Guess the best way to start this overdue update is by wishing all of you a happy new year and a happy new decade! There’s something overwhelming about the idea that we have a new blank slate to work off in 2020, especially now that I’m at an age where I can appreciate relativity and the passage of time.
But I’ll have to table that existential stressor for another day.
While I have you here and now I’m sure there are other matters you’d rather I discuss. Most notably, I assume, where that classic “Top 10 games of the year” list is. It’s been at least a year and 24 hours since the last one came out.
Probably too many opportunities, according to this wrap-up email from Nintendo:
Yet things have circled around to kill my my motivation to write about all those video games by the end of 2019.
I put this blog on hiatus for the second half of the year to focus on my novel — with a brief resurgence talking about my vacation in Florida. Yet even after I finished the book’s first draft, I couldn’t bring myself to start writing things here again.
Getting the opportunity to professionally write about video games has honestly been very exciting. What a way to start 2020, right?
So if you want to see what I’m up to regularly right now using all the experience I garnered writing on this here blog, go follow my burgeoning career on GameRant.
I likely won’t return to the ‘daily posts’ schtick anytime soon. That whole Avengers Summer Initiative thing was mostly about giving myself a regular writing project when I had none — but real world career stuff is going to take precedence now.
That said, I really appreciate how people have been keeping up this web traffic during my absence.
Don’t know how often I’ll throw full posts up on the blog from here on, but I wanted to put this update together so all you loyal viewers would know I haven’t abandoned you. At the very least I’ll try to regularly update my GameRant stories.
Part of my plans for 2020 are to finally spruce this joint up so it’ll stand up as a better professional resume. Stay tuned to see if I hold myself to it.
I hope you all have an amazing 2020 and plenty of great opportunities in the upcoming decade!
I swear it was raining much harder than that gif makes it look. So much so that it didn’t seem worth trying to go through a multiple-mile long outdoor experience.
So instead we got frozen yogurt at Menchies.
Even though that too wound up being an adventure because it was raining so god damn hard.
As the afternoon wound down, so did the rain. Our respite from the inclement weather gave me the chance to pack my bags, straighten up the space I was leaving behind and (sort of) help Grandma make burgers for early dinner.
After that, it was time to say goodbye.
It’s crazy to me that I’ve been here for a whole week already. It seems like just yesterday I was landing and lamenting the impending heat wave.
Now that I’m leaving, I feel like I’ve grown. No longer am I the immature kid who believed I would melt in Floridian heat.
I’m an absolutely mature, well-grounded adult who doesn’t hate the heat. Instead I hate the fact that it managed to somehow be hot enough to leave me sweating and uncomfortable while ALSO raining hard enough to make umbrellas near-useless at keeping the horizontal water at bay.
Good riddance, Florida.
I may have loved spending some personal time with my grandparents, but the idiom that there’s nothing like coming home will undoubtedly hold true.
I’m going to try keeping this brief because I have a new game to return to.
Today was racetrack day in Florida.
The idea that we would be watching horse races was interesting for me to prepare for. It’s been a long time since I’ve personally gone to any kind of races, and in the time since there have been controversies at the track I’m most familiar with in Del Mar due to a series of horse deaths.
Obviously Florida is a whole world away, but I was curious to see whether any hint of animal rights backlash would reach across the country.
I didn’t see anything of the like.
What I did see is one of the coolest god damn landmarks ever built:
Look at this. A Pegasus stomping on a dragon? How could you not be excited to go to Gulfstream Park?
I wanted to get a photo of the statue myself… But naturally heavy weather picked up the moment I separated from my grandparents to get a nice angle on foot.
Here’s the best I got:
That said, I did get some nice photos of the area in-and-around the track. The whole place is like a Las Vegas gambler’s dream.
Last night I mentioned going to swim in the pool today.
I made good on that promise, because how could I not?
It’s a beaut.
The water was also perfect today. Just cool enough to counteract the heat without freezing my toes off.
Fun fact, while I was getting that picture of the pool I noticed all of these cute old pictures of my grandparents that made me smile:
Also there’s a terrifying cat statue.
It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.
A return to the pool also meant a return to one of my favorite pastimes: Watching geckos climb all over the mesh fencing.
Look at this little guy, he’s so sweet.
Yet in a jarring turn of events, I found it was easier to watch the geckos than ever because I’m officially too damn big for the pool.
The deep end is 6 feet. I’m 6’2 or so.
Last time I came to Florida I was definitely not tall enough to stand in the deep end with my head above the water, which means it has been longer since I’ve been here than I thought. That blew my mind.
But before going for a swim, wading in the existential dread of time and noticing my growing collection of bug bites, I helped Grandma throw together french toast.
A nice, hearty breakfast. The kind of breakfast that I needed because part of my day was spent working out computer issues for both grandparents.
For Grandpa I simply helped update their computer software and readjust his settings back to normal.
But for Grandma… Poor girl… I had to show her that she could scroll further down the website she was on to get to a link.
I finally understand what it’s like for my Dad to be technical support.
I’ve been enjoying my “book writing sabbatical” perhaps a little too much. A lot of my novel has gotten done, but there have been plenty of things over the last month I easily could have blogged about.
I was almost completely by myself for three weeks as Mom and Aly went to New York for a summer music program.
I'm putting down Mario Maker 2 so I can focus on writing today, but I've been having such a great time building levels again that I thought it would be fun to share what I've made so far. If you have the game, feel free to check some of them out!
I completely skipped the Three Houses banner in Fire Emblem Heroes.
Normally I’d be writing something for the new Fire Emblem Heroes banner today, but I decided not to for a couple reasons. So here’s the Featured Image you’d see in case you’re feeling blue about my recent lack of blog writing. pic.twitter.com/v1dCw3q05M
I’ve never played a DQ game or Banjo-Kazooie, but I know plenty of people who love those series and I’m happy to see them so happy.
Especially given the love and attention both fighters are getting. The Hero has multiple alternate costumes and a final smash featuring different protagonists from that series, Grant Kirkhope was involved in doing the music for Banjo…
Masahiro Sakurai truly is the king of reviving Nintendo history, and looping in Rare was a great way to include a fighter with die-hard fans who fits in the roster far better than Minecraft Steve or Master Chief.
Look at how hype the Donkey Kong characters are for Banjo and Kazooie
Look I played the first couple Olympic crossover games with my sister and they were decent minigame collections.
But the fact that this series is still going astounds me.
Some of you would probably prefer I put Cadence of Hyrule in this major slot since it looks cool and is only $25 bucks, which definitely entices me to buy the game when it drops this Thursday in spite of never playing Crypt of the Necrodancer.
Breath of the Wild is getting a direct sequel, bringing it in-line with Majora’s Mask and the Wind Waker series. A sequel where Link and Zelda are going to be traveling the ravaged Hyrule together and discover some demented shit.
The trailer was just an “in development” teaser, but they sure did succeed in making it emotionally provocative. I’m curious to find out more… Though a lot of that is based on hype from my friends’ speculations.
Which means I guess I have to go finish Breath of the Wild.
Damn you, Nintendo. Quit monopolizing my time when you’re about to monopolize my time with all these new games!
Those were the big ticket items out of this E3 Direct for me, but there were a lot of smaller things that piqued my interest too.
Nah is the headliner for this banner, and a fairly worthwhile one. Oracle’s Breath is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with.
She and Yarne are also some of my favorite child units. Yarne and Morgan are top five Awakening ships for me, so I’m more than willing to pull for him — which is good considering he’s a speedy boi between the Solo, Wave and Galeforce skills.
Kjelle and Brady are less significant characters to me personally and they have weaker skill sets.
But I am a fan of Kjelle and Owain… Despite Owain going to Nohr and becoming Odin, who I ship with Camilla.
I like her with Severa too, yet Severa also goes to Nohr so it’s the same problem.
That returning trio in Fates really screwed up my shipping charts. Hopefully that doesn’t happen in Three Houses.
Also Cynthia is coming soon. I didn’t connect with her in Awakening, but I’ve warmed to her confident demeanor over time.
Her descriptive text in Heroes is a perfect example why:
Isn’t that amazing?
Luckily there’s a Forging Bonds event to give us some free summon tickets, because that should supplement the orbs out of this story chapter so I can save up for Lute… Or Genny… Or the summer units.
Book III, Chapter 8 — Truth of a Name
At the start of this chapter, the Order of Heroes continue exploring the destroyed Ask from Chapter 7. They want to find out what happened to it, as that may provide clues on how to stop Hel.
Along the way they encounter Líf twice. The first time he almost kills Alfonse, but is stopped by Sharena.
Don’t worry about that. Foreshadowing.
As is the second encounter where Eir tries to find out what memories were wiped away by her mother.
There are a few bland encounters with Awakening kids that conclude in a library.
The Order discovers that this Askr was destroyed in a future timeline when they teamed up with Embla to enact yet another deus ex machina Rite that makes Hel vulnerable…
At the cost of all the lives in both kingdoms.
Bodes well for whenever Princess Veronica and Loki show up.
After that exposition dump, the final battle features Líf as its boss. Once he is defeated Alfonse goes Sherlock Holmes on our asses and deduces:
Líf has actually been doomed future Alfonse all along! Which means that Thrasir is probably Veronica, both of whom became Hel’s generals after they died trying to stop her.
So I guess now we get a ‘change the doomed future’ arc.
Fitting set-up for a Chapter that features the Awakening children.
Intelligent Systems just had to schedule this update for the same day as Nintendo’s E3 presentation.
It’s clever. Pick up that search activity.
Unfortunately, staying up late to write this will make me less likely to catch the 9:00 a.m. presentation live. Not that I really mind as the video will be online, so I’m still planning on writing a post about my thoughts on that.
At least Fire Emblem finally pulled my head out of Stardew Valley.
I’ll be talking about the larger, more exciting subjects (to me) in detail before lumping the rest together for a quick mop-up at the end. So if you want to follow along, feel free! I’ll try to include individual trailer links where possible.
That said, let’s a go!
Super Mario Maker 2
Oh man, if there was any reason to own a Wii U, it was Super Mario Maker.
When I got mine, it was in a Mario Maker bundle that included this neat Mario Amiibo:
I spent hours making levels on the game pad, and the sheer amount of creativity oozing out of all corners of the Nintendo universe during its time in the spotlight was something to behold!
Given the first game’s pedigree and the sheer amount of improvements for an already creative powerhouse, I’ll be more than happy to drop some money on this come June.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
There was a decent amount of RPG news for fans to soak up in this Direct.
Dragon Quest had Builders 2 — even though I forgot the first game was a thing — and 11S Definitive Edition. I haven’t personally played a DQ game, but 11 looks like a fun, polished game with a cute 16-bit mode.
If nothing else, I’ll be expecting the protagonist as a Smash Bros. DLC.
The original Final Fantasy 7 and 9 Switch ports got some recognition, as did Chocobo Mystery Dungeon. Plus Square Enix has Oninaki coming, which looks pretty.
The segment kicked off with a lore-filled cinematic about the titular three houses in this new continent, the customizable player protagonist’s place in the story and more.
The leaders of the three houses — Edelgard of the Adrestian Empire, Dimitri of the Kingdom of Faerghus and Claude of the Leicester Alliance — all got some attention too. You only get to choose one, which will presumably branch into three campaigns.
Only this time we just have to buy one game!
The most interesting thing about Three Houses is that it looks like a high school anime, filled with vaguely Harry Potter-esque sensibilities and Fire Emblem mechanics.
Rather than a tactician, you are a teacher with students making up your ‘army.’
All of the battles (presumably before a real war breaks out) are considered training assignments, despite featuring such tasks as “quashing rebellions.”
In general the premise and scope of the game seems very interesting compared to most Fire Emblem titles. I’m excited to see where they go with it!
… I’m also excited to see Intelligent Systems announce a Heroes banner with the three leader characters sometime before the July 26 release date.
I know the original 1993 GameBoy version has been available on multiple platforms for years, but I’ve never gotten around to it.
Now I can justify putting it off by saying I waited for this brand new experience in an absolutely adorable Pikmin-esque art style!
The ‘2019’ release date is vague, but Marin humming the game’s theme over the end card sent a shiver down my spine. So I’m ready to wait for you, Wind Fish.
Those were my high points in today’s Direct, but there were plenty of other games spotlighted!
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate got a lame teaser for it’s upcoming 3.0.0 update where we found out nothing, other than Amiibo coming for the Belmonts and Pokémon Trainer.
Updates were announced for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Starlink, the latter featuring more Star Fox characters. I don’t own either, but still neat.
Demos were announced for Yoshi’s Crafted World, Daemon X Machina and Tetris 99.
… The last of which being a battle royale-styled Tetris game? I’m definitely going to have to try that and see if it’s as weird as it sounds.
Hellblade, Dead by Daylight and Rune Factory 4 are all getting ports for the Switch (plus Rune Factory 5 was announced). I’m not sure I’ll have the time to get to those over everything else, but I’ve heard great things about them all.
Mortal Kombat 11 and a remasted Assassin’s Creed 3 (from what I understand the best of the series) are coming to Switch.
Yet there were games I didn’t particularly care for, like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, Box Box + Box Girl (basically my TI-83 calculator game), Disney Tsum Tsum Festival and GRID Autosport car racing among them.
But that said, it’s hard to say there’s not something here for everyone, even if they aren’t for me!
… Unless you’re a fan of Bayonetta. Because Bayonetta 3 only got a brief ‘in progress’ mention after PlatinumGames‘ Astral Chains was announced.
Still, the future of the Nintendo Switch continues to be promising!
Which games stood out most to you in today’s Direct? Let me know, I’d love to start up some conversations!
E3 was a tricky thing for me this year. See… A lot of it just isn’t for me.
That’s not me saying I’m not interested in a lot of the developers and what they’re working on, I mean literally there are barriers to me playing most games.
Like yeah I would love to play Kingdom Hearts 3, and I thought having three trailers across three different conferences that all featured different content was dope. But it’s on Xbox One and Playstation 4. Not the Switch.
Unfortunately I’m just limited in what I can access, and money is a severely limiting factor when it comes to getting consoles.
So to sum up 90 percent of E3 this year I’ll say this: It was better than a lot of other years prior, and I had a great time watching my friends freak out about what’s coming out soonish. And it has been cool seeing YouTube ads get replaced by E3 trailers
But frankly the only thing I can really have any authority or hype to discuss is the big N. So today, I’m dedicating my blog post to the Nintendo E3 2018 Direct conference.
If you want something more in-depth about the other conferences, there’s plenty of opinions out there. Might I recommend ProJared? He didn’t go to the conference in person this year it looks like, but I still respect his opinion quite a bit.
That said, let’s jump right in with what we got out of Nintendo this year.
So the Direct starts with this hype game about mechs battling called DAEMON X MACHINA. Super action-y music, real Justice League-esque color scheme.
It looks cool, and I get why they would start with something that has such a high-octane feel… But it’s not a very ‘Nintendo’-looking game. I just kind of spent half of it staring at the screen wondering why we started with this and not one of the classic IPs.
But then it very jarringly cuts to silence and awkwardly moves into the next thing.
That next thing happens to be Xenoblade Chronicles 2 DLC. Which is something I would probably care about more if I’d played either of the Xenoblade Chronicles games.
Okay that’s not fair, it’s nice to see the game getting more love since I know it’s a series plenty of people love. I just literally don’t know enough about it to offer an opinion.
But hey, then our boy Reggie Fils-Aimé comes in to kick things up to 100 for me by showing off that Pokémon goodness.
Except he doesn’t really, since it’s mostly just a recap of the trailer we saw the other day. No new footage or anything. So I guess if you want my over-extensive rumination on that, check it out through this link.
One thing he does let us know that’s new is the fact that the Pokeball Plus accessory allows you to get Mew in Let’s Go. That… Actually does make them feel much more worthwhile than I had originally thought.
Damn you clever marketing tactics. Damn you…
After that brief aside comes a return to form that feels much-needed on the Switch:
Super Mario Party.
That’s right, everyone’s favorite friendship killer is back. But this time it looks like Nintendo made a lot of good choices just based on the footage we can see.
For one, no more cars. Everyone wanders around on the game board on their own again. God bless.
They also show off the fact that the Switch consoles themselves will be well-integrated into the mini games, allowing players to do things like rearrange battlefields for tank fights.
Everything looks colorful and has branching pathways again, and there seems to be a wide variety of mini games to play. On top of that, they clearly pushed the fact that this is a Mario Party you can take literally anywhere thanks to it being on the Switch, which is a good selling point.
Plus Rosalina is there as a playable character. So honestly I can find no reason to complain. Come October, my friends and I are going to be all over it I’m sure.
Once Mario is finished, we move into the next thing. Yet another highly anticipated interest of mine:
Fire Emblem Switch finally has a name. Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
It seems the one thing Intelligent Systems learned from Fates is the fact that they can sell more games if they split them up, so instead of two main versions now there are three!
Alright no that’s a joke, don’t believe that fake news. I think it’s just three Lord characters from feuding lands or something along those lines.
The game honestly looks gorgeous from what we can see in the trailer. The environments look realistic more in-line with Fire Emblem Warriors than the somewhat cartoonish fantasy worlds of Awakening and Fates. Which is a plus or a minus depending on who you are, but I dig the art style personally.
It also seems to retain the same stylized cutscene art as Echoes, and the in-game character models are full body, more in-line with those cutscenes.
There are a number of new mechanics showcased in the trailer as well. For one, all individual units appear to have their own troop of units surrounding them when you zoom in close enough. Honestly, this makes a lot of sense to embody the feeling of controlling an army, something older titles had to kind of awkwardly skirt around due to the conflicts with its core gameplay mechanics.
The extra troops don’t appear to be able to take hits for each individual main unit, but they can be put into formations to direct attacks whichever way the player wants.
Also introduced as a step-up from previous titles is what looks like semi-open world portions where the game’s lords can explore expansive towns and castles. It’s as if the free-roaming home base feature from Fates used the third person camera style from dungeon exploring that came in Echoes, but it has a massive graphical overhaul.
Beyond that there are a few extra vague things shown that won’t necessarily make sense until we learn more/see the game. There are character choices that may affect what weapons the Lord units specialize in, the evil king uses an electrical whip like that villain from Iron Man 2 (so whips confirmed as weapons?), there are big mechanical people who seem to be units or at least bosses…
And then lore stuff that isn’t exactly clear.
They give a Spring 2019 release date, but that’s about all we can gleam before the next few trailers hit rapid-fire. For anyone who watched the presentation, there’s a pretty big light at the end of the tunnel so I’ll move through them quick.
Fortnite on Switch: I couldn’t really care less. But it’s free I suppose?
Reggie comes back to introduce Indie games. Starting with the sequel to Overcooked — a game that I’ve been forced to play with my friends and regret every minute of. Why Reggie. Why.
Killer Queen Black looks like a strange 16-bit inspired clone of Joust, just updated for 2018 mayhem. Apparently it’s a port of a game Reggie says was really popular… But I’ve never heard of it. So we’ll see.
Hollow Knight, meanwhile, is a game I’ve heard plenty about. I’ve heard it’s gorgeous and fun, one of my friend Kyle’s favorites from 2017. I’ll actually consider downloading it given the fact it’s out today.
The super stylized Square Enix RPG Octopath Traveler received an official June 14th release date. I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the game but it looks cool and my friends are hyped for it, so I’m sure I’ll play it eventually.
After those announcements, there’s a montage of games that are either coming out or have come out. The one that stood out most, frankly, is Dragonball FighterZ. Something I’ve been looking for on Switch for forever.
Plus Dark Souls and Monster Hunter Gen Ultimate. And The World Ends with You, coming this Fall apparently.
Just… Give it to me already Nintendo, I need all of your games.
But wait, that montage must be the end of the Direct, right? How can there still be a half hour left?
We begin this long examination of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with the biggest announcement it has to offer. Every single fighter from every previous Smash game is back.
Ice Climbers? In the game.
Solid Snake? In the game.
Pichu? Young Link? Wolf? Pokemon Trainer? In the game.
But more than that, a few characters have received overhauls. Most notably Link, who now sports his Breath of the Wild look, as well as Zelda, from Link Between Worlds, and Ganon, from Ocarina of Time. The clashing art styles there are a bit jarring for me personally, but it’s cool to get a wider breadth of representation for the series!
Oh and let’s not forget the new characters: the Inklings from Splatoon, Princess Daisy and… Oh.
Ridley is actually in the game.
Our memes have become our reality, folks. End of the line.
Many of the characters also appear to have adjusted move sets. Notably final smash attacks. For example, Pac-Man now seems to rain down like meteors in his, rather than just moving semi-quick across the screen. King Dedede’s smash is based on the Masked Dedede cage fight now. Bowser’s is based on the Yoshi’s Island boss fight.
There’s a whole long section in the video going over the different ways characters have changed, and I’d recommend going to watch that. It does a way better job summing things up than I could.
I’ll just say… RIP Landmaster. Your legacy will always be remembered.
Sakurai himself says they made the impossible possible because it’s what players want, and by god is he right. What a beautiful, amazing man.
Eight-player Smash matches are also returning, as are a billion fan-favorite maps. On top of that, there are little quality of life changes like seeing gauges for Cloud and Robin’s abilities, which makes it easier to track everything on one screen.
Oh and let’s not forget. Assist trophies have been added, like the Squid Sisters. Many can be knocked out too New Pokémon assists have been added, like Solgaleo from Sun and Moon.
… Also Bomberman is there. Because why not?
Everything emphasized by Sakurai seems to suggest the game’s development was focused on making everything more beautiful, more intimately connected to the individual fighters showcased and more quick and fun as a brawler for players.
It’s honestly a greatest hits album for Smash Bros., and I really can’t argue with how amazing it looks.
I just hope we get a lot more new characters in the lead-up to the game. I want the roster for Smash Ultimate to look like one of those silly rom hack Smash games. After all, the Inkling fighters and Ridley both look like really fun additions.
But mostly I want more characters because then we get more amazing reveal trailers.
In Ridley’s trailer, he straight up murders Mario and Mega Man.
Like holy shit it’s so intense and real like for no reason. And I love it.
Plus they say he finally ‘hits the big time.’ I see what you did there Sakurai.
With Smash coming out in December, it’s heard up to be a perfect holiday present for all the kiddos. I’m certainly looking forward to it!
I can understand why people might have been disappointed by Nintendo’s E3 Direct this year.
As a fan of Fire Emblem, Pokémon and Smash Bros., I had a great time watching the Direct. It does help that the Switch is the only console I own, so it was kind of a look at the only games I can get in the near future… But still.
I felt much more hype walking out of the Direct than I did walking in.
Despite that, the lack of discussion regarding things like Metroid Prime 4, which was teased last year, and other such misses are easy jabs to make at the conference. Everything was very focused on a select number of games, with not too much else branching out.
Of course there was (and I believe still is as I write this) the Treehouse Live going on that talked about more Pokémon details and stuff like that… But I didn’t have the patience or time to sit through it, so I’m going to leave those topics for another day.
Probably not, I don’t know. We’ll see.
In the meantime, let me know what you thought of Nintendo’s E3 conference this year!
Or, further than that, let me know what you thought of E3 in general this year. I may only have a Nintendo console, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t games in the other spheres that I didn’t find interesting. I’d love to hear what you’re looking forward to coming soon to consoles everywhere!