Datamine reveals upcoming Nintendo Switch model featuring 4K and OLED display.

Earlier this week, a report surfaced that a datamine revealed an upgraded Nintendo Switch console. The source comes from ResetERA and was leaked by SciresM. While the rumors have spun for months about a “Nintendo Switch Pro” console, this datamine is the most decisive evidence regarding its existence.

I’ve been following Nintendo for decades and have seen my fair share of rumors. I’ve seen dozens of threads regarding leaks for Super Smash Bros. rosters and I’ve also seen roster leaks that were confirmed upon the game’s release. The Smash community is no stranger to fake leaks created for building false hype and trolling the scene. However, datamines are a different story.

What makes a datamine legit?

Unlike the rumors and leaks, which may or may not be legit, datamining comes from a digitized source. These come from game code or even system code. Unlike the hearsay spread through forums, datamining comes with evidence.

One example comes from Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U. Back in 2015, Roy from Fire Emblem and Ryu from Street Fighter were found in a datamine. This includes name files as well as voice files. Rather than to assume this was needless hearsay to stir up the community, it was only a matter of time before they came to Smash. Interestingly, what was not known was the inclusion of Lucas, who was released on the same day.

Another prominent datamine comes from their mobile title, Fire Emblem Heroes. Shortly after the game’s release in February 2017, dataminers found files of a holiday-themed Tharja and Robin in the files. During December, these characters were indeed confirmed in their release.

Case in point, datamines should be taken with more than just a grain of salt.

What’s in Store for the Upcoming Switch Model?

According to the report, this Switch model features 4K display in docked mode. That is to say, it will render graphics at a resolution rivaling the PS4 and Xbox One. Furthermore, it also features an OLED screen. The OLED screen is familiar for anyone with either an Android or PlayStation Vita. Furthermore, the report speculates the enhancements of both cooldown and battery life.

Truly ahead of its time.

The Nintendo Switch is no stranger to the latter issues. The battery on the Switch, depending on the model you own, lasts between 2.5 hours at worst and 9 hours at best. The Switch’s ability to keep up with PS4 and Xbox One multiplatform titles also comes with a noticeable drop in visual quality.

It’s worth noting that, at one point, Nintendo’s console, the GameCube, outperformed the PlayStation 2 during the early 2000s. Ever since the era of the Wii, Nintendo’s visual quality and performance has never quite caught up to the speed of its competitors. With the PS5 and Xbox Series X out, at least the Switch may at last catch up to the PS4 and Xbox One. As releases for last-gen consoles will continue to go strong, this might also invite developers and publishers to release more multiplatform titles on the Switch as well.

While Nintendo consoles have seldom received timely upgrades, their handheld line always featured revisions of some sort. The Game Boy received the Game Boy Pocket and the Game Boy Color, the Game Boy Advance received the SP, DS got the DS Lite, DSi, and DSi XL, and the 3DS received the 3DS XL and New 3DS XL. That’s also not mentioning the budget choice, the 2DS. As Switch is a hybrid portable console and has already received the Switch Lite revision, it’s all too possible that Nintendo is preparing for an upgraded console this year.

We will keep you posted on more info as it becomes available to us. Be sure to follow our social media links below to keep up with our latest updates!

SNK Features Debut Trailer for The King of Fighters XV, Samurai Shodown Season 3, and more!

SNK has finally unveiled their debut trailer for The King of Fighters XV! In a recent presentation, SNK featured their newest game featuring several KOF favorites to include Kyo, Mai, and Leona. Additionally, they’ve showcased the latest Season Pass DLC for Samurai Shodown as well as included a few extra goodies: The King of Fighters XIV Ultimate Edition and The King of Fighters 2002 UM featuring rollback netcode for PS4!

I’m honestly quite stoked for KOF XV. This largely stems from how much I love using Terry in Smash Bros. and dove into the SNK rabbit hole thanks to his inclusion. I got KOF XIV only to run into a barren wasteland online which, in turn, is thanks to its lukewarm reception and poor netcode. I’ve been wanting to get into KOF for a good while now and I’m really hoping SNK will deliver with XV.

Samurai Shodown

Believe it or not, SNK introduced not one, but two, characters for Season Pass 3! The first is Cham-Cham, the cute feral girl from past SamSho titles. The second? None other than Hibiki from The Last Blade.

What I love about this is seeing The Last Blade get some love. Hibiki might be known to some fighting gamers as a character from Capcom vs. SNK 2. But The Last Blade is rarely heard of in conversation. It’s a weapons-based 2D fighting game taking place during the end of the Edo period. Anime and manga fans who might be familiar with this timeframe might associate this with Rurouni Kenshin. In fact, The Last Blade does feature several influences from the famous samurai manga series.

I only became a fan of the Last Blade titles last year when CodeMystics released them on PS4 and PC. Despite being relics from the 90s, they play amazingly well. It’s the kind of game I would love to play in tournaments. I’ve always been a fan of weapons-based fighting games like SoulCalibur. I definitely love the game’s aesthetic and music too. But as SNK likely won’t revive the series anytime soon, I’m more than happy seeing The Last Blade representation in SamSho. Perhaps this will open the gateway for more Last Blade characters to enter SamSho as well.

Truth be told, I wish I could be more hype about this. In fact, I would love to play more Samurai Shodown. Unfortunately, due to the once again terrible netcode, the game was left in a barren state online. In the worst possible time period to have bad netcode in fighting games, SNK will not add rollback and, thus, leaves Samurai Shodown on PS4 to its barren fate.

The King of Fighters XIV Ultimate Edition

Remember what I said about KOF XIV? I practically rushed to go buy it on PS4 once it went on sale and I was riding that SNK high in Smash Bros. After a few trips through Arcade mode and several unsuccessful attempts to play online, that was it.

Sadly, KOF XIV will not introduce rollback netcode to this re-release. This sucks because CodeMystics, who released several of SNK’s classic 90s and 2000s titles on consoles and PC, implemented rollback into these games. KOF XIV, SNK’s last prominent entry in the series, will just have the same delay-based netcode. As such, I don’t expect people to play it online. I’ll just have to wait for KOF XV to come out.

The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match

On the flipside, the game that introduced me to the KOF series is getting a re-release on PS4 and will feature rollback netcode. This alone gets me hype because, after Capcom vs. SNK 2, I bought this game on my 360 around 10 years ago. I loved KOF 2002 UM’s music so much! This was the game for me!

However, like with the PS4 releases of Garou, The Last Blade, and KOF ’97, I am a little worried that online will be barren again. Not because of netcode but because it’s the re-release of an older fighting game. If loyal KOF fans flock to the title, however, it might be popping for at least a little bit. I would love to get some matches in and prepare for KOF XV.

That being said, I’m really excited for some reason. Maybe it’s because SNK is picking up the steam and sharing the love for their classic games. I would love to see KOF XV become a mainstream fighting game hit like Street Fighter and Tekken. SNK has been quite busy with their games and new console lately. With that being said, here’s hoping their latest hit delivers!

We’ll keep you posted on upcoming news for KOF XV. Follow up with us on our social media links below! If you have anything to say about SNK’s upcoming releases, leave a note in the replies!

Rango’s Smash Blog: I Still Play Competitive Smash and I Do Not Understand Why.

Welcome back to Rango’s Smash Blog! If this is your first time here, allow me to introduce myself.
I’m a competitive esports player and part-time Smash coach. I’ve been playing Smash since 1999 and playing competitively since Brawl came out on the Wii. My offline tournament journey began in 2014, upon the release of the 3DS and Wii U titles, and I’ve been competing ever since. As a previously sponsored player who traveled to tournaments across the country, I made myself a name as both as a ranked Georgia player and one of the best Ike mains in the world. If you’re interested, you can read a bit more about my tournament history.

2020 and Online Tournaments

Ever since COVID started, I’ve been inactive in the tournament scene. With CEO Dreamland, hosted in March, being the last major offline tournament, many players have resorted to playing in online tournaments. Moreover, even Nintendo has made bare-minimum efforts to improve online. With that being said, however, I’ve had no interest in playing in online tournaments.
 
I’ve done my fair share of entering a few online tournaments. Waiting around for matches at home isn’t the same as actually being inside a venue while interacting with people. It just feels like sitting in a waiting room, in your house, when you could be doing something more productive. It honestly surprises me how many players participate in online tournaments.
 
However, I also notice that the online rankings differ vastly from the offline rankings. Perhaps a number of top players have just as little interest in entering online tournaments as I do and prefer to focus on content creation and other endeavors.
I cite MKLeo and Fatality as two people who place much higher on the offline rankings. As such, I find this ranking to be subjective either to how online meta works, Or perhaps this is due to top players’ lack of interest in online tournament play.

Why I don’t enter online tournaments.

With that being said, why not enter? They’re easy to find and, I know if I wanted to, I could enter and do incredibly well. I not only main Ike but use several characters proficiently to cover his bad matchups. The online tournaments I’m aware of don’t even have a buy-in, so it’s basically entering for free and getting paid for placing high.
 
But truth be told, I’m not interested. While I take my offline tournaments seriously, I’ve always been someone who plays Smash for fun first and foremost. The same guy who enters 1v1 tournaments to win is also the same guy you’ll spot playing 8-player matches with items on. I’ll sooner go to a convention and play fun matches with groups of people than go ham when I’m trying to have a good time. I’ve won my fair share of con tournaments and even won free badges to southeast anime conventions such as Ichibancon and Triad. However, the pacing of a con tournament, coupled with its casual ruleset, no longer interests me.
 
With that being said, part of me wonders if it would be a good financial endeavor to enter online tournaments. It’s hard to find good training partners in Smash online. I struggle to find matches on Anther’s Ladder and even Discord. In fact, most of what I really do is just end up playing on Elite Smash, the random matchmaking mode. This leads me to play against players with poor habits, use annoying characters, or end up leaving after one match.

Nintendo’s Online and Fighting Games

This is mostly Nintendo’s fault for not only having poor netcode but also for offering poor matchmaking options. Joining an arena is a potluck of players of various skill levels which include those lower than what I seek. Even though a more recent update added Elite Smash to play with higher-level players in Arenas, it’s totally empty. I kid you not that searching for high-level players on arena matchmaking leads to no results. It’s just as empty if you host arenas too.
 
All-in-all, I want tournaments to come back. I’ve tried filling the void by playing more viable online fighting games, like Tekken 7. But nothing hits quite like Smash. It’s my favorite game by far and the one I still play online in.

Getting Back into the Game

For some reason, though, I just can’t stop playing online. Even if I’m tormenting myself on Quickplay, it feels good to just play my characters, practice, and feel some level of improvement. Sometimes I’ll find a good challenge on Discord and we’ll host arenas to play sets in. While it doesn’t happen often, those are some of the highlights of my day.
 
More than anything, I feel like I’m just prepping right now for offline tournaments to return. Once COVID goes away, perhaps thanks to the new vaccines, we might be able to venture out and compete once more. I would love to become a sponsored player again and travel the country in search of new challenges. I definitely want to become a better player than I am now and I certainly look forward to what comes once we get back in full gear.
 
Right now, playing online is just to prepare for offline tournaments. I might consider an online tournament if it conveniences me and falls into my time slot. Whether I do or do not, however, I’ll still be playing Smash online and getting ready for that day when we can compete offline once more.

Publishers of Sense – A Cyberpunk Ghost Story Refuse to Censor Their Game.

Earlier this week, news came to Nintendo Switch owners that an M-rated visual novel title would debut on the system. The marketing of large-chested anime-inspired designs inspired outrage from viewers on social media.

Despite the title having been released on Steam, the upcoming release for Switch has also caused social media users to attack Nintendo as well for releasing the game on their system. While the Switch is no stranger to Japanese otome games, the outrage perhaps stems from people’s views of Nintendo maintaining a family-friendly image.

The summary of outrage stems from a Facebook post by Shogun Get-chan. Here, it showcases the Twitter backlash towards the publisher and developer. The last post shows the publisher responding to the backlash and refusing to kowtow to the critics.

Top Hat Studios followed up with a post summing up many of the hateful, critical messages sent to them.

Likewise, developers who have had their games published by Top Hat Studios also chimed in with their response.

About Sense – A Cyberpunk Ghost Story

Titled Sense – A Cyberpunk Ghost Story, this visual novel showcases a narrative surrounding a supernatural mystery. The player will solve puzzles while exploring in 2D, not unlike Atlus and Vanillaware’s 2020 hit, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim.

Censorship in Recent Games

This past decade was no stranger to censorship. Sony, in particular, has been in the hot seat for their policies regarding western releases of Japanese games. Titles, such as Senran Kagura 7EVEN, would not receive a western release on PS4. Moreover, Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 did not receive an overseas release despite the previous two titles being localized. Additionally, Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet was also censored even in Asian countries. Furthermore, Mortal Kombat developers were accused of kowtowing to the censorship crowd due to designing the female characters to dress more conservatively than in their past incarnations.

You can also date some of the censorship issues back to the mid-2010s with the release of certain titles for Nintendo systems. The 3DS featured Fire Emblem Fates and a heavily localized script that deviated from the original release. Furthermore, Fatal Frame: The Maiden of Black Water on Wii U lost several costumes in the localized release.

What This Means

The shift in politics goes hand-in-hand with the growing culture of social media. Game developers do their best to cater to fans and avoid getting canceled and being labeled as bigots. However, Japanese game and anime developers continuously show that they will do their own thing whether or not western consumers complain about their moves.

Likewise, people promoting censorship and politically correct culture have called out developers. People like Katsuhiro Harada, the developer of Tekken, have expressed their own views on western politics. People seeking clout on Twitter have, as such, chosen to start their own campaign.

However, just as the culture mounted into attacking game publishers and developers for their right to express their art in their works, perhaps Top Hat Studios’ stance will take one step against the overly-sensitive political culture within the gaming industry. The outrage has, in turn, drawn the attention of potential fans who may have never heard of Sense otherwise.

Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story is currently available for PC. It will release for Nintendo Switch on January 7th, 2021. You can download the title from the Nintendo eShop. Keep up with us as we keep you up on AllCoolThings’ latest and greatest gaming content. Be sure to follow our links on social media below!

The Game Corner – What Are You Playing? Week of 1/4/21

ACT Game Corner 1/1/21

Welcome to the new year! Now that we finally left 2020 behind, we’re looking forward to a much brighter and better year! With that being said, welcome to the Game Corner!

ACT Pokemon Game Corner

What is the Game Corner?

Named after the Pokemon series’ casino, the Game Corner is a column where I cover my gaming backlog. I’ll also include activities in the games I regularly play, such as Fire Emblem Heroes and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If you’re fond of JRPGs, Nintendo series, PlayStation hits, and a hint of fighting games, you came to the right place!

We encourage you to share your backlogs with us in the replies as well. Hopefully, this column will give you some ideas on what to add to your backlog. If you’re looking for new games to play, you might find something you like!

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

ACT Super Mario 64

Yep, I did it. I cleared Super Mario 64 with 120 Stars. I’m no stranger to this game and I got into it when it came out on the Nintendo 64 back in 1996! I’ve cleared through this game many times to include on the DS with 150 Stars! Despite being many years since I’ve last played through this game, though, it’s a blast to play no matter how many times I replay it.

Surprisingly, as well as it’s held up, it’s become easier to identify some of the design flaws in the game. Perhaps it’s because Super Mario Galaxy spoiled us. But when it comes to finding 100 coins, redoing a long mission because of a death and no checkpoint, or clearing Tick-Tock Clock, some of the missions were actually frustrating! It’s one thing for Mario to be challenging but when you have to go all the way back through the Hazy-Maze Elevator because you feel once, it admittedly becomes tedious.

ACT Super Mario 64 Tick Tock Clock
Tick Tock Clock was heavily redesigned in the DS remake. The level design was much more tolerable.

Still, I gotta say it was hard to put down even today. As long as my backlog is, I’m honestly surprised I decided to stick with 64 till the end and clear it over the last week. Believe it or not, going over some of the 3D platformers I’ve played in my life, I can’t say I’ve played one better from a series that wasn’t Mario. 64 isn’t just revolutionary but a polished monument to some of the best and most enjoyable gaming experiences imaginable.

ACT Super Mario 64 low-poly
Did you know that Mario’s model becomes low-polygon when the camera zooms away from him?

Judgment

ACT Judgment Yagami Kaito

Ah, good old Yakuza. The franchise that received a huge boom in the mid-late 2010s thanks to Yakuza 0, Sega’s been a master at marketing this title. The Yakuza series is known for its hilarious, serious, and clever writing, combining strong storytelling with over-the-top humor. Any fan of shonen anime and Japanese culture will fall in love with Yakuza. It’s got those Fist of the North Star and Jojo vibes in combat with just a hint of pro wrestling.

The beat ’em up gameplay in Judgment is just as smooth and fluid as the Yakuza series could possibly deliver. This spin-off, however, also features a murder mystery. You’ll be solving puzzles, searching for clues, and even defending people in court just like in Ace Attorney. I also like the streamlined sub-quests which are now featured on corkboards for you to pick at.

Look. No touch!

Yagami’s truly a likable protagonist and Kaito’s an amazing side-kick, you could say! They differ from the series’ protagonist, Kiryu Kazuma, in many ways with Yagami being a little more coolheaded and Kaito being a little more cocky. Now that I’m on Chapter 9 I feel like I’m just a bit over halfway through the game at 30 hours.

Having beaten Yakuza 0, Kiwami, Kiwami 2, and Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, I look forward to continuing my journey once I clear Judgment. I’ll play through Yakuza Remastered Collection, Yakuza 6, and finally, get to try Like a Dragon once I’m through.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Believe it or not, I’m still on the grind here. Still playing competitively, I find it hard to put Smash down. Even in an era without offline tournaments, I cannot put down my favorite game. I just gotta keep practicing for that time the tournaments return.

I’m still learning new things with Terry, Mario, Cloud, Chrom, Roy, and others. I honestly just love learning multiple characters. Even though in all practicality, you’re supposed to keep a small character pool in tournaments, it’s incredibly hard not to want to play more than a small handful of 78 characters. I even dabbled a bit with Sephiroth when he came out. Unfortunately, his zoning playstyle really isn’t for me and I just found Cloud to be more enjoyable personally.

I found a new YouTube channel, called 1437 Ultimate, with some sick plays by other top players. I’m already getting some inspiration from Zenyou’s Mario. If I find any more goodies, I’ll be sure to include them in my next column!

Fire Emblem Heroes

As always, I’m logging into my only gacha game regularly. I love Fire Emblem Heroes too much not to play it and care too little about other gacha to play anything else. I don’t even follow the meta anymore. I just look up guides on Gamepress, build my characters optimally, and send them out into Abyssal Maps. Don’t get me started on Aether Raids either.

Duma’s Abyssal stage. I still cannot beat this effing map.

Been running Fallen Ike, Brave Dimitri, Peony, and Brave Camilla lately. Unfortunately, I ran into a roadblock trying to conquer Abyssal Duma. Yet one switch from Camilla to Brave Claude and, within two tries, I clobbered that map like it was nothing. You gotta adapt to your changes and when you see a map full of fliers it’s time to get the bow out.

The new year banner is coming so I’m looking forward to that. Much as I would love a summer banner of the Ljosalfheim faeries, this gracious New Year banner gives them beautiful kimonos to wear and fly around in. However, I can’t say I’m ready to commit to the New Year’s banner when I could still possibly get Winter Sothis and Winter Fae. Just maybe!

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

That’s right. I’m back to playing an old favorite Zelda title. Having beaten it on Wii (2006) and the GameCube years later, I had to pick up the HD remaster. One thing that drove me to this release was the addition of a harder difficulty.

Barring A Link Between Worlds, I’ve never been a fan of the Hero Mode difficulty in Wind Waker HD or this one either. However, with the use of the Ganondorf amiibo, I could boost enemy damage x2 and still collect hearts in the field. Unfortunately, I have to use my amiibo every time I load up the game.

I’m at the Lakebed Temple now which is the Water Temple of the game but on steroids. For those unaware, the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time was infamously difficult the first time we played through. Lakebed Temple is that but even bigger and more intimidating. That being said, I’m looking forward to getting this one over with.

Despite how much I enjoy this game, I always thought it fell short of the N64 classics, Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. A large part of that reason was due to how easy combat was. Enemies dealt 1/4 heart of damage and you could get by them without even trying.

While the HD version’s difficulty gives me the incentive to beat the game, I have little doubt that Nintendo will release this game for Switch as part of this year’s celebration, Maybe we’ll see Twilight Princess and Wind Waker as part of Zelda 35th Anniversary. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can use the Wolf Link amiibo to help me with the DLC in Breath of the Wild.

Wrap-up

Well, here’s hoping I can clear Judgment before the next Game Corner. It’s probably around 60 hours and I’m doing side-cases like mad. Eventually, I do want to finally start my copies of Nioh 2 and Ghost of Tsushima, both of which I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about. But I’m also trying to be good and not scatter off to too many games at once. I say this as I haven’t touched my half-finished copies of Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII Remake in weeks.

Share with us what you’re playing in the replies below. Stay tuned with us for next time’s Game Corner. And finally, be sure to follow us on our social media links below. Happy New Year, everyone!

Retro Review – Ys Origin: An Epic Action/RPG Worth Your Time

Ys Origin

Ys Origin was developed by Nihon Falcom in 2006. The title would later be published by XSeed in the west in 2012 coming to PS Vita, PC, PS4, Xbox One, and finally Nintendo Switch.

The Ys series (pronounced “Eess”) features hack-and-slash RPG gameplay with real-time combat, puzzle-solving, and challenging boss battles. Ys Origin features three playable characters with the last one being unlocked by clearing the other two routes. With that being said, I found Ys Origin to be quite enjoyable from start to finish.

ACT Ys Origin Rado's Annex

Despite being released in 2006, its gorgeous character sprite work, boss design, and incredibly fast-paced and intuitive gameplay held up more than well enough. While I think it could use a few more exploration routes, this title was an absolute blast to play in all three playthroughs.

Story

Ys Origin takes place 700 years before the start of the series. Taking place inside of the enormous Darm Tower, it features a group of heroes seeking the goddesses – Feena and Reah – to inquire about their departure and the arrival of powerful demons.

The game features three playable characters: Yunica, Hugo, and Toal. Each one follows their own route, interaction, and even a few unique boss battles. They all have their own writing as each character experiences their own growth and development progressing throughout the story. Despite being only 10 hours long, I’m surprised at how much the protagonists grew in such a short span of time.

ACT Ys Origin Hugo Epona

One thing I absolutely love is a major twist that’s only featured in the final playthrough. It brings everything together in a way that could not be explained in Yunica or Hugo’s route. Along with the surnames of the characters (Tovah, Fact), veteran Ys players will meet familiar faces in the series. Fortunately, Ys Origin makes for a perfect entry point for series’ newcomers as well.

ACT Ys Origin Saul

Audiovisual

If there’s one thing the Ys series excels at, it’s music. The rock and smooth jazz accompany such amazing beats and bass lines thrown throughout the soundtrack. Anyone will also fall in love with the heavy metal riffs that play during boss fights. Falcom’s sound design is as sterling as ever. For some reason, the soundtrack gives me major Castlevania: Rondo of Blood vibes. Some of my favorite pieces include “Dreaming,” “Oboro,” “Tension,” and “Beyond the Beginning.”

Despite being overlaid on a 3D plane, Ys features 2D sprites. Yet they meld surprisingly well, hand-in-hand, akin to some of the older PlayStation JRPGs like Valkyrie Profile, Star Ocean, and Tales. Both the sprite animations of the characters and the bosses look magnificent even today. Plus the character art looks gorgeous and detailed and the characters feature different expressions. Falcom truly cares about the artwork as much as their music and it shows by how well it’s held up today.

Gameplay

Like past Ys titles, Origins features real-time hack-and-slash combat. You can jump, slash with combo attacks, and also use magical relics to deal additional damage. The puzzles within the game are enjoyable and nothing too hard. Rather, you’ll find additional relics that will either function as keys or new abilities which can open new paths or increase your movement.

ACT Ys Origin Yunica Boss

You’ll get three playable characters. Yunica, your battle warrior can use an axe while Hugo, the mage, attacks exclusively at long range. When you clear their paths, you’ll unlock Toal’s story. He can also attack at close range but is much faster and deals incredible damage with his claws.

ACT Khonsclard Ys Origin
Several bosses take cues from bullet-hell titles.

Each stage has different layouts. You’ll encounter plenty of different enemy types and stage obstacles. Even though it’s confined to a tower, each floor offers plenty of variety. Quicksand, lava, water, and powerful enemies help make up this game’s 25 floors.

ACT Ys Origin Mantis

If you ever find yourself struggling, it’s worth leveling up a bit. As much as I dislike level grinding, thankfully it never takes more than 2-3 minutes tops to get to a new level. You can save right before a boss room, grind levels for a few minutes, and end up at a high enough level to take them on. Ys Origin is quite forgiving by allowing you to continue at the boss fight if you lose.

Final Thoughts

Ys Origin offers solid replayability in spite of its short length. With 3 stories, it totals up to around 25-30 hours of solid writing, character development, and even tragedy. When you clear the game, you can also unlock boss rush and trial modes which in-turn unlock secrets.

ACT Ys Origin Roo

I enjoyed the game’s thematics. I enjoyed Yunica’s story of feeling held-back for not being capable of using magic or even the goddesses’ own human nature and flawed existence. Meanwhile, both Hugo and Toal fought against their own fate. They’re human and they’re written in a way that seems to defy a game released in 2006.

ACT Ys Origin Toal Reah

I feel like they could have opened up more avenues to explore. Granted, for exploring outside of the beaten path you will get better armor and accessories. However, as much as I love the game, I could always use more. It’s like a cross between the original and Metroidvania titles of Konami’s Castlevania series. While it moves on a linear path of stages, each stage offers a chance to explore a bit. Ys Origin is not perfect as it does feel quite linear. Yet it’s also well-written with some beautiful aesthetics and a fantastic soundtrack to boot.

If you enjoy classic 2D gameplay akin Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda titles, enjoy hack-and-slash games, and want a solid story that paces itself well, Ys Origin is a great choice. It’s a definitive hack-and-slash title and one of the best games in the series out there. Even if you don’t play other games in the series, it’s a quality standalone title that will make a solid entry in your library no matter what system you’re playing on.

Score: 8.5/10

ACT Ys Origin Feena Reah Yunica

 

SNK to Release a New Console. Check Out This Brief Retrospective on Neo Geo Consoles!

SNK is a Japanese video game company known for developing titles such as Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters. Following their recent announcement of KOF XV, SNK has also announced the development of a new console.

If you’ve played Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, you may also recognize Terry Bogard as the DLC character from Fighter Pass 1. The same Terry comes from SNK’s long lineage of classic arcade fighting hits.

To this day, SNK features dozens of titles under their belt. While their online showings of The King of Fighters XIV and Samurai Shodown have been less-than-stellar, the latter did at least receive a huge following, in America, at offline tournaments. However, SNK has also focused heavily on re-releasing their classics in compilation titles as well as their Neo Geo mini-consoles.

SNK is known for the Neo Geo arcade system which was like a portable arcade cabinet that you could rent or purchase. Featuring top-notch sound quality, these machines from the early 90s played quality fighting game titles.

I recommend checking out this video. The first few minutes cover the history of the Neo Geo better than I can.

However, with the recent news, SNK plans to release a new console in the near future. This comes along with the recent announcement of The King of Fighters XV. Given their bold statement of making it the most ambitious title they’ve released, SNK seems to be attempting to define the early part of this decade with some major hitters.

Neo Geo

SNK introduced the Neo Geo in the early 90s. This arcade system offered multiple arcade titles. SNK still had some success with the Neo Geo Pocket and Neo Geo Pocket Color systems before eventually moving on strictly to hardware.

SNK released the Neo Geo Pocket in the late 90s. This featured portable titles such as SNK vs. Capcom, a fighting game that predated the successful crossover fighter, Capcom vs. SNK 2. It also featured 8-bit hits like Samurai Shodown and The Last Blade.

In 2013, SNK released the Neo Geo X. This was a portable version of the console which could play the full console-quality SNK titles. Additionally, it could be plugged into a dock to play the game on the TV. As mentioned in the above video, this concept predated Nintendo’s Switch by four years!

Impact of Terry in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

My personal experience from SNK came from playing Capcom vs. SNK 2 and curiously trying The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match for Xbox 360. When Terry came to Smash, however, I immediately resonated with not just the character but everything that came with him.

The King of Fighters stage, the background characters, and all the music featured within motivated me to try more of SNK’s titles. The previously posted video also showcases, by Sakurai, how KoF impacted Smash Bros. with the use of dodge rolls, spot-dodge, spot-dodge attack cancels, and even Squad Strike.

Thanks to the presentation, I also ended up starting with Fatal Fury Special and The King of Fighters ’95 before moving onto Code Mystics’ ports of KOF ’97, Samurai Shodown V Special, The Last Blade 1 and 2, and Garou: Mark of the Wolves. While I was already a fan of Rock Howard in CvS2, I was more than thrilled to finally play through his home game.

While I was tempted, multiple times, to get the Neo Geo Mini microconsole, I stopped myself as I feel the cost of the system wouldn’t justify the experience. In the COVID era, it’s hard enough to find people to play with offline. Without online play, it might be better to just wait for more games to be ported with the rollback netcode implemented.

On that note, I also picked up SamSho (PS4) and KOF XIV. But unfortunately, their poor online netcode made it nearly impossible to find random online matches. No one wants to play a fighting game with poor netcode no matter how popular it is offline.

Significance of SNK

SNK was much more popular in Japan and Mexico than it was in America. While it has its own competition among other popular fighting games, such as Tekken, it never quite got off the ground in America. KOF was largely more populated by fans of Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs. Capcom, and others.

However, SNK plans to release both this new console as well as make KOF XV their most ambitious title. There’s no better way to capitalize on the latter than to add netcode, strong single-player modes, and some of the best audiovisual quality you could ask for in a fighting game. SNK music is among the most enjoyable to listen to in gaming.

The upcoming Neo Geo console will likely not be released to compete with the likes of the Nintendo Switch, PS5, and Xbox Series X as some might suggest. Rather, by following suit with their past iterations, the upcoming Neo Geo will likely give SNK their own platform to publish their own games on. For fighting game enthusiasts and SNK supporters, this likely also means re-releases of past arcade games once more. But it will also likely house one of the releases of the upcoming KOF XV.

With that being said, here’s hoping that SNK can truly make an impact on the world within the next few years. SNK enthusiasts know their games aren’t the most popular or well-known in the U.S. But if Samurai Shodown means anything, it’s that they still know how to make quality titles that resonate well with their fans. We badly want SNK and KOF to become more popular and we hope that KOF XV will become the best game SNK has ever made!

5 Best Switch Games to Play with Friends During the Holidays.

With the holidays here in full bloom, now’s as good a time as any to look at the best choices to play games with your friends. While you’re quarantining at home and want to play online, or offline, you’ll find a number of choices you can enjoy. If you have family to play with at home or you’re hanging out with friends for a day, you’ll find a few games here, older and newer alike, which will certainly add to the mood!

Unfortunately, the release of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury just can’t come soon enough. Until Nintendo releases this magnificent 3D platformer on the Switch, check out these 5 games that you’ll definitely want to spend time playing your friends with during the holidays.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2

This 8-bit retro Castlevania throwback offers 2-player co-op with 4 playable characters in the initial playthrough and even more when unlocked. Players can change to any character as well as play as a clone of the main character, Zangetsu.

The co-op gameplay in Bloodstained plays well despite the otherwise classic stiff 8-bit controls. Also, the levels pace themselves well, and you’ll certainly get a strong challenge out of it if that’s what you’re seeking. You can also set it to Casual if you’re just having fun with the game.

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

What makes Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity special is that it’s the prequel to the beloved 2017 title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. More than that, however, this Musou title features fast-paced hack-and-slash action with an epic metal soundtrack.

It’s quick and easy to pick up and play. Pick your favorite Zelda characters, join up with a friend, and get ready to clear missions as you take out hundreds of enemies at a time.

Streets of Rage 4

The long-awaited return of this beat ’em up franchise appears on Nintendo Switch with online and offline co-op play. Offline play can support up to 4 players while online can support 2. Streets of Rage 2 is often heralded as the best beat ’em up in existence and Streets of Rage 4 carries that legacy to a T.

With its gorgeous new hand-drawn artwork, the catchy soundtrack and hard-hitting action evolve with a new combo system. Nothing feels quite as bonding as helping your friend dish out damage to enemies in a combo strung from what you might see in a fighting game. Streets of Rage 4 is one of the most ideal titles to add to your library if you love a fresh take on a 2D classic in one of the best co-op games of the past decade.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart remains an irreplaceable part of multiplayer gaming and fun. 6 years after the original MK8 released on Wii U, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe still maintains itself as the best-selling Switch title. Featuring over 40 tracks, Battle Mode, and a ton of racers and customization options, the fun never ends.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ultimate racing experience. It’s a thoroughly polished title without a single bad track in the game. Every single track feels incredibly fun with gorgeous visuals and some of the most catchy music heard in a Nintendo title. Whether you want to race or battle, you can play against friends or even join up in Team Battle online or offline, handheld or on TV screen. This should not be missed by anyone.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Smash Bros. is as flexible as Mario Kart when it comes to the number of ways you can play the game. You can join up with a friend in Classic Mode co-op and take out CPU enemies together. You can also join up with a friend online, or offline, for some doubles action (2v2). You can even play offline with a group of friends and enjoy some Squad-Strike as teams or using multiple characters. Plus you can also try Home-Run Contest when you want a slight change of pace.

Whether you’re teaming up or competing against your friends, items on or off, the fun never ends with Smash Bros. It’s hard to keep track of the time and makes for the ultimate party experience.

Sephiroth Invades Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

The One-Winged Angel

This past week, The Game Awards hosted the latest character reveal trailer for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The opening trailer showed World of Light villain, the angelic Galeem, about to vaporize the cast. In an instant, a flash of light streaks across the creature, slicing it in two with a single swipe.

As soon as his figure appears where Galeem once appeared, “One-Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII plays. The familiar boss theme from Final Fantasy VII kicks in as the camera pans to the powerful swordsman who confronts the Smash cast and declares war on its fighters, especially one Cloud Strife.

Who is Sephiroth?

Sephiroth is the main villain of Final Fantasy VII. Formerly once considered the strongest SOLDIER alive, he became corrupt and chose instead to expunge the world. This powerful fighter was infused with the cells of the alien being, Jenova, giving him his incredible strength. However, upon learning the truth of Jenova in the library of Nibelheim, he went mad and sought a new path. Rather than fight as a hero, he chose to fulfill his role as Jenova’s heir and absorb the Planet’s Mako to attain godhood.

Sephiroth is intertwined with Cloud as an adversary. Sephiroth burned down Nibelheim, Cloud’s hometown, and in doing so, killed his mother and wounded his best friend, Tifa Lockheart. Cloud suffered an accident prior to Final Fantasy VII leaving his mind in a hazy state and, thus, prone to seizures. Oftentimes these came from Sephiroth tormenting him from within.

Even after Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth continues to torment Cloud. Most notably includes his appearance in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the movie sequel to the game, where he appears once again to battle his rival. Sephiroth has also squared off against Cloud’s friend and SOLDIER predecessor, Zack Fair, in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.

Why is Sephiroth so important?

Final Fantasy VII left a supernova impact on the gaming scene. It was a revolutionary 3D Japanese RPG, for PlayStation, which released in 1997. The title featured exceptional CGI visuals and over 40 hours of gameplay across 3 discs. It was considered a masterpiece of its time and offered players a fantastic soundtrack, a memorable cast, and a story that would follow them for decades.

Sephiroth, being the main villain, quickly gained popularity for his strength and handsome looks. His exceptional sword prowess made him an extremely dangerous foe. This became apparent in titles, such as Kingdom Hearts, where he appears as a superboss who can end Sora in a single hit. In addition to Kingdom Hearts, Sephiroth has also appeared in the fighting game spin-off, Dissidia: Final Fantasy.

Not only can Sephiroth wield his amazingly long Masamune katana with exceptional ease but he is also a capable practitioner of powerful black magic. Heartless Angel can instantly kill a character or reduce their HP to 1. He can also use attacks like Shadow Flare to deal heavy damage. His ultimate move, Supernova, deals heavy damage and can kill the opponent.

Sephiroth’s impact echoes Cloud’s impact in Super Smash Bros. 4 when his trailer was revealed five years ago. Both are iconic Final Fantasy characters and, through the course of over two decades and various series, Cloud and Sephiroth are destined to clash once again. This also adds to the relatively small pool of villains in the game as well.

Analyzing the Trailer

Galeem was the powerful angelic being who started World of Light by vaporizing everyone in the Smash Bros. universe with the exception of Kirby. This powerful foe was later fought twice in the World of Light storyline. Thought to be some kind of powerful angel, Sephiroth could simply one-shot the being and end its life in an instant. This speaks echoes for the kind of power Sephiroth wields which runs in line with his power in the story.

You could sum up his entrance like this.

The trailer makes allusions to several scenes in Final Fantasy VII. Cloud confronts him as Sephiroth says he shall “give Smash despair” while conjuring storm clouds. This is the first of several references to Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

After his splash screen appears, Sephiroth is shown in flames and in the Ganon boss stage. This is a reference to the iconic scene where he burns down Nibelheim.

The trailer introduces a new stage, The Planet’s Core, the final dungeon in Final Fantasy VII. This is where Jenova is fought one last time before the final battle with Sephiroth. This was also the Final Fantasy VII stage in Dissidia.

Sephiroth is scene entering a dark portal as well as attempting to downward-stab Zelda. This is in reference to a particular scene at the end of FF7’s Disc 1. However, this is not the first time series creator, Masahiro Sakurai has had fun referencing this little scene.

One of the Challenge screenshots unlocked in the game.

Sephiroth appears on Termina Great Bay watching the Moon fall. This references Meteor which he summons to destroy the Planet. It also shows renders of him overpowering much of the Smash roster to include the powerful Umbra Witch, Bayonetta, who’s thought to be the strongest Smash character. The trailer comes near its end when Sephiroth nearly impales a hapless Mario.

Afterward, Cloud and Sephiroth duel once more with Cloud gaining a new Final Smash: Omnislash Ver. 5. This is how he defeated Sephiroth in Advent Children and is also one of his techniques in Dissidia. Whether this means Cloud will get buffs or not is, of course, yet to be determined.

The trailer ends as Cloud and Sephiroth recite a quote from the end of their battle in Advent Children.

How Sephiroth will play in Smash Bros.

Sephiroth wields the Masamune which is an ultra-long katana. This alone will already give him more range than Shulk, the swordsman who wields the laser-blade Monado. At a first glance, it seems that Sephiroth should be a slower character with exceptional range. However, given Sephiroth’s history in Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, that will likely not be the case.

His range will accompany almost certainly off-the-charts speed and strength. He uses magic attacks such as the previously mentioned Heartless Angel and appears to use a Counter as well. Sephiroth also demonstrated a form change where he will grow a singular wing. How this will affect his moveset remains to be seen.

There’s no telling what else he’s capable of. The trailer already showed him using a wall-cling with his sword which will add to his recovery abilities. In Kingdom Hearts, Sephiroth was shown to be an exceptionally agile and powerful warrior. Plus, with his dense muscle, it’s entirely likely he will be a heavyweight character who can take a beating.

On that note, Sephiroth ends the trailer by transforming into Safer Sephiroth. In this form, he fought Cloud and his party in one last battle in Final Fantasy VII. Here, he unleashed his ultimate move, Supernova.

Final Thoughts

As a sword user myself, I’m all about Sephiroth entering Smash. I beat Final Fantasy VII back in the day and I’ve always been a fan of the game and Cloud. I’ve kept up with Advent Children and Crisis Core and whooped Sephiroth in the first two Kingdom Hearts games. I’m quite familiar with this fighter and I expect him to be a massive threat to the competitive meta.

I main Ike and I’ve used Cloud a bit myself in Smash. While I don’t see myself maining Sephiroth, I’m eager to try him once he comes out. Sephiroth had the best reveal trailer of any character I’ve seen so far and he looks absolutely lethal. Smash needs a villain and Sephiroth will deliver.

With that being said, Sephiroth will release later this month in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Sakurai will reveal an in-depth look at the character on December 17th. Stay tuned with us at AllCoolThings as we give you the latest on Sephiroth’s next showcase.

As always, make sure to hit up our social media links below to keep up with the latest for your gaming needs. Take care of yourselves this holiday season and enjoy this bonus video!

Retro Review: Ys I & II Chronicles – Outdated Upon Release.

Ys I & II Chronicles is an Action/RPG title developed by Falcom and published by XSeed for PSP, mobile devices, and PC. The latest remake of the titles Ys I & II from the late 1980s, this title brings the original gameplay style to newer consoles featuring an updated visual style, arranged soundtrack, and animated cutscenes.

The original Ys I & II titles were ported to various systems. Originally released on PC-88, the title’s first remake, and perhaps the most prominent, came out on the PC-Engine which was known as the Turbografx-16 in America. This version featured animated speaking cutscenes with full voice acting and an exceptional soundtrack with surprisingly quality instrumentals for a release in the early 90s.

Unfortunately, Ys I & II’s gameplay is woefully dated. Its gameplay style featured the “bump combat” system. That is to say, instead of having an attack button, you would bump into enemies to damage them from an angle. If you were higher level, you wouldn’t take much damage and would win the exchange. If you were low level, you had to frequently grind levels.

While you could save nearly anywhere, the amount of grinding needed to survive became ridiculous. Moreover, the title did not offer many guide points to avoid getting lost and also featured major pacing issues, especially in the final dungeons of each respective title.

For the record, I beat the PSP version on my Vita. If you have hand cramps or carpal tunnel syndrome, then I strongly suggest playing on Steam or mobile.

Story

Ys I begins with the protagonist, Adol Christin, shipwrecked on an island. Ys fans will tell you this is par for the course and that’s 100% true. In this case, the island he’s on houses two goddesses, a black pearl, and a slew of demons that have invaded the island. The progression is tight, simple, and paces itself fairly quickly. After all, Ys I can be beaten within 10 hours with a lengthy chunk of time spent in the final dungeon.

However, Ys II covers a bit more about the goddesses and the villains which have invaded the world. It’s standard JRPG fantasy fare with a bit of tragedy woven in. Perhaps what’s most impressive about the story is the level of consistency that carries over throughout its sequels as well as Ys Origin.

Audiovisual

Make no mistake. This visual update looks gorgeous. The updated character art and the game designs and levels just look great for a game of its time. Ys has some undeniably strong character designs. I’ve always been fond of the artistic style of the Ys series. Taking character designs from the 80s and remastering them in the 2000s, the designs look gorgeous even today.

I’m in love with Reah, so what?

I can’t say enough good things about the epic music. Dungeon, town, and battle themes alike all hit strongly and are memorable tracks. I’m quite fond of “Holders of Power,” “Tower of the Shadow of Death,” and “Dreaming.” Ys excels as a musical adventure which may very well be the best part of the game.

Gameplay

Unfortunately, the gameplay is where Ys quickly slides down to rock bottom. As mentioned earlier, it features the “bump” combat system. However, this is perhaps the tip of the iceberg of problems featured within the game. I say this because this title was also released on DS as Legacy of Ys: Books I & II. The DS version even featured an attack button. But I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s better when you consider everything else holding the title back.

Legacy of Ys: Books I & II for Nintendo DS (2009)

For starters, if you’re playing on Normal, you will need to grind levels. This happens early on and lasts for the rest of the game. If you do not want to grind, pick Easy mode. It will balance out the challenge which is something I discovered when playing Ys II.

One of the saving graces of Ys II is the ability to use magic.

The bosses themselves are a pain partially because of “bump” combat but also because of the limited window you get to attack them. You will certainly take damage in every fight you’re in. If you’re under-leveled or lack strong armor, you may die almost instantly. One boss even features two floating heads and makes taking damage nigh-unavoidable.

They become endurance matches for your HP rather than a skillful battle of proper timing like, say, Link’s Awakening. I say this because it’s entirely possible to trivialize these very bosses with a bit of grinding making it an incredibly lopsided challenge.

Now, let’s also take a look at the two final dungeons of each game: Darm Tower and Solomon Shrine. In the former, you’re climbing up a lengthy tower, but you will need to go back down several floors, several times, to pick up items and progress.

In the latter, you will find yourself in a less interconnected dungeon, but one that will have you moving all over the place. Not only will you certainly get lost multiple times but you will have to exit the dungeon, multiple times, to finish your progression. These dungeons can take several hours to finish. But the level of warping to-and-from might drive you insane.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I cannot in good faith recommend Ys I & II Chronicles to any but the most patient and curious fans of Action/RPGs or nostalgic fans who played an older version of these games. Both games can be finished in an accumulated 20 hours. While the levels outside of the final dungeon pace themselves relatively well, the momentum halts once you need to grind some more.

If you’re playing on Easy mode, which I strongly recommend, you’ll have to grind less. Unfortunately, the final dungeons will still be lengthy, repetitive, and force you to backtrack for hours. It’s such a shame because I love the audio, visuals, and character designs in this game.

Despite its ambitious audiovisual style and attempt to update the oldest Ys titles, they only hold up well to the most dedicated, hardcore players with enough patience to last through both games. Those seeking a challenge will certainly find it, and then some, in Ys I & II. But aside from its audiovisual presentation and story, you’ll be better off picking another game in the series, such as Ys Origin or Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana.

Score: 4/10