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

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

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?

Buck Bumble That Was a Thing

It’s spring again, and you know what that means!

Rain… Lots and lots of rain.

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 Bumble That Was a Thing

How Cliched is Shadow the Hedgehog?

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?

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse and Shantae: ½ Genie Hero Spit Shine

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 Hero Spit Shine

Savor It Scott's Thoughts: Smash Ultimate is HERE!

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.

Savor it.

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.

And let’s enjoy it fully for years to come.

My Release Night Plans Scott's Thoughts: 1 Day to Smash Ultimate

It’s Thursday—AKA, RELEASE NIGHT!

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!
  • Rush to Best Buy so I can pick up my physical copy at 9pm.
  • Simeon will accompany me, and will then use his phone’s mobile-hotspot feature to connect his Switch and unlock his digital copy.
  • Speed through every red light and stop sign to arrive at home. Periodically shoot Simeon dirty looks of jealousy as his Switch’s speakers emit sounds of smashing in the passenger seat.
  • Scale the 3 flights of stairs up to my apartment in about 7.3 seconds.
  • Slam the cartridge into my Switch (after a quick lick).
  • Start up a stream on our YouTube channel [ring that bell to get notified when we go live].
  • Unlock characters as fast as possible.
  • Kick Simeon’s sorry tushy with Dark Samus.

If you’re not picking up the game and playing it right away, we’d love to have you join our release night stream!

I’ve got one more blog post in this series, publishing tomorrow, Dec. 7th at noon Pacific.

Will there Be Another Smash? Scott's Thoughts: 2 Days to Smash Ultimate


ul·ti·mate
/ˈəltəmət/

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.

 

The Best Characters in Smash 5 (So far) Scott's Thoughts: 3 Days to Smash Ultimate

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

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

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.

Roy

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.

Other candidates…

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!

The Pie-Chart of Victory in Smash Bros. Scott's Thoughts: 4 Days to Smash Ultimate

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.

Mindset (20%)

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:

Adaptability (30%)

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.

Reads (15%)

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.

Experience (20%)

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 is Amazing! Scott's Thoughts: 5 Days to Smash Ultimate

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!

Physical, Digital, and All the Options Between Scott's Thoughts: 6 Days to Smash Ultimate

Back when Simeon and I were doing the Daily Show for Nintendo fans, we put out a video that went on to be very popular: What’s Better, Physical or Digital Games?

YouTuber tip: Any time you can title a video with the exact question people are typing in to search, you’ll find a lot of viewers who need help! And I think we were able to provide some solid advice.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate hits store shelves and digital shops in one week, so it’s about time we made up our mind about what format we’re buying, eh?

Physical Advantages

  • Resale: If you get sick of Smash, you can sell it and make some investment back. (If you’re reading this blog though, you’ll probably hang on to the game forever.)
  • Lending: You can let a friend borrow your game. It helps to have real life sparring partners who can challenge you, and letting them take the game home to practice is a good way to build up a rivalry.
  • Packaging: When you spend your $60 at a retailer instead of an eShop, you get a little more. That is, you receive a box that can be placed on a shelf or propped up to display its awesome cover art.
  • Storage: Smash 5 is a big game, and takes up a lot of memory. Multiple Gigabytes, in fact. Do you want that storage used up on your Switch’s hardware (digital), or more efficiently stowed on the cartridge itself?
  • Discounts: Maybe you renewed Best Buy Gamer’s Club Unlocked or have a discount through Amazon Prime.

Digital Advantages

  • Invulnerable: It can’t get broken or eaten by a baby.
  • Unlosable: It’s built into your Switch so you won’t lose a tiny cartridge in a couch cushion or vacuum.
  • Pre-Load: You can purchase the game early and have most of its data sitting on your console, waiting to be unlocked on release day.
  • Convenience: Smash is a game that gets played a lot, and it will be super nice not to have to swap out games every time you want to play a quick match.
  • Gold Coins: Nintendo is offering additional gold coins for players who get Smash through the eShop, and you can also redeem previously-acquired gold coins to lower the price on your purchase.

I didn’t plan it that way, but it looks like there are an equal number of advantages either way! It truly is a conundrum, isn’t it?

But don’t decide just yet! There are a few more factors.

Physical Options

  • Standard game
  • Steelbook & Pro Controller bundle (Best Buy)

Digital Options

  • Standard game
  • Deluxe version (Fighter Pass included)

Console Bundle

This is another option I can’t stick under either one of the above headings, because in a way it’s physical and digital! By purchasing a Smash-emblazoned Switch, you receive a digital copy of Ultimate.


It’s a tough choice, but I think I’ve landed on physical standard. I’d like to have that case sitting on my shelf, plus I’ll get a bit of a discount, and I’ll be able to buy my Ridley amiibo at the same time. What about you? How are you going to be purchasing SSBU?

No Character is Deconfirmed Scott's Thoughts: 7 Days to Smash Ultimate

The Super Smash Bros. series is truly a celebration of all things Nintendo. With hours upon hours of remixed tunes, over a hundred stages collected from gaming history, and hundreds of combinations of unique matchups and modes, there is no shortage of fun to be had in SSB Ultimate. However, nothing causes a fan to delight more than when their favorite character is added as a playable fighter.

The cast of 70+ characters is the main attraction, and everything else is seen as ancillary. Who cares if Geno is a Mii costume, I want him to be a playable character! Goomba as a trophy—no way, he should have been added to the roster back in Melee! 

And so, Smash fans wait on pins and needles to catch a glimpse of their favorite phantasy fighter, hoping that Father Sakurai will do them justice.

You could hear the collective groans around the world when Waluigi was shown as merely an Assist Trophy at E3. He was “deconfirmed.” He didn’t stand a chance.

I disagree. I think you can look at all the Pokeball Pokemon, all the Assist Trophies, Mii Fighter costumes, and every one of the 1,000+ Spirits and be looking at a list of DLC candidates.

My opinion isn’t popularly shared, so let me explain:

  1. Sakurai didn’t decide the DLC. Nintendo did, just as development on the title was wrapping up. (Side-note: Nintendo is careful not to work on DLC too early—otherwise gamers would accuse them of charging extra for content that was made under primary development time.) Sakurai did not know what his bosses would settle on for future roster additions, so he couldn’t have kept every potential fighter from showing up by some other means.
  2. There are over 1,000 characters represented as Spirits in this title. If being a Spirit disqualifies a character from inclusion in the main roster, then there’s no one good left to pick from gaming history.
  3. Overlap happens. One good example is Smash 3DS, where you could take Pac-Man to his stage, throw an Assist Trophy, and have 3 instances of Pac-Man ghosts on the screen at once (Smash Attack, stage, and Assist Trophy).

Being in Smash in one form doesn’t mean you can’t be in Smash in another form. If a Pokeball Pokemon was converted to a DLC fighter, I honestly think the developers would see no problem in removing that Pokemon from the Pokeball lineup anyway!

Don’t despair. Your favorite character still has a chance.

Only Buy the DLC Pass If… Scott's Thoughts: 8 Days to Smash Ultimate

Nintendo will be offering the “Fighter Pass” for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a $25 advance payment for future DLC.

Sakurai and co. will be adding 5 characters to the game between launch and February 2020, and said characters will be accompanied by new stages and music tracks.

You can purchase these bundles individually as they are released for $6 each, or shave $5 off the cumulative pricetag by paying up-front.

Purchasers won’t be given anything up front except for a Mii Costume for fans of the Xenoblade Chronicles series.

Only plop down your $25 if one of these applies to you:

  1. You know without a shadow of a doubt that you’re going to buy all the characters anyway
  2. You want to help tournaments by bringing a complete set-up
  3. Xenoblade Chronicles is like life to you
  4. You feel sorry for Sakurai and want to donate to his Carpal Tunnel relief fund
  5. You have a tree in your back yard producing literal money
  6. Your wallet is actually getting too heavy and it’s wearing a hole in your pants

I probably fall into camps 1, 2, and 4. But I’m still going to wait until the first DLC package is actually available, then I’ll spring for the whole payment. I see no reason to fork over my twenty-five now, while I’m already spending a small fortune on the game and accessories.


What are your plans for buying or skipping the Fighter Pass?

I Played Ultimate for Several Hours Scott's Thoughts: 9 Days to Smash Ultimate

I was fortunate enough to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for several hours over the last two days. This may come as a surprise after my previous post in the countdown, “The Game Leaked, but Who Cares?” A few points on that; I primarily wrote about the non-issue of spoilers being posted online, specifically saying Smash is fun to play instead of just learn about. So yes, I took the opportunity to play the game at a few events, but no, I won’t be hacking my Switch or installing the game illegally on my console.

No real spoilers follow.

My takeaways from several hours with Ultimate over the last few days:

  • The engine feels quite a bit different from Smash 4. You’ll have a learning curve period, and your practice won’t translate over immediately. There’s an awkward feeling of the game not responding to your inputs in the way you expect, and that’s pretty much unavoidable, but does lessen a few hours in.
  • Shielding, air-dodging, and rolling are all worse options. These defensive/evasive maneuvers are all punishable unless you’re using them sparingly and intentionally. Shield-poking happens way more often, even when half a shield appears to be in tact. Note: Once people get the hang of new Perfect Shield timing, they won’t be such a bad option.
  • Neutral is more grounded. Gravity seems to be more of a factor, and when not ledge-guarding or chasing, characters feet stay planted on the ground more. In other words, expending your double jump on stage feels like a risk as it did in Melee.
  • The graphics are beautiful. Characters are animated with a lot of personality, but the main thing I couldn’t get over was the beautiful stages. Previous games look drab by comparison.
  • Smash Ultimate is packed to the brim. Although the character selection screen is limited on startup, the rest of the game is not! The stages and modes are all there at your disposal, and so much is customizable! Decisions that would have been made for us in the past are now left up to the player to tweak, such as “Stick Sensitivity” which is now adjustable in custom controls. There will be a lot to learn in the menus, but we can finally fine-tune just about everything we’ve wanted to.

I had a lot of fun, though most of my matches were 4v4 or 3v3. In that kind of chaos, I didn’t get to put many characters through their paces like I would have wanted to. It does seem that Donkey Kong is an absolute beast, and he’s a character I’ve always tried to play since Brawl. I might have to make room for DK in my mains.

Simeon and I are planning some fun stuff for the launch of Ultimate! More on that soon.

The Game Leaked, but Who Cares? Scott's Thoughts: 10 Days to Smash Ultimate

Copies of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are circulating out in the wild, 10 days before the December 7th launch!

Nintendo didn’t intend for this to happen, but a variety of things have taken place:

  • Certain stores have broken street date and sold the game early
  • Some people received review units and have broken embargo, uploading confidential information
  • Other people have preloaded the game from the eShop and hacked their Switches to datamine the download

The cumulative result is a lot of spoilers leaked online, including soundtrack files, World of Light cutscenes, unlocking instructions, etc.

But who cares?

My flippant response surprised me a little bit. It was only a few years ago that I managed to secure an advance copy of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U for review (legally) and I practically jumped for joy when that happened!

Why am I not excited about the prospect of Smash Ultimate leaking? Well, this series is fun to play, not just learn about! Sure, character reveals are one thing, but we’ve gotten all those officially. I can wait patiently to hear the game’s music when I’ve actually bought the thing.

Besides, launch is only 10 days away! It’s coming up quick, and I have plenty of things to play before Smash 5 changes all my gaming habits. I need to hit someone with a Grenade Launcher in Fortnite to complete my challenges, play a few games I picked up on Black Friday, and finish off Hollow Knight which I’m 20 hours into.

It’s weird, but I’m content to wait the week-and-a-half until I can legitimately play SSBU. Maybe I’m growing up a little.

The Plight of Echo Fighters Scott's Thoughts: 11 Days to Smash Ultimate

Ever since Ganondorf was copy-pasted from Captain Falcon, Super Smash Bros. fans have been upset about “clones.”

And rightfully so. It feels like an offense when your favorite character is apparently mishandled in their representation (just like when a book you love is adapted poorly to film).

Sakurai seems to be calling for a truce this time around, no longer introducing “clone” characters as new fighters, but labeling them officially as “Echo Fighters.” They don’t even take up a number in the sequential count of characters.

Echo Fighters include Dark Samus, Daisy, Lucina, Chrom, Dark Pit, Ken, and Richter. (No, Isabelle is not an Echo Fighter—this is common misinformation.)

I gotta say, the one that hurts the most is Dark Samus. The rest of the lineup, I think you’ll agree, is easy to understand how their moves would be similar to the characters they are based off of. If you tried to make an argument for Ken, as an example, I’d wish you good luck!

Dark Samus had so much potential to have a unique moveset. The designers even had a handful of special moves that Dark Samus used as an Assist Trophy in Smash 4, but those are stripped away to keep her in line with basic, boring Samus.

What’s changed the most in Metroid Prime’s embodiment is her animations, which admittedly look stunning and appropriately creepy. I just wish that an equally impressive set of moves could have accompanied this addition to the roster, which could have involved Phazon and more acrobatics.

So, what is the plight of an Echo Fighter? The desire for more!

In past games, you can watch the progression as Falco, Ganondorf, Luigi, Roy, and others each become further set-apart from their source material. That progression simply felt like justice done to characters who had previously received the short end of the stick.

But now that these 7 characters are sitting comfortably under the banner of “Echo Fighters,” will there not be an incentive for developers to make them more unique in subsequent games?

I hope so, because if a character being an Echo Fighter means they’ll never be unique, I almost wish they weren’t added to the roster at all.

Warming Up to World of Light Scott's Thoughts: 12 Days to Smash Ultimate

Initially, the World of Light single-player mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate didn’t excite me. I wasn’t into the theme-song-with-lyrics, I was disappointed that Spirits were involved heavily in the gameplay, and I rolled my eyes during the cinematic when the only character to make it out alive was Sakurai’s baby boy, Kirby himself.

However, Nintendo recently invited a handful of influencers to explore the game and check out its various modes. I was encouraged by watching Nairo (a top-level ZSS player in Smash 4) play the first levels of Ultimate’s campaign mode.

I was particularly impressed by the Spirit battle against “Eevee,” who was personified by a Yoshi with a fluffy tail (the Raccoon item). Throughout the battle, many other enemies started jumping in and helping Eevee. I quickly recognized a red fire-breathing Yoshi (Superspicy Curry) as Flareon, a Yellow Yoshi jumping with Screw Attack as Jolteon, etc.

The realization that hit me was—wow, Smash Bros. does have a huge toolset of character pallets, items, and modifications that will allow them to make all these creative sequences. It made me not want to watch any more scenarios before launch, because I think each one of them will be a pleasant surprise, just like Event Matches in previous games.

When Nairo’s Kirby moved across the beautifully rendered overworld map to encounter Mario, the main theme blared and the player was told that defeating Mario would “awaken” the fighter. The YouTuber also had to cut out several portions of his recording, like anything featuring menus or cinematics. Yes, World of Light is shaping up to have some great cutscenes that Nintendo doesn’t want us seeing before the game’s release.

While World of Light has already been confirmed to not be a linear affair, there may still be some similarities with Brawl’s Subspace Emissary. In fact, Redditor Lioru was digging through some old Iwata Asks interviews for Super Smash Bros. Brawl and found this quote:

Sakurai: “I had envisioned a more serious tone for the story. Something with some misfortune, like a single character escaping total annihilation of his squadron and then fighting back while rounding up his allies.

It sounds like World of Light uses the original concept for Subspace Emissary! I’m now of the opinion that we’re in for a treat with World of Light. Creative fights like Event Matches, and the cinematics from a great Smash Bros. campaign without all the subpar platforming found in Brawl. As long as I can avoid the Spirits menus, I’ll be pretty happy!

I Think these are My Main Characters Scott's Thoughts: 13 Days to Smash Ultimate

In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, I had too many “main characters.” If you have too many mains, you don’t have a main, and that’s what happened to me! I was jack of all trades, master of none.

Well, I want to avoid that fate in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I want to narrow my focus, which is even harder to do with the ever-expanding roster. There are so many characters to play, but I want to keep it to four maximum! I need a go-to main, a couple of counterpicks (characters I select depending on who I’m competing against), and someone I play for fun. With that said, I’ve tried to make up my mind in advance!

Dark Samus

My #1 requested character is here! DARK SAMUS! I’ve always been a huge fan of the Metroid Prime games, and I think Dark Samus is a super-intimidating force. I’ve also criticized the Smash roster for having so few villains, something that Sakurai and co. are taking huge steps to rectify this time around! Getting not one but TWO Metroid baddies added to the cast is a dream come true. Now, as a Metroid fan, I feel that Dark Samus could have had a very unique moveset if she wasn’t relegated to Echo Fighter status… But the Smash player in me isn’t upset at all, because I have dozens of hours of practice into playing Samus which will translate over, and with buffs like charging in the air, I think Dark Samus will take me far in competitions.

Piranha Plant

I love everything about Piranha Plant, and I’m excited for him (her?) to be one of my mains. I’ve always gravitated toward the odd-ball Smash inclusions, doing well with Mr. Game & Watch, Duck Hunt, Wii Fit Trainer, and other characters that you wouldn’t suspect to be prime candidates for a fighting game. Piranha Plant is a character no one asked for, and Sakurai was a troll to add him in. Likewise, I look forward to trolling my opponents as I delete their stocks out of existence with a potted plant.

Link

Link is always one of the first characters I play in a new Super Smash Bros. game. He was the fighter I chose in a midnight-release tournament of Super Smash Bros. Brawl! I’ve also played a match as Link in Ultimate. I’m very pleased with how the team made effort to update Link, reflecting his most recent appearance and moveset in Breath of the Wild. I also think his Remote Bombs are going to be a big deal. I was actually able to set up an amazing combo in the midst of a frantic 4-player match—imagine what I’ll be able to do in a focused 1-on-1 environment. He’s going to be powerful.

Snake

Snake is also a character I’ve gone hands-on with in Smash Ultimate. I think I’m at a distinct advantage after practicing with him in Brawl, a game that most people in the Smash community did not play competitively, and which featured Snake who hasn’t appeared again until now. His tilt attacks aren’t as overpowered and disjointed as they used to be, but this has also been balanced with buffs to his special moves like Side-B, which is much faster now.


Enough about me! Who are you looking forward to maining?