The Problem with Mechanics-First Development

Star Fox Zero was kind of a disaster.
Miyamoto was tasked with leading the development of a game that would prove the Wii U GamePad’s worth—a controller that featured dual analog sticks, NFC, all the face and shoulder buttons you could ask for, and… oh yeah, a second screen.

The master chef was given an armful of ingredients and told that he had to use them all, and what we got was not very tasty. The result:
Complicated controls. Star Fox games used to be played with a single analog stick that controlled the vehicle’s movements (in all directions) as well as the aiming at the same time. In fact, the SNES accomplished this with only a D-Pad before the 64 version! The Wii U sequel(?) suffered from too many input methods when controls were spread out across both analog sticks and the gyroscope motion controller. It was simply too many leaps at once.
The game was built around its “unique” control scheme and the types of puzzles that accompanied. Some interesting new ideas were birthed, and yes, players could overcome the learning curve and pilot effectively using the GamePad… even enjoy themselves… but for everyone who mastered the game, three other players were turned away by its obtuseness.
Rehashing of story & scenarios. The developers under Miyamoto (with help from Platinum Games) put so much effort into the mechanics of this new Star Fox entry, that they neglected the storytelling and presentation aspect, opting yet again to return to the tired tale of Fox moping about his Dad, Peppy insensitively bringing him up, and killing Andross. The title “Zero” was meant to convey that this was not a true prequel or sequel, but a reimagining of the original.

The developers put so much effort into the mechanics of Star Fox Zero, that they neglected the storytelling and presentation aspect.

And at the end of the day, the gaming industry talked about Star Fox Zero for a few weeks. It got some good reviews from those who put up with its controls, got some bad reviews by the people who did not get it, and then people moved on. It had “zero” staying power, so to speak.
Nintendo fans had been asking for more Star Fox, but we didn’t like the game that we got.

A deeper problem becomes clear: Sometimes, Nintendo will not make a game until they have a concept that uses their controllers in an “interesting” way.
Don’t believe me? This is exactly what is happening with games like F-Zero right now.
An unfortunate quote from the mouth of Miyamoto: “If we create a new type of controller interface, and we find a controller interface that’s particularly suited for F-Zero, then maybe we’ll do something with it in the future.”

This is a problem.

Mechanics-first development lends itself to some glaring issues…

Gimmicky games. There is only so much you can change about how video games are controlled over the span of a few decades. Sure, there is more than one way to skin a cat, but there are not unlimited ways. Analog sticks and buttons have become a mainstay in gaming for a reason: they’re good. Standard controllers have reliable, fast, easy methods of input that do not require huge learning curves. Sticking with the status quo allows players to forget that there is a controller in their hands and become immersed in the game itself. That immersion could manifest in a sense of awe at the world around their character, or even within the game’s story (if the game has a decent story worth paying attention to, that is).
Abandoned franchises. Keeping a control scheme is no reason not to create a sequel. It is absurd.

Nintendo has one of the most valuable stables of intellectual properties and franchises on the planet, yet they historically do not give proper franchise care across the board. Games like the aforementioned F-Zero have not seen a sequel in a decade, and games like Metroid were experimented on so hard that the resulting explosion left the series locked away (until this year’s miraculous E3).

I appreciate Nintendo as innovators. Their foray into the early days of motion-control on Wii paid off with interesting new physical mechanics, and mixing up the Mario formula in Galaxy 1 & 2 resulted in some mind-bending gameplay mechanics.

My advice to Nintendo would be: “Hey—when you have a creative new take, act on it. When you don’t, that’s okay too! Still make games!”
Denying sequels without new mechanics is a double standard. Nintendo does not always adhere to this mechanics-first mantra… they will quickly break it, in fact, if a franchise is printing enough money. New Super Mario Bros. and its rapid accompaniment of successors, much? Fire Emblem and its similarly-played versions, anyone? The Big N did not hold those games back for innovative sentiment.

And I am glad they didn’t, because as Nintendo fans… sometimes we just need MORE of the SAME!
Like Advance Wars.
Like Pikmin (of the “not hey” variety).
The only reasonable conditions that I can see for creating a traditional follow-up are:

  • Include improvements over the last game.
  • Improve the PRESENTATION! (storyline, art style, you know… the things Nintendo usually recycles).

I will address one last thing here: If Nintendo gave us “more of the same,” we wouldn’t have Breath of the Wild.
Good point! This is different: Prior to the revolution of open-world Zelda, the series’ formula was perfected.

Nintendo, Make sequels with the same mechanics until the formula is perfected, THEN innovate!

You will know when the formula is perfected because fans will stop asking for more and they will ask for a change.

E3 2017 Bingo Predictions!

How long do we have to keep being right in order for us to become paid industry analysts that make snarky remakrs for a living?


#528 – Each year, before the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Simeon and Scott take a stab at a swath of predictions! Nintendo will be streaming some bombshell announcements during their press conference / Nintendo Direct, and we’ve created a bingo board to keep track of our correct predictions! Can we score 5 in a row? Middle space is free!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Top 10 TBC Episodes (#350!)

A sincere and genuine THANK YOU to our friends in the Crew!


Wow – just wow. Can you believe we have done this 350 times as of today? We’re going to take the time to relive and enjoy the best content that TBC has put out to date. Relax and enjoy some great times!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Crazy Amiibo Requests

Can we please just have amiibo chips in everything?


Can you ever have too many amiibo? NO! Especially if they are very unique, like the ones we are officially requesting Nintendo to produce. We will preorder promptly when they are announced!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Most Replayable Nintendo Games

Ten games you could play forever in a video that you will probably only ever watch one time.


Whether you are an intense completionist or you have a limited gaming budget, sometimes it’s nice to have those “evergreen” games that can be played time after time! We’ve got a great list of Nintendo games for you that just DO NOT get old!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Whisper Challenge: Nintendo Edition

Simeon cussed on accident, so we bleeped him. What a fob.


Two skilled gamers give their lip-reading abilities a spin as they undergo… the WHISPER CHALLENGE! Can they pick up the Nintendo-related references being mouthed to them?

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Are Stories Important to Nintendo Games?

*Plop*


Nintendo has a ton of fantastic games… but are their stories any good?

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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SNES Classic Edition 30 Game Wish List

One can only hope for Star Fox 2.


With the announcement of the NES Classic, it’s inevitable that the big N is going to come out with an SNES Classic sooner or later. Today we’re talking about its inevitable library!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Quoting Star Fox to Strangers

There was one clip that didn’t make it in because there was a tree between Scott and the camera, but he did his Arwing impression and flew right inbetween that Instagram girl and her poor boyfriend!


Join us for a trip through the Lylat system! We are speaking to strangers ONLY on Star Fox quotes!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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The Great Genre Debate

How specific is “Open Air adventure”?


What do we call these things? What should we call them? Does it matter? It’s the great genre debate! … NOTE: Upon further research, Kyle Bosman was referring to Miyamoto’s words when he said that Star Fox guard “defied genre”. It seems as if he is as confused at Nintendo’s redefinition of genre as we are. So, basically, ignore anything we say about Kyle Bosman in this video, as it was under false pretenses. You’re great, Bosman. Keep doing your thing.

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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The Game We’ve All Been Waiting For (#250!)

Who would have thought that episode 250 would be almost completely pop culture references?


It’s episode #250! To celebrate, we’re facing off in a game we’ve talked a lot about: Star Fox Assault!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Star Fox Zero & Guard Reviews

$5 to anyone who can explain the Guard narrator for me.


Star Fox Zero and Star Fox Guard just dropped, and we want to get our two cents in!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Top 10 Games with 1 Glaring Flaw

Okami, Star Fox Assault, and Tatsunoko vs Capcom get frequent mention miles from us.


Ever play a game and think, “Hey, this game would be perfect if they just changed X”? Well, we have, and these are our top 10!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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We Want these Direct Sequels

Do you think we’re going to talk about Star Fox Assault? Of course we are.


When a game leaves you wanting more, it’s done its job well. These games have done that, and we can’t wait to play part 2!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Start HD Remaking these Franchises

Twilight Princess is on GameCube, Wii, and Wii U. Three consoles in a row… Let that sink in.


It’s high time that Nintendo started sharing the HD remake love with more of its franchises! Come on! Here’s what we want produced in high definition – comment your picks below.

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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What Made Star Fox Assault SO Good?

Do a barrel roll! … Then watch this episode

Today is the long-awaited day: Today we tackle the great work that was Star Fox Assault. Don’t let the Apparoids keep you away from this one!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Amazing Nintendo LEGO Sets

As huge fans of both LEGO and Nintendo, this episode was a double treat!

LEGO fans have been petitioning for Nintendo sets to be created – going so far as to create mock ups and rally thousands of fans’ support. Here are their best creations!
Transforming Nintendo Game Boy & Accessories
Legend of Zelda Heroes
Samus & Ridley
Legend of Zelda: King of Red Lions Play Set
Mega Man
Legend of Zelda: Iron Knuckle Encounter
Pikmin Memorial
Starfox Assault Arwing
Metroid – Samus Aran Ultrabuild Figure

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Top 5 Neglected Nintendo Franchises

As Nintendo fans, this is one of the tough realities we have to live with. Nintendo has so many great IPs that they can’t possibly seem to focus on them all enough. There are worse problems to have!

Unfortunately, Nintendo can’t seem to split their attention evenly across all their great IPs. Some just get left in the dust. Today we discuss the top 5 franchises that have felt the cold touch of neglect.

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Star Fox Adventures: Success or Failure?

YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SCARABS!

This game is sure one of a kind – no doubt about it! It’s time to determine if Stat Fox Adventures was ultimately a success, or a failure!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Reformat” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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