Tag: Accessories

Putting the “Pro” in “gamer”

Putting the “Pro” in “gamer”

With Finals and graduation and all of that terrible real life stuff on the horizon, I’m staving off imminent insanity in the only way I know how:

Video games.

Specifically, finally trying out that brand new Nintendo Switch Pro Controller I got for my birthday. Two months ago.

To be fair, I mostly haven’t used it up until now for two reasons.

First being the obvious fact that I just haven’t had a whole lot of time to play as the semester has progressed. But also I’m just a stubborn baby that tried to convince himself his janky left Joy Con was still usable, despite a significant drift.

In retrospect I don’t know why I was such a stubborn baby. The Pro Controller is actually a solid accessory!

Not only does it fit comfortably in my hands, but I appreciate the grips not being made of the same material as the semi-transparent body, meaning they don’t get covered in fingerprints.

However, I did immediately come across some trouble with the concept of using a more traditional controller for the Switch…

It doesn’t work with every game.

I notably found this out while trying to play some Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee with Aly.

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She was complaining about the drifting Joy Con, so we tried to use the Pro Controller.

Turns out you can’t use it to do things like throw Pokéballs without the same gyroscopic technology, so they just didn’t add any functionality for the external apparatus.

Cool.

On the bright side, I’ve been able to properly try out the device with a pair of Indie titles I picked up again:

Both Wizard of Legend and Enter the Gungeon received recent updates, and I’ve been playing them to avoid slamming my head against a wall from all this work.

They both add a bunch of new content.

Wizard has a new locale called the Sky Palace (similar aesthetically to The Minish Cap‘s Palace of Winds, much to my nostalgic pleasure), new enemy types and a bunch of additional spells.

Meanwhile Gungeon got… Basically tons more of everything.

It’s amazing to me that such an already stuffed game has been filled with an almost imperceptibly large amount of extra content again. That’s good service if I’ve ever seen it.

The funniest thing about playing both of these titles in quick succession is how different the control schemes are, which makes it difficult to swap between the two.

For instance: In Gungeon, item pick-ups and general interactions are done with the “B” button, while shooting and dodge rolling are done with the triggers. But in Wizard, “B” cancels out all interactions and every action/magic command is done with the A/B/X/Y buttons.

But this difficulty context switching is only going to get worse tomorrow. Because we just found out that Nintendo is dropping the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 3.0 Update:

Joker is finally here with all of his funky Persona 5 music (and a ton of really well-done fan service by the looks of things).

Sakurai is appeasing his hordes of complaining fans by adding the Stage Builder we all thought was gone. Now with moving platforms!

Clips can be edited together and posted online via the Nintendo Switch.

Move over Adobe Premiere Pro, turns out I could have been learning how to edit video in Smash Bros. all along! That’s the future of journalism.

Frankly the only “bad” part of this whole update video is the fact that no teaser was dropped for the next DLC character. Nintendo could have kept us strung along for years if they doled out teasers for new fighters one at a time.

Yet that’s not even a reasonable “bad.” The fact that all this content is coming deep into the game’s life-cycle shows it has a god damn ton of longevity.

It’ll be rough switching between all those control schemes, but it’ll be worth it.

Especially on account of all these memes:

You’d be mistaken if you thought I wasn’t going to whittle my study time away building stages in Ultimate.

Even though the mode is based on drawing and I’ll probably be terrible at it.

At the very least I’ll try bringing back some Brawl classics for my friends and I to enjoy.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even introduce you all to the pit of death in the near future. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Did Intelligent Systems forge a fun event?

Did Intelligent Systems forge a fun event?

As many of you know, I consider myself something of a Fire Emblem Heroes recorder. I’ve been following the game since its humble beginnings and quite enjoy taking note of different things that come to it on behalf of Intelligent Systems.

New summoning focuses.

Major version updates.

Chronicling the game’s ever-expanding plot.

And of course the topic of today’s blog post: Brand new game modes.

While we still haven’t gotten anything that facilitates playing and interacting with friends in any significant capacity, many different ways to play have been attached to the overall FEH experience over time. Outside of the Tap Battles, each has built upon the fundamental style of a turn-based RPG with slightly varying rules to challenge players who wish to earn more rewards.

The newest “Forging Bonds” game mode is no exception, but hits an interesting note by emulating a more classic support system than the game boasts with its own style of supports.

Though that intrigue is pretty heavily counterbalanced by how bland the method of playing is.

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Forging Bonds sets its eyes on the characters most recently added into the game via the Awakening banner that activated a few days ago.

So Olivia, Sumia, Maribelle and Libra are the units players are meant to pay attention to. However, the game makes it abundantly clear that unlike other events where the focused characters provide score bonuses (as they do in the Arena or Tempest Trials), players get no bonuses by owning and using these four.

Which is a shame considering I summoned Sumia so early:

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But at the same time it’s objectively a great decision to make the experience open to the full spectrum of players.

Yet… I can’t argue that it’s a perfect decision. Let me explain why in a roundabout fashion.

See the four heroes of note don’t provide any bonuses because they’re simply used as reward-granting stand-ins. The actual play style of Forging Bonds is as easy as selecting a difficulty level and battling one map for each 15 stamina you spend.

Like in almost every game mode before it, whatever opponents you fight on that map are randomized but scale based on the difficulty you choose.

The catch is that some of these enemies have random item drops.

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As you can see in the image of the event’s main screen I posted above, each of the four focused heroes correspond with a colored heart:

  • Olivia — Red
  • Sumia — Orange
  • Maribelle — Green
  • Libra — Blue

When battling, RNGesus decides which kind of color you receive. There just happens to be weighted odds for finding one color over the others.

This boosted chance cycles every couple of hours, and really does make a difference. In all the times I’ve been playing, Sumia has had the boosted chance, and as of now I have over 400 points lined up with her and just 150 lined up with Olivia otherwise. Maribelle and Libra have gotten no love, apparently.

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The division of one’s points matter, because unlike other in-game events such as the Tempest Trials where there’s a single string of rewards to unlock by playing, Forging Bonds offers four completely separate strings of rewards:

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That’s right, if you didn’t enjoy the grinding for points before, now you get to do it four times over with no guarantee that you’ll get the points for the character you want! Isn’t that just wonderful.

For someone like me who has Stamina Potions literally wasting away en masse in his reserves, this isn’t so much of a problem. I can just wait for a day where the character I want to focus on has a boosted chance and go ham on those battles. Especially since there’s two weeks of event to get through.

For most other players, especially novice players, I can wholeheartedly understand why this would be far more frustrating than it has any right to be.

Seriously, I played Monster Hunter. I know the pain that comes when the desire sensor denies you the exact thing you’re looking for in place of an item you have half a billion of.

But that does leave a substantial question. Are the rewards worth the effort of struggling to get them?

There are three primary rewards that come out of Forging Bonds. The first is the source of its namesake: The support conversations.

In traditional Fire Emblem games, support conversations are discussions two characters have together that build their characters up and offer benefits like stat buffs when they fight together in battle. In the modern FE titles like Awakening and Fates, getting high enough support levels between characters also leads to marriage and subsequent recruitable ‘child’ characters.

In Heroes, the system of supports implemented was dumbed down to simply offer stat buffs and the occasional aesthetic alteration (like having the S-rank supported units snuggle in the hot springs when completing Tap Battles). It would be nigh impossible to add legitimate conversations when every character can support with every character from any and all Fire Emblem games ever made, after all.

The support conversations that can be unlocked with the four characters in Forging Bonds are much more like the prior example.

See the theme of the event, in this Ylissian version at least, is that the four heroes want to defend a town but can’t wait for reinforcements to be sent by Chrom.

Naturally the Order of Heroes arrives and offers their services, making the Ylissian Travelers more like companions in the context of the storyline this event sets up.

As a result, they have support conversations with you, the player, as you earn friendship points with them. Despite the fact that you may or may not have summoned them to join your army in the meta context of this as a video game.

After achieving some level of support with each character on the given roster, the overall story of the event also moves forward. So theoretically, by achieving an S-Rank support with all four heroes, eventually you’ll see a completed story arc.

It’s a cute idea, but flawed by its own premise in my opinion.

There’s something empty about these supports because there are no outside benefits to them.

You aren’t more likely to earn friendship points for that character once you begin to see their support conversations. Because they aren’t units you need to have to participate, seeing the support conversations offers no benefits to you if you do happen to own those units.

They’re just flavor text through-and-through. It’s actually somewhat underwhelming as a reward.

To be fair I haven’t gotten to S-Rank support with any of these heroes so I’m not sure how crazy the supports get, and that might just make them more worthwhile. Consider this a rain check on that idea.

With that long story aside, it’s pretty clear that the event probably isn’t worth players’ time if the namesake of the event itself isn’t really worthwhile, right?

Not quite. There are other rewards to accrue, after all.

The most notably rare and worthwhile are the special accessories that correspond with each character. Once you reach 100 friendship, you earn something like a flower hairband for Sumia.

Those 100 friendship accessories also add additional friendship points that stack when equipped to heroes you fight in Forging Bonds with, so they’re worth picking up in practical terms as well as aesthetic ones.

Then there are EX versions of each accessory that are available when you earn 2,500 points for each character:

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These EX variants aren’t practically useful like the regular ones… But I’d be lying if I said they weren’t each good-looking enough to not be worth the price of admission.

Then again I’m a sucker for putting cute accessories on my characters, so these rewards are inherently a draw for someone like me. That then begs the question of whether there are other rewards more useful to players who aren’t into the aesthetics.

Again, the answer is yes.

See between all of the different main reward tiers for accessories and support conversations are basic rewards. Badges for leveling up and the like.

After a while these rewards become exclusively Hero Feathers, which players can use to upgrade their units into different rarity levels.

Feathers are somewhat hard to come by considering it takes 20,000 to bring a four-star hero into a five-star hero, so those are definitely great items to go for (even if you can only get about 16,000 from all four paths together).

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about orbs. Usually special events love to give players orbs because that, in turn, encourages them to keep up the unhealthy addiction to summoning that we’ve all developed. But for Forging Bonds, only one orb sits at the top-level reward tier for each hero.

So you can get four orbs in total by playing Forging Bonds.

Now to be fair there is also one orb given away daily by playing a match once, but even so that brings the total orb haul up to a measly 18. Not even enough for a full round of summons on a given banner.

Honestly that’s pretty disappointing. More orbs would actually encourage me to participate in the event more than the support conversations do, because even if they are the focus they don’t provide any sort of long-term benefits.

At least Intelligent Systems seems to recognize that considering the day one reward for the event coming out was 20 orbs:

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Honestly, as far as content goes, that’s just about all there is to say regarding Forging Bonds. Like I said toward the top, it’s an intriguing approach to setting-up an event that falters due to its over-reliance on RNG coupled with lackluster, sometimes useless rewards that don’t encourage players to deal with that chance.

I also personally have some smaller, more nitpick-y issues with the approach as a whole.

Namely the fact that despite being an event clearly set in Ylisse where the characters are hoping to protect their homeland, the game itself doesn’t set up a world that matches the story-created expectation.

The maps seem randomly chosen, so while players will occasionally fight on a map based on a map from Fire Emblem Awakening, that chance is very rare. It’s a small detail, but it’s the kind of world-building this event missed out on that would have done it much more justice in the long-run.

Especially considering events like Tempest Trials have already shown a propensity for focusing on maps from specific games’ canons.

Just saying.

At least the music on the main screen of the event is pretty nice, so I’ll give the developers that much.

And maybe there’s more credit I should be giving the developers. Perhaps I’m being somewhat harsh on this event as a whole If I am, and you have your own opinions on it, please feel free to let me know in the comments down below!

Like I mentioned up top, I like to think of myself as a chronicler of the history of Fire Emblem Heroes at this point. But that also means I’m open to changing my opinions on things as time goes on.

So who knows, maybe the next version of Forging Bonds will take some of these critiques and run with them to create something better. I can feel something interesting under the surface, after all.

Fire Emblem Heroes Version 2.6.0: Masks and Menu Mayhem

Fire Emblem Heroes Version 2.6.0: Masks and Menu Mayhem

There ain’t no weekend like a Fire Emblem Heroes update weekend!

This Thursday afternoon, Heroes received its 2.6.0 update, which was followed up with a brand new summoning focus based around Blazing Blade characters that night.

While I usually try to condense this stuff into a day after post, the band-related stuff I took part in yesterday kept me busy enough that I really wasn’t able to commit the time I wanted to this. So I figure I’ll split the version update and the new summoning banner into different posts today and tomorrow to fill my writing quota.

That said, if you’re seeing this well in the future when everything is already available, you can check out the post on the summoning focus here.

But for now, let’s jump into what’s new with version 2.6.0!


Home Page Changes

Alright so the most obvious and somewhat jarring change that came with this update is visible as soon as players open the game:

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That’s right, the hub area now has red ribbon labels over each function.

That’s pretty much literally all there is to say about that. Apparently the point was to make them more obvious but I wouldn’t say they were necessarily hard to discern in the first place.

Ah well, we’ll get used to the new look eventually and it probably won’t even matter.

Next!


Accessories

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Coming straight out of the world of Fire Emblem Fates, Heroes is adding a bit more customization by implementing an accessories system.

Again, there isn’t all that much to say about this feature. It’s rather self-explanatory.

Outfit pieces can be unlocked in various ways, and players can attach those pieces to their heroes to give them a bit more personality when facing off against opponents in the Arena.

Or just for the sake of making them look cool. That’s also an excellent reason to do it, let’s be honest.

A few accessories were given out when the game updated as the reward for a retweet event a couple of weeks back, so everyone who plays has started off with something to put on already.

 

Naturally I dressed up Eirika first, since she’s arguably my most used unit and the protagonist from my favorite Fire Emblem game.

Or at least the protagonist that I own in a game with two main protagonists.

Doesn’t she look frickin’ cute in that hairpin? I think so.

At the moment there are only five accessories to utilize, so not too many characters can take advantage of them. Most of those five are also locked behind missions to complete:

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Luckily they’re easy to complete. And we have 40 days to do so.

If nothing else I’m thankful that the Mysterious Mask Lucina wears when she cosplays as Marth is one of the first costume pieces available. I’ll be spending quite a bit of time trying to decide who’s the best person to wear that thing.

I hope they frequently add in more accessories, because one day I’d like to make my characters as baller as I made Beruka back in my Fates days.

Cool Beruka

Classic.


Ally Menu Adjustments

While the addition of more stand-out labels to the home page were the most immediately striking change visually, this one is arguably going to screw with players the most in my opinion.

Or, at least, it’s going to screw with me for a long time. That much I can guarantee.

Long-time players of Fire Emblem Heroes are likely to flip to the game’s misc. setting tab when they want to look at the Hero Merit their units have accumulated or to see the progress made on their Hero Catalog.

Like me, they probably had to do a double take when discovering those options are no longer under that tab.

That’s because the Ally tab has been completely reinvented to offer just about anything and everything related to working with units in one place.

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Contrary to what many of you may be thinking, the plus signs aren’t actually something players can interact with.

They do, in fact, indicate that there’s an extra menu under those options to expand out. However the actual icons don’t open up or have smaller icons pop up underneath. They just open up a separate page with a number of options to select in each.

For Ally Growth:

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For Change Equipment:

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For Interact with Allies:

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See, that’s where the Catalog and Hero Merit List are hiding now.

In the same change category, the game has also highlighted two other quality of life additions to the Ally menus.

First is the ability to automatically spend as much SP as a character has accumulated on their skill upgrades all at once, rather than having to do them one-at-a-time like a savage.

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Considering how many people inherit skills that wouldn’t want their SP spent on certain skills they aren’t looking to use, I can’t imagine this option will be widely used by competitive players.

But for people who are more casually picking up the game once in a while it’s probably a nice idea.

I sort of fall into the prior category though so… We’ll see.

Second is the addition of more favoring options in different colors, that way players can more aptly organize their heroes however they want.

I can see this one being much more useful for me… As soon as I figure out exactly what I need this many divisions for.

Perhaps I’ll try to separate out heroes that are good for skill inheriting, or better indicating who has better IVs.

I’ll experiment and get back to you on that.


New Weapon Refinements

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Four heroes have been given new life with new weapon refinements.

To be completely honest, the Tiki improvements are the only ones I really care about, and even there it’s just for young Tiki.

Linde’s refinement to Aura allows her to gain +5 Attack and Speed if she’s within two spaces of a magic unit or cleric. That is a great power boost, but Dark Aura is also a powerful upgrade that she’s had for some time now.

To be fair Merric’s refinement to Excalibur has the exact same effect. But he’s a unit that desperately needs a boost like that from what I understand, even though he also has access to Dark Excalibur. That one just happens to be less useful than Dark Aura.

Tiki’s stands out more to me, mostly, because she was one of the first units I ever summoned and has been a staple on my teams ever since.

Her personal base weapon is absolutely garbage, however. So terrible that everyone replaces it with Lightning Breath almost instinctual.

However, now she has access to Breath of Fog rather than just Flametongue. And Breath of Fog is way better!

Not only is it effective against all dragon units, the Breath restores 10 Health every other turn and ensures her damage goes by the foe’s lowest defensive stat if from a distance. Plus it does 16 base damage and that’s great for a dragon attack!

The only problem with this is the fact that you need to inherit Distant Counter to utilize the Breath fully, whereas Lightning Breath has a two space range built-in.

I don’t know, I suppose I’ll see if it’s worth getting rid of distance in place of power by messing with it. But just know I certainly feel like it could be worth it.


Smaller Changes

Many of the changes made through this update are relatively small things, so I figured I’d lump them all together here.

I’ll be honest, neither of these changes in particular mean much of anything to me.

They’re cool I guess, but they’re such minutia that I can’t be bothered to provide any sort of well thought out, philosophical commentary at like… 2 a.m.

In fact I’m just going to take the easy way out and show off the ‘other changes’ listing before wrapping this sucker up.

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If it wasn’t obvious, I basically wrote this post in two sittings. One during the day, in the middle of sitting around at the RUHS band banquet. The other was during the early, early hours of today where I was a bit too tired to really focus on anything.

Yet I decided to finish this anyway just for the sake of having it out at a proper time. Even though I easily could have waited and gotten this out later in the day.

My brain is stupid like that sometimes. I just love torturing myself.

That said, hopefully you got a good grasp of what this update entailed for the game going forward! If so, let me know what you think is the best part of the update.

In the meantime, I’m going to go pass out. Stay tuned for tomorrow (as of this posts publishing) for part two of this session regarding the new summoning banner!

Watchless Woes

Watchless Woes

For about a month now, my right wrist has been emptier than I can remember it having been for years.

As you can see in the image up above, half of my watch strap came off one day when I was attempting to put it on, and the pin that keeps that strip of leather in its holster went flying off somewhere in my room. Never to be seen again, presumably.

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MIA: One watch strap pin

I’ve been a little downtrodden about the whole thing for a while. On the one hand, I quite enjoy wearing a watch. Sure, a watch may seem like a superfluous anachronism in the age of iPhones and other smart devices that can tell you satellite-accurate time stamps at the whim of anyone who wants to pull the device out of their pocket.

But I like having the analog device on me, something I can just slide up my sleeve to peek at at a moment’s notice. Not only does it fill an otherwise empty space on my arm (which has a rather intense watch tan now as a result of my wearing it so much), the extra time-telling accessory has also come in handy at places like school where I can more aptly tell time by leaving it on my desk during an exam.

I’m rather attached to the watch because of that, but it also means a lot because it was a gift from my dad when I graduated high school and needed a fancier watch to match my suit.

The observant viewers in the audience might notice that this particular timepiece has a left-handed stem, as in it’s meant for left-handed individuals:

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Tick-tock.

I myself am not a left-handed individual. In fact, my sister is essentially the only leftie in my entire family if you don’t count things like great, great relatives and such.

That often confuses a lot of people, because typically right-handed individuals wear watches on their left arms and vice versa to ensure they can get at the adjustment mechanisms with their dominant hands. But I’ve gotten used to the opposite, wearing the watch on my dominant hand, because the stem is on the wrong side.

It was something I didn’t even realize was due to underlying watch mechanics more than just personal preference back when I went to Hollywood Babble-On with dad and he realized I was wearing it on the wrong, but technically right side.

Rambling aside, you can probably imagine why I have an attachment to the watch at this point.

The watch band has been degrading away for some time, so I’ve meant to get it fixed for a while. The total break wound up being the last straw, if nothing else.

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It was getting kind of… Gross.

Today’s adventure took my family over to Manhattan Village specifically to address the issue of my busted up watch. There’s a kiosk there manned by someone who my parents have been going to for years to get their watches and such repaired, so now it was my turn.

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Naturally after weeks of putting it off, the adjustment took 15 minutes and only cost about $20.

Figures I imagined it would be much more of a challenge than it actually was.

But hey that misconception is in the past. After all, the watch is now fixed up with a fancy new band!

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We kept the old one too, because why not?

It actually looks good as new now, as cliché as that sentiment may be. That is, of course, a positive considering it gives this sentimental object a longer lifespan. However, it will take some time to get used to how stiff the new leather is.

That was probably the one positive of the grody old band, it was flexible in all the right places because I wore it the same way every time.

Though to take that in a more positive direction, there’s only one way to make this new band feel natural again:

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Welcome back, old friend.