Monday, October 31, 2011

No post today.

I'm just posting this to tell you that there won't be an article or anything today.  My parents are coming over to visit and I'm spending the day cleaning up my apartment for them.  Don't worry, though!  There will be a post tomorrow since they're only staying for one night and leaving early in the morning.

Thanks for putting up with my unreliability these past couple weeks.  I'll make it up to you somehow.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The top ten songs from the Banjo-Kazooie series -- Part 2

Like the title says, this is part two of my list of top ten songs from the Banjo-Kazooie series.  If you haven't read part one yet, then you can read it by clicking here.

Mad Monster Mansion (Banjo-Kazooie)

This track starts off with an organ playing a song that gives off the feeling that you're in some haunted graveyard, but then it transforms into one of the quirky songs that the Banjo-Kazooie series in known for.  While it is a quirky song, it doesn't manage to kill the overall atmosphere of the level.  The organ music continues to play in the background in some parts, and in the other sections of the song, the other instruments used are able to carry the creepy feeling.  Couple that with the hoots of owls and howls of wolves in the background, and you get Mad Monster Mansion's theme.

But the thing that I like most about this song is the feeling you get when you're actually playing the game.  You're constantly running away from ghosts, skeletons, and tombstones that come to life, and the song is just the right pace to make it feel creepy and frantic at the same time.

Jolly Roger's Lagoon (Banjo-Tooie)

Although this song only plays in the entrance of Jolly Roger's Lagoon, it's probably the song that most people associate with this world.  Since it plays right at the entrance, it's the first song you hear when you play the water based level.  Right when you hear the first notes, you realize that the world you just entered is going to have pirate theme, even if the surrounding buildings don't look like it initially.

Freezeezy Peak (Banjo-Kazooie)

Freezeezy Peak is probably one of the most unforgettable stages from the original Banjo-Kazooie, and part of the reason it's so memorable is thanks to the level's music.  The music in this world makes you feel like you're really in a winter wonderland.  The instruments used helps create the vision that everything around you is either icy or covered in snow, and on top of that, the overall feeling of the track is upbeat and happy, just like how you'd imagine a winter wonderland to be.

The music really fits the level when you actiually start to walk around and take everything in.  The enemies are mainly evil snowmen, and then the characters inside the level are colored lights, a walrus, and a family of polar bears, which all fit the winter theme and the music perfectly.

Hailfire Peaks - Lava Side (Banjo-Tooie)

When you enter Hailfire Peaks for the first time, this is the first song you hear.  It's an excellent way to introduce the level, as it automatically makes you feel like you're on the side of a gigantic volcano full of lava.  Instruments such as trumpets and tubas help listeners be able to imagine themselves in an area where they're surrounded by pools of lava on all sides.  The background sounds that play during the song also emphasize that point because throughout the track, you'll hear gas escaping from vents and the sound of bubbles popping in the lava.

Although the ice side of this level is the same song, just with different instruments, it's much more toned down.  While it does fit the theme of the ice side of Hailfire Peaks, it's overall less memorable than the lava side's theme because of its toned down nature, which is why this song appears on the list instead.

Banjo Land (Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts)

I know this is a cheap song to put on the list considering about half of this song is already on the list in form of MIDIs.  I was considering leaving it off of the list for awhile, but then I decided that it was just too good to leave off.  Really, if you're a fan of the music in Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, how can you not love this song?  It's all of your favorite songs from past Banjo games, just orchestrated.

There isn't much else to say about this track, considering I've talked about most of it in my other entries.  The only thing that's really left to discuss is how it fits in with the level.  Although the level doesn't have the industrial feel that Rusty Bucket Bay has, or the forest like atmosphere that's present in Click Clock Woods, this song does fit the stage to a tee.  Banjo Land is all about nostalgia, and listening to this track is probably one of the most nostalgic things I've ever done.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The top ten songs from the Banjo-Kazooie series -- Part 1

The two Nintendo 64 Banjo-Kazooie games are known for a lot things, from being excellent platformers to having great and memorable music.  While their GBA and Xbox 360 sequels weren't as well received as their N64 originals were, the Banjo-Kazooie franchise is still remembered as one of the best open world platformer series in history.  In honor of their memory, I'm going to share my top ten favorite songs from the series.  The list will be split up into two posts, with today's post being the first five on the list and tomorrow's post having the remaining five.

I originally started this out as a top five list, but I couldn't decide on the five I liked most, so it was expanded into the list of ten it is today.  Because it was so difficult to pick ten I liked, this list isn't going to be in any specific order.  Anyway, enjoy the list!

Click Clock Wood - Spring (Banjo-Kazooie)

Any article listing the top ten songs from the Banjo-Kazooie franchise is bound to have this song somewhere in it, and for good reason.  The song itself starts off with only one instrument playing, but then slowly builds up to become one of the most memorable and catchy songs in the entire game.  Add in the birds and crickets chirping in the background, and you get a song worthy of being on any top ten list.

But the song itself isn't the only thing great about this track.  It also fits in perfectly with the theme of the level.  Click Clock Woods is a level based around a tree in a forest, and the song captures that feeling perfectly.  The wind instruments used in this song create a serene, peaceful feeling while also keeping up that fun atmosphere that the Banjo-Kazooie games are known for.  In addition, the song pauses and slows down in parts so you can hear the crickets and birds, which gives off the feeling that you're in the middle of some forest.

Mr. Patch Battle (Banjo-Tooie)

Mr. Patch is probably one of the most memorable bosses in Banjo-Tooie, and the song that plays in the background is even more memorable.  The music that accompanies the battle with Mr. Patch is expertly composed to give off the feeling that you're in some kind of demonic circus battling against something, all the while keeping that quirky charm Banjo games are known for.  I'm not a composer, but I can't imagine any other song going along with this battle as well as this one does.

To truly understand why this song is so great though, you have to have played through the level in which this song appears in Banjo-Tooie.  Witchyworld is like a carnival from hell, and right in the middle of said carnival is a giant circus tent.  Inside that tent waiting to battle is, as the game describes, a strange wobbly inflatable thing known as Mr. Patch.  It's basically the main attraction to the carnival, and the fast paced music that goes along with the battle just emphasizes that point.

Gruntilda's Lair (Banjo-Kazooie)

No list compiling the top ten songs from the Banjo-Kazooie series would be complete without the series' most iconic song.  This is the song you hear the most when playing through Banjo-Kazooie, and you never tire of it.  The instruments used in this song fit Grunty's lair perfectly, as they make you feel like you're really in a witch's lair and not anywhere else.  The instruments used also change when you get close to a level's entrance to fit the level that you're around.  It's a small touch, but it goes a long way in helping this song stand out.

As a side note, this song becomes even greater when you realize that it's actually based off of the 1932 song Teddy Bear's Picnic by Henry Hall and His Orchestra.

Rusty Bucket Bay (Banjo-Kazooie)

Yet another song that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that's played the Banjo-Kazooie games.  Like the other songs on this list, Rusty Bucket Bay's music fits the theme of the level perfectly.  The entire level is an industrial shipyard with one main ship in the center of it all, and because of the instruments used in the stage's theme, you get the feeling that you're actually in an industrial area.  You can also hear the sounds of seagulls and the ocean and in the background of this song, and to top it all off, it incorporates ship whistles into the actual song.

But what I think I love most about this song is just how catchy it is.  Even after you've left the level and moved onto Click Clock Woods, you'll still find yourself humming this level's theme.  And even if you're someone who hasn't played Banjo-Kazooie, you can still appreciate Rusty Bucket Bay's theme because it's actually a really good song.

Grunty Battle (Banjo-Kazooie)

Banjo-Kazooe is on a roll today!  Four of the first five songs on this list are from the first game in the series.  Don't worry, tomorrow won't have as many Banjo-Kazooie songs.

By the time you reach this battle, you've gone through nine worlds and collected almost every jiggy and note in the game to get to this point, and you expect an epic showdown between Grunty and yourself.  The game doesn't let you down, and that's thanks in part to the amazing music that's playing in the background.  While the rest of the game's music has a quirky, happy feeling to it, this song is completely serious.  It really gives off the feeling that this battle is the finale, and it's do or die.

I also love the fact that it starts off as a remix of Guntilda's Lair's theme, but then transforms into an epic final battle theme.  The remix is a great way to start off the final battle with the evil witch that's kidnapped your sister, and the epic part is an even better way to finish off the battle that the game had been leading up to the entire time.

For part two, click here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Quick update on my plans with this blog.

So I've spent about two weeks updating this blog so far, and I plan to keep updating every day.  I am making a few changes to my update schedule though.  I can't help but to feel like I can do better than what I'm currently doing, so I think what I'm going to be doing is this: On every Sunday, I'm going to post a long, in-depth article, while the other six days of the week will be like the posts I've been posting.  This way, I'll be able to update daily while still reaching what I feel like is my full potential.

There won't be a large article this Sunday, but start expecting them next week.  Other than that, this site will remain the same, so keep on visiting!

Thanks everyone!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

How can Nintendo prevent the Wii U's launch from resembling the 3DS's launch?

It's no secret that the 3DS didn't have as smooth of a launch as Nintendo would have hoped for.  There were long periods of time without any notable game releases, the sales didn't meet expectations, the online eShop wasn't ready until about three months after the Japanese launch, and there were game cancellations and delays left and right.  Nintendo ended up having to scramble to increase the sales of the 3DS and improve its image worldwide.

With Nintendo's next hardware launch about a year away, Nintendo could potentially be facing some of the same issues they did with the 3DS.  So, what can Nintendo do to prevent the Wii U's launch from resembling the launch of the 3DS?

Change the name and design of the Wii U.
When the 3DS was released, there was a lot of confusion with the casual gamer. Nintendo had released four different versions of the DS prior to the 3DS, with each of them having the letters DS in their name.  When the 3DS was launched, it kept the DS brand, causing many consumers to think that it was just another revision of the DS.  The 3DS also had a similar design to the numerous DS models, and, on top of that, there were reports of stores mixing the 3DS and DS sections together, creating even more confusion among the people who don't follow gaming news.  With the Wii U, I can see a similar situation playing out if they don't change the name or design.

Although the Wii didn't have numerous revisions to confuse the consumer like the DS did, the Wii U's current design is extremely similar to the Wii's design.  Add in the fact that there's only a one letter difference between the names of the Wii and the Wii U, and you can see how parents or new gamers might become confused when they see the Wii U in stores.  If you don't believe me, then just look at the reaction gamers and journalists had to the Wii U's reveal at this year's E3.  The people watching and attending Nintendo's press conference were people who kept up with the industry, but quite a few of them thought the Wii U was just an add on to the Wii.

The Wii U's design is very similar to the Wii's, which could
lead to confusion.

It also doesn't help that Nintendo seems to be keeping the Wiimote around for the Wii U. While that in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, Nintendo seems to be keen on showing off the fact that the Wiimote can be used in conjunction with the Wii U.  That, along with the Wii U's name being extremely similar to the Wii's name and the Wii U's design being similar to the Wii's design, may cause a great amount of confusion in the minds of casual gamers.

It is vital to the Wii U's early success that Nintendo differentiates the Wii U enough so that consumers don't confuse it with the Wii.  With what we've currently seen, it doesn't appear like Nintendo's doing enough of that.

Have some major first party titles available relatively soon after launch.
With the 3DS's launch, Nintendo purposely didn't release any big name first party games. They wanted third parties to have the spotlight during the launch of the 3DS.  However, this led to large droughts in the 3DS's release schedule since third parties wanted to wait for the 3DS to have a larger user base before committing.  As we all know, third parties that had promised to support the 3DS ended up delaying their games or pulling support completely.  Because of this, there wasn't any reason to own a 3DS for the first few months of its life other than banking on the potential it had.

With the Wii U, Nintendo really needs to focus on creating some big name games and releasing them within the first few months of its life.  The people who buy Nintendo consoles around launch buy them for Nintendo games, not third party games.  If there isn't any enticing first party game from Nintendo, then the people who would normally buy the Wii U around launch won't buy it, which would lead to a small userbase and a similar situation to the 3DS.

I realize that Nintendo wanted improve their relationship with third parties by allowing them to have the spotlight for a few months, but it's been pretty obvious for a while that third parties aren't as willing to work with Nintendo as they are with Microsoft or Sony. Nintendo shouldn't entrust the launch of their next console with the third parties that have constantly given them the cold shoulder since the mid 90s.

Make sure everything is ready to go before launch.
This may sound like common sense, but the 3DS and Wii didn't launch with full online capabilities.  It took the Wii one and a half years to get the WiiWare service, and it took the 3DS about three months to get the eShop service.  In an era when the internet plays a huge role in gaming, it should have been common sense to have these two services ready at launch.  With the 3DS especially, the fact that it launched without the eShop was another bullet point on the list of 3DS negatives that prevented people from buying it around launch.

Nintendo's eShop service wasn't available until three months
after the launch of the 3DS.

Despite their history with online, I don't expect this one to be an issue.  Nintendo says that they've learned from their online mistakes with the DS, Wii, and 3DS, and they're promising that the Wii U's online will be better.  They still need to make it a priority that they have a functioning online store available at the Wii U's launch, though.  Without it, small, independent developers wouldn't be able to have their games released to the Wii U's audience right away, and they would flock to the PSN, Xbox live Arcade, Steam, and smartphones, leaving the Wii U in the same situation as the Wii.

Make sure it's reasonably priced.
Another point that may seem like common sense, but Nintendo seemed to ignore it with the 3DS.  When the 3DS launched here in the USA, a 160GB Playstation 3 cost $299 and the Xbox 360 cost $199 for its cheapest SKU.  250 dollars for a handheld that's around the same strength as the 10 year old Gamecube felt outrageous to a lot of people, especially when compared to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.  Then, a few months after the launch of the 3DS, Sony announced that the much more powerful Playstation Vita would cost the same price as the 3DS, and that they wouldn't be losing that much money with each Vita sold.  In the eyes of gamers and consumers, this made the 3DS look even more overpriced.

Again, with the Wii U, I don't expect this one to be an issue.  Nintendo has a history of having the most inexpensive consoles in relation to their competitors, but they also had a history of having inexpensive handhelds too.  Nintendo let the success of the DS and the hype for the 3DS get to them when deciding a price point, and they could potentially fall into the same trap again.  I just hope that the launch of the 3DS and the price complaints taught them that they can't overcharge for the Wii U and expect people to buy it, even if the Wii was their most successful console in terms of sales.

In the end, Nintendo made a lot of mistakes with the 3DS's launch that they could repeat with the Wii U, it's just a matter of them realizing what their mistakes were.  Based on what Nintendo's been saying lately and their current actions with the 3DS, I do think they learned their lesson, but you can never be sure with Nintendo.  We just have to wait and hope for the best.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Third parties and the Wii U

Before I start, let me apologize for the extremely late update today.  I don't really have any excuses other than procrastination, so I'll just leave it at that.

Ever since the Nintendo 64, Nintendo hasn't really had the best relationship with third parties.  While their handhelds continue to get notable game releases, Nitnendo's home consoles are left with mainly spinoffs and party games, which isn't exactly what fans of Nintendo would like.  With the Wii U, things finally appear to be changing, with games like Batman: Arkham City and Darksides II being announced, but I can't help but to be worried about the success of these games on the Wii U.

There are a few main points that concern me about the performance of third party games on the Wii U, with the first being that some of the games announced for the Wii U are coming out on the PS3 or 360 months before they are on the Wii U, such as Ninja Gaiden 3 and Arkham City.  Millions of Wii owners who are considering to buy the Wii U already own either a PS3 or a 360, and currently, there's no reason to wait for the Wii U release of multiplatform games.  Why would we sit around and listen to people talk about how great these games are, just to buy it for the Wii U a year later?  Chances are, if you're interested in a game like Batman: Arkham City, you either already own it for one of the HD consoles, or you're going to be buying it in the near future.  You're not going to wait until late 2012 to play a game you've been anticipating for two years.

There isn't even some incentive with extra features when it comes to these games.  I realize there's still a lot of time between now and the release of the Wii U, and in that time, there could be numerous announcements concerning exclusive features, but like I said, if you've been anticipating these games for years, you're not going to sit around and wait for third parties to announce extra features that are exclusive to the Wii U.

Arkham City may be coming to the Wii U, but there's no
incentive to buy it for the Wii U.

The second thing that worries me about third party games on the Wii U is the fact that certain series have already built up a loyal following on the PS3 and 360.  Games like Assassin's Creed and Battlefield have built up the image that they are PS3 and 360 games (and in Battlefield's case, PC too).  Majority of the people who enjoy those games already own a PS3 or 360, and probably won't see any reason to buy a Wii U to play a game that's going to be on a console they already own.

Then there's also the fact that a vast majority of the already announced third party games will be released around the same time that the Wii U launches.  The problem I see with this is that the Wii U's userbase will be incredibly small at this point, so games that are going to be releasing in the Wii U's launch window won't have a large audience to sell to.  Plus, a vast majority of the people who will buy the Wii U on launch day will be hardcore Nintendo fans, and let's face it, many of the hardcore Nintendo fans don't play games like Battlefield.  That narrows down an already small userbase to an even smaller pool of potential customers.

With all these concerns combined, I feel like the Wii U versions of multiplatform games are going to underperform when compared to their PS3 and 360 brothers.  We've seen time and time again throughout the last fifteen years that third parties pull support from Nintendo's platforms if game sales don't meet expectations.  While I don't expect a scenario as bad as Nintendo's last three home consoles, mainly because the Wii U will be closer to the PS3 and 360 in terms of power, I do fear that any Wii U version of a major release will be an afterthought for developers.

I'm still expecting the Wii U to be a great console because of the support from Nintendo, but I still feel a little weary about its third party support.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I love speculation

I know that for the most part, these past couple days haven't had the best updates, but bear with me!  This one won't be super long either, sorry!  I'm trying to get back on the schedule of posting a new article around noon Eastern time, so hopefully I'll be back to that by the end of the week.  Anyway, onto today's article.

I love speculation.  I love it when a new game is announced because it lets me overanalyze every pixel in the game and come up with some crazy theories.  People can tell me that my ideas are crazy and outlandish, but that doesn't discourage me from doing it every time a major release is announced.  I know that for the most part the ideas that I come up with will never come to fruition in the actual game, but just the sense of looking at a trailer or screenshot and guessing what that strange object in the background is is amazing.

Sometimes I worry that speculating can harm my overall experience with a game, since I'm coming up with theories that I would love to see in a game, but aren't going to appear. However, I've found that speculating doesn't hurt my experience at all, just like with spoilers.  In fact, it actually helps the weeks before the game releases go by faster.  I'm so enthralled by my own theories that the days, and then the weeks, just fly by.  When I don't speculate, I find that the weeks just drag on, especially the closer to release it is.

The Silent Realm reminds me of a dream like state.  The villain must
be Nightmare!

I like to use two games as an example for this, with the first game being Spirit Tracks. When Spirit Tracks was coming out, I watched every trailer that Nintendo released and looked at every screenshot of the game.  Whenever I was thinking about Spirit Tracks, I would always rewatch trailers to find a nonexistent hint that tells me something about the story.  I had somehow come up with some crazy conclusions, with one of them being that the new world Link and Tetra found after The Wind Waker was actually Termina.  Before I knew it, it was December 7th and I had my copy of Spirit Tracks, and I still loved the game despite my wild theories.

Then there was Pokemon Black and White.  Since the games were released in North America was so long after the games were released in Japan, I didn't really have anything to speculate about, and I already knew everything that happened in the game months before I even got to play it for the first time.  Like I said in my post about spoilers, I don't think it hurt my experience with the game, but it did make the weeks drag on.  I was stuck watching gameplay on websites like YouTube, and since there wasn't anything to speculate about, my only thought was about how much fun the game will be when I finally get my hands on it.

Because I find speculation a good way to pass the time, I find myself taking part in it once again with Skyward Sword.  There's still around a month left until the game is finally released, but time flies by for me when I concoct theories by watching the opening cinematic or new gameplay footage released in Iwata Asks.  After coming up with my own theories about the game, I like to compare them with theories other people have created by watching the same footage.  I find myself lurking on forums like Zelda Universe just to see what ideas others have come up with.

So, do you guys speculate or do you find it weird and stupid?  Let me know!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Sorry you guys, I've been having a bit of writer's block.  I have all these topics that I want to discuss, but I just can't find any way to actually write them down.  No post today because of that, and it's kind of frustrating to me because I really want to post a new story every day, but my mind's just no cooperating with me.

I'll spend all of tonight outlining and writing though, so don't worry about tomorrow!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Did Nintendo abandon the hardcore with the Wii?

Before I continue on, let me just say that I know this topic has been covered time and time again.  I just want to throw in my two cents on the issue.

Nintendo's strategy going into the Wii and DS was different from any other strategy they had before.  Instead of focusing solely on the already existing gaming market, Nintendo decided to expand the market by making games that are more inviting and controllers that aren't intimidating.  As we all know, the DS and Wii were huge successes in their mission to expand the market and ended up being Nintendo's most successful handheld and home console respectively.  However, because of Nintendo's desire to add older and female gamers, many people who had stuck with Nintendo since the original NES felt alienated, especially with the Wii.

Did Nintendo abandon the hardcore with the Wii?

When Nintendo launched the Wii in November of 2006, there was a lot of excitement from the hardcore.  It was launched with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and a new entry in the long forgotten Excite series, Excite Truck.  Additionally, we knew that Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl were all coming out sooner than later, and most of us were hyped for third party games such as Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Red Steel, and No More Heroes.  All of this along with new motion controls that sparked the imagination of everyone. Things were looking great for Nintendo's new console.

Things started to change in 2007 and 2008 though.  Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Twilight Princess were regarded as disappointments to many, and the motion controls weren't living up to the expectations many gamers had.  Furthermore, Nintendo's games had gotten the reputation of being extremely easy by the end of 2008.  A popular opinion at the time was that Nintendo was purposely making their games easy because they didn't want to scare away the new gamers they had brought in with the DS and Wii.

Nintendo's online system was even more of a disappointment, which kept the strongly disliked friend code system from the DS.  Despite the lackluster friend codes, we were given WiiWare in 2008, and games like Mega Man 9, Lost Winds, My Life as King, and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years were all released within a year of WiiWare's debut.  Nevertheless, gamers generally viewed Sony's Playstation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live as the superior online experience due to their more robust options, while Nintendo's Wi-fi was seen as a watered down online system meant for the entire family with Nintendo serving as the overprotective parent.

Nintendo's online service wasn't up to par with the PSN or
Xbox Live.

Things started to look even more bleak after Nintendo's E3 2008 conference.  Nintendo didn't announce any games that excited the hardcore, and instead, focused on games like Wii Music and Animal Crossing.  When asked what games there were for the hardcore in the holiday season of 2008, Nintendo of America's president told reporters that they had Animal Crossing to look forward to.

By this time, the third parties had abandoned Nintendo once again.  All the major third party releases were for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, while the Wii was left with lazy ports and party games, and many gamers blamed Nintendo and their fans for not having a better relationship with third party developers.  On top of that, the third party games that were released on the Wii usually ended up selling poorly compared to third party games on the HD consoles. Because the PS3 and 360 were getting virtually every major third party game, they were viewed as the more hardcore consoles by the average gamer.

The situation didn't get much better for the Wii's image in the following years.  Although games like Super Mario Galaxy 2, Donkey Kong Country Returns, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and Monster Hunter Tri were announced, people tended to focus on Wii Sports Resort, Wii Fit Plus, Wii Party, and Just Dance 1 and 2 since they were some of the best selling games on the Wii.  There was a noticeable lack of fan favorite Nintendo franchises too, with Pikmin, Star Fox, and F-Zero being the most notable.  Nintendo's WiiWare service also continued to be viewed as a watered down service since the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network were receiving games with a higher profile, such as Super Meat Boy, Outland, Limbo, and Flower.

So, did Nintendo really abandon the hardcore with the Wii?  I would argue that no, they didn't.  I know others have said this in the past, but I personally think the hardcore abandoned Nintendo, not the other way around.  In every year of the Wii's life, you can find multiple games that would satisfy the hardcore crowd.  Even in 2008 when the Wii's selection was arguably the worst, we still had Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii, Okami, and Mega Man 9.  I know you may be saying, "But Adam, Brawl was a disappointment and Okami was a port!", and it's true, but that doesn't stop them from being good games that gamers can enjoy.  Brawl may not have been as well received as Melee was, but it was still a great game, and Okami originally being released on the PS2 doesn't stop it from being a great game on the Wii too.

Brawl may have been a disappointment, but it wasn't a bad game.

Another aspect of the Wii that gamers seem to be missing is the fact that Nintendo revived a lot of their older franchises.  As mentioned before, the Excite series got a spiritual successor in the form of Excite Truck, which was then followed up by Excitebots, and we also got Sin and Punishment 2 and Punch Out!!, two games that were strictly fan service for the hardcore gamers that had stuck by Nintendo since the NES.  On top of that, we saw the first 2D sidescrolling Mario game on a console since the SNES, the first 2D sidescrolling Kirby game on a console since the N64, and the revival of the Donkey Kong Country series, which hadn't been seen since the SNES.  Casual gamers that bought the Wii for games like Wii Fit, Just Dance, and Wii Sports couldn't care less about classic Nintendo franchises.  They were brought back for the gamers that had been demanding those games for years.

It's also clear that Nintendo was listening to the hardcore gamer throughout this entire generation.  Before the Wii came out, gamers complained about how Nintendo always relied on the same franchises every generation, and this generation, Nintendo didn't rely on classics like Star Fox and F-Zero.  What did Nintendo get for that though?  Complaints from the hardcore for not relying on their old franchises.  Nintendo also fixed the issue of their games being too easy.  Starting in 2009, there was a noticeable jump in difficulty in Nintendo's games.  In fact, their games were so hard, Nintendo incorporated a "Super Guide" system into their games so they wouldn't alienate people who found their games frustratingly difficult.

There's also the case of Zelda.  After The Wind Waker, the hardcore complained that it was too colorful and not enough like Ocarina of Time, so we were given Twilight Princess.  What did Nintendo get for that?  Complaints from the hardcore that it was too brown and too much like Ocarina of Time. Now we're getting Skyward Sword, and Nintendo seems to have fixed the complaints from Twilight Princess.  The colors and nice and vibrant, but not too bright like Wind Waker, and it looks like the biggest departure from the Zelda formula since Ocarina of Time.  However, if you go to websites like GameFAQs or NeoGAF, you'll see professed hardcore gamers complaining about something in Skyward Sword, whether it be the controls, the structure of the game, or the art style.

Time and time again, Nintendo has shown that that they're trying to cater to the hardcore crowd, but it's the hardcore crowd that's shunning Nintendo.  Gamers aren't focusing on the games Nintendo's given them, and instead, they're focusing on the games that weren't meant for them to begin with.  Nintendo has listened to the cries of gamers for the past five years, giving the gamers what they want.  The hardcore gamers don't pay attention these actions by Nintendo though, and instead focus on two or three games while either ignoring or complaining about the plethora of other Nintendo releases that are meant for the hardcore gamer.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Sorry guys!  I know I promised a new post today, but I just couldn't find the time to sit down and edit it.  The new post will come either late tonight or tomorrow.

Again, sorry for the lack of updates today, but I swear it'll be up within 24 hours!

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Have a Love/Hate Relationship With Spoilers

This update is going to be another short one.  I promise they'll get longer again tomorrow.

Spoilers are interesting to me.  Whenever a new one comes out for a game that I'm anticipating, I have an inner struggle.  They're like the apple in the Garden of Eden; part of me says don't look at the spoilers and the game will be even better when you first play it, while another part of me tells me that spoiling games hasn't ruined any of my gaming experiences in the past, so go right ahead.  I usually end up listening to the part of me that tells me to look at them, but I still feel like I shouldn't.

Even though I usually end up looking at spoilers, it's only for one game at a time.  When multiple games that I want come out within a month of each other, I usually end up focusing on a single game while ignoring the rest of them, so I've only spoiled one out of four or five games.  Take, for example, this fall.  I'm eagerly anticipating Uncharted 3, Kirby's Return to Dreamland, Skyward Sword, and Super Mario 3D Land, but I've only looked at Skyward Sword spoilers.  It's a lot easier to forget about the other three games when one game has had my undivided attention since E3.  I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but I try to be positive and think it's a good thing.  Sure, I may know every detail of Skyward Sword before it comes out, but hey, at least I'll be shocked by everything in the other three.  It's a fair trade off in my eyes.

Come on, you know you want to highlight them.

But enough about me, tell me about yourself.  How do you guys view spoilers?  Do you think they're okay to look at, or do you feel like they ruin your experience the first time around?  And if you guys don't look at spoilers, how do you avoid them?  I always find it difficult not to click links to videos or screenshots when someone posts them online.  I know of media blackouts where you completely avoid websites or topics on forums, but for me it's always there in the back of my mind.  I tried to not spoil myself of Pokemon Black and White, but I failed miserably.  I knew every single Pokemon in Unova before the games were even released in Japan.  I don't think it ruined the enjoyment I got out of Black and White, but at the same time, I think of how great it would have been to stumble across a Pokemon I had never seen before.

Well, there I go talking about myself again.  Anyway, leave your comments below, and if you don't look at spoilers, share your tips on how you avoid them.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Want Another Open World Mario

This is going to be a short entry just so you guys know.  Quick and to the point.

Along with many other people, I love the Super Mario Galaxy games.  There is one thing missing from them to me though, and that's exploration.  The Galaxy games are extremely linear and are basically get from point A to point B without dying.  With the announcement of Super Mario 3D Land, it seems like Nintendo is sticking with the same forumla.  While it is a fun formula, I can't help but to find myself yearning for another Mario game with open environments.  The last time we got to truly explore large environments in a Mario game was in Super Mario Sunshine back in 2002.  Meanwhile, we've gotten New Super Mario Bros., New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Super Mario 3D Land.  I'm not arguing that these games are bad games -- they're not, and I love them just as much as the next person, but I still love my open world Mario too.

I miss the open environments that were present in 64 and

I know some of you will say that open world Mario games were never really Mario, since every single game before Super Mario 64 was a 2D sidescroller without much exploration, and you'd be right.  However, that doesn't stop me from wanting a new Mario game with environments akin to 64 or Sunshine.  Even if I look outside of Nintendo, no one seems to be willing to create an open world platformer.  Naughty Dog's focus is now on Uncharted, Rareware seems to have abandoned platformers all together now, and Spyro hasn't had a good game since the Playstation days (although apparently the new Spyro game is good, which is shocking).  One could argue that the Ratchet and Clank games are open, but they're not.  They're good games, don't get me wrong, but they're basically get from point A to point B with some wiggle room to go left or right.

Sure, Sly is getting a new game next year, but one game isn't enough to quench my thirst.  That leaves Nintendo.  It's been nine years since Sunshine came out, and even though I have loved the 2D sidescrolling Mario games, I still think it's time for a new Mario game with open worlds.  Maybe on the Wii U.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kirby's Dream Land 3 Review

Here's a special retro review for you guys.  With a new Kirby game coming out on the Wii in less a week here in North America, I figured that I would review Kirby's Dream Land 3 for the SNES in honor of the upcoming game.

Developer: HAL Laboratory
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: SNES (Also on the Wii's Virtual Console)
Release Date: November 27, 1997 (NA), March 27, 1998 (JP)

When the SNES classic was originally released in 1997, it was met with lukewarm reception.  The highly acclaimed Kirby Superstar was released less than a year earlier, and the Nintendo 64 had stolen the spotlight from the SNES by the time Kirby's Dream Land 3 was released.  Were these factors the reason that Kirby's last SNES outing didn't fare well in the reviews, or is it truly a mediocre Kirby game?

Kirby's Dream Land 3 starts off with a mysterious dark object, fittingly named Dark Matter, invading the peaceful world of Dream Land and it starts wreaking havoc.  It's then up to Kirby and his friends to stop Dark Matter and save Dream World once again.  If you've ever played a Kirby game before, the simplicity of the story shouldn't come as a shock to you, as Kirby's never had deep plots.

Once the game actually starts, the first thing you'll probably notice about it is its unique art style.  It's very similar to Yoshi's Island's art style, in the sense that it looks like a drawing come to life.  Others in the past have found it off-putting and childish, but it's actually quite charming and fitting.  The same goes for the music.  The tracks in Kirby's Dream Land 3 are some of the most catchy songs in a Kirby game, and you'll find yourself humming along with them as you play along.  They expertly add to the atmosphere and range from upbeat and happy to slow and mysterious.

The art style is unique and charming.

When you actually start to play the game, you'll realize that the gameplay in this Kirby game is like most of the other Kirby games.  It's a 2D side-scrolling platformer in which Kirby can suck up enemies and copy their abilities, which range from turning into a ball of spikes to breathing air cold enough to freeze anything that stands in his way.  Kirby also retains his ability to float for an infinite amount of time, which can make certain parts of the game easier since you can just float above them.

The animal friends from Kirby's Dream Land 2 also make an appearance here, with the addition of three new friends.  These include Coo the Owl, Rick the Hamster, Kine the Sunfish, Chuchu the Octopus, Nago the Cat, and Pitch the Bird.  Each of these friends has a special ability that Kirby wouldn't normally be able to do.  Take Chuchu the Octopus for example.  She can cling onto the ceiling and walk around on it, which is something Kirby can't do on his own.  Along with special abilities, each animal friend also modifies the ability Kirby currently has copied.  Continuing with Chuchu example, if Kirby has the fire ability copied, then you could use it to float up using Chuchu like a hot air balloon.  While the animal friends are a nice addition and fun to experiment with every now and then, you'll find yourself either sticking to one or two the entire game, or just avoiding them completely.  Despite their special abilities, they don't really add much to the overall experience, and you'll find that they generally slow you down, with the exception of Coo and Kine.

Kirby is joined by six animal friends and a blob this time around.

In addition to the animal friends, Kirby's Dream Land 3 also has a multiplayer aspect.  A second player can join in as a blob named Gooey, which plays exactly like Kirby.  The only issue with the multiplayer aspect of the game is that if Kirby is using an animal friend, then Gooey can't, and vice versa.  It comes off as strange considering there are more than enough animals for the two players to share.  It's even stranger when you consider that Kirby Superstar, which came out a year earlier, also had multiplayer, and did it better.

The game itself is broken up into five main worlds with six levels and one boss in each world.  They're your typical Kirby platforming stages, but this time, each level has a hidden task for you to complete.  When you find and complete each task, you're rewarded with a Heart Star.  Finding these Heart Stars isn't necessary to finish the level, but it is necessary if you want to see the real ending.

The game is broken up into five main worlds.

The overall difficulty of the stages in Kirby's Dream Land 3 is a little easier than the average Kirby game, which is to say, extremely easy.  This time around, Kirby can take up to ten hits before dying, and healing items and extra lives are a common sight throughout each level, which are then followed up by a minigame for even more health or another extra life.  There will be numerous times throughout the game where you come across a Maxim Tomato, but your health bar will be full.  The only time you may find yourself dying would probably be when you're speeding through a level and not really caring about the enemies in your way.  Even if you do die, you most likely won't be worried about getting a game over since extra lives are so abundant.

In fact, the only real difficult part of the game is in regards to the Heart Star collecting.  In each world, there's one level where you have to play a kind of quiz to collect a Heart Star.  Usually these quizzes move so quickly that there's no way to truly know what the answer is without cheating.  If you're going for 100% completion, it becomes frustrating towards the end that the actual game is so easy, but the quizzes are frustratingly difficult.

Despite the easy difficuly of the main game, there is an extra boss rush mode that provides a challenge.  Here, you have to fight through all the bosses in the game over again without healing, having copied abilities, or using your animal friends.  It is strictly single player though, so a friend can't join in on the action.  It's an entertaining minigame to play once you've beaten the game, and it's always fun to see if you can you defeat all the bosses without getting hit.

The Boss Butch provides a fun challenge in an otherwise
easy game.

Concluding Thoughts
While Kirby's Dream Land 3 does have its flaws, it is a solid entry into the Kirby series. The difficulty may not be where you want it to be and the animal friends may not have as many uses as one would wish they had, but that doesn't stop the game from being fun. The traditional Kirby gameplay combined with an interesting art style and catchy tunes creates a fun adventure that every platformer fan should experience. It may not be Kirby's most famous outing, but it's certainly one of his most fun.

Final Score

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nintenviews has a Twitter account!

I decided that I should make a Twitter account for Nintenviews so any readers I have (which I'm guessing is none right now) can keep up with what I think, even when I'm not posting stories.  If you want to follow me, then Ninteviews' Twitter is!/Nintenviews.

Oh, and a quick update.  I know I said I'd be posting new stories every couple days, but I've upped that to once a day.  Some days I may want to take off though, but I'll give you guys a fair warning when that happens.

The Wii's Library -- Nintendo's Best or Worst?

The Wii is an interesting console to say the least. It's fair to say that it's had its ups and downs over the years. It's had years with great games coming out one after the other, and years where there wasn't much offered. I'm not saying that that's exclusive to the Wii though. Other consoles have had gaming droughts followed by a year of great game after great game, just look at the PS3. But what makes it interesting in the Wii's case is that we've never had a market leader have droughts like the Wii has. The NES, SNES, PS, and PS2 never experienced what the Wii went through, and that's mainly because all four of those had great third party support while the Wii didn't. What major third party games there were though were great. Monster Hunter Tri, Okami, Sonic Colors, Goldeneye 007, Resident Evil 4, and Muramasa are all noteworthy and quality games.

The reason the Wii never caught on with third party developers is debatable, but there are a few reasons we can all agree on. The fact that the Wii used motion controls instead of a standard gamepad created a situation where third parties couldn't easily port their games from the PS3 and 360 over to the Wii. Couple that with the fact that the Wii was basically a generation behind in terms of raw power, and you get developers who only develop games for the two HD consoles. And I'm sure not having to compete with Nintendo's first party games was a big factor too. Don't get me wrong, Sony and Microsoft have amazing first party games, but games like Halo and Uncharted are a lot easier to compete against than Mario and Pokemon.

Speaking of Nintendo's first party games, I think there was an issue there too. Now, before you jump down my throat, hear me out. First off, I don't take into account the Virtual Console when reviewing the Wii's software library. Yes, it is nice to have games like Mario Kart 64 available, but by including it in a list of games for the Wii, you're also saying that games like Final Fantasy VII are PS3 games, which they aren't. Secondly, some of the games Nintendo put out this generation were of lesser quality than expected. We had games that weren't exactly the best games in their franchises, such as Metroid: Other M, Pokemon Battle Revolution, Super Paper Mario, and Wii Music, while at the same time, we had games like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Super Smash Brothers Brawl, which fans have very split opinions on. And that isn't even mentioning the absence of franchises like Pikmin, Star Fox, and F-Zero on the Wii.

Fans and critics agree: Super Paper Mario wasn't the best Paper Mario game.

Despite all that though, Nintendo put out some of their greatest games in a long time. Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 are two of the highest rated games ever. Donkey Kong Country Returns was praised by fans and critics alike, and ended up selling around 5 million copies despite Donkey Kong not really being relevant in mainstream gaming since Donkey Kong 64. New Super Mario Bros. Wii marked the return of 2D Mario sidescrollers on consoles, and Metroid Prime Trilogy combined three of the greatest Metroid games of all time onto one disc. They also revived numerous franchises that hadn't seen the light of day for years, such as Punch Out!!, Sin and Punishment, and Kirby platformers on home consoles.

Moving away from physical media and onto downloadable games, there were some issues there too. It's known that Nintendo isn't the most online friendly company out of the three console manufacturers, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that Nintendo's WiiWare service wasn't as robust as the Xbox Live Arcade or Playstation Network. Because of size limitations that Nintendo put in place on WiiWare, the Wii didn't receive games that it should have, the most notable of which was probably Super Meat Boy. I know I probably shouldn't be considering games like Super Meat Boy when judging the Wii's software library, but I do feel like it should be brought up. But that's not to say WiiWare was all bad. It had great games too, such as Lost Winds, the Bit.Trip games, and the Art Style games.

Nintendo's online store offered some good games, but was hindered by its
size limit.

So how does the Wii's library stack up five years later? Well, I may be biased since my favorite genre is the platformer genre, but I think the Wii had a great library. Did it have the best selection of games ever? No.  Did it have its issues? Yes, but that doesn't discredit the Wii from having some of the best games this generation. I know I may have sounded like a negative Nancy earlier when talking about games like Super Paper Mario, but ultimately, when you look back on the Wii's library ten years from now, you're not going to take the mediocre games into account. You're going to think about games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Monster Hunter Tri.

Five years later, how does the Wii stack up for you? Do you think it has the best library ever, or do you think it's the worst console Nintendo's ever created? Leave your comments below.

Monday, October 17, 2011

To remake or not to remake, that is the question.

Ever since the announcement of the Pokemon Gold and Silver remakes, Pokemon Heartgold and Soulsiver, fans of the Pokemon series have been speculating about whether or not Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire would get remakes.  Fans argued that since Pokemon Red and Blue and Pokemon Gold and Silver got remakes, then so would Ruby and Sapphire.  Others, however, disagreed and said that the only reason Red and Blue and Gold and Silver were remade was because all of the Pokemon weren't available in game before the remakes, and now there's no need for Ruby and Sapphire remakes since we can obtain all 649 Pokemon in game without cheats.

The debates about Ruby and Sapphire remakes dwindled when the fifth generation of Pokemon, Pokemon Black and White, were announced and released in 2010.  However, debates have recently rekindled due to Junichi Masuda, the director and composer of the mainline Pokemon games, responding to a tweet asking about Ruby and Sapphire remakes.  His response was vague, saying that the two third generation games were very important to him, but it was all that was needed to reignite the debate over the possibility of remakes.

Are these two games going to receive the same treatment as Gold and Silver?

Based on previous entries in the series, if Ruby and Sapphire were to get remakes, they would be announced and released sometime next year to honor the tenth anniversary of the third generation.  Because of this, they'd probably be released on 3DS.  By the time late 2012 rolls around, the 3DS will be a few months shy of being two years old, so you can bet that any new mainline entry into the Pokemon series will be on the 3DS.

The almost certainty of this can work both for and against Ruby and Sapphire remakes.  Since it would be on the 3DS, GameFreak would have to create an entirely new engine for the Ruby and Sapphire remakes.  Fans wouldn't accept DS level graphics on a system that can produce Gamecube level graphics.  So why would GameFreak waste time creating a new engine for remakes of the worst selling mainline Pokemon games?  Creating a new engine takes time, and fans are already eagerly awaiting the release of the third version of Pokemon Black and White.  On the other hand though, creating a new engine for Ruby and Sapphire remakes would allow GameFreak to quickly create a third version of Pokemon Black and White by borrowing heavily from the Ruby and Sapphire remakes.

With all this in mind, I do think that there will be Ruby and Sapphire remakes announced next year.  GameFreak was reportedly one of the first companies to receive a 3DS development kit from Nintendo, so they've had plenty of time to create a new engine.  There's also the fact that GameFreak was hiring 3D modelers back in late 2009, so they will have had three years to work on improved 3D environments, which is more than enough time.  I highly doubt they were working on the third version of Black and White a year before they were even released.

Would Ruby and Sapphire be remade just for these two Pokemon?

In regards to the argument saying that we can obtain all 649 Pokemon in game now, I say this: Yes, we can get all the Pokemon in game, but due to Black and White's transferring system, we can't trade items from the fourth generation games to the fifth generation games.  One of the most iconic Pokemon/item combinations is Latios/Latias with the Soul Dew.  Currently, there's no way to have Latios/Latias holding a Soul Dew in Black and White.  Sure, it's two Pokemon, but all of the Pokemon except for Celebi were available before HeartGold and Soulsilver were released, so if you use that argument, then Gold and Silver were remade for one Pokemon.

All signs are pointing to yes, we will get Ruby and Sapphire remakes next year.  All arguments against them can be refuted with evidence or logic.  You may not want to see Ruby and Sapphire remakes due to there being too much water in Hoenn, but your personal grievances agaisnt the third generation could be solved in a remake.  GameFreak could easily add large islands in the water routes to cut down on surfing time, just like how they added Viridian Forest in HeartGold and SoulSilver to expand Kanto.  In the end, we won't know for sure if we're going to get remakes of Ruby and Sapphire until GameFreak announces them or not, but until then, all the arguments against them don't hold any water in my eyes.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's been a long time

Wow, so much for me keeping this site active. I probably shouldn't apologize considering the max amount of page views this blog ever got was ten, but I still feel like I owe the blog itself an apology. Sorry for abandoning you barely a week after saying that I'd keep the site active. Never fear though, I'm back, and I'll stick with it this time, promise! I've already written a couple articles to post, so I'll have a few days worth of new material. I don't know what I'm going to do about my Zelda Timeline special though, since my views about it have changed since last year. I may just leave them incomplete, or I may finish it using my old views.

My plan for this blog remains the same. Mainly focus on Nintendo consoles and handhelds, but also have a few topics on Sony and Microsoft. I'll keep updating this every couple days with a new article, starting tomorrow. I'll also try to have a few posts by guests every now and then so you can read other people's opinions, but it'll mainly be me.

Oh, and thanks to anyone reading this. I promise I'll keep it active this time. Just believe.