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1
Podcast Discussion / Episode 291: Directs of Future's Past
« on: September 24, 2021, 09:47:55 AM »

The news of two days ago, today.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/connectivity/58457/episode-291-directs-of-futures-past

Our favorite News Editor joins us to chat about our recent game pickups before moving on to theorizing about the direct that just happened. We record on Wednesdays for our episodes that post on Fridays. The Direct happened on Thursday. I'm sure you see the problem. Laugh at our horrible mistakes while being moderately impressed by things we got right.


2
TalkBack / NBA 2K22 (Switch) Review
« on: September 20, 2021, 04:12:24 AM »

This game’s championship window on Switch is closing.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/58411/nba-2k22-switch-review

The NBA 2K series is one that teeters on the balance of incredible and greedy, garnering a legacy of incredible basketball gameplay and options that is regularly marred by always-online modes and a reliance on microtransactions. The consistency of this over the iterations released on Nintendo Switch has been impressive, to say the least. The ports beginning with NBA 2K18 and continuing into this year’s NBA 2K22 - the fifth in the franchise on Switch - have been solid across the board, packing in a good-playing replica of the versions on more powerful hardware. They haven’t been without their faults, namely some visual compromises and long load times, but if you’re looking for a realistic game of basketball on your portable system that has all the modes of other consoles, NBA 2K delivers. That remains the status quo for the latest version, which is more of a full upgrade than last year’s pandemic-affected half-measure. Though at this point, the Switch version is starting to not be able to hold up as it gets older.

The actual basketball playing is the best it’s ever been on Switch, most likely because this year actually feels like a substantial upgrade. At the center of that is the refined shot meter. If you played NBA 2K21, you might remember the shot meter was reworked there and was, at launch, abysmal. It was patched into a workable state, but right out of the gate in 2K22, the shot meter feels great. You either press and hold a button down or flick the analog stick to start your shot. Then, you have to release it with timing to have a good chance of making the shot. In my experience, the updated shooting toes the line of being challenging and lenient, so you have to work to make hard shots but lay-ups and uncontested dunks require much less precision. In addition to the shooting, dribbling has also seen improvements as the right analog stick can be flicked in different directions while handling the ball to execute all sorts of crossovers and anklebreakers.

This is harder to explain, but the players around me also just seemed a little bit smarter. It’s subtle but noticeable as the computer-controlled AI is more realistic. That’s shown in your own teammates not getting faked out comically too often and also in the computer not falling for the same old tricks when you’re on offense. This game demands more strategy and focus in most of the modes (aside from some of the goofier playground exhibition ones). In addition, the difficulty levels seem more even. In years past, jumping from Pro to All-Star felt like a gigantic leap. This year, it actually feels attainable to move up a level.

The story-driven MyCareer mode returns but this might be my least favorite narrative of any 2K story mode I’ve played. Your created character is a social media star who seemingly just also happens to play basketball. Part of the goal for this story is build your Personal Brand, which leans more into the marketing dystopia that sports is on the verge of becoming. It’s definitely more light-hearted, but it just pales in comparison to some of the shockingly engrossing stories in the past. The writing is still alright, but it’s overall disappointing.

MyCareer is also tied into the Neighborhood, which takes the form of a cruise ship in this year’s game. You can wander around the boat to participate in various events and upgrade your character. Unfortunately, microtransactions are available here and you can pay to increase your created character’s prowess. For what it’s worth, I believe about $30-40 worth of currency will make your player a superstar. You can earn currency without paying, but naturally that’s easier to do when your player is better.

Even worse, MyCareer - this game’s story-driven narrative mode - is only playable online. The mere existence of microtransactions doesn’t make this game bad, but the inclusion of them in what is primarily a single-player experience is annually discomforting. This mode is also where some of the feature disparity among versions of the game comes into play. I have not played the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series version, but that touts having the City in lieu of the Neighborhood. If you have seen any of the Jake from State Farm bits online, that’s all in the City. There is a chance that Jake from State Farm is next-gen only.

This mode also highlights some of the technical issues. My created character was unable to actually generate any hair. The facial hair is there, but no matter what set his haircut to, it just loaded in flat, looking like my bald basketball player just painted his head. The fact the online modes run without much of an issue on Switch is great, but with the occasional oddity elsewhere, the game seems like it’s outpacing what the Switch can actually handle.

The rest of the suite of modes is the same as it ever was. MyTeam, 2K’s card-collecting online mode, is still there to try to whittle away more microtransactions from you by teasing new cards and packs. It’s generous enough if you want to dive in that it’s not egregious, but I can’t say these variations on Ultimate Team ever appealed to me.

What’s frustrating is that after last year’s disappointing release, MyGM, MyLeague, and the WNBA integration is just basically the same. I loved the charming jankiness of MyGM when it got a sizable refresh two years ago. It’s essentially been the same experience three games in a row. I have yet to find the same Frasier joke from NBA 2K20, but every other deliciously hacky conversation still remains. I love the personality pleasing and goal management in MyGM. I wish it got the same love the microtransaction-heavy modes got too. As for the WNBA content, I’m still so happy the teams are in the NBA 2K games and it’s great the Chicago Sky’s Candace Parker is on a cover variant, but I wish it was more than an afterthought. Maybe it’s something about the marketability of the WNBA vs. the NBA, but if the story mode this year can be about a social media star working on his Personal Brand, maybe that social media star could be a male or a female.

If you’re coming to NBA 2K22 to play some basketball, it’s a tremendous game on Switch. The shooting and dribbling are both reworked in positive ways and games are more realistic and approachable than ever. Outside of regular seasons, though, the modes you play that basketball in are trending downward in quality. Unless you’re ready to live your life one pack of virtual cards at a time, there isn’t much of value in MyCareer, MyGM, or MyLeague. Here’s hoping NBA 2K23 takes the refined gameplay and brings about more exciting variation in the modes.


3
Podcast Discussion / Episode 290: We Found a Metroid II Fan
« on: September 17, 2021, 09:59:40 AM »

Turns out Justin Berube legitimately likes Metroid II.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/connectivity/58356/episode-290-we-found-a-metroid-ii-fan

Justin joins us to talk about his own playthrough of the 2D Metroid series and it turns out he really enjoys Return of Samus. Neal has been having a great time rolling around with monkeys but less fun skating with birds. And John is cleaning up his backlog of Darksiders save files so that he has more room for Darksiders save files. Finally we turn to some listener mail and discuss what obscure game systems we'd be down for trying out.


4

Find out what inspired this excellent Switch game and also what Pokémon team its main character would have.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/interview/58350/talking-shonen-anime-and-pokemon-with-dodgeball-academias-developers

Sometimes it's the unassuming games that catch you off guard. That's definitely what happened for me with Dodgeball Academia, a release from earlier this year that features great dodgeball combat, enjoyable RPG mechanics, and an endearing world and story. Humble Games published it on Switch, continuing their track record of excellence on the platform (Carto still rules). The developer was Pocket Trap, a Brazilian studio that previously released Ninjin: Clash of Carrots on Switch in 2018 (we thought it was good). For as enjoyable as Ninjin was, Dodgeball Academia blew it out of the water, delivering one of my personal favorite games of 2021 so far.

I had the opportunity to ask Pocket Trap's Henrique Alonso a few questions about Pocket Trap's history, inspiration, and more. I even snuck in some questions about Pokémon because, well, battles with kids in the school still remind me of Pokémon trainer battles and the infirmary is basically just a Pokémon Center!


Nintendo World Report (NWR): How did your experience with working on other games inform your thought process for Dodgeball Academia?

Henrique Alonso (HA): Dodgeball is our first experience with making a Sports game and an RPG game. Previously we launched Ninjin: Clash of Carrots, which was more like an arcade game that mixed shoot ‘em ups and beat ‘em ups. Dodgeball Academia is a completely different story. We have this background of working with action games, so I think it helped a lot with the dodgeball battles as well as the overall experience of knowing what to do and how the process works. It helped us know what we were doing and figuring out scheduling, for example. Our experience porting the game to other consoles like the Nintendo Switch was also very useful. We were much more prepared to port the game to the Nintendo Switch system then we were for our first game.

NWR: Dodgeball Academia definitely has a sports anime vibe. Were there any specific stories you aimed to capture?

HA: I think we were focusing on delivering a story that was kind of inspired by not only sports animes but also shonen animes overall - and also cartoons. We wanted it to feel cozy, like telling the local adventures of a school. Usually RPG’s tell these epic stories where the character starts small and by the end, he defeats the villain that is threatening the universe. For Dodgeball Academia, we wanted to focus the story on school situations like dealing with bullies and projects from the teachers, while also having the tournament arc. The tournament is a very important piece of the story to guide the character throughout the school year and for the player to feel the game’s progression.

We tried to bring many personal experiences to the game. For example, situations that we lived through when we were back in school. The whole project has a nostalgic vibe of being in school and practicing dodgeball with references to the sports anime that we grew up watching and loved.

NWR: I noticed while playing the game that the first few chapters gently ease in the player (going from 1 player to 2 players to 3 players to more chaos). How did you lend on that specific tutorial cadence for the game? Were there any other forms this opening took?

HA: We knew we wanted to have a sports RPG game where you play dodgeball battles, but dodgeball has some limitations and rules for what you can do inside dodgeball. We tried to bring in as much variety as we could, ranging from introducing new characters who feature different throws and abilities. I think it is important to not leave the player feeling too overwhelmed in the beginning. We wanted to build a journey where you start small and then begin gathering new students to join the team. Even though the core gameplay can get a little repetitive as you are always playing dodgeball, we wanted to make sure each episode brings something new to the table.

NWR: I'm a big fan of the Kunio Super Dodgeball games and this felt like one of the few games to nail the feel of those old games. What would you say is the key to how you were able to balance the throwing/catching/countering gameplay so that it stayed fun throughout the whole story?

HA: We also grew up playing those games - especially Super Dodgeball for the arcades, which was more of a fighting game. It was very challenging for us to adapt this game to a single player story focused RPG environment. We tried to bring as many different mechanics, throws and balls as we could into the game. We wanted to have even more actions, but some ended up being cut as we have a finite amount of resources and we have a schedule to follow. It was very important for us to allow the player to choose which character they like the most and build their specific team and have equipment bringing a decent variety in the game, where you can customize your party as you like. It was very important for us to bring the different ball ultimates and mechanics so you can customize your team and we could call the game an RPG.

NWR: The single-player story seems like the focus, but there's still local multiplayer here. Was there ever any plans for online multiplayer or perhaps a more fleshed out multiplayer component? Any reasons why it didn't happen?

HA: We would have loved to. The game kind of started by borrowing lots of inspiration from the Super Dodgeball games, which were focused mostly on multiplayer and versus. When we started developing the game we started with a versus mode before developing the AI, as we wanted to see how the game was working and how it was feeling. We also knew the focus of the game was to be this single player story RPG. As much as we would have loved to give a multiplayer focus, we kind of had to choose and we chose the single player path. When we were reaching the end of production, we actually decided to include the versus local mode as it was a very fun extra, at least for us. We wanted people to experience and have the chance to play as Boris, for example - which is a character that does not join your party. It also  kind of brings a nostalgic feel for unlocking characters as you play through the story. We used to play lots of games from the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 eras, which usually had this bonus local multiplayer and we wanted to bring this to the game.

Perhaps in the future we can bring an expansion where we have online multiplayer. I know lots of people would love to, but there is a lot of work involved as not all characters are balanced or work as intended when you bring them into a multiplayer involvement. Most were made for the AI to control them. It's a lot of work but you never know - maybe in the future.

NWR: Fighting random kids around the school grounds felt a lot like Pokemon trainer battles. Was that a deliberate decision? If so, are there any other specific Pokemon references (the infirmary feeling like a Pokecenter comes to mind!)?

HA: I love this question! Yes, I think it is evident that we love Pokemon and we love Nintendo as a whole. We grew up playing Paper Mario, and Pokemon is one of my favorite games of all time. I would not say it was really a deliberate decision. It was a more natural thing for us because at some point we needed to add more battles to the game and we did not want them to be random, so our solution was the students who are located around the school challenge you as they want to practice.

NWR: If Pokemon is indeed an influence/interest, what would Otto's ideal Pokemon roster be?

HA: Otto is inspired by the dog of the co-creator and art director of Dodgeball Academia, Ivan. So Otto definitely needs a fire type dog Pokemon. He would probably start with Growlithe or Arcanine as a starter Pokemon. I think he has an Ash Ketchum vibe, where he wants to adopt everyone and bring everyone to his team. I think he would have some Pokemon there that are not considered as useful or beloved like Luvdisc maybe. Luvdisc, Toxicroak who has that big chin… haha. In the game we have George who takes care of the school and has this huge chin and plenty of jokes are related to it, so Toxicroak would be in Otto’s team. Then another fire Pokemon like Victini...Voltorb as he is a ball Pokemon so Otto could practice some dangerous dodgeball with him. And maybe Ditto because Ditto has this possibility for jokes like making Ditto look like Balloony. That would probably be his party.  

NWR: Were there any characters in the game that you wanted to make playable but weren't able to in the final game?

HA: Yes there were. I really wanted Squid to be one of the playable characters but we ended up having to make her an opponent. We had some characters who never made the cut and maybe in the future they can come in and join the team. At some point I really wanted Vampy to join the team as she is a personal favorite. Overall though, I am really happy with the roster and Otto’s team.  

NWR: What Nintendo character would be the best at dodgeball and why?

HA: I would say probably Kirby, because he could absorb all the balls that are thrown at him and throw them back. Also maybe Yoshi because he could also eat the balls and throw them back (laughs). Donkey Kong would have the strongest throw ever. It could be a very fun game. If Nintendo wants to hire us to make a Super Mario Dodgeball game please feel free to invite us! We would love to work on it.


5
Podcast Discussion / Episode 288: The Gang Discovers the 90's
« on: September 06, 2021, 08:38:09 AM »

It's all about the games this week!

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/connectivity/58255/episode-288-the-gang-discovers-the-90s

Sorry for the late upload, we had some server issues to deal with before we could post.

Zach joins John and Neal to catch up on a bunch of games, both new and old. But first Neal and Zach chat with John about his recently released documentary on the development of Star Fox Command. John shares some stories from production and some additional insights from his interviews with the developers. After that Zach and John gush over how good Quake still is and get distracted by Halo. Neal and Zach dive deep into the world of Axiom Verge 2 and Zach looks forward to the possible revival of Bloodrayne. After a quick disclaimer, Neal pontificates on the difficulties inherent to building a snowman. John plays a new version of Myst as he does every year. Finally the gang  turns to some listener mail to finish off the show.


6
Podcast Discussion / Episode 287: Lowing Mawns
« on: August 27, 2021, 07:11:31 AM »

And other leisurely activities.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/connectivity/58188/episode-287-lowing-mawns

Sometimes a game can be great one moment and terrible the next. Matt discusses his time with No More Heroes 3 and John keeps the trend going by looking back on his review of King's Bounty II. Neal follows up with some more positive thoughts on Spelunky 2 and Boyfriend Dungeon. Next, the summer of Skyward Sword continues with some in depth listener mail.

Connectivity has joined Twitter, so be sure to follow @ConnectivityNWR to be up to date on any announcements. We are wanting more listener participation, so feel free to ask questions, they may show up in the show! Email us at Connectivity@NintendoWorldReport.com


7
TalkBack / Spelunky 2 (Switch) Review
« on: August 25, 2021, 04:00:00 AM »

A return trip that is bold and different.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/58174/spelunky-2-switch-review

Spelunky is a foundational game for a variety of reasons, whether it’s the ingenuity of its level design or its placement as a bellwether for the roguelike indie revolution. The original Xbox 360 release (also available on Switch) is almost a decade old (and even older if you count the Classic version). I view the original Spelunky as one of the finest games of its kind, even if a lot of my enjoyment has come from watching others find all the secrets as I make it through the main quest by the skin of my teeth. With how much I appreciated the first game, I’ve been waiting to play Spelunky 2 on Switch since it was announced, and I’m happy to say it doesn’t disappoint. Spelunky 2 basically takes everything from the first game and makes it a little bit different but largely better.

The primary mechanics don’t change much. You’re still spelunking around different areas making use of a finely tuned jump, bombs, ropes, and other found or purchased weaponry. The story setup is a little different, as now you play the child of the original explorer, Ana Spelunky. After the events of the original game, Ana grew up and is now on the moon with fellow explorers trying to find her parents. What’s fun is so many of the characters are references or descendents to the cast from the original. You only start with four playable, but there are many to find in the caverns and dungeons you explore.

The variety of levels is also greatly increased, with a lot of less arcane divergent paths and more deliberate ones (though don’t worry: there are still some bonkers “how could a human ever do this?” secrets). A lot of the themes from the original are replicated, but usually expanded with some new enemies and twists. It’s been a while since I played the first game and I definitely had a sense of deja vu in some spots. There are enough new twists to make it not feel similar, though. A variety of NPCs appear throughout different levels, tasking you with various side quests as you work your way through the worlds.

In comparison to the original, Spelunky 2 is more inventive but also far more challenging. A lot of that comes from the open-ended nature. Spelunky 1 has a relatively linear path from beginning to end, whereas the sequel can hurtle you in various directions much sooner. If you reached the depths of the secrets of the original and craved more, Spelunky 2 is perfect for you. If you thought the original was too much, you might need to take more stock of what you’re looking for in a video game before I recommend this game to you.

Especially early on, Spelunky 2 features more running into a brick wall until you learn the rhythm and secrets. Bizarrely, the first world is one of the hardest of the first half, but if you can get through there, you can probably reach the first ending. That might, in turn, be your gateway to going off the deep end and doing the wild eggplant secrets. There is a lot to uncover throughout, whether it’s hidden characters or areas.

Online co-op is also present, complete with cross-play functionality. Even in the face of rampant death, the co-op is a ton of fun. For the times in my life when I more readily just hung out with friends and passed the controller in games, I wish I had this level of co-op play because it makes searching for secrets and making it to the various ends more enjoyable. It can get chaotic and messy, but that’s also part of the charm.

While Spelunky 2 is not quite the landmark the original game was, it carries with it the same spirit of exploration and challenge. Part of me wishes it was maybe a little more lenient, especially in the first area, but that’s also not necessarily what Spelunky is all about. This is an immaculately designed game dripping with secrets and traps. It might not be for the faint of heart, but at least now with the glory of online co-op, the faint of heart can be dragged kicking and screaming to the City of Gold.


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TalkBack / Boyfriend Dungeon (Switch) Review
« on: August 23, 2021, 10:46:26 AM »

Date your weapons and then fight with them in this satirical and poignant game.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/58173/boyfriend-dungeon-switch-review

The concept of Boyfriend Dungeon is one of the better MadLibs-esque game ideas out there as it’s all about playing a dungeon crawler where you date your weapons. The setup is pure dating sim charm as your character is spending the summer in Verona Beach hoping to find “the one” despite never dating before the events of the game. The twist is that you’re mostly dating humans who can turn into weapons, and when they do, you journey into the dunj (the in-game world’s delightfully goofy slang term for dungeon) to slay monsters and make your romantic connection even stronger. Boyfriend Dungeon lands among being a jack of all trades and master of none, but it’s nevertheless an enjoyable experience from start to finish, even if it has a few noticeable misses.

The dating sim elements are straightforward and, most importantly, fun to toy around with. As you use your weapons, you increase an experience meter with individual ones. When the meters fill up, you go on a date with the human side. Every character you can date has an interesting story, though some are more fraught than others. Some of the early partners you find are the shady nightclub-owning Sunder, the daddy-issues financier Isaac, and the standoffish painter Valeria. While you’ll definitely pick favorites, you can romance them all if you want without multiple save files. Also there’s a cat that you can’t actually date but can still level up and bring inside as a weapon in the dunj.

The writing across all the dates is strong, alternating between tongue-in-cheek and sincere at a pleasant cadence. I often found myself chuckling at the absurdity of some situations while also nodding in recognition of noticing a relatable relationship dilemma. Some weighty emotional issues do come up and while some of the deployment of these issues can be off-putting, it’s handled well overall, especially through the use of in-game text messages. Speaking vaguely to not spoil much, the use of frequent texts and certain scenarios as a form of emotional manipulation is all too real. It might have drawn some ire for not being as clearly forewarned, but that seems to be mostly because it’s very good at what it’s trying to execute.

A few narrative threads basically go nowhere, likely being followed up on in post-launch updates. Currently, the specifics of those updates aren’t detailed. As such, it’s frustrating to see characters pop up and seem like they’re going to be recurring characters, only to see them just vanish for future DLC. Developer Kitfox Games did address that some of the Kickstarted stretch goals weren’t going to make launch because of both the development team’s mental health and the desire to actually have the game come out. I understand why some story elements feel unfinished, but it still stuck out like a sore thumb.

Dungeon crawling is easily the weakest aspect of the whole game, but it almost seems like the developers were aware of that. It feels very flighty and loose, often giving you ample reward for trudging through and also making sure you’re stocked with health refills and special abilities to press on. If the full game was just the hack-and-slash action, it’d be a bad time, but as a periodic respite from the dating scene, it fits just right. The deeper into the game you go, the more customization is available, whether it’s choosing between different skills for each weapon or crafting new “zines” that essentially function as magic abilities. Weapons feel different when you use them, and that kind of variety helps make what could be a drag on the whole experience stay engaging.

Bouncing between comical yet often heartfelt dating segments and double-entendre-laden dungeon crawling combat makes for a good genre fusion that stays enjoyable for the 5-10 hours it takes to complete. The action might not hold up to scrutiny and some aspects of the dating sim might not land well for you, but the sum of Boyfriend Dungeon’s parts is greater than its pieces. The elevator pitch of dating your weapons is still as silly and goofy now as it was when the game was first revealed.


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TalkBack / Dodgeball Academia (Switch) Review
« on: August 04, 2021, 09:00:00 AM »

They made a veritable Dodgeball RPG Story.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/57982/dodgeball-academia-switch-review

Dodgeball historically feels like an underserved activity in video games. I have fond memories of Super Dodge Ball on the NES, but outside of that game’s sequels and the underrated indie game Stikbold, dodgeball hasn’t been that prevalent in gaming, at least until this year. EA and Velan Studios’ Knockout City brought dodgeball online, but Dodgeball Academia, published by Humble Games and developed by Pocket Trap, delivers the cartoony episodic anime RPG that I never knew the sport needed. It combines deep, strategic combat with charming characters and an incredible amount of polish to make a sports RPG that stands tall next to Golf Story and the fabled Game Boy Mario sports games.

Even beyond the sports facade, what makes Dodgeball Academia so good is that it’s just a killer RPG in and of itself. You star as tropey plucky protagonist Otto, a newcomer to the legendary academy. He puts together a dodgeball team and sets his sights at being the very best, like no one ever was. The game is broken into chapters, with the first one largely being a tutorial and the second chapter starting to unravel some of the regular rhythm of the game. Each of the eight chapters represents a day in the life at the academy. You explore the school grounds and surrounding areas to find treasures, fight random schoolkids, and complete story quests and side quests. Everything is extremely vibrant and intuitive. It is as enjoyable to look at the colorful animation and presentation as it is to easily use the in-game map and menus. The only snafus are that the load times are a little on the long side sometimes, but that sadly just seems unavoidable with the bulk of Switch versions at this point. (Note: if you do have an Xbox, it will be on Game Pass at launch)

Otto’s focus is primarily on winning the dodgeball tournament, but numerous other mishaps and adventures add to the goofy lore of the land and help to expand Otto’s team. For the first three chapters, your team grows from one to two to three, the latter of which is the most players you can have on the court at one time. The dodgeball itself is the main gameplay, as every match is presented like an action RPG battle. You control one of up to three characters at a time, trying to throw balls at your opponents while avoiding being hit. Every character is unique, but they all control relatively the same. Everyone has a regular and charged throw. Everyone can catch or counter an enemy throw. They all have special moves. Every character also learns new moves and buffs as they level up and their stats can be altered by various equippable items. The character customization is flexible but never daunting. Finding new party members across the adventure turns out to be even more fun because a new character means new twists on previously explained mechanics.

Building on basic mechanics is what makes the dodgeball itself so engrossing. At first, you’ll just play on normal courts under normal conditions. From there, you’ll be dodging bullet-hell special moves, weaving to the side of vehicles accosting the court, and dealing with balls with fire and ice elemental powers. The steady pace of these tweaks and challenges helps to make sure the gameplay is never dull. Even over the course of a roughly 10-to-15-hour adventure, there is a consistent slate of new ideas, areas, and mechanics. All the while the basic concepts of throwing and catching are always the foundation. This is a game that never loses sight of its fundamental strengths even as it gets crazier.

The narrative goes to some wild places, with the school itself being a source of great intrigue. Every character is absurd and larger than life and thanks to humorous writing and gorgeous artwork, a lot of them stand out. It’s very referential, most evident to me in how a lot of the non-story battles feel a lot like Pokemon trainer battles, down to the way they run over to you if you get in their line of sight and even the musical stinger when you enter the battle. The way everything comes together, from the animation to the soundtrack to the gameplay, is outrageously charming.

In addition to the story mode, there is also a two-player local multiplayer mode. It’s not quite as deep as the rest of the game, but it’s a totally fine addition. I don’t see myself spending a ton of time here, but in the right environment, I could see this being a competitive couch multiplayer game.

The best part of Dodgeball Academia though is when everything clicks as an RPG. It’s a joy to figure out the right strategy to win a tough fight. I love exploring the world and seeing what happens next in the goofy story. This isn’t just a great sports game, it’s also a superb RPG that, like the likes of Golf Story, should appeal to those who aren’t inclined to sport.


10
Podcast Discussion / Episode 285: Metroid II, Samus Returns, and AM2R
« on: August 13, 2021, 05:50:06 AM »

Part 2 of the Metroid Game Club

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/connectivity/58075/episode-285-metroid-ii-samus-returns-and-am2r

We've gathered a mix of old and new voices to join our latest Metroid Game Club discussion. Metroid II: Return of Samus sets the groundwork for not only an official remake in Metroid: Samus Returns, but a slew of fan remakes including the legendary AM2R. Our gang discusses the evolution of gameplay, interpretations of the story, and the place of fan games within the franchise.

Connectivity has joined Twitter, so be sure to follow @ConnectivityNWR to be up to date on any announcements. We are wanting more listener participation, so feel free to ask questions, they may show up in the show!     Please send in some hard-hitting questions for the Connectivity gang to ponder over: the address is connectivity@nintendoworldreport.com


11
TalkBack / Metroid Dread Report and Glimpse of Dread Trailer Update
« on: August 06, 2021, 05:15:31 PM »

Happy Birthday to you!

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/video/57991/metroid-dread-report-and-glimpse-of-dread-trailer-update

The anticipation for Metroid Dread is reaching a fever pitch. A game once rumored 15 years ago is finally coming out in roughly two months. Nintendo’s doing their part to hype up the adventure with their Metroid Dread Reports - which have been showing up on their website roughly twice a month since the announcement. Volume 4 recently went up and with that, came some confirmation of theorized directions for the story. We also got a brand new look at some scenes from the game in a short new trailer called "A Glimpse of Dread." Below you'll find our full breakdown and analysis.

If you want to know more about the Chozo's backstory you can learn more here:

And for more on the history of Metroid Dread's long road to the Switch, check out this video:


12
Podcast Discussion / Episode 284: Expendable Furries
« on: August 06, 2021, 08:49:17 AM »

In which Alex murders some children.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/connectivity/57989/episode-284-expendable-furries

If there is one thing you should know about Alex, it is that he will happily sacrifice children if it means taking out alternate-reality Nazis. The gang marvels over the weird WWII inspired world of FUGA: Melodies of Steel before revisiting Dodgeball Accademia and The Falconeer.

Next they look ahead to the fall and try to predict how people will react to various Nintendo releases.


13
TalkBack / Picross S Genesis and Master System Edition (Switch) Review
« on: August 03, 2021, 09:13:17 PM »

A loving tribute to pixel-focused Sega consoles in a dependable puzzle format.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/57983/picross-s-genesis-and-master-system-edition-switch-review

After a few months, developer Jupiter has returned to the eShop to release another PIcross game. If you’re familiar with the picture puzzle nonograms, it’s likely you know your way around the numerous Picross S games on the Nintendo Switch. When I last reviewed one of those games, I commented that it felt like Jupiter was just spinning their wheels with these releases. The puzzles are good, but nothing was really changing in each iteration. That remains the case with their latest release, Picross S Genesis and Master System Edition (or whatever Sega’s first and second home consoles were called in your region). But a dose of Sega-laced nostalgia is enough to invigorate the puzzles for me, even if the act of solving them and the types of challenges aren’t different from April’s Picross S6.

The interface is unchanged from the Picross S games. The same good tutorials are present as well as the main modes. You have 300 traditional Picross puzzles, 30 Color Picross puzzles, and 150 Clip Picross puzzles. It’s technically down five puzzles from Picross S6, but that’s just because this version does not have a save data bonus for giant-sized puzzles like the recent S releases. The most important part of the Sega Picross game is the fact that every puzzle is a character or object from a Sega game from the Master System and Genesis era. 59 games are represented, including multiple Sonic the Hedgehog games, the Golden Axe trilogy, OutRun, the Phantasy Star quadrilogy, and even Dynamite Headdy. It even has Japan-only releases like Record of the Bahamut War, which is cool to see even if it resulted in me finishing some puzzles and having to Google what the heck the game was.

The Sega references also extend to the background music, with a few good chill songs from the era making up the game’s soundtrack. It’s nothing extravagant, but it’s a nice touch. Seeing more Sega nods work their way into the game would have been great, but what’s there is totally fine.

Like the oodles of Picross S games before it, Picross S Genesis and Master System Edition is another great entry in the series. It still lacks touchscreen support, but if you have any fondness for Sega in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, this is a treat to solve all these nostalgic puzzles. I only wish this was more than just a Sega-skinned Picross S game, but if quality nonograms with a reliable interface is the biggest problem I have with this game, maybe it’s not actually a problem.


14

Part 2 of the Jelly Boy Chronicles.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/connectivity/57933/episdoe-283-jelly-boy-dodges-balls-and-holds-corporations-accountable

Neal and John actually played some games this week! Neal is working on his review of Sports RPG Dodgeball Academia and John fulfills his promise of diving deep into the world of Jelly Boy. Next, the fellas discuss the recent allegations filed against Activision Blizzard and what this culture means for the industry as a whole while also discussing how we should react to it. The monthly Star Fox quota is met by a listener email regarding Star Fox Warriors. Finally John and Neal imagine a world weird Nintendo makes Final Fantasy Remake style changes to their classic Zelda games.


15
TalkBack / Sega-Themed Picross Game Launches Next Week
« on: July 28, 2021, 07:00:00 AM »

Jupiter's Picross S Genesis & Master System Edition comes to Switch on August 5.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/news/57922/sega-themed-picross-game-launches-next-week

On August 5, Jupiter will release Picross S Mega Drive & Master System Edition, a Sega-themed version of their long-running Picross series. First announced in June 2020, this game includes a total of 480 puzzles split between regular Picross and special modes including Clip and Color Picross.

Pre-orders for the game will go up on July 29 and in addition, the back catalog of Jupiter-developed Picross games will all be 20% off from July 29 until August 18.

59 different games from the Sega Master System and Mega Drive/Genesis era will be represented in the puzzles. See the below list for all of the included games:

  • Action Fighter
  • After Burner
  • Alex Kidd in Miracle World
  • Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  • Alien Soldier
  • Alien Storm
  • Alien Syndrome
  • Altered Beast
  • Arrow Flash
  • Beyond Oasis
  • Bio-Hazard Battle
  • Bonanza Bros.
  • Columns
  • Columns III
  • Comix Zone
  • Crack Down
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • Enduro Racer
  • ESWAT: City Under Siege
  • Eternal Champions
  • Fantasy Zone
  • Gain Ground
  • Golden Axe
  • Golden Axe II
  • Golden Axe III
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Kung Fu Kid
  • Light Crusader
  • Out Run
  • Phantasy Star
  • Phantasy Star II
  • Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
  • Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
  • Puyo Puyo
  • Puzzle & Action:Ichidant-R
  • Puzzle & Action:Tant-R
  • Quartet
  • Record of the Bahamut War
  • Rent A Hero
  • Ristar
  • Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
  • Shining Force II
  • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
  • Sonic & Knuckles
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 3
  • Sonic the hedgehog CD
  • Space Harrier
  • Space Harrier II
  • Streets of Rage
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Streets of Rage 3
  • Super Hang-On
  • Super Thunder Blade
  • Sword of Vermilion
  • The Ooze
  • The Revenge of Shinobi
  • Turbo Out Run

16
Podcast Discussion / Episode 282: Jelly Boy's Pelvic Thrust
« on: July 23, 2021, 08:16:05 AM »

The quest to protect the world from Earthbound continues on NSO.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/connectivity/57882/episode-282-jelly-boys-pelvic-thrust

Zach returns to the show after missing out on our first Metroid Game Club episode because we still wanted to hear his thoughts on Metroid and Zero Mission. But first Neal played that new PokéMOBA, Pokémon Unite, and has some initial thoughts on it. The gang covers some news stories including new non-Earthbound titles coming to Switch Online and John shares his hesitation around the Steam Deck.

Connectivity has joined Twitter, so be sure to follow @ConnectivityNWR to be up to date on any announcements. We are wanting more listener participation, so feel free to ask questions, they may show up in the show!

Please send in some hard-hitting questions for the Connectivity gang to ponder over: the address is connectivity@nintendoworldreport.com


17
TalkBack / Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS) Vintage Review
« on: July 21, 2021, 07:01:58 AM »

A journey back to the distant time of 2017.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/video/57877/metroid-samus-returns-3ds-vintage-review

Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS released a few months after the Nintendo Switch. Our pre-occupation with the Switch and the relative complexity of capturing footage from a 3DS game meant that this instant classic never got the proper video review treatment it deserved. So with that in mind we hope you'll enjoy the least vintage entry in our Vintage Review series, where we take our original reviews and produce brand new video versions for modern audiences. Neal Ronaghan's original review for Samus Returns is followed by a few of his modern thoughts on the game. Enjoy!


18

Also Alex really did buy Star X

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/connectivity/57825/episode-281-the-skyward-sword-appreciation-society

Happy Skyward Sword HD day! Alex joins Neal and John to quickly chat about the Switch (OLED Model) before moving on to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD. Neal recounts the leadup to the original Wii release and his time reviewing the game. The gang laments the shift in perception towards the game over time but ultimately just spends a while talking about how neat Zelda is.


19
TalkBack / The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (Switch) Review
« on: July 14, 2021, 05:09:09 AM »

Do control options and a handful of other tweaks modernize Skyward Sword for the HD era?

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/57811/the-legend-of-zelda-skyward-sword-hd-switch-review

Looking back at a video game with years of hindsight can be eye-opening. I walked away from reviewing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on Wii a decade ago head over heels for the motion-controlled console's swan song. Since then, Skyward Sword got largely run through the mud and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild completely reinvented the idea of a 3D Zelda game. Revisiting Skyward Sword in its new HD form on Nintendo Switch is fascinating, because even in spite of flaws, this is an incredible game that puts a bow on both traditional 3D Zelda and the Wii while also laying down the foundation for what was to come. With that power of hindsight, I rediscovered what I love about Skyward Sword and thankfully, Nintendo did a decent job cleaning up what was a little rough around the edges.

The visuals were never one of those rough aspects, though. On Wii, this was a game designed to look painterly and vibrant on a standard definition TV. In HD, the visuals are still true to the original design but are upgraded to look pleasing on a modern display. The cartoony characters fit right in with the gorgeous locales. It does that good thing where it basically captures the look of the game as you would remember it and not how it actually was. While this isn't pushing the limits of the console, this is a nice looking video game that runs well on TV and handheld.

The handheld play is thankfully the most hand holding you will likely come across here as Nintendo subtly tweaked a lot of Skyward Sword's laborious tutorials and over explanation. No longer do you see the explanation for a rupee every time you turn on the game. Fi is 95% less annoying, as the majority of her hints are locked behind a button press. Characters also routinely give you the option to basically cut to the chase. The pacing is still slow but the tiny trims and cuts help make it more enjoyable. For example, I didn't initially notice anything really changed in the Skyloft opening, but I found myself enjoying it more than I had in a recent replay because it just kept moving a little bit faster. Some losses are incurred though as the Visions Super Guide feature appears to be gone. On one hand, you can find guides easily online; on the other, it was cool when Nintendo basically had a built-in strategy guide in their games.

Ultimately, one of the biggest changes here is the addition of button controls. Taking the motion-heavy gameplay and translating it to a more traditional scheme isn’t perfect, but it works close to the best it can. For the most part, it just controls like a 3D Zelda game this way, but the sword is mapped to the right analog stick. Directional attacks are done by tilting the stick in any direction and stabs are done by clicking in the stick. It’s weird, but it was far less awkward than I expected. Two major parts of these controls don’t sit well with me, however. Spin attacks and the fatal blow finishing move are done by flicking the stick in three directions quickly (e.g. a horizontal spin attack is done by going left-right-left). This never felt natural and I struggled to complete it consistently. The other annoying part is the camera control. Another new addition to Skyward Sword is free camera control, which is mapped to the right analog stick when using motion controls. The right analog stick is occupied by the sword with button controls, so the twin-stick camera movement can only be done by holding a shoulder button and then using the analog stick. It’s relatively minor and something that you can get used to, but boy it would have been so much better to be able to more easily control the camera in button controls.

But aside from those two nagging issues, the button controls are great. The game is clearly not designed for them, but this seems like the best way of mapping the motion controls to buttons without totally redesigning the whole thing. Sometimes it’s nice to just control the beetle with an analog stick or not have to deal with balancing using motion controls. Sword fights are also on the whole easier because the enemies focus so much on where you’re holding the sword in motion controls, so when you’re able to quickly flick the stick to execute an attack, it’s not as telegraphed.

The motion controls on Switch are generally fine, but I struggled with them more now than I did in 2011. That’s more because motion controls like this are very uncommon, whereas at the game’s original launch, I was coming off of five years of Wii games. It’s still satisfying, however, to slash your controller and slice up a Bokoblin. Some parts that I loved on Wii don’t translate as well on Switch, unfortunately. Rolling bombs isn’t nearly as smooth with the Joy-Con, but that more limits silly trick shots than hinders the moment-to-moment gameplay. Pointing towards your TV screen and simply pressing a button will recalibrate your position, making it far less cumbersome than having to lay your Wii Remote down on the ground for calibration.

I spent a good deal of time with both control schemes and found that motion is still the best way to play. Still, whenever I played handheld, I didn’t feel compromised because I was using button controls. It’s a slightly wider gap of the difference of playing Super Mario Odyssey with buttons or Joy-Con. Like Skyward Sword, Odyssey was designed around the motion controls, but it’s perfectly playable and enjoyable without them.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the story, which still tells the earliest known adventure of Link and Zelda. It’s filled with memorable characters, whether it’s the goth villain Ghirahim or the rambunctious rival Groose. The core is the relationship between Link and Zelda, which is more fleshed out here than in any other game. Link has a clear objective in his quest, which is to save his childhood friend, and the journey he goes on to become a legendary hero rarely loses sight of his initial goal. While Fi has a checkered history largely due to her tutorializing, I do really love how the game builds up a relationship with Link and his trusty sword. Zelda largely being an active participant in the story still holds up and the way the game lays out the Legend of Zelda as an entire concept is novel.

In general, coming back to Skyward Sword on Switch was an enjoyable experience. Many aspects still hold up, primarily the dungeon design. You do have demarcated dungeons, but the minute you set down on the ground, you have puzzles to solve, items to find, and paths to uncover. It’s incredibly seamless and I can see ways that this design carried forth in the Shrines in Breath of the Wild. While you only have three core areas to visit, each one features layers of puzzles and challenges that help to deepen your connection to the world and master the layout of the land. The first time you visit Eldin Volcano, you just romp around and explore. Then later, it’s a tense stealth sequence that builds on the prior knowledge you had of the map. Each place also has a Silent Realm sequence near the end that tests your area awareness even more. The progression of all three places, and even Skyloft, is where Skyward Sword excels.

The same can’t be said for the sky, unfortunately. While flying around the sky on a Loftwing initially conjured up Wind Waker seafaring, it’s far closer in reality to the barren wastelands of Hyrule Field in Twilight Princess as there isn’t that much to do and much of it is undercooked and too far apart. While the music tries to be as bombastic as possible, flying as a Loftwing just isn’t that much fun.

While the march to 100% completion in the skies might be disappointing, the core experience in Skyward Sword is largely great. For every dreadful Imprisoned fight and frustrating music note collection puzzle, you have almost the entirety of Lanayru and more than a half dozen epic and interesting boss fights. Parts of the game are smoothed over, but nothing is all that fundamentally different. Skyward Sword is what it is, and to me, it’s an awesome Zelda game.

What Skyward Sword HD does best is make a 3D Zelda once thought limited to a unique console playable in perpetuity (hopefully). Along the way, enough changes and tweaks are made to improve the adventure, whether it’s streamlined tutorials or satisfactory button controls. It wasn’t known at the time, but this represents the final chapter of Nintendo’s 3D Zelda design that started with Ocarina of Time. With hindsight, Skyward Sword HD serves an interesting coda that paved the way for Breath of the Wild. The linear ebb and flow of Link’s earliest chronological story might be rooted in the past, but it’s still an engaging and cozy adventure in the present that’s well worth playing or revisiting.


20
TalkBack / Sky: Children of Light (Switch) Review
« on: July 07, 2021, 08:03:31 AM »

The developers of Journey made a worthy follow-up to it on Switch.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/57758/sky-children-of-light-switch-review

For the average Nintendo fan, thatgamecompany isn’t a household name, but their past games are wonderful and unique. Their 2012 release Journey was especially magical, as players controlled a mysterious robed character going on a wordless journey scored to an incredible Austin Wintory soundtrack. The spellbinding twist to Journey is that you’d come across random online players on your journey, working with them to solve puzzles only using the chirps of your character. Journey is a gorgeous game that also had a heartfelt message about communication and growth.

Nearly a decade later, thatgamecompany is making their Nintendo console debut with Sky: Children of Light, a game already available on mobile devices. In short, Sky is essentially a free-to-play Journey. It captures the magic and style of the previous game, but in a more open-ended manner. You take control of a little sky child, looking to find lost spirits in the world. Exploring seven different worlds, you journey around looking for those spirits and other secrets.

Despite in-app purchases and season passes, Sky does a very good job of not feeling compromised if you want to go in and drop no money. You naturally accrue in-game currencies that can unlock things, but those items are largely cosmetics. Your little fella can wear different hair styles, capes, and pants. You can even get musical instruments to play, including a Switch-exclusive ocarina that looks oddly reminiscent of a certain Zelda item. If your goal is to just explore the levels to the fullest and find all the spirits, there’s nothing stopping you outside of a little bit of a grind.

That’s one of my few complaints: it’s a tad grindy. In order to find all the spirits, you’re essentially forced to replay levels over and over again. The bright side to that is that the worlds are beautiful and it’s fun to fly around and explore. The downside is that it’s a lot of repeated content. But that somewhat limited level set is necessary for the communication aspect of Sky. Like Journey before it, you can come across online players that you can play alongside of. That friendship angle is amped up here as you can sit at a bonfire and use different emotes and chirps to communicate. You can also explore the world together, finding spirits and solving puzzles together. Skill trees are even tied to friendships and you’re rewarded for making more friends.

In addition to friendship skill trees, each spirit has one as well, usually with a few cosmetics and a unique emote attached to it. You can absolutely play the content in the game without dipping into paying for items. Though, removing those cosmetics and items does take away a lot of the reward for playing through levels. It’s a tightrope, but the game walks it very well.

Visually, Sky looks incredible on Switch. Journey was a looker back in the day on PlayStation 3 and thatgamecompany carried forth that awe-inspiring art design with them to Sky. On Switch, you have two options: playing the game at 30 fps and a higher resolution, or dipping down the resolution and rocking 60 fps. Both look great, though I wound up settling into enjoying the 60 fps option more. Playing both on the TV and handheld, I had no issues with the mandatory online connection. Naturally, if you’re playing your Switch on the go, you’ll be limited with your play. It’s a good thing there’s cross-play and cross-progression on iOS and Android. If you really want to play Sky on the go, you might be better served playing on mobile.

As this review goes live, the 10th season of Sky is beginning. It’s a tie-in with The Little Prince, featuring a brand new world that can be played from July 6 until mid-September. There is a season pass tied to this if you want the full suite of cosmetics, but the in-game level is there as a free experience. This is the only season I’ve experienced in Sky, but if the rest of the seasons are similar to this, it’s something I’ll keep an eye on.

Sky’s pedigree is unparalleled as the developer’s previous game Journey was often hailed as one of the best games of its era. It’s nice to see thatgamecompany take the best parts of Journey and transform it into something that can extend beyond a relatively straightforward game. The free-to-play open-ended nature of Sky might be slow-paced, especially if you’re not planning to empty your pocketbook, but the gentle pleasantness of exploring visually engaging worlds wordlessly with a new online friend or two is soothing and relaxing. If you even have a passing interest or fondness for Journey, checking out Sky on Switch is absolutely something you should do. It’s delightful.


21
TalkBack / Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2 (Switch) Review
« on: June 30, 2021, 06:02:00 AM »

Whether or not it counts as a new portable Tony Hawk game doesn’t matter because this remake rules.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/57707/tony-hawks-pro-skater-12-switch-review

Tony Hawk’s history with portables is dotted with an array of great games. The Game Boy Advance launch title Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 made isometric skateboarding work well, and the Nintendo DS game Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land was arguably one of the best online games on the system. But since the late 2000s, Tony Hawk video games have skipped out on Nintendo systems entirely. That changes with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, a remake of the first two entries in the series developed by Vicarious Visions—the same developer behind those great GBA and DS games. While this remake is not purely a portable skateboarding game (the Switch is, after all, a hybrid console), it is a fitting next step in Tony Hawk’s Nintendo history as this is both a virtuoso masterpiece of a video game and also a solid Switch port that excels as a portable game.

The technical chops of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 on Switch are the most important part of the equation, though, and thankfully, the game runs well. The visuals are at a lower resolution and the framerate is locked to 30 frames per second, but everything is smooth. The gameplay is uninhibited by the downgrade. I bounced between the shiny Xbox Series X version and the Switch version and while the visual disparity is nakedly obvious, the game was indistinguishable otherwise aside from longer load times on Switch. Even in the case of the load times, they are more par for the course on the Switch than poor. Unless you desire to bounce between levels constantly, the loads are never burdensome.

Online multiplayer is also available, featuring both random and friend multiplayer. You need a Switch Online account, but my experiences with it have been positive. The online does a cool thing where you largely just all hang out in a level with different timed scores and combo challenges popping every minute or so. You might see another online player lag while you play, but I had no hitches in my own play while online. In addition to the simultaneous online, you can also compete in Single Session high scores and objective-clearing Speed Runs, all with online leaderboards.

Outside of the Switch port, the remake combines and refines a pair of classic games in the best way possible. The 15 levels from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2 are lovingly recreated, with a few clever updates, most notably the school being empty due to COVID and the mall being derelict and abandoned. All the old objectives are back, so you’ll be able to collect S-K-A-T-E, go for the hidden tapes, and all the other familiar fare. Objectives are added to the original game’s levels as well and there are even more secrets nestled throughout the levels. Even as someone who played these games to death back in the day and played a lot of this specific release last year on Xbox, I still found myself delighted exploring these different levels, rediscovering secrets, and landing long combos.

If you’re brand new to Tony Hawk games or just rusty, a number of deep tutorials can bring you up to speed. When these games first came out, they did not have both the manual and revert moves, which are useful for linking together combos, but now both games have them from the start. If you’re a purist, you can turn them off. Also, you can even turn off bails and tweak the difficulty in a variety of different ways, which makes the game more playable and accessible to anyone who wants to check it out. It’s hard for me to totally judge how approachable Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is for a newcomer, but my three-year-old had a good time with it when I turned off bails.

The Switch release benefits from post-launch updates from the 2020 release on Xbox and PlayStation. Originally, online multiplayer had no friend support, but that is not the case here. Also, you can now take each playable skater through their own career mode. Before, every skater shared the same goals and objectives—aside from each one having unique stat upgrade points to find in each level. It made upgrading skaters a slog, because the only objective you’d have after beating the game was to just find two or three stat points per level. The original full-game persistence is still accessible if you want it, but the game is much better with another option. It’s way more fun playing through the two games with every skater now.

One of the best additions to the remakes are the external challenges and leveling up. You have a ton of additional challenges and objectives to complete outside of the individual stages, ranging from landing specific special tricks to jumping over certain gaps. Each skater also has their own individual challenges as well. The rewards for completing these range from new in-game skateboards and outfits to unlockable characters. Nothing you unlock is all that game-changing, but it’s nice to have an added reason to mess around with these levels beyond the in-level objectives. The leveling up adds another carrot to chase while you work through the game, doing a good job to deepen replayability.

None of the new additions hurt the overall feel and vibe that made the Tony Hawk games so memorable ages ago. This feels like the original two games gloriously reborn on Nintendo platforms, but this time you can actually hear the lyrics to “Police Truck” by the Dead Kennedys (since the questionable lyrics were removed on the Nintendo 64 release). The soundtrack has basically every memorable song from the first two games as well as a good collection of songs that fit right into the skateboarding aesthetic cultivated by the originals. “Firecracker” by Strung Out is a really good addition, but I also have a weakness for the punk/rock/metal fusion of that band mixed with Jason Cruz’s melodic vocals.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 on Switch isn’t going to hold a candle visually to the 4K renditions on other consoles, but considering the original Tony Hawk games on PlayStation still mostly hold up, the visuals aren’t the driving force here. The key aspect is that Tony Hawk plays phenomenally well on Switch. You might not be able to see every hair follicle on Chad Muska’s head, but you’ll be able to do the Muska Nose Manual and land a sick combo without any issue. That’s what is important in a Tony Hawk game. Whether this game is seen as the next great portable skateboarding game or a less visually pretty home console game, the most cogent point is that it plays incredibly and with so much to do across both of the remade games, this is one of the best skateboarding games ever made.


22
TalkBack / The History of the Chozo
« on: July 02, 2021, 07:30:22 AM »

All the lore you need before Metroid Dread.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/video/57719/the-history-of-the-chozo

The Chozo are one of the most important cultures in all the Metroid universe, and yet we know so little about them. Join Neal Ronaghan as he explores the lore of these Samus raising, upgrade distributing, bird-like creatures.


23
Podcast Discussion / Episode 278: Skyward Sword is Priceless
« on: June 25, 2021, 09:50:40 AM »

Neal has clawed his way back to the world of the living.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/connectivity/57686/episode-278-skyward-sword-is-priceless

John talks about the bizarrely impactful LEGO Builder's Journey and Neal journeys back to the 90's for Legend of Mana's arrival on Switch. Metroid Game Club is in full swing and the fellas check in with their initial impressions of Metroid Zero Mission (officially NWR's favorite Metroid game). Then the fellas continue on to the incredibly full July release schedule before discussing how we probably aren't paying enough for video games.


24
TalkBack / Legend of Mana's Nintendo Connections
« on: June 24, 2021, 11:48:09 AM »

A classic PlayStation RPG is now out on Switch, and it has some intriguing ties to The Legend of Zelda, Mario, EarthBound, and more.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/video/57678/legend-of-manas-nintendo-connections

While the Mana series started off on Nintendo platforms, beginning life on the Game Boy and Super Nintendo, it had a Sony phase starting in the late ‘90s with 1999’s Legend of Mana. Now, 22 years later, Legend of Mana is actually out on Nintendo systems, coming to the Switch in a gorgeous remastered form. We have a full written review up for you to check out. There’s more detail there, but if you want the cliff notes: it’s a very unique and interesting game with gorgeous art and a god-tier soundtrack. The plot structure is weird and maybe the combat’s just okay, but I highly recommend Legend of Mana. It’s great.

Despite originally being a PlayStation game, Legend of Mana has novel connections to Nintendo. Check out the video below for details on how it's director Koichi Ishii, writer Nobuyuki Inoue, and composer Yoko Shimomura all tie back into Nintendo's past and present in interesting ways.


25

The latest from thatgamecompany hits Switch on June 29.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/news/57627/sky-children-of-light-trailer-shows-off-journey-developers-switch-debut

Sky: Children of the Light is finally heading to Switch on June 29, as revealed during the Summer Game Fest Kickoff. A new launch trailer shows off the Switch gameplay and also teases the upcoming "Season of the Little Prince" based off of the French story Le Petit Prince.

Developed by Flower and Journey developer thatgamecompany, Sky is a social adventure game that sends you off exploring seven different realms, making friends along the way. Essentially, it seems like it's the online multiplayer parts of Journey but the whole game is based around it.

The free-to-play title initially launched on iOS in 2019, followed by an Android release in 2020. It was first shown off for Switch during an Indie World presentation in early 2020.

Sky will launch globally at the same time on Switch on June 29 or 30 (depending on your region). It will launch on June 29 at 12 p.m. PDT, 3 p.m. EST, and 9 p.m. CEST. See the video description for more details on regional launch timing.


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