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Messages - oksoda

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TalkBack / Nintendo and the Post-Release Patch
« on: May 14, 2015, 08:43:00 AM »

Like it or not, Nintendo’s recent patching practices suggest the company is more in line with major publishers than fans want to admit.

I think most people agreed that it was highly unlikely that the upcoming Wii U Zelda game would actually release in 2015, as was originally announced by series producer Eiji Aonuma at The Game Awards in 2014. Still, when Aonuma recently revealed that the game would be delayed until 2016, it was a pretty big blow to this year’s Wii U line-up – we still don’t really know what’s coming after Yoshi’s Wooly World and Mario Maker this year. Slowly and surely, though, Nintendo fans, I among them, united under a familiar quote from Nintendo’s most iconic voice, Shigeru Miyamoto: “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”

That quote, when trotted out, isn’t typically meant to reassure Nintendo fans alone. It’s often used to differentiate Nintendo from other major publishers that seemingly push incomplete games out, only to release major patches down the road to fix and finalize them. Oh, you still can’t play the Master Chief Collection online? That’s why I like Nintendo – it would never do that.

Except, of course, that it would do that. And is doing that, actually.

In fact, two of Nintendo’s major first-party releases this year – and new IPs, to boot – have had or will have major post-launch patches that fundamentally change the out-of-the-box experience. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., which released in March this year, was universally criticized for its laborious enemy turn times, which forced players to passively watch (or not watch, as the view was often obstructed by the level itself) as the AI enemy carefully repositioned its units around the map, which could take upwards of two minutes during bigger confrontations. It slowed the game to a crawl and was the major contributing factor to the game’s middling reviews.

During a Nintendo Direct last month, Nintendo announced that a major patch would be released in the near future to remedy the slow enemy movement by allowing players to fast forward (the speed of which depends on whether you’re playing on the OG 3DS or the *New* 3DS). A week later the patch was released, and just like that, the game’s most notorious issue was no more.

I guess there’s a glass half full/half empty debate to be had here. Was the patch diligently worked on and released by Nintendo in response to the unforeseen and sharp criticism, or was the ability to fast forward enemy movement willingly withheld in order to keep the game on its planned release schedule? Considering that Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. releases this month in Europe and Japan and the ability to fast forward will likely be available out of the box, I tend to see it from the half-empty view; Nintendo wanted the game out in North America this March, so concessions were made, knowing they could be fixed down the road.

Much more certain is Nintendo’s handling of Splatoon. Last week’s Nintendo Direct revealed that Nintendo would be “supporting” Splatoon throughout the summer with frequent updates and free additional content, including the ability to make a party with three of your friends and to create custom games. My immediate reaction was positive – free DLC! But thinking on it some more, and then discussing it on last week’s Nintendo News Report, it became clear to me; Nintendo isn’t planning to release additional content, it’s releasing the remaining content. Let’s be real here – in 2015, would we ever accept a competitive shooter being released without the ability to party with friends or host matches with custom settings? These are essential modes that won’t be available for months. Even Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8, other marquee first-party titles, included these features from launch.

I’m a particularly big fan of EA’s NHL series, and last year’s iteration, NHL 15, was slammed for releasing without standard modes, including the ability to play online with teams completely controlled by human players. The modes were promised to be included in future patches – and were – but the damage had been done by that point. Bring up NHL 15, and you’ll mostly hear about what wasn’t there at the start, no matter what’s available to players now.

The announcement that expected modes would be patched in up to three months after Splatoon releases seemed to come and go without much criticism, which I understand to a point. Nintendo, while known for making questionable decisions on a business-level, typically gets the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the actual games. The Miyamoto quote helps support that. But, the handling of these two major first-party releases suggests that Nintendo isn’t above the practice of major post-launch patches, and it will be interesting to see if reviews of Splatoon are negatively impacted by the obvious omission of standard modes and, subsequently, if the game can rise above that when those modes are eventually available.

In the meantime, I’d like to suggest a revision to Miyamoto’s famous quote: “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is bad until the post-release patch(es).”

TalkBack / NWR Super Smash Bros. Playoffs Finals
« on: May 09, 2015, 03:31:56 AM »

Two undefeated titans take each other. Who is stronger: Rosalina or Link? Someone has to lose!

It has come to this: Team PGC vs. Team Mousers. Both teams haven't lost at all, but by the end of this match, one of these teams will lose.

On Team Mousers, we have Justin Berube playing as Rosalina, Nick Bray as Lucina, and Jared Rosenberg as Ness. On Team PGC, we have Steven Rodriguez as Link, Greg Leahy as Yoshi, and Michael Cole as Shulk.

Team Mousers' home stage is Battlefield with no items, while Team PGC's home stage is Town and City with no items. That means they both hate fun, I think. Either way, these matches are good because they feature are two best teams and likely all of our top players.

In case you don't know how the playoffs work:

  • Teams play in a best-of-five series
  • The higher-seeded team will have "home field" for matches 1, 3, and 5 while the lower-seeded team will have "home field" for matches 2 and 4
  • Home field is a stage and item set of the team's choosing. No custom stages or rules
  • Each match is three stock
  • Each team has three players, and each player must play at least once during the series

Now let's see who won...

TalkBack / NWR Super Smash Bros. Playoffs Semi-Finals
« on: May 04, 2015, 01:44:05 AM »

We are down to four teams and three of them haven't lost yet. Who will prevail?

We only had one upset in the first round of our playoffs, as the 5th-seeded RFN team beat the 4th-seeded Famicast squad. That means RFN will face off against the top-seeded PGC team, which features longtime RFN co-host/editor Greg Leahy. That should be fun.

On the other side, we have a battle of the unbeatens, as 3rd-seeded Newscast takes on the 2nd-seeded Mousers team. The Mousers have the regular season MVP Justin Berube on their squad, but Newscast has the dependable Andy Goergen and Zach Miller, who were perfect during the regular season.

In case you don't know how the playoffs work:

  • Teams play in a best-of-five series
  • The higher-seeded team will have "home field" for matches 1, 3, and 5 while the lower-seeded team will have "home field" for matches 2 and 4
  • Home field is a stage and item set of the team's choosing. No custom stages or rules
  • Each match is three stock
  • Each team has three players, and each player must play at least once during the series

Now, let's see what our final match-up will be...

TalkBack / NWR Super Smash Bros. Playoffs Quarterfinals
« on: April 29, 2015, 01:17:49 AM »

Here's the start of our single elimination Super Smash Bros. tournament! Who will triumph?

Well, after a grueling month-long regular season, we are finally at the playoffs of our first-ever NWR Smash Bros. Tournament. Following the regular season, our teams are now seeded and ranked, ready to square off in the playoffs. In the playoffs, things will work a little differently.

  • Teams play in a best-of-five series
  • The higher-seeded team will have "home field" for matches 1, 3, and 5 while the lower-seeded team will have "home field" for matches 2 and 4
  • Home field is a stage and item set of the team's choosing. No custom stages or rules
  • Each match is three stock
  • Each team has three players, and each player must play at least once during the series

In case you want to see what happened during the regular season, here's the standings from the end of the regular season:

1. PGC4010220
2. Mousers4010218
3. Newscast408412
4. Famicast22577
5. RFN13486
6. Forums13396
7. TNT04487
7. SWAN04487

Now, let's see how our squads fared in the first round of the playoffs...

TalkBack / NWR Super Smash Bros. Tournament Week Four
« on: April 16, 2015, 01:43:21 AM »

The final week of the regular season featured some thrilling upsets.

And here it is, the final week of our inaugural Smash Bros. season. While we have a lot of spots mostly set, this week led to some interesting match-ups. Unless something crazy happens, at least two games will be playoff previews, as Newscast squares off against the Forums and RFN plays the Famicast. We also have the potential for some major upsets as two winless teams in SWAN and TNT play against the pair of undefeated powerhouses: PGC and Mousers.

In case you haven't been paying attention, we're not abiding by any kind of classic Smash Bros. tournament rules, though. We're mostly a bunch of folks who like playing for fun with items, so our Smash Bros. league is run that way. Here's how it works. During the regular season, each three-person team has two "home" games, in which they set the stage and item selection for the best-of-three match. The games consist of three three-stock matches with each player competing in one match in a blind draw.

To recap:

  • Eight teams of three players
  • Season consists of four weeks, which each team playing four games
  • Each game consists of three matches, with the victory going to whoever wins the most matches
  • Each match is three stock
  • The stage/items are set by the home team; each team has two home games in the regular season
  • Nothing (for now) is off limits
  • No custom characters/stages

Here are the eight teams competing in our first-ever Super Smash Bros. league:

  • Team Forums: Carmine Red (Associate Editor), J.P. Corbran (Community Manager), and Donald Theriault (Associate Editor)
  • Team PGC: Mike Sklens (RFN Co-Founder/Connectivity Editor), Michael "TYP" Cole (Associate Editor/Radio Trivia Host), and Steven "WindyMan" Rodriguez (Former NWR Director)
  • Team Mousers: Jared Rosenberg (Video Producer), Justin Berube (Features Editor), and Nicholas Bray (Associate Editor (Australia))
  • Team TNT: John Rairdin (Video Editor), Curtis Bonds (Video Editor), and Travis (community member trbroady)
  • Team Newscast: Zach Miller (Associate Editor), Andy Goergen (Managing Editor), and Nathan Mustafa (Former Newscast Host/NWR Writer)
  • Team Famicast: Danny Bivens (Famicast Co-Host), James Charlton (Famicast Co-Host), and Addison Webb (Not From Japan, Associate Editor)
  • Team SWAN: Bryan Rose (Reviews Editor), Austin Clark (Writer at Invisible Gamer), and Daan Koopman (Associate Editor (Europe))
  • Team RFN: Jonny Metts (RFN Co-Host/Former Director), Jon Lindemann (RFN Co-Host/Former Director), and James Jones (RFN Co-Host)

Podcast Discussion / Episode 174: Camera Control
« on: April 12, 2015, 07:34:55 AM »

We look back at Super Mario 64 and break down the week's biggest news stories, including amiibo hysteria!

Hello and welcome to episode 174 of Connectivity! We have two segments for you this week.

Kicking things off, Neal, Zach and Bryan discuss Super Mario 64, which just released on the Wii U Virtual Console. Most definitely a masterpiece in 1996, the gang reviews how the genre-defining game holds up nearly 20 years. From the great music and open world design, to the spotty camera control and infuriating swimming, the guys break down what still works and how Mario 64 is still influencing Mario games today.

After that, enjoy the audio-only version of this week's Nintendo News Report, featuring Alex, Scott, and special guest Joshua Hillyer. Stories include amiibo Wave 4 preorder nightmares, the quick Code Name: Steam patch, and a whole bunch of Level 5 news.

Be sure to send us your listener mail and submission for best shooter music by clicking here. We'll see you next week!

TalkBack / Nintendo News Report: The Great Amiibo Wave 4 Tragedy
« on: April 09, 2015, 02:23:00 AM »

What a mess.

Hey everybody, that Amiibo business has been pretty crazy, huh?

That's why this week Alex, Scott, and special guest Joshua Hillyer (writer for cool stealth sidescroller Neon the Ninja) are going to talk about Amiibo Wave 4 pre-ordering, the Level 5 Event (and the now-confirmed localization of Yo-Kai Watch), LEGO Dimensions, and more! Why not join us?

TalkBack / NWR Super Smash Bros. Tournament Week Three
« on: April 08, 2015, 03:35:50 PM »

Will the top teams pull away? Will the winless teams keep losing?

A few months ago, we joked about the idea of putting together a staff Super Smash Bros. for Wii U league. We all laughed about it. That sounded fun. Well, we actually did it. Nintendo World Report is proud to present the first season of our NWR Super Smash Bros. Tournament. For this, we have eight teams competing in a vigorous four-game season, followed by an even more vigorous playoff.

We're now into week two, which means the good teams are starting to separate from the bad teams, and as you'll see by the end of this week's matches, we have some legitimate powerhouses. What team do you think will win the crown? Let us know in the comments below!

Just so you know, we're not abiding by any kind of classic Smash Bros. tournament rules, though. We're mostly a bunch of folks who like playing for fun with items, so our Smash Bros. league is run that way. Here's how it works. During the regular season, each three-person team has two "home" games, in which they set the stage and item selection for the best-of-three match. The games consist of three three-stock matches with each player competing in one match in a blind draw.

To recap:

  • Eight teams of three players
  • Season consists of four weeks, which each team playing four games
  • Each game consists of three matches, with the victory going to whoever wins the most matches
  • Each match is three stock
  • The stage/items are set by the home team; each team has two home games in the regular season
  • Nothing (for now) is off limits
  • No custom characters/stages

Here are the eight teams competing in our first-ever Super Smash Bros. league:

  • Team Forums: Carmine Red (Associate Editor), J.P. Corbran (Community Manager), and Donald Theriault (Associate Editor)
  • Team PGC: Mike Sklens (RFN Co-Founder/Connectivity Editor), Michael "TYP" Cole (Associate Editor/Radio Trivia Host), and Steven "WindyMan" Rodriguez (Former NWR Director)
  • Team Mousers: Jared Rosenberg (Video Producer), Justin Berube (Features Editor), and Nicholas Bray (Associate Editor (Australia))
  • Team TNT: John Rairdin (Video Editor), Curtis Bonds (Video Editor), and Travis (community member trbroady)
  • Team Newscast: Zach Miller (Associate Editor), Andy Goergen (Managing Editor), and Nathan Mustafa (Former Newscast Host/NWR Writer)
  • Team Famicast: Danny Bivens (Famicast Co-Host), James Charlton (Famicast Co-Host), and Addison Webb (Not From Japan, Associate Editor)
  • Team SWAN: Bryan Rose (Reviews Editor), Austin Clark (Writer at Invisible Gamer), and Daan Koopman (Associate Editor (Europe))
  • Team RFN: Jonny Metts (RFN Co-Host/Former Director), Jon Lindemann (RFN Co-Host/Former Director), and James Jones (RFN Co-Host)

So click on and enjoy our slate of week three matches. They are pretty exciting!

TalkBack / Nintendo News Report: Spring 2015 Preview
« on: February 26, 2015, 06:58:00 AM »

Splatoon! Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.! Mario Party 10!

Okay, so none of the news that came out this week was that huge, but that doesn't mean we won't have a killer show regardless!

This week, Alex and Scott discuss all of the Nintendo games slated to come out before May this year, the Investors Meeting Q & A, PAX East, this week's new releases, and more!

And of course, you can watch all of the previous NNR episodes here.

TalkBack / How to Make the Best Zelda TV Show
« on: February 06, 2015, 09:03:00 PM »

Hint: leave Link out of it.

In the past few months, it’s become clear that Nintendo is very interested in once again branching out into TV and film. The recent Sony hacks revealed discussion about producing an animated Mario movie, while the Wall Street Journal reported Friday that a live-action Zelda series is in the works and is being produced by Netflix. The report from the Wall Street Journal cites an anonymous source, who says that the series will be similar to Game of Thrones, but with a lighter, more kid-friendly tone.

Since the report, I’ve seen a whole lot of negative feedback. Some detractors don’t think a good Zelda show can be made (and given the last representation of the series on the small screen, I don’t necessarily blame them), while others argue that the source material doesn’t contain enough actual story to support a whole television series.  Still, given an actual, serious writing team and a whole lot of Zelda lore to choose from, I don’t find either of these points to be particularly concerning.

However, I do know where the greatest issues lies, and that is with Link himself.  The mostly silent protagonist has spent the past 30 years grunting and gasping his way all across Hyrule, and creating a fleshed-out character from that will require a lot of creative license. And given the general outrage people have when portrayals of characters don’t line up with their internalized beliefs of who and what those characters are (hello all-female Ghostbusters), it’s most likely that this representation of Link will be nitpicked into oblivion by hardcore Nintendo fans. So, why feature Link at all?

When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was announced, I thought there was no way that a superhero show without all the superheroes could work. The idea of focusing on the most minute of characters, at least in the grand scheme of gamma-ray monsters and literal gods, seemed ill conceived and quite presumptuous. But it worked. Having the television show act as window into the larger Marvel universe during the break between the major films has served as a way to satiate the company’s growing fan base, and having the events of the films cause ripples in the show is a neat, calculated move. Despite the lack of heroes and star power, the show works. Its spin-off, Agent Carter, as well as the Batman-less Gotham prove that people are happy to visit familiar worlds sans their favorite characters, provided that there are interesting characters and scenarios in their place.

Why not treat the Zelda television series the same way? I don’t know if Nintendo has the foresight to do it, but treating the show as a sort of prequel or concurrent story to the upcoming Wii U game would be a great way to flesh out that world. Rather than focus on Link and his adventure, tell a separate story that at times intersects with his own.  Having Link show up sporadically and sparingly throughout the show would create a lot of exciting moments for long-time Zelda fans, and it also offers the perfect way to avoid having Link become overly verbose.

I look at Skyward Sword and the evolution of Groose as the game progresses as an example for how this two-headed storytelling could work. By the end of Skyward Sword, Link is as empty and featureless as ever, but we see Groose, the once brutish bully, has been radically transformed by the story’s events. During the game, we only see bits and pieces of this growth, but it’s exactly the kind of character progression that could be featured on the show.

Utilizing the show in this way would conceivably draw fans from the game to the series and vice versa, as each wants to see the complete story unfold. I think leaving Link to the game and in the careful hands of his long-time creators is the surest way to preserve the character, while focusing on secondary characters in the show can develop the world of Hyrule in ways we’ve never seen. It’s a long shot, I’m sure, but I still think the best Zelda show leaves the focus off of the Hero of Time.

TalkBack / Splatoon Upholds Nintendo’s Tradition of Being a Step Behind
« on: February 04, 2015, 08:15:00 AM »

Two generations after it was popularized, Nintendo still won’t implement full voice chat in its games.

I will never forget the two or so years that I obsessed over Halo 2. Late at night, after work, school, and other non-galaxy saving tasks were completed, I went over to my friend Adam’s house so we could play Halo 2 online via split-screen. With our headsets on at all times, we coordinated plans on capturing flags, revealed goddamn sniper locations, and surely talked a lot smack in the pre-game lobbies. Yeah, people frequently crossed the line and we’d hear some pretty heinous things, but the good far outweighed the bad. Annoying young punks as were, Adam’s username had something to do with going vegan, while mine was the title of a Bad Religion song – “Atheist Peace,” to be specific. Every now and then, in a lobby before a match, someone would chime in “oh hey, I’m vegetarian,” or “Dude I love Bad Religion.” Our friends lists steadily expanded over time with each of these connections, and soon it wasn’t just the two of us getting together late at night to play; we had a Halo crew. And it was all thanks to being able to talk while we played.

That was 2004. Since then, voice chat has grown into a more robust and absolutely standard feature for Microsoft and Sony platforms. System-level chat and party systems allow you to talk with your friends while you aren’t even playing the same game, creating a feeling of simply hanging out each time you sit down to play. At nearly 30 years old, I’ve found this system to be a pretty good facsimile of how I played games back in my early 20s.

Unfortunately, Nintendo hasn’t placed the same focus on voice chat. Or really any focus, save for some hackneyed implementation and a very, very bad accessory. That trend looks to continue, as today it was revealed that Splatoon, Nintendo’s upcoming multiplayer-focused shooter, will have no voice chat in random matches with serious questions marks regarding voice chat anywhere in the game (we have reached out to Nintendo for clarification). 11 years after I spent endless nights organizing attacks and talking about punk albums, Nintendo still hasn’t implemented voice chat in a substantial way.

The Wii era certainly set Nintendo well behind its competitors. While Sony and Microsoft brought online gaming to the forefront of the home console experience, the Wii never made online play a priority. I laugh about it now, but I remember getting excited in 2006 thinking “man, I can’t wait for Adam and I to be able to play Wii Sports online just like Halo.” That, of course, didn’t come to fruition until some eight years later with the release of Wii Sports Club on Wii U. The Wii’s lifespan was spent wondering, after a game was announced, if it would actually feature online multiplayer, let alone voice chat.

Then came the Wii Speak. I really can’t figure out how this accessory was ever approved. Forsaking the headset model, Nintendo opted instead to create a microphone that sat atop the TV, across the room. Not only was the microphone closer to your TV’s speakers than your mouth, it also picked up any background or ambient noise in the room. This move is particularly bizarre given that Nintendo was actually supporting voice chat on the Nintendo DS; they even sold a headset so you could chat during matches and trades in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl! Meanwhile, the Wii was given no such support.

The Wii U fixed most of these shortcomings. It features a much more reliable online infrastructure, and video chat – yes, something potentially much more dangerous than voice chat – is actually a key feature that was highlighted during the Wii U reveal at E3. Launch games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II featured voice chat right out of the gate, using either a headset or the microphone built into the GamePad. It seemed like online play was going to finally become a focus for Nintendo.

And really, it has. Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. both run flawlessly, and Splatoon is poised to be Nintendo’s first foray into creating a competitive online shooter. But still, voice chat doesn’t appear to be a priority. Mario Kart and Smash Bros. both support lobby chat, but once the matches start, it is pure silence. We know the hardware can support voice chat during games, as seen in Call of Duty, but it’s still omitted. Why?

I can live without talking during games like Mario Kart and Smash Bros., but Splatoon absolutely deserves the feature. Like in 2004 with Halo 2 or today in Destiny, being able to coordinate attacks with your teammates is crucial. Given that one of the major goals in Splatoon is to cover the field with as much of your team’s ink as possible, voice chat seems paramount in deciding what areas of the stage need to be focused on. Without the ability to do so, I’m worried that Splatoon is instead going to be a chaotic, mostly singular experience. That isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s far different from the game I thought we were getting.

Today’s news has certainly put a damper on my excitement for Splatoon. I had visions in my head of grand Nintendo World Report matches pitting readers against writers, but without the ability to talk both before and during matches, it’s hard to look forward to silent matches with no strategy or ****-talking, which are basically the core tenants of good-natured online play.

TalkBack / The Unfortunate Fate of Xenoblade Chronicles
« on: February 03, 2015, 08:14:05 AM »

Xenoblade Chronicles can’t catch a break in North America.

Let’s get right to it: Xenoblade Chronicles is the best RPG of the last console generation. Expertly combining mechanics from MMOs with both Western and Japanese RPG design, Xenoblade’s nearly 100-hour long campaign (give or take depending on your side quest obsession) that stretches across a sprawling, connected landscape felt strangely familiar in moments but demonstrably unique as a whole. While it was readily available in Japan and then Europe, Xenoblade Chronicles toiled in purgatory for nearly a year until – after constant prodding and an organized fan campaign – it was finally released in North America in 2012. But it wasn’t really that simple.

Echoing the current Amiibo and Majora’s Mask 3DS situation, Xenoblade Chronicles was released in short quantity and sold exclusively at GameStop or from Nintendo’s own online store. It wasn’t long before the original run was gone, and soon Xenoblade could only be found on the second-hand market for nearly twice the original price. The barrier to entry started high and then grew exponentially grander.

Given, too, that the game was released mere months before the launch of the Wii U, it wasn’t especially easy to drum up excitement for a game that, due to its scope and the relatively ancient hardware powering it, was admittedly muddy-looking. The hardcore RPG fan may have devoured it, but the rest of the community likely shrugged at the already 2-year-old game and moved on.

When Xenoblade Chronicles X was announced for Wii U, we discussed the two games on Connectivity. During our conversation, it was posited that perhaps Xenoblade Chronicles would be packaged with X, similar to the treatment Bayonetta received last year, in order to give more people the opportunity to play the original. At the time, I thought the idea was genius, which is why, naturally, it didn’t happen.

Instead, Nintendo announced that Xenoblade Chronicles was being ported to its dimension-defying handheld ahead of the release of X. I assume the move is to expose more people to the world of Xenoblade and to hopefully hook them for the upcoming sequel. This would be great if it was running on the original Nintendo 3DS, which has at least quintuple the install base of the Wii U, but instead it’s being used as one of the first exclusive New 3DS games.

My concern is that the same core audience that’s going to grab a New 3DS at launch is likely the same audience that nabbed Xenoblade Chronicles back in 2012. Releasing a niche game on what is to be a niche platform, at least initially, isn’t exactly giving North Americans a genuine shot to experience Xenoblade if they missed it the first time around. And, assuming the plan is to build interest in the sequel before it launches later this year (fingers crossed), it’s been botched by re-releasing the original to the smallest audience possible.

A much more fruitful avenue would be releasing Xenoblade through the Wii U’s Virtual Console. It would fit right at home with Super Mario Galaxy 2, Metroid Prime Trilogy, and other venerable standouts from the Wii era. But, if Nintendo is likely banking on Xenoblade to be the showpiece title that moves New 3DS units at launch, releasing it for a mere $10 or $20 on the Wii U would directly undermine that strategy. So, more than likely, Xenoblade Chronicles will exist on the New 3DS and the New 3DS alone.

And that’s really a shame. Xenoblade Chronicles is one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played, and though the refined gameplay and exquisite soundtrack will be preserved, I wince thinking about the rough, Wii-powered visuals being additionally downscaled to run on the New 3DS. More than that, I can’t help feeling like this great game is being given an even worse chance at success here in North America the second time around. The silver lining is that, in the very least, it will be available on the eShop for eventual adopters of the New 3DS to download, but the chance to make 2015 the year of Xenoblade feels entirely squandered.

TalkBack / On Disagreement and Vilification
« on: October 15, 2014, 07:57:00 AM »

Those for and against GamerGate have created a tumultuous environment that encourages antagonism. It needs to stop.

My 2-year-old daughter is lying on her stomach, feet kicking gently back and forth in the air, watching Mario Kart 8 replays on the Wii U GamePad. Each time Mario drives over a ramp and deploys his glider, she excitedly yells “Mario fly!” and juts her hand out into the air. As she narrates Mario’s race, I’m reading about the most recent death threat levied against Anita Sarkeesian; an elaborate and ghastly plan that warns of revenge against feminists for “ruining” the anonymous writer’s life, complete with a description of the variety of weapons to be utilized and the promise of writing a manifesto in her blood.

The replay ends, and my daughter brings me the GamePad. “More?” she asks, pointing to the screen. “You want to watch Mario race again?” “Yeah!” she exclaims, before lying down on her stomach once more. I always think about my daughter when I read about a heinous threat made against a woman that is outspoken about video games, but this was the first time where I consciously wondered about her safety.

“Why don’t we watch Mickey instead?” I offer. “Mickey!” she yells, before sitting up and turning to the TV. I feel sick.


The past couple of months have been filled with vitriol, and if it were not for starting a new job and the birth of my son, I think I would have let the events surrounding GamerGate engulf me. I’ve been lucky in that regard; writing and podcasting about games is something I do on the side, and while I thoroughly enjoy video games, I don’t identify myself as a “gamer.” So, I’ve mostly fallen outside the professional vs. the player dichotomy. Because of this, I haven’t really felt motivated to speak publicly about the movement, save for a few sporadic tweets. When I do begin to feel overwhelmed by all the negativity, I can simply move along to something not related to games.

The egregious attacks on women, though, have been inescapable and infuriating. I don’t believe that every person who supports GamerGate condones these threats against women, and I do believe that most members of the movement truly want to see more transparency in games journalism. But it should be clear to everyone that hateful and angry people, minority or not, have latched onto GamerGate and used it to target women.

The combative, us-against-them nature of GamerGate (on both sides) has created an environment that is ripe for this behavior. When we begin to see people with different views as the enemy, we more easily accept the mistreatment of them. I’ve seen it across the board, with short-sighted and venomous insults hurled back and forth in endless 140-character rants. People who fundamentally want the same thing – to enjoy video games – seem to truly hate each other. So, when a death threat is made against someone on the “other side,” we shrug and think “they probably faked it” or, the much worse alternative, “they deserved it.”

That’s where we’re at, believing that someone fabricates or deserves threats for, ultimately, thinking about video games in a different way than us. It reminds me of a lyric from “Dear Coach’s Corner" by Propagandhi:

But I guess it comes down to what kind of world you want to live in, and if diversity is disagreement, and disagreement is treason, well don’t be surprised if we find ourselves reaping a strange and bitter fruit…

But I think we can change that attitude, and I saw glimpses of it earlier this week after Polygon published their Bayonetta 2 review, in which the overtly sexual depiction of the heroine was viewed as distracting and unnecessary. Initially, this caused the rapid sharing of the review, with people completely dismissing it and issuing angry or sarcastic tweets, as expected. But the following day, our own Guillaume Veillette led a calm, welcoming discussion, where a variety of opinions – including if/how Bayonetta’s sexuality empowers her and how that should impact a review – were shared freely and without consequence. It was a brief and comforting moment in an otherwise tumultuous time.

We need more conversations like these, coupled with the realization that disagreement isn’t an attack on you personally. The Polygon review doesn’t make you wrong for enjoying Bayonetta 2, just as the belief that games journalism can be improved doesn’t invalidate current practices or work. Progress comes from discussion. Dismissing other opinions entirely stunts possible growth and encourages the abuse that Sarkeesian and others deal with regularly.


I won’t tell you how to feel about the content of video games or their coverage. All I ask is that you allow others to express their own opinions without persecution. I have to believe that things as they are now can and will deescalate. I have to believe that the little pangs of guilt I feel when my daughter names the characters she recognizes on the back of the Super Smash Bros. for 3DS box or brings me the PS4 controller and asks to watch “hock” (NHL15) can and will go away. Because I can’t accept that I’m guiding her towards a hobby that will ultimately bring her harm.

I hope and ask that you help me.

TalkBack / Harrowing Survival RPG, Impact Winter, Could Come to Wii U
« on: October 14, 2014, 02:32:00 AM »

The developer of Siesta Fiesta has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Impact Winter, which is equal parts Oregon Trail and Fallout.

Mojo Bones has launched a new Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming game, Impact Winter.

Impact Winter is a survival RPG that tasks players with enduring a frozen apocalypse for 30 days, until help arrives from a mysterious benefactor. Based on early images, Impact Winter is a stark departure from Mojo Bones’ last project, the charming Siesta Fiesta, which released earlier this summer on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

The survivors of the apocalyptic event that blanketed the world with snow have to manage their hunger, temperature, hydration and more while attempting to stay alive until rescue. And staying alive is of the utmost importance; each NPC character offers unique skills, from item crafting to curing wounds. If a character dies, you lose his or her skills for the rest of your game. Effectively dealing with illness, depression, and attacks from wildlife while you explore and endure the dynamic landscape is required to keep your small band of survivors alive.

Impact Winter is currently slated for release on PC, Linux and Mac, but the Kickstarter campaign does have a stretch goal that would bring the game to Wii U. As of this writing, the campaign has a little less than a month left to reach its funding goal. You can read more about Impact Winter on Kickstarter.


New details emerge about the strange history of Super Mario Bros. 2.

The notoriously difficult Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 nearly came to North America as a giveaway to Nintendo Power subscribers.

In his book, “Super Mario Bros. 2”, author Jon Irwin chronicles the sequence of events that led to the creation of two very different versions of Super Mario Bros. 2. Irwin interviewed Gail Tilden, former vice president of brand management at Nintendo of America and one of Nintendo Power’s founding editors, who revealed that she had spearheaded a campaign to give away the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 to Nintendo Power subscribers in 1991.

“We weren’t doing anything with it! [So] I worked up with my Nintendo Power agency a campaign called ‘The Lost Levels,’” Tilden told Irwin.

The original Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 is infamous for its steep difficulty. Poisonous mushrooms, random gusts of wind, and warp zones that send Mario back to the start of the game were utilized to challenge players who had mastered the original Super Mario Bros.

According to Tilden, Nintendo produced a single NES cartridge of the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2, but ultimately nixed the promotion for fear of “confusing the marketplace.” Two years later, Nintendo released the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2, dubbed “The Lost Levels,” as part of Super Mario All-Stars for the Super Nintendo.

Tilden told Irwin that she was disappointed that the promotion never came to fruition, but noted that “it was really kind of a selfish desire to … help boost magazine subscriptions.” Nintendo Power ran a similar promotion in 1990, with copies of Dragon Warrior given to subscribers.

Tilden also revealed that it was Nintendo of America President Minoru Arakawa who requested that the Japanese game Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic be re-branded as Super Mario Bros. 2 in North America. Tilden said that Arakawa was worried that the difficulty of the original Super Mario Bros. 2 would ultimately harm Nintendo’s growing popularity in America.

The original version of Super Mario Bros. 2 is currently available on the Wii, Wii U and 3DS Virtual Consoles. Jon Irwin’s book, "Super Mario Bros. 2," will be released October 6, 2014 via Boss Fight Books.

TalkBack / Living it Up in Tomodachi Life
« on: May 28, 2014, 05:16:13 AM »

The quirky Mii-simulation is almost here.


Released over a year ago in Japan, Tomodachi Life is finally coming to the US and UK on June 6. This quirky simulation is part Sims, part Animal Crossing, and entirely absurd.

In Tomodachi Life, your Mii inhabits an island town, along with the Miis of your friends and family, and possibly even a few well-known Nintendo employees and celebrities. Similar to Animal Crossing, there aren’t necessarily explicit, over-arching goals. You simply try to keep the Miis on your island happy and satisfied. This can involve playing minigames, feeding them, and even buying clothes for them from the island’s various stores, which continue to expand as you play.

What makes this process unique are the Miis’ personalities. For the first time, those blank caricatures finally come to life with specific traits and characteristics. For your own Mii, you’ll develop a personality and a robotic voice with which he or she will speak and often sing. These different personalities impact how Miis interact as well as their overall dispositions. They also influence the Miis’ behavior both when you are around and when you aren’t playing the game. Unlike in Animal Crossing, even your own Mii will live independently when you aren’t playing. Every time you start Tomodachi Life, you can expect to find some new development with your island’s Miis.


The most entertaining—and now controversial—aspect of the Miis and their personalities is the building of relationships. Love will blossom, feuds will occur, and babies will even be born while playing Tomodachi Life. You might be fighting for the affection of a friend’s Mii one day, while the next sees that Mii dating your older brother instead. Like a soap opera starring all your Miis, Tomodachi Life is a hyper-exaggerated take on the relationship building found in games like The Sims.

Impressively, Nintendo has made a number of alterations to Tomodachi Life in its western localization. Personality types have been tinkered with to better reflect those of Americans and Europeans, food has been altered to match the local tastes, and there is even a new rap battle that wasn’t featured in the original Japanese release. That’s all on top of the complete translation of the copious original text, which has also been re-worked to better fit western culture while still being offbeat and humorous.


And humor really is the driving force behind Tomodachi Life. Watching the well-known Miis of your friends and family hula dance, soak in a bubble bath, perform rock concerts, and duel for the same love is as bizarre as it is hilarious. Though, peering into their dreams may provide the most absurdly funny moments. And, thanks to the in-game screenshot function, which allows you to tweet or post pictures to Facebook, sharing the unpredictable behavior of your Miis with their real-life counterparts is incredibly easy. With no real endgame, comparing the insane lives of your Miis with those of other friends who are playing Tomodachi Life may be the carrot that keeps you playing. And, thanks to the fact that each full copy of Tomodachi Life comes with two demo codes, it’s very easy to get your friends playing.

Tomodachi Life is an irreverent, unpredictable simulation of your Miis’ lives. Though we missed out on the DS original here in the west, the care put into Tomodachi Life suggests that Nintendo has faith in this quirky game excelling outside of Japan. You can look forward to our review closer to the game’s June 6 launch.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 135: Staples
« on: May 27, 2014, 04:15:22 PM »
You can add users that you've recently played with.

Go to your friends list and hit Y, this will bring up a list of users that you've played with. Click their Mii, then click Send Friend Request.

Oh wow, awesome! Yeah, the Wii U is pretty much on par with what the other services are offering in terms of friends lists and such. Now just increase the maximum number of friends to 1000, please.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 122: Whack Attack
« on: February 22, 2014, 11:01:00 PM »
Whoooops I didn't realize I pronounced it wrong. I'm a jerk.

TalkBack / Nintendo Direct Scheduled for Thursday Evening
« on: February 12, 2014, 03:35:17 PM »

The first Direct of 2014 to reveal details about Wii U and 3DS games expected this spring.

The first Nintendo Direct of 2014 is scheduled to air Thursday, February 13, Nintendo announced today.

This week's Direct will deal specifically with Wii U and 3DS games expected to be released by the end of spring. No further information about content was provided.

Tomorrow's Direct will air simultaneously around the world. The North American presentation starts at 5PM ET and in Europe around 23:00 CET; a notable departure from the usual early morning broadcast. Japan will get their broadcast at 07:00 JST on the 14th, which used to be 23:00 JST in the previous set-up.

TalkBack / Nintendo Cuts Wii U Sales Forecast
« on: January 17, 2014, 10:02:42 AM »

Both the Wii U and 3DS are now projected to sell fewer units than initially predicted.

Nintendo has adjusted its 2013 fiscal year predictions, cutting the forecast for Wii U sales from the original figure of 9 million units worldwide to a meager 2.8 million.

On the software side, Nintendo has cut its prediction in half from 38 million units sold to 19 million.

During the holiday sales period, known for being the most profitable time of the year for companies in the game industry, software sales were significantly lower than the predicted numbers. Nintendo attributes this fact to lower-than-expected Wii U sales.

In the first two quarters of this fiscal year, the Wii U sold only 460,000 units worldwide, a mere 6% of its projected sales. Even with a strong December--Wii U is rumored to have sold somewhere between 450,000 to 500,000 units last month--reaching the initial projection was going to be nearly impossible.

Despite being the best-selling console of 2013 in the US, sales predictions for the 3DS have been readjusted as well. Nintendo has dropped the expected 18 million units sold to 13.5 million, while also moving software sold to 60 million from 80 million.

Podcast Discussion / Episode 113: Never Got Wet
« on: December 16, 2013, 08:30:20 PM »

We kick it old school Newscast style on this week's Connectivity.

Hear ye, hear ye, good listeners of Connectivity. I bring unto you the one hundred thirteenth episode of your beloved Nintendo focused audio programme. This delightful episode begins with a dour discussion of Nintendo's recent sales trends. Our second, and far more jubilant segment, finds your hosts discussing the games they've been playing most recently. 

If you crave more content, a bonus segment on dinosaurs follows the regular show. 

Send us some listener mail by clicking here. And please rate and review our show on iTunes.

TalkBack / Wii Fit U Review
« on: November 13, 2013, 12:36:19 AM »

Easily the most complete, balanced Wii Fit game to date.

When I’ve talked to people about Wii Fit in the past, I’ve always had to clarify its purpose. While the original and its sequel did feature some amount of aerobic and strength training exercises, Wii Fit was better as a companion to your workout than the only source. It excelled in holding you responsible for your actions because of its excellent ability to track your progress day-to-day. Well, with Wii Fit U, that distinction becomes blurred and, for the first time in the series, it’s actually feasible to get a great daily workout that burns plenty of calories.

Wii Fit U achieves this is in a few ways, starting with the new Dance Mode and Balance Games. While previous Wii Fit games had very few aerobic exercises, save for jogging in place or hula hooping, Fit U’s Dance Mode features eight different dance styles with increasingly difficult routines. Hip hop, flamenco, jazz, locking-- each presents you with vastly different styles of dance. Shuffling your feet on and off the Balance Board while waving two Wii Remotes around in rhythm to the music is a surprisingly great way to break a sweat, and one of the highest calorie burning workouts in Wii Fit U. More than that, it’s actually pretty fun to get up and dance around like an idiot.

The new Balance Games, which can be played in multiplayer modes, are cleverly designed to discreetly work different parts of your body while you play. Hosedown, for example, has you use the GamePad as a hose, moving it around in real space to spray incoming Miis who are covered in mud. You stand with one foot on the Balance Board and one behind you, applying pressure to the Board to shoot streams of water, effectively having to do a lunge each time without even realizing it. Trampoline Target, meanwhile, requires you to squat down low on the Balance Board before quickly standing up straight to bounce higher and higher on a trampoline.

The best and most impactful Balance Game has to be Core Luge, though. Sitting on the Balance Board, you hold on to the sides and lift your feet into the air. As your Mii navigates the luge track, you must shift your weight left and right to steer, strictly working your abs. Even after just a few rounds of Core Luge, I could feel my abs beginning to grow sore. I didn’t expect such effective results from a mode I considered to be strictly for fun multiplayer bouts.

Apart from the new Dance and Balance Games, most of Wii Fit U’s exercise content is pulled from previous games in the series. Side planks, downward facing dogs, lunges, rowing squats, it’s all pretty familiar for Wii Fit enthusiasts. One problem here, though, is that unless you transfer over your Wii Fit data, you are stuck progressing through easier settings before you unlock more reps. I appreciate Wii Fit U’s concern, but I’m quite positive that I can do more than six push-ups and side planks at a time. For those who are already in pretty good shape and don’t have their Wii Fit data to transfer, the need to unlock harder settings is simply boring.

The robust routine system is a welcome addition. Wii Fit U will construct a custom workout routine for you that addresses your criteria. Whether you want to tighten your core, workout at a moderate pace for 20 minutes, or burn off the calories found in a can of soda doing strictly aerobic activities, Wii Fit U will pluck various exercises from each of its different modes to cater to your needs. You can even create your own routine by picking the exercise and number of reps you’d like to do. It’s great to know ahead of time roughly how long a routine is and how many calories it will burn before you start. One downside though is the constant stop-and-go between exercises; after you finish one part of your routine, you typically need to press A a few times to progress to the next one, which slows your heart rate just a bit. I wish Wii Fit U would seamlessly transition from exercise to exercise to keep you moving.

Apart from good new exercises, Wii Fit U features a few new ways to keep you involved and motivated. The Fit U Meter, which is small enough to fit in your pocket if you don’t want to strap it to your belt, tracks your activity and movement outside of the game and allows you to transfer that information into the game. It tracks steps as well as changes in speed and altitude, and is actually able to differentiate between your own physical movement and vehicular transportation, adjusting the amount of calories you are burning. You can even set goals for yourself, such as walking through Chicago or climbing to the top of the Statue of Liberty, that your Fit Meter data is applied to. It’s a fun way to encourage you to use the Fit Meter every day.

Gym Communities are a great way to share your progress with friends. You can create or join a gym of your choice with ease and then post your completion of goals and overall impressions of different exercises. Your weight and BMI are hidden, so you don’t have to be shy if you aren’t quite at the weight you want to be. While Wii Fit has always done a good job of tracking your weight loss through daily body tests (which return virtually unchanged here), this extra, community-driven approach is a fun way to stay involved.

I should mention, too, that while Wii Fit has toyed with Off-TV Play in the past by playing sound effects through the Wii Remote, Wii Fit U truly achieves it. Everything can be done with just the GamePad and Balance Board/Wii Remotes, so you can have something else on TV while you exercise. You can even enable Mirror Mode, which uses the GamePad’s camera to display you while exercising, allowing you to be mindful of your form and adjust if necessary.

Wii Fit U, through thoughtful use of the Wii U’s GamePad and online capabilities and an overall better aerobic experience, easily outshines its predecessors. The new Dance and Balance Games add a better variety of ways to workout, and the customizable routines are a great way to address exactly what you want to work on. While it would be nice if more difficult exercises were readily available from that start and if routines didn’t feature a jerky start-stop-start progression, Wii Fit U remains the best exercise game I’ve ever played.

TalkBack / Nintendo Can Remotely Delete Illicitly Gained eShop Content
« on: October 29, 2013, 10:51:38 AM »

Violating Nintendo's terms and conditions can result in the deletion of games.

Nintendo has the ability to remotely access hardware and remove content that is in violation of its terms and conditions, a Nintendo gamer found out the hard way.

Earlier this year, a Club Nintendo promotion offered $30 in eShop credit if you purchased both Fire Emblem: Awakening and Shin Megami Tensei IV. After registering the games, users were provided with a code that could be entered in either the Wii U or 3DS eShop for the credit. The promotion ended August 31.

User “Honey,” who owns two separate 3DS systems, as well as two Club Nintendo accounts, had purchased two copies of Fire Emblem as well as one copy of Shin Megami Tensei IV. After securing another Club Nintendo code for Shin Megami Tensei from a friend, she registered the pair of games to each of her Club Nintendo accounts and received two $30 credit codes.

Instead of using one code on each of her 3DSes, Honey redeemed both codes on a single 3DS. She downloaded SteamWorld Dig and left the rest of the credit alone.

A few weeks later, Honey attempted to log into one of her Club Nintendo accounts and was greeted with a message that it had been deactivated. Her other account was deactivated as well. Honey checked the eShop on her 3DS and discovered that the remaining balance from the Fire Emblem promotion had been removed. Honey then went to check on her games.

“I left the eShop, started skimming through my games, and just as I highlighted SteamWorld Dig, it disappeared, right in front of my eyes,” she said.

The game, which had been downloaded to her SD card, was completely removed by Nintendo.

Honey called Nintendo of America and was told that she had violated the terms and conditions for the promotion, specifically stating that only one code could be used per account. Moreover, Honey had actually violated other Club Nintendo terms and conditions, including maintaining two separate accounts and registering a code for a game that the user didn’t purchase.

Honey was able to convince Nintendo of America to reactive her Club Nintendo accounts, but the eShop credit and SteamWorld Dig were forfeited.

“They didn't give me the [credit] back but I don't care, I was happy to get my accounts back. Also, I figured that if I push, I may not get anything at all.”

We reached out to Nintendo of America but received no comment.

Podcast Discussion / Re: Episode 108: Castlevani
« on: October 28, 2013, 12:16:16 PM »
The song is from Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest. It's called "Bramble Blast." Whoa! I think I channeled TYP for a second there.  ;)

Correct! Love that song. I wouldn't be surprised if I've actually used it before.

TalkBack / Wii Fit U Preview
« on: October 20, 2013, 09:19:10 AM »

It's almost time to get Fit again.

Wii Fit U, once slated for a launch window release, is finally arriving this winter. The game makes use of the original Balance Board while incorporating the GamePad for additional ways to play. The game comes with new exercises and activities, alongside   the new Fit Meter and a free month-long trial.

The Fit Meter is perhaps the most interesting addition to Wii Fit U. While the Wii predecessors allowed you to enter in activities you did outside of the game and estimated the calories you burned, the Fit Meter actually tracks your movement to get a better idea of how much you are burning. The device, which should fit comfortably in most pockets or purses, even accounts for incline or vehicular transportation, increasing or decreasing the calories you are burning accordingly. Think of it as a step between a pedometer and full-blown heart rate monitor. The Fit Meter syncs up with Wii Fit U via the GamePad's infrared sensor and uploads your data directly to the game.

Much like Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus before it, Wii Fit U features more traditional exercises along with activities that can be played with friends. Yoga, strength training, and aerobic exercises return along with a new category: Dance. Mastering exercises unlocks more difficult versions, and the game keeps track of your overall performance throughout. As a bonus, Wii Fit U can be played entirely on the GamePad, meaning you can have something else on TV while you do your workout.

The activities are much more game-like, but still feature ways to get you up and off the couch. Core Luge requires you to sit on the Balance Board while shifting your weight left and right to navigate a track. Rowing Crew has you sit and move the GamePad in a rowing motion on the left and right sides of your body, working your core. Rock Climbing makes use of the Balance Board and two Wii Remotes; you move your hands and feet up and down as you climb a virtual wall.

Wii Fit U is scheduled for official release in December, but starting on November 1, Wii U owners with a Balance Board can download the full game for free and use it for a month. After the month is up, you can simply buy the Fit Meter to unlock the full game. Otherwise, a packaged version--with and without a Balance Board--will be available in December. Wii Fit Plus enthusiasts can also upload their existing data to Wii Fit U.

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