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Online games and news from Japan take the spotlight in this three-dude episode.
You know it's going to be a weird one when James starts off with Samba de Amigo for Wii. Yes, it's the terrible sequel to Sega's beloved Dreamcast rhythm game, except this one was developed by Gearbox and doesn't work. Next up is Jonny, who has ventured deeper into Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and also started Ori and the Blind Forest... on his new Xbox One. That should really help with the backlog. Jon is up last with a return to Destiny, and yet, we do find some common ground between that online experience and Nintendo's own Splatoon.
After the break, we round up several fairly fresh news topics that seem to be focused on Japanese games. You'll hear about the latest updates and optional content for Smash Bros. and Splatoon. There's the complicated announcement of Dragon Quest XI for 3DS, PS4, and... NX? How about those latest Super Mario Maker details! Would you be interested in bizarre Kickstarter exploits for Mighty No. 9 and Red Ash? Well then, maybe the best we can offer is Final Fantasy Explorers coming to the West.
Don't forget to play and comment on the classic Blaster Master for RetroActive Jr. -- time is running out! Also, be sure to catch the important announcement at the end of this episode. We'll see you next week, and the email link is here if you feel like giving us something to talk about when Guillaume returns.
We can't talk about this subject anymore.
*Similarities to other podcasts are purely "Coincidental"
Guillaume is out this week, presumably honing his survival instincts deep in the Yukon. In his place; Jonny, Jon, and James are joined by GameTrailers Managing Editor (and Planet GameCube staff alum) Daniel Bloodworth. During the intro, James announces the surprisingly gracious Virtual Console gods have bestowed Blaster Master (NES) for our new "RetroActive Jr." feature. There's already a forum thread open, and we won't wait long to discuss this one, so drop off some goodies!
The show proper opens with happy memories of the late Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata; Dan carries memories of Mr. Iwata's time heading up HAL into New Business, with a revisit of Kirby's Adventure, and plays Witcher III for a second time. Next up, Jon finally joins the Splatfest with his impressions of Splatoon. How does the fan of online multiplayer shooters take to Nintendo's first foray into the field? Jonny follows with a look at the frenetic Hyrule Warriors for Wii U, the methodical Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate for 3DS, and the finally available Drive Club PS+ edition for PS4. Lastly, James catches up with 2005's DS adventure game Trace Memory.
Following Now Playing, it's time for yet another Radio Free Nintendo presents: The Lord's of Thunder Round. Rapid-fire email topics include: investing in a New 3DS, the value proposition of Ocarina of Time 3D, third-party Amiibo characters, the future of Fire Emblem, Pokémon Shuffle, video game composers, and the game that cannot be named.
Thanks to Dan Bloodworth for joining us. To see more of Dan, check out GameTrailers.com, the GT YouTube channel or GT's Twitch stream. Be sure to check out the BackTrack episode covering the music of Chrono Cross.
While we don't spend a lot of time on it, you can hear more from James on the passing of Satoru Iwata in this week's Nintendo News Report. He joins Donald Theriault, and Alex Culafi for an open conversation about the man and his legacy. In tribute, he sports a three-piece suit.
To see more of Jonny, along with NWR Director Neal Ronaghan, check out the GameTrailer's E3 stream in which the two of them breakdown Nintendo's announcements and presentation.
Lastly, be sure to check out the episode of Jonny's music podcast, Discover Music Project, that inspired the this week's email on video game composers. He and Radio Trivia's Michael "TYP" Cole explore the catalog of Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka - composer of many of Nintendo's most recognizable tunes.
An expert guest helps us preview some new games and revisit some old ones, mostly from Japan.
RFN 435: Discovery of a Superb View
Intro - Jon's out, but Syrenne is here! Cool emails coming up later.
Syrenne: Xenoblade, Fire Emblem
James: SMB3, World, Yoshi
Gui: SMT Soul Hackers
Jonny: Roundabout vs. KKK
BREAK - NOW PLAYING
LISTENER MAIL - rfn@nwr
I've also tried to go back to both the original Pikmin and the NewPlay Control and I find them almost unplayable. Pikmin 3's controlsare so good, it's incredibly difficult to go back.
I would LOVE it if they remade the 1st two Pikmin's with Pikmin 3'scontrols. But I certainly don't have my hopes up.
For a 100% fruit speed run (without glitches) 12 days is the goal.And doing 9 days while getting limited fruit can be a nice warm up.I've done this tons of times, and yes it has cut into my time forplaying other games.
If you have fun I would be MORE than happy to give the basic formula Iuse for the 12 days but for now, I'm just thankful that Pikmin 3 isstill part of the conversation at RFN.
Do you feel that Nintendo is releasing too many Zelda games? From 2011 through 2016 there will have been Ocarina of Time 3D, Skyward Sword, Four Swords Anniversary Edition, Wind Waker HD, A Link Between Worlds, Hyrule Warriors, Majora's Mask 3D, Tri Force Heroes, Hyrule Warriors All-Stars, and Zelda Wii U. While of course not Mario levels of exposure, is Nintendo running the risk of taking away Zelda's event status?
"Help us stop this atrocity of a game from bearing the beloved Metroid franchise name and make Nintendo halt production on it."
This is a quote from a petition that already has 12,000 signatures on it. While I understand the disappointment of Metroid fans (I was hoping for a side-scrolling sequel to Metroid Fusion myself) don't you think this is a bit over the top? Do you think this is a reasonable response to the Metroid Prime: Federation Forces announcement? And, of course, most importantly, which of you will be signing this petition?
We're FINALLY back from E3 with fresh games and your Listener Mail (mostly about the show, of course).
We're sorry that you had to wait so long for a proper episode after E3, but it's here now, and it's full of new games and your questions about what went down at gaming's biggest show.
Guillaume begins at the beginning, with Earthbound Beginnings. He also tries the new(-ish) Dr. Mario for 3DS and revisits both Pikmin (New Play Control version for Wii) and his beloved Pikmin 3. Jon focuses on New Super Mario Bros. U (not to be outdone by rival J.C. of the Famicast) and shares tales of a recent visitor. James goes arcade-esque with Donkey Kong '94 and Whoa Dave! Then, he leads a group discussion of Splatoon, which continues to be a satisfying summer game for most of the crew -- and Jon might even try it soon. This is a big, catch-up edition of New Business after a few weeks away, so Jonny wraps up the segment with final thoughts on Elliot Quest, a return to Broken Age, and a surprise licensed game for 3DS.
We didn't get to as much Listener Mail as originally intended, so look for more coming very soon. However, there is an attempt to explain SMT X Fire Emblem (or whatever its nonsense name) and consider ways that Miyamoto could excite people who always seem to catch up years later. That sort of derails us into a final summary of Nintendo's appearance at E3... Finally, against our better judgement (i.e. Guillaume), we approached a joke question that lead us down the dark path of Metroid Prime: Federation Force. It definitely wasn't the most cheerful way to end the podcast, and we'll do better next time. Won't you please help?
After you send in that one topic that's bugging you, please check out Jonny on the latest episode of Connectivity (sounding much more hopeful about Metroid) and tackling all the summer movies over on Box Office Poison. There's more cross-media fun coming soon from your RFN buddies! And of course, we have a lot more to say about Nintendo's outlook throughout this summer and beyond. Thank you all for listening!
We talk Chibi-Robo's origins, hash out the Chibi-Robo timeline, and brainstorm future Amiibo in this E3 2015 interview.
At E3 2015, we had the good fortune to sit down with Nintendo Producers Risa Tabata and Kensuke Tanabe to talk about Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash. Tabata has been at Nintendo since 2001, working as a producer on games including Donkey Kong Country Returns and Tropical Freeze, Captain Rainbow, and Game & Wario. Tanabe has been at Nintendo since the 1980s with his first project being Super Mario Bros. 2 USA. Since the early 2000s, Tanabe has been a producer on a variety of Nintendo games, primarily with Retro Studios and Next Level Games, as the head of SPD No. 3 group.
Nintendo World Report )NWR): Chibi-Robo has been in several different kinds of games over the years, and I think he's not known as an action star. What gave you the idea to put him in a 2D action game for the first time?
Risa Tabata (RT): When we started first thinking about this game, we were in discussion with the development company Skip, and they had this suggestion to have Chibi-Robo to, getting his cord and moving it over his head. And that was sort of our hint to focus on the action types of things - by using this motion we could come up with various ideas.
So for the previous Chibi-Robo games, we had more of the adventure aspect. And for those who are really big fans of Chibi-Robo, it was great. People loved it, but we couldn't quite say that it was widely known by a lot of people. So we wanted to branch out and explore more things.
Kensuke Tanabe (KT):: Especially in the US market, it would be a great place to expand that fanbase.
NWR: He's such a great character, I'm thinking back to the first Chibi-Robo game on GameCube, the theme of the game I think was cleaning and also taking care of the environment and making people happy, and helping a family solve their problems and come closer together.
RT: You know the game really well.
NWR: How are these ideas being used in the new game, and how is [Chibi-Robo’s] character being made real in this new kind of game?
RT: Not so much about carrying over the elements that we had before, we tried to look for a different perspective to start working on this game.
So as you pointed out, Chibi-Robo has this mission to be a helpful little robot and help people out. Before, while he was focused on the family, helping around the house and things. This time, it's on the larger scale. Basically he'll be helping people all over the world.
KT: Keep in mind he's a tiny robot that's like 10cm high. To give you a little more detail, there'll be some aliens that will come to the Earth and try to steal our resources.
First off, Chibi-Robo... everything starts in space. Chibi-Robo by accident finds these aliens heading on their way to Earth, and he thinks I've got to try to stop them. That's how things start, and that's how the story involves Chibi-Robo going around to different places on the Earth, just travelling all around. If you have a chance to have hands-on experience on the show floor, you'll be able to see that part I'm talking about.
RT: He's still sort of a cleaner, he helps around by picking up garbage around the courses too.
NWR: In the demo, there was a lot of product placement like Utz potato chips, and I think I might've seen Mentos as well. Are there different brands in Japan, and also what is the point of having this product placement or brand placement inside the game?
RT: As you pointed out, there are these great varieties of snacks in this game. You will also see Japanese snacks in the US version as well, so it's sort of a good mix.
Chibi-Robo is so tiny, we were trying to think of ways to express that, to give you a point of reference to show you how small he is in real life. Since this time, there's no people around, it's something we can give you to compare.
The first thing we thought of was placing things that you see in our real world so you're used to seeing those things, and by using that as a starting point of reference.
The second thing was we wanted to add more to the list of things you can collect in the stages, and so for that we felt it was a good idea to have these real life objects that are actually in the game for you to check out.
So because the game itself takes place around the world in various place, we thought coming up with different monuments that you see around the world, such as the Statue of Liberty or the pyramids, but that would be way too big to use as a reference for a tiny little robot. So that didn't work too well.
And that's when I thought ‘What's something that's around us all the time, and makes people happy to see’ or to find in game? I personally also love snacks too, so I thought this is a great idea to implement in the game so that people will be really familiar with, and it's also something accessible for you if you would like to see it in real life.
NWR: Now I really regret, we were kind of joking this morning about going to buy a bag of Utz chips to bring and I regret not doing it.
KT: So one challenge was to get many companies to agree to our idea to present these snacks in game. So for the US version, Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe were the two groups in charge of handling that stuff here, but in Japan she was the sole contributor to this, going around the entire country and over...
KT: ...speaking with 30 different companies or more than that. I'm not sure if you're aware, but around this time in Japan it's super hot and humid, and so she wearing her business attire, walking around the whole country, travelling to present this idea to all these people. I myself was sitting in the office, just chilling, thinking ‘She's going through such a hard labor.’ *laughs*
NWR: Please tell us everything about Toby the plane. *laughs* I love him already. I want my soft plush toy Toby (or Amiibo) I can give to my niece and nephew. They're very small.
KT: In Chibi-Robo, there are many different of these characters that'll show up. Here, you only saw Toby.
RT: With these characters, that are toys that are around us, they are being set in a way that when people aren't around these NPC characters move around. Toby's actually a toy that appears in this game as well. Maybe you want a plush, or maybe a tin can?
NWR: No, a soft toy.
RT: As an Amiibo?
NWR: Maybe. He's so cute, and I like how his mouth moves when he talks, and he dances... he's great.
RT: Skip, the development company is the one who comes up with a lot of good ideas for this, the setting behind the characteristic as a very energetic little boy. There are other characters that will appear, and we'd love to discuss them with you, but that's something you should experience through hands-on with the game.
NWR: Are they all cute?
KT: Not just simply cute, but rather unique as well.
Translator: To clarify, did you mean a toy? Not just in game?
NWR: I'm fantasizing, but yes, he looks like a toy because he's so small, he's bigger than Chibi-Robo but he's a very tiny plane, when I saw him he looks very soft in the game, and I love how his mouth moves and how he dances and he just has a great face and I thought ‘I wish I had a real one I could play with.’
KT: You know, when Chibi-Robo becomes very very popular here and there are many more fans like you, which is great, that's our best shot at getting more products out there. Thank you for your comment.
RT: I mentioned Skip as the development company, but there's also another one that's called Vanpool, and these two companies are working together to develop this game. Vanpool was known for creating the past two games based on Tingle...
NWR: And Dillon's Rolling Western. Have they helped out with the Paper Mario series?
KT: So for the Sticker Star game, it was developed by Intelligent Systems. From Vanpool, he knew the president [Taro Kudou], he asked for his help to get some support with that game.
We've done some business with Mr Kudou prior to that on the game for SNES, Mario RPG, so because of that we have that relationship built up already. We knew it was kind of a difficult thing to get someone from a different company to help you out on that project, but he was kind enough to help us out. Back to the main topic...
NWR: Talking about the developers, I noticed out on the show floor there was the little copyright for Skip and there was a copyright for Bandai Namco. What's their involvement with the game?
KT: Before the game for the GameCube came out, we were working with Skip and Bandai. That's what their name was, but the project was put on hold. Around that time, I don't quite remember what the situation was, but Mr Miyamoto had a chance to take a look at the character Chibi-Robo, and he really liked it and said ‘Why don't we make a game based on this character?’ And that's how that project started.
RT: Not for the game itself, but when the character Chibi-Robo was created, that's when Bandai was also involved.
NWR: Was that early Gamecube era?
KT: We don't recall if it was early GameCube, not exactly sure on the timeline but it was at the end of it.
NWR: Outside of the actual game development timeline, is there any kind of cohesive story from game to game with the Chibi-Robo games? If there is, where does Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash fall on that timeline? I think in the demo Toby mentions he knows Chibi-Robo from TV. It made me wonder, I felt there was maybe a part of the Chibi-Robo story I don't know because I didn't play the DS games, one of them didn't come to America and one was very hard to find here. Is Chibi-Robo famous in this game? Why do other people know who he is?
KT: There's not anything clear in terms of timeline. As you've probably heard, there's the Orange Corp, the company who creates these robots, and they distribute the robots to people. In that sense, timewise, it's in the near future.
If you see the art style for the GameCube, it's sort of the 1960s. So the second one mentioned Chibi-Robo Park Patrol,the Japanese is Okaidi: Chibi-Robo. Park Patrol was around the same time as the one for GameCube, the first one.
In the GameCube version, you see that there's girl Jenny who is 8 years old, later she'll appear as a single mother. So that's about 20 years or so down the road when she comes up again.
RT: This title we have an idea that it's a little after that, if you consider that there are snacks you see now in our time, that gives you an idea that it might be close to the present.
The reason why Toby is mentioning that he already knows Chibi-Robo is that it's widely known that Orange Corp is the one who creates the robot and distributes it to the world.
NWR: So they're advertising him.
RT: So that's why he acknowledges the existence of Chibi-Robo.
I know Nintendo has another character who's also very small and who encounters real life products and much larger creations, and I was wondering if Chibi-Robo might ever encounter Capt Olimar and the Pikmin since they're rougly the same size?
KT: To be honest, there's nothing set in stone for that. That's an interesting idea, and something I could speak to Mr Miyamoto about a collaboration.
NWR: Are there any ideas from games that you've produced, such as Metroid Prime or Donkey Kong Country or other projects you've worked on with Skip, that have made their way into Zip Lash?
KT: Taking the example of platform games in general that we've worked on, such as the Donkey Kong, there's a lot in terms of gameplay experience we've used as reference to bring it up, to look into the terrain and judge what can be easy or difficult to get through in one stage, to get a good balance and give the players a good feeling as they get through everything. In that aspect, there's some things we took into account to work on this game.
There's something we wanted to work on to differentiate Chibi-Robo from the other platform games.
RT: Other games, like Mario games, typical side scrolling games, there's the jumping aspect. We didn't want to have that as the main thing, so we focused on how to make good use of Chibi-Robo's plug and cord to get the actions involved around that.
Not only that, we also included the feature to have the cord be extendable, and have it bounce around the walls to get to higher places.
NWR: I like it a lot.
RT: Thank you.
So ever since we worked on titles like Donkey Kong, the typical side scrolling games, we wanted to play around with the camera a little bit more, to see if there was any surprise we could present to the player as they went through the stage.
In Donkey Kong Returns, you have the characters moving back in forth in two different platforms, in Tropical Freese, you have this camera following around Donkey Kong in interesting ways.
I'm not sure if you saw the Treehouse Live segment where we presented Chibi-Robo, but there's a portion where the camera would turn 90 degrees to show a completely different angle on where Chibi-Robo was going to go. It's one of the things we included in the game to sort of get that little surprise that you get as you get through the stage, looking at the stage from a different perspective.
(Nintendo’s PR rep let us known our time was up at this point)
NWR: Thank you. We're very happy to have Chibi-Robo back in America. I know you also worked on Capt Rainbow, right?
RT: Yes! You know Capt Rainbow!
NWR: I'd love to see it and Giftpia in English, I tried to play Captain Rainbow in Japanese...
A little more E3 discussion and some Metroid imagineering.
Welcome to Episode 180 of Nintendo World Report's Connectivity podcast. This week we are featuring two segments for you all to enjoy.
Nick, Zach and Donald band together to discuss more of their thoughts on E3 after the dust has settled a bit. The trio also delve into a tiny bit of NX speculation.
This brand new segment features Nick and Jonathan Metts talking about Metroid. Imagineering is all about discussing and thinking of possible ideas for established game series, such as Metroid. This segment type will hopefully grow over time, who knows, maybe we will also delve into original game ideas eventually. For now, we hope you enjoy this first outing.
Also, find out how the Dillon's Rolling Western devs wound up helping out with Paper Mario: Sticker Star.
Vanpool, best known for developing the Tingle DS games and Dillon's Rolling Western, is working with Skip on Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash according to the game's producer Kensuke Tanabe.
It's the first time Vanpool is working on the series, which has in the past been made solely by Skip. Vanpool has been developing 3DS games for more than three years, working on a pair of Dillon's Rolling Western games as well as assisting Intelligent Systems with Paper Mario: Sticker Star.
Tanabe elaborated on how Vanpool wound up working with Intelligent Systems on Sticker Star. As Sticker Star was in development, Tanabe knew that help was needed to meet the 2012 release date. So he reached out to an old friend Taro Kudou, who co-founded Vanpool, for assistance.
Kudou also worked at Square and Love-de-Lic with Skip's founders, so that explains why Vanpool wound up working with the company on Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash.
A long-time Guitar Hero fan checks out Activision’s bold reboot.
Although a re-emergence of Guitar Hero was inevitable, none of us could have predicted the form of its return: a stripped-down, single-instrument, full motion video (FMV) game. That’s not to mention the free-to-play streaming service, GH TV, which I found hard to understand even as the developers walked me through its menus and demonstrated various features.
But. But. As soon as I picked up the new, 3x2-buttoned controller, I knew that it would be fun to re-learn this kind of game with a new kind of dexterity test that feels just as fun and arguably more realistic as the original, five-button style. Now your hand will be more stationary, but your fingers get more of a workout, while your eyes and brain get to process a whole new language of “gems” and “highways”. The latter bit was actually my hurdle, but I got the hang of it all within just a few songs. Based on other songs playable in the demo, there should be plenty of depth in the new finger patterns, and I tend to enjoy that process of learning from scratch.
There’s no getting around it: the first-person, FMV scenes built around the main “GH Live” campaign mode are seriously goofy. I worried that they might be distracting, but once I moved from the audience to the guitar controller, the swirling faces faded into the background. The same goes for the broadcast channel of interactive songs, called “GH TV”. This other main mode effectively replaces downloadable content, since new songs are constantly streamed into the game on a predetermined schedule. This unusual approach may reduce player choice in which songs are available, though you have a limited number of “On Demand” plays. However, there’s a big upside: all the new songs are totally free. The idea is that you might play new songs every time you turn on the game, and all without paying any kind of subscription or per-song fee (as in Rock Band).
For the first time since Harmonix was behind the frets, Guitar Hero is a significantly different product than its rivals, and that alone makes it worth an extra look. What I played at E3 has me surprisingly excited for this new, slightly weird take on a franchise that was stale even before going on hiatus. Guitar Hero Live looks fresh, feels new, and sounds like it’s going to be a standalone product that should be a completely equal experience on Wii U.
And also how one brave Nintendo producer traveled around Japan to meet with snack food companies.
The world of Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash is populated by all sorts of snacks, ranging from pocky to Utz potato chips. Just how exactly did branded snack foods wind up in Chibi-Robo's world?
"We were trying to think of ways to express [how tiny Chibi-Robo is] to give you a point of reference to show you how small he is in real life," Nintendo Producer Risa Tabata told us at E3 2015. "Since this time, there are no people around, [the snacks] something we can give you to compare."
In addition to having a reference point, Tabata and the team at Skip also wanted to give Chibi-Robo some more items to collect that felt more substantial.
"Because the game itself takes place around the world in various places, we thought coming up with different monuments that you see around the world, such as the Statue of Liberty or the Pyramids, but that would be way too big to use as a reference for a tiny little robot," Tabata said. "And that's when I thought 'What's something that's around us all the time, and makes people happy to see or to find in game?' I personally also love snacks too, so I thought this is a great idea to implement in the game."
However, for Tabata, it wasn't as easy as snapping her fingers to get branded snacks in Zip Lash. In America and Europe, the Nintendo branches there reached out to various companies. In Japan, Tabata visited 30 different snack food companies herself.
"Around this time in Japan, it is super hot and humid," Tabata's boss and fellow Nintendo Producer Kensuke Tanabe recounted. "So she was wearing her business attire, walking around the whole country, travelling to present this idea to all these people. I myself was sitting in the office, just chilling, thinking 'She's going through such a hard labor.' *laughs*"
We'll have more from our E3 2015 interview with Risa Tabata and Kensuke Tanabe from Nintendo about Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash all this week. Stay tuned for more!
Nintendo's Kensuke Tanabe ponders the idea of Olimar and Chibi-Robo meeting up.
In Pikmin and Chibi-Robo, Nintendo has two franchises where dimunitive heroes get by in a large world peppered with real-life objects. Maybe the two universes could collide someday?
"That's an interesting idea, and something I could speak to Mr Miyamoto about a collaboration," Nintendo Producer Kensuke Tanabe told us when we asked if Olimar and the Pikmin could ever run into Chibi-Robo.
There is nothing set in stone for a Pikmin x Chibi-Robo game, but hey, if Shin Megami Tensei can fuse with Fire Emblem and Pokémon can mingle with Nobunaga's Ambition, anything can happen.
We'll have more from our E3 2015 interview with Risa Tabata and Kensuke Tanabe from Nintendo about Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash all this week. Stay tuned for more!
Nintendo and Skip decided it was time for a more action-packed mini robot.
The platforming debut of Chibi-Robo all came from developer Skip's idea of having the miniature robot spin his cord around his head and be active.
"That was sort of our hint to focus on the action types of things," Nintendo Producer Risa Tabata said in an interview at E3 2015.
Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash, coming this fall to 3DS, is new territory for the series, as it is the first time the title character will be in a 2D side-scrolling platformer.
"For the previous Chibi-Robo games, we had more of the adventure aspect," Tabata told us. "And for those who are really big fans of Chibi-Robo, it was great. People loved it, but we couldn't quite say that it was widely known by a lot of people. So we wanted to branch out and explore more things."
Nintendo Producer Kensuke Tanabe also added that a platformer "would be a great place to expand that fanbase" in America.
We'll have more from our E3 2015 interview with Risa Tabata and Kensuke Tanabe from Nintendo about Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash all this week. Stay tuned for more!
An outspoken Metroid fan sizes up the franchise's latest take on competitive multiplayer.
This competitive, sci-fi sport appears to be a bonus mode, compared to the more expansive, cooperative campaign of Metroid Prime: Federation Forces. As the only portion of Next Level's 2016 online shooter available for us to play at this year's E3, Blast Ball is an enjoyable twist on the online shooter formula. The huge ball, shrinking goals, and easy lock-on feature ensure that the game never devolves into shooting each other. In fact, a better strategy might be to drive the ball into your opponents, as it's very harmful to the touch. There's an inherent balance in proximity to the action, since it's much easier to shoot from up close, and yet you are taking on more risk of being rolled over.
Playing Blast Ball for myself, I found it to be exactly as expected from watching a few matches at the Nintendo World Championship. It's novel, fast-paced, and immediately involving. I was glad to see that dual-stick controls are supported for the New 3DS (and probably for Circle Pad Pro). However, the action here bears no resemblance at all to the Metroid franchise, and the demo presented so far is probably too simplistic to engage fans of that series for very long. The arena is just a caged oval, and your character doesn't do much but move and shoot at the ball. Jumping did not have an obvious tactical utility in this demo. My team was able to score easily, so the best-of-three match was over within a couple of minutes.
Nintendo's recent embrace of modern online features is the biggest difference between Blast Ball and something like the goofy soccer mode in Excitebike 64. I like what I played, but this mode definitely feels like something extra in a spin-off game already focused on multiplayer in online missions that surely have far more depth. Federation Force may not be the Metroid game we wanted to see after five years in the dark, but it looks ambitious in its own way. Blast Ball, in contrast, feels like a diversion, and so far, it shows less depth than previous multiplayer Metroid experiments in Prime 2 and Hunters. I'll be curious to see whether Blast Ball is expanded with more arenas, abilities, and rule tweaks in the final game. Regardless, I can't see many people embracing Federation Force just for this mode, and Nintendo hasn't yet given us a chance to try the cooperative missions.
NWR shows what it takes to brave Corneria's canyons and prevail in a final all-range mode battle against the "Weaponized Flying Fortress" Androssa! UPDATE: Added footage of a space battle!
We've got footage straight from the E3 show floor of Star Fox Zero taking place on Corneria! Check out the tight canyons, the charged shots, a giant enemy spaceship, General Pepper, and the entire Star Fox Squadron back in action!
Hot from the show floor we also have footage of an open space battle!