extremely broken.  Either way, he’s worth seeing more of in this arena.

7) Mienshao

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Mienshao is rather unique among fighting type Pokemon.  While most are big and bulky, Mienshao is thin, giving an air of sleek agility, as opposed to the raw power most Fighting Pokemon exhibit.  Also, since it’s long furry arms can be used as whips, this would give Mienshao a very interesting ranged game that not many fighting types could emulate.

6) Scrafty

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If my previous posts are anything to go by, I have a thing for dark-type pokemon — so naturally the only Dark-Fighting hybrid has to make this list.  Despite that, he has a devil-may-care attitude that hangs around him that makes him seem like a really interesting addition to any kind of roster.  His unique type combination would also give him access to interesting abilities to use in a fighting game, such as Payback.

5) Keldeo

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Keldeo makes this list, mostly due to popularity.  For whatever reason the unicorn Pokemon is incredibly popular in Pokemon circles.  Regardless, however, a four-legged competitor in a fighting tournament certainly creates for a more diverse cast.  Add the fact that Keldeo is one of the few Water-Fighting hybrids and we have one heck of an interesting combatant.

4) Galade

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Similar to Scrafty, Galade’s unique type combination, Psychic-Fighting, makes him good fodder for this type of game.  From a stylistic point of view, he isn’t treading any ground creatures like Mienshao don’t already.  However, unlike many of the others on the list so far, Galade has a unique attack that breaks him away from the pack — Psycut.  A physical Psychic attack so unique to him that one simply can’t help but let him compete.

3) Hariyama

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What can beat a unique attack? How about two?  Hariyama wasn’t one of the strongest Pokemon ever created, but he is one of the most interesting.  A Pokemon based on sumo-wrestling, Hariyama possesses the abilities Smelling Salt, and Arm Thrust, directly referencing the pastime for which he is based.  For anyone remotely familiar with Japanese culture, it would be an incredible surprise if this Pokemon was passed up in an all Fighting-type tournament.

2) Terrakion, Cobalion, and Verizion

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Okay so I’m cheating a little on this one, but there’s a reason.  These three Pokemon are all fighting sub-type Pokemon, and are referred to as the Swords of Justice.  They are all four-legged combatants of uniquely interesting types (Rock, Steel, and Grass respectively).  They also use the unique attack Sacred Sword, which cuts through enemies’ defenses and evasiveness.

Every fighting game needs some strong mini-boss types to go against, and these three are the cream of the crop.  With a move as devastating as Sacred Sword, it’s hard to imagine what could be scarier to face down.

1) Mega Mewtwo X

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In the weirdest move in Pokemon history, the legendary Mewtwo was given not one, but two evolutions.  Mega Mewtwo X becomes a Psychic – Fighting type, allowing him to beef up.  This evolution makes a fairly intimidating pokemon just a smidgen more intimidating.

Nevertheless, this look is perfect for the inevitable ‘Final Boss’ character this game would need — the “M.Bison” if you will of Pokemon.  In fact, Mewtwo fits that description perfectly.  Massively powerful, a storied history, and intimidating presence made far more so by an unique and mysterious force.  It’s the kind of thing boss characters are designed around, and the type of boss I would expect in a game like this.

So, what do you think?  What Fighting type Pokemon would you add to an all Fighting-type roster?  Who would you leave out?  Let us know in the comments below.

Pokemon is own by Nintendo, whom I have no affiliation with.  All topics discussed in Rumor Mill are speculatory and should not be taken as fact.

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

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

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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