Madoka Magica, Bravely Default, and the Relationship Between the Two.

Puella Magi: Madoka Magica is an anime, written by Gen Urobuchi, which was developed by studio Shaft in 2011. This dark, enchanting tale told of teenage girls who were lured into becoming magical girls once tempted by fate. Their dark struggles became gruesome as they realized that they were being used.

Meanwhile, when Square-Enix and Silicon Studio developed the Japanese RPG, Bravely Default, in 2014, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the two. While I beat Bravely Default before I watched Madoka, the similarities became more noticeable the further I watched the latter. For fans of either, check out what makes these two similar below.

Be wary of spoilers for both series.

Airy and Kyubey

Art by Adeshark. Please visit the author’s page here.

In Madoka, Kyubey, the small, cat-like mascot talks to the girls. He entices them to become magical girls in order to grant their wishes. Later, his purpose is revealed as a soul-harvester. Revealing Kyubey as the antagonist was a shocking turn for many as few would expect the cute mascot to be capable of evil.

Similarly, in Bravely Default, Airy, the small cryst-fairy guides the party towards rejuvenating the crystals. However, I caught her one-track mindedness to be suspicious during the Fire Crystal arc. I noticed Airy became more obsessed with the crystals than rescuing a young child from a mine.

True to my suspicions, late in the game, she’s revealed to be the true antagonist. She’s the cause of mass genocide and serves the demon lord, Ouroboros, to break his seal and set him upon the world. Despite this, they wrote Airy cleverly in as a supporting character while subtly hinting she could be your enemy.

Both of these characters are revealed as traitors despite their unsuspecting appearances. Few people expected either of them to be powerful, malevolent forces. Only when you learn the truth does it become too late to turn back the clock.

Witches and Ba’als

The witches in Bravely were oddly-shapen monsters trapped in labyrinths. These were later revealed to be the corrupted souls of former magical girls. Their labyrinths spawned from a twisted cognition of reality.

Similarly, the Ba’als (known as Nemesis in Bravely Default) were corrupted, twisted memories. These were later identified as Ba’als which came from the moon in the sequel, Bravely Second. Unlike the witches, these came from the corrupted dreams spawned by a major character.

In both cases, these powerful creatures are fought within a twisted dimension from reality. You can see a semblance of real life within the scenery. But the colorful, blotter-art dimensions and macabre enemies bring together similarities.

Time-Traveling Savior

Both Madoka and Bravely feature a time-traveler, clad in black, to prevent the worst from happening. In Madoka, Homura Akemi was Kyubey’s victim. Her time ability allowed her to go back to try and save Madoka, time and time again, while failing with each attempt. Despite originally being depicted as the antagonist, the story later showcased Homura as Madoka’s friend.

Likewise, Alternis Dim, the Dark Knight, battles the party to stop them from achieving from their goal. The party member, Ringabel, is later revealed to have been Alternis Dim from another universe. Much like Homura, he is also a victim of the aforementioned antagonist. As Alternis, his personality was changed and he lost his memory.

Interestingly enough, both focal characters of the stories are fated to die. Madoka becomes a Magical Girl while Agnes becomes the Vestal of Wind. Both would fall victim to their respective antagonists.

Notable Points

While the first two and a half episodes felt pretty droning and typical moe cuteness, the end of Episode 3 caught me completely off guard. It was dark, gruesome, and changed the tone of the entire series.

Likewise, Bravely Default did this several times. Several of the Asterisk arcs, such as Summoner Mephilia’s, took an incredibly dark turn. Bravely Default starts off as a fairly typical JRPG but ends up shocking the player on multiple occasions.

One lovable thing about the Bravely series is its amount of references and homages to other series. The Enopu Mushroom, for instance, even features a lore description that references the Super Mario series. The crystals themselves also reference Square-Enix’s headline series, Final Fantasy.

It isn’t far-fetched to say that Bravely Default took notable cues out of anime. The game was even composed by REVO, who composed the openings for Attack on Titan and Sailor Moon Crystal. Moreover, Bravely Second also features an arc where a character saved his young son’s life by sealing his soul inside a suit of armor. This serves as a nod to the anime and manga Fullmetal Alchemist.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoyed Bravely Default, I strongly suggest playing Bravely Second and Octopath Traveler which were also made by the same developers. Furthermore, Bravely Default II comes out for Switch supposedly later this year. Keep an eye out on our site for the latest updates on Square-Enix’s and Team Asano‘s next JRPG.

If you enjoy our content, be sure to follow our social media links below. Continue following us for more anime, video games, and cosplay content. Finally, if you enjoyed what you read and want to point out any more similarities, be sure to leave a reply in the comments!

What Are You Playing? – 8/17/20

Welcome to the newest column for All Cool Things. I’m starting a new column blog where I discuss what I’m clearing off my backlog every week! If you find something you’re playing on our list, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Without further adieu…

Tekken 7

I’m no pro at Tekken. I love the character design, music, and gameplay. But I’ve never really played it competitively.

However, I live in a part of Georgia that plays it heavily. It’s one of our top 3 fighting games along with Street Fighter V and Dragon Ball FighterZ. I managed to host a 10-player tournament once but I didn’t compete in it.

Despite that, I’m on a Trophy run right now. I hate admitting that I play a fighting game casually. But I’m trying to finish collecting Trophies. I’ve done all the single-player mode achievements. The 3 Special Battles one was detestably long and random.

The only Trophies I have left are the 1 Ranked Match, 10 Ranked Matches, and win a tournament battle. I main Miguel and he’s the only one I play. I’m vaguely familiar with his style yet I haven’t even incorporated Savage Stance into it yet. Despite being new to the competitive meta, I’ve already managed to send one ragequitter packing.

Did I mention I met Katsuhiro Harada, creator of Tekken, at Final Round 2016?

Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir

Even though it came out in 2007 for PS2, I always wanted to play this game. I loved Vanillaware’s Dragon’s Crown for PS3. Ever since I played Dragon’s Crown, I’ve become a huge fan of George Kamitami’s work.

Right now I’m still only on the Valkyrie story. I love hearing all the familiar voices from the games I recently played. It might be because both Persona and Odin Sphere are developed and published by Atlus that these games share voice actors.

This game still looks beautiful as heck. Even with the remastered visuals, though, I can still tell this is a PS2 title by the mouth movement animations. That’s not a bad thing by any means.

Moreover, I can tell how much Odin Sphere influenced Dust: An Elysian Tail which is one of my favorite indie games. The hand-drawn style and 2D beat ’em up gameplay both showcase similarities between the two.

Once I beat Odin Sphere, I plan to jump onto Muramasa Rebirth for PS Vita. I had the Wii version but sold it shortly after I played it. But now I can try the definitive version of Muramasa before Atlus’ next game, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim comes out.

On that note, it makes me wish Princess Crown got localized.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

As always, I’m playing Smash. I don’t get how I can’t let this game go. Even though everyone hates online mode – and rightfully so – I can’t seem to stop logging onto Elite Smash, play a few rounds, and call it a day.

Who I’m currently playing as online.

Despite everyone’s online complaints, Nintendo did manage to patch the game’s online. However, this was honestly too vague to decipher what they meant by patching the online experience. We know it isn’t rollback netcode. But at the least, Nintendo also said they would continue patching the game’s online mode.

Fire Emblem Heroes

Did you know I enjoy gacha? Yeah, only this one and maybe a little bit of Dr. Mario World. Even as gorgeous as the Final Fantasy gacha titles look, I’m not allowing myself to get hooked on another one. That especially goes for spending any money on them.

I’m so far behind that I haven’t played much since the latest update. I’m probably missing out on a ton of orbs. Unfortunately, not only is the Pirate banner the only one that interests me, but I haven’t landed a solid 5-star in weeks now.

It’s demoralizing to the point I hardly care. Moreover, none of them give you the 40 summons + 1 free one. Why even introduce this feature if you’re not going to implement it every month? Good thing I didn’t subscribe to Feh Pass.

…Although I admit that my lazy self could also use those continuous auto-battle features. Not to mention I’ve been tempted to buy those beautiful Resplendent units.

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

Finally, after beating Persona 5 Royal, I’m ready to commit to another long game. I haven’t touched a Yakuza title since Yakuza Kiwami 2. I plan on beating this one before I move onto Judgment. Then I’ll start Yakuza Remastered Collection afterward.

I love Fist of the North Star. I finished the anime series before FotNS2. Yakuza is filled with references to the series so it doesn’t surprise me that RGG Studios would want to adapt Fist of the North Star into a game.

I’m only past the intro but it’s fun so far. It’s standard Yakuza side-quests and beat ’em up action with tons of violence. Plus I’m using the Kiryu skin. Interesting fact, Kiryu’s Japanese voice actor is also Kenshiro’s. It fits perfectly all things considered.

Well, that’s a wrap for my play log this week. Maybe one day I’ll finally get back to Dragon Quest IV. I would like to play the rest of the series.

In the meantime, what are you playing this week? Reply with your games in the comments below.

Retro Runback: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is a 2D side-scrolling Metroidvania title. Developed by Konami and released in 2003, this title was produced by Koji Igarashi (IGA) who was renowned for the 1997 hit, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Featuring the artistic talent of Ayami Kojima, and music by Michiru Yamane, this title brought the Symphony team together for another experience on Game Boy Advance.

With that being said, I recently beat Aria of Sorrow for over the dozenth time. As my favorite Game Boy Advance game, I wanted to go back and play it to see how well it’s aged. In today’s era, IGA released Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, the spiritual successor to his Castlevania titles. Therefore, I figured I would return to celebrate one of his best works and see how it stacks up with his latest endeavor.

Story

Aria of Sorrow takes place in 2035 and is set decades after the final defeat of Dracula in 1999. When college student Soma Cruz vanishes from the Hakuba Shrine, he appears at the entrance of Dracula’s Castle. Caught in a solar eclipse, he is greeted by his childhood friend, Mina, and the mysterious Genya Arikado. The latter brought Soma to the castle to discover the truth behind his soul-stealing powers.

The title introduces several characters which include both friendly and hostile faces. Perhaps the most pressing thing about Aria is that it is not your traditional “end Dracula’s reign” game. In fact, Aria of Sorrow may have perhaps the biggest twist in the series’ history.

Aria of Sorrow brings together the new protagonist, Soma, Yoko Belnades, a descendant of Sypha Belnades from Castlevania III, the Belmonts, and Dracula’s son, Alucard, together to help stop Dracula’s evil once more. As Soma, you will venture through the castle in order to uncover the truth behind your powers. Plus Aria of Sorrow features multiple endings including a particularly engaging Bad Ending. For a 2D Metroidvania title, it features an astounding plot.

Audiovisual

Konami released Aria of Sorrow mere months after Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. While the latter featured bright, colorful visuals, Konami sacrificed the audio quality. While Harmony of Dissonance had wonderful melodies, composed by Yamane, it could only handle playing 8-bit chiptune music. Aria of Sorrow managed to not only feature gorgeous visuals but did so without downscaling the sound quality.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (2002)

In Aria of Sorrow, the animations stand out wonderfully. Soma’s coat animates well with his movements while enemies engage him with various attacks. Plus the Soul system offers creative animations for each of your abilities.

Perhaps the excel point of Aria’s visuals include its gorgeous background decor. Each area wonderfully separates itself from the others and looks beautiful, majestic, and gothic. You will certainly appreciate the background pseudo-lighting effects as well.

If you enjoy strong gaming soundtracks, Aria of Sorrow delivers in spades. Michiru Yamane’s soundtrack stands strong to include “Castle Corridor,” “Heart of Fire,” and features subtle remixes of “Cross Your Heart” and “Bloody Tears.” One of my favorites includes “You’re Not Alone” which plays near the game’s ending.

Gameplay

Aria of Sorrow follows the side-scrolling Metroidvania formula set forth by its predecessors. The game encourages you to explore as you fill in your map, break hidden walls, and gain abilities to open up new areas. You can double-jump, transform, slide, and even fly as a Bat.

Combat involves hacking and slashing while equipping new weapons. You can use swords, lances, knuckles, and even firearms. Despite setting itself apart with the use of Guns, the long-range weapons feel remarkably apropos.

Perhaps the most pressing and significant part of the gameplay involves the Souls mechanic. As Soma wields the Power of Dominance, he can absorb the soul of any enemy he defeats. Similar to the Persona series, each soul comes with different abilities. You can equip up to three at a time to configure various combinations.

Between the souls and weapons, players can use a variety of combinations to play in their own style. This mechanic opened up the door to the Glyph system used in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia as well as the Shards used in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

Extras

After beating Aria of Sorrow, you unlock Boss Rush Mode, Hard Mode, New Game+, and Julius Mode. Boss Rush mode lets you fight against all of the bosses in the game. Clearing within various time limits grants you powerful weapons, such as Excalibur and Positron Rifle.

Unlocking Hard Mode allows you to play with or without a new file if you so choose. New Game Plus will carry over all except a few souls to your next playthrough. Players seeking a challenge can also input NOUSE and NOSOUL to restrict the use of items and souls, respectively. Furthermore, New Game Plus also allows players to discover new weapons not seen in the first playthrough. Clearing the map 100% also features extra dialogue in the ending.

Finally, Julius Mode continues the tradition of unlocking a character to play through the game as them. In this case, players can use Julius Belmont who uses MP for sub-weapons. Julius comes armed with the Vampire Killer whip, a super jump, and a teleport-dash that resembles Akuma’s from Street Fighter. He’s fun to play and quite powerful. Unfortunately, as per tradition with IGA’s extra character modes, I wish they added dialogue to move the story forward.

How does it fare today?

Koji Igarashi released Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night in 2019. The side-scrolling Metroidvania title featured the spiritual successor to his Castlevania titles. When Konami underwent their worst years, and rebooted Castlevania as Lords of Shadow, IGA left to form his own studio, ArtPlay.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (2019)

Bloodstained offers much of the charm you could expect from Castlevania. It features similar gameplay and progression. The side-scrolling gameplay and exploration, and epic boss battles feature series’ hallmarks. Plus it even recently added Zangetsu Mode which echoes the second character mode of IGAvanias.

However, I don’t think its visual polish ever got better than a lighting upgrade before its release. Even in HD, the game looked fairly standard to me. Despite a visual facelift prior to release, I still never found myself impressed with Bloodstained’s visuals as much as I did with Aria of Sorrow’s sprite work.

Plus some parts of the game weren’t properly utilized. If you needed to swim underwater, you found the ability through progression in Aria. Bloodstained makes you kill a random water enemy to gain the swimming ability and I feel that was one of the pacing issues I had with it.

However, I do recommend Bloodstained for any Metroidvania fan. Anyone wanting a callback to IGA’s best games will find plenty of love and polish in Bloodstained. Overall, though, while Aria of Sorrow is one of best IGA’s games, Bloodstained does well on its own as a Metroidvania side-scroller.

Final Thoughts

My only gripe with Aria of Sorrow is that it’s a bit short. To this date, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is still the longest game largely thanks to the Inverted Castle. Moreover, it was developed on the PlayStation which held more memory than the GBA. Despite this, Aria of Sorrow is a clean, polished adventure from start to finish. Plus, Aria of Sorrow rewards players with an incentive to beat the game more than once.

The Soul System remains one of the best gameplay mechanics ever introduced. I love being able to combine and customize which abilities I can use. Projectiles, support skills, and passive abilities were all organized easily and user-friendly.

The variety also gave life to endless combinations and I enjoyed getting to pick and choose what to use. Plus the weapon system went a step above Symphony of the Night’s. Greatswords were much larger and the weapons offered much more variety.

Overall, Aria of Sorrow just felt like a nice, complete package. It was a polished, near-perfect little game that I’ve come back to for over 15 years. It’s my favorite title on the Game Boy Advance and one I recommend today. However, with the exception of the Wii U eShop release, Aria of Sorrow was never released outside of the Game Boy Advance. Despite this, I highly recommend Aria of Sorrow. If you enjoy side-scrollers and Metroidvanias, track this game down. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Dragon Quest XI S Coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam.

Last week, Square-Enix confirmed that Dragon Quest XI S would come to major consoles and PC later this year. Originally released in the west, in 2018, Dragon Quest XI came out to rave reviews when it debuted on the PlayStation 4 and PC. While the original Japanese version came out for 3DS, Square-Enix prepared a re-release for the title shortly after its overseas debut.

Dragon Quest XI S, a Nintendo Switch exclusive re-release, featured the 2D mode showcased in the Japanese 3DS version. However, this version of the game also added new cutscenes, storylines, bosses, and even endings to the game. This stellar level of content warranted a replay for veteran fans while introducing new ones to a fantastic JRPG. However, the latest announcement by Square-Enix ensures that Dragon Quest XI S will now be playable for owners of any modern console.

The Significance of Dragon Quest XI S

This title showcased a phenomenal level of polish from a 110-hour game. While America always struggled to embrace Japan’s long-loved series, Square-Enix added an extra dose of marketing to appeal to a larger fanbase. However, Nintendo took it even a step further the following year.

In 2019, Nintendo announced Dragon Quest XI S for Nintendo Switch. This is followed by E3 2019 where Nintendo features the game’s Hero as a new character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Shortly after, they would follow it with a new trailer for the game. Upon its release, Square-Enix would later go onto mention the game succeeded.

For PlayStation and PC fans, this is a return to form with new content not featured in the original release. For Xbox fans, this is the debut of Dragon Quest. This is also the first JRPG featuring Akira Toriyama’s creative designs since Blue Dragon released on Xbox 360 in 2007. Ultimately, everyone can now enjoy the definitive edition of this legendary title.

Final Thoughts

I found Dragon Quest XI to be one of the best games I ever played. I personally rank it up with Persona 5 Royal as one of the best JRPGs of the current generation. Its charming character design, writing, aesthetics, and battle system all hit excel points. It never forced level grinding, save for an optional encounter, and proved to have a solid challenge for those who sought it.

I did not play Dragon Quest XI S, however, as I felt satisfied with my first playthrough of the original release. Despite this, I’m currently entertaining myself with Persona 5 Royal which grants me a 100+ hour replay after beating Persona 5. With that being said, I can’t say I’m not considering playing through Dragon Quest XI S at some point.

If you’re looking for a title that paces itself well, both in story and in gameplay, Square-Enix’s masterpiece will suit your needs. It’s a worthy addition to anyone’s library. With the multiplatform release of the Definitive Edition, I strongly recommend playing this title.

Dragon Quest XI S comes to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on December 4th, 2020. You can pre-order the game now. Be sure to follow up with us on AllCoolThings by following our social media pages below!

Balan Wonderworld, New 3D Platformer Developed by Sonic the Hedgehog Creators, Coming in 2021.

Balan Wonderworld is an upcoming 3D platformer developed by the creators of Sonic the Hedgehog. Helmed by Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima, Square-Enix’s upcoming title will herald the return of two platforming legends from the heydays of Sega and Sonic Team. This will also debut their new development studio, Balan Company.

What makes Balan Wonderworld significant?

Naoto Ohshima created Sonic the Hedgehog while Yuji Naka programmed the original Genesis titles. Yuji Naka would later lead Sonic Team in developing Sonic titles before leaving Sega in 2006. His last original platformer that featured a mascot character was Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg for GameCube in 2003. Perhaps the most striking resemblance this has to Naka’s past work, however, is NiGHTS into dreams…

While Naoto Ohshima had continued developing games outside of Sega since 2001, he would find success in creating his own mascot platformer, Blinx the Time Sweeper, for Xbox. His studio, Artoon, would later go on to develop Yoshi’s Island DS. Once Artoon disbanded, Ohshima founded Azrest, which would develop games for Nintendo franchises, such as Yoshi’s New Island and Hey! Pikmin for 3DS.

With that being said, this is the first time Naka and Ohshima have teamed up together in decades. For fans of classic Sonic the Hedgehog and NiGHTS Into dreams…, this game feels like the return of an important era.

You can learn more about the title from the official website here.

Releasing in the perfect timeframe.

Balan Wonderworld will release during an era where 3D platforms have seen a massive boom. While Nintendo has pressed on with successful titles, like Super Mario Odyssey, only in the last few years have 3D platformers seen mainstream success in the gaming market once more.

Former Banjo-Kazooie developers founded Playtonic Games, creating Yooka-Laylee. Independent studios, such as Playful Studios, succeeded with games like New Super Lucky’s Tale for Nintendo Switch.

Meanwhile, Insomniac Studios‘ reboot of Ratchet and Clank in 2016 set the groundwork for the upcoming title Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart. Plus, developers Vicarious Visions and Toys for Bob remade classic PlayStation titles in the form of Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited Trilogy, respectively. In the former’s case, Toys for Bob is currently developing Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Final Thoughts

As a longtime platforming fan, I’m glad to see the creators of Sonic working on a new project. I’m almost intrigued to play Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg and NiGHTS into dreams…, the latter being released on the PlayStation Store for PS3. If nothing else, I suppose I could watch a playthrough on YouTube.

It would be fun to delve into Yuji Naka’s earlier works before this title comes out. While Sega has catered to fans with references to both games over the years, fans truly loved these original titles and want to see their creativity return.

While some 3D platformers have floundered with titles, like Sonic Forces in 2017, their releases have otherwise come few and far in between. However, thanks to the efforts of Insomniac Studios, Toys for Bob, and now Balan Company, platforming fans can rest assured; the era is back.

Look forward to Balan Wonderworld when it comes out for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC, and Nintendo Switch in Spring 2021. Keep up with us and follow our site for incoming updates on Balan Wonderworld!

Koji Igarashi Announces Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2.

Earlier this week, Koji Igarashi (IGA), founder of ArtPlay, announced a sequel to 2017’s retro 8-bit love-letter to the classic Castlevania series, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon. The title will receive a sequel featuring Zangetsu, main character of the first adventure, as well as three new playable characters replacing the playable cast from the first title.

About Bloodstained

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon serves as the spin-off precursor IGA’s larger project, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. With the former title, developed by Inti Creates, it served as a tribute to the NES Castlevania titles. Ritual of the Night, however, served as a successor to IGA’s own produced Castlevania titles. Bloodstained Curse of the Moon 2, however, already shows more promise given the trailer’s use of new stage design choices.

While Curse of the Moon felt like a proper love-letter to the original Castlevania titles, its design scope felt limited beyond a few incentives to replay. The sequel, however, already shows the kind of promise you might expect from a quality indie platformer such as Shovel Knight.

What makes Bloodstained special?

The NES Castlevania titles were known for their critically-acclaimed platforming. The original Castlevania title remains a favorite among NES fans to this day. The first entry featured Simon Belmont, the gothic horror enemies, 5 different sub-weapons, a killer soundtrack, and the first of many epic battles against Lord Dracula.

Koji Igarashi’s Metrodivania titles integrated even more storyline into the narrative ranging from Alucard fighting his father, Dracula, to Soma Cruz, protagonist of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, discovering he was Dracula’s reincarnation. The exploration and map system borrowed heavily from Nintendo’s Metroid series while the RPG elements allowed you to equip weapons, armor, spells, and level up with EXP.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon continued the former’s tradition by allowing you to switch characters like in Castlevania III. Ritual of the Night took over Symphony of the Night and onward’s formula, allowing you to explore the castle to your heart’s content. Also note that Circle of the Moon (CotM) itself is a reference to Castlevania: Circle of the Moon which was released on GBA in 2001.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy platforming titles, we strongly recommend checking out Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon. As with Shovel Knight, it serves as a love-letter to classic 8-bit platforming with a polished sheen, epic boss battles, and even replay incentives.

I found Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night to be a fine game. The series already shows that it features the spirit of Castlevania in many ways. As someone who also feels great disappointment in Konami’s performance – or lack thereof – over the past decade, IGA has yet to let us down.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 will release on July 10th, 2020. Keep up with us as we cover ArtPlay and IntiCreates‘ latest title. The title will also feature a 2-player co-op mode. If you are seeking more info on Bloodstained, follow us on our social media links below. We’ll keep you updated with Curse of the Moon 2 here.

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.