Remembering Brawl (Happy Wii Day) Scott's Thoughts: 18 Days to Smash Ultimate

Today isn’t the anniversary of Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s launch…

However, today is the anniversary of Nintendo’s beloved Wii console, which came out 12 years ago on November 19th, 2006!

As we are counting down to the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, I wanted to take this time to celebrate the most under-appreciated entry in the entire franchise: Brawl.

While most of the community avoided this game like the plague and complained about its slowness, floatyness, and admittedly horrendous balancing, I ignored the haters and invest a record amount of hours into the game (700 to be exact). This title came out during the time in my life where I had the least amount of responsibilities and the most free time to play video games.

It also served as my introduction to the competitive scene! I beat most of my friends most of the time, so naturally I thought I would win my first tournament. What a rude awakening that was.

Yes, there were still plenty of people playing Brawl in bracket (alongside Melee). Though the game didn’t lend itself to tournament play by design, an interesting meta did evolve around the few most viable characters, and the mindgames necessary to secure a victory with low-tier characters like Ganondorf.

Nintendo’s marketing team has mastered the Hype Cycle for Super Smash Bros., but it all started with Brawl. During the game’s development, Sakurai would update a blog every single weekday with detailed announcements and sneak-peaks at the game. His daily updates have continued on Miiverse and other social media for subsequent games, but never were his posts so lengthy, exciting, and rich as on the Brawl Dojo website. You could wake up, log on, and find a character reveal! Nowadays those are saved for Nintendo Directs.

Upon the release of Ultimate, Smash 4 will largely be retired. However, Brawl is still fun to go back to once in a while.

Thanks, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, for bringing us third-party characters, customizable controls, Stage Builder, Subspace Emissary, and much more!


P.S. Tripping may very well be the worst idea any game developer has ever had.

Honestly… I don’t Care for Sakurai’s Modes Scott's Thoughts: 19 Days to Smash Ultimate

In counting down to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from day 30, I’ve remained largely positive. Whether complimenting Nintendo’s marketing or writing a love letter to Piranha Plant, I’ve made it clear that I’m enthusiastic and expectant of great things.

This will be one of a few critique pieces, and it starts now:

There’s nothing I hate in Smash Bros. more than the clutter.

Sakurai introduces all manner of unnecessary complexity and weirdness into each of his games. What seems like a pretty straightforward platform fighter—even with items on—is bogged down by unneeded collectibles (stickers), currencies (coins, tickets, Smash Tags), and more.

This isn’t only true of Super Smash Bros., but also extends to Sakurai’s other work like Kid Icarus: Uprising, where the player would get taken out of the action by finding way too many weapons and food items rendered as flat object scattered over every level.

I honestly feel that his design sensibilities are in conflict with Nintendo’s!

Nintendo’s first party titles have a purity to them, presented with beautiful simplicity, easy onboarding, and instantly understandable menus. This is in stark contrast to the Smash Bros. series, where it’s always difficult to remember which menu branch your replays are stashed under, or what “Games & More” contains and what it doesn’t.

Even as one of the biggest SSB fans, I found myself tuning out during the Nintendo Direct potion about Spirits, and how there are primary spirits and spirits that boost your stats and spirits that possess copies of characters and spirits that spiritedly spirit other spirits until spirits spirits spirits spirits!

Ancillary Smash modes shouldn’t need to teach you new systems. Board the Platforms and Break the Targets are still the most fun side-modes because they take the core Smash gameplay and introduce challenging twists. I’m sad to see so much work go into Sakurai’s new complex modes that will, for the most part, just be played to unlock characters and stages before they’re abandoned.

Will Melee Players Finally Convert? Scott's Thoughts: 20 Days to Smash Ultimate

Since 2001, the Melee faithful have been hauling GameCubes and CRTs everywhere in order to play their favorite competitive fighter.

They thought Brawl was an absolute joke…

Smash 4 fared a little better, earning a few converts and sharing the spotlight. The keyword here is “sharing,” where Melee and SSB for Wii U were often seen side-by-side in events and tournaments.

Now we are faced with the question: will Melee players move on to Smash Ultimate? Will this entry in the series finally be the one that convinces everyone to take their 50 lb. TVs to the dump?

Reasons Melee Players SHOULD Convert to Ultimate

  • Everyone is here! Each player’s main character will be available to play in Smash Ultimate, whether they want to throw some boomerangs with Young Link or rack up their own damage percent with Pichu.
  • The stages are back. Melee players should feel right at home on Pokemon Stadium, Kongo Falls, and the beautifully updated Fountain of Dreams.
  • Directional airdodging returns. Rather than just the quick evasions found in Brawl onward, airdodges are now considerably more strategic due to being a movement option, and having a lot of cooldown. These can no longer be spammed, just like in Melee.
  • The fighting is faster. For elite players who still felt Smash 4 was too slow, rest assured that knockback has been sped up and damage ratios increased. Smash Ultimate will be played with 3 stocks rather than the previous game’s 2, fitting more action into the same match length.
  • It looks better. Melee is showing its age, and the jump in graphical fidelity is huge! Smash Bros. already made the transition to HD in its previous iteration, so the developers spent their efforts on making everything more cinematic and visually appealing for the “ultimate” version.
  • Switch is way more convenient. Smash Ultimate can be played literally anywhere: on your huge flatscreen, on the toilet, or on the plane en route to EVO. Players will be able to get more practice in, and can pack a lot lighter when attending locals and comps.
  • You can still use GameCube controllers. Father Sakurai has blessed us once more, enabling GameCube controller compatibility with a console that is 15 years newer! Nintendo is even selling brand new controllers and adapters, so they’ll last for years to come.
  • Customize your controls! Goodness, Melee players have been missing out on this one. Turn off tap-jump! Make the L button useful! Enter into a whole new world of optimization.

Reasons Melee Platers WON’T Convert to Ultimate

  • They would have to relearn. Skills won’t translate across games, the meta will be entirely different, and they might not like changes made to their main characters.
  • Ultimate will be less technical. Unless Sakurai releases a DLC pack with Melee physics, the fanbase won’t be satisfied without wavedashing.
  • Ledge mechanics. Edge-guarding and ledge-hogging were major factors in any Melee matchup, and the trumping system found in Smash 4 and Ultimate is simply more casual.
  • Too many match-ups. With 3 times the characters, it will be much harder to predict who you will be playing against, and counterpick accordingly.
  • There’s still blood in their veins, breath in their lungs, and power in their GameCubes. Melee players are a resilient folk, and the scene has endured for a decade and a half. They know how to deal with new games coming out, and still keep the community alive.

What do you think? Should Melee players make the switch?

My 5 DLC Character Wishes Scott's Thoughts: 21 Days to Smash Ultimate

5 paid DLC characters will be sold for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, following the release of Piranha Plant (who I love) and ending by February of 2020.

Nintendo has already decided who these 5 characters will be and, rudely, they neglected to consult me.

If Nintendo had allowed me to decide on the 5 DLC characters, they would be:

  1. Ray MK III: The main robot from Custom Robo. I’m glad to see Ray has been getting some love from the Smash Bros. team, and has appeared in various entries as a trophy, sticker, assist trophy, and (in 21 days) as a Mii Fighter costume. Sadly, the Custom Robo series is one of the most overlooked and under-appreciated Nintendo franchises. Adding him as a playable fighter would likely ignite a spark of interest in Custom Robo, just like Marth & Roy did for Fire Emblem. His moveset has unlimited potential, thanks to any number of parts and weapons the developers could pull from (that is what makes this robo custom, after all)!
  2. Shovel Knight: Big props to Yacht Club Games for getting their hero represented in Ultimate as an Assist Trophy, but an even better indie success story would be if Shovel Knight joined the front-lines of the battle. Shovel Knight may be “third party” like Snake and Sonic, but he also has close ties to Nintendo thanks to an entire line of amiibo and strong platform support. Shovel Knight would not look out of place, and has moves that can easily be mapped to the Smash fighter template by anyone with a little imagination.
  3. Waluigi: I don’t care much about this one personally, but why not! Appease the fans! This is the Ultimate entry in the franchise after all, so why wouldn’t Nintendo throw their most dedicated players a bone and get it over with? This has to be the single most requested character since Ridley, and I doubt Sakurai wants to keep hearing fans beg for Waluigi for the next decade. This will be Wario’s third game in the series, so it’s about time for his purple cohort to join the fray.
  4. Paper Mario & Paper Luigi: We already have access to two variations of Mario, so a third would seem like overkill… unless it’s an Echo Fighter duo of Paper Mario and Luigi! Mr. Game & Watch proves that flat characters work, and the Paper Mario games speak for themselves as far as moveset potential. This addition would be perfect for fans of Luigi, who don’t always want to deal with his crazy physics and janky momentum.
  5. Fortnite Dude: Just imagine it. A crossover between Super Smash Bros. and Fortnite would shake the gaming industry! There’s no other collaboration that would turn the heads of the masses. Fortnite continues to be the hottest game for the younger demographic now that Minecraft has started to plateau. I would absolutely love to see one more 3rd party addition in a Fortnite character, who would naturally have the best costume selection and taunts in the game. Attacks wouldn’t be limited to guns, but could also include pickaxe melee moves, boogie bombs that cause opponents to taunt, a glider recovery, and maybe even a little building action!

Which of my picks do you agree with? More importantly, who do you want to see join the SSBU roster? Scroll down to the comments and type away!

It’s the Little Things Scott's Thoughts: 22 Days to Smash Ultimate

The motto is “Everyone is Here!” That’s the banner that the Smash Bros. development team has been rallying under as they seek to bring us the Ultimate crossover fighter to Switch.

But you know what? That isn’t what makes Smash 5 “Ultimate” to me. This game is going to be the ultimate entry in the franchise because Sakurai and co. are finally paying attention to all the little things.

  • Stage selection before Character selection. This is how serious players use the game, and casuals won’t even notice the difference.
  • Save your own rule presets. Tears of joy are streaming down my face as I type this! You don’t have to change it to Stock every time! You don’t have to remember to turn Team Attack on! You can just set it and forget it. Oh bless you, Sakurai-san.
  • Color Selectors. All characters have 8 different color schemes, and you don’t have to just cycle through them anymore, they can all be viewed at once and picked from.
  • Quick Menu. A slide-out menu is now mapped to a shoulder button, just a press away from adjusting anything that needs adjusted and checking anything that needs to be checked!
  • Play while you wait. When queuing up for an online match, use that time to get some practice in or knock out a few challenges.
  • Stage hazard toggle. Smash has always shipped with a lot more stages than are worth playing on, thanks to some crazy RNG factors. Now there’s a handy switch to shut that nonsense off.

It’s evident that lot of time was put into bringing many quality-of-life enhancements to Smash Bros., which will severely cut down on my frustrations with booting up the game and getting into a match. It’s the Ultimate fighter inside the arena and out in the menus.

The Link Amiibo Needs Redone Scott's Thoughts: 23 Days to Smash Ultimate

The Link amiibo needs an overhaul.

Link was released in Wave 1 on November 21st, 2014.

As a Wave 1 amiibo, Nintendo had no prior experience with optimizing poses and reinforcing figurines.

As a 2014 release, Breath of the Wild was still known simply as “Zelda Wii U.”

Look how ugly it is!

I’m thankful that Sakurai and his development team are taking the time to update Link’s visuals and moveset to match the wildly popular (get the pun?) newest game, but now we are left with an amiibo/character mismatch!

Sure, the same predicament applies to Zelda and Ganondorf, and I wouldn’t mind if Nintendo rectified those situations as well, but no amiibo is in greater need of help than our poor Link.

I can’t fathom what they were thinking when they propped him up on a pillar of frozen urine.

SMH my head.

I Love Piranha Plant Scott's Thoughts: 24 Days to Smash Ultimate

What can I say? I think I’m in love with a potted plant.

The final Smash Direct opened with a bit of a snoozer: an Echo Fighter and a Pokemon being confirmed as the final roster additions.
Sure, the fake leak didn’t help to keep our expectations down, but seriously? I would have to sit out the next 35 minutes of the Direct without another exciting character reveal?

Thankfully, Piranha Plant completely blindsided me and brought that wow-factor I craved.

He (she?) has a lot going for him (her?)!

  • Free before February
  • Never leaked, suspected, or even requested from anyone on God’s green earth
  • Not a sword-fighter
  • Completely unique moveset
  • Has an amazingly detailed amiibo
  • Adds another much-needed villain to the cast

The only thing you could really criticize my good buddy P.P. (as I like to call him [her?]) is that it makes the Mario series even more over-represented. So what! Fire Emblem was catching up to Mario in character count, and if any franchise should have the biggest presence, it’s the plumber and his pals.

I’m trying to keep my rotation of characters smaller in this game—more on that later—but I’ll undoubtedly make room for this DLC.

P.S. If you call Piranha Plant “Petey” one more time, I will smack you.

Could this Game Possibly be Balanced? Scott's Thoughts: 25 Days to Smash Ultimate

The Super Smash Bros. series has had a very rocky history when it comes to balancing, an important aspect of all video games, but especially ones in the fighting genre.

The director of the series, Sakurai-san, has often insisted on fine-tuning each character personally. As such a critical task, he really only trusts himself (and holds himself responsible) for how the game ships.

And as the cartridges or discs were produced and transported to the retailer, that’s exactly how the balance remains to this day. It wasn’t until Super Smash Bros. for 3DS & Wii U when patches were enabled.

If you go back and play the first three iterations of Super Smash Bros., you won’t find balanced games. Many characters are completely inviable, and certain ones can be selected for their exploits; Ice Climbers and Meta Knight are a few prime examples. These characters were so off-balance that a handful of techniques had to be regulated by tournament organizers, and Meta Knight wasn’t allowed in many competitive Brawl events!

Thankfully, Nintendo finally created an online infrastructure for their 2012 Wii U console (only a decade late, give them a break) to allow for patches. The result? One of the most balanced fighting games ever: Smash 4!

What made Super Smash Bros. 4 so balanced? A huge change was made to the ledge mechanics; getting rid of ledgehogging and introducing trumping. This effectively allowed the entire roster to reliably make it back to the stage. And the aforementioned patches, which constantly tweaked stats in order to level the playing-field, ensured that no character was too overpowered.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is increasing the character count by 28%. Is it possible that Sakurai can maintain such minute balance when adding an extra quarter of the cast?

I don’t think the game will be balanced at launch. I remember fondly my Smash 4 pre-patch Sheik, who could kill with forward-air, back-air, up-air, down-B, and jab. (I’m joking about that last one.) But over the coming months, Sheik was nerfed to an appropriate level. I think you’ll see a similar pattern in the 5th Smash title; some characters will launch OP and others will be UP, but we’ll have to wait for a few tournaments to take place to discover which characters are the most abusable by professionals.

Non-pros will also have an influence on the game’s balance, as the development team has already gone on record to say that Elite players’ results will be monitored! So if a certain attack is killing way too often, or a specific set-up is impossible to avoid, those things are going to get expedited into a patch.

Ultimate will be the biggest Smash game yet, but also has the potential to be the most balanced.
If not, I guess that’s one good reason to go back and play 4!

Thoughts from my Hands-On with Smash Ultimate Scott's Thoughts: 26 Days to Smash Ultimate

A couple months ago, I got to go hands-on with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate!

I stuck with the long lines at PAX twice to get to play the game, for a total of four separate matches. Reflecting on that experience, here are some of my impressions of Smash 5:

  • It’s faster. Due to higher damage ratios, as well as knockback that plays out faster, there’s no dilly-dallying. That appears to be why 3 stocks is the default instead of 2.
  • Returning characters feel new. This is especially true of Link, who has been reworked from his visuals, to the bombs he throws, to his grab, to the addition of a 0% blade beam attack.
  • It’s more animated than ever. Characters are super expressive, explosions and hits look beautiful in person and at 60fps, and even the stages come to life more than ever before.
  • Attention to detail is off-the-charts. Sakurai is truly making this the Ultimate entry in the series, fine-tuning quality of life improvements like having stage select before characters, allowing rule presets to be created, giving a visual representation of all character colors available, and much more.
  • There’s a lot to learn. This is no port of Smash 4, and the clearest examples of this may be air-dodging and perfect-shielding, mechanics that have been completely revamped. Gamers will need to break habits, adapt, and relearn how to play.
  • And… it’s fun!

There are still dozens and dozens of characters I can’t wait to try out. Come quickly December 7th!

It’s Time for More Competitive Stages! Scott's Thoughts: 27 Days to Smash Ultimate

In Super Smash Bros. 64, there was only one tournament legal stage: Dream Land.

Thankfully, in Super Smash Bros. Melee, the count rose to 5 or 6, depending on the ruleset.

The community couldn’t agree on stages with Brawl, but those who tried to take the game seriously had roughly 10 stages that could be counted as tournament legal, and 31 others that were usually banned.

Smash 4 brought a record-breaking 55 stages to the select-screen after DLC, but only a depressing 5 were given the thumbs-up by tournament organizers (TOs).
Lots of competitions even banned the Omega versions of stages because some had walls that certain characters could cling to, or jump off!


When a community limits stage selection in an attempt to keep gameplay 100% pure, the following aspects are also limited: music selection, aesthetic variety, strategy, and challenge.
Those aren’t aspects of Smash Bros. I want to lose!

I honestly think limiting the stage selection shortens the lifespan of a game. It can be pretty boring watching players get into a match in Smash 4: rock-paper-scissors, ban Lylat, strike a few stages, and end up at Smashville. The player who loses will switch to a character who kills off the top and take his or her opponent to Town & City, where the upper blast-zone is small. It can be very predictable.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate introduces a welcome feature: A toggle for turning off stage hazards! This will prevent terraforming stages like Pokemon Stadium from moving, shut off boss encounters and other NPC interference, and more.

Now, this is a Sakurai-developed feature, so it won’t always work exactly how an eSports player would design it, and there’s already talk of ignoring the toggle and keeping the stage pool small. Some TOs are reluctant to have a bigger selection of stages available, because it makes our made-up stage striking process take longer.

Forget our process! Embrace the toggle!* Let’s inject some variety into the scene and let players learn how to adapt. This will help the competitive scene take off, and thrive for years to come.

*Note: The hazards-off toggle may make some stages worse, like Smashville where the floating platform doesn’t move at all and stays still in the middle. The moving platform wasn’t a problem, so I believe the toggle will NOT be appropriate for some stages, but WILL allow others into tournament rotation. Selective stage-hazards for the win.


Where do you stand? Tell me in the comments.

Let’s Talk about the Waluigi in the Room Scott's Thoughts: 28 Days to Smash Ultimate

You could say that the fanbase is “mildly upset” to “PASSIONATELY AND VEHEMENTLY ENRAGED” that Waluigi has not been announced as a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate character yet.

Case in point…

Daddy Sakurai has spoken. So, do we need to tone it down a little bit with requesting Waluigi? Yes… and no.

  • ✅ DO express your excitement about Nintendo, Super Smash Bros., and your favorite characters.
  • ✅ DO talk about your character wishes with other fans and on social media.
  • ✅ DO hold on to hope. Ridley was requested for 15 years before being added as a playable fighter.
  • ❌ DON’T @ Nintendo employees about your wants. That crosses a bit of a boundary and really doesn’t accomplish anything.
  • ❌ DON’T (and I know this hurts you to read) expect Waluigi soon. As evidenced by Ridley, fans CAN impact the course of a game series, but the precedent shown is that it takes over a decade. Waluigi’s groundswell of support is relatively new, and I say that as a Nintendo fandom veteran. If not this time, maybe next?
  • ❌ DON’T let disappointment ruin your enjoyment. The Super Smash Bros. series has always offered hundreds of hours of fun, even back in the day when the roster capped out at 12 characters. One omission should not occupy your mind to the point where you cannot enjoy all 75 other characters!

So, are you one of the purple mustachioed villain’s diehard supporters? Or could you not care less if he made it onto the roster? I’m curious—comment below!

How Smash Will Change my Gaming Habits Scott's Thoughts: 29 Days to Smash Ultimate

You know that a game is a big deal when you start planning your schedule around its launch…

  • How many days am I going to take off work?
  • What’s the earliest possible time I can purchase this game? Does the eShop update at the stroke of midnight? Should I drive to another timezone?
  • Should I say goodbye to my family just in case I can’t turn the game off?

Those are the kind of considerations I have to make when preparing for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to come out on December 7th!

I’ll talk more about my specific plans for launch day as it comes closer, but today I’m reflecting on my normal gaming habits, and how the release of a monumental title like Smash might affect them.

  1. Indies, hop in the back-burner. And I apologize for this one, because I love supporting independent games… Simeon and I usually take turns working through the latest eShop indie adventure during our breaks at work, but we’re absolutely going to convert that time into Smash sparring! Sure, we might look a little dorky with our screen on the table and a mess of wires draped everywhere in some crazy workaround to use GameCube controllers in tabletop mode, but who cares? And yeah, our coworkers might look up from their phones to cast disparaging looks at Simeon each time he cries out in agony when I secure victory after victory, but they’ll have to deal with it.
  2. Fortnite, it’s been great, but I’ll see you later. Fortnite captivated me with its ingenious design, compelling gameplay loop, and constant stream of content additions. It’s been the absolute best game to unwind with on a daily basis, whether I’m feeling competitive and want to go for that Victory Royale, or if I want to take it easier and knock out a few challenges. It passed up my Breath of the Wild hour-count, then doubled it(!), firmly securing the position of my most-played Switch game. And that’s not a position that Smash Ultimate is going to allow Fortnite to keep. I’m just getting to the point of being a bit Fortnite’d out (even though I know they’re going to try and pull me back in with new weapons and modes), so I’m ready for something fresh and exciting! I want to master a few characters, climb the online ladder, and dive really deep into SSBU.
  3. Also goodbye sleep. I’ve been pretty good about not taking my Switch into the bedroom, but let’s be honest; that’s not gonna last. Not until every character and stage is unlocked, at least!

Yep, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is poised to wreck my gaming life (and perhaps a bit of my personal life too). What about you? Do you see any gaming habits changing? Leave a reply!

The Game that Mastered the Hype Cycle Scott's Thoughts: 30 Days to Smash Ultimate

The Super Smash Bros. series has completely mastered the hype cycle.

I haven’t seen another game whip up fans into as much of a frenzy, and it can be done with a simple glimpse of a logo, a single sound effect, or another cue that tells fans “More Smash Bros. is on the way. Buckle up.” (We discussed this more in the Art of Video Game Trailers Podcast.)

Excitement is at an all time high for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which is why I’m kicking off this blog series: 30 Days to Smash Ultimate! Every day between now and December 7th when the game launches, I’ll be posting a new “Scott’s Thoughts” blog post. You’ll be able to read the whole series here.


One of my favorite things to do is watch a Smash Direct, then go to YouTube and find a Nintendo store crowd reaction clip. Smash fans are packed like sardines in front of a big screen, waiting with baited breath for new announcements. As soon as a sliver of a new character appears on screen, they jump up and down, flailing their arms like their favorite sports team just won.

And in a sense—they did! I’ve been at Smash tournaments where competitors and spectators alike say “these are my sports.” Whether you’re rooting for Zero to win Evo, or cheering on Nintendo as they regain ground in the console wars, every Super Smash Bros. announcement feels like a victory for your home team.

Nintendo Switch owners were treated to quite the surprise in March, while watching a regular quarterly Nintendo Direct. That’s when a Splatoon 2 announcement ended and the Inklings retook center stage for the shocking reveal of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, unveiled for the first time, and coming out in 2018 no less!

Ever since, we’ve been getting drip-fed information from Sakurai and his development team, with the occasional flood of information that accompanies each character reveal!

Better yet, the hype cycle doesn’t come to a screeching halt on launch day, because this Ultimate entry in the series will continue development through February of 2020! We can look forward to seeing that mysterious Smash orb logo alight into flames in many Nintendo Directs over the next 16 months. And you can bet that the Nintendo NY crowd will be there to jump up and down, and express how we are all feeling!


Where is your hype meter sitting at? Let me know in the comments!

Ghost Trick That Was a Thing

Have I ever mentioned I love a good mystery? Maybe it started with my childhood affection for Encyclopedia Brown books, or perhaps even earlier with my adoration of Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective. Whatever the case may be, my fondness for sleuthing didn’t really take hold until I got into the Ace Attorney series. The sorts of bizarre and colorful lateral-thinking puzzles that lie at the core of the many murder mysteries throughout the series clicked with me instantly. So it’s no wonder that when I read in the now defunct Nintendo Power magazine that Shu Takumi, the creator of the Ace Attorney series, was making a new game about an amnesiac ghost trying to solve his own murder, I was immediately intrigued. Read more Ghost Trick That Was a Thing

Loading Questions

We’ve all been there. Maybe you just entered a new shrine in Breath of the Wild or you got enough moons to go to the next kingdom in Super Mario Odyssey. Whatever game it is, you press the confirm button, eager to see what’s next, only to be met with a mostly blank screen and the words:

Now loading…

Slumping back in your seat (assuming you’re not playing at a rooftop party and sitting on the parapet), you glare intently at the message, brow furrowed. After a long and agonizing five seconds, you can’t help but wonder, “what on earth is taking so long?”

And I intend to answer just that, and many more questions, in the following article! No waiting necessary! Read more Loading Questions

Smash Ultimate Direct: 3 New HYPE Things

Well, it came without much warning, but we had a feeling we would see a Nintendo Direct dedicated to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate before its release in December. There were a few things I could gripe about (like the fact that both Zero and Shovel Knight got the Waluigi treatment), but it contained so much to be excited for! As opposed to going into every incredible detail about how what we saw will make the upcoming Smash Bros. game the best yet, I want to just talk about three.

1. Sakurai Is Using Common Sense

You would think that a company of Nintendo’s stature would apply logic in conducting their business. Moves like the Nintendo Creators Program will quickly prove the opposite. Often the unorthodox thinking of the company’s big players is what makes their games wonderful and unique. Indeed, the wonderfully creative fighting system that is Smash Bros. would not exist without the unique spin Sakurai threw on the fighting game.

However, the Smash series has been plagued by several head-scratching decisions that should have been tossed out right away. For instance, every time you power off and on the game, the ruleset you used for your previous session is completely erased, and you are left with a wonky default that nobody likes. FINALLY, Sakurai has implemented the feature of saving preset rulesets, and forcing you to look at them before you start a match. Just about every fighting game I know saves your rules, and it is about time Smash does, too.

But Sakurai has gone beyond this. As opposed to waiting for correction, he goes one step beyond, taking something that was not lacking before, and pushing it to be the best it could be. “Our game has one of the most expansive sound tracks of all time? Let’s not only allow players to pick music for their stages in the way that makes the most sense, but maybe we should turn the Switch into a boom box so that the players can listen to the music whenever they want?” Integrated crew battles and a beefed-up training mode were not necessarily on everyone’s wish list, but they show that the game was designed with the community in mind.

2. All of the Classics Are Here.

With the insertion of Simon and Richter Belmont, just about all of the developers that were powerhouses in the NES days are represented: Nintendo (of course), SEGA, Capcom, Namco, and now Konami. Not only is it great to see rivalries of old come to peace, but if it was not clear before we can see that anyone can join Smash. Time, obscurity, and party lines are no barricades for the roster. Except Rare characters. That will never happen.

3. Echo Fighters Are… Kind of… Cool?

OK, so maybe Two Button Crew has made fun of Echo Fighters a number of times already, and maybe the distinction between who is an echo fighter and who is not one is kind of arbitrary… but more fighters means more fighters, right? We already know that echo fighters do not take much time to develop. Have you never wished that a character could be tweaked just a little bit? Echoes are a clever way of handling that. Will it make the game more difficult to balance? Well, maybe, but a game that already has as many characters as Ultimate will have is going to be heck to balance anyway. More at less cost is better here.

Needless to say, this fan is ready for one of Nintendo’s greatest releases this fall.

The Ethics of Custom Robo

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Custom Robo (A.K.A. Custom Robo Battle Revolution).

It seems that no list of “Best Under-Rated Gamecube Games” is complete without some mention of the ‘Cube’s cult-classic robot gladiator simulator, Custom Robo. It’s so common for fans of Nintendo’s sixth generation console to lament the game’s lack of mainstream success, that it makes me question how a game so widely praised could have under-performed in first place. I mean, it seems everyone who owned a Gamecube recommends it. Of course, I’m not going to discourage people from lauding it: it truly is a (not terribly well-hidden) gem.

Custom Robo isn’t just one of my favorite games on the ‘Cube because of its intense action or strategic depth, however. It’s also the first game to get me to actively contemplate the implications of the events of its story. Read more The Ethics of Custom Robo

The Genius of Fortnite As Described by a Recent Convert

I didn’t know that I needed Fortnite in my life until E3 2018, where it was “surprise” dropped on Nintendo Switch. It quickly became one of my favorite games on the platform!

After quickly sinking multiple days’ worth of hours into the Battle Royale title, I’ve taken some time to reflect on what makes Fortnite so good. Usually I’m one to ignore what’s popular in the mainstream, but after giving it a fair-shake, I realize that Fortnite earned its spotlight and deserves all the attention it’s getting. Why? Read on…

The Gameplay Loop

Every single match, 100 players fly over an island and skydive down to their desired destination. Everybody starts with nothing, no matter how new or advanced the player, the battle starts on an even playing ground. You feel so vulnerable in those opening moments, with only a pickaxe in hand, and it’s exciting to gather a competent loadout and reassuring to find those much-needed health and shield items.

Risk/Reward

Depending on your skill level, you might drop right into Tilted Towers, grab a high-powered gun and immediately start fighting for your life. Or if you are more of a beginner, you can paraglide to the farthest reaches of the map where you’re not likely to run into another player for several minutes. Fortnite is constantly presenting the player with risk/reward choices: Should I get a headstart on the storm, or find that treasure chest? Should I drink my shield potion now, or save it for later? Should I fire on that distant enemy, or remain hidden? As you get more comfortable with the game, it becomes very rewarding to take more risks.

The Storm

The storm is an ever-present factor in Fortnite gameplay. You begin with 100 players on a huge island, but the game intelligently constricts the playspace as users fall one-by-one. You are given brief respites while the storm stands still, and you can use this to explore areas of the map which will soon be shrouded in toxic rain, or you may want to hurry up and get to the eye where you can set camp and stay safe. The storm is constantly drawing combatants together, causing people to be on the move, out in the open, and encountering one another (just like a good Hunger Games gamemaker).

Evolving World

The island has been mentioned a few times, and rightly so: it has a lot of character. New players will be tempted to think that it’s so big and diverse, it must be procedurally generated. But no! While weapon and chest locations are slightly randomized, the team at Epic crafted a huge world with unique locations that blend together seamlessly. Not only that, but the map changes with time. Recently, I was in a squad when the gunfire stopped as everyone watched a rocket launch and tear a crack in the sky dome—a crack that has been spreading ever since. The world feels alive and it’s great to know that the developers are putting continuous effort into a portion of the game that would otherwise become stale.

Aesthetic Monetization

A quick glance about the gaming industry reveals some split opinions and shady tactics around microtransactions. Especially in online multiplayer shooters, developers and publishers are thinking of very creative ways to nickel-and-dime their playerbase. It was a breath of refreshing air to see that Fortnite only sells aesthetic options like character skins and stylized pickaxes. You can’t pay for an advantage in this game, unlike others where getting killed prompts a pop-up “YourMom64 killed you with a SuperSniper. Would you like to buy a SuperSniper for $2.99?” Fortnite’s doing it right!

Quick Matchmaking

Thanks to the compelling gameplay loop, and “one more game” syndrome, you’ll find yourself wanting rematch after rematch. Fortunately, Fortnite makes it all too easy to get in a lobby with 99 other players. Whether you’re playing solo or squadding up with friends—even with crossplay!—the process is painless (which is such a relief to say on a Nintendo platform).

Voicechat

The developers pulled it off! You can literally plug a 3.5mm headset into the Switch and use native, in-game voicechat with your teammates. It’s kind of incredible: no apps, no Wiispeak—just you, your headphones, and the game. That’s what we call “not overcomplicating things!”


There you have it… several reasons why Fortnite is a work of genius. And it’s free, so what are you waiting for? Give it a download and add “Scott TBC” before my wife stages an intervention and pries the Pro Controller out of my hands!

Salt. A True Story of Fortnite's Hidden Weapon

I may have been late to the bandwagon, but there is no denying the fun that is Fortnite. If you are tired of hearing about this game, and have not yet played it, I highly recommend you give it at least a try. And now is the perfect time to join! It’s the start of a new season, which means that the map is new, there are new weapons and features, and everyone is getting used to them together. Plus, it Is free to play on Switch (or computer, if you’re taking a more tactical approach)!

Enough advertising. I was skeptical to start playing Fortnite for a number of reasons, including:

  • The game has been out for a while, which means I thought I had no chance (which turned out not to be the case).
  • I am not very good at, or typically drawn to, any type of shooting game.
  • The game is super popular, and sometimes I’m a hipster hater like that.

In the end, though, after an invitation from Scott, I finally succumbed and gave it a shot. Scott had been introduced by his brother, and it was his turn to bring me into the fold. After a round or two of battle royale (100 competitors all against each other) I was cracking the top twenty, and my turns were regularly lasting longer than Scott’s. Unbeknownst to me, I began to unlock some mind games that, although not beneficial for me, threw my buddy into a mood.

During one particular match as I decided which shotgun was better to keep, Scott, having been unable to find a gun his previous match, mocked with, “HUH! SHOULD I HAVE PUMP SHOTGUN, OR SHOTGUN PUMP?!” His brother and I were the only ones laughing.

After a day or so, Scott and I had about evened out, regularly placing in the top ten, but never claiming the elusive first place.

My wife happened to be with me on one such visit and requested to give it a shot to see what the big deal was. My wife is by no means a gamer, and I was elated that she was willing to give this ridiculous game that held her husband captive a shot. She dropped from the flying bus pretty much straight down next to the lake with a cabin situated on an island in the middle of it. without a gun, she marched through the lake, up the hill, and into the house without any opposition. Climbing the stairs, she entered a room with an occupant, and the rest of us (Scott, his wife and brother, and myself) cried out in shock! Swinging her pickaxe, she slew the unwitting squatter and took his gun.

We cheered and yelled through each step of her run, as the storm slowly forced her out of the house, making her take cover on the shores where the eye set up camp for the rest of the game. She crouched and crawled around as the number of remaining players dwindled. A port-a-fort popped up in the valley below. She popped out of cover, lobbing a stink grenade into the opening. Though she was not credited with the kill, we all saw that the bomb’s victim was killed after being forced into the open.

Eventually, the streak came to an end, and my significant other was slain. Her first game’s placement? Third place. We were all flabbergasted at the results. But her results were no fluke: her next two runs landed her in second and fifth respectively.

Though Scott has finally netted several victory royales since, the two of us were both jealous of my wife’s success. I had my very own piece of humble pie to eat. No matter the game, sometimes salty humble pie is the fuel of champions.

Astro Duel Deluxe Spit Shine

We’ve all heard the saying, “everyone’s a critic.” It’s true, just about anyone can tell you when something’s bad; some can even tell you why it’s bad, but for some strange reason, very few ever take the time to determine how to take something bad, terrible, or simply unpolished and make it shine. Welcome to Spit Shine, a new blog series where I attempt to do just that: find the flaws in games that are good, bad, or anywhere in between and spitball ways to fix those issues while building upon what already works. In short, I’ll be refining games, not redesigning them from the ground up.

Just under a year ago, I published my first game review here at Two Button Crew (assuming you don’t count my That Was a Thing series). Despite ultimately liking the experience Astro Duel Deluxe offered, I couldn’t help but take issue with its lack of content and some staggeringly bad U.I. design. Read more Astro Duel Deluxe Spit Shine