Tag: Multiplayer

My top 10 games of 2018

My top 10 games of 2018

I always feel like it’s cliché for me to throw one of these lists together since it’s something EVERYONE does. But the more I think of it as a window into what I love, the less bad I feel about it.

After all, looking at my 2017 list pretty much just reminded me that I had to cop-out with mobile games and Jackbox because I played so few games. Pretty wild.

This year I don’t have that problem luckily! Just remember the most important rule of all with a list like this:

  1. This is all my opinion, so don’t get your panties in a twist if I don’t talk about your favorite game (there are plenty of experiences unfortunately still sitting on my wishlist).

 

10.

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Don’t Starve and the number 9 game on this list may have been higher, but they’re both technically re-releases of games that I played years ago. So to be fair to newer games, I decided to keep them on the lower end.

Don’t let the low score deceive you, however. I love Don’t Starve as much as anything else on the list, if not more for nostalgia’s sake!

Alongside The Binding of Isaac, Terraria and FTL (and no I haven’t had the chance to play Into the Breach yet… Sorry Kyle), this Tim Burton-styled survival game was one of the most played titles in my Steam library years ago.

I can still vividly recount stories of playing the game in my 10th grade Journalism room, which would later become my 11th grade AP Language classroom.

It was a strange transition.

The important thing to know is that this game meant a lot to me, so when it got a re-released on the Switch I knew I had to jump back on the train.

It’s a really solid port, even if the Switch controls take a little time to adjust to.

I also officially “beat” the game for the first time this year! So the port gets some brownie points for that.

Add the portability of playing a game with such a unique world and art style on the go, and I’ll absolutely recommend Don’t Starve any day.


9.

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Ah yes, Minecraft.

Just what is there to say about Minecraft that hasn’t already been said?

It’s the survival/building blocky simulator that took the world by storm, inspired a trillion clones and now serves as a permanent cash cow for Microsoft. I absolutely adored Minecraft for years on both my desktop computer and Xbox 360. I even downloaded the Technic Modpack back in the day after watching the Yogscast.

While the game disappeared from my radar, the Switch brought it back to life for my friends and I.

As soon as this port dropped we all jumped on and had a ball playing over the summer. Now that I can capture pictures off my Switch I should go back and show you all some of the amazing stuff we built together.

Unfortunately, once the game shifted to be the all-encompassing Microsoft edition (and once the semester started) we all dropped off.

But if nothing else, Minecraft remains a great cooperative option for us to play together going forward.


8.

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Wizard of Legend is the first of what I would consider a Renaissance of indie games on the Switch that kept me gaming more than I usually would this year.

I love Wizard of Legend. Especially considering the dev team (Contingent99) is made up of two people, the fact that such a beautiful and fun title exists in the marketplace is a true testament to gaming culture in 2018.

It’s a fast-paced roguelike dungeon crawler that lets you blast out massive elemental attacks as though you’re the Avatar. AND it’s couch co-op.

Unfortunately, the game’s content is admittedly a bit shallow. As an experience Wizard of Legend rules, but once you’ve collected all the spells, you’ve kind of seen everything.

It’s a game I’ll happily return to and play again, and I by no means regret spending my money. But there just happen to be some better, similar games on this list.


7.

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I might have put this higher if I had gotten around to it sooner.

Pokémon Let’s Go is the amalgamated child of a Generation 1 remake and the capturing style of the mobile title Pokémon GO that took the world by storm a few summers back.

It’s about as casual a Pokémon experience as you can get, and for long-time fans such as myself there are very strange choices made (like who decided to only make PC access from the bag?).

But that being said, it’s an absolutely gorgeous Switch game, and every time I interact with Eevee my calloused heart melts.

The biggest selling point of Let’s Go for me is that it’s a couch co-op game I can play with my sister. If we weren’t only about five hours and three badges into the game, it might easily top this list because of the fun we’ve had yelling at the screen so far.

If you have a younger sibling (or romantic partner?), this is the game that perfectly bridges the gap between forced co-op and pretending to let them help in a single player title.

Like I used to do a lot, admittedly.


6.

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I have mixed emotions about Kirby Star Allies.

As a long-time fan of the Kirby series, I was really looking forward to the pink puffball’s next generation console game. That said, I wasn’t disappointed by how much of a fun Kirby game it was.

I even got a nice Daily Titan article out with my initial reactions, and that somehow has nearly 5,000 views?

Wow, how did that happen?

Anyway though, as fun as the game is, it’s seriously lacking in terms of difficulty and narrative — even for Kirby, who isn’t usually known for those elements.

Because of that I don’t feel like I can pick up the game as often as Squeak Squad or Super Star Ultra. But that being said… A ton of DLC came out for the game after I put it down, and I admittedly haven’t tried most of the new Dream Characters.

So hey, maybe it’s a lot better than where I left it the first time! Just based on my experiences now however, it seems like a solid fit for number 6.


5.

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I wrote a whole blog post about Deltarune weeks ago when I finally got around to playing it, so you can see my in-depth thoughts there.

What I will say is that much like its predecessor Undertale, Deltarune has a ton of mental staying power. It’s arguably the game I played for the least amount of time this year, but I hold it in high regard because I keep humming that glorious battle theme and thinking about all the possibilities of future installments.

It’s a game you just need to experience to understand. If you’re a fan of Toby Fox I’m sure you already have, but even if you haven’t played Undertale it might still be worth a look for fans of wacky fourth-wall comedy and Final Fantasy-esque gameplay.

I promise it’s worth diving down the rabbit hole.


4.

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Enter the Gungeon is kind of the game I wish Wizard of Legend was.

It’s a remarkably similar, being a roguelike dungeon crawler, but something about the way Gungeon’s five randomized levels are utilized makes them feel so much more fresh over a long period of time than Wizard of Legend’s three two-act levels.

Perhaps it has to do with the art style? Both are gorgeous examples of sprite work, but Gungeon’s aesthetic of gun puns galore seems more entrancing and unique.

Perhaps it has to do with the weapon variety? All of the spells in Wizard are great, but their numbers pale in comparison to just how many guns and combination effects are in Gungeon.

Perhaps it has to do with the supplementary content? Wizard boils down to collecting the spells and costumes, but Gungeon has a series of underlying story “quests” and NPCs who give you extra tasks to complete while you unlock more weapons and power-ups.

Both of these games are wonderful, but Enter the Gungeon stands much taller in terms of its content and replayability. A testament to the breadth of skill from a studio like Dodge Roll under Devolver Digital.


3.

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Much like Minecraft, what is there to say about Super Smash Bros. that hasn’t already been said?

I wrote a long post the other day about how much I love the single-player stuff in Ultimate, which has given me dozens of hours of enjoyment.

But that alone shouldn’t have skyrocketed the game to number 3 on my list, right?

I’ll admit, I’m giving Smash Ultimate some proactive credit. Simply because it’s Smash Bros., I know for a fact it’s going to be relevant for years in professional, competitive settings and among during casual friend hangouts.

Plus there are DLC characters already in the works, and I’m dying to play as Piranha Plant!

So yeah, Smash Bros. is a super fun game that I’m really glad is going to live on for years. As a result, it garners top billing.

… But really, what else did you expect from a Nintendo fanboy like me?


2.

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Hollow Knight is easily the best game I’ve played this year.

It has a darker art style, sense of humor and scale that create one of the richest worlds I’ve played with in years. Even the horrid Deepnest, a place I still shutter thinking about months later.

The gameplay is tight, offering a metroidvania experience which truly gets more fun as you advance through it by empowering the player’s exploration and combat abilities.

It’s also remarkably open-world in spite of needing certain abilities to advance in different areas, as my friends Jonathan and Juan each went through the game in completely different ways than I did.

The story is somber and open to interpretation. There are hints of different things going on that can only be discovered through a player’s curiosity.

Hollow Knight is also full of great characters who at times embody well-known tropes, but at other times subvert them in heartbreaking ways. One of my favorite characters is a bug girl who simply dies unceremoniously.

My love came from simply imagining the larger role that she could have had which was tragically cut short. That’s good implicit storytelling.

The game is seriously unique and I would say anyone should experience it.

There’s also a whole host of DLC available that makes the game even more impressive! When it dropped on the Switch this year, I knew it was something I had to play based on the recommendations of a ton of my friends, and boy did it not disappoint.

Hollow Knight seriously would have been my favorite game this year… If something else hadn’t stolen my heart in a different way.


1.

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So. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate came out on Switch this year.

I’ve been a Monster Hunter junkie since my first experience playing 4U on the 3DS. The series scratches all of my gaming itches: Impressively designed beasts to admire, fitting battle music for every situation, luck-based schedules of reinforcement with item collection and (of course) lots of armor and skills to facilitate hours of pre-planning and designing.

I wrote a whole blog post about that earlier this year, because it’s honestly one of those things that drives my fervor for a game.

However, what made Gen Ultimate surpass every other game I’ve played this year was how the Nintendo Switch made it perfect bait for my friends and I to spend hours hunting.

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Yeah, I no-lifed this game super hard as my stress relief.

The crazy thing is, even with all those hours put in I still have a dozen different armor sets in mind that I want to build. Even for weapons I’m trying outside of my favorite Hunting Horn style!

It may not be the deepest game from a narrative perspective, or the most novel game from a mechanical perspective…

But with nearly 100 large monsters and infinite possibilities to dick around with friends, Monster Hunter succeeds at being the game I’ve had the most fun with this year. As well as being the game I know I’ll continue to love in 2019!


In case the pattern wasn’t clear, 2018 was a great year for my Nintendo Switch. That console has really come into its own far more than the Wii U ever did (particularly with indie games), and I’m so glad to see it.

That said, let me know what some of your favorite games of the year were! I obviously don’t own a PS4 or an Xbox One and couldn’t put any games from those libraries on the list, but I know there were some phenomenal showings all across the board.

Here’s to 2019 being as great a year for gaming as 2018 was!

How Capcom made a great game demo

How Capcom made a great game demo

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate comes out for the Nintendo Switch on August 28.

Personally I am beyond excited about it!

I’ve been a bit of a Monster Hunter junkie since my first experience playing Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on the 3DS, with interest lingering into Monster Hunter Generations. The game series scratches every conceivable itch that I have related to collectibles, crafting, sweet monsters and all of that fun stuff.

Unfortunately I have not put any significant time into World. Don’t have the proper hardware to play it, despite a great interest in the more open world experience.

Ironically, a lot of my friends who had never played Monster Hunter before got into the series because of World where I technically lagged behind. But that’s another story.

Generations Ultimate promises to be an even more hype version of the 3DS game that I put hundreds of hours into, for three primary reasons:

  1. More monsters — There are supposed to be 93 large monsters to hunt in the game, with over 30 small ones to round out each area. That’s so many armor and weapon sets to collect that I just. Can’t.
  2. Continued mobile fun — One of the great things about Monster Hunter on the 3DS is how easy it is to segment hunts on the go. The Nintendo Switch has the same capabilities, but also…
  3. Better graphics — The Switch has far better graphical capabilities than the 3DS. Like insanely better. Not quite Monster Hunter World levels, but still insanely crisp for someone like me who has been on the 3DS market for forever.

With those details in mind, I’ve been hyped up going into this new Monster Hunter game for some time.

But after playing the demo that launched for the game, I’m even more hyped. Being able to try the game essentially confirmation biased my impressions coming in. Yet, it also did much more.

In my point of view, Capcom created a near-perfect demo for their game that showcases basically everything veteran hunters and fledgling players need to know to understand what’s new and better about Gen Ultimate.

There are three main reasons why I’d make that argument. So, here they are in detail (featuring images from the demo that I finally pulled off the Switch).


Diverse Play Options

If there’s one thing the Monster Hunter series is known for, outside of its wildly creative monster designs, a large variety of ways people can play through a number of weapons arguably tops the list.

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It would have been silly for Capcom to only feature, say, five of the 14 weapons (15 with Palicos included) available through their demo. So they didn’t. They let players try out any weapon they want.

That seems like an obvious thing in hindsight, but it really does mean a lot to let veterans — particularly those coming back from World — try out how each weapon works on a new system. Plus, more importantly, brand new players get early access to the diverse range of weapons so they can decide what they want to main once buying the full game.

On top of all that, each weapon features an armor/weapon set from a different monster in the game, slyly giving players the chance to see how much customization the overall experience will offer outside of the demo.

Sure there are some slight problems, such as the Malfestio Hunting Horn not inflicting sleep status… But only losers like me will notice that.

Plus, it’s a demo. So they don’t want to make you too overpowered. But I’ll get to that point in a bit.

If presenting a wide range of weapon and armor possibilities wasn’t enough to convince players that Monster Hunter Gen Ultimate has a lot to offer for fun, the demo also has this:

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Multiplayer.

Yeah, Capcom could have just made a simple single player demo so people could try out the gameplay.

But they went so much further in the right direction by adding multiplayer so everyone can try out playing with their friends — arguably one of the biggest draws of the Monster Hunter series. It’s way more fun to hunt giant beasts as a team.

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Just saying.


Showcasing the Maps and Monsters

The biggest draw of Monster Hunter Generations was the fact that it was an anniversary game. The four hub worlds in that game were four maps from previous MH games updated to 3DS graphics. On top of that, there were a range of monsters both new, classic and long-before unseen filling the game’s roster.

Like I mentioned before, Gen Ultimate is taking that same concept to the extreme with nearly 100 bosses to conquer.

The demo for the game is honestly genius in how it subtly displays what the new game is going to offer through only three missions.

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I’ll get more into how the difficulty tiers themselves are a huge plus for the demo, but for now I just want to discuss what is involved in the three difficulties, and how those additions display the complete range of what players can expect in Gen Ultimate.

The first mission involves fighting a Great Maccao.

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Great Maccao is a variant of the velociraptor-esque monsters that frequently appear in Monster Hunter games. He, along with the Jurassic Frontier stage you fight him on, were both new additions to the original Monster Hunter Generations. Thus, fighting him is a showcase of how the developers updated even recently added parts of the experience.

The second mission involves fighting a Barioth.

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Both the Barioth and the map you find him on, the snowy mountain, are things that had been in Monster Hunter games prior to Generations. In fact, the Barioth didn’t even appear in that 3DS title, making it a perfect example of bringing back older monsters into the newest adventure.

Plus, the snowy mountain is just so dang pretty.

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Isn’t it?

The third mission involves fighting a Valstrax.

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The Valstrax is the box art monster for Gen Ultimate, and by god is it an absolutely perfect selling point for the game as a whole.

It’s literally a gryphon fused with fighter jet parts that has a signature move where it flies into space and then comes down like a comet. There’s almost nothing cooler than that.

While Valstrax is a new monster, you also fight it on a brand new map.

Thus, through just three missions, the Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate demo shows off old monsters and maps updated, modern monsters and maps updated as well as totally brand new content.

All of which will be featured in the main game.

If that’s not simple and inherently genius, I don’t know what is.


Difficulty

Obviously there are three different difficulty levels in the Gen Ultimate demo: Great Maccao, Barioth and Valstrax.

The monsters Capcom chose honestly represent the range of possible difficulties in the final game quite well because of the restrictions put on player’s armor and weapons.

You only get one kind of armor/weapon based on the weapon you choose, and those set-ups don’t improve based on the difficulty of the monster you are fighting.

As a result, Great Maccao is a total pushover. Barioth is a challenge that’s easy enough to surmount with some friends as support.

But Valstrax?

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That boy is bending fools over left-and-right, let me tell you.

I’ve attempted the fight twice. Once with a group of three other random strangers and once with two of my friends. Both times the fighter jet gryphon took so long to whittle down that the 25-minute time limit ran out as it only just started limping away, close to death.

It deals an insane amount of damage, enough to occasionally one-shot players even with a Hunting Horn’s defense buff.

Valstrax truly is a difficult challenge, as one would expect when taking on the cover art elder dragon of Gen Ultimate using intermediate gear at best.

Some may find this difficulty spike a frustrating turn-off. But in my opinion it draws on the same kind of motivation as Mega Man X did.

If you haven’t seen Egoraptor’s Sequelitis video on Mega Man X… Well first of all, what are you doing with your life? Even seven years later I’m still not over the ‘fucking genius’ joke.

But more importantly, watch it for his discussion on the relationship between X, Zero and Vile that’s established in the introduction stage of Mega Man X. He essentially says that Zero is so well-versed at defeating an enemy you couldn’t touch, that it becomes your motivation as a player to go through the game and become strong enough to defeat Vile.

For Gen Ultimate, the Valstrax is so tough with the armor and weapons you’re given, that it feels like the ultimate motivation to buy the game, craft your own gear and use it to take down this monstrous beast in a more even playing field.

Because that’s one of the best parts of Monster Hunter as a series. Building new gear to take on challenges that at one point seemed impossible, only to inevitably hit a point where those super intimidating bosses are quick to dispatch for spare parts if necessary.


Those are my thoughts on why the Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate demo is so successful in portraying why the Monster Hunter series is so popular in the first place.

What do you think? Are you a Monster Hunter fan? Or are you brand new to the series, with things like this demo making you interested now that it’s hitting a major Nintendo console?

Also, what are some of your favorite video game demos? Obviously I think this one in particular is great at embodying a game’s core strengths, but some may just be great because of how effectively eye-catching they are in some regard.

Let me know in the comments down below! Because I’m off to go spend some time with my friends, where we’ll be bashing our heads against the wall trying to finally beat this damn Valstrax.

Let’s Go, Pokémon!

Let’s Go, Pokémon!

I had a totally different post planned for tonight.

But you know what?

The Pokémon hype train is too. God. Damn. Real.

That’s right folks, we’ve got a brand new trailer for a brand new Pokémon game, and you know damn well it’s time for me to go back to my Sun & Moon lead-up days of deeply analyzing anything and everything I can get my hands on.

This is about to be a long piece picking apart each and every piece of the trailer that I can.

Hope you’re ready. Because I am.


Let’s Go, Pokémon!

So obviously the first thing to address when it comes to discussing the brand new upcoming games of Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee is the tie-in to the mobile app Pokémon GO.

I played Pokémon GO for a good long time, it’s actually a pretty key element to my summer the year it came out when I would use El Camino College as my walking ground for catching Pokémon.

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The game had plenty of gems like this!

However… The app didn’t have a whole lot of staying power.

It got stale rather fast for me, and there were things about the game that needed to be implemented that weren’t until it was too late.

I still haven’t gone back, even though they’ve officially started to release Pokémon from the third generation (my personal nostalgic favorite).

Where the trailer for Let’s Go begins, it seems as though they’re setting up this title to be almost like a port of Pokémon GO for the Nintendo Switch. Which, in all honesty, would make zero sense considering what the appeal is for GO.

But then as token young child sits down on the couch and Pikachu jumps into the television, all becomes clear:

Kanto.

Remake.

Even though the warning on the bottom left suggests that ‘game footage is not final,’ the intent is clear. That boy you’re watching on-screen is Red, the original protagonist. With a Pikachu on his shoulder. Standing in Professor Oak’s Pokémon Lab in Pallet Town.

As he runs off onto Route 1 and through what appears to be Viridian City in a few small snippets before the trailer splits to show Leaf (Red’s female counterpart from the Gen 3 remakes of Firered and Leafgreen) and an Eevee, already the comparisons are clear for me.

Graphically, Let’s Go looks to have the same, if not better, quality models and environments than Sun and Moon — which to be fair does make sense considering the jump from the 3DS to the Switch.

Yet in terms of style, the world appears to be built more in-line with the philosophy of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire (ORAS). Ostensibly this makes sense considering Let’s Go is being billed as a remake of the original Pokémon Yellow.

Keep the core of the world alive but update what we can see and juice everything up.

And sure perhaps I’m putting too much stock into the initial glances we get based on this trailer alone, but the way everything has been updated does look gorgeous. Environments on par with Sun and Moon being utilized for a faithful world recreation ala ORAS is by no means a bad combination.

Oh, and there are fully animated cutscenes too, just like the few that appeared in Sun and Moon. I enjoyed those as well, so I hope they’re utilized properly.

Seriously though you look at Vermillion City in the brief shot they provide and tell me it doesn’t look just amazing.


Blending Gameplay

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Image courtesy of Serebii.net

One of the reasons Pokémon GO got stale for me so quickly was because there really wasn’t a heck of a lot to keep me invested in catching Pokémon.

Yes I adore Pokémon as a series because the creatures are adorable and I wish I could have them in real life.

But I also adore Pokémon as a series because I’m one of those weirdos that actually enjoys the story and the characters.

Yeah that’s right, I play Pokémon for the story. Come at me.

Being an aspiring writer, the monster catching series was one of the earliest things that drew me to both the mediums of video games and writing. The plots of each of the seven generations of main series games are burned into my skull, and I can seriously throw down long diatribes explaining why I adore X character based on this line of dialogue they gave.

It’s that much of an obsession for me.

In that way Let’s Go, Pikachu & Eevee becomes a beautiful middle ground.

Granted, the Gen one titles of Red and Blue (plus Yellow technically, all things considered) are arguably my least favorite. I enjoy the spit out of Firered, but find myself less engaged in the world those games create than any of the others.

Despite that caveat, I do still enjoy the games and like the Kanto region for as classic and iconic as it is, so getting to revisit them is great. Especially considering those two remakes came out in 2004 and leave Kanto the only stand-alone generation not featured on the DS-forward.

The brilliance behind the marketing for Let’s Go comes off that point. This is the first time we’re getting a Pokémon game centered around the Kanto region, literally a remake of the first adventure as the trailer goes on to stipulate, since Pokémon GO was a mass phenomena and brought tons of people who played the original titles back into the fold.

Timing is everything, and I’ll be damned if that’s a coincidence.

But no, we know it can’t be a coincidence because Let’s Go is literally built with the same functionality as Pokémon GO.

The first of multiple different ways to interact with the game is through single joycon play. Literally you sit back with a joycon and play the game like it’s Pokémon.

But when you need to catch a random encounter, you chuck a Pokémon with the same minigame/spinoff style Pokémon GO offers. It’s just this time you literally throw like pitching a baseball rather than flicking your finger on the screen.

If that’s not a perfect way to not only utilize the functionality of the Nintendo Switch, but also bring the ‘catch Pokémon for real’ mentality of GO into contact with the story and immersive world of a mainstream Pokémon game, I don’t know what is.

It looks like there’s also probably a way to just hit A to throw as well, as I can already hear the complaints that this repetitive throwing will be too much.

Come on people, it’s Pokémon. Have some fun.


Multiplayer? In my Pokémon?

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Image courtesy of Serebii.net

It’s more likely than you’d think.

Something iconic about the Pokémon series as a whole is its version splitting antics.

Whether you see multiple versions as a smart way to encourage kids to interact and spread a fervor for the game like wildfire, or whether you see it as a cheap cash grab that persists based on ‘tradition’ in a world where it has no place being there, you have to admit:

Playing Pokémon with a community of people is probably the core reason why it’s as popular as it is today.

The idea of the split versions has always had a particularly special place in my heart considering the fact that I have a younger sister. Going all the way back, I’d always buy both versions of a new generation so that I can play one while Aly plays the other.

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Just a piece of my Pokémon collection.

… Granted she tends to give up, which makes both versions my playing grounds to try out different things. But that’s a different story.

Pokémon Let’s Go is going to take that to a whole new level by allowing us to play the same Pokémon game at the same time using both joycons.

Honestly? That would be a selling point alone even if nothing else about this were true.

That multiplayer is somewhat limited from the looks of things, essentially allowing both players to run around freely on the same screen but not putting them on separate journeys.

Instead, the catching game becomes more of a co-operative experience where things like having the right timing together improves your chances of catching Pokémon.

The way multiplayer interacts with battle is a little funnier, as it seems like player two gains access to another member of your party so you both can fight at the same time.

While I can only imagine creating infinite two-on-one situations will make the journey relentlessly easy, I can’t help but relish the idea of reversing the terrible circumstances of Sun and Moon where enemy Pokémon called for help all the damn time.

A few other things I’d like to note in this section:

  • From the brief battle sequences we see, as well as whatever capturing is shown off, it appears like most every environment in the game will have an equally unique battle locale. Which is amazing and highly encouraged, hopefully beyond even what Sun and Moon offered.
  • Pokémon appear to roam wild as overworld sprites in Let’s Go. I can only hope this will be less of a gimmick-y ‘hey look who shows up here’ and more of a way to flesh out the living world, as obviously a game that’s going to be a Kanto remake with a complete battle system will also have random encounters to facilitate grinding for the Elite Four.
  • While I love the idea of multiplayer, it does currently leave me second guessing the possibility of this being a Pokémon game with full online functionality too. It seems like the focus is going to be solely on Kanto Pokémon, so will there be wi-fi battling and trading? It doesn’t seem like it, which may cut down the game’s longevity, but we’ll see when more information comes out.

New Toys for Kanto

Along with just using a single joycon, Nintendo is also going to be releasing a little Pokéball toy that can be used in place of the traditional controller as something to throw at wild encounters.

That seems to be the pattern for Pokémon games lately, releasing a gimmicky object alongside their titles. Remember the Z-Ring for Sun and Moon?
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I remember the Z-Ring for Sun and Moon.

This one seems cute but not necessarily something I’ll be chomping at the bit to go out and buy. Beyond that capture integration, the chief thing it seems a trainer can do with the Pokéball is bring Pikachu (or Eevee) along with you to make noises.

Sort of like the Pokéwalker that came with Heartgold and Soulsilver. Except also a controller.

But hey it does make cute noises. So… You can get beat up in school easier?

Dunno, my sister was awfully excited for this when I showed her the trailer, but I’m fairly ambivalent.

Also on display in this section of the trailer is Let’s Go’s functionality with Pokémon GO itself.

According to this tweet, the functionality purely extends to Kanto Pokémon — which is what leads to my trepidation from before about the existence of wi-fi connectivity acting as an extender for Let’s Go.

It also seems to me that the Pokémon you bring in from the real world will only be accessible through a special location, GO PARK.

I suppose it could be wonky to have to transfer things like stats between such totally different games, so I understand… But that is a shame.

Makes me feel slightly less apt to pick up Pokémon GO again to transfer my cool Pidgeot over. But we’ll see.


More, More, More!

There are a number of other things throughout the trailer that warrant discussion as well, but I’ll try to sum them up more quickly since this is already getting long in the tooth.

  • Red and Leaf ride a hell of a lot of Pokémon in the trailer. An Onyx, a Lapras and a Charizard at least. I can’t quite tell based on this trailer alone whether or not all Pokémon will have rideable functionality for something or another, or whether this replaces HMs similarly to Sun and Moon, but we’ll see. I hope it’s the latter.
  • Concurrent with the previous point, it seems as though every single Pokémon does at least have an overworld model programmed in-game. There are scenes where it appears as though they can follow you as well, such as the red-and-blue striped underground tunnel where two players are followed by Nidoking and Nidoqueen. Will full Pokémon following return from Heartgold and Soulsilver, even if just for Kanto Pokémon?
  • Eevee and Pikachu are customizable! The player character probably isn’t considering they’re supposed to stand in for Red and Leaf, and I don’t have a problem with that, but the fact that the game’s mascots can have outfits is too cute for words. I just hope they stay dressed up during battle!
  • Someone somewhere used Seismic Toss on a Magikarp for the trailer and that person deserves a raise.
  • Did I mention there are full cutscenes in the game? Well, one of those is the Mewtwo encounter. Player model appears to have more facial range than the Sun and Moon protagonist, so that’s again a plus for Let’s Go.

Concluding Thoughts

Okay, so there are one or two other things to touch on oh-so-briefly before wrapping this sucker.

First: Eevee’s voice.

Look. I get it Game Freak. Pikachu got special treatment starting in Gen six, where it started to say its name because mascot. It was cute and I get it.

Eevee didn’t need the same treatment, even though you’re trying to fill that same cute mascot niche. I’m not a huge fan of Eevee saying its name like in the trailer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m playing Let’s Go, Eevee all the way because Eevee is far superior to Pikachu in my opinion, but still.

Also at the end of the trailer was a tease to a brand new Pokémon being shown off somehow in-game. On Twitter, the Pokémon folks do confirm that this will be a 100 percent totally brand new Generation Eight Pokémon.

Because oh yeah by the way, new main series Pokémon title in 2019.

That’s another thing to get hyped about, but hype will wait for another day in that particular train’s engine.

For now we still need to get through November 16, 2018 when Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee will be released upon the world.

If you couldn’t tell already, I’m super duper excited for it. I was pretty burned out on Pokémon after the back-to-back release of Sun/Moon and their Ultra sequels, but this is a whole new adventure with tons of unique bells and whistles to get ready for.

I do hope after the 2019 games are released that Game Freak takes a bit of a break, both because it would be well-deserved and because fatigue may set on if they start to push out a big game every single year for too long.

Though Marvel’s been going strong for 10 years with the same philosophy and look where that has them. So who knows!

All I know is that despite trepidation for a few key points I’ve listed throughout this analysis, I’m excited for the Let’s Go Pokémon games all the same. It has probably pushed off Dark Souls as a major game to purchase for the console since I now need to save my money.

Sorry Dark Souls, we’ll have our day.

I’m also ready for more and more news to come out about the game in the coming months. How will the new character designs look? What sort of new things can we expect to be added into the game’s lore? Will Jesse and James appear as a part of Team Rocket like in the original Yellow?

Expect to see me blathering about it from now until November.

So, until the next news comes, tell me internet: What is YOUR opinion regarding these new Pokémon games? I’ll undoubtedly be seeking reactions on my own, but I’d like to know what the people who follow me think too.

My first run at Super Mario Run

My first run at Super Mario Run

Even more than a month later, I’m still deeply enthralled in the world of Pokémon Sun and Moon.  In fact, I’ve just seriously begun doing some competitive breeding, so I’ll probably be posting about some teams I’m building as I get them together.

However, something else has been released recently that I felt was worth taking the time to look at.

If my post title and featured image aren’t enough to have given it away, welcome to my mini review/first impressions post for Super Mario Run (To be abbreviated SMR from here on out).

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Super Mario Run’s title card

Now, to preface this just a little bit, I’ve only played through the currently available free-to-play content portion of SMR.  That means I’ve done World 1-1 to World 1-3, and I’ve done enough online play to have my castle reach level 4.

However, while I’ve only played through the stuff available before hitting the paywall as of writing this, I will say that the game is well worth the (admittedly rather steep for a mobile game) $10 required to access the six Worlds.  I say that for three reasons:

1) Game Feel

First, the game exudes that high level of polish most Nintendo games are known for despite being on a new platform.

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Super Mario Run’s hub world

After a brief control tutorial, the game drops you off at Toad Town and Peach’s Castle, both in their apparently natural state: Demolished by everyone’s favorite resident Big Bad Boss, Bowser.  From this screen you can look at your collectibles, mess with your friend’s list, notifications, receive gifts, connect to a Nintendo account so you can make you player icon a Mii and access other similar mobile game mechanics.  However, the three most important parts of the game come at the bottom of the screen with the Tour, Rally and Build sections.

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An early portion of World 1-2: Wall-Kicking It Underground

Selecting Tour allows you to access what is essentially the main story levels in SMR, revealing just what the game is.  Nintendo’s first mobile game is a 2D endless runner game similar to titles like Bit Trip Runner and the Sonic Storybook Series (Though the Sonic games are in 3D and are generally less than enjoyable… In my opinion, at least).

The game uses the New Super Mario Bros. graphical engine that’s gotten more than enough love since it brought Mario side scrolling games back in 2006, and it uses those graphics rather well if you ask me.  Though the ability to translate a 2D side scroller into an endless runner may seem obvious, the execution of such an idea seems like it would be very easy to get wrong.

However, I would argue SMR gets the endless runner formula right by pretty flawlessly combining a classic, beloved look with new mechanics meant to emphasize a style-based form of gameplay and a substantially intriguing amount of challenge even in early levels.

Granted, any semblance of a story is next to nonexistent past the generic “Save Princess Peach from Bowser” series mainstay… But for a mobile title like this, the lack of a story is fine, and the fact that it even has that could probably be considered a plus.  Luckily, the other portions of the game make up for this.

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Selecting your opponent in a Toad Rally

The second main part of the game comes from the Toad Rally mode, which is SMR’s multiplayer aspect.  Part of the destruction of Toad Town and Peach’s capture involved all the Toads living in the now destroyed city running away.  In order to rebuild the castle and the town, Mario needs to gather Toads, and to do this you have to participate in rally runs against other SMR players.

Using Rally tickets that you gather through various means (such as completing challenges in the single player game or through micro transactions), you can choose an opponent to Run against.  Toad Rally has you racing against the opponent you’ve chosen across a set, repeating map to collect as many coins and gather as much Toad support as possible.  Collecting coins is an obvious task to complete: Just run, jump, defeat foes and wall-kick to get as many as possible.

To gather Toad support, however, requires you to utilize SMR’s main new feature and arguably its main selling point: The style system.  While you can perform all of Mario’s usual jumping techniques, the nature of a free runner changes how the side scroller operates.  Instead of having to jump to cross all barriers and to defeat every Goomba and Koopa, Mario does an acrobatic flip over each of the small creatures and tiny gaps/barriers he comes across.  The act of his instant mobility over these obstacles is automatic, but nets you no benefits.  However, if you tap the screen in a timely manner, you do more fancy tricks and flips that defeat enemies and earn you style points.

Not only do these actions often get you more coins, they build up your Toad support and your style meter, which can eventually activate coin rushes.

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A Coin Rush brought about by filling your style meter

These rushes do essentially what they sound like they would do.  More coins will spawn for the duration of the meter’s charge, enemies will net you more coins and you’ll build up more hype from the little mushroom men that are cheering you on.  These coin rushes perform a similar function to the classic Star power-up you can find hidden sometimes in-game, though the Star also attracts coins within a large vicinity in front of you, ensuring you get them all.

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A coin rush brought about by collecting a Star power-up

Seriously, if you played and enjoyed New Super Mario Bros. 2 for it’s coin-centric gimmicks, you’ll probably love how satisfying coin collection is in SMR.

You can keep the meter charged even while it’s depleting by performing more tricks during the rush, though Mario speeds up during that period so it can be harder to keep up a chain like you normally could.  There’s a huge collection of tricks that Mario can perform to make this task easier, and there are even some tricks exclusive to other playable characters like Luigi, Yoshi and Princess Toadstool herself.

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Performing a stylistic ledge climb during a Toad Rally while racing a ghost player opponent

Although you pick opponents for your Toad Rally matches based on real players, you actually play against a ghost of their performance on the same level that you Run on.  Therefore, although you don’t have to literally be connected to anyone in order to get in on the multiplayer fun of SMR, you still compete against the performances of other fans of the game.  You still have to beat their coin collection scores as they do the same things you do, every coin rush and death included.

Deaths, I might add, are a very interesting thing to observe in SMR.  The game synthesizes elements from different Mario titles together, showing a progression in style throughout the last few years of Nintendo’s history with the franchise that has really blossomed into something neat.  When a player dies, you get an indication on your play area for where they died similar to the red X indicators in Super Mario Maker.  A dead player will then be lifted back into the playing field with a bubble, one of the chief elements common to every New Super Mario Bros. game with multiplayer capabilities.  Deaths will take coins away and bubble travel will bring you backwards through a stage, causing you to fall behind in a Toad Rally.

In single player Runs, deaths will cause the same things to happen, however the bubble can be used strategically.  If you miss one of the special coins on a stage (something I’ll get into in a moment), you can activate one of your limited bubbles at any time to go backwards and give yourself another chance to catch what you missed – unless it happened to be time-based, of course.

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The results screen for a Toad Rally

Once a Toad Rally is over, your coins are tallied up alongside your opponent’s coins to see who has collected the most.  The amount of Toad support you got throughout the round adds extra coins to your score.  Whoever Toadette decides to elect the winner gets more Toads to join them in Toad Town, which in essence acts like the experience points in SMR.  However, be warned, if you lose a match against another player not only have you wasted a Rally ticket, you also lose Toads to your opponent.

It’s a tough break in the SMR world, for sure.

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Leveling up in Super Mario Run

Like I said, Toads are your experience points in SMR.  The more you collect, the more you level up.  The more you level up, the closer you get to repairing Peach’s castle and returning Toad Town to its former glory.

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Rebuilding Peach’s Castle after Bowser’s shenanigans

That brings me to the third major part of the game: Toad Town customization.  Though not an endless running game mode, the build menu allows you  to spend all the thousands of coins you’ll be collecting throughout your endless runs.  Most of the things you can buy are aesthetic.  Toad houses, flowers, garden pieces and so on.   However, you can also buy useful set pieces like bonus mini game houses, which you can access every eight hours or so to have a chance at getting more Rally Tickets and coins.

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All the collectibles you could ever ask for

The more Toads you collect through Toad Rally, the more decorations will be available to you.  There are five colored Toads available to collect: Red, Blue, Green, Purple and Yellow.  Collecting each color will allow you to unlock different things, however I believe Red is the only color available when you haven’t purchased the full game.

At least, that’s the only color I’ve been able to find.

Eventually, collecting each color will allow you to access Rainbow Bridges, which I can only assume will unlock new areas to decorate… But again, I haven’t been able to get more than the Red Toads.

Though seemingly a bit shallow as far as a reward for all the work collecting coins and Toads goes, the building portion of the game does add a nice element of personalization to the game, and the tiny hub world is honestly a really relaxing place to let your phone sit when you’re doing other things.  Toads will also wander around the area and do things like roll around on the grass, so it’s hard not to find the little fungi adorable.

2) Longevity

The second reason SMR is worth the buy: Although it’s clearly built to be in more bite-sized bits, SMR seems to have enough content to warrant the price tag without fitting the bill of a far more expensive console title.

Like I said, only 3 levels are available pre-purchase: World 1-1, 1-2 and 1-3.  The levels mimic exactly what everyone has come to expect from a classic Mario game, one aboveground level, one underground level and one sky-high mushroom level.

The first three levels in Super Mario Run

The levels aren’t exactly very long.  Or at least, the nature of their existence – in which you’re constantly moving – makes it feel like the levels are a lot shorter than they might otherwise be if you had total control over Mario.

However, each level has enough replay value to ensure you won’t blow through the three level trial quicker than you can say “King Koopa.”  Beyond the obvious multiplayer aspect of high scores that you can compare with your friends, each level has a certain collectible that will keep you coming back over… And over… And over again.

Colored Coins for the first three levels in Super Mario Run

Every level in SMR has five collectible Pink Coins when you first play through it.  Chances are you won’t collect all five on your first time through, since many of them are hidden, sometimes hard to reach based on timing or touch strength or down a fork in the road that you can only access both ends of if you utilize your bubbles well.  So, on average, I would say that collecting each Pink Coin in each level would require at least two Runs, as they’re mostly in obvious places.

But once you collect all five Pink Coins, you then unlock a new version of the same map with five Purple Coins.  Purple Coins are, naturally, harder to find than the pink ones are.  More often than not the layout of certain obstacles and coin collections in the level will be far trickier during a Purple Coin run, forcing you to have to do things like check coin boxes to collect every coin (which is admittedly a much harder task than normal in this gameplay style).

Once you collect all five Purple Coins, you then unlock an even harder Black Coin Run of the level, which takes difficulty to a whole other level compared to the earlier versions.  In Black Coin Runs, coins will be hidden better and obstacle layouts will typically require precision playing and planning ahead to collect all five.

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A particularly tricky Black Star to collect in World 1-3

For example, in the screenshot above, to collect the Black Coin you need to not only stay on the yellow mushroom to ensure you’ll fall in the right area, you also need to make sure you time your jumps on enemies correctly so you don’t fall to your doom instead of soaring to victory (Oh, and I have to say, Paratroopas are my least favorite enemy as far as precision jumping goes.  Most of the time you need to land in exactly the right place and tap with just the right amount of strength to make sure you don’t lose a mushroom power-up or fall to your doom.  It’s annoying to say the least).

Also, did I mention there’s a Paratroopa earlier in the level that if you happened to hit will send a shell forward ahead of you that just so happens to knock out the first flying Paratroopa on this screen, thus ending your chances of getting this particular coin?  Yeah, it’s a pain.  Hence pre-planning and multiple runs through each level.  With extra space below the playing field left blank, Nintendo also set up a way to make sure your finger doesn’t get in the way of the gameplay or obscure anything in front of Mario.  It’s a small but very greatly appreciated detail.

I could complain all day about how annoying the Black Coin Run on World 1-3 is, but to be honest it isn’t so much annoying in an unfair sense as it is in a truly difficult sense.  When you fail, it’s because you didn’t perform an action perfectly.  Every element is laid out exactly how it needs to be laid out, and the complexity is enough to make the level interesting to play and frustrating enough to want to conquer.  And that’s only for World 1-3!  I can’t imagine the creative level designs that show up in World 6, those have got to be ridiculous.

Oh, and by the way, there is a reward for collecting all five colored coins in a given level for all of your Completionists out there (Yeah, I can’t consciously steal the word without sourcing it out… I already used Big Bad Bosses in my post, after all).

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Rally Tickets – a worthy prize and reminder of Super Mario Run’s multiplayer emphasis

That’s right, you can get six Rally Tickets per level if you play your cards right, enjoy a challenge and find precision gameplay fun.  Luckily, I fit all three of those criteria and found the challenge fun, even if it did get fairly frustrating.

To top all of this fun, challenging and rewarding gameplay off… SMR has some kick-ass earworms music.  Every track is the classic Mario song you would expect to hear that’s been amped up with techno vibes, really emphasizing the constant action of the gameplay.  The menu and hub world music has also been remixed.  Combine all of that with the tried and true Mario sound effects and you’ve got an audio experience that will keep you humming along hours after you finished your last Run.

3) Nintendo.  Mobile Games.  Winning.

The third reason SMR is worth the buy… Should be obvious. Come on now, this is our first mobile game released by Nintendo (if you don’t count Pokémon GO).  That’s definitely the kind of thing worth supporting if for no other reason than to ensure Nintendo continues to create worthy mobile gaming content.

Like I’ve reiterated throughout this not-so-little review, I’ve only completed the basic free-to-play content in SMR.  I spent maybe an hour and a half (two hours if I’m being generous) learning how the game works, collecting all 45 available colored coins and participating in a few Toad Rallies.  While this may not seem like a lot of time in the grand scheme of things, the fact that all that time was spent on three main story levels and four multiplayer level-ups is honestly pretty impressive considering the game is obviously meant to get harder and longer the further you get in past the ‘tutorial’ levels.

Nintendo’s impressive levels of game design and polish shine through with this title just as much as it would in any main series console Mario game.  The amount of care is clear in every little detail – after all, look at how much I pulled out of just two hours or so of play.  As a company, Nintendo has become an expert at taking their assets and improving upon them over and over again through every installment of their franchises.  Super Mario Run is no different.  Despite seemingly being a rehash of various old elements covering a slightly new skeleton, the game really feels like its own unique entity.

Also, the game can be played with one hand.  Shigeru Miyamoto proved as much in a promotional video with Buzzfeed.  Makes it a perfect game to play while breeding Pokémon at the same time.  Or you know, while doing other things, like schoolwork.  And regular work.

For the challenge, for the music, for the tried and true gameplay with a unique style of mechanics, for the fun multiplayer aspects and ultimately to encourage more great content in the future, I would highly recommend not only downloading the game, but shelling out $10 to get everything currently available.

I know I will be.

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