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 OdysseySpit Shine ›
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.
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.
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 ›
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.
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.
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.
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.
Trouse: Nathan Blake
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)
At least where I live, that is. Not that I mind: I like watching rain fall, and rain brings with it flowers. And with flowers come bees.
My history with Buck Bumble is much like that of my experience with Bomberman Hero: I rented way back in the 90’s and it always stuck with me. Unlike Bomberman Hero, however, I never even got close to beating it. Heck, having played it again recently, I’m not sure I ever even got past the tutorial.
Buck Bumble is a third-person shooter published by Ubisoft and developed by the now defunct Argonaut Games. Hold up, Argonaut Games? Yes, the company that helped develop the Super Nintendo’s Super FX Chip and the first Star Fox game. Strange, I heard that after Nintendo turned down their proposal for a 3D Yoshi game—which would eventually become Croc: Legend of the Gobbos—they had a grudge against the Big N and only released their games on every other system. Well, if that rumor is true, it apparently only applied to the Croc games, because they not only made Buck Bumble for the N64, but went on to develop several other games that were released for Nintendo platforms: Bionicle Matoran Adventure for the G.B.A., I-Ninja for the GameCube, and… Catwoman: The Game… Hm…
Wait, where was I? Ah right, Buck Bumble! As with Bomberman Hero, I stumbled across Bumble in a used game store—possibly the exact same one—for a mere ten bucks. Needless to say, I didn’t hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity to see if this game was worth remembering. Read more Buck BumbleThat Was a Thing ›
I’ve been a fan of the Sonic franchise for almost my entire life. Over the years, I’ve seen Sonic’s ups, downs, and all-arounds, either first-hand or from a safe distance. The franchise’s difficulties with maintaining relevance in the modern day have produced an incredible amount of debate as to what works and what doesn’t work for Sonic games. Fans have argued over every aspect of the series: game mechanics, storytelling, character redesigns, and so on.
One particularly controversial figure in the Sonic series is Shadow the Hedgehog. Shadow is simultaneously a fan-favorite character, often ranking in the top five in popularity polls, and a symbol of everything wrong with the series post Dreamcast era, with many fans citing him as an egregiously clichéd “bad Sonic”.
So is Shadow a bad character? Is he just a cheap and cliched “anti-Sonic” or does he bring something of his own to the series? Let’s take a closer look are the Sonic franchise’s resident antihero to find out.
While I will admit there are many legitimate issues one can take with Shadow’s characterization (convoluted, self-contradicting back-story; inconsistent characterization; the entirety of Shadow the Hedgehog, etc.), when it comes to the question of whether or not Shadow is a walking cliché, I think the issue isn’t as open and shut as many like to make it out to be. Read more How Cliched is Shadow the Hedgehog? ›
With my recent completion of Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, I am proud to say I’ve finally gotten all caught up on WayForward’s Shantae series. From the first game via the 3DS Virtual Console, to ½ Genie Hero on the Switch, I’ve played every game in the series all the way through (not counting bonus modes for the half genie’s latest title that is). Those of you who’ve seen my review of ½ Genie Hero know I greatly enjoyed that game, as I do the rest of the series, but that doesn’t mean I don’t take issue with some elements of the games’ design. Read more Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and Shantae: ½ Genie HeroSpit Shine ›
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is here! This blog post concludes the Ultimate Countdown.
What a wait it has been! It’s been so fun to see glimpses of this game over the past nine months, and the next character reveal was always an event to look forward to.
Now we have the game in our hands, and our wait has been rewarded.
To savor is to enjoy completely.
This game has to be the title with the most content, the most replayability, of any Nintendo game ever!
Nintendo fans have a horrible reputation for being insatiable, for calling a game “old news” the week after it hits store shelves.
It be tempting to start calling for certain balance patches, to create campaigns for additional DLC…
But this time, what about being content? How about being satiated? Let’s appreciate Sakurai, the development team, the marketing folks at Nintendo, the Treehouse testers, everyone who was involved in making this superb title.
We’ve endured the long wait for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, although if you think about it… the wait really hasn’t been that long! We only learned about this title in March, and development faced zero known delays, something that’s almost unheard of for this series.
Word on the street (read: Reddit) is that eShop servers will update at midnight Eastern, which is fortunately 9pm in Pacific timezone where I live. If you preloaded the game digitally, that’s when it should unlock on your home screen!
Simeon and I are ready and extremely excited to play. I just wanted to share a quick post about our plans for release night.
Get done with a meeting about 8:15pm. It absolutely must NOT go late, or there will be consequences!
The Two Button Crew makes a surprise return! We’re here to discuss… Custom Robo of all things! And who better to have on the podcast than Nathan Blake of Nathan Blake Games, Custom Robo expert?! Listeners are in for a treat.
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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/
noun: the best achievable or imaginable of its kind.
adjective: being or happening at the end of a process; final.
Will Super Smash Bros. Ultimate be the last game in the series? Is the subtitle more of a noun, or an adjective?
It certainly seems that this 5th entry in the series is a celebration of all things Smash. Until E3 2018, we were unsure if the Switch would see a simple port of the Wii U game, or if we would get a true sequel. From the moment the words “Everyone is Here” flashed across our screens, we knew that this game was something special.
With every character and nearly every stage reporting for battle, it’s easy to see why some would think this is the climax of the franchise.
Not to mention Sakurai’s constant threats that he may be finished with Smash development after each entry nearly kills him. He calls the games being completed a “miracle” and has battled various physical conditions while new games are in development, often putting strain on his wrists and his sleep schedule.
I believe we’re nearing a time of turnover in Nintendo’s headquarters in Japan. Of course, the President’s chair has seen a few different occupants in recent years, but their stable of developers and directors is also showing its age. Miyamoto-san has been actively raising the next generation of Mario makers, resulting in many of the new ideas found in Super Mario Odyssey. It’s only a matter of years before Aunoma decides that it’s time to retire as well.
Sakurai is a bit younger than his aforementioned contemporaries, but has seen more crunch-time than just about anyone in the industry. He also tends to take on more responsibility than necessary, insisting on doing all the balancing himself by hand. Carrying a franchise as large as Super Smash Bros., with a roster as big as it’s grown, is too big a burden for one man.
I can easily see Sakurai stepping down after Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If he had additional games in him, I don’t think this Switch title would have gotten the name it did.
Now, from a business perspective it’s hard to imagine a world without a new SSB game in the pipeline. It’s one of Nintendo’s most dearly loved franchises, one of their best selling series, and is one of their few tenuous connections to hardcore, competitive gaming and events like EVO and Genesis.
I don’t think Nintendo will ever let Super Smash Bros. die, but Sakurai will likely pass the leadership on after the Fighter Pass DLC is complete.
Here’s a quick list of who the best characters are in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Note: I’m counting down to the release of the game, so this is pre-day-1-patch! Always remember that your favorite character has a good chance of being patched into oblivion. That’s another reason why character selection is only 10% of the key to victory.
But some characters are going to start out with a bit of an advantage, and here they are:
Isabelle is a beast to play against. She has the side aerials of Villager, making her a great zoner. She has a Lloyd rocket that gets planted slyly in the ground, difficult to see and able to be set off remotely or by proximity. Isabelle also has an absurdly powerful pocket move, dealing ~3x the damage of whatever she pockets. Characters like Samus, Mewtwo, Lucario, or others with charge shots can die at extremely low percents if Isabelle nabs your attack.
Young Link is nimble and packs a hefty punch. His arrows feel a bit overpowered, as they fly quickly, have little to no endlag, and light the opponent on fire. And speaking of projectiles, Young Link isn’t damaged by his own bomb’s explosives, meaning he can be much more aggressive at close-ranges. Thanks to Ocarina of Time, he still possesses the hookshot that allows him to tether-grab and tether-recover, which his adult counterpart lacks. Young Link can also reliably kill with up-air, which has a powerful lasting hitbox to punish any airdodges.
In Smash 4, Roy appeared to be the meatier/slower/stronger version of Marth. In this game however, a group of competitive Smash players huddled around a TV watched as a challenger approached, and it turned out to be a very speedy and very strong Roy. We couldn’t believe how quick he was moving around. Getting up in people’s grilles and hitting with the base of the sword is going to be easier than ever thanks to this huge buff.
It’s too early to tell on a few others, but Donkey Kong looks promising with his low-percent “Ding Dong” (carry > up-throw > up air) still in tact, and some new grounded combos. King K Rool is a heavyweight that actually has a fantastic recovery. Inkling looks to be a bit overwhelming with a super-fast squid form dash. Yoshi also has nothing but buffs (though few people will take the time to learn him).
Time will tell how tier-lists shake out after several patches and after millions of players experiment with the new roster, but if you want to get a head-start on online matches day one, these characters would be a great place to start!
What factors determine the winner in a “serious” Super Smash Bros. match?
It’s easy to think that it all comes down to tier lists; whichever player trains with the more optimal character wins. I have also fallen into this trap, having second thoughts about playing a certain fighter because their stats are lower.
However, after giving this some thought, I’ve decided that character selection is only a small percentage of what determines the result of a match. I present… the pie-chart of victory!
Stage Choice (5%)
Stage choice is the smallest factor. Very few stages favor certain characters so much as to make them dangerous (and those can be striked/banned in the selection process). Whether you’re playing on Battlefield, Dream Land, or Smashville matters very little. I have known players that only practice on Battlefield, however, and that is to their detriment. As long as you put in some hours with each of the legal stages, nothing is going to surprise you too badly.
Character Choice (10%)
I’ve seen entire tournaments won with a bottom-tier character. I’ve seen players in a bind pull out their “pocket Cloud” or their “pocket Bayonetta” just to get trounced because, although they went with a top-tier pick, they didn’t have the practice needed. Tier lists aren’t everything, and in fact, playing the fighter with the best stats will probably cripple you in other areas. You won’t learn to compensate attacks that have slow start-ups with reads. You won’t learn how to leverage rage to even out a disadvantage. Playing characters with drawbacks teaches you the game much better than the star of the roster will.
Most noticeable In Super Smash Bros. Melee, there’s a momentum that occurs when a player gets ahead. It would be hard to explain using only in-game language, because it’s actually a mindset problem. When a player takes his opponent’s stock, the opponent should have a good opportunity to get off the platform and strike back, starting up a combo while under invincibility. What’s more likely to happen, though, is that the winning player will take another stock. And probably a third. That’s why there are so many 4-stock compilations of SSBM. This trend applies to all Smash games, and in Smash 4 where players only had two stocks, you could often see a competitor give up after a 50% disadvantage. You wouldn’t notice this as much in the gameplay, but in the playercam. Someone who believes a comeback is always possible will be capable of unlocking the biggest key to victory:
This is more important in Smash Ultimate than ever before. With an enormous roster, you’ll never be able to practice every match-up, coupled with every competitive playstyle. You’ll go into tournaments or serious online matches without the knowledge needed to form a gameplan in advance. Smash Ultimate players will need to be able to plan piece-by-piece simultaneously while playing. If you get hit by a combo once, how can you get out of it the second time? A true combo—how can you avoid the setup? We have three whole stocks to work with, meaning that you have plenty of time to go from aggressive to defensive and back again if the situation calls for it. Adaptability also includes a player’s reflexes, which is just responding to what’s on screen in a split-second moment. Active learners win in Super Smash Bros.
Reading your opponent is the most proactive you can be in a game of Super Smash Bros. It’s predicting when the other player will use a laggy move, and having a response ready. It’s determining if your opponent will be recovering high or low. It’s knowing when a roll is about to come out, so you can have an attack ready. It’s the foresight to see that a counter or air-dodge is about to come out, and being ready to punish it. This is also known as “getting in the other player’s head” and will completely knock them off their game. It’s good to have fast reflexes and be able to respond quickly to what’s on screen, but it’s a whole other thing to be playing based on what’s about to be on the screen.
You can’t shortcut practice! Months and years of grinding against other competitors will allow you to level up your reads, adaptability, your mindset, and knowledge-base from which to know the right characters and stages to pick. Just showing up and losing, then watching other players will help you place better the next time.
Squad Strike mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate looks amazing!
Nintendo has yet to explain this mode very well, but thanks to the game leaking we have some great new details about this optional mode.
(Yes, these are leaked details—but come on, there are no spoilers for a mode in a game, right?)
I said Nintendo hasn’t done Squad Strike justice, because they weren’t very clear about what it actually does. Their short presentations left too many open questions. Do you have one stock for each character, and play as multiple characters in one round? Or are you and an opponent just creating a playlist of characters to battle in a set order? Or is it a series of different matchups, but your character’s individual stocks carry over (“winner stays in” style)?
I’m ecstatic to say that the answer to all these questions is yes!
Squad Strike has multiple modes inside the mode. It’s like mode-ception.
✅ Our dream of picking multiple characters for one match will come true. When I die with Mario, Dark Samus will appear on the spawn platform.
✅ Tournament style Crew Battles work in the game, where I can take out multiple different players in a row as long as I hang on to a stock.
✅ My sparring-partner and I can create multiple match-up scenarios ahead of time, then play through them uninterrupted.
With this much flexibility and this many new options, I might spend more time in Squad Strike than in the actual Smash mode!