Tag: Nintendo Switch

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.

Hunting while Bedridden

I didn’t exactly have any grandiose plans for a blog post today in the first place, but I wouldn’t expect this one to be super long or involved anymore if I were you.

See, I spent most of the day at home today, but a lot of it was while indisposed. Cleaning the house and sleeping primarily.

Sleeping a lot. I mentioned starting to be sick during my Nintendo Direct post the other day, and since then it hasn’t exactly gone away. If anything it’s shifted from being more of a stomach bug to a head cold, and I’ve been laying around coughing with a sore throat for hours.

Fun stuff.

As a result, earlier I laid down to take a two, maybe two-and-a-half hour nap. Wound up sleeping closer to five hours.

Lost a hell of a lot of time to that, which is why I’m just kind of making it up as I go along now.

Figured if I was going to talk about anything, it would be the only not sick-related thing I did: Playing some Monster Hunter.

Because what else do you do when you’re laying down but not sleeping yet.

I’ve been having a blast with the game so far, and having to play it around school starting up actually made it more feasible to spread the content around. There’s a whole lot of it, and I’m maybe just finishing up the first third of the game — if you split it between low-rank, high-rank and G-rank hunting.

In celebration of finally breaking into high-rank, I figure why not share this cool new armor set I finished? In part because I honestly don’t use my Switch photo taking ability enough.

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This cool ninja outfit is the “Yukumo Sky” armor. Named after the Yukumo Region and made with hardwood from the nearby Misty Peak, this sweet gear has been outfitted with a number of decorations so that wearing it grants me ~40 percent higher critical hit chance and longer invulnerability periods when dodge rolling.

Paired with the Hidden Harmonic, a Hunting Horn made from the elusive Nargacuga, I have 70 percent higher critical hit rates and songs that provide Attack, Defense and Health buffs to my allies.

It’s one of my favorite combinations so far, a straight upgrade from the critical hit-boosting Shogun Ceanataur armor I used this horn with previously.

This kind of equipment set construction is arguably my favorite part of Monster Hunter, because it’s so much fun to beat down an increasingly large collection of complex monsters to see what sort of cool stuff can be done with their armor pieces.

However, another one of my favorite things in Generations Ultimate is just how darn pretty it looks, especially coming off of the 3DS generation.

I take some glamour shots once in a while, check some of them out:

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Here’s my Ceanataur armor, by the way. Crab boi.

There’s so many opportunities to do this and I love it.

Really I love this game a lot so far. After pouring so many hours into Generations on the 3DS, it’s cool seeing all of the new stuff that has been added into this version. I’m about three weeks in and still unlocking new locales.

It’s just sweet.

But that’s honestly about all I can think to write right now, because I’m still dying. Honestly I just wanted to get something out on my blog today.

So hopefully you enjoyed this goofy little thing. Maybe I’ll eventually come around to making more professional equipment set display posts one of these days.

If so, you can thank this post for being a trendsetter.

 

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.

Just another Quiet Day in the Neighborhood

Yesterday I was late on delivery with my blog post because I was busy all afternoon with my friends. Today, while I’m not on the cusp of midnight like before, I’m also a little later than I want to be.

But not because I was completely distracted. More because I found it a little hard to get my energy going.

That’s not to say I haven’t done anything at all today. I actually did get some serious work done interviewing an aerospace design engineer for Gladeo and transcribing that interview. For once it wasn’t a two-hour ordeal of a discussion to write out. Only a half hour.

It was actually very reasonable and easy to go through in comparison.

Even if, like I said, I wasn’t very motivated to get through it too quickly. So it still took me some time to transcribe out.

But I did get through the whole thing by the end of the day. I just have to go through what I got and decide how to lay out my Spotlight. It’s probably only going to be a Spotlight too, as a design engineer is sort of ambiguous to fit under one branch of engineering specifically.

You could be a designer for mechanical engineering, or environmental engineering, so on and so forth.

I don’t know exactly what category this interview might fit under, but that’s also not really for me to decide. I’m just the reporter, yo.

Doing that interview was about the only significant thing I did today, outside of helping clean the house where I could and playing some Enter the Gungeon on my Switch.

Another excellent Switch roguelike game, I might add.

Hopefully I’ll have more to discuss tomorrow, but for now I think I can essentially just leave this where it is.

The only other major thought I can think to expand upon right now is more of a simple housekeeping point. I think it’s about time I go through all of my social media and update it.

See I have a somewhat bad habit of just letting my Internet life exist in the void. Obviously my Twitter and Facebook are just megaphones for my blog posts here 90 percent of the time. Out of design mostly, as I prefer to let my thoughts fill a larger space than social media tends to allow.

As a result of that I don’t often go through and change my personal information. My Twitter Page still says I’m a news editor for the Daily Titan, for example, when I haven’t technically been in that position for close to a year.

Whoops.

Same problem on my Facebook page, where a lot of my interests listed are still things that haven’t been touched since like… Senior year. Of high school.

But probably the most egregious offense comes in my much more newly assembled LinkedIn page. That’s really the one that’s tripping me up right now because it’s the place people connect with me for more work-related endeavors — and it currently suffers the same problem as my Twitter page.

So over the next few days I think I’m going to go through and make them all perfect.

Then I’m going to do my best to update them more regularly. Because even if I don’t care about them THAT much, it’s important to remember that those are my forward-facing impressions to the world of 2018 more often than not.

Work. Social media. Fun, fun stuff, isn’t it?

Running and Gaming

I probably could have written up a blog post much earlier today when I wasn’t about to fall asleep while also taking the trash out.

But what can I say. Hollow Knight has enthralled me for easily the last six or so hours straight, so I lost track of time.

I’m not going to say I regret the loss or anything… Because boy is that game wonderful in every kind of way…

But yeah. This probably won’t be super long as a result.

Especially since the whole ‘falling asleep’ part of things stems out of my trip to the gym with mom today, which some of you might remember from this tweet I sent out in the middle of my run.

Mr. Crump is one of my high school gym teachers, if that wasn’t clear enough via context clues.

The trip is finally starting to hit me hard, so I might just pass out as soon as I finish this.

See I haven’t exactly been to the gym in a long time. I went fairly regularly about a year ago at the Cal State Fullerton Rec Center. Back then I made sure my schedule had a few open periods for me to head in there.

Then I found out about my low blood platelet count. Followed shortly after by a stint in the hospital with Meningitis.

Add onto that a busy class/work schedule and my trips to the gym became less and less frequent.

As you might imagine, that’s not exactly the healthiest reality. But it was reality for a bit.

Luckily I’ve finally decided to reverse course and go back to hitting the gym I registered for a membership at a local Planet Fitness where my mom and sister go, that way I have somewhere at home and on campus I could potentially go to.

That way I have no excuse.

Day one went quite well I’d say, even if I may have overdone it based on how wonky I felt for a while after. But hey, with this kind of a early result, who can complain?

Soon enough I’ll build up my stamina and branch out to more than just the treadmill. Then maybe I’ll be less wiped by the end of the day.

I’m just glad that I’ve hopefully found the motivation to go frequently again, that way I can start to feel better.

I’m also glad the Super Beard Bros exist, as they’re my favorite YouTube channel to watch while I run going back to those days at the CSUF gym.

Guess that’s a good possible question for this post that doesn’t need one. What do you all like to do when you’re at the gym? Listen to music? Watch TV? Watch videos? Listen to yourself pant and suffer?

Let me know! Could be something good for me to keep in mind for the future.

Go drunk Twitter, you’re home

I decided to go through with my idea from the other day and create a poll on Twitter to determine which game I should buy on my Switch, as I’ve had an interest in both Hollow Knight and Enter the Gungeon for some time now.

It only seemed fair to go to the Internet to make my choice for me, as I have long histories with both action platformers and roguelikes.

Naturally that poll turned out to be a flop in the end.

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It’s kind of funny how Twitter decided to give that extra one percent to the category I didn’t actually have a vested interest in.

While that left me with two options, either to assume equality amongst all choices considering only three votes were cast or go with the luck of the draw additional percentage, my choice was kind of set before it came to me.

I love you Kaleb, but Octopath Traveler is a full-price $60 game. As much as I’d probably be down for the fancy, traditional JRPG, it’s not really in my wheelhouse at the moment.

But there’s a separate problem plaguing my poll here that could have solved everything without any more headache. A problem that I’m blaming on Twitter directly.

See I’ve never done a Twitter poll before so I was curious how the underlying systems for it work. In checking out those analytics I found something very suspicious.

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First of all, shout out to the fact that 17 people engaged with the tweet but mostly didn’t actually vote. That’s cool.

More importantly though, what happened to that fourth vote?!

How is it that the tweet itself only has three votes counted if the analytics suggest four have been cast? Did somebody vote and then take their vote away? Is that even something someone can do? If that is something someone can do, why would it still be counted somewhere?

I have just… So many questions. It’s all pretty upsetting to because that fourth vote would have been the literal tie-breaker.

Even if, like I said, Octopath is kind of out of the question.

So that leaves me exactly where I started, drawn equally between Hollow Knight and Enter the Gungeon.

As much as that indecision would normally leave me complaining for a few minutes before ultimately deciding to do nothing and save my money, I have been pretty desperate for a new game to play.

So I’m going to go outside of my Internet questionnaire and cheat my answer out of someone who wanted to cast a vote but doesn’t have a Twitter account to do so.

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Congratulations Jonathan, you are the tie-breaker.

Just to prove it, here I am buying Hollow Knight as we speak:

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I’d say it’s safe to expect some kind of an impression-laden post about the game sometime in the near future, because that’s just the sort of thing I like.

Luckily, as you can tell, I’ve figured out how to pull pictures off the Switch without needing to post them on social media, so hopefully it’ll be a much more engaging post at that.

What’s that? Both Hollow Knight and Enter the Gungeon on now download screen?

Yes, well. As it turned out, when I was going to look at Hollow Knight, I happened to see that Enter the Gungeon was on sale in honor of its recent update. A whopping 50 percent off.

Thus this turns out to be the most unexpected timeline where I was able to get both games for about $22 bucks — a veritable steal considering these two will likely be my chief source of entertainment for the rest of the summer and beyond.

Now my only problem is I have to figure out which game to play first.

Quick Time Events suck

Quick Time Events suck

I know it’s a cliché to argue exactly what I’m saying in the title here, but don’t worry. I’m not actually planning on going on a long tirade against QTEs in video games.

This is just another case of ‘I spent all day hanging out with my friends and didn’t take the chance to write anything so I need some space filler.’

Welcome to space filler.

The reason I bring up quick time events in the first place is because most of our time today was spent playing a little known title called Detroit: Become Human. That’s right, the narrative-driven title brought to the world by Quantic Dream and the ever-controversial developer David Cage.

It’s a game that’s interesting… But pretty heavily flawed. In some key places.

We’ve been playing the game over the last few hangouts we’ve had while Jonathan was off in Canada on an extended road trip vacation, and it’s given me the chance to absorb some of what I feel are the big problems with my experience of the game — outside of issues with the studio and some of the ways women are treated that have been played to death in media.

No, my main problems with the experience of playing Detroit: Become Human involve certain gameplay elements. Beyond just the way it awakened a previously unknown pet peeve of being back-seat gamed when messing up a quick time event because I’m not used to Playstation controls and stuff is too sensitive and gettING YELLED AT ABOUT SCREWING THE GAME OVER UP DESPITE THE FACT THAT LATER IT’S REVEALED EVERYTHING WORKED OUT OKAY BECAUSE I’M A GOOD ROBOT JESUS JUAN AND TIANA CHILL OUT.

*Ahem*

Sorry about that. Just lost the last few seconds of my life, but I think I’m okay now.

But yes, besides issues with quick time events, it also annoyed me how much the game relies on using invisible walls and choices that inevitably seem to make no difference in the narrative necessarily.

For example, in one scene a character can lose their memory if the player doesn’t respond to a series of events fast enough. In the branching paths of the story’s narrative there is apparently a pathway that can be ventured down where the character legitimately loses their memories forever and becomes a mindless android servant.

But that isn’t a result of actually losing their memory the first time.

No, if the character loses their memory, that isn’t the end of the scene. Screwing up didn’t just kill the run, it instead let the character walk out and find ways to regain their memories.

I suppose the argument could be made that having these kinds of levels of choices to be made is an example of having a successfully branching narrative.

But there’s a narrative dissonance when the character you’ve been playing loses all sense of themselves… But that doesn’t inherently affect the player’s abilities to control their actions. All it really does is add a few extra steps for the player to advance into the next scene rather than going straight there because nothing about the experience of playing changes.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just not a fan of the style of games presented by Quantic Dream, but elements like that bugged me. It felt somewhat manipulative, attempting to throw the player in a certain story direction under the guise of giving them multiple different choices.

I won’t go on too much about the issue, since it isn’t necessarily something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. It just seems like an interesting topic to broach and potentially get the internet’s opinion on by throwing it out into the aether here.

Besides we had a lot of fun playing it together even when I was getting yelled at for nothING. It probably isn’t the kind of game I would play on my own, but with friends it’s an interesting concept to experience.

Unlike a different game we spent some time playing, Enter the Gungeon. That’s the kind of rogue-like I’m legitimately considered getting for the Switch.

Though I’m conflicted between getting that game or Hollow Knight, which I’ve talked about before.

Either way I think I’ll probably be getting a new game on my Switch at some point this week since I just got a little extra financial security through my SPJ scholarship, I’m just not sure which one.

I suppose if anyone has some suggestions for that, I’d be open to hearing those too!

Perhaps I’ll even throw out a poll on Twitter, see if that gains any traction. I’ve never done that sort of thing before so it might be fun.

We’ll see.

No matter what I’m going to stop rambling and let you all go, because this is getting a little ridiculous for a dumb space filling post. Hope everyone out there had a good weekend!


P.S. — Featured Image courtesy of Metacritic

A gaming taste test: My wallet’s worst nightmare

With my sickness beginning to fade away, I spent part of the day hanging out with the core four friends. Minus Tiana because she had work, apparently.

Nice going being responsible, nerd.

… He says while sitting on a 6,000 word interview to translate into a story.

Gosh the tangent game is still strong right now. I really shouldn’t let myself succumb to stream of consciousness writing when I’m not feeling good. Especially when I actually sort of have a point to what I’m writing for once.

See the chief part of our hangout today, rather than being an outdoor adventure like last time, was an indoor video game party.

Two of the games we played have been on my interest list for some time, and playing them led me to some different, interesting conclusions about what to put my money down on.

So I figured I’d talk about them. Because it’s getting late and I don’t have anything else to write about today.


Hollow Knight

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Image courtesy of ign.com

Hollow Knight is a game I’ve been eyeing for a long, long time. It has been highly recommended to me umpteenth times by my boy Kyle, and I’ve seen it on a number of ‘best of’ lists since it came out.

Essentially, the game is a metroidvania-style sidescroller that has very striking similarities to Bloodborne/the Dark Souls series (as Jonathan couldn’t help but pointing out over and over again). It has a super great art style and supposedly goes into some really cool things with its story and lore.

When Nintendo announced Hollow Knight would be dropping on the Switch during its E3 presentation this year, I was very excited to know I might have the opportunity to try it out soon. However, when Aly finished her sophomore year a few months ago, we decided to spend $15 on Wizard of Legend instead. It’s great couch co-op for the two of us, and I don’t regret the decision at all, it just happened to push-off possibly buying this title.

So I didn’t have the chance to try the game until Jonathan brought his Switch over today.

Honestly? I found myself more intrigued than ever.

While the movement controls felt a little more floaty than I had anticipated, I’m willing to chalk that up to not having a lot of time to mess around with the game overall. I imagine it’s something I’d get used to with a lot of personal time to focus on it without being trolled by all my friends as they watch my constant deaths.

It has a really, really interesting self-heal mechanic based on how many enemies you kill, and every moment felt reminiscent of my childhood playing games like Metroid: Zero Mission while offering a unique aura of dread to its presentation that perfectly complimented the mystery underlying everything.

We got through two bosses and I felt like I wanted to play so much more after we switched it off. That’s the sign of a good game, in my opinion.

So yes, Hollow Knight definitely lived up to my expectations in the short-term, and I’m considering buying it more than ever. But it wasn’t the only thing we played, as soon after we jumped into:


Splatoon 2: The Octo Expansion

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Image courtesy of Nintendo

I listed Splatoon 2 on my personal top games of 2017 list, but I put it rather low. Mostly because as much as I enjoy the IP, not enough felt different from the original game to seemingly warrant a sequel for any reason other than to transition from the dying Wii U to the shining new Switch console.

When the Octo Expansion was first announced I was intrigued. A whole new additional story mode certainly seemed like exactly what I felt Splatoon 2 needed the first time around. However, I wasn’t sure if it would be worth spending the extra money.

Especially considering I abandoned the game some time ago and would need some time to jump back into it and get used to the controls once again.

Now that I’ve played the game on Jonathan’s account (thanks again my guy, you the best), I have to say… My suspicions were confirmed.

Now I’m pretty confident that the original Splatoon 2 package should have just been Splatoon 1 DLC. The Octo Expansion should have been the story mode of Splatoon 2 from the get go, not extra content a few years down the line.

The world that the Octo Expansion creates is fascinating in that not only does it mess with themes of racism (better than Detroit: Become Human as we all joked while playing it), but it also builds on the lore established in Splatoon 1 in an honestly brilliant way.

Essentially, the idea is that you play an Octoling — one of the higher-ups in the army opposing the Inklings in both games — who has been converted from their ‘evil’ side by the power of the music played by Callie and Marie during the endgame fight in Splatoon 1. The Octoling encounters the protagonist of the first game and winds up having to go through a journey to get to the surface world so they can join the Inklings that live there.

If you’re concerned all that is a spoiler, it’s all in the opening cutscene for the expansion, so it’s really not. They start to build up the lore quick!

The way it incorporates elements from the first title into its DNA in a clever way earns massive points for the Octo Expansion in my mind. Especially since it builds on the gameplay as well by offering a large number of more difficult challenges to test a player’s platforming and gunplay.

We had fun with the expansion by having my play through the Wily’s Castle-style multi-stage endgame section, which was hilarious just because I had to get used to the game again by doing the hardest stuff it offers.

On the one hand I’d say it was worth it because the endgame stuff helped make me way more interested in the lore of the world beyond what I already mentioned. They do some AWESOME stuff with the final boss. Stuff that, like I said, should have been around the first time around.

But on the other hand, now that I’ve seen the endgame content I’m not sure I’m more encouraged to buy the extra expansion or not.

I’m intrigued by the challenge and think it would be worth redoing that endgame just to have the bragging rights on my personal account. Yet I’ve seen it now and have had time to absorb what happened, so I think I could spend my money better by buying other big games coming out in the near future.


Seriously though. Mario Party. Smash Bros. Pokémon. Monster Hunter. Mega Man Dragonball So on and so forth.

There are a ton of games coming out soon-ish that I’d love to buy that are more expensive than both Hollow Knight and the Octo Expansion.

My wallet cries out in indecision. Do I buy games now? Or do I wait for the gratification of games I want later?

I suppose I’ll have time to decide, but the pain of having to decide in the first place is almost worse than my sick right now.

Oh well, at least I’ve now had the pleasure of trying out both these games. That way I have a much more well-defined opinion of my interests to jump on whenever I do decide.

That said, what do you think? Should I spring for one of these two games now? Or should I hold on and see what I can get later?

Let me know! I’d love to hear what some of you think about some current games.

Ultimately Pointless Thoughts on Industrial Aesthetics

I was going to write something tonight about Wizard of Legend, an indie game developed by the two-person team at Contingent99 that’s all about being a dope mage who is basically the Avatar in a rogue-like dungeon crawler. It’s super fun and my current gaming venture with Alyson on the Switch, since she’s about to finish her school year and we wanted something to play together.

Unfortunately I still haven’t figured out a good way to pull pictures off of the damn console because it needs a Micro SD card and we only have a Mini SD card.

So a discussion on the merits of that amazing little couch co-op action game will have to wait for another day.

Instead I figured I would just ramble a bit about something that got me thinking during my travels today.

While driving to Hof’s Hut in Torrance this morning, where we had breakfast with my grandparents as an early Father’s Day celebration, we passed through a part of the city that could best be described as an industrial park.

Lumber yards and other mills interspersed with office complexes in a compact grid. That kind of a region.

What struck me in particular was the foliage in the part of the city we drove through, as odd as that sounds.

There’s a clear divide between the two residential areas and the industrial park between them along the path that we took to the restaurant. Especially crossing Hawthorne Boulevard, where one side of a train track-covered bridge is as classic a suburban area as it gets — tightly packed houses dotting hills and strip malls all around — while the other side is office complexes, empty lots, electrical towers and lines of hedges across entire sides of some streets.

Everything on the industrial side is much more spaced out and very clearly grossed out as if purposefully designed by someone playing Sim City.

The hedges are what intrigue me the most, as they seem like the outer walls of large mazes, complete with a singular entryway that has a sign indicating what’s on the other side. A lumber yard, like I mentioned, happens to be the one kind of facility I recall specifically.

Thinking it over I can’t help but wonder… For what reason have these facilities decided to cover themselves up?

Is there a law leading to that kind of exterior decorating? Or simply a way of building a better public image by preventing citizens on the outside from seeing any sort of “eyesore?”

Who decided to use hedges in particular? Why is that a common practice?

Also, in a more wide-ranging aspect of the question, is that practice common around the country? The world?

I’m not sure any of this brief flirting with the ideas of how industrial parks work from an aesthetic level amount to anything more than a dumb blog post. It could possibly be a future research opportunity for a story of some kind…

But for right now I’m a little too tired to dig through the history of industrial parks in any sort of hard research excursion. Especially considering my main computer seems to be having problems and I had to copy the entire post here off on my phone a second time.

If nothing else, I suppose being thoughtful about the nature of some foliage surrounding a lumber yard has inspired at least a little bit more than just an ultimately pointless blog post.

I’m thinking about potentially building something with a hedge maze in Minecraft on my friend’s world. Perhaps a revival of a project I tried to construct years ago.

Or at least I’ll think about building that more when I’m not running around zapping fools as an incredible wizard.

Looking at Nintendo’s E3 2018 Conference

Looking at Nintendo’s E3 2018 Conference

E3 was a tricky thing for me this year. See… A lot of it just isn’t for me.

That’s not me saying I’m not interested in a lot of the developers and what they’re working on, I mean literally there are barriers to me playing most games.

Like yeah I would love to play Kingdom Hearts 3, and I thought having three trailers across three different conferences that all featured different content was dope. But it’s on Xbox One and Playstation 4. Not the Switch.

#BringKH3toSwitch

Or yeah, Resident Evil 2 getting an HD remake is neat. Shadows Die Twice looks like a super cool game. Monster Hunting in Final Fantasy 14 is a good idea no matter which way you slice it. Fallout 76 seems interesting and fun. Etcetera, etcetera.

Unfortunately I’m just limited in what I can access, and money is a severely limiting factor when it comes to getting consoles.

So to sum up 90 percent of E3 this year I’ll say this: It was better than a lot of other years prior, and I had a great time watching my friends freak out about what’s coming out soonish. And it has been cool seeing YouTube ads get replaced by E3 trailers

But frankly the only thing I can really have any authority or hype to discuss is the big N. So today, I’m dedicating my blog post to the Nintendo E3 2018 Direct conference.

If you want something more in-depth about the other conferences, there’s plenty of opinions out there. Might I recommend ProJared? He didn’t go to the conference in person this year it looks like, but I still respect his opinion quite a bit.

That said, let’s jump right in with what we got out of Nintendo this year.


So the Direct starts with this hype game about mechs battling called DAEMON X MACHINA. Super action-y music, real Justice League-esque color scheme.

It looks cool, and I get why they would start with something that has such a high-octane feel… But it’s not a very ‘Nintendo’-looking game. I just kind of spent half of it staring at the screen wondering why we started with this and not one of the classic IPs.

But then it very jarringly cuts to silence and awkwardly moves into the next thing.

That next thing happens to be Xenoblade Chronicles 2 DLC. Which is something I would probably care about more if I’d played either of the Xenoblade Chronicles games.

Next.

Okay that’s not fair, it’s nice to see the game getting more love since I know it’s a series plenty of people love. I just literally don’t know enough about it to offer an opinion.

But hey, then our boy Reggie Fils-Aimé comes in to kick things up to 100 for me by showing off that Pokémon goodness.

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Except he doesn’t really, since it’s mostly just a recap of the trailer we saw the other day. No new footage or anything. So I guess if you want my over-extensive rumination on that, check it out through this link.

One thing he does let us know that’s new is the fact that the Pokeball Plus accessory allows you to get Mew in Let’s Go. That… Actually does make them feel much more worthwhile than I had originally thought.

Damn you clever marketing tactics. Damn you…

After that brief aside comes a return to form that feels much-needed on the Switch:

Super Mario Party.

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Image courtesy of vg247.com

That’s right, everyone’s favorite friendship killer is back. But this time it looks like Nintendo made a lot of good choices just based on the footage we can see.

For one, no more cars. Everyone wanders around on the game board on their own again. God bless.

They also show off the fact that the Switch consoles themselves will be well-integrated into the mini games, allowing players to do things like rearrange battlefields for tank fights.

Everything looks colorful and has branching pathways again, and there seems to be a wide variety of mini games to play. On top of that, they clearly pushed the fact that this is a Mario Party you can take literally anywhere thanks to it being on the Switch, which is a good selling point.

Plus Rosalina is there as a playable character. So honestly I can find no reason to complain. Come October, my friends and I are going to be all over it I’m sure.

Once Mario is finished, we move into the next thing. Yet another highly anticipated interest of mine:

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Image Courtesy of Nintendosoup.com

Fire Emblem Switch finally has a name. Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

It seems the one thing Intelligent Systems learned from Fates is the fact that they can sell more games if they split them up, so instead of two main versions now there are three!

Alright no that’s a joke, don’t believe that fake news. I think it’s just three Lord characters from feuding lands or something along those lines.

The game honestly looks gorgeous from what we can see in the trailer. The environments look realistic more in-line with Fire Emblem Warriors than the somewhat cartoonish fantasy worlds of Awakening and Fates. Which is a plus or a minus depending on who you are, but I dig the art style personally.

It also seems to retain the same stylized cutscene art as Echoes, and the in-game character models are full body, more in-line with those cutscenes.

There are a number of new mechanics showcased in the trailer as well. For one, all individual units appear to have their own troop of units surrounding them when you zoom in close enough. Honestly, this makes a lot of sense to embody the feeling of controlling an army, something older titles had to kind of awkwardly skirt around due to the conflicts with its core gameplay mechanics.

The extra troops don’t appear to be able to take hits for each individual main unit, but they can be put into formations to direct attacks whichever way the player wants.

Also introduced as a step-up from previous titles is what looks like semi-open world portions where the game’s lords can explore expansive towns and castles. It’s as if the free-roaming home base feature from Fates used the third person camera style from dungeon exploring that came in Echoes, but it has a massive graphical overhaul.

Beyond that there are a few extra vague things shown that won’t necessarily make sense until we learn more/see the game. There are character choices that may affect what weapons the Lord units specialize in, the evil king uses an electrical whip like that villain from Iron Man 2 (so whips confirmed as weapons?), there are big mechanical people who seem to be units or at least bosses…

And then lore stuff that isn’t exactly clear.

They give a Spring 2019 release date, but that’s about all we can gleam before the next few trailers hit rapid-fire. For anyone who watched the presentation, there’s a pretty big light at the end of the tunnel so I’ll move through them quick.

  • Fortnite on Switch: I couldn’t really care less. But it’s free I suppose?
  • Reggie comes back to introduce Indie games. Starting with the sequel to Overcooked — a game that I’ve been forced to play with my friends and regret every minute of. Why Reggie. Why.
  • Killer Queen Black looks like a strange 16-bit inspired clone of Joust, just updated for 2018 mayhem. Apparently it’s a port of a game Reggie says was really popular… But I’ve never heard of it. So we’ll see.
  • Hollow Knight, meanwhile, is a game I’ve heard plenty about. I’ve heard it’s gorgeous and fun, one of my friend Kyle’s favorites from 2017. I’ll actually consider downloading it given the fact it’s out today.
  • The super stylized Square Enix RPG Octopath Traveler received an official June 14th release date. I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the game but it looks cool and my friends are hyped for it, so I’m sure I’ll play it eventually.

After those announcements, there’s a montage of games that are either coming out or have come out. The one that stood out most, frankly, is Dragonball FighterZ. Something I’ve been looking for on Switch for forever.

Plus Dark Souls and Monster Hunter Gen Ultimate. And The World Ends with You, coming this Fall apparently.

Just… Give it to me already Nintendo, I need all of your games.

But wait, that montage must be the end of the Direct, right? How can there still be a half hour left?

Oh.

Ohhh.

Oh man. Here we go. Masahiro Sakurai is here. That can only mean one thing:

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Image courtesy of theverge.comtheverge.com

We begin this long examination of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with the biggest announcement it has to offer. Every single fighter from every previous Smash game is back.

Ice Climbers? In the game.

Solid Snake? In the game.

Pichu? Young Link? Wolf? Pokemon Trainer? In the game.

But more than that, a few characters have received overhauls. Most notably Link, who now sports his Breath of the Wild look, as well as Zelda, from Link Between Worlds, and Ganon, from Ocarina of Time. The clashing art styles there are a bit jarring for me personally, but it’s cool to get a wider breadth of representation for the series!

Oh and let’s not forget the new characters: the Inklings from Splatoon, Princess Daisy and… Oh.

Ridley.

Ridley is actually in the game.

Our memes have become our reality, folks. End of the line.

Many of the characters also appear to have adjusted move sets. Notably final smash attacks. For example, Pac-Man now seems to rain down like meteors in his, rather than just moving semi-quick across the screen. King Dedede’s smash is based on the Masked Dedede cage fight now. Bowser’s is based on the Yoshi’s Island boss fight.

There’s a whole long section in the video going over the different ways characters have changed, and I’d recommend going to watch that. It does a way better job summing things up than I could.

I’ll just say… RIP Landmaster. Your legacy will always be remembered.

Sakurai himself says they made the impossible possible because it’s what players want, and by god is he right. What a beautiful, amazing man.

Eight-player Smash matches are also returning, as are a billion fan-favorite maps. On top of that, there are little quality of life changes like seeing gauges for Cloud and Robin’s abilities, which makes it easier to track everything on one screen.

Oh and let’s not forget. Assist trophies have been added, like the Squid Sisters. Many can be knocked out too New Pokémon assists have been added, like Solgaleo from Sun and Moon.

… Also Bomberman is there. Because why not?

Everything emphasized by Sakurai seems to suggest the game’s development was focused on making everything more beautiful, more intimately connected to the individual fighters showcased and more quick and fun as a brawler for players.

It’s honestly a greatest hits album for Smash Bros., and I really can’t argue with how amazing it looks.

I just hope we get a lot more new characters in the lead-up to the game. I want the roster for Smash Ultimate to look like one of those silly rom hack Smash games. After all, the Inkling fighters and Ridley both look like really fun additions.

But mostly I want more characters because then we get more amazing reveal trailers.

In Ridley’s trailer, he straight up murders Mario and Mega Man.

Like holy shit it’s so intense and real like for no reason. And I love it.

Plus they say he finally ‘hits the big time.’ I see what you did there Sakurai.

With Smash coming out in December, it’s heard up to be a perfect holiday present for all the kiddos. I’m certainly looking forward to it!


I can understand why people might have been disappointed by Nintendo’s E3 Direct this year.

As a fan of Fire Emblem, Pokémon and Smash Bros., I had a great time watching the Direct. It does help that the Switch is the only console I own, so it was kind of a look at the only games I can get in the near future… But still.

I felt much more hype walking out of the Direct than I did walking in.

Despite that, the lack of discussion regarding things like Metroid Prime 4, which was teased last year, and other such misses are easy jabs to make at the conference. Everything was very focused on a select number of games, with not too much else branching out.

Of course there was (and I believe still is as I write this) the Treehouse Live going on that talked about more Pokémon details and stuff like that… But I didn’t have the patience or time to sit through it, so I’m going to leave those topics for another day.

Maybe.

Probably not, I don’t know. We’ll see.

In the meantime, let me know what you thought of Nintendo’s E3 conference this year!

Or, further than that, let me know what you thought of E3 in general this year. I may only have a Nintendo console, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t games in the other spheres that I didn’t find interesting. I’d love to hear what you’re looking forward to coming soon to consoles everywhere!