First Impressions: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

The weird shape of the controllers and the single analog stick are what I remember about the Nintendo 64, the strange foray of Nintendo making 3D video games with them 64 bits. I can remember loving Super Mario 64 or Donkey Kong 64, but the game that always meant the most to me was Super Smash Bros., the original Nintendo 64 game, a game I still go back to at least once a year for nostalgic reasons and because the game is still fun as all hell. It was Nintendo’s first attempt at making this absolutely crazy franchise, a franchise where your favorite Nintendo characters can be seen beating the crap out of each other…and you get to play it. Who the hell wouldn’t want to play this?

And then Melee came out on the GameCube, my personal favorite Smash Bros. game and the one I’ve played the most. The pacing of the game was pure perfection, everything ran so perfectly, it had a wide cast of characters, and was just so blissfully fun. I have no idea how many hours I actually have on this game, but it could easily be my most played game of all time, from single player bouts to multiplayer hours upon hours. It’s a completely fond memory.

And lastly (sort of), we have Brawl, the Nintendo Wii Smash game. Well…this is where the series sort of falters a bit. Is it still pretty damn fun? Sure. Did I put in plenty of hours? Yeah, I did. Was Subspace Emissary a strange fan-fiction like thing that for some reason slipped into a mainstream video game? (That’s both a compliment and isn’t.) Absolutely. But the one thing that hurt this game so much was the game was slowed down exponentially, and as a whole, the game just never had the same nostalgic feel I had gotten from still playing Melee and the N64 version.

But then we have Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (also known as the worst title ever) and these feelings of pure, blissful fun are surfacing again. I got a Wii U for Christmas primarily to play Smash more than anything, how could I not? It still had a soft spot for me despite Brawl’s failures. I’ve only played the game for a couple hours but everything is so right about this game, especially in terms of the game’s pace, it feels like Melee more than anything and beyond that, the new characters are an absolute blast to play with. I love Pac-Man and think he is a wonderful addition to the franchise, and even plenty of characters I didn’t know like Shulk are great, or strange additions like Rosalina & Luma or Duck Hunt (I still can’t get over that they literally named the character Duck Hunt…). These new characters are simply great.

But the thing that obligated me the most to write this piece was simply playing through classic mode and getting exceptionally nostalgic. The thing is, they did change plenty of classic mode, you move a trophy piece of your character and drag it toward any of the series of battles you’d like for a couple of rounds, I wasn’t too crazy about it at first but its grown on me. But once the team of Mii Fighters happened (the pre-battle to Master Hand/Crazy Hand), I stopped caring. It brought back those same feelings. And then I played against Masterhand/Crazy Hand and it was the same thing. And then I got to beat up some credits and it was the same. And then they played the weird highlight video of your character at the end and that hit me the most. I have no idea why. It’s just a weird sense of nostalgia for such a stupid thing really. It just reminds me of playing these wonderful games-especially the N64 one when I was the youngest-and why I loved them in the first place.

Everything, beat by beat, just hit me. And so far, this is one of the best games I’ve played in quite some time simply because it is fun, simply because it plays like Melee, and simply because it manages to keep these nostalgic things intact. More than any Nintendo franchise, Smash Bros is the one that means most to me, it is the one that I think about most when I hear the word “Nintendo” and even more so, “gaming.” If anything, these are just my simple first impressions of the Wii U version of Smash, and I don’t think it could get any worse, I only expect it to get even better and better. Kudos to Sora Ltd. and Bandai Namco for making a game that gets EVERYTHING right (except that weird Smash Tour garbage, I feel like they got an eight year old to design it who had way too much caffeine and sugar). This is exactly what I want out of video games: to have some goddamn fun.

Did you enjoy this post? Follow my blog for (almost) daily posts on video game news, opinions, reviews, and a bunch of other stuff!

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).

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Controversial Hatred gets pulled off of Steam Greenlight by Valve

The game, Hatred, developed by Polish studio Destructive Creations hit Steam Greenlight yesterday but was quickly pulled off by Valve. “Based on what we’ve seen on Greenlight we would not publish Hatred on Steam,” Valve’s Doug Lombardi said in an email to Polygon (Source). “As such we’ll be taking it down.

Hatred was unveiled in October and is essentially a playable genocide crusade, the game cuts straight to the point: this guy you’re playing as wants to kill people for the sake of killing people.

Destruction Creations creative director Jaroslaw Zielinski made an announcement saying, “If you are a diehard Hatred fan then this is one of the most important news for you this year! Now YOU can vote and decide to bring the game to one of the most popular gaming platforms! Don’t just wait until it happens. Tell your friends about it and let their friends tell their friends, so the news will spread everywhere!”

Destructive Creations also issued a state on Hatred’s removal from Steam Greenlight:

Dear Hatred Fans,

As you know today we’ve launched our Steam Greenlight campaign for Hatred. Unfortunately after couple of hours Steam shut it down giving the below as reasons behind their decision:

“We wanted you guys to know that based on what we see on Greenlight we would not publish Hatred on Steam. As such we’ll be taking it down.”

Even though games like Manhunt or Postal are still available on Steam we of course fully respect Valve’s decision, as they have the right to do so. In the same time we want to assure you that this won’t in any way impact the game’s development, game’s vision or gameplay features we’re aiming for. The game is still to be released in Q2 2015 as planned.

Moreover we don’t treat this as a failure because yet again this showed us a huge community support we’re totally overwhelmed with. After only a couple of hours Greenlight campaign being live, Hatred gathered 13,148 up votes and ended up on a #7 on Top 100 list.

This is the best proof for us that there are diehard Hatred fans out there, waiting for this game to be released. And that we need to keep going to deliver them a game that offers exciting and challenging gameplay.

The whole situation only pushes us forward to go against any adversity and not to give up. It also makes us want to provide our fans Hatred pre-orders sooner, as many of you have asked for them.

At the end of the day you, gamers will judge if we were able to do a game that’s simply fun to play.

-Destructive Creations Team

I wrote an opinion piece on Hatred a month or so ago that you can read here and I do have a fairly strong opinion on my thoughts on the game: who cares?

Let’s get something straight; Valve has the right to not allow Hatred onto their platform. That is their decision and nobody can stop them. They are a business making the choice they want to make. Do I agree with the choice? Hell no. There are games just as stupidly violent and almost just as direct as Hatred and nobody seems to care about those games. I think this decision is incredibly hypocritical of Valve to make.

I was never planning on playing Hatred and I still don’t plan to play Hatred, but I have no right to block free speech, especially for a dumb video game that just gets to the point and you just kill stuff (like most games already on the market except they have a “story”). The anger toward this game still feels like to me a result of our politically correct culture and fear of what this game could do toward the perception of video games. I don’t care. If you aren’t on the bandwagon of video games and are offended by violence in them, you’ll never play games and just continue to get offended or you’ll just selectively get offended by games like Hatred, which is silly and hypocritical.

If I was running Valve/Steam/Whatever, I would one hundred percent allow Hatred on my platform. There is a market for Hatred. People want to play the game and people should be able to buy that product on the platform, but I guess Valve’s decision is to just selectively decide what is offensive (or it’s a case of Valve being afraid of our politically correct culture, which is very much a factor I’m sure was considered).

Again, I support Valve’s decision at the same time (in the sense that they are allowed to do it). I just find it incredibly hypocritical and silly censorship for no reason other than a decision made out of fear. Just let people play the games they want, let people have freedom of speech, and let people vote with their wallets if they want to play Hatred. Besides, if we become offended by one game, what happens next?

What do you think of Valve’s decision? What do you think of Hatred in general?

Did you enjoy this post? Follow my blog for (almost) daily posts on video game news, opinions, reviews, and a bunch of other stuff!

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).

Nintendo files patent for old games on mobile devices

Nintendo has applied for a patent that will allow its Gameboy games to be played on mobile devices.

Back in 2012, the company attempted to codify how its games could be played on new platforms. Regardless, this isn’t a confirmation that the games will be released on mobile platforms, but it is the legal measures necessary to make it possible and Nintendo already releases classic games on its own consoles. (Source: Polygon)

What are your thoughts on this? I think this is a very good thing for Nintendo to do. Nintendo isn’t doing amazing in terms of sales right now (well, more so in the console market than the handheld one) and this could help them get some serious change. If they sell emulators and games for a couple of dollar each, people will buy them, especially the everyday consumer who might remember playing that game back in the day. It’ll force them to try it out again if they simply see it being advertised in the App Store. It is good to see that Nintendo might be getting less stingy and more willing to share their product beyond their platforms, not just for the consumer but also as a great business move that will do nothing but help Nintendo thrive.

Did you enjoy this post? Follow my blog for (almost) daily posts on video game news, opinions, reviews, and a bunch of other stuff!

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).

What are the video games you find the most relaxing?

Video games can be really intense and actually quite stressful, but the reason we play games in the first place is to be entertained and relax (at least I would think so). Sometimes it feels as though in the age of so many games coming out, so many massive huge big budget shooters, we’ve forgotten how to slow down and just relax while playing video games. Do you not remember sitting down and playing an old game like Sonic The Hedgehog on the Genesis or Super Mario Bros. on the NES and simply just…I don’t know…having fun? So I thought I would give a list of some of the games that I play to simply relax and just have some fun:

1. Lumines: Electronic Symphony

People who make fun of the Playstation Vita bother me. The machine has so many great games; so many incredible little gems, and yet, it is still a complete joke to so many gamers (or they have barely any idea what it is). But I’ve been a proud Vita owner since the year of release and one of the games that has stuck with me since is Lumines: Electronic Symphony. I was a huge fan of the original Lumines on the PSP, putting multiple hours onto that game, and I’ve done the same with Electronic Symphony. It’s a game where you can’t help but just get into the rhythm of everything. Throwing blocks down and the music starts playing, you just get so into everything that is happening, I still come back to this game every few weeks or so, even if I just play for a few minutes, to play a really incredibly relaxing puzzle game that is so good for one reason: it’s so damn simple. Simplicity can still be the key in game development.

2. Journey

Okay, this is a much different pick, considering I’ve only played this game once and I am still not sure whether or not I will play it again. The experience of this is so utterly pure and relaxing but also incredibly emotional. So I realize that it is a strange pick in certain ways. For those who have played it, they know what I’m talking about. A game with zero dialogue, no cutscenes, amazing visuals, and tells an incredibly emotional captivating story that is so purely video games. I can’t put it in any simpler terms; this is what video games should STRIVE to be. And this game is just something so utterly memorable, but one of the most soothing game experiences I’ve ever had, in terms of contentment, emotional attachment, everything. Everything just works so purely in this game to make it one of the most relaxing and enjoyable gaming experiences I’ve ever had.

3. Sonic Generations

I sort of think this is a controversial pick as well. A lot of people hate Sonic. I have a bias. The Genesis is the first console I remember playing and I even had a Dreamcast, so I do have just a complete nostalgia for Sonic and have been someone who gives the games a break. And I loved Generations. Like, a lot. Not a little. I loved every level pretty much (except those poorly designed boss battles). It is pretty easy for me to just pop this game in and play a level and just absolutely enjoy the living hell out of it and be totally content, especially the 3D levels which are so good because of their simplicity. If I’m going to be honest, are the 3D levels on autopilot in a lot of ways? Absolutely, but maybe that is part of the reason I love it. It’s simple and easy to pick up and play. It reminds me why I play video games in the first place: to relax and have tons of crazy fun. Hopefully people realize that is the reason they played games in the first place, not for a trophy or an achievement.

4. Donkey Kong

And now we’re going into classic games! I adore Donkey Kong and it’s only a recent obsession of mine considering an arcade machine just recently came near me (along with a bunch of other classic arcade games). I’m absolutely horrible at it, that’s the truth. I’m really, really not good at it, but I don’t care. It is so simple and just like Lumines, you simply get into the rhythms of the game, you get into the zone, and just totally get engrossed into such a simple video game. Think about it. This game was made in 1981 and it still holds up incredibly well. The mechanics are completely simple and enjoyable and the levels simply repeat after you beat the game. I can easily put a bunch of quarters into this game and play for a few hours and call it one hell of a time.

5. Joust

Another classic arcade game I’ve just recently got into. It really is just something you get into the zone of, as I mentioned with Donkey Kong. The way the game alternates between the survival mode where just an onslaught of enemies come and attack you and the normal game mode is just incredibly fun and keeps you on your feet. I don’t really have that much to say about it beyond what I said about Donkey Kong, I love it for the same reason: beautifully simple mechanics that still hold up incredibly well today.

And that’s the end of my list. What are some of the games that you find the most relaxing? The games you simply want to play to calm down and play something purely enjoyable? Not some overly stressful emotionally tearing storyline, but something just fun to play. (I’m looking at you The Last of Us!) Let’s forget about getting trophies or achievements, playing hardcore online player vs. player matches or co-op, just games that are entertaining, those games that remind us why we play games in the first place.

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring faux writer who writes this garbage on these blogs to make you laugh or learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally). (I think I just said my book was shit.)

Why The Video Game Tutorial Needs Changing

I started playing Dragon’s Crown recently for the first time ever. A 2013 beat em’ up style game with RPG elements developed by Vanillaware and iws on the PS3 as well as the PSVita. The game opens up with a repetitive, stupid tutorial and I suddenly realized how so many games have just awful, stupid tutorials that need to be changed. One of the biggest issues I have is separating the tutorial from the game itself. To me, the best way to do a video game tutorial is not to make it a separate entity that feels disconnected from the game itself, it needs to be implements right INTO the game. One studio that does that really well is Naughty Dog. The Last of Us and Uncharted are giving you quick bit-sized tutorials AS you play the game itself. It doesn’t take me out of the experience but it still teaches me what to do to actually play the game itself.

We also have another pathway taken by the game Journey. No tutorial at all. It just throws you right into the world of Journey and focuses instead on immersing you as much as possible into this world and boy, is it effective. Journey completely immerses you because it has no “video gamey” stuff (if that makes sense), it doesn’t acknowledge itself being a video game because it avoids tutorials and avoids button prompts or anything like that. It just gives me a game and lets me play it. Personally, I think this can be the best path for the vast majority of games. It allows no break of immersion and frankly, it isn’t that hard to figure out how to play a damn game. I realize that can be an issue for people playing for the first time which is an understandable perspective and that is why I would highly support Naughty Dog’s method of giving quick tutorials as you play the game as well. It makes the most sense for an in between method of giving tutorials to the non-gamer and still giving one for the gamer, if necessary.

Regardless, we really need to stop these separate tutorials. It usually just interrupts the experience and makes me really antsy, as all I want to do is play the damn game! There isn’t a real reason to have a completely separate tutorial unless a game is incredibly complex (which is exactly what Dragon’s Crown isn’t, it is a completely simple to play beat em’ up). I don’t think it should be too hard for developers to completely abandon the world of separate tutorial segments and I hope they do, because frankly, I don’t want to play them anymore and I don’t think anyone else does either, they’re in the way and need to go, I don’t need a dumb tutorial for books and movies, why do I need to still have this silly thing for video games? If video games want to be taken more seriously, I think it’s a necessity.

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring faux writer who writes this garbage on these blogs to make you laugh or learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally). (I think I just said my book was shit.)

The Yearly Video Game Franchise: Good, Bad, or Simple Cash Grab?

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Every year a new Call of Duty game comes out. Every year a new Madden game comes out. Every year a new Assassin’s Creed game comes out (or two). You get the point. Video games are in a state where we get yearly franchises. Is this a good thing? A bad thing? Or just a simple cash grab? First, let’s look at Call of Duty. The first Call of Duty game was released in 2003. And then we have Call of Duty: Finest Hour which came out in 2004, although, it is debatable if this can be considered a full game or simply an expansion. Call of Duty 2 in 2005, Call of Duty 3 in 2006, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (when the franchise really blew up) in 2007, Call of Duty: World At War in 2008, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in 2009, Call of Duty: Black Ops in 2010, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in 2011, Call of Duty Black Ops II in 2012, Call of Duty: Ghosts in 2013, and lastly, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare in 2014. Something a bit strange is going on here. Call of Duty has always been a yearly franchise! But why are people just starting to complain about it.

I think the answer is pretty simple: it’s popular…extremely popular. It’s fun to hate on the popular thing. I’ve hated on Call of Duty before. I won’t deny that. I actually haven’t bought one since Modern Warfare 3 but have decided to buy Advanced Warfare simply because it looks like a more innovative game this time around with more interesting mechanics along with keeping the same fun core gameplay. But is this a good thing? Is it a good thing that we get these games every single year? I actually don’t think it is a bad thing. Could each Call of Duty be more innovative if they actually spent a bit more time on it? Sure, probably, but they also realize they can make a lot of money. First and foremost, video games are a business, especially huge big budget franchise. The number one goal is to make money. We cannot lie about that as gamers and consumers of these products, we’d be kidding ourselves.

As a personal note, I’m more of a fan of the two-year development cycle for video game franchises. One studio that does a really amazing job with that is Naughty Dog. They’ve managed to consistently release every iteration of the Uncharted franchise every two years and kept them consistently great games. Do they play fairly similar? Yes. But did they add enough each game to make them worth purchasing? Absolutely, I’d say more so than a Call of Duty game does every year (especially in terms of story writing…). I do think it is very much possible for most major studios to release consistently great games every two years, is it a necessity? No, probably not. Would it be really awesome? Sure.

So are we supposed to embrace yearly franchises as gamers? As evident by sales…it seems to be that way. People keep on buying Madden, Call of Duty, and Assassin’s Creed every year, so why would these studios NOT continue to push out these games? I can’t say I’m crazy about the model as a whole, but I’m not against it either. If people buy a product, the producers will continue to make said product, especially if you build a brand like Call of Duty has. (I mean you managed to get Kevin Spacey in your game. That shows something.) As a whole, I have one rule that everyone should follow when it comes to video games (or any industry): vote with your wallet. If you don’t want to support the yearly video game franchise concept…don’t. Simply don’t. The less people who buy it, the more studios may realize this isn’t worth doing and that they could potentially make bigger and better games. I’m not for or against the model, it simply depends game by game if I’m willing to support the franchise that year, that’s just how I feel about the entire concept.

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring faux writer who writes this garbage on these blogs to make you laugh or learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally). (I think I just said my book was shit.)

Storytelling in video games: Are cutscenes necessary?

Storytelling in video games has always been very tough considering there needs to be a proper balance of actual gameplay and cut scenes. Although, I think the bigger issue is if cut scenes are even needed in the first place. Some games have managed to tell great stories with almost no cut scenes at all (look at Bioshock and Portal 2) where as games like The Last of Us, Uncharted, and Metal Gear Solid tend to use multiple cut scenes. The Last of Us and Uncharted in my mind, have a perfect balance of both cut scenes and gameplay that works really well especially in The Last of Us. Where as in Metal Gear Solid especially in 4, the cut scenes can feel overbearing and detract from the actual game itself. Now I am not saying that story in Metal Gear Solid is not really good, because it is, all 4 games in the main series tell some of the best stories ever put into a video game, but, sometimes it just uses too many cut scenes.

Bioshock is a shining example that proves that maybe, just maybe, you do not need to use cut scenes. The game only uses cut scenes really at the beginning and the end of the game which is reasonable to close up and start up the story, otherwise, it is told entirely through in game events and when Atlas talks to you. I have to say that storytelling in video games in that way is really incredible but at the same time its very justified in a game like Bioshock. Portal 2 is also a great example as you constantly being told different aspects of the story from several different characters and the game never goes to a cutscene until the end. Again, this works really well because you are getting the story told to you as you solve puzzles so it keeps things more interesting.

Now, here is where I feel that maybe cut scenes are needed as Naughty Dog seems to prove that the greatest storytelling in video games uses both in game events as well as cut scenes. In many parts in both Uncharted and The Last of Us, the characters interact constantly in game. Sure, for the most part it is small moments of characterization that are told through these interactions and it is not really the meat of the story which is left to cut scenes usually, but, those small moments of characterization are so necessary to make the story that much better. Also, it helps that the cut scenes are so graphically beautiful in both Uncharted and The Last of Us that it doesn’t bother me as much when it goes to a cut scenes. Also, rarely will a cut scene go longer than ten minutes, in fact, I sort of doubt there are any cut scenes in those games that do.

Overall, I think cut scenes are almost a necessity in video games, unfortunately. It is extremely difficult to tell a story without cut scenes and it always will be. Sure, we get a game like Bioshock that is able to change that but, it is not easily done. I am okay with cut scenes as long as I get quality gameplay and storytelling like in The Last of Us which in my opinion, could easily be the best story ever in a video game. If story is put in front of gameplay, that kind of bothers me like in Metal Gear Solid (mostly MGS4) or even in games like The Walking Dead or Heavy Rain where it’s only sort of a video game but more like an interactive movie. I prefer what Naughty Dog is doing the most or what Bioshock has achieved. Ultimately, storytelling is tough in video games, in fact, it’s probably the toughest medium to provide good storytelling since there are so many aspects in a video game that need to be done right compared to a movie or a book with gameplay, sound design, graphics, and the story itself.