TBC 023: Nintendo and the Apocalypse

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As we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, we reflect on the fact that Nintendo has been no stranger to the idea of the apocalypse. Indeed, many of their games have featured long-since destroyed settings, or the ruins of extinct civilizations. Why does Nintendo seem to focus on these elements and weave them into the backstories of their games? Does Japanese history play a part? Join Glen and Simeon for a deep dive on Nintendo and The Apocalypse!

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“Two Button Crew Theme” by Katie Straughn

Hideaway Island An Animal Crossing: New Horizons Narrative Let's Play

Day 1

I arrived at the airport around 9 A.M. Upon entering, I was greeted by two young raccoons who immediately got to work arranging my trip. We boarded the plane not long after that. Once finished suffering a long, boring flight during which there was nothing to do except watch an informational video and avoid eye contact with the other passengers, we arrived on the island. The two young raccoons informed the other residents and me that there was an orientation meeting nearby and that our presence was requested. Needing to retrieve my tent and other supplies, I begrudgingly followed the others to what appeared to be a construction site. There a middle-aged raccoon delivered a droll and poorly-rehearsed corporate monolog. Read more Hideaway Island An Animal Crossing: New Horizons Narrative Let’s Play

TBC 022: Animal Crossing: New Horizons

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons is here. After several series missteps, the franchise is back, and it’s on Switch in a big way! Scott, Glen, and Ryan get together to discuss the latest Switch sensation, check in with each other’s island progress, and discuss all of the game’s mechanics in depth.

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Check out our old YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/TwoButtonCrew

“Two Button Crew Theme” by Katie Straughn

Virtua Quest That Was a Thing

I’ve mentioned it a few times on the podcast, but I love the Virtua Fighter series. Unfortunately, as a Nintendo fan, that puts me in a difficult position. See, the Virtua Fighter series has been absent from Nintendo consoles. There is, however, one noteworthy exception to this history of Nintendo exclusion: the action-R.P.G. spin-off game, Virtua Quest.

Virtua Quest was developed jointly by Tose co. and Sega AM2 and published by Sega. It was released in Japan under the name Virtua Fighter Cyber Generation: Ambition of Judgement Six on August 26, 2004 for the PlayStation 2 and GameCube. It was later released in North America on January 18, 2005. As mentioned before, it was a departure from the standard Virtua Fighter series in that the game is a beat-em-up with R.P.G. elements.

My history with this game is a little different than previous installments of That Was a Thing, as I’ve never actually played this game before. Well, not the full version at least. I knew about it way back when it first came out, due it being playable at the GameCube demo kiosk at my local Target. At the time, I thought the idea of a martial-arts-based action-adventure game was intriguing, but after seeing the middling review scores it received in the now-defunct Nintendo Power magazine, I ultimately decided to pass on it.

It wouldn’t be until a few years ago once I got into the Virtua Fighter series that I developed a renewed interest in this title. After over a year of searching, I finally stumbled across it while revisiting the GameXChange in my old, grad-school stomping grounds. Read more Virtua Quest That Was a Thing

TBC Table-Top: Episode 04 A Zelda Table-Top R.P.G. Adventure

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Join Scott, Simeon, Glen, and Nathan Blake of Nathan Blake Games on an adventure through the backwoods of Hyrule as the crew plays a table-top R.P.G. inspired by The Legend of Zelda.

After losing their way in the woods, our heroes run afoul of a band of bokoblin bandits.  Will the might of their arms be enough to fend off their assailants?

Read more TBC Table-Top: Episode 04 A Zelda Table-Top R.P.G. Adventure

Vitamin Connection Review (Switch)

Vitamin Connection brings new meaning to the word cooperative.

Most games are pretty content with just putting you and a buddy in the same space and letting you play together, working in tandem and exploring the same areas. Even though you are working together, what you or your pal are capable of doing isn’t beholden to what the other does. In Vitamin Connection you have a truly symbiotic relationship – you play as a couple of ridiculously cute cartoon bobbins who save a family from their literal ills by way of a two-pilot capsule ship that can’t function without full
communication and cooperation from your friend.

Well, you could by playing the game solo, but what’s the fun in that!?

Each stage is set-up like an episode of an old Saturday morning cartoon – a member of the Sable family is on their way to an outing when disaster strikes as they step out the door and they become sick. It is then up to our heroes, Mina-Girl and Vita-Boy, to get them back on the healthy train by attack the bacteria plaguing them so they can get about their day. You travel through their interiors on mostly predetermined paths (with occasional branches to help you find secrets or pick your own route) and find and suss out that level’s big baddy by taking on what amounts to boss battles in pivotal areas of the body.

As you’re traveling, one player is in control of moving the ship in all directions and also the trigger to the Vitamin Beam which you use to clear your path. The other play is in control of rotating the ship, which is crucial in navigating your human host as well as aiming the Vitamin Beam. Both jobs are not created equal, with the person in charge of rotation and aim has to use motion controls which makes for some harrowing moments. The challenge of the game can be mitigated by one simple trick – communication. If you talk to each other and work together, it becomes a breeze!

The aforementioned boss battles are less your typical “find the weak spot and attack” nomenclature and more like mini-games. These too often make use of the Switch’s oft-forgotten gimmicks by having players play Irritating Stick-like obstacle courses and the IR sensor camera to extend a hand through a highway of viruses. It’s a nice break for the most part and yet another fun way to test your communication skills, but it felt like the game would ramp up the difficulty of these segments rather quickly, with my son and I getting stuck on the second level because the IR camera was finicky and the bad guy’s patterns being rather unforgiving. It was frustrating and could have done with maybe a different control option, but it doesn’t dilute the enjoyment we were having.

If nothing else, Vitamin Connection’s presentation compelled us to keep going as the saccharine storyline and infectious music kept us entertained so much that we had to see it through to the end!

Much like Affordable Space Adventures on the much-maligned Wii U, Vitamin Connection feels like an essential on the Switch. The game can be played solo, but it’s use of motion control feels important to the experience as a whole, thus making this game a tough sell for people intending on playing by themselves but imperative to those who have a friend or kid on hand. It has that WayForward charm permeating the whole experience and was so much fun I plan on playing through it again soon with a different son!

Vitamin Connection is a worthwhile way to spend a sick day, especially if you’re stuck at home with a co-pilot.


By Matt Mason. Follow him on Twitter @ObtainPotion and read more of his writing on his blog.

TBC 021: Shovel Knight Treasure Trove

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Now that Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is finally complete, it’s time for the TBC team to get their opinions on the record. Join us as we discuss Shovel of Hope, Plague of Shadows, Scepter of Torment, King of Cards, and all things SHOVEL KNIGHT!

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“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Mario’s Express Ticket to Subcon An Examination of Mario's Sleep Habits

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor an expert on sleep disorders. This article is for entertainment purposes and should not be consulted for medical advice. If you are suffering from a sleep disorder, please consult a specialist.

It’s January again, a time of year when many people resolve to improve themselves and their lives. Long-time Nintendo fans are no strangers to the subject of self improvement. From the Brain Age games to the recent Ring Fit Adventure, Nintendo has a history spanning over a decade of releasing products to improve the health and cognitive well-being of their fan base. There was even a time not too long ago that the Big N toyed with the idea of building a third pillar to their business around the idea of quality-of-life consumer electronics. The only product in this line that we fans ever even heard about, however, was a device that was supposed to improve the user’s quality of sleep. As someone who has trouble maintaining a healthy sleep cycle, I was disappointed when they announced that the project had been canceled.

Now that I think about it, though, I’m not the only one with an odd circadian rhythm. One of Nintendo’s most iconic characters has exhibited strange and potentially worrisome sleep behaviors on multiple occasions: Mario. Ever since his landmark 3D debut, Super Mario 64, Mario has often been depicted as nodding off in a matter of minutes if left inactive. This leads to me wonder: how does he do it, and is it cause for concern? Read more Mario’s Express Ticket to Subcon An Examination of Mario’s Sleep Habits

TBC 020: How to Manage a Backlog

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Are you buried in unplayed games? Do you keep purchasing new titles, knowing full well that you don’t have the time to play them? Are you drowning in a long list of classics that you want to try and make time for… someday… eventually? If any of this sounds familiar, we know exactly how you feel. And we’re here to discuss a strategy and make that backlog manageable. Hop on board the TBC train!

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

TBC 019: Luigi’s Mansion 3

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Glen and Scott are back to discuss Luigi’s Mansion 3, a beautiful game and strong Game of the Year contender. They have a lot to say about the game’s pros and cons, so get cozy and listen to their deep dive on Luigi’s newest solo outing.

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

TBC Table-Top: Episode 03 A Zelda Table-Top R.P.G. Adventure

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Join Scott, Simeon, Glen, and Nathan Blake of Nathan Blake Games on an adventure through the backwoods of Hyrule as the crew plays a table-top R.P.G. inspired by The Legend of Zelda.

After making their preparations, our heroes relax with a little arm-wrestling before venture into the woods.  Who or what will they encounter in the forest? Read more TBC Table-Top: Episode 03 A Zelda Table-Top R.P.G. Adventure

Super Mario Odyssey Spit Shine

Back in August, I finally managed to complete Super Mario Odyssey. While I found much to love about it—the gorgeous and eclectic visuals, the fast-paced story, the fact that Mario is weird again, the myriad of accessibility features, etc., etc.—there was a reason it took me nearly two years to complete. While I definitely intend to replay the game’s story someday, I can say with confidence that completing it is a task I will never undertake again.

As the number of remaining moons dwindled, so too did my enthusiasm. In fact, by the end of my run, I was having more fun grinding for coins in Luigi’s Balloon World so that I could afford the last few moons needed to max out the counter than I did hunting for the ones populating the game’s various worlds. Why was that, and what could Nintendo have done differently to avoid the slog? That’s exactly what I intend to answer in this edition of Spit Shine. Read more Super Mario Odyssey Spit Shine

TBC 018: Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

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Glen and Scott sit down to discuss the recently released Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening for Nintendo Switch. How did Nintendo’s latest remake sit with us? What was improved, what was memorable, and what left a bad taste in our mouth? At the end, each host shares a surprising game they would like to see remade next from the Legend of Zelda series.

Review: Untitled Goose Game

Untitled Goose Game by House House is a unique, charming game for Nintendo Switch.

Disguised as a goofy goose sim, this stealth/puzzle game has you work your way through to-do lists, perfect for a productivity nerd like myself. But these tasks are all mischief related, and involve messing with innocent people’s things without getting caught.

There are four areas to explore, so while you may have an ear-to-ear grin throughout the experience, the credits could roll before you feel that your investment has been returned. It took me under two hours to complete (though post-game content in the form of additional to-do lists should effectively double your play time).

Everything is quite sound here, whether we’re talking about controls, music, systems, graphics, etc. This game took awhile to release considering its short length, and it is evident that the developers made the most of that time to iron out any potential kinks in the gameplay.

While I would love to praise the game in specific ways, it’s difficult to do so without spoiling the moment-to-moment gameplay, which is often humorous and always inventive and charming.

I had a great time solving all the puzzles as they progressively got more complex. Making someone spit their coffee out as a troublemaking goose was an experience I won’t quickly forget.

Making someone spit their coffee out as a troublemaking goose was an experience I won’t quickly forget.

Untitled Goose Game is clearly lacking one feature, however, and that is a hint system. After having just played BoxBoy + BoxGirl, I can’t help but think of how helpful that hint system could have been if implemented in Untitled Goose Game.

Without an option for hints, some puzzle solutions just will not present themselves to you, no matter how long you waddle around the level flapping your wings and honking to no effect. You can always Google a walkthrough, but something more subtle and built-in would have been a worthy inclusion.

The value proposition for Untitled Goose Game is… well, suspect. House House is up against a lot of great competition on the eShop, especially around the $20 asking price. My gut tells me that the game will perform well during sales, but otherwise will have a hard time convincing people to part with a crisp green Jackson.

Conclusion: Untitled Goose Game is a tight, fun, memorable experience that leaves the player wanting more.

7/10

River City Girls: Review

Product provided for review. Thanks WayForward!

Please note that I played the P.C. version of the game. The following review is for the game itself, and does not cover platform specific details such as performance or glitches.

Developed by Wayforward Technologies and published by Arc Systems Works, River City Girls is, as the name would imply, a spin-off of the N.E.S. classic River City Ransom. Much like its 8-bit predecessor, River City Girls is a blend of side-scrolling beat-em-up combat and open-world action-adventure exploration with a sprinkling of R.P.G. elements on top. The game follows the adventures of the tough, temperamental, and sarcastic Misako and the cute, bubbly, and emotionally unhinged Kyoko as the two set out to rescue their respective boyfriends from being kidnapped. Read more River City Girls: Review

TBC 017: Breath of the Wild Sequel Wish-List

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Glen and Scott are joined by Zelda expert GameOver Jesse! What brought about such a momentous occasion? Why, the announcement of the sequel to Breath of the Wild! Join us for a podcast packed with hype, speculation, analysis, and complete guesses.

How GameStop Betrayed Game Informer

On Tuesday, August 20th, a series of tweets from different Game Informer writers made it clear that something was amiss. One after another, employees of the longstanding gaming magazine informed their followers that they had been let go.
The first tweet I saw made me sad. When I started noticing more, I became worried.
They all had a common theme: the parent company, GameStop, had unceremoniously dropped seven staff members from the editorial roster. Via email, no less.

As part of the gaming industry, you and I have known that GameStop has seen better days financially. Even so, the sheer number of layoffs that hit the GI office, and the unprofessional and scummy way in which these employees were let go, was shocking.

Here’s a sampling of the injustices that took place:

  • GameStop also let go several GameStop associates on the same day, equalling a staggering 14% of their personnel. However, they fired a disproportionate amount of GI staff when they gave the axe to 7 out of their 19 editorial team members, crippling the magazine’s manpower in one fell swoop.Javy was notified of his employment termination while overseas, covering Gamescom in Germany. Can you imagine being on a business trip, giving up evenings and weekends at home for a company, only for them to fire you in the middle of the convention you’re covering?
  • Jeff Marchiafava received his notice while he was on vacation. And I sincerely hope he was able to find some enjoyment during his travels, meanwhile having to deal with this terrible and life-changing news.
  • GameStop proceeded to lock these employees out of Game Informer headquarters, so they couldn’t even grab their own belongings without setting up an appointment like some kind of outsider.
  • The corporation couldn’t even be bothered to allow the employees’ health insurance to remain intact through the end of the month, a mere week and a half, forcing these former staff members to go without coverage for the time being or purchase extremely expensive COBRA plans.
  • Not only were the seven ex-employees given no advanced notice, but the layoffs also appear to have taken the Game Informer Editor in Chief, Andy MacNamara, by surprise, giving him no time to prepare for print deadlines and Human Resources nightmares.
  • GameStop also let go several GameStop associates on the same day, equalling a staggering 14% of their personnel. However, they fired a disproportionate amount of GI staff when they gave the axe to 7 out of their 19 editorial team members, crippling the magazine’s manpower in one fell swoop.

All of the factors I cited lead me to believe that GameStop was completely and utterly out of touch with the GI side of their business. The ignorance and uncaring attitude that would cause someone to be let go while overseas is disgusting! The fact that Andy had no say in who was more or less crucial to the team is unbelievable!

I understand that layoffs are an unfortunate reality of business sometimes. But they don’t need to be handled this horribly.

On Monday, the Game Informer office was made up of 19 editors, with a few people gone for vacation or work trips. On Tuesday, 12 remained. It was as if Thanos grabbed his Infinity Gauntlet and snapped a huge portion of them out of existence. This is the type of event we would expect in an Avengers movie—in a fiction story. But it was their reality.

After such devastating blows, fans of Game Informer were reasonably wondering if this spelled the end for the publication, but we have received confirmation that GI issues will continue to be produced.
The Editor in Chief also laid to rest concerns that the print edition had become unsustainable, saying that the magazine will continue to be available in physical and digital formats.

The fact that the magazine is continuing is a testament to the team’s tenacity. But the scars of GameStop’s betrayal remain; destroying remaining team’s morale, their trust, and their sense of job security.
Continuing to cover all the news in the industry, pumping out entertaining podcasts and videos, all the functions of Game Informer now seem like monumental tasks on an emotional level in the wake of “corporate restructuring.”

So what does this mean for me?
I will not support GameStop. Honestly, I haven’t stepped foot in their stores for a long time, and I won’t ever need to. There are better deals everywhere and I can’t give my money to a dying business that treats its staff members as expendable commodities.

I will, however, increase my support for GI. I will subscribe digitally, or get the more expensive print subscription directly from their website, avoiding the PowerUp rewards program through Gamestop.

I’ve already started networking with some of the industry professionals I know that may be hiring, recommending the excellent writers who are now looking for work.

And I will also continue to be vocal with my gratitude for the GI team. Their podcast has always been severely underrated; it’s long, consistent, has zero ads (they never mention GameStop, and they don’t even plug their own magazine!), they have a rotating panel of experts, always give a generous amount of time for listener mail, they include detailed timestamps in their shownotes, etc.)

As a whole, their outlet deserves more respect. It’s one of the only gaming industry mediums that has remained pure, largely avoiding politics and entertainment focus, keeping games first and diving deep in journalism, traveling the world for expansive cover stories.

Please show Game Informer some love. They deserve it.
Game Informer: https://www.gameinformer.com
Subscribe: https://www.gameinformer.com/index.php/subscribe
GI Podcast: https://www.gameinformer.com/p/gishow.aspx
GI YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/gameinformer

The 7 ex-employees:
https://twitter.com/elisefavis
https://twitter.com/imranzomg
https://twitter.com/GIJeffM
https://twitter.com/KyleMHilliard
https://twitter.com/mattbertz
https://twitter.com/SurielVazquez
http://javygwaltney.net

TBC Table-Top: Episode 02 A Zelda Table-Top R.P.G. Adventure

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Join Scott, Ryan, Glen, and Nathan Blake of Nathan Blake Games on an adventure through the backwoods of Hyrule as the crew plays a table-top R.P.G. inspired by The Legend of Zelda.

In this episode, our heroes continue their preparations by swinging by the general store and searching for armor.

 

Cast

Sigil: Scott

Trouse: Nathan Blake

Noire: Ryan

Sage: Glen

 

Music Credits

Divinity
Nostalvania
OverClocked ReMix (http://ocremix.org)

Hawaii Shoppi’n
NoppZ
OverClocked ReMix (http://ocremix.org)

Battle (Field)
Manaka Kataoka
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Original Sound Track
Nintendo

The Guru
The OC Jazz Collective
OverClocked ReMix (http://ocremix.org)

Does “Indie” Still Mean Anything?

Perhaps one of the greatest movements in the history of the game industry is the rise of indie development in the late 2000’s. With the advent of widespread digital distribution, increase in instructional content available on the internet, and the introduction of affordable game development software suites, such as the Unity or Unreal engines, game development opened up to be available to the general public, and not just those lucky few who managed to get hired at an established studio. Likewise, said established studios were freed from the need to secure funding from large publishing companies to keep their doors open via crowd funding services such as Kickstarter or the topically named Indie-Go-Go.

But what exactly is an indie game? Read more Does “Indie” Still Mean Anything?

TBC Table-Top: Episode 01 A Zelda T.T.R.P.G. Adventure

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Join Scott, Ryan, Glen, and Nathan Blake of Nathan Blake Games on an adventure through the backwoods of Hyrule as the crew plays a table-top R.P.G. inspired by The Legend of Zelda.

In this inaugural episode, our heroes learn that the town that they’re passing through is in trouble: the river that’s vital to their lumber trade is drying up.  They then band together to discover the cause and begin preparations for the journey ahead.

 

Cast

Sigil: Scott

Trouse: Nathan Blake

Noire: Ryan

Sage: Glen

Music Credits

Timeless Journey
Sam Dillard
OverClocked ReMix (http://ocremix.org)

Heart Home and Hearth
Rebeca Tripp
OverClocked ReMix (http://ocremix.org)

The Guru
The OC Jazz Collective
OverClocked ReMix (http://ocremix.org)

 

The rules used in this podcast can be found at: https://1d4chan.org/wiki/Legend_of_Zelda_RPG