Tag: Donkey Kong

Puzzling

Puzzling

Have you ever had the desire to play a puzzle game?

There are many varieties to get hooked on. Some of the most popular are grid-based matching games like Bejeweled or Candy Crush; fast-paced luck and skill games like Tetris or Puyo Puyo; and logic-driven games like Sudoku or crossword puzzles.

I like myself some Tetris and played Pokémon Shuffle for a long time, but my puzzle game crack is undoubtedly Picross.

Or Nonogram. Or Griddlers. Or whatever other term exists for the game.

Picross is similar to Sudoku, but moves its numbers outside of the grid so that each puzzle is filled with colored squares.

A-sample-nonogram-puzzle-The-objective-of-nonograms-is-starting-with-a-blank-board-see.png
Via Research Gate

The numbers indicate how many squares are filled in and in what order, with blanks required between each separate number’s filled squares.

It’s somewhat complicated to explain without playing. If you’re interested in trying the game, there are plenty of free online versions available.

I personally discovered Picross years ago with:

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Because I’m nothing if not a shill for Pokémon spin-off games.

In the 3DS’s Pokémon Picross, every puzzle creates a different Pokémon.

There were only about 300, and the game had a number of other restrictions including a stamina bar that depleted for each square filled and the requirement for an obscene amount of in-game currency (calls Picrites) to buy upgrades and access new areas.

Both of which were obvious ways to “encourage” spending money.

Even so I fully completed all of the Pokémon puzzles.

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And the Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire tie-in Primal Reversion murals.

The game featured a daily challenge to gain meager amounts of Picrites for players who did not want to spend money, and I opened that sucked up every day for months to get enough.

It was worth it for me. Not only was Picross incredibly relaxing, but I wanted to see all of the Pokémon — including Mega Evolutions and Legendaries.

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They had different skills based on their typing to help players complete puzzles faster. A neat idea that kept me coming back.

At the end I gave up on Pokémon Picross when it wanted me to enter the “Alt-World,” which cost 300 Picrites and used a weird mechanic I could never understand.

Didn’t think much of Picross for a couple years after.

Then I watched SpikeVegeta‘s 2018 run of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze for GDQx. He played Picross during some technical difficulties and gave me a strong urge to join in.

But I didn’t want to buy a game for the Switch. Or bother with Alt-World stuff in Pokémon Picross.

So I turned to the iPhone app store.

My first attempt was a game simply called Nonogram.

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This version is good for quick games. You pick a difficulty level and solve one puzzle. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The puzzles themselves were fine, but the game had issues. First, it gives you three incorrect moves before prematurely ending the session. Second, you cannot re-examine the puzzles you complete or use them in any significant way.

That second point sounds like a nitpick born out of high expectations from Pokémon Picross… And it is.

But the second game I found did fill that niche.

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Picture Cross is a Picross game with amazingly worthwhile art direction. The sprites used for menus and worlds are insanely detailed and charmingly reminiscent of the Habbo social networking site.

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Each world has a large amount of puzzles that cover up an image you slowly reveal.

Puzzles will often depict the objects they are covering up and can be re-completed, giving them a bit more value in my book.

So far I’m about 50 puzzles into the first of 12 maps, fueled by a combination of my feverish Picross addiction and other completion-driving elements like achievements.

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It also helps that the puzzles look pretty good while varying in difficulty.

I really only have a few problems with Picture Cross.

First, the fact that it’s absolutely chock full of advertisements. The game’s free so I can’t complain, but they are long and show up after every puzzle. They’re also often necessary to view if you want to collect more tokens.

Speaking of: Tokens (the game’s main microtransactions) are required to unlock new puzzles. Players can hold 10 tokens that individually recharge every five minutes as a baseline, and more can be gathered via advertisements or awarded after a puzzle.

So far I haven’t run into any problems collecting tokens, but I can foresee Pokémon Picross levels of daily grinding in my future.

Picture Cross also falls behind Nonogram in at least one major category. Nonogram crosses out each individual number in a row or column as they are placed:

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See the six on the fourth column.

Only entire rows are blacked out in Picture Cross, which can make things harder to track on a number-by-number level.

Frankly all of those are relatively minor complains to me. I enjoy the game a lot, and I can see it being a nice brain-teasing time-killer.

Plus… Downloading the game gave me stickers in iMessage based on its cute sprites.

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So I’d wager it’s worth every cent I didn’t pay.

The Super Smash Bros. Cinematic Universe

The Super Smash Bros. Cinematic Universe

As many of you have seen, a trailer for Paramount’s upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie dropped today.

It’s terrifying.

But more than it is terrifying, the trailer feels frustrating. There’s a whole lot of missed potential from what I can see as a casual fan of the series, and I spent a fair amount of time ranting about it on Twitter:

The memes have been fun. Yet I can’t help but wonder how Sega let Sonic take this hit with Detective Pikachu showing us what video game movies are capable of—

Oh. Right.

Well anyway, as my friends and I spent the morning looking at Sonic, Jonathan brought to our attention an interesting take.

Much like Sonic’s obscene baby teeth and gross, gangly baby legs, I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of a Super Smash Bros. Cinematic Universe.

Or, the SSBCU, as any sane individual would call it.

My friends’ discord group became flooded with suggestions on what could conceivably be included to flesh out the universe. By the end of the day, I fell in love with the idea of putting this list together!

But I wasn’t able to come up with everything on my own.

So let’s consider this post a work in progress, and a call to arms.

I have a collection of what movies should count in the SSBCU, some that I think could be surrogate “analog” entries in retrospect, and other media that could be related.

I’ll list them out with character confirmations based on Nintendo’s official listing.

If you have any ideas on how to flesh the list out, let me know! I think the idea is great and I would love to keep it going.


Confirmed Entries

Super Mario Bros. (1993)

You know it, you love it. Illumination may be working on an animated Mario movie, but until then we’ve got this classic of terrible cinema to fill out a whole lot of fighters. Just tell me you don’t want to see Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo beat up CGI Pokémon in an Avengers-style crossover.

  • Fighters: Mario (1), Yoshi (5), Luigi (9), Peach (13), Daisy (13e), Bowser (14)

Sonic the Hedgehog (2019)

The terror that started it all. This movie is probably going to be an utter disaster… But that means it’s also probably a blast to watch. Like a car crash after your blue cadillac haphazardly rolls around at the speed of sound. Sonic is Mario’s eternal rival, so he deserves a bad movie too.

  • Fighters: Sonic (38)

Detective Pikachu (2019)

This movie looks brilliant. Full stop. And I can conceivably throw in every Pokémon representative, so it’s a catch-all. I’ll even include Pokémon trainer, because despite the Red analog not being a character in Detective Pikachu, the Kanto starters are all there.

  • Fighters: Pikachu (8), Pichu (19), Mewtwo (24), Pokémon Trainer (33-35), Lucario (41), Greninja (50), Incineroar (69)

Street Fighter (1994)

Bet you forgot this movie existed. Well you’ll be happy to know that Ryu and Ken are in this terrible picture via Byron Matt and Damian Chapa, so you can picture them punching Bob Hoskins in the face!

For real though, can you believe Ming-Na Wen went from being Chun-Li to Mulan four years later? What a glow up.

  • Fighters: Ryu (60), Ken (60e)

Mega Man movie (????)

Keeping on the Capcom train, this is apparently a movie that’s in production. Thus the blue bomber gets to hang out with the squad!

  • Fighters: Mega Man (46)

Monster Hunter (2020)

What’s that? You really like the Capcom train? Well, lucky for you there’s a Monster Hunter movie staring Milla Jovovich in our future. There’s technically no fighter from this series, but Rathalos was added in Ultimate. So maybe there’s room for a cameo?

  • Fighters: DLC fighter, hopefully?

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005)

Alright, I’ll stop messing around. Here’s a not hypothetical entry on the list. I considered not including Cloud because this is a purely animated movie… But if Pikachu and Sonic can be “live action” fighters, why not Angst McGiantSword?

Plus his alternate costumes in Smash are literally based on this movie. So.

  • Fighters: Cloud (61)

Analog Movies

Alien (1979) or Aliens (1986)

Depending on your preference for horror or action sci-fi.

I don’t know if we’re ever going to get a Metroid movie. Samus would be a great candidate for the SSBCU’s Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel-esque leading female character, but in the meantime Sigourney Weaver seems like a damn fine addition.

Plus Ridley is literally a homage to Ridley Scott, so baby teeth Sonic can fight a Xenomorph Queen.

  • Fighters: Samus (4), Dark Samus (4e), Zero Suit Samus (29), Ridley (65)

Fast and the Furious

As someone who has never played an F-Zero game, I can confidently say that the ridiculously over-the-top Fast and the Furious franchise would be a perfect analog.

But in this case I’m going to say Furious 6 (2013) in particular because that’s when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joined and he’s the perfect Captain Falcon.

Courtesy of wwe.com and SSB Wiki

Just saying.

  • Fighters: Captain Falcon (11)

Inception (2010)

Joker from Persona 5 just got added into Smash Ultimate. I know next to nothing about the game, but I do know it involves going into people’s memories to plant ideas or find secrets.

Sounds a lot like Inception to me. Add Leo DiCaprio into the SSBCU!

He can probably pull off that anime twink look in his Gangs of New York era.

  • Fighters: Joker (71)

King Kong (1933) or Rampage (2018)

King Kong is the obvious choice to get Donkey Kong into the SSBCU. A somewhat sentient ape who kidnaps ladies and climbs up buildings? That may as well be the original arcade game’s script. Even if there isn’t much in the way for Diddy or K. Rool.

Though for my money, I’d also recommend using Rampage. Not only is it based on a video game and has a crocodile, but the fact that The Rock stars means we can turn the film into a retroactive Thor: Ragnarok-esque team up staring Falcon and DK.

  • Fighters: Donkey Kong (2), King K. Rool (67)

Related Media

Castlevania (2017)

Every other object on this list is a movie.

But Marvel got away with putting more characters into the MCU by having The Defenders series on Netflix.

So Nintendo can get away with putting more characters into the SSBCU by making the Castlevania series on Netflix its own Defenders. Not sure if Simon or Richter are featured, but whatever.

  • Fighters: Simon (66), Richter (66e)

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)

This game is basically a movie, right?

  • Fighters: Snake (31)

Fighters Featured: 31

Total Fighters: 82


Ehhh?

This section is the lightning round for ideas my friends and I tossed around that are either jokes or so weird that I honestly couldn’t count them

  • Game of Thrones as Fire Emblem representation? Don’t know enough about GoT to accurately parse that out, but I’m willing to mention it for SEO purposes.
  • The Legend of Zelda T.V. series was floated around, but I’m not sure I take that as seriously as Castlevania to be extended material. Zelda deserves a flagship movie.
  • My friend Mitchell suggested playing 127 Hours on two separate televisions, with one version color corrected to give James Franco a blue shirt. It’s the only way I can conceivably include Ice Climbers, so I’ll mention it here.
Furries? In my Fire Emblem? It’s more likely than you’d think.

Furries? In my Fire Emblem? It’s more likely than you’d think.

After we got our first round of beast units in Fire Emblem Heroes, some Intelligent Systems employee decided to head off everyone’s cravings by adding all of the Fates beast units in one fell swoop.

To be fair, I’m absolutely one of those people who has been waiting for the Kitsune and Wolfskin to be added into Heroes.

So good on you, corporate office guy. Hope you got a raise.


KeatonLupine Collector

  • Wolfskin Fang (Might = 9, Range = 1)
    • Inflicts Speed -5. Unit attacks twice (even if foe initiates combat). Beast transformation effect applies. If unit transforms, grants Attack +2 and deals +10 damage when Special Attack triggers.
  • Draconic Aura (Cooldown = 3)
    • Boosts damage by 30 percent of unit’s Attack.
  • Special Spiral (B Skill)
    • If Special Attack triggers before or during combat, grants Special Attack cooldown -2 after combat.
  • Beast Valor (C Skill)
    • While unit lives, all beast allies on team get 2x Skill Points (only highest value applies, does not stack.

VelouriaWolf Cub

  • Wolfpup Fang (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • Grants Speed +3. At the start of turn one, grants Special Attack cooldown -2 to unit and unit’s support partner. Beast transformation effect applies. If unit transforms, grants Attack +2 and deals +10 damage when Special Attack triggers.
  • Luna (Cooldown = 3)
    • Treats foe’s Defense and Resistance as if reduced by 50 percent during combat.
  • Close Defense (A Skill)
    • If foe initiates combat and uses a physical weapon, dragonstone or beast damage, grants Defense and Resistance +6 during combat.
  • Ward Beasts (C Skill)
    • Grants Defense and Resistance +4 to beast allies within two spaces during combat.

KadenKitsune Braggart

  • Kitsune Fang (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • Grants Defense +3. Grants allies within two spaces bonus to Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance during combat = current bonus on each individual unit’s stats. Beast transformation effect applies. If unit transforms, grants Attack +2, and if unit initiates combat inflict Attack and Defense -4 on foe during combat, foe cannot make a follow-up attack.
  • Pivot (Range = 1)
    • Unit moves to opposite side of target ally.
  • Speed/Resistance Link (B Skill)
    • If a movement Assist skill is used by or targets unit, grants Speed and Resistance +6 to unit and target ally for one turn.
  • Goad Beasts (C Skill)
    • Grants Attack and Speed +4 to beast allies within two spaces during combat.

SelkieFree Spirit

  • Foxkit Fang (Might = 14, Range = 1)
    • Grants Resistance+3. If unit’s Resistance > foe’s Resistance, and if foe uses a physical weapon, dragonstone or beast damage, grants bonus to Attack, Speed, Defense and Resistance = 50 percent of the difference between stats (max bonus of 8 to each). Beast transformation effect applies. If unit transforms, grants Attack +2, and if unit initiates combat inflict Attack and Defense -4 on foe during combat, foe cannot make a follow-up attack.
  • Iceberg (Cooldown = 3)
    • Boosts damage by 50 percent of unit’s Resistance.
  • Attack/Speed Bond (A Skill)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack and Speed +5 during combat.
  • Sabotage Attack (B Skill)
    • At the start of the turn, if any foe’s Resistance ≤ unit’s Resistance -3 and that foe is adjacent to another, inflicts Attack -7 on that foe through its next action.
  • Even Resistance Wave (C Skill)
    • At the start of even-numbered turns, grants Resistance +6 to unit and adjacent allies for one turn (bonus applied even if no allies are adjacent).

Jesus Christ, all of these attack descriptions literally got longer the further I went.

When I cut out a sizable portion of the base text and still hit a six-line paragraph, we might be going overboard IS.

Though I suppose I can’t complain about lengthy text that make powerful units I want to use. Especially Keaton with his double strike and buffed Special Attacks, and Selkie with her mixed physical and magic defenses.

The Kitsune being ‘cavaliers’ so they are weak to beast slaying weapons is also a nice reference to Fates.

Plus, I’m just all about this banner aesthetically.

Kaden is one of my favorite Fates units if for no other reason than him making Azura a likable character in their support conversations.

Hot take I know, but I’m just not a fan of Azura’s character when she isn’t married to Kaden and snuggling with that fluffy tail. Even if she is a good unit in Heroes.

Selkie is my second favorite choice since she combines that fox spirit aesthetic with the cute anime girl look, followed by Velouria for her Red Riding Hood schtick.

But I still won’t forgive Intelligent Systems from making me write so god damn much.

… Well, maybe I’ll forgive them if I get lucky and snag some of these beasts easily. Due to self-control and abstinence after my luck on the Valentine’s Day banner, I have 230 orbs stored up.

Hopefully I can keep the stash above 200 with a little help from the Forging Bonds free summon tickets.

Even if I should have no orbs according to that storyline:

 

But don’t lose hope Summoners, IS did not take away our orbs. But if they did to remove ludonarrative dissonance, we would be in good hands.

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Plus we would find some replacement orbs from the new Book III story chapter!


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Speaking of ludonarrative dissonance, looking at this chapter next to the Forging Bonds story is a straight narrative dissonance.

While Alfonse is finding who stole the orb stash like some kind of medieval Donkey Kong, we cut into discussions of how the army could stop Alfonse from succumbing to Hel’s curse.

The sibling’s parents arrive upon hearing the news, and King Gustav chides his son for not staying away from Hel on the battlefield.

Alfonse accepts the blame, then Gustav straight up tells everyone to forget they have a son because death is inescapable.

 

Pretty tough.

At least Alfonse finds some determination in searching for Hel through battles across Askr during his last nine days of life.

 

Most of the battles just briefly introduce the Fates beasts, as well as Panne the Taguel from Fire Emblem Awakening.

Don’t really know why they didn’t save her to release alongside her son Yarne.

At one point Alfonse’s father tries to see if he remembers a tattered stick which I’m assuming was some kind of old play sword. When he doesn’t, Gustav shrugs it off.

However, Alfonse’s final day of life arrives and a bit more sympathy seems to shine through:

 

Just why he wants Alfonse to stay close will become clear after the final battle with Líf, Kaden, Keaton and Panne.

Hel arrives and the Order tries to fight her off desperately, but they find that she is literally like a Spectre who cannot be physically damaged.

For plot convenience’s sake.

 

She raises her scythe to take Alfonse, resigned to his fate, until…

Surprise surprise. Gustav arrive and jumps in front of the attack.

 

It’s a pretty convenient bait-and-switch for a character who was just introduced at the beginning of this Book’s story, but it’s set up enough to work decently well.

I wouldn’t say I was shocked by the twist, but I am looking forward to seeing the Order forced to fight against the former King zombie.

In his last few moments, Hel is astounded by Gustav’s determination to throw his life away for his much younger son and kingdom.

 

As he succumbs to repeated slashes, Gustav asks his son to become a strong king in his stead. The screen cuts to red and the chapter ends.

Here’s your orb reward for killing Alfonse’s dad.

Congratulations!


Out of sheer curiosity, I checked and found that 448 of the (current) 1248 words in this post are dedicated to copying the attack descriptions for each unit. Just had to know with how god damn big those weapon texts are.

The fact they took up a basic news article’s worth of space is kind of astounding, and it’s the reason I don’t pay as much attention to word count with these.

Basically this post is ~800 words with an add-on. That way I feel less guilty.

But hey, personal hang-ups aside, let me know what you think about our new beast units in the comments down below!

With a few more Fates units under our belt, I’m hoping we can get back to Sacred Stones soon… Especially considering I may or may not be writing about it for my Gaming in American Culture class.

My Thoughts on the 11/1/18 Smash Ultimate Direct

My Thoughts on the 11/1/18 Smash Ultimate Direct

Been a little while since I jumped into one of these ‘my thoughts’ posts, but I got pretty into the Twitter hype after the Smash Ultimate Direct this morning and it felt like a good topic to kill some time talking about!

Certainly a better topic than school stuff right now.

BUT that’s why we have distractions like video games to keep us sane as we stare into the void. Between this and that little Delta Rune thing Toby Fox put out yesterday I’ll likely have a couple video game-related posts this weekend just to keep my stress levels down.

So let’s jump into Smash Bros., shall we?

The Direct this morning (which you can watch here if you haven’t yet) was about 40 minutes long.

In the interest of time I don’t think I’m going to go into each and every detail of every minute part-by-part like I would if this was a general Nintendo Direct. I’m going to pick out the most interesting/relevant bits and have a basic discussion on each of them.

Let’s a go.


New Fighters

As our boy Masahiro Sakurai said, all 74 characters in the game have now been confirmed. Up until now we only had 72, with this Direct revealing the final few:

Ken (Street Fighter): I didn’t play a whole lot of Ryu in Smash 4. He was a DLC character and I never went through with buying any of that game’s DLC. So having an echo fighter of Ryu in his eternal rival Ken, while pretty sweet from a content/lore standpoint, doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot to me.

It’ll be cool to watch people have Street Fighter fights in the middle of a Smash Bros. game, though.

Incineroar: Now, personal bias coming into play, I would have preferred to see Decidueye get into Smash over Incineroar. Because Rowlet is mah BOI.

But I can’t deny that Incineroar looks pretty incredible and makes a lot of sense from a fighting-game perspective. He’s all about grapples and throws as a professional wrestler in Pokémon, so why wouldn’t he fit into a fighting game like this?

I also love how hard this guy goes. I tweeted this morning in the midst of my hype after seeing a picture on Serebii because, well…

Just. So hardcore.

Plus his signature Z-Move, Malicious Moonsault, is also his final smash. Such attention to detail brings a tear to my little nerdy eye.

While those two are the last fighters being implemented into the official game, there are also DLC characters coming some time in the near future. The first one announced as a bonus for pre-ordering the game is…

Piranha Plant.

It’s about as weird a choice as it sounds. Especially since it’s still planted in a pipe and just… Has feet underneath that pipe?

I might have preferred if they went down the Petey Piranha route, but Petey is his final smash so I guess I can’t complain.

I’ll probably be more willing to buy the DLC on this ultimate version for the Switch anyway.

Gotta love how Nintendo does season pass content, but unlike every other company on the planet does so in a way we know we can trust it because this is Sakurai’s baby.

Oh, also I would be remiss not to mention that there’s assist trophies coming in from Fire Emblem, Golden Sun, ARMS, Mega Man, Fatal Frame, the Art Academy series and more. A whole bunch of good additions in my opinion!


Spirits

Now here’s an interesting idea. Instead of having collectible trophies like in most other Smash games, this time around we have subsidiary characters available as Spirits.

The lore behind them seems like over-complicated junk — and part of the next thing I’ll discuss.

So the important thing is that in certain modes, you can choose Spirits to give your fighter power-ups. They’re like the collectible trophies from before, but actually provide a useful service in-game.

That’s super neat!

The Spirits come in four levels that offer differing levels of support:

  • Novice (lowest)
  • Advanced
  • Ace
  • Legend (highest)

And can only be assigned one at a time. There’s a weapon triangle system to the abilities of each Spirit, similar to Fire Emblem. However, much like gear in Monster Hunter, you can also attach other Spirits onto your primary one to provide additional skills.

To unlock the Spirits you have to go through challenge battles against a fighter themed after the character, which is another really cool way to incorporate things from earlier Smash games.

Also, there’s this individual training system and trade-in mechanic that’s similar to Fire Emblem Heroes where you can get Spirits, send them away to get cores that can be exchanged for new Spirits.

Plus there’s a casual time-based system where they can go out and find items like it’s a mobile game.

And Doc Louis from Punch-Out runs the training gym.

I swear, these guys put so much effort into optimizing, polishing and streamlining that we should give them all of the awards right now.

Long story short, I’m very ready to get lost in Spirits.


World of Light

After years of asking, it seems like Smash Ultimate is going to have a story mode! Though it’s a little different than Brawl’s Subspace Emissary.

Instead of going through character-driven missions across full-fledged platforming worlds, it seems like World of Light is more akin to a Kirby Star Allies-esque overworld that has challenge battles at each stop.

There is an overarching story of sorts where Kirby is the sole survivor of an apocalyptic flash of light and has to save each of the other fighters from having copies that are taken over by Spirits.

Which sounds way weirder than it is considering that was essentially the threat in Subspace Emissary as well — just with Spirits, clearly a tie-in to the new mechanic in Smash Ultimate.

Looks like it’s going to be fun, and I’m glad to get a story mode again. I just don’t have very much to say about it right now.

My only semi-serious complaint is that I prefer the orchestral version of the Smash Ultimate theme to the Square Enix style anime vocal version of it used in the trailer for the story mode.

But that’s probably just me.


Now I didn’t talk about everything here today. Plenty of the Direct was spent talking about things like online mode changes and optimization.

Or the 11 languages supported in-game.

Or the fact that you can make and post videos off of saved battle Replays.

But like I said, I just wanted to discuss the things that stood out to me right now.

So, that said, tell me what you thought about the Smash Direct! Are you even more excited about the game now? Because I know I am.

This truly is the ultimate version of Sakurai’s baby, and I’m more than willing to go on the journey that he and his team have created.

Luckily the holidays are coming up, so I have something to ask for this year!

The Mad Ramblings of a Man in the Heat

The Mad Ramblings of a Man in the Heat

If yesterday was a day of relative progress and hard work, through going to the gym, updating my social media accounts and turning in a Spotlight article for Gladeo, today is… Well, the opposite.

Because it is way too hot out for anyone to seriously be motivated about doing anything.

The reason my Featured Image for the day is just a picture of my fan going is because that’s what I’ve been staring at 90 percent of the time since coming home today. We don’t have any kind of air conditioning here by the beach because the heat is normally counterbalanced by a cool sea breeze, but this summer things have been especially insufferable. So downstairs, hidden in the alcove of my room with the fan going is probably the coolest area in this place.

Despite the heat I have been keeping myself busy and entertained with a few things where I can.

Probably the most notable thing involved obsessing over the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct that went on this morning.

It was 1000 percent insane and basically hyped everyone for the game even more than ever.

Castlevania characters.

King K. Rool.

Over 100 stages and 900 musical tracks.

Tons of new assist trophies and Pokémon summons.

Plus, let’s not forget Luigi dying in the Simon Belmont reveal trailer. Which the entire internet freaked the hell out about, leading to the green-capped plumber trending on Twitter. Yeah no joke.

There was so much more than that to suggest that Smash Ultimate really will be an insane, content-packed explosion of Nintendo pride from Sakurai and his team.

So much so that I considered doing a post solely on that… But I wasn’t exactly feeling the 30-minute video analysis. Today.

Just know it’s something I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come, and I’d say you should be too.

In other somewhat significant video game-related news, last night Intelligent Systems released the contents of our next special banner in Fire Emblem Heroes. So I spent some time pre-writing my post on that before starting to work on this post.

I know a lot of you probably don’t care, but I’m quite excited for these four dancers. So be ready for that on August 10th.

Those are really the two serious stand-out things that happened today between bouts of melting into a pile of goo on my bed.

I did also play some more Enter the Gungeon, which I’m having a great time slowly but surely getting better at. I’m not able to semi-reliably reach the final floor and have started the process of collecting the game’s scattered parts to unlock the true ending. But I haven’t seen even half the content available in the roguelike.

Which is, frankly, insane to me. I love how much these games are packing, since they give me plenty to distract myself with until games like Monster Hunter Generations and Smash Ultimate drop on Switch.

Plus The World Ends with You, which got an official release date of October 12th. And I’m. Just so excited to finally get to try it.

But hey all those video games aside, I also managed to do some regular work on my Senior Honors Project.

Because somewhere along the lines all of the time I had to work on having a basic product over the summer slipped away into the aether. Don’t know how that happened, but it did.

I’ll be honest, I’m not totally sure how to end this blog post. I feel like I could just endlessly ramble in a pre-heat stroke mess of keystrokes, but I’d much rather just sit around in the dark accepting my fate.

So I’m going to end unceremoniously here and say to stay tuned for other things coming soon. Things that I’m sure I have in the pipeline somewhere or another.

Entertainment Beat Report – April 12, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – April 12, 2018

As it turns out, I must be using the momentum from my Daily Titan post earlier this week to my advantage. Sometimes I astound myself with the way I can just go dark for days on end when I know I’ll enjoy myself after I manage to get out multiple posts in a row.

It’s just a satisfying feeling, man.

But that’s neither here nor there. This is a place to talk about video games. Not any of that real life garbage.

There’s probably some news going back a few weeks that I missed, but honestly I’m going to focus this entertainment beat report on a couple of really big things that have happened just recently in the video game realms that I follow.

So, without further adieu.


Overwatch League player terminated over sexual misconduct allegations

That’s right, we’re starting off with the heavy stuff today folks.

Jonathan Sanchez, a player known as “DreamKazper” from the Boston Uprising team taking part in Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League tournament, had his contract terminated on Sunday when allegations went around that the 21-year-old was sexually involved with a 14-year-old fan.

Both the League and his former team have released statements about the scandal that can be seen over in the Game Informer link I put above.

I’ll be honest, I don’t exactly have a lot to say about this subject specifically. I have been following the League a little bit for this class, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert. Certainly not enough to know whether or not losing this player will leave a huge dent in the team’s abilities for the rest of the tournament.

But the fact that this story came out and received the reaction it did is important. In an era where the “Me too” movement seems to be taking down celebrities and other popular figures left and right (with good cause), it’s nice to see that a niche industry like eSports is not immune.

Though the League as a whole does not seem to be having a fantastic first run in regards to its media pull, which overall is somewhat unfortunate. Game Informer also linked to coverage of another case where a player was suspended and fined for derogatory language, and I remember writing a beat report not too long ago about one female commentator receiving death threats.

As an obvious fan of all things video games, I’d like to see a mainstream popular League like this survive beyond these controversies.

I suppose only time will tell.


“Donkey Kong” high score disqualified

Everyone loves Donkey Kong, right?

Well yes, Rare’s Donkey Kong Country series is certainly what people know the hulking ape for nowadays, and those games are undoubtedly wonderful both as experiences in themselves and as developments in gaming history.

But I’m talking about old school arcade Donkey Kong. The game where proto-Mario jumped around on scaffolding to save future New Donk City mayor Pauline from the clutches of the red tie-wearing monkey’s grandfather.

Is Donkey Kong a money? I swear I took a primate class not too long ago but I’m still nowhere near enough of an expert…

Anyway, not the point.

The point is, OG Donkey Kong had a worldwide high score set by a player named Billy Mitchell. Mitchell’s scores was removed from rankings of the game following the discovery that many of them were achieved using an emulator, according to a report by Kotaku.

Heather Alexandra has a pretty in-depth story on the subject that’s fascinating in its level of detail, so I’m going to just recommend you read it off the link I posted above.

If you’re at all interested in the retro gaming scene, you’ll have a good time.


New “God of War” title received stellar reviews

There’s a little-known franchise making waves in the game review circuit right now.

Oh, who am I kidding, anyone who’s reading this likely knows what “God of War” is, as it’s far from ‘little-known.’ The highly acclaimed series will be breaking into the next generation of consoles soon with a new release on the PS4, and people have been hyped for the game since it was announced some time ago.

Like many other people, I will affectionately refer to the game as “Dad of War” because the main character, Kratos, is an older man with a son in this title.

The game’s reviews have begun to trickle out now that there’s about a week before its release, and at this point everything looks to be highly in favor of the new Dad of War. On Metacritic, a site that accumulates review scores from across the web, the game has positive acclaim across the board.

Hell, at least three sites have given everyone’s favorite god-slaying daddy a 100 percent. Even IGN, which is pretty famous for hilariously bad reviews (look at you, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire’s 7.8/10 score for ‘too much water’) gave the game a perfect 10 — literally describing the game as a masterpiece.

After initial reviews like that, the question remains: Will Dad of War truly be as impressive as everyone is letting on?

I won’t personally be able to say given the fact that I don’t own a PS4. But my friends might play it.

If they do, I suppose I’ll get my answer there.


There are also probably a few smaller things I could throw into this, but for the most part it would be items of personal interest like the release of Klei Entertainment’s “Don’t Starve” on the Nintendo Switch.

(Shout out to Klei for liking my tweet. I’ve been noticed by Senpai!)

I love the game to death and played hours on end over Steam, so I’m excited to get to dive into it on a more portable system.

That said, it really is more of a personal item, so I’m going to let you all off early on this post.

I hope you all learned something new here today, and if there’s any big news in the world of video games that I missed, feel free to let me know in the comments down below!

My thoughts on the January 2018 Nintendo Direct Mini

My thoughts on the January 2018 Nintendo Direct Mini

I’ve been busy the last couple of days between training for the Daily Titan, working on three stories for our first issue of the semester, writing some stuff for Gladeo and plenty of other little time consuming things, so I didn’t have time to really write something extended on the Nintendo Direct Mini that premiered earlier.

After watching through it again, however, I decided I didn’t exactly have a lot to say about the games they talked about in the first place. As a result I figured I could just run though a couple of quick fire thoughts here before working on writing my Fire Emblem Heroes post for tomorrow. It shouldn’t take all that long ideally, and I am interested in putting some of my mind on paper.

Metaphorically.

The 14 minute direct came completely unbeknownst to me, but I’m glad my friends let me know to stumble upon it because there are a few things on the list of announcements that I’m really glad I found out about now.

Of course there were a few throwaway things for me throughout. Namely the Pokkén Tournament expansion, the Dragon Quest Builders demo, Ys VIII, SNK Heroines, Art of Fighting 2, Fe and Celeste. For one reason or another none of those games really spoke to me, so if you’re hoping I talk about them then you’re probably going to be a bit disappointed.

Beyond those there were quite a few things mentioned that I’m quite excited about. For example, I’m really looking forward to jumping back into Kirby with Kirby Star Allies.

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Image courtesy of kirby.wikia.com

The game seems to be combining the art style of Triple Deluxe (one of my favorites in the series) and an extended version of the ability combination from Kirby 64 and Squeak Squad. The thing that got me more excited about this title is the fact that it’s coming out on March 16.

 

 

 

I had no idea it was going to be that early, but I’m very excited knowing there’s at least one game to look forward to early on this year.

Seriously Kirby is one of my favorite Nintendo properties. Even if the games tend to be on the easier side, they’re never not fun. They’re always a blast to play and this one promises to be a blast to play on a system that has already given us the amazing next steps of Mario and the Legend of Zelda.

So yeah can we just skip ahead to March? Maybe?

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Image courtesy of Nintendo.co.uk

Nintendo also promises a port of Hyrule Warriors definitive edition in the spring featuring a combined roster of all the main and DLC characters from both the Wii U and 3DS versions. It seems like this could be a good opportunity for me to go back and get that game since I missed out on it during its first run of popularity, which is an especially promising idea considering it’s going to be a more complete package.

Plus, I still haven’t gotten Fire Emblem Warriors either… So I really need to dip my toes in the Warriors series eventually.

Another Nintendo game making a return on the Switch is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

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Image courtesy of neogaf.com

I don’t know that I’m as excited for this title coming back as I am for Hyrule Warriors, but if nothing else both of these games returning sets a promising precedent for something like… Say… Super Smash Brothers 4 to get a definitive version on the Switch.

One can dream.

Also, playing Mario Odyssey and spending an obsessive amount of time in New Donk City has rekindled some of my love for the big ape. Add in Funky Kong as a new playable character and I’m probably a little more open-minded for Tropical Freeze as a result.

Speaking of Mario Odyssey, it’s one of three games getting an update soon. The others are Pokkén Tournament, which I already said I don’t feel too strongly about since I really have no intent to own that game, and Mario + Rabbids which is another game I don’t own despite being more interested in it.

But hey, Donkey Kong is being added to that game. So… Tropical Freeze callback? Or something…

Anyway, in the Odyssey update Nintendo will be adding a new mode called Luigi’s Balloon World.

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Image courtesy of Polygon.com

First of all, Luigi. Adding him into the game makes this already a win in my book.

Beyond Luigi just being amazing, the minigame the update adds does seem interesting in its own right. Essentially there are two aspects to it. The first had players able to choose to hide a balloon somewhere in the Kingdom they’re playing on. The second lets players choose to hunt down a balloon that has been hidden by another player.

The catch is that both modes must be completed in 30 seconds.

As the announcer talks about in the Direct, this encourages a speedrun-centric style of gameplay where the players who know the most about the map around them can create the best hiding places that might be hard for more casual players to reach. It’s a really interesting way to approach Odyssey that I never would have considered implementing, but one that also feels ingeniously perfect for an on-the-go console like the Switch thanks to the short time limits.

If I’m being completely honest, that little addition to an already great game frankly seems more interesting than the entirety of Mario Tennis Aces.

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Image courtesy of nintendosoup.com

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Mario Tennis games. Mario Power Tennis was one of my favorite GameCube games. From what I understand the most recent Wii U Mario Tennis game was somewhat disappointing, however. As a result of that and the strangely real-world tennis outfits characters are wearing (like Mario up above) I’m fairly skeptical.

Interested, but skeptical.

The last major theme of this Direct that caught my interest was the amount of games being ported to the Switch that seem like unusual candidates.

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Image courtesy of overkillsoftware.com

First is Payday 2, a game which feels like it has been around forever but has never necessarily caught my interest. Even so, it just seems strange to me that Nintendo would sanction a game about (somewhat) realistic gun play and bank heists being put on their system.

Though that brings me to the second game, Dark Souls.

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Image courtesy of polygon.com

Somehow the meme that was Dark Souls on the Nintendo Switch came true. From Software’s dark, demented and incredibly difficult action adventure is finally coming to a platform that I can play it on. To be honest, as much as I’m fairly intimidated by the game, I think it’s going to be worth trying it out if for no other reason than to appreciate the cult classic status.

If I actually get around to doing that, it should be quite the adventure.

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Image courtesy of nintendowire.com

Third on the list is The World Ends with You, arguably the game I’m the most interested in.

I have no prior experience with the Nintendo DS classic – unless you count the characters appearance in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance that is. Yet, basically every person I know or follow online seems eager to put TWEWY way high up on their ‘best DS games of all time’ lists.

Just from what I’ve seen, I can imagine why. The game has a really cool anime-pixel art style and an interesting gameplay mechanic in its original form involving two characters fighting at once with players using the touch screen to control one and buttons to control the other.

That will presumably shift to being one joy con controlling each character on the Switch version, but I could be wrong on that. I don’t know what the control scheme is going to look like.

That’s just another part of what makes it so exciting for me.

Not only will it be a game with an interesting story and control scheme, it’s also going to be an extended edition with more content similar to Hyrule Warriors.

Though TWEWY has no official release date beyond coming this year, it’s honestly going to be at the top of my ‘to get’ list whenever it arrives.

Those are about my off-the-cuff thoughts on the Nintendo Direct Mini. So, I leave things at this (as usual). What did you think of the Direct? Which games are you looking forward to?

Let me know in the comments!

Fire Emblem Heroes Version 1.8: Forging with Dragons

Fire Emblem Heroes Version 1.8: Forging with Dragons

Luckily for my sudden onset of insomnia tonight, it seems I have a new distraction to mull over beyond Superstar Saga. And writing overly long diatribes about Superstar Saga that I’m going to have to cut down to a more manageable form for a general newspaper audience.

Seriously, Sarah, if you wind up reading this… I’m sorry that I might wind up being more of a pain than I’m worth for the next couple of days with that review article.

But this isn’t the place for pre-emptive apologies. That can come at the end of this post. As the title suggests, we’ve got some Fire Emblem to discuss.

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This morning, Intelligent Systems has graced the world with an update to Fire Emblem Heroes, bringing us into the 1.8 version of the game. Thankfully, there isn’t a hell of a lot to this big update like there was with the last few, so I hopefully won’t be hating myself when I have to get up later.

The major addition with this update is a little feature we’ve been waiting on for quite some time: Seal Forging.

Now, for those of you who are uninitiated in the unending and relentless cult of Fire Emblem Heroes, Sacred Seals are items you can equip to your units that allow them to utilize a fourth passive skill on top of the “A,” “B” and “C” level skills they can be summoned with or inherit.

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These Sacred Seals can make a number of new possibilities open up for unit building and team composition overall. A few of my personal favorite examples include giving a unit like Reinhardt the “Quickened Pulse” seal that allows his special attack to pop off more often or giving a unit like Eirika a seal like “Fortify Resistance” so she can passively buff an additional stat for her allies at the start of a turn.

We’ve had a number of means of unlocking these Sacred Seals in the past, most notably through special Sacred Seal missions that cycle through on occasion, as rewards for completing Squad Assault challenges and as tier rewards during Tempest Trials:

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“Distant Defense” was a particularly good one out of the Tempest Trials category, as was “Quickened Pulse.”

The issue many players have had with these seals is that most have been stuck at a basic level 1 status, with no sign of additional level 2 or 3 variants being released anytime soon.

Enter: Seal Forging.

Though to allow Seal Forging to enter the conversation, we do have to take a step back. You don’t just get the ability to forge Sacred Seals right away, after all.

Thus, enter a new Intermission mission that players can unlock after they defeat Chapter 13 in the main story of the game.

 

Strangely enough this Intermission is the first of its kind and seems somewhat out of place as a result of being only one mission with no additional associated quests. The developers do make this strange addition make sense in the context of the story’s plot, however.

If you don’t remember what happened last time in the ongoing Fire Emblem Heroes saga, you can see me ramble about it in my post about the Crimean heroes some time back. If that’s a ‘too long, didn’t read’ kind of situation for you, then here’s the basics:

The Order of Heroes’ old ally Zacharias turns out to be their new enemy Prince Bruno, who fights against them because his bloodline makes him have an insatiable bloodlust because of something something evil dragon magic, so on and so forth in that classic Fire Emblem flavor. However, he revealed at that point that he still cares about his friends in the Order, and wants to help them help him so he can be friends with them again.

That’s the brief blurb about it, anyway.

This Intermission kicks off just about directly after that happened, when Anna leads the team to an ancient ruin called the Eternal Sanctum after Zacharias told her they could unlock more of their power there.

 

You go, you conquer, and at the end of the mission the team finds instructions for the Seal Forging ritual, which the team takes back home and unlocks for the player’s future use.

Really it’s as simple as that, even though I made it much more wordy than it had to be.

Once you unlock the option to forge Sacred Seals, you gain two abilities: Creation and Enhancement.

 

These options do exactly what you’d expect just off the names alone.

  • Creation mode: As the name suggests, allows a player to create a brand new Sacred seal that they do not already have. Currently there are only a few options with the “Spur” skills and brand new “Deflect” skills, with the latter being more expensive than the prior to create.
  • Enhancement mode: Again, as the name suggests, allows a player to boost the power of an enumerated Sacred Seal they already own. With this, “Breath of Life 1” can grow to eventually become “Breath of Life 3,” providing all the benefits of a third level skill as an add-on to a hero.

Both of these abilities take Sacred Coins, an item you receive as rewards for getting good rankings in the Arena Assault mode. Before now these items were completely useless and just taking up space, so I’m glad they can now be used for something.

Though, because I never took them seriously, I never actually spent a lot of effort earning them… So looks like I’ll have to take Arena Assault mode a bit more seriously from here on out. They are also adding them as rewards in other places like quests and through Tempest Trials from here on out, so that’s definitely a plus!

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Remember this image, it’s going to be relevant again later in this post.

That’s really about all there is to say about Sacred Seal forging at this point. All and all I’d say it’s a quite welcomed addition as a means of making units more powerful for both casual and Arena play. Plus, it fills in some knowledge gaps as far as letting us know what certain things do that previously had no purpose, so it’s satisfying in that regard.

Yet, I wouldn’t argue I’m personally blown away by this part of the update. It’s definitely nice, but I’m not enough of an Arena junkie to feel like I’ll get an exorbitant amount of use out of the system outside of an underlying drive to collect everything.

I can probably blame Pokémon for that one now that I’m thinking about it… But that’s another story.


Seal forging isn’t the only thing that was added in Version 1.8. It was certainly the biggest thing that was added, but there are a number of more minor aesthetic and mechanical adjustments that are actually wonderful additions in terms of making the entire user experience with Fire Emblem Heroes more smooth.

There are three other changes that the game felt were important enough to spell out in more detail as a part of this update, so I figure I’ll break them down the same way.

Changing Teams

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Now this is a change I can get behind. When playing Fire Emblem Heroes, I’m a huge culprit of the ‘look at a mission, then change teams up to fit said mission’ phenomenon. If that is, in fact, a phenomenon most players encounter.

Either way, the inconvenience of this issue is now a thing of the past. Instead of having to jump through seemingly 20 different pages to go from the entrance of a mission to the team editing screen, you can now go to team editing right away thanks to an extra button just at the bottom of the confirmation screen.

As you’ll see again with the other two things here, this change is all about convenience for the player, as just the fact that it was added at all leads me to believe other players had just as much to groan about as I did in regards to how long it took to get to the editing teams menu.

So good on you for listening to that bellyaching and turning it into constructive criticism, Intelligent Systems. I certainly know I appreciate the change.

Quick Questing

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See, I told you this particular image would be relevant again.

Much like going to the team editing screen from a battle confirmation screen was a pain, so was going from a battle confirmation screen to the menu showing off whatever quests and missions you had available. If you were trying to accomplish a mission with a certain goal on a certain level, flipping through those screens was almost a necessity.

Luckily, thanks to Version 1.8’s push for convenience, that problem is also a thing of the past.

Now when you’re looking at missions you can go directly to wherever that mission is relevant for. Need to beat the Training Tower’s Tenth Stratum another six times? Well, here’s a button to go straight there. Plus, it works in reverse, which means you can go from the battle confirmation screen to the quests and missions tab and vice versa. Way cool.

However, I think my favorite part of this change is that it also added these:

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Markers showing off which options include mission-specific things you can complete is honestly incredible. It again removes the need to flip between two pages to pick up on the information you need, but in a much more streamlined way.

I would probably argue this addition is my favorite part of this entire update, just because it’s exactly the sort of thing I’ve been internally asking for since the day the game came out.

Easy Auto-Battle

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The option is actually here in the bottom right-hand corner (^^^), in case you missed it.

With this one, what you see is what you get. Now there’s a more convenient button available (if you turn it on in your settings menu) to turn auto-battling on and off. During a game mode where you have to fight multiple teams in succession, this also keeps it on across multiple battles.

Simple convenience is the name of the game here, folks. Not too much to say, but the effort to improve the user experience is cool to see seeping through every inch of this game as time goes on.

Beyond those three, a number of other things were done that I figure are best left up to the concise words bestowed by in-game text:

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  • I haven’t played a lot with character supports beyond doing it for some stat buffs between my calvary units as a test run, but I guess it’s nice to see a more concise list of the benefits it provides right from the Support Rank icon. Don’t have much to say beyond that, however.
  • Voting Gauntlets don’t happen that often, and an aesthetic change as small as darkening out the members of a team you have selected other than the one that will appear in the Gauntlet is definitely more of an unnoticeable change unless you’ve been playing this game as long as I have. While I did notice this before even reading it in the change log, I’ll say pretty bluntly that it doesn’t change my life much at all.
  • Seeing every item you collect when using the “Accept All” option is a change that is arguably negligible enough to not have to be there at all, but I will admit there is something nice about getting a complete breakdown of what you’ll be earning should you be accepting items strewn across multiple mission and quest lines.
  • Gotta love bug fixes.

While that’s everything new with Version 1.8, I also figured it would be worth bringing up the new Voting Gauntlet that started today, if for no other reason than to look back at this when it’s over and lament whatever choices I’ve made in the here and now.

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The theme for this gauntlet is “The Blood of Dragons,” which pits Manakete against Manakete in a battle of the ancient bloodlines.

Not much has changed with this version in regards to the Voting Gauntlet system, other than the fact that supposedly adjustments were made in determining which army is stronger or weaker (which I really hope isn’t an actual fix considering what a meme it has become amongst my friends to send pictures of billion or trillion point differences in scores that read in-game as being the “same” as one another).

Though mechanically things are the same, there are some different rewards this time around for putting in the time to play:

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Take three – Possibly my most prominently used photo in any post ever just from this one alone.

Like I mentioned before in the Sacred Seals forging portion, now Sacred Coins have been added as rewards for completing Gauntlet-related quests. Between those and orbs, there are a growing number of incentives to participate as time goes on.

Personally, I’ll be participating on the side of young Tiki. She was one of my first five star units ever summoned, so there’s sentimental value there, and I also happen to adore her unrequited love for Marth in the canon of the games in which she appears.

I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, okay? Sue me.

If Tiki fails I’ll probably jump on the Nowi train since I get the feeling she has a strong chance of winning… But that’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when we get there. For now, I’ll just keep focused on supporting my girl as far as she’ll go.


Well, that about does it for another unnecessarily huge Fire Emblem Heroes post.

Seriously this was another relatively small update that I managed to turn into a 2,200 word post. How I do that is beyond me, but I sure hope that it clears out whatever issues I have backed up in my psyche in one way or another.

If you stuck with me so far, then thank you. As a reward, I’ll treat you with this: My favorite picture out of Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga so far.

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Nothing like a good old game of Donkey Kong to really bring the world together.

It’s either this one or blowing up the fat skeleton in the shipwrecked S.S. Chuckola, but that also requires some extra explanation to truly appreciate the fatso jokes, so… Yeah. For another time.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m actually working on an article for the Daily Titan reviewing the Superstar Saga remake, so expect to see that by the end of the week. In fact, I have far more to say about the game than I’ll ever be allowed to publish, even if it’s probably going online-only, so expect to see an unabridged version of that review here on the blog not too long after.

Until then, let me know what you think of Sacred Seal forging and the other small changes from this update in the comments below!

If nothing else, I know messing with some of this stuff is going to be a wonderful distraction from having to study for my statistics exam this week. Seriously not looking forward to that.