Rango’s Smash Column: Melee Gets Rollback Netcode and a Farewell Until Next Time!

As COVID has kept players in quarantine for over a quarter of the year, now, Smash tournaments have shown no sign of opening back up. As someone who doesn’t follow online tournaments, I’ve since felt my motivation deteriorating from playing Smash. Opting to clear games off my backlog, or even play fighting games with better netcode, I wanted to cover a few quick subjects in the Smash community before signing off.

Therefore, I want to address Super Smash Bros. Melee. Known for hosting a lasting tournament scene, for over 18 years, Melee is one of the greatest games of all time. Years after the release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, series creator, Masahiro Sakurai, even admitted that Melee was his sharpest work.

The title took everything from SSB64 and magnified it considerably. The newly added Side B moves, the gorgeous character models, stage design, music, extra modes, and speedy gameplay charmed everyone who played it.

Melee Netplay Gets Rollback

The Smash community is no stranger to modding. Super Smash Bros. Brawl gained a second lease in competitive life thanks to mods such as Project M. However, perhaps the biggest mod to come from the Smash community since PM is Super Smash Bros. Melee’s rollback netcode.

Codenamed “Slippi” (likely named after the Star Fox character), this new mod allows Melee players to play using a vastly enhanced form of online netplay. You can learn more about it here.

In the past, we’ve stressed the importance of rollback netcode in competitive fighting games. We’ve listed some of the more prominent titles to feature rollback, such as Killer Instinct, and the difference it makes online. Plus, with Nintendo outright refusing to fix Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s atrocious online netcode, Smash fans are finally left with a proper alternative. In an era where players cannot compete in offline tournaments, this comes as a blessing to many.

Resource

In addition to the main site, you can also check on Reddit for a FAQ. u/Sugden_ breaks down several facets of Slippi including various modes, possibilities, and so forth. You can check the FAQ here.

If you’re skimming over the Reddit post, they’ve included a video on Slippi and Melee netplay. Make sure you view it here.

Last Words

Thanks again for coming to our Smash Column. I’m sure to be writing again when tournaments open up and I’m off competing in regionals and majors again. Until then, however, be sure to update your Smash copies on June 29th and enjoy Min-Min, the latest Smash DLC character.

I’ll keep the site updated with Smash articles. But they will not be a regular column again until offline tournaments come back. Until my motivation to play competitively returns, expect the occasional update regarding DLC characters.

Keep up with us as we provide you with more reviews, previews, and opinion pieces from your favorite games. Be sure to follow us on social media using the channels below!

Have you played Melee on Slippi? Let us know in the comments below.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Showcases its Latest DLC Character – Min-Min from ARMS.

Earlier today, Nintendo released a video detailing their latest character – Min-Min – for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Featured in a video showcase by Smash Bros. creator, Masahiro Sakurai, the presentation featured the character trailer as well as a brief tutorial and history of the character.

ARMS and Min-Min

ARMS is a 3D fighting game, developed by Nintendo, released for the Nintendo Switch in 2017. Released during the Switch’s launch year, Nintendo wanted to add a new IP to their latest console. ARMS takes cues from Nintendo’s classic series, Punch-Out!!, by positioning the camera behind the player and duking it out, with punches, face-to-face.

However, in ARMS, you use spring-loaded arms to extend your reach. These ARMs can be customized with various ways to deal damage, such as with elementals or multi-hitting attacks. You can play as a dozen different characters who use various, unique abilities to support their fighting style.

As with past DLC characters, Nintendo chose the character pick. However, Min-Min was chosen by the ARMS director, Kosuke Yabuki, and was a personal favorite pick from Sakurai as well. In ARMS, as well as Smash, she has a special Dragon arm, which fires heat beams, and can also use her strikes to reflect incoming attacks. With that said, be sure to check out the character’s official Smash page here.

Extra Info

Alongside the incoming update, Mr. Sakurai also revealed new Mii Fighter costumes including Vault Boy from Bethesda’s Fallout series. Mr. Sakurai also showcased an update for Spirits mode allowing you to rematch any Spirit you’ve faced before. Finally, players got their first look at upcoming amiibos including Joker (Persona 5) and Hero (Dragon Quest XI).

Impact on Smash

ARMS released its last update in 2018. Without much of a following in national fighting game tournaments, such as EVO and CEO, the game quickly declined in popularity. However, Nintendo recently announced that Fighters Pass 2 would feature an ARMS character. They followed this by announcing ARMS would be available to play as a free demo for Nintendo Switch Online users.

Given their continued support for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2 online tournament, perhaps this means Nintendo seeks to once again make ARMS a supported stable series. In doing so, they will use Smash Bros. to capitulate the series’ popularity and reignite interest among Nintendo Switch owners once more.

Min-Min will be available for download, on June 29th, 2020, for $5.99. If you already own Fighters Pass 2, you will download her automatically. Min-Min also comes with a new stage – ARMS Arena – as well as a selection of music tracks from her home game.

We will keep you updated on the latest in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate info. Stay tuned with us for features on the upcoming DLC fighters as they’re announced. Finally, be sure to follow All Cool Things on our social media channels listed below.

PlayStation 5 Reveal – The 5 Games That Stole Our Hearts.

Earlier this week, Sony showcased their PlayStation 5 digital reveal event. Featuring the new console, controller, and its specs, Sony showcased a number of incredible-looking titles coming to the system over the next two years. With that said, we want to show you the five titles that captured our hearts and left us the biggest impression from the show.

You can check out the official PlayStation 5 site here for additional info.

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

Coming from Spyro and Spider-Man developer, Insomniac Games, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart will be the first title in the series since the 2016 Ratchet and Clank title, which was a remake of the original game. Featuring the titular duo, this title sets them in an adventure with ever-changing landscapes. Shifting through dimensions, you’ll enter a world of dragons one moment and get dragged into a futuristic city the next. The gorgeous fur texture and environments showcase exceptional visual detail. As someone who’s only played the PS4 remake, I’m excited to check out another title in the series.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Spawning off of the 2018 PS4 hit, Marvel’s Spider-Man, the upcoming Spider-Man: Miles Morales looks nothing short of beautiful. It features Peter Parker’s protege taking on crime in his own adventure. However, while initial reports mentioned that this is not a sequel, but rather a remaster of the 2018 PS4 hit featuring a new storyline, Insomniac confirmed this is, indeed, a standalone title.

Demon’s Souls Remake

Bluepoint Games, developer of the Shadow of the Colossus remake, unveiled the remake of From Software’s original Souls title. Setting the groundwork for Dark Souls, this PS3-exclusive title began From Software’s modern legacy into creating some of the best games released in the last decade.

Demon’s Souls set a precedent as a real-time Action/Adventure title with RPG elements. However, it was unquestionably flawed in its execution with some elements, such as World Tendency. This mysterious element changed world elements. As such, without the proper understanding of how it worked, you could miss out on crucial weapons, such as the Dragon Bone Smasher in the second world. This frustrating aspect will hopefully be corrected in the upcoming feature. If the Dark Souls Remaster taught us anything, it’s that quality-of-life improvements will almost certainly come to this remake as well.

Resident Evil: Village

Capcom’s upcoming survival-horror title, Resident Evil Village, features Ethan Winters, the protagonist of highly successful Resident Evil 7, as well as Chris Redfield, longtime Resident Evil protagonist. The trailer features an old village, the occult, and more.  To what extent the title will feature supernatural elements, akin to the Resident Evil 4 beta, remains to be seen. Perhaps most striking is the end of the trailer confirming that “Resident Evil Village” spells out “Resident Evil VIII.” Coming after two Resident Evil remakes, Capcom has chosen to continue the story from its last chronological entry.

Horizon: Forbidden West

The sequel to Guerilla’s incredible 2017 title, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Forbidden West will continue protagonist Aloy’s story in a world set 1,000 years from the present day. Featuring the machines, it appears that they will become part of yet another global threat. The trailer also features Sylens, one of the prominent characters from the first game, interacting with the machines as well. However, fans of the original game remember one thing: the fate of past-world antagonist, Ted Faro, was never uncovered. His actions single-handedly created the apocalypse and his status is only presumed deceased. Hopefully, we will see in the very near future.

Fighting Game Online Renaissance: How COVID-19 Has Affected the Fighting Game Community.

With COVID-19 forcing the closure of fighting game tournaments, many players have turned to online play. As we’ve covered previously, Smash Bros. players have begun participating in online tournaments as an alternative. However, these were met with less-than-stellar results largely stemming from Smash Ultimate’s poor netcode.

For other fighting games, many of them are played on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The latter two feature monthly subscriptions that cost more than Nintendo’s yearly $20 online service. However, they’re also far more functional choices for online play given the wider array of resources, such as messaging, profiles, matchmaking options, and more. However, much as with the Smash community, fighting game players also feel disillusioned due to many of their games suffering from similar netcode issues.

Fighting games, particularly those developed in Japan, use a delay-based netcode. This causes input delay which may force players to rely on anticipation over reaction when playing against opponents, largely depending on the connection. Even with an ethernet cable, this only tends to mitigate some of the worst connection experience.

In the end, while fighting games online are plenty playable, some have worse netcode than others. As such, it becomes difficult to pick which ones to play online, even among the most popular titles. This goes especially true during a time when we can’t play online with friends or at tournaments. Yet players will persist in their love-hate relationship to play an enjoyable game despite its major drawbacks.

Which games have the worst netcode?

For starters, the most popular known fighting game, Street Fighter V, is unfortunately the most infamous case of poor netcode. Capcom’s flagship fighting game series has seen significant criticism regarding its netcode since the game’s release in 2016. When Capcom released Street Fighter V: Champion Edition earlier this year, a fan took it upon themselves to patch the netcode. Capcom later updated the game removing the patch, once again causing netcode issues and also locking out players who downloaded the patch.

From personal experience, I dove into an SNK kick after the release of Terry in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate late last year. In doing so, I decided to buy The King of Fighters XIV for PS4 while also playing Samurai Shodown. I may have gotten only one random match in KOF XIV before never finding another one again. Meanwhile, in SamSho, I could not find a single random match. The difference here is that KOF XIV was notably unpopular due to its first impression character models being deemed ugly. As a result, many KOF fans jumped ship back to KOF XIII and earlier titles which are available on Steam.

SamSho, on the other hand, has only been out for roughly a year and has already died online. For players who live far away from prevalent fighting game scenes, this means they are unable to practice and play the game with others unless they’re in a dedicated online community, such as Discord or Reddit. Once again, players cite the netcode issues as why the online scene died early.

Which games are most playable online?

Keep in mind that many fighting games follow suit. Bandai Namco titles, like Tekken and SoulCalibur, also use delay-based netcode. The same goes for any of Arc Systems Works games, such as Guilty Gear Xrd, BlazBlue Cross-Tag, and Dragon Ball FighterZ.

However, one mainstream game in mind gets it right. In particular, Mortal Kombat 11 is known for having solid netcode. Netherrealm Studios has also announced their latest update – Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath – featuring new DLC characters.

Developers have been using rollback netcode dating back to the days of GGPO, an online client to play fighting games online, which was released in 2009. More recently, players have also begun using Fightcade, a platform based on using GGPO.

CodeMystics, a developer that ported several SNK fighting games across platforms, also implemented rollback netcode into their games. The developer explains the process below. Furthermore, you can find a list of games using rollback netcode here.

The Biggest Impact on Fighting Games Right Now

EVO recently announced EVO Online, an online tournament which will replace their annual offline fighting game tournament. As such, they’ve included a new lineup which excludes one of EVO 2020’s initially featured titles, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. In doing so, they chose to host some of the most popular fighting games on the market right now.

Perhaps one of the most notable parts of this announcement is the return of Killer Instinct. Originally released in 2013, the title was exclusive to the Xbox One console until 2016, when it was released for PC. Despite not being released for PlayStation 4, the title’s second lease on life gained major traction online.

While it was hosted as a major title at EVO and CEO for several years, Killer Instinct’s popularity began to wane as other titles came out and received timely updates. Killer Instinct is one of four games being featured in the open online tournament alongside Mortal Kombat, Skullgirls, and Them’s Fightin’ Herds.

Rollback: The Future of Online Fighting Games?

While western fighting titles have largely adopted rollback, however, Japanese developer Arc Systems Works will be using it for their upcoming title Guilty Gear Strive. Arc Systems Works has been one of the foremost fighting game developers, over the past decade, having released Persona 4 Arena, BlazBlue, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and Guilty Gear Xrd. Now their latest game will enter the current decade with the first Japanese-developed fighting game to use rollback.

Perhaps this will set a precedent inviting other fighting game developers to follow suit and develop a more consistent, quality online experience. The COVID era has proven one thing and it’s that players will continue playing fighting games despite poor netcode but suffer while doing so. With rollback netcode setting the standard, hopefully more developers will take note and the current decade will feature some of the best fighting game experiences online.

On that note, keep in mind that you may play any fighting game online you choose. Even despite some of the netcode issues, most of these games remain playable and functional online even without rollback. Many players will endure a few frames of input lag to just enjoy the feel of the game they love the most.

Which fighting game do you play or follow right now? Let us know in the comments below.

 

The Five Times That Video Games Stood Up Against Prejudice and Oppression.

Given the current events and following the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we want to dedicate this piece to the protesters fighting for human rights. We’ll feature five stories in video games where characters stood up against authority figures who spread nothing but lies, hatred, and ruled with an iron fist. These uplifting stories of rebellion will hopefully bring some peace of mind and a brighter outlook on the future.

Please keep in mind that the following game sections contain spoilers. If you see the game’s title and are even mildly curious, I strongly suggest buying them.

Final Fantasy X

The Al-Bhed people were shunned by the followers of Yu Yevon, the guardian deity of the world of Spira. However, throughout the game, you begin to notice corruption within the church of Yevon. As your team became branded enemies of Yevon, the Al Bhed came to your rescue. This aid came, in no small part thanks, to Rikku, the Al Bhed girl that you befriended early on in the game.

 

This connection bridges the party to the Al Bhed working together for a better cause. Even though the Yevon loyalists in the party, such as Wakka, initially reject such a radical change, they eventually warm up to the Al Bhed. Eventually, you join up with them in a united effort to save Spira, using their machina to destroy Sin, and set a new course for the world.

Tales of Symphonia

From the beginning of the game, you befriend Genis and Raine, your elf friends. Only later do you learn that they were half-elves, a being repressed throughout Sylvarant and Tethe’alla due to their mixed heritage.

While their secret comes out later in the game, the protagonist, Lloyd, still unites his friends and continues his journey to save both worlds. Genis, despite saying he hates humans, reassures Lloyd he’s still his best friend. Even when the mayor of the town, Iselia, preaches his racism towards your half-elven party members, the people stand against him.

Regarding the overarching storyline, you later learn that the Sylvarant’s folk hero and eventual antagonist, Mithos, began his entire crusade because of the half-elven oppression and the death of his sister, Martel.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

“Sub-humans.” That was the word used to describe the laguz, or beastkin people, in Tellius. The country of Gallia waged battles with the beorc, or humans, and faced discrimination simply due to their appearance. When Ike fought against the Daein army, he traveled to Gallia, which he later learned was his birthplace. Throughout his travels, he encountered new laguz friends, united them for the cause of liberating the country of Crimea, and took down the Mad King Ashnard.

The story comes full-circle when Ike would unite the Tellius continent once more to defeat the Begnion Senate and their army. Near the end of the game, Ike’s forces, the Greil Mercenaries, defeat Senator Lekain and the Begnion Senate, ending a decades-long struggle between Begnion’s iron grip and the laguz who fought against their oppression.

Persona 5

Persona 5’s story tackles sensitive social issues. Authority figures who bully, exploit, and even murder become the victim of the Phantom Thieves’ vengeance. The whole point of the story is to help your friends rebel against oppressive authority figures and, as they join you, take the fight against other horrible people in Tokyo.

You’ll enter their cognitive Palaces, fight their Shadows, and change their conscience. Doing so will change their heart, forcing them to own up, confess their crimes, and relinquish their positions of power.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Three Houses marked the third Fire Emblem game where racial injustice became a major focal point of the plot. Claude, one of the House leaders, wants to unite Fodlan. He does so due to his Almyran background. The people of Almyra, dark-skinned warriors, faced oppression from the Fodlan continent for decades.

When joining the Golden Deer route, you’ll fight alongside Claude and his quest to reform Fodlan’s government. This includes allying with the church, the enemy of the Black Eagles route, and uniting your forces against the Adrestian Empire and Those Who Slither in the Dark.

 

Final Thoughts

For anyone keeping up with the protests, we’ve all gone through a tough time. Supporting our fellow human beings, including those who are different from ourselves, becomes an important cause in these times. Hopefully, this list helps inspire you with these courageous stories of people fighting alongside friends and make the world a better place.

Be sure to follow our social media channels listed below for the latest in gaming culture!

Interested in Donating?

Know Your Rights Camp – Started by Colin Kaepernick, this camp helps empower teens and meets three cities, at the moment:  Atlanta, Baltimore, and Miami.

 

Want to Donate, but Not for the Cause?

HFC (Hilarity for Charity) – Founded by Seth Rogen and Laura Miller Rogen, this non-profit helps spread awareness about Alzheimers, as well as funding research.

 

Why Do People Play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Online Despite Its Toxicity?

Ever since COVID-19 forced the globe into a quarantine, players have not been able to attend offline gaming tournaments. With CEO Dreamland being the last one, hosted back in March, players have been shut into their homes while playing video games online. Among the most popular choices includes Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While I covered Smash Wi-Fi tournaments developing in a past article, this was before the aftermath ensued.

As I honestly expected, players quickly grew fed up with playing online. This even caused #FixUltimateOnline to trend on Twitter, with dismayed players sending the trending tweet to Nintendo’s official Twitter accounts. Despite this, Wi-Fi tournaments continue to grow in popularity. As such, players will continue entering them while complaining in the long run. I will break down some of the major problems of Wi-Fi tournaments as well as what draws people to them.

Netcode

For starters, Smash’s netcode remains the paramount problem among Wi-Fi players. The connection causes unnecessary amounts of input delay, particularly in Quickplay. You can never tell who is playing with a LAN Adapter which, at best, only remedies the problem somewhat.

Tournaments, such as Pound Online, Quarantine Series, and The Box continue to run with hundreds of players. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi tournaments come with Wi-Fi problems. The first being that connection issues not only stifle matches, but create enemies among players.

The first example being renowned Roy player from Florida, Goblin, losing to Mexico’s Mr. Game & Watch main, Maister. Following their match, Goblin tweeted out a message regarding his match with Maister. The tweet and replies show that this came due to the match lagging.

Another such example that generated controversy includes Cosmos‘ set with Grayson at Pound Online. Despite being ahead two games, Cosmos requested a lag check. The result Tournament Organizer (TO) Cagt to disqualify Grayson from bracket. The ensuing fallout created controversy across Smash Twitter. However, Smash online is reeling from more than just netcode issues.

Please also note that Nintendo has made no attempt to fix online despite multiple balance patches for the game. In fact, lag was spotted even before the game’s release. The video below showcases an example of Nintendo trying to use “damage control” to minimize the issue that would eventually plague the game.

Wi-Fi Characters

Along with Wi-Fi issues come Wi-Fi characters. Smash Twitter has collectively discussed, in disgust, their least favorite characters to fight online. Among them largely include Zelda and Samus, both of which otherwise aren’t considered top tier characters offline.

However, the online Smash community has been dealing with an even more pressing matter from a single character: Sonic the Hedgehog. Known as a high tier character in Smash 4, Sonic has otherwise maintained steady results in Ultimate offline. During this transition to online play, however, Sonic’s prominence has once again developed him into an infamous character to fight. At the center of the controversy is Dominican Republic’s Sonic main, Sonix.

This largely stems from Pound Online where Goblin and Sonix fought in bracket. Even though Goblin maintained a lead in their last game, Sonix eventually brought the percent back. Rather than, KO him Sonix used the last few seconds to stall for a time-out. This resulted in Goblin’s rant about Sonic with Sonix catching wind of it and sharing it on Twitter.

As such, this created a divide in the community. In a community that frequently targets players based on their mains, this only perpetuated even more in-fighting through social media. One TO even suggested banning Sonic from his next online tournament.

Additionally, fighting game website, EventHubs, reached out to Sonix for an interview. He explained his thoughts on the current competitive scene as well as gripes regarding online play. You can read the full interview here.

Why not enter Wi-Fi tournaments?

As a competitive player myself, I have entered several tournaments, one of which I won. As someone who lives in an area with roughly 20 players who attend weekly tournaments, my training options consists almost exclusively of online practice. However, I’m not so desperate as to play in an online event.

For one, I don’t feel like being confined to waiting for my bracket match to enter. I would rather spend time being more productive. Another part is I don’t want to be part of this rage culture. Smash Wi-Fi historically brings out the worst in its players.

On the outside, people on social media see players as taking online way too seriously. While some players might see these endeavors as “just for fun,” others are playing for thousands of dollars in prizes. As the burdens outweigh the enjoyability, I feel no reason to involve myself.

Also, there is no feeling quite like being at an actual tournament. I entered several tournaments a month, including locally, regionally, and even out-of-state majors, such as Momocon and CEO. Getting to see your friends again and playing offline matches against good competition makes the difference.

The tournament experience, on the opposite hand, largely brings out the best in players. There’s much more sportsmanship and camaraderie at offline tournaments when you’re meeting face-to-face. Plus you’re not hampered by the Wi-Fi connection either.

Alternatives to Smash Wi-Fi.

The reason people continue to play Smash online is because it stimulates the brain. It’s a fast-paced, competitive activity that plays unlike any other. As someone who’s staying at home playing JRPGs, like Persona and Fire Emblem, I too feel the need to test my reflexes and play a game of Smash. Even if it’s just for a few minutes to an hour, on Smash online, nothing feels quite like playing my favorite game.

I could play other fighting games, but I’m also not that good at them. Even then, I would still be running into largely the same netcode problem if I’m playing another fighter. If I need to play Smash seriously, I can always host a Battle Arena. I can enter a Discord with competitive players, seek a match out, and play with them till I’m done. Most of the time, the players I fight will have a LAN Adapter, making the connection a bit more seamless and easier to play.

Meanwhile, some players or even TOs, like Bear, have been spending their time fiending on Mario Kart 8 Online. As the best-selling Nintendo Switch game it still packs plenty of life several years later.

What you want to play for that mental stimulus is largely up to you. There’s tons of competitive online games out there including fighting games, Overwatch, Mario Kart, Splatoon, and more. But if you’re willing to brave the storm and play Smash Bros., the best thing to do is not take it too seriously. Have fun online, find people to play, and host battle arenas if you’re concerned you’ll run into lag. Despite what goes around on social media, it’s still playable. While online is not perfect, not playing Smash is even less enjoyable.

How are you managing through an era without Smash tournaments? Let us know in the comments below!

We’ve Gone Four Years Without A New Ace Attorney Game.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a visual novel and puzzle series developed by Capcom. The Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series, originally released in the early 2000s as Gyakuten Saiban in Japan, involves defending your client, in court, while solving puzzles. You’ll interact with characters and investigate murder scenes between trial dates. When you’re in court, you’ll press your witness’ testimony for more information and present evidence when you find a contradiction.

Why do people love Ace Attorney?

The Ace Attorney series features a strong narrative with many plot twists and likable characters. You’ll often run into tragic situations and experience the full weight of their consequences. On the flip side, the hilarious dialogue and character designs fit something that might feel reminiscent of the manga and anime series, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. The lengthy explanations, the immediate turnabouts, the explosive character animations, and even the voiced attacks feel reminiscent of a shonen manga or anime. However, it all takes place either within a courtroom or at a crime scene.

These titles carry anywhere between 12 and 20 hours of intricate narrative, solving puzzles, noteworthy soundtracks, and memorable characters. Whether the player prefers faster paced action games and likes to slow it down a little, or is a fan of slower-paced games and other visual novels, the Ace Attorney series feels right at home for people who enjoy its vibrant, anime aesthetic, writing, and puzzles. Six mainline titles later and the series continues to attract new fans thanks to Capcom’s bevy of re-releases.

Four years later…

Despite the growing success of the Ace Attorney series, though, the 6th release of the series, Spirit of Justice, came out in 2016. While the Ace Attorney series has featured spin-offs, some of them never came outside of Japan’s borders, there was a six-year gap between the 4th and 5th games of the series. However, please keep in mind that the aforementioned link lists the Game Boy Advance release dates, for the initial Japanese release, and not their western DS releases. Minus the Japanese-exclusive spin-offs, this is the longest the west has gone without an Ace Attorney title.

This could be for various reasons. The Ace Attorney series has always had a shaky foundation in the west. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and its sequel, Justice for All, sold to a niche crowd. Not only was it an unfamiliar genre at the time. Capcom even challenged fans to convince western fans to release the third game, Trials and Tribulations. Meanwhile, localization issues caused Gyakuten Kenji 2, the sequel to Ace Attorney Investigations, to remain exclusively in Japan.

Despite this wait, however, Capcom has already announced they will soon showcase game releases leading up to, and through, 2021. If you’re new to the Ace Attorney series, we suggest trying the Ace Attorney Trilogy for modern consoles as well as mobile phones. In the meantime, stay tuned to AllCoolThings for more info on Ace Attorney and follow our social media channels located at the bottom of the page.

Which Ace Attorney game was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

Rango’s Smash Column: EVO Online Fighting Game Championship Will Not Include Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

EVO, the Evolution Fighting Game Championships, is an annual, worldwide fighting game tournament. The EVO Twitter account recently shared their trailer for the upcoming EVO Online tournament. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, this will be the first time EVO will host an online tournament. However, one suspicious omission became the single most glaring point of contention on social media. Among the games featured, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was not included.

Super Smash Bros. has held a history in EVO for over a decade. This includes Melee, Brawl, Smash 4, and most recently, Smash Ultimate. However, this is the first time that the series will be omitted from the lineup. While Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was initially slated for EVO 2020’s offline tournament, the plans were scrapped following the COVID crisis. Unfortunately, the reason for Smash’s omission comes largely from its poor online netcode.

EVO 2020 would have featured Smash Bros. Ultimate at its offline tournament.

Recently, players began trending tags such as #FixUltimateOnline on Twitter. As a result of the global quarantine, the lack of offline tournaments pushed many top players to participate in Wi-Fi tournaments. Unfortunately, Smash Bros. Ultimate quickly became known for having some of the worst online in fighting game history. Even among other fighting games, Smash Bros. online mode is frowned upon. Hence, EVO chose not to host it this year.

While Mortal Kombat 11 was initially omitted from EVO 2020’s lineup, EVO Online will feature the title.

Positive Reception

Despite the game’s omission, however, many fans rejoiced at the decision. Some realized the game would lag considerably and not be fun to enter or even watch on stream. Others suggested they did not want a Sonic main to win the tournament.

Despite the confusion caused in the scene, and in the thread, many agreed that EVO made a good move. While other fighting games, including those featured, have notorious issues with netcode, none of them carry the reputation of Smash’s online. Unfortunately, the roster does not have a more games use rollback netcode. However, this step in the right direction may hopefully influence developers to implement it in their future titles.

How do you feel about Smash Bros. being dropped from EVO? Let us know in the comments below. Be sure to follow our social media pages for more updates regarding EVO 2020.

History Lesson: Persona 3, Persona 4, and Atlus’ Localization Changes

With the recent releases of Catherine: Full Body, and Persona 5 Royal, developer Atlus fell under scrutiny due to notable censorship of these two fabled titles. In the case of Catherine, a bit of controversy emerged from dead-naming a trans-female character. In Persona 5 Royal’s case, Atlus chose to change a scene where Ryuji got hit on by homosexual men. This created outrage from various sides of the fanbase to include responding by boycotting the game.

While many fans of Atlus’ games got their start to the series with Persona 5, their past titles showcased scenes that might be deemed “not kosher” in today’s political climate. While Catherine was originally released in 2011, and Persona 5 came out in 2017, Atlus deemed it necessary to edit the re-releases’ scenes to acclimate the changing internet culture. One example of these past titles includes 2007’s Persona 3. I’ll outline a few scenes that, while some viewers may find innocuous or humorous, might also raise a few eyebrows.

Persona 3

During a trip to the beach, three of the male characters decide to go on a “babe hunt.” This means they will flirt with women on the beach in hopes of getting a date. While their first two attempts end up getting blown up in their faces, the third option starts off successfully.

The scene begins at 5:06 when Akihiko and Junpei make their pass at a woman. All is going well until Akihiko points out what is implied to be a stray beard hair. This outs the character as trans. However, while the identification itself isn’t so much noteworthy, she also comments how close she was to snagging a “boy-toy.” This implies the character to be promiscuous and predatory, seeking to date someone and trap them.

Persona 4

In the month of June, three male characters once again go on a “babe hunt,” this time in the city of Okina. While their efforts end with their rejection, one character seems to get catfished with the number he got. The number he calls belongs to a classmate, Hanako Ohtani, who is morbidly obese and unattractive.

At 14:00, you’ll meet the girl who follows the stereotypes of “selfish, ugly, fat girl.” She suddenly invites herself to Yosuke’s bike and breaks it by jumping on it.

Days later, you meet her again on a camping trip. She’s unwilling to share her massive portion of food and snores loudly at night. At 7:14, Yosuke asks her for food, only to be turned away. At 14:21, the snoring ensues.

Also note that the Persona wiki deems that there is another overweight character in an earlier game, Persona 2, who’s said to be treated more sensitively. However, if you look through the gallery, you’ll notice that she ends up losing weight at some point in the game, perhaps used as a sort of redeeming quality to her appearance. Once again, many players deem this scene normal and humorous. Others, however, might consider this fat-shaming.

How has censorship changed the landscape for gaming?

Moving slightly off the Atlus subject for a minute, keep in mind how much the political climate has changed in just the past 5 years. Nintendo censored Fire Emblem Fates, Fatal Frame, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and the recent Tokyo Mirage Sessions release on Switch. They even censored Bernadetta’s Support conversation in Fire Emblem: Three Houses in a recent patch as well as replaced a voice actor due to his history of abuse. Another smaller example would be Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s censorship of Mithra, from Xenoblade Chronicles 2. However, Smash Bros. creator, Masahiro Sakurai, explained in the past that he had to censor female characters or else the game’s CERO rating would raise.

Sony has also taken measures, in their recent policies, to censor or not release games in the west. Among these include longtime favorite series from Japan, such as Senran Kagura and Dead or Alive.

How this affects Atlus’ games.

Persona 3 and Persona 4 were released before the days of digital patches and updates. The aforementioned scenes fell in with cultural humor considered normal for its release. While the scenes were likely created with humor and no harm intended, reflect on censored games in the past few years. They might not pass the litmus test to be released without various amounts of editing to be re-released in the west today.

In my personal case, I played Persona 5 before going back to 3 and 4. Knowing of the censorship of Persona 5 and watching the aforementioned scene, it immediately crossed my mind. “They probably wouldn’t be allowed to get away with this today,” I thought as I watched the scenes. Granted, I could be entirely wrong, but I could also see why groups on social media could create an issue out of it.

However, please consider that Atlus has done a tremendous job of gracefully touching social issues. They tackle one character’s insecure homosexuality in Persona 4 and allow his newfound friends to accept him for who he is. Persona 5 deftly tackled issues of bullying, sexual assault, exploitation, plagiarism, suicide, blackmail, sex work, and trauma. The story revolves around punishing abusive adults, and removing them from power, while exposing their crimes for the world to see.

Some parts of the internet argue Atlus is insensitive with handling certain characters. Others praise the series for its deft handling of social issues. However, perhaps the most important thing to consider is the gray area. It becomes paramount to educate other players on the importance of accepting other people, for who they are. This falls in regardless of whether a publisher will cater to the whims of one side or the other. A black and white difference encourages fighting among fanbases whereas a gray area brings players together for a common cause: respect for other viewpoints.

Final Thoughts

Given the recent examples, scenes that involve alleged transphobia, fat-shaming, deadnaming, and homophobia are indeed hot-button issues. It’s easy for a few articles to argue one side, attack the other, and create social media fighting while doing so. However, this article does not serve to cater to any side, but to serve as a history lesson on Atlus’ titles and how recent localization policies affect social media as well as game re-releases. If you’re a fan of Persona 5, or Catherine, and did not know about these scenes in Persona 3 and Persona 4, then hopefully this enlightened you with a bit of trivia.

Also, on last personal note, Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 Golden are wonderful JRPGs that I strongly recommend getting. If you enjoyed Persona 5, please give them a try one day!

Do you feel these issues are worth addressing for game releases or do you feel they’re blown out of proportion? Let us know in the comments below!

Rango’s Smash Column – How Smash Gets You to Try New Series.

It’s no secret that Nintendo has used Super Smash Bros. to market their series for decades. Even when Roy was included in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Nintendo has continued this tradition through the release of Byleth in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. However, this marketing method dates even further back than Melee. The original title, Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64, introduced players into many series as well. In this week’s Smash Column, I’ll go over the importance of Smash Bros. for marketing and how it’s impacted us as players.

Super Smash Bros. (1999)

The original Nintendo crossover started with 8 characters. Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, and Fox were among the many classic staples with a legacy on NES, SNES, Game Boy, and N64.  I had not yet played Metroid or Kirby until sometime after Smash’s release, so I did not feel as familiar with Samus or Kirby. However, because I enjoyed playing as Pikachu, and summoning the Pokémon out of Poké Balls, Smash got me into Pokémon. It was the first of many times that this series would influence my gaming choices.

Pikachu Pokeball ACT

When you fulfilled certain conditions, you would unlock four characters: Luigi, Jigglypuff, Captain Falcon, and Ness. Luigi’s inclusion was due to being in a game with his brother, Mario. You would think it was an obvious inclusion. Yet, after the release of Super Mario 64, his lack of appearance spawned many rumors and questions as to why he wasn’t there.

Jigglypuff, on the other hand, became a favorite among the Japanese audience who watched the anime. This would later lead to the inclusion of Pichu, Mewtwo, and Lucario. All of these Pokémon had anime movies featuring them.

However, Captain Falcon from F-Zero and Ness from EarthBound were two characters I was completely unfamiliar with. Captain Falcon comes from the F-Zero series, Nintendo’s racing series that predated Super Mario Kart. In those games, you don’t play as Falcon outside of his Blue Falcon vehicle. He only appears in the SNES title’s manual and in the select screen of F-Zero X.

Just who was this person? Why was he dressed as a superhero and why were his quotes so memorable? Falcon’s battle quotes, including his popular Falcon Punch, became popular Smash Bros. memes throughout much of the series’ existence.

Ness, on the other hand, came from the SNES title, EarthBound. Before JRPGs became big in the west, EarthBound was known only to a small niche group. Even among RPG fans, Nintendo’s worst attempt to market the game may have turned away potential fans. Whoever this Ness kid was, however, must have been a big deal in Japan. America largely knew nothing about him. But before long, Super Smash Bros. would invoke the curiosity of many players wanting to try EarthBound. Not only would people emulate the title on their computers, but copies of the game would sell for absurd prices on eBay.

Super Smash Bros. Melee

Melee introduced a plethora of new characters and worlds from even more series than the original. Not only did Peach, Bowser, Zelda, Ganondorf, Young Link, and Falco join the fray, but it introduced new series as well. While the inclusion of Ice Climbers, and Mr. Game & Watch, took a page out of Nintendo’s ancient history, an even more surprising introduction gained immediate notice: Fire Emblem.

Introducing Marth and Roy, the characters became an immediate hit due to their character design, fighting style, and their memorable theme music. Fans speculated if Nintendo’s Strategy/RPG series, Fire Emblem, would ever come to America. Smash series creator, Masahiro Sakurai chose to include Roy, in Melee, prior to the release of his home game, Fire Emblem: Binding Blade, in Japan.

Featured in the staff credits of Fire Emblem: Binding Blade.

Nintendo ultimately chose to keep these mysterious characters in the western release, opening us to a revolution. Fans demanded Fire Emblem be localized and Nintendo gave in. This preceded the American release of Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade in 2003.

Not only did Fire Emblem’s characters fascinate players, but the introduction of trophies gave us a new dimension to look through Nintendo’s history. Fully rotatable, 3D rendered models of characters, items, and stages fascinated us. But the lore that came with it introduced its history.

At the end of each description, Nintendo listed the original title that featured the trophy. For anyone interested in trying out these games, this little database gave them what they needed. I spent hours reading these descriptions and admiring the models.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

In one way, Brawl did the opposite of the past two games. As opposed to introducing us to series we weren’t familiar with, Snake’s surprise inclusion invited fans to demand another popular video gaming mascot – Sonic the Hedgehog – into the roster. While your average gamer needed no introduction to Sonic, Metal Gear Solid was known primarily as a Sony PlayStation title. While Snake had appeared in several Nintendo games, Snake’s inclusion in Smash would introduce many Nintendo fans to a new world.

In addition to various new characters, stages, and Trophies, Brawl also introduced the Masterpieces collection. These featured 1-2 minute demos of Nintendo games from their past consoles. Each game also invited the player to download these games to their Wii via the Virtual Console. For anyone new to these games or series, this was the ideal introduction to new series.

Masterpieces later appeared in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

The inclusion of Lucas also prompted fans to demand the release of Mother 3 in the west. Being the second EarthBound character to join Smash’s roster, fans of EarthBound wanted to know more about Lucas’ origins. While a fan-translated product was eventually released, Nintendo has yet to officially translate, and release, the title outside of Japan.

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U

Smash 4 featured fully animated trailers featuring new characters. One trailer even introduced two characters – Lucina and Robin – from Fire Emblem: Awakening. While these two characters were popular among series fans, this would inevitably lead to the “too many Fire Emblem characters” discussion prominent among the Smash community.

Both Smash titles featured DLC expansions to the roster. In Smash 4, Sakurai introduced the “Smash Ballot.” Fans could vote for a character and the winning character would be added to the roster. While that winner was Bayonetta, Sakurai added one character just for his popularity: Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII. Appearing from one of the most revolutionary JRPGs, Cloud was a heavily demanded, but unlikely, favorite.

Despite the love for Cloud, much like Snake, fans were well-aware that Final Fantasy VII’s only console release was on the PlayStation. This also meant a world of introduction for people who have scarcely ventured outside of Nintendo. Notably, Final Fantasy VII would not appear on a Nintendo console until its release, on Nintendo Switch, in 2019.

While Fire Emblem Fates had been released in Japan, the title would not come to America for several more months. Similar to Roy’s inclusion in Melee, Corrin would enter the Smash roster prior to the release of their home game in the west. Despite Nintendo’s obvious attempt to use Corrin’s inclusion to market their game, their efforts resulted in Fire Emblem Fates becoming the best selling title in the series.

Sakurai’s passion extended through his characters by giving these DLC characters special videos explaining to players their fundamentals and origins. He would remark about their home game,  the game mechanics, and how he translated them directly into Smash, including the sound effects.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Ultimate’s new roster featured many leftover favorites which came from unrequited fan demands. Prior to the game’s release, Ridley (Metroid), Simon and Richter Belmont (Castlevania), Isabelle (Animal Crossing), Chrom (Fire Emblem), and King K. Rool were all added to the roster. Sakurai’s fulfillment served as a sign of good faith representing the relationship between the fans and himself. The DLC introduced five characters. While some included heavily requested characters, several came out of nowhere and shocked the world.

Joker

In terms of marketing,  Joker’s reveal might have had the biggest impact. Coming one year off of winning RPG of the Year at The Game Awards 2017, Persona 5 had introduced many new fans into a cult favorite series. At The Game Awards 2018, Joker and The Phantom Thieves stole the show with Joker’s surprise reveal trailer airing during the broadcast.

Sakurai not only included the Mementos stage, and music, from Persona 5. He included a blue and yellow thematic, representing Persona 3 and Persona 4, as well. These also included musical themes from those respective titles as well as their victory themes should Joker win on the stage. As someone who loved Persona 5, I heard good things about the other titles. But I think playing in the Persona 3 thematic prompted me to finally play Persona 3 FES, a game released in 2007, for PlayStation 2. Likewise, beating Persona 3 FES lead me right into playing Persona 4 Golden which, at the time of this writing, I’m about 20 hours into. Keep in mind I also did not own a PlayStation Vita, or TV, to play it on until I felt the need to try P4 Golden.

Even the littlest details could influence my decision. One of the featured songs, “Time to Make History,” appears exclusively in Persona 4 Golden. This re-release of Persona 4 came out exclusively to PlayStation Vita.

Despite owning a digital copy of Persona 4, on my PS3 (via PS2 Classics), I could only appreciate this song more if I played Golden, the game it came from. Researching the laundry list of exclusive content, and improvements, over the original title only helped persuade me to purchase a PS Vita with Persona 4 Golden.

Hero

When Hero from Dragon Quest was revealed, it was followed by a trailer of his home game, Dragon Quest XI, coming to Nintendo Switch later that year. While many westerners scratched their heads wondering, “who,” Dragon Quest had always maintained a heavy following in Japan. Nintendo’s method to introduce new Dragon Quest fans in the west involved clever marketing idea.

That idea involved showcasing his trailer to reveal, not just who he was, but where he was from, and when his game was coming out as well. This, in turn, helped lead to Dragon Quest XI receiving some of the best sales in the series history. Dragon Quest’s newfound success in the west further cemented Smash’s success in marketing game series including those not developed by Nintendo.

For a rare change of pace, Smash itself did not get me into Dragon Quest XI. Rather, it was one of the top Smash competitors, Nairo, who influenced my decision to try the game. As a fan of the player, I also checked into his Twitch streams from time to time. One of those streams happened to be Dragon Quest XI, which had not yet been announced for Switch at the time. The gorgeous design of the game and its polish really caught my attention. Eventually, I caved in and chose to buy it for myself.

Banjo & Kazooie

Banjo-Kazooie, stars of the legendary N64 title, finally entered the Smash Bros. roster in summer of 2018. Given their large fanbase, they became one of the most massively requested characters to enter the series. However, I’m going to shorten this section because there was little marketing involved. While Banjo-Kazooie’s feature included a fantastic throwback to a legendary game, from 20 years ago, there was no real “marketing” involved, per se.

Banjo-Kazooie still remains absent from the Nintendo Switch and has not been released on a Nintendo system since the N64. Until there’s any sort of re-release of the game, Banjo-Kazooie’s reveal served a purpose similar to Sonic’s. Rather than market the game, they wanted to introduce fans to a character largely loved and remembered by fans.

Terry

Months later, Terry Bogard, from SNK’s Fatal Fury, would debut in Smash. Despite western Smash fans once again bewildered with confusion, Sakurai gave fans an entertaining history lesson on Terry in a video explaining the origins of Fatal Fury as well as his recommended choice for series beginners. Incidentally, these titles went on sale, for discounted prices, on the Nintendo Switch’s eShop. Any curious player immediately had the chance to see what Terry was like in his home game.

As someone largely unfamiliar with Terry at the time, I resonated well with this video. Sakurai’s history lesson invited me to get into a series I never thought I would love as much as I do now. Furthermore, the King of Fighters Stadium stage boasts the largest number of music, including remixes, of any of the DLC character stages. The love Sakurai showed for the SNK music marketed not just good music and arcade classics, but showcases an impactful level of passion as well.

Byleth

With Fighter Pass 1 wrapping up with its last character, the inclusion of Byleth gave way to controversy as well as positive reception for the character. On one hand, it brought forth anger from Smash fans who felt the roster was, at this point, overly saturated with Fire Emblem characters. On the other hand, Fire Emblem: Three Houses won numerous accolades, including the Player’s Voice award at 2019’s Game Awards. This highly successful title immediately became one of the best selling in the series. Given that it had quickly become one of the most popular titles on the Switch, Nintendo had already decided to add the character to Smash in order to boost sales and introduce fans to Three Houses.

While Sakurai himself admitted that Smash has too many Fire Emblem characters, he gave Byleth a trademark ability to distinguish him from the other swordsmen. By allowing him to wield three additional weapons, his varied playstyle added new flavor to the roster. The additional weapons gave Byleth a different flavor than most would expect from a Fire Emblem character. Despite the initial protests, Byleth eventually made themselves at home in Smash along with several noteworthy tracks to add to Smash’s already renowned soundtrack.

The Importance of Music in Smash Bros.

Final Thoughts

Nintendo has used Smash Bros. to market gaming series for over 20 years. Fans, like myself, got into Metroid, Kirby, EarthBound, Fire Emblem, and many more. I was fascinated by the music, the stages, the characters, and the Trophy lore. This introduced me to countless worlds of wonder and many new series I would love for years to come.

While Fighter Pass 2 has already confirmed the first character to be from the Nintendo Switch fighting game, ARMS, five more characters will be revealed over the course of the next year. Therefore, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will come to Smash. Given that many of the most-requested characters have entered Smash, it truly becomes anyone’s guess as to who will enter. Nintendo has already chosen their picks for Smash Ultimate, so perhaps they’ll be used to market an upcoming Switch title. We will keep you updated with the next wave of Smash info. In the meantime, stay tuned for our next Smash Column!

What series has Smash gotten you into? Let us know in the comments below.