Tag: Mario

An impossible choice

An impossible choice

I want to put more effort into the post with my thoughts on classes this semester, so I’ll be saving that for tomorrow.

However, today I’m going to sort of ruin that by spoiling my thoughts on the class I’m looking forward to most.

All in service of discussing an existential crisis it has delivered unto me.

While most of my classes are wrapping up my Comm major, Psych minor and Honors distinction, one in particular stands out as being taken purely for myself.

An American Studies class: Gaming in American Society.

I’m no stranger to the American Studies department, as I did take an AMST course on  American Character during sophomore year. Yet that was mainly to fill a general education requirement.

I took Gaming in American Society simply because I adore gaming. Plus I have 21 years of experience in American society, I suppose.

After one class I’m already convinced taking it (as per the recommendation of my friend Mimi) was one of the better decisions I’ve made in my college career. Especially as a final semester swan song.

It’s a 400-level course with a good amount of “dumb fun” elements to the curriculum given its subject matter.

Our novel selection includes Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. We’re also watching a whole host of movies including 1983’s WarGames and 2012’s Indie Game the Movie, all about the development of titles like Super Meat Boy and Fez.

In other words I’ve already consumed a large chunk of the required materials.

The stuff I haven’t yet consumed seems plenty interesting in its own right, even outside of the bias that comes from knowing they stand in a pantheon of enjoyable media.

Hell there’s even a day where we’re just going to spend our three-hour class just playing Dungeons and Dragons. How sweet is that?

Another objectively cool element of the class is that essays are replaced by a long-form research project where we get to choose a game to analyze. Then the three papers we write will be pulled into one mega-paper as our final.

As someone who writes pseudo-game reviews on this blog and actual reviews for papers like the Daily Titan (big Nintendo hitters like Mario and Kirby at that), I should arguably be the most excited for this portion.

Yet I’ve hit a conundrum.

How the hell do I pick just ONE video game to analyze when I could arguably do it for any of my favorites?

Should I analyze one of my favorite nostalgic games of all time, like Pokémon Crystal?

Or for that matter one of the objectively better Pokémon games, given it is my favorite video game series. Perhaps Heartgold and Soulsilver or Black and White 2?

Maybe I should pick a game with more of a cultural impact considering I’ll need to write about its wider historical context. I could potentially use Ocarina of Time (or its 3DS remake), as much as games of that caliber have been analyzed to death in the past.

The Nintendo fanboy in me could downplay itself as well, leading me to analyze a game I enjoy but haven’t spent quite as much time with. Kingdom Hearts 2 or Simpson’s Hit and Run on the Playstation or even something like Don’t Starve or FTL as indie representation out of Steam.

That said, I could pick a game I straight up haven’t played before just to get a fresh take. Final Fantasy 7 has been gathering dust in my Steam library for a long time, and I do want an excuse to finally play it.

Even with all those options in the abstract, my mind did immediately wander in a particular direction when I found out about the assignment.

Recently, especially with the advent of the third Choose your Legends event in Fire Emblem Heroes, I’ve had the desire to go back and play Sacred Stones. My first and favorite Fire Emblem game.

Part of me couldn’t help but think about an interesting analysis coming out of Sacred Stones due to it being the first title released after Fire Emblem’s western debut.

… I was admittedly primed to go in that direction from watching The Geek Critique’s assertion that Smash Bros. Melee was a “kingmaker” for their series the other day.

That’s my most developed idea at the moment, but frankly I’m more than open to coming up with more in the weeks to come.

There are simply too many good games out there in need of analysis.

So I suppose that brings me to a call to arms of sorts. If any of you have ideas for a game I should try to analyze for my research paper (assuming it’s within my means), let me know somewhere on the Internet.

It’ll definitely be taking an unreasonable amount of my brain power for a good long time.

Literal filler with room filler

Don’t worry, I can already hear all of your complaints. “Three posts in a row about fixing your room up? What’s the deal Jason, why even bother?”

To be fair, until about an hour ago I was not going to put anything up on my blog today. I have two ideas set for tomorrow and an event on Friday, so the rest of my week in writing is planned out and I figured that could be enough of an excuse to skip a day.

But then I realized I would honestly feel terrible about myself if I broke my New Year streak so early.

So this quick n’ dirty post is mostly for me to make sure I don’t have a gap, and if you want to just come back tomorrow when I have a Fire Emblem Heroes banner release and a movie review lined up, I won’t harbor any ill will.

If you happened to be curious how my room wound up looking after I spent all of yesterday cleaning, then this might just be the filler content for you!

Yesterday I talked about how my room hadn’t changed much since the last time I showed it off. That was early into the cleaning process and it turned out to be a lie. A lot of the tchotchkes taking up space on my countertops hasn’t changed in terms of contents, but the layout is pretty new.

For instance, here’s the top of my TV cabinet — now featuring a fancy new backdrop:

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Told you that’s where I was going to put the Naruto poster. Even if I wound up having to move Diancie to make space.

As usual, my line-up of chess club trophies from elementary school remains in-tact. For years I’ve adored the way younger me happened to conveniently win enough trophies in specific placements to create an upscaling pattern, and I always put them up.

Except now in front of the trophies are the Luna wand I got from Universal Studios and a toy car that I happened to pull out of the dust and turmoil underneath that same cabinet when my sister and I pushed it flush against the wall.

We did so to clear some room next to my desk for where this Gladeo computer is going to go. Though it’s admittedly strange to not have that cabinet take up a diagonal space.

Fun fact, on top of that convertible I also found a list of interview questions from when I covered my friends taking part in the Bay Math League way back in middle school.

Now that’s definitely a story for another day. Remind me to tell it, because I actually have some fun throwback material I can use.

Beyond that car, the most notable changes to the collection are that Han Solo is on the left side instead of the right, replaced by Tanuki Mario — who used to be on top of my main clothing drawer.

I also added a few plushies to make the right side into a Pokémon-dedicated corner and it’s one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. I’m considering moving some other posters over there as well to really complete the picture, but I don’t know how much it would mess with the feng shui.

You know, if you believe in that sort of thing.

I took Chinese for three years in high school so I feel like I’m somewhat obliged to try believing in it.

The next most changed surface in the room is that aforementioned main clothing drawer, which is constantly subject to me coming up with new Amiibo configurations:

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All things considered this is probably the most stable configuration I’ve tried yet, and I think my Star Wars legos fit in pretty well on this side of the room.

However, this wasn’t the first layout I tried.

Originally I thought about spacing the Amiibo out across both surfaces in a curving manner:

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I love the way this set-up looks, but unfortunately it took up too much space.

Saying that is a bit crazy when I realize I have 19 Smash Bros. character Amiibo and there are 73 fighters so far? But still.

Needed some room to fit all my other stuff too.

On the bright side I have an outlet like this to save a photo of the curving configuration, since it is one of my favorites aesthetically.

I think that about covers all the major changes to my room decor starting out 2019. As usual I’m sure it’ll be subject to adjustments as I pick up more useless garbage throughout the year, but for now I’m pretty happy with how it looks!

Hopefully this filler post was worth your time, because it wound up being more fun for me to write than I had expected.

The change to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s single player experience I feel would make it even better

The change to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s single player experience I feel would make it even better

After pouring over 70 hours into the game, I think it’s safe to say that I love Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Ultimate is probably the first Smash Bros. game that I would argue has stellar single player content which really jives with the way I like to play games, even if it doesn’t have a Subspace Emissary mode ala Smash Bros. Brawl.

Subspace Emissary offered a healthy mix of story-driven character interactions, platforming-based overworld sections, Smash fighter duels and big boss encounters to bring something to the table for everyone.

It even had secret characters hidden within the platforming sections who could only be unlocked via finding them. That’s a super cool reward for putting time into the game!

Plus it had couch co-op for anyone playing with a friend.

But for all the positivity Brawl offered for solo players, Subspace Emissary did shine brightest when playing it cooperatively. Also beyond that mode, it mostly survived among my friend group because of how fun it was to do regular Smash battles on custom-made stages.

What Smash Ultimate lacks in a story as character-driven as Subspace Emissary, it more than makes up for with the amount of care poured into the details of World of Light’s adventure and individualized Classic Mode routes.

I figure I’ll dive into each individually, making room for my change pertaining to Classic specifically.


World of Light

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World of Light has a vague overarcing plot. Kirby must set out to save every other Smash fighter, as they have been captured by Galeem, the lord of light, and replicated for nefarious purposes.

In terms of interactions between characters, World of Light is lacking.

Instead it centers around Spirits, over 1,000 characters curated from just about any Nintendo (and third party) title that have taken over the mindless puppet fighters.

These Spirits are battled across a world map chock full of references. For instance, there’s an entire town made up of Nintendo consoles just underneath Lumiose City from Pokémon X & Y, and it can be revealed that the entire town is powered by a facility utilizing the electricity of Zapfish from Splatoon.

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Each of the battles with Smash Ultimate’s Spirits also have great care put into how their source material is referenced.

One of my favorites is the Legendary Dogs from Pokémon:

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But there’s a whole lot more to love, from a Dr. Wily battle where Dr. Mario hides behind eight metal Mega Men to a classic Donkey Kong spirit that has you fight alongside Peach against a massive DK on the arcade game’s stage.

Even this little indie gem:

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And those are just a few of the hundreds of Spirit battles. I powered through the somewhat grind-heavy adventure just to see as many of them as I could.

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That’s the power of well-crafted references. World of Light and the corresponding Spirit Board has them in spades, but even more come forth with Classic Mode.


Classic Mode

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Gotta let my main represent!

Masahiro Sakurai’s team put just as much care into giving every fighter a unique Classic Mode route that fits their character.

At this point I’m kind of an expert in the subject:

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There are three categories of Classic routes I would separate all 74 into.

  1. References to the character’s game series or a particular storyline.
  2. Combining opponents by color or theme based on the character’s interests.
  3. Playing with the character’s quirks.

The first category has some of the most fun Classic runs.

  • Mega Man follows the story of his second adventure by taking on eight characters before fighting a giant robot, then Dr. Wily (Dr. Mario), then Mewtwo as an alien version of Wily.
  • Ryu fights proxy Street Fighter representatives and is the only one with Stamina battles (similar to fighting game life bars).

For characters that group things together, there’s a ton of variety.

  • Marth only fights dragons, ending off with a battle against Monster Hunter’s Rathalos.
  • Bowser fights red costumed fighters in reference to his hatred for Mario.

In the last category, you have unique rule sets.

  • Kirby fights characters that are known for eating, and only food items spawn.
  • Mewtwo takes control of one of his previous round’s opponents to be a teammate in the next.

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Luigi fights his nightmares, including Dracula!

There’s so much to love about Classic Mode in Smash Ultimate that the one (in my opinion) glaring execution error shines.

With all of the variety exuding in each route, far too many end with a fight against Master Hand and Crazy Hand.

They are the biggest representatives of the Smash series as a whole, so it makes sense that they would be the default final boss. But the amount of times I groaned seeing them show when I expected someone else were far too frequent.

Why don’t more of the Mario characters battle Giga Bowser, for example?

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Rosalina does fight the space-faring Marx, but still.

It seems like a small thing, but the routes that go all-out on final bosses are the best. Toon Link’s Classic Mode is based on the Four Swords Games, and culminates in a four-on-one battle against Ganon from Ocarina of Time.

Now I’m not complaining to Sakurai’s team. They did so much more than they had to with Ultimate, and I love everything about it!

But if I could make any change to the end product, I would have added a more diverse boss battles.

Not just by handing out the six World of Light bosses more readily. So much more could have been achieved by adding a few Classic Mode-exclusive bosses as well.

I would have cranked the nostalgia machine up a few notches by adding a boss related to each of the eight original Smash 64 characters.

Mario, Link and Kirby already have representatives with Giga Bowser, Ganon and Marx. But imagine this:

Donkey Kong facing off against some variant of K. Rool, or even Lord Fredrik from DKC Tropical Freeze to tie in with the recent Switch port.

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Samus taking on a returning Meta Ridley from Brawl, or one of her many other big baddies (Crocomire from Super Metroid perhaps? Beloved game, fun second form).

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Yoshi taking on a massive Baby Bowser slowly approaching the arena, just like in Yoshi’s Island. Bowser’s final smash is kind of halfway there as is!

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I know we already have a Bowser… But still. Iconic.

Fox would have to fight some giant figure like Andross, though doing a horde boss battle against the members of Star Wolf might be cool.

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Finally, Pikachu. We could bring back Rayquaza. But there are a billion legendary Pokémon who could be intimidating bosses. Perhaps Ultra Necrozma to tie in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon?

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Adding just a few extra bosses would add a ton of diversity and surprise for players who took on the World of Light first and might assume they’ve seen everything.

Again, don’t take this as me complaining about the end product in any serious manner. I’m simply a fan of all things Nintendo and can’t help but drool at the thought of even more iconography being brought together with such a well-crafted game.

That being said, what else would you want to see added into Smash Ultimate if you were on the dev team? It doesn’t even have to stick to bosses: Characters, alternate skins or items are always fun points of discussion as well!

Let me know in the comments or somewhere on the Internet, because even as I transition into playing Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee with my sister, I’m still thinking all about that Smash.

A data journalist’s wet dream

A data journalist’s wet dream

I’ll be honest, I absolutely wrote this blog post almost exclusively to use that pun in the title.

That’s where I peak for the day. Good night, folks.

Unfortunately I can’t just leave things there. Anyone reading this in the distant future without the context of my social media stinger would be lost.

If you are reading this way after I’m writing it, hello! My name is Jason. This is my blog. I’m here to talk about porn today.

I swear that’s not an everyday occurrence.

I wouldn’t typically bring up the subject at all unless I had a good reason to. It just so happens that this tweet sent me down a rabbit hole this morning.

Apparently Pornhub does a yearly visualization of site analytics, and the fact that I wasn’t aware of it before is a travesty. I’ve gotten very into that sort of thing recently, so alongside psychological implications of “what the world gets off on,” you’ve got something right up my alley.

I suppose 2018 is a good a time as any to find out about it, because hoo boy is there a ton of interesting stuff.

Obviously this whole subject is a bit NSFW, but I’m more interested in it from a data analysis side. However, if you’re squeamish about the topic I’ll understand if you don’t want to read on.

That said, here are some of my favorite Pornhub Insights from 2018.

… Definitely not a sentence I ever thought I would be writing.

The data that starts off the review is fascinating just from the sheer scale.

Apparently there were 92 million daily visits to the site on average, and about 115 years worth of video were uploaded this year. I know porn is a popular thing, and typically an early adopter of every form of mass media thanks to my Comm classes…

But 115 years of video just this year alone?

I’m not sure how to comprehend that much porn. Especially considering Pornhub is just one of countless porn websites.

When presented with that myriad of information, my first inclination is to ask how it filtered down. Luckily, Pornhub has a number of well-done infographics breaking things into manageable chunks. For instance:

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There’s a lot to say about these defining searches.

Stormy Daniels stands out in how hilarious it is that a serious presidential scandal skyrocketed this woman from being the 671 most popular pornstar in 2017 to being the most popular search result in 2018.

Fortnite, as much as I don’t particularly enjoy it, makes sense as a high result considering how popular the game is. Though in that same vein, Bowsette skyrocketing into the top ten based on that week or two she was a popular concept is astounding.

Later on they break down the highest video game-related searches, and it’s not too surprising.

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The best thing about this list is Mario being the highest male result. Shout out to that portly plumber for representing male characters.

With that said, I find the worldwide search analyses more interesting than the media-specific stuff. The fact that categories like “4K,” “Trans” and “Tinder” were among top search results says a lot about the era we live in.

It also says a lot about porn watchers that “Lesbian,” “Hentai,” “Milf,” “Step mom” and “Japanese” were the top five most searched terms this year. Especially given that the United States produced the most Pornhub traffic by more than three times its runner-up, the United Kingdom.

Easily the most interesting graphic produced in this set shows which parts of the world searched for what kinds of porn most.

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Just look at that sharp divide between “Lesbian” porn in the Americas, “Hentai” in Asia/Russia and “Ebony” porn in Africa. The strong leanings in these parts of the world is simply fascinating to me.

Shout out to Pakistan for being about the sole representative of “Big Dick” porn too. Much respect.

The other segment that really intrigued me was the technology insights. For instance, the clear leaning toward Windows/Android devices:

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Or the fact that about 0.7 percent of Pornhub users are searching from their 3DS systems:

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Like who is doing that?! Who is using that janky 3DS web browser to search for porn?

I’d like to meet and interview those people.

There’s so many more things to draw out of these data sets, from the gendered search results to the periods when traffic to the site fell (including the day Big Bang Theory season 11 premiered) and which days/times are the most popular for porn watching.

But the more I talk about here, the more I’ll feel like I’m just stealing things. So instead I’ll point out the link once again and encourage you all to check out the information for yourself.

It’s a hell of a rabbit hole to dive down, and after getting lost in it this morning I’d highly recommend it.

A smashing blast to the past

A smashing blast to the past

Gotta love tentpole programming.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is officially out today! Even though I haven’t personally gotten my hands on it just yet, by all accounts it promises to be a fantastic collection of all the greatest parts of the series’ 19-year history.

I’m excited to get my hands on this sucker, because I’ve been a pretty hardcore fan of Masahiro Sakurai’s wonderful party fighter games since Melee on the GameCube.

Melee was quite literally a game that defined my young childhood, with many birthday parties spent playing as Young Link on the “Great Bay” stage from Majora’s Mask (many years before I actually played its game of origin).

Brawl was the game that offered my core friend group, from middle school on, to duke it out, find our main characters and test our creativity building our own fields of combat.

Smash 4 brings with it memories of being so excited that I played the demo endlessly during art class in senior year, time that left me proficient in newcomer Mega Man as much as I would be proficient in Lucina — my current main character, passed along from Marth before her.

Yet the fourth entry in the series became so much more. Long nights in the Daily Titan newsroom were more manageable after my boi Aaron Valdez brought his Wii U and we held DT tournaments.

Hell I even have some fond memories of the original Smash Bros., despite the fact that I never owned a Nintendo 64. I distinctly remember going to an animation camp while visiting my grandparents in Florida one summer, and a major highlight of the camp was getting there early to play on some of the consoles available in their waiting room.

My attachment to the series went far deeper than just playing the games with my friends, however.

When Stephen Hillenberg died a few weeks ago, writing my blog obituary for him brought back a lot of memories. One of the most potent memories was attending a sprite animation camp (here in California) over a summer with my friend Mitchell Winn from all the way back in elementary school.

Thanks to that camp, I learned a good many things about grabbing sprites from my favorite games off of The Spriters Resource and using them in different projects.

I took on ambitious sprite projects in the months and years to follow. Including recreating that famous Band Geeks halftime scene from Spongebob with video game characters.

One other project that felt pertinent to today required going back into my old desktop Mac.

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This dinosaur literally hasn’t been touched since 2012 based on the security update. Thus it has become a crystalized time capsule for 15-year-old Jason.

I had so much fun going through this thing that I’m going to talk more about my discoveries later this weekend.

But for now, the important connection back to Smash Bros. were these desktop wallpapers I made using character sprites from various games and other fan projects:

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The Featured Image, a classic fight between Link, Charizard (sans Pokémon trainer as this was the Brawl era), Kirby and Marth on “Mushroom Kingdom II.”

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Four hatted-Kirby duke it out on Melee’s “Battlefield.”

SSBB Battle Yoshi Stage
Pikachu, Yoshi, Marth and Falco fight on “Yoshi’s Island,” where Marth shows off his Dolphin Slash. A favorite move of mine, clearly.

SSBB Battle Mario Stage
The Mario Bros. take on Link and Sonic on the aptly named “Mario Bros.” stage.

SSBB Battle Final Stage
A slightly askew duel between Samus, Fox, Zelda and a very tiny Captain Falcon on Brawl’s version of “Final Destination.”

SSBB Battle Onett Stage
One of my prouder pieces from what I remember, in which Ness knocks Kirby out of the park in his home turf of “Onett.”

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We return to “Mario Bros.” so the Bros. can confront a series of variant Sonics each colored after Chaos Emeralds. Not sure if these are the classic Chaos Emerald colors, but the different poses are sweet if you ask me.

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It’s a race for the Master Sword between Link and Young Link (clearly set during the Melee era) on the leftmost side of the “Temple” battleground.

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Apparently I predicted Smash Ultimate being a thing years ago by pitting the (at the time) Melee-exclusive Mewtwo and Brawl-exclusive Snake on “Mushroom Kingdom II.”

Would have helped if I made them all the same size so they didn’t get stretched out when I rotated them as wallpapers. But hey, eight years ago.

All of these babies were created between May and June of 2010 using Graphic Converter, as I never learned Photoshop or anything.

2010! I know I spent all this time building up 15-year-old Jason, but these specifically are all a product of 13-year-old Jason’s ingenuity.

Now that Smash Ultimate is out, I’m hoping to get my hands on it soon so I can start to make some new memories with that game. Perhaps a few of them will come somewhere remotely close to leaving an impression as strong as the older titles.

Here’s to everyone having a happy Smash Ultimate day!

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!

Marketing with Brand Recognition

Marketing with Brand Recognition

I tried Super Mario Cereal for the first time this morning.

Honestly? Was not a huge fan of it.

For those who don’t know, this stuff was a special tie-in breakfast item for the red plumber’s most recent adventure, Super Mario Odyssey. The box itself acts as an amiibo that gives Mario some bonus collectibles like coins or hearts in-game, though I haven’t used that particular functionality yet.

What I have done is eat the cereal — a combination of little grain stars and marshmallows shaped like Mario power-ups. It’s essentially rebranded Lucky Charms, which makes sense considering it’s a Kellogg’s cereal.

Even though Lucky Charms are a General Mills brand. So I guess it’s more like a competing Lucky Charms?

But I digress.

While I’ll mostly stay away from that cliché of the cereal not looking like it does on the box, the grain cereal bits actually stuck out in that regard for me. Instead of being fat little golden stars like you might see in Super Mario 64, the stars in this cereal are fine pointed like an asterisk.

It’s a bit un-Mario in appearance, but also I get the sense that the quality of the cereal itself would have been better if it were fatter. Because in it’s current state, this cereal is very granular and has some hard-to-chew shell bits in it.

The marshmallows are fine in their own right. It’s kind of hard to make a bad breakfast cereal marshmallow I suppose, though if I were to nitpick it did seem like each different kind of mallow tasted the same. Kind of like raspberry oddly enough, and I might have appreciated more of a variety there.

This little post has to be pretty weird for you all though, right? Because who am I to just be reviewing cereals out of the blue?

It’s not like I proclaim to have an expertise in cereology.

Which I thought was a term I made up until I saw it didn’t come back as misspelled and discovered cereology is the study of crop circles. Consider that my fun fact of the day for all of you linguists out there.

Frankly I wanted to talk about this cereal less for its merits as a cereal and more for its strange position as a marketing tool, because that’s something that I was thinking about while eating it.

I just figured it would make sense to start with a short discourse on my opinions of it as a tangible object before going into more strange psychological places.

See, in my house groceries are a pretty big topic of forethought. While there are impulse purchases on occasion upon seeing something interesting during a trip to the grocery store, more often than not we decide what we need before going.

Usually those purchases fill one of three goals:

  1. Replacing a commonly used item for the week, such as milk.
  2. Gathering more odd ingredients for a specific meal.
  3. Fulfilling some kind of craving.

Because of those general categories most food items fit into, a lot of the ideas behind shopping for specific items comes from top-down processing. Either we know which brand we want because we’ve used it before, or we’ve heard good things about that brand compared to others and decide to go down that route as a result.

When it came to the Super Mario Cereal, however, there wasn’t too much of that.

It’s very much an impulse buy despite the fact that (I at least) had heard of it before, because I never had the desire to buy it. So I never looked into it enough to garner an opinion on how it would be ahead of time.

Yet most items that we haven’t done at least some thinking about ahead of time wouldn’t usually get this kind of immediate pass. I’m willing to bet that 99 percent of the reason for the exception here is because of the Mario branding.

Let’s be honest, everyone knows who Mario is. People who don’t play video games know who Mario is. He’s that famous.

But I love video games. Mario makes up a pretty large percentage of the reason why.

So my family typically knows to buy video game-related things when we see it. If for no other reason than the novelty of the thing being attractive and fun.

I can’t imagine I’m the only video game lover that has instilled that kind of sentiment in his family. I’m willing to bet it’s exactly that kind of sentimentality which drives the (presumed) success of this kind of marketing project.

We buy Super Mario Cereal for the novelty. Because the cereal itself isn’t quite as super as it’s mascot would lead one to believe.

That, in its essence, is the brilliance of the marketing.

But that’s just my opinion on bizarre marketing pushes based on sentimentality and brand recognition. Let me know what you think about the topic below, and if you’ve encountered an item you’ve bought almost purely due to the brand recognition rather than any knowledge about it.

Also, if you really like the Super Mario Cereal, I suppose you can tear me down about that somewhere on the Internet as well. I won’t judge.

Entertainment Beat Report – March 23, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – March 23, 2018

I could have put out this Beat Report yesterday I suppose, just to keep it aligned with my actual Comm 436 class schedule… But honestly I’ve been fluctuating between Thursdays and Fridays so much with this mini-series that I really don’t think it matters.

So I’m just going to use the midterm for the class that happened yesterday and the fact that I published two blog posts and want to space things out a bit as excuses for my laziness.

That said, let’s see what was news in the world of video gaming this week.


Mario measurements marked via phallus pixels

Let’s be serious for a second.

This is undoubtedly one of the greatest pieces of journalism I have ever had the pleasure of consuming.

Kotaku staff writer Gita Jackson wins all of the awards this week for taking mathematical calculations done by a Twitter user based on the promotional art for Mario Tennis Aces that assesses how large Luigi’s junk is, and using that result to extrapolate on determining the official sizes of other characters in the Mario universe.

That’s real, people.

My inclusion of this story above the actual big news this week may be a joke, but I genuinely do think this is an amazingly funny story that’s worth a little bit of your time to read.

Never before have I seen the word ‘penis’ put into a story three times in such an unironic way, and it’s just wonderful.

But that said, on with the real headlining news this week.


The 2018 Game Developers Conference

As much as I’ve been checked out from the gaming scene this week, undoubtedly the biggest thing that happened was GDC 2018 in San Francisco.

The annual conference took place from March 19 to 23 in the Moscone Center and frankly has so many different things to talk about that I’m not entirely sure where to start.

At the Game Developers Choice Awards, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild won Game of the Year. It was joined in the pantheon of winners by Night in the Woods, winner of the Excellence in Narrative award and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize, Cuphead, which got Best Visual Art and Best Debut Game, Horizon Zero Dawn, which won Best Technology, and more.

Atari showed off a prototype of its newest upcoming console, which is crazy considering they have not had one since the Atari Jaguar in 1993.

More game developers were kept out of the conference thanks to President Trump’s travel ban, according to a Polygon article.

Really all of this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of everything that happened over the conference’s four days. It’s worth going back and just looking over everything that happened as far as announcements and speakers and whatever else, but I don’t think I’m going to delve too deep right now.

There’s more news to discuss, after all.


‘Sea of Thieves’ launch faces server problems

Rare’s latest game, the much anticipated pirate swashbuckling simulator Sea of Thieves, has not had the smoothest sailing opening to the public.

There have apparently been so many server-related problems afflicting players that Rare is taking the game down tomorrow to perform maintenance. That’s not really a super good sign as far as first impressions go.

The game has also received middling reviews (here are a couple of them: 1 – 2), so whether or not this one is as big a staying power as people were anticipating it would be is in limbo at the moment.


‘A Way Out’ offers players opportunities to play together without spending a lot

This one was a suggestion straight from my buddy Mitchell.

A new prison break-themed co-operative game, A Way Out apparently allows players to join a friend’s session of the game so long as they have the demo. No need to buy two copies, according to an article on Kotaku by a familiar writer.

This is an interesting concept put into the game by the developers at Hazelight… Though I can’t help but cynically reflect on the fact that this feature existed on the Nintendo DS for years.

Though if it’s inclusion here implies the feature may make a feasible comeback in the near future, who am I to complain?


Sort of a shorter report this week, in part due to my aforementioned laziness and in part due to me not exactly coming across a lot of ‘big news’ to go over.

I mean sure I could talk about the Deviljho again now that he has been unleashed in Monster Hunter World, but you can just check out my last report for details on that.

In the meantime, it’s about time that I head home to start Spring Break. I’ll likely post a few things over the week with whatever extra time I scrounge up, but for the most part I think I’m going to just relax and enjoy it a bit.

If there’s any other gaming news you picked up on that I didn’t, let me know about it in the comments below!

Entertainment Beat Report – March 9, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – March 9, 2018

I’ve had a bit of a hectic week and not a lot of time to pay attention to the gaming scene, but I didn’t want to miss out on one of these beat reports after I already did last week thanks to the convention I attended.

So this is going to be a little more short and to the point, just to show that I’ve been paying some attention to my entertainment beat for class. Hope you all enjoy or learn something either way!


March 8, 2018 Nintendo Direct

Gaming’s biggest name (arguably, but I’d stand by that) made waves across the internet on Thursday when they put on a Nintendo Direct showcasing all of the new stuff coming to stores and e-shops in the near future.

As of me writing this at 5:15 p.m. or so on Friday, the video is still the #3 trending video on YouTube.

I could talk for hours dissecting each and every little announcement that was made… But frankly I still have not watched the whole thing. As I said, time has not exactly been on my side recently.

Despite this, Nintendo includes a summary of everything they announced in the description of the archived stream, so even if I would usually dedicate a whole expansive post to this topic I can run through my thoughts on everything in short form.

I’ll try to be quick and painless with it.

  • The 3DS will have a number of new titles in the near future: WarioWare Gold, Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers as a sequel to Dillon’s Rolling Western and a remake of Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story.
    • As a side note, I’m still confused as to why Bowser’s Inside Story is next on the docket here. Superstar Saga had a remake not too long ago, but theoretically the next game on the list should be Partners in Time if they’re going in order on the Mario RPG kick. Perhaps that’s a discussion for another day…
  • Detective Pikachu will be coming out soon, and Nintendo announced a remake of the GameCube classic Luigi’s Mansion on 3DS. Coming… Sometime soon. Definitely looking forward to that one.
  • Kirby Star Allies, coming out later this month, will allow players to travel with old Kirby staple characters and companions – most notably including the animal buddies from Kirby’s Dream Land 2 and Marx, the (Spoilers? I guess?) arch-villain in Kirby Super Star.
  • Okami HD will be coming to the Nintendo Switch, as will a game called Sushi Striker (a puzzle fighting game based on Sushi I believe?), Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, Undertale, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, the Crash N. Sane Trilogy and so, so much more. Seriously, so many games here that are worth your time it’s crazy.
  • Dark Souls Remastered will have its own special Amiibo based on Solaria of Astora and his famously meme-worthy “praise the sun” pose when launched. Still looking forward to trying this one.
  • Splatoon 2 will receive an expansion with Version 3.0 and $20 paid DLC that’s going to add a whole hell of a lot. More stages, outfits, competitive rankings and even new single player experiences. Who knows, maybe this is the kind of thing that could get me back into that game… If I’d be willing to pay the money, I suppose.
  • Finally, the one that truly broke the internet: Super Smash Brothers is coming to Nintendo Switch. Whether it will be a port of Smash 4 or a new game entirely is not yet known, but it appears like the Inklings from Splatoon are new fighters and Link has been updated to fit his appearance in Breath of the Wild. Though I’m still a huge fan of the Twilight Princess Link, it’ll be interesting to see how that change plays out.
    • Also if you haven’t watched the video yet, go see the Smash teaser where the Inkling has the fiery Smash logo in her eyes. It’s one of my favorite hilarious visuals in a long time.

Mario is coming to Google Maps

Focusing more specifically on Nintendo’s most famous mascot, Mario and Google Maps are apparently combining forces to celebrate March 10. Or, as the joke goes, “Mar10 day.” See what they did there?

Seriously how nice must it be when details like that line up? It’s almost serendipity that years after this character was created we can appreciate unintentionally meta humor like this.

Once Google Maps have been updated, anyone can hit the question block in the corner of the screen to have a 3D model of the plumber replace their car as it travels along the blue line toward a destination. It’s a small, kind of silly idea… But a cool one all the same.

Besides, considering the Pokémon April Fools joke from a couple of years ago helped lead to Pokémon GO, maybe this is just test driving a new Mario Kart mobile platform.

Pun only slightly intended.


Mario Kart-style go-kart track will open this Spring

Nintendo sure has been busy recently, haven’t they?

The Niagara Speedway will soon host a go-kart track inspired by one of our favorite red mustachioed spin-off games, Mario Kart.

Apparently this isn’t the first time, as another similarly inspired set of racetracks also exists in Missouri of all places.

It has been a long time since I’ve gone go karting, so I can’t exactly say I’m excited by the prospects of going again now that I’m way too big to do so probably, but it is pretty cool to imagine playing Mario Kart in real life.

Plus, you can totally have Mario guide your way to the Mario Kart tracks if you choose to drive there this week. Who can argue with that?


Overwatch League host harassed for comments made on International Women’s Day

On finally not Nintendo news, here’s something back with our local Orange County favorite Blizzard.

Unfortunately, this might not be as good a publicity pull as the company might want in the midst of their League’s second stage.

One of the League’s host and analyst, Soe Gschwind-Penski, has apparently been receiving death threats and hateful messages over Twitter after she thanked men for treating women as equals on International Women’s Day.

Really from what I’ve been able to find, that’s about as deep as this story gets. There’s a little more back-and-forth about what she did afterward in the story I have linked above, but I don’t have much to contribute to the conversation.

I just think it’s interesting that there was a vitriolic response to what seems like such a simple, encouraging message. Guess that’s just the nature of the world we live in today.


President Trump held meeting about violence in video games following Parkland shooting

The Parkland shooting in Florida on Feb. 14, 2018 left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

In the wake of that tragedy, U.S. President Donald Trump decided to gather together higher-ups in the video game industry to discuss the violence they showcase.

According to the Verge, his meeting started with a series of clips putting various games’ violence on display, a video which has since been uploaded to the White House YouTube page.

Personally I’m not sure that kind of thing needs to be there necessarily… But I guess it is.

That same article says the meeting was “unproductive and bizarre,” with little discussion on potentially being able to restrict companies in what they can produce. More of the discussion was focused on voluntary measures and more robust age restrictions.

Another point worth noting about this story is different groups pointing to it as a “distraction tactic” in leu of talking about gun control, which says a lot with the March for our Lives march planned by students to talk about guns and mass shootings later this month.


Like I said before, things have been busy for me so I haven’t exactly gotten the chance to appreciate a wider scope of news — as I’m sure is obvious by the amount of Nintendo dominating the charts here.

If there is any news I missed that you were interested in, please let me know about it in the comments below! I know I can’t hit everything, so it’d be great to know exactly what I wasn’t paying attention to.

Entertainment Beat Report – Feb. 23, 2018

Entertainment Beat Report – Feb. 23, 2018

As I’ve mentioned across the last few posts on my blog, this week has been incredibly busy for me and kind of threw my whole schedule off-kilter. I also spent a lot of time working on the first major article for my Entertainment Reporting class — which I might add is currently being looked at for the Titan, so it may see more of the light of day soon.

In the meantime, as a result of all that I haven’t exactly paid a lot of attention to the overall video game world. This beat report is going to be relatively short as a result, but considering part of my grade is keeping it up… What can I say. Obligations are a powerful thing.

That said, I hope you still enjoy.


Kentucky Governor blames Florida shooting on video games, other violent media

This is actually the story I wrote my first major article about this week, so I won’t go too deep into it now.

A day after the mass shooting that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida, Gov. Matt Bevin blamed violent video games and similar media on essentially creating a society trained to kill.

As someone who has always played video games, I’ve always taken the repeated accusations of their negative effects somewhat personally. That much hasn’t changed, but I was able to take it to more of a professional place by writing about the issue.

I talked to a professor at CSUF that’s an expert on violent media and aggressive behavior, did some research into American Psychological Association studies and more, eventually coming to the conclusion that video games and such do play a part in violent behaviors, but there are far more intersecting ideas to consider for it to be so black-and-white.

Like I said, I have a whole extended article on the subject now, so I’ll be able to share that later. Even if it doesn’t get published, I can always put it out independently here.

Because of that I’ll just move on for now and get into those weeds sometime in the near future.


2018 Game Developer Conference schedule released

Every year, game developers from across the world gather together to discuss the industry, projects they’re working and look at interesting repercussions of past projects.

That gathering is known simply as the Game Developer Conference, which will be held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California this year. On Thursday, the session scheduler for the event was released.

Frankly… The schedule is huge. So huge that I haven’t really had the time to comb through it. But there’s a ton of names from a ton of well-regarded companies in attendance, so no matter where you go there are definitely going to be things to see.

The conference will be held between March 19 and 23, with entry prices ranging from $250 for basic passes to $2,350 for all access passes.

A little steep for my blood, admittedly… But I’m definitely looking forward to hearing any sort of announcements that are made throughout the event online while it’s going on.


Overwatch League Stage 2 begins

Here’s something that’s just kind of continuing off of my last Beat Report. Blizzard’s big eSports experiment has started its second leg, and we’re two days into the competition.

So far (as of this writing), six games have been played out. No teams have had repeat games at this point so there isn’t much to say about rankings and whatnot, but the already high flying New York Excelsior team won its first game against Florida.

That’s something.

Honestly I never thought I would care about the Overwatch League as much as I have since starting to follow it for this class, so I’ll probably keep checking back on it from time to time.

For now however, there isn’t too much more to say. So let’s move on to the next.


First major Mario Odyssey update hits Nintendo Switch

As someone who has played a ton of Mario Odyssey, this story is a little more personally attuned to my interests, I’d say.

Once again I discussed the update in a post some time ago when it was first announced, but in essence a new game mode was added to the famous plumber’s newest adventure.

With the free Luigi’s Balloon World, players are able to talk with their green-clad brother and start what is essentially a game of hide and seek. In each kingdom, you can hide a balloon anywhere you can platform your way to in a limited amount of time, then it’s up to another player to try and find your hiding place. Or vice versa for that matter!

It’s a fun twist on the game’s core mechanics that seems to have breathed a breath of fresh air into it, certainly on my end at least. Plus the update also added some new costumes, including a reference to Super Mario Sunshine.

Who can complain about that?


That’s about what I’ve got for this week.

If there’s any big news that I’ve missed, or any details in the stories I did discuss that you particularly enjoy and want to talk about, let me know.

Next week I might also be a little off in terms of the timing of my post, as a forewarning. There’s a journalism conference I’m attending with other members of the Daily Titan, so I might be distracted by that.

Even so, I will be back with more at some point next week. So look forward to that!