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

How Nintendo Discontinuing the 3DS Will Impact the Future of Video Games.

Nintendo recently discontinued the 3DS. Earlier this week, the handheld, which debuted in 2011 and succeeded the Nintendo DS, was officially placed out of production. While the Nintendo 3DS garnered two re-releases – the 3DS XL and New 3DS XL – all variations of the system enjoyed nearly a decade of bringing some of the best games in history to players worldwide.

The discontinuation of the 3DS, however, will leave an impact on gaming as a whole. Simply put, this means that games that rely on dual-screens will be difficult to re-release in the future. While Nintendo did their math and surely came to the right conclusion to press forward without the 3DS, fans may wonder how Nintendo will ever bring them back onto the Switch and beyond.

Furthermore, in 2020, without a second system for Nintendo to support, during the COVID era, scant first-party releases may have negatively impacted the company’s reputation and certainly the Switch’s 2020 as a whole. While Nintendo is no stranger to year-long droughts with the Wii and Wii U, this is the first time they’ve supported only a single console since the early years of the NES. Overall, the end of the 3DS, for better or for worse, came with a number of consequences.

Retrospective: Best Games on the 3DS

Nintendo’s 3DS offered some fantastic games on the 3DS. For starters, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was the sequel to the beloved SNES title, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Fire Emblem: Awakening was the Fire Emblem series’ return to form and succeeded in putting the series on the map in the west.

3DS also featured some wonderful experiences to include from Masahiro Sakurai and his company, Sora. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS made its handheld debut. Ultimately, the title would be short-lived in favor of the console release on Wii U, which was better from a competitive standpoint. However, prior to Smash, Kid Icarus: Uprising revived the Kid Icarus series from a 25-year slumber and offered a fantastic touch-screen experience.

The 3DS offered visual novels and puzzle games, like Ace Attorney, Professor Layton, and Zero Escape, all of which have yet to appear on the Switch. Furthermore, Kirby Triple Deluxe, Kirby Planet Robobot, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, and Metroid: Samus Returned offered some of the best quality 2D experiences in handheld gaming.

Anyone who enjoys fun party games would get an easy pick-up-and-play experience from Rhythm Heaven Megamix and WarioWare Gold. Plus anyone who wanted JRPG action would find Pokemon, Bravely Second, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, and Dragon Quest VIII to be quite endearing titles. Finally, in the minds of many players, Animal Crossing: New Leaf remains synonymous with the handheld.

Re-releases

Games like Kid Icarus: Uprising rely entirely on the touch screen for movement. Many other games used the two screens for a touch-screen inventory setting or a map display. Depending on the game, this ranged from a convenience to a necessity.

Some games, such as Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, came to PS Vita which didn’t feature a second screen. The UI was placed similarly but anyone could access the menu from a separate in-game screen. Many games can be played like this and don’t require a second screen to be played. Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido was released for both 3DS and Switch. Unfortunately, the Switch version was vastly inferior to the former simply because the 3DS’ dual screens and touch-screen interface, with a stylus, made the game much easier to play.

Nintendo already has a history of locking up some of their popular titles away in their vault, such as F-Zero GX, which never see the light of day since their initial release. They don’t really need the excuse of having to rework controls for conventional screens or reworking a game’s UI to not re-release a game. Most likely, any game that needed reworking of any sort would be remastered onto the Nintendo Switch.

However, bold to assume, number one, that Nintendo has any interest in re-releasing their 3DS titles to begin with. Secondly, unlike single-screen ports, like Game Boy Advance titles, they can’t just be simply re-released. It’s because of the system they were built on that they need to be remastered or even rebuilt from the ground up. Let alone having to remaster each game, it’s entirely unlikely Nintendo has any interest in ever re-releasing these titles.

The “third pillar”

The 3DS was initially said to be supported alongside Nintendo Switch. However, any gaming forum-goer from the mid-2000s could tell you what Nintendo was planning to do from the beginning. The 3DS was meant to be a fall-back option in case the Switch somehow backfired.

Nintendo already used this strategy back in the days of the GameCube and Game Boy Advance. When the DS came out in 2004, Nintendo urged that the DS wasn’t the successor to the DS but rather a third pillar. This meant it would be a new branch of system that fans could enjoy.

However, the visual upgrades and new buttons all but indicated that Nintendo had planned to make the DS the Game Boy Advance’s successor. But with the picky nature of the gaming industry’s fanbase, Nintendo prepared the possible scenario that the DS would never catch on and could still rely on the Game Boy Advance’s single-screens. Sure enough, once the DS caught on, Nintendo prepared to discontinue the Game Boy Advance and move all development onto the DS.

Final Fantasy VI Advance (2007) was the last major Game Boy Advance release.

No second system.

As mentioned earlier, Nintendo has seen its rough years. They’ve maintained a horrible history of going through lengthy droughts on the Wii and Wii U. These two consoles were meant to bring in a broader audience. Ultimately, their inability to keep up with PlayStation and Xbox’s superior specs alienated third-party developers from bringing their best games onto the Wii and Wii U. On the flipside, they chose to develop for the Nintendo’s handhelds instead.

However, when Nintendo chose to release the Switch as a viable system, developers once again felt invited to develop hit titles for all systems including the Switch. Games like Mortal Kombat 11, Team Sonic Racing, Crash Team Racing, and Dragon Ball FighterZ found their way to the Nintendo Switch. As such, the console has proven viable for both home use and portable.

Unfortunately, COVID meant 2020 would be a dry year for Nintendo releases. While it seemed all but certain that E3 being canceled meant no Nintendo Direct, nobody was prepared for the dreadful lack of releases coming from the Nintendo. This year’s Nintendo Direct choices have revolved almost exclusively around third-party and indie developers. Even for DS/3DS fans who went to handheld for more games, this has left quite an impact.

Save for the Nintendo Direct Mini which introduced Paper Mario: The Origami King, Nintendo has next to nothing new to show for the upcoming year. Save for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, they’ve remained quiet on development of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, Metroid Prime 4, and anything else that could possibly be in development.

The upcoming Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity will be developed by Omega Force.

Where are the games?

Mario’s getting his time to shine thanks to the recently released Super Mario 3D All-Stars. The compilation title upscale three of Mario’s greatest hits into HD for Nintendo Switch. Nintendo is also releasing not only the much-wanted Super Mario 3D World Wii U title to the Switch but is also including a new campaign called Bowser’s Fury. This brings fantastic news to both the Wii U fans of 3D World as well as Mario fans who never played one of the greatest games in the series’ history.

However, it also goes to show that Nintendo has not had a string of successful first-party releases throughout the year. Outside of Animal Crossing and the Xenoblade remaster, this has been the driest year for Nintendo since the mid-2010s.

The reason this is important is because, while many players remember those droughts, the DS and 3DS offered something more to players. In addition to third-party developers supporting the handheld systems, Nintendo released plenty of games across the worst years, like Kirby, Zelda, Mario, Rhythm Heaven, and Pokémon. The handheld systems offered an alternative for high-quality games without the budget of a home console game. This meant faster production, more releases, and successful all-round years. Unfortunately, without a second system supporting Nintendo, this is the first time their fans have had to endure a quiet year from the company.

Final Thoughts

Nintendo made the right call by discontinuing the 3DS altogether. They’ve successfully upgraded from the 240p screens to a gorgeous HD experience that can be played at home or on the go. However, anyone who saw the DS succeed the Game Boy Advance already knew that Nintendo would plan to do the same with the Switch in due time. The 3DS offered nearly a decade of enjoyable games before running out its lifespan. Owners of the 3DS would be wise not to sell their systems in case they want to go back and enjoy these classics. Also, the 3DS XL fits much better in the palms than the Nintendo Switch ever will.

Switch Lite owners get a dedicated handheld experience. That is if they’re not playing JoyCon titles or Smash Bros. competitively.

Between the unique nature of the dual-screened handhelds and Nintendo’s unwillingness to re-release a number of their classic titles, for any reason possible, it’s unlikely we’ll see the likes of A Link Between Worlds again for a long time. People who emulate games on their computers will not only have no problem playing these games but get to enjoy the 4K upgrade as well.

Given the Nintendo Switch’s success, its current library, and its viability as a console-hybrid handheld, it was only a matter of time before it succeeded the 3DS. At the end of the day, the quality of a game isn’t determined by the number of screens you play it on. The DS and 3DS offered unique experiences with some fantastic games. But they weren’t going to be around forever and that’s completely understandable.

Rather, the bigger concern is once again addressing Nintendo’s stubbornness to ever re-release the titles. If re-releasing 3DS titles ever became a possibility, Nintendo would at least have to start by re-releasing their Game Boy Advance and DS games outside of the Wii U eShop. Whether they ever remaster their titles or not, it’s definitely worth holding onto your 3DS. If you never owned one but are interested in trying these classic games, and you’re not emulating, it might be best to grab a New Nintendo 3DS XL now before they start going for absurd prices on the internet.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 Review – More of the Same, But Better.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 is a side-scrolling platformer released for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The sequel to 2018’s Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, this Castlevania-throwback experience features new characters, stages, and even 2-player co-op. Having recently beaten the game’s Final Chapter, I’ll briefly discuss the best and not-so-best parts of ArtPlay and IntiCreates’ latest title.

For anyone wondering, Koji Igarashi‘s studio, ArtPlay, developed the spiritual successor to Castlevania, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Inti Creates, known for Mega Man Zero and Gunvolt, developed the 8-bit Curse of the Moon titles. While they feature similar characters and settings, Curse of the Moon’s storyline spins off from Ritual of the Night’s. Thus, the two are not interetwined.

While I find CotM 2 to be quite an improvement over the first game, I think it still clings to some of the previous title’s fundamental flaws. For one, I don’t really need an excuse to replay a game just for a few different gimmicks. If I want to replay the game, i would rather do it on my own terms instead of being cheesed into unlocking the true ending. That aside, however, its presentation offers a stellar job with boss battles, levels, and gameplay.

Story

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 follows the plot of the first title. However, Zangetsu is now accompanied by new companions. These include Dominique, the exorcist from Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a sniper named Robert, and a mech-piloting corgi named Hachi.

The story’s straightforward narrative involves going to a castle and slaying the demons to save the world. However, it takes some interesting twists within the game’s replay formula. Each one follows an ending, a new chapter, and an opening. Each of these chapters also affects the lineup of your party.

While little changes regarding the level designs, the final boss will be altered in both Chapter 2 and the Final Chapter. There are four different chapters and the final one features the true ending. Additionally, some of the dialogue among party members ends up rather humorous. Between that and the cutscenes that play between chapters, it becomes a bit more worth replaying the chapters with a slight change of pace.

Audiovisual

Much like its predecessor, Bloodstained follows the classic NES Castlevania aesthetic. The 8-bit title features an array of gorgeous colors and boss animations. Similar to Shovel Knight, the game presents various levels, bosses, and design choices far surpassing the NES’ own capabilities.

The chiptune music provides a selection of fast-paced music fitting for a Castlevania-esque title. I found the tunes to be catchy and at times quite engaging, such as The Demon’s Crown. I was also quite fond of the boss theme.

Gameplay

The 2D action gameplay features platforming, the ability to switch between multiple characters, and exploring non-linear stages. This means you can choose different paths to clear the stage depending on the characters you have available. Additionally, each character has their own playstyle.

Unfortunately, I was not at all fond of using Robert. While he served to be a sniper with long-range capabilities, he had no way of protecting himself up close. He felt woefully out of place in this game since his mechanics made clearing stages or bosses extremely difficult if not impossible.

Another slight issue I had was with Zangetsu. He gains a more powerful sword later in the game which gives him vertical slashe and multi-strikes. After Chapter 2, however, if the player didn’t hunt down the secret sword, they would lose it to the basic Zanmatou in the EX Episode. I feel downgrading abilities from a player is a big no-no.

Bloodstained also once again goes the route of “beat game and replay” ad nauseam. They try to write a different chapter of the tale but you’re really just repeating the game again with a slightly different roster in the 2nd chapter or the CotM 1 cast in the EX Chapter. By the final chapter, you have everyone, albeit briefly, to collect parts to reach the final level. But you’re just doing the same stages over again.

The developers would benefit greatly from creating more new stages to go with each stage rather than force the player to do the same game four times to get the final ending. Sonic Heroes is one example of a game that makes the player replay the exact same game, with slight differences, just to get the best ending.

Final Thoughts

I will admit that I greatly enjoyed the co-op in this title. The 2-player co-op allows players to jump in and exit anytime. While it’s limited to offline play, it still offers players to work together to defeat bosses or even access hidden areas.

Another good part was the difficulty level. The Veteran difficulty was tough as nails. Casual Mode offers its own challenge as the stage layout and enemies don’t change. After Episode 2, I switched to Casual Mode because I didn’t feel any need to play the same game again. I just wanted to finish the story. Furthermore, the bosses just become HP sponges on later chapters and it’s no longer enjoyable to fight them and mimic the same pattern each time.

Bloodstained does a great job of presenting a classic 2D platforming experience. However, it still relies heavily on gimmicks like forced replay or unbalanced characters in a side-scroller. Even compared to Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, it was at least possible to solo the game with Trevor, Sypha, Grant, or Alucard.

Despite these mild shortcomings, Circle of the Moon 2 is well-worth the purchase. Even if it’s just one playthrough, you’ll surely find an enjoyable challenge and experience through the title. If you’re missing classic 2D Castlevania action or just enjoyed the first Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon title, it’s recommended giving it a try. I found the level designs to be vastly improved and more varied than the first Curse of the Moon title.

Whether you decide to continue with the replay chapters or not is up to you. However, I recommend at least playing through it once to all classic gaming fans who seek a real challenge.

Verdict: 8/10

WB Games Features Gotham Knights at DC Fandome.

Earlier this month, Warner Bros. hosted the DC Fandome. Featuring a multitude of multimedia DC previews for games, movies, comics, and TV series, this weekend event functioned as a virtual-con. In this article, we’re going to cover WB Games Montreal’s latest title, Gotham Knights.

Believe it or not, what seems like a continuation of Rocksteady Games‘ Batman Arkham series is, in fact, not connected at all. The trailer shows the events following Batman’s death as well as Commissioner Gordon’s. Despite the similarities to the Batman Arkham titles, this will not be de eloped by Rocksteady Games. Rather, they are handling another DC title, namely Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.

What to Expect

Much like its sister title, Gotham Knights will feature four titular characters battling it out in the streets of Gotham City. The game stars Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood, and Robin. The game will feature an open world from the get-go without locking players behind levels.

Moreover, this also means co-op play is available. According to the above video, players can also play the same character as their partner. Character slots will not be taken up for those who enjoy the same hero.

Despite not being developed by Rocksteady Games, Gotham Knights certainly feels like a successor to the Batman Arkham titles. The dynamic camera angles, the beat ’em up action, and the dialogue echoes the last decade’s familiar action with the Dark Knight. Note that the developer, WB Games Montreal, previously developed Batman: Arkham Origins, a prequel to the Arkham series.

Multiplayer

It’s worth pointing out that Gotham Knights will, in fact, feature 2-player online co-op. The title will not feature split-screen couch co-op nor will it feature 4-player co-op. However, this brings hope to the beat ’em up fans of the world. With a genre long-thought dead, Gotham Knights returns that faith once more.

Whereas the past Batman titles featured single-player only, this opens up the possibilities for team combos and other co-op moves. For fans of the beat ’em up genre, the online co-op addition will be a huge boon for the title. With the variety of character battling styles, this will open up varieties of playstyles for each player as well.

Furthermore, the title will feature RPG elements such as building EXP. You’ll also gain special skills to unlock throughout the game. We will keep you updated with more as we find out. For now, be sure to check this list put together on the trailer breakdown for Gotham Knights.

Final Thoughts

It feels wonderful getting not one, but two Batman-related titles in the DC Universe coming soon. The Batman Arkham titles are some of the best games ever released. And especially with both the recent release of Marvel’s Spider-Man and the upcoming sequel, featuring Miles Morales, it’s a great time to be a fan of superhero games.

Gotham Knights will arrive on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC in 2021. Keep up with AllCoolThings as we deliver to you the latest news on the title.

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Why Skies of Arcadia Deserves to Be Remastered on Modern Consoles.

Sega‘s heralded JRPG, Skies of Arcadia, originally released for the Dreamcast in 2000. When the Sega Dreamcast ended its early run in the console market, Sega opted to port some of its hit Dreamcast titles to consoles of the era. Among them included the JRPG, rebranded now as Skies of Arcadia: Legends, for the Nintendo GameCube.

Skies of Arcadia starts the Sky Pirate, Vyse, and his childhood friend, Fina. They’re Sky Pirates initially taking jobs before fighting against the Valuan Empire. Along the way, they meet Fina, a girl from the Silver Civilization, and more companions along the way. During their resistance against the empire, they’ll build a crew for their airship, fight through dungeons, and even battle airships.

While Skies of Arcadia was loved for its character design, soundtrack, and setting, hindsight is only 20/20. Despite its wondrous and popular aesthetic, Skies of Arcadia suffered from some more common JRPG flaws, These will appear later in the article.

While Skies of Arcadia has only made cameo appearances in Sega titles since the GameCube release, players want to revisit this world again. Ideally, perhaps Sega could not just re-release the title for modern consoles but remaster it with modern quality-of-life improvements.

Rogue’s Landing stage from Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. (2012)

What Made Skies of Arcadia Special

People embraced Skies of Arcadia for its character design, music, and unique setting. Unlike any other game past, you were a Sky Pirate who sailed across the sky. The world was divided by islands and you used an airship to explore.

Its battle system entailed the use of SP. In addition to MP for magic spells, SP offered another layer of depth. These powerful strikes offered impressive cinematics while your character unleashed a devastating blow on the enemy.

The locales, the characters, and even having a pirate crew charmed its players. Perhaps also due to its limited releases, its novelty value remains high among its fans.

What a Proper Remaster Could Entail

Despite its best intentions, Skies of Arcadia suffered from its own series of flaws. Even though Legends attempted to lower the encounter rate, in comparison to other JRPGs, it was still considerably high. It was also no secret that the player would get lost at times without consulting a guide.

Skies of Arcadia’s ship battles moved like molasses. Thanks to the over-emphasis on cutscenes, the animations, and long HP bars could make fights take up to 45 minutes long. This was followed by a boss battle which, if you lost, you would have to do all over again.

The title does not need to focus on improving aesthetics outside of your usual HD Remaster such as Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. Rather, some quality of life improvements would breathe new life into the game.

ACT FFX HD Remaster Comparison
Final Fantasy X (2001, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster (2013, 2015)

Final Thoughts

I feel ambivalent towards Skies of Arcadia. On one hand, I love its characters, especially Gilder, Fina, and Vyse. On the other hand, it was a slog to play through. I hated that I lost near the final boss fight because I was under-leveled and forced to grind.

Despite this, I know it has the potential to be an even better game. I would love to see it return, better than before, by Sega’s grace. Whether through an HD Remaster, remake, or even a sequel, here’s hoping Sega will revisit the Blue Rogues once more.

Did you play Skies of Arcadia or Legends? Let us know in the replies below. As always, be sure to follow our social media pages below to bring the latest gaming content with you!

 

 

Hello, readers!  I just to say that SEGA Forever was buzzing a little bit about Skies or Arcadia.  While this isn’t a guaranty, we thought it might show promise.

‘Sorry to people that thought that my promotion of the article made this click bait.  It wasn’t my intention or John Rinyu’s fault.

‘Sorry for any confusion and/or frustration.

-HERETICPRIME

Why Hasn’t Ninja Gaiden Resurfaced in Years?

KoeiTecmo and Team Ninja‘s legendary action series, Ninja Gaiden, debuted on the Arcades and the NES in 1988. While the former was an arcade beat ’em up, the latter featured a trilogy of Castlevania-inspired platformers. As a result, Ninja Gaiden saw success with its NES trilogy.

Ninja Gaiden (1988) was among the first video games to feature cutscenes.

However, after the initial release of the series, as well as the SNES remake, Ninja Gaiden fell off the map. Despite Team Ninja’s decision to put Ryu Hayabusa into their hit Dead or Alive fighting game series, Ninja Gaiden would remain buried for more than a decade. However, two years after the release of Capcom’s popular 3D action title, Devil May Cry, Team Ninja decided to bring Ryu Hayabusa back from the dead.

Ninja Gaiden Rebooted

Featuring similar action, yet fine-tuned with incredible speed and bloodier animation, Ninja Gaiden came out on Xbox in 2004. Known for its ruthless difficulty, the title was followed shortly after by two successful re-releases: Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden Sigma, the latter which was an HD-upscaled release for PlayStation 3.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus (2012)

Ninja Gaiden would become a hit 3D Action series throughout the 2000s. Team Ninja would follow up with 2008’s Ninja Gaiden II for Xbox 360. Unfortunately, internal issues would force series Producer, Tomonobu Itagaki, out from Team Ninja. His colleague, Yosuke Hayashi, was in charge of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 and the sequel, Ninja Gaiden III.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (2009)

Unfortunately, Ninja Gaiden III would release to poor reviews. While Team Ninja released Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword for Nintendo DS, they also opted to release Ninja Gaiden III: Razor’s Edge for the Wii U. Despite the momentum the series carried with its first two games, even the re-release, Ninja Gaiden III: Razor’s Edge, would scarcely fair any better.

Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (2008)

The Future of Ninja Gaiden

Since 2013, Ninja Gaiden has not seen a new game released on any platform. Team Ninja has since focused heavily on the Dead or Alive series. One theory might suggest that Ninja Gaiden III’s poor reception has kept Team Ninja from wanting to risk releasing another title.

Another theory might come from Team Ninja exerting their efforts into their latest hit series, Nioh. Derived from Japanese mythology and history, Nioh took the elements of Dark Souls while adding its own hardcore take. Furthermore, it features its own set of references and Easter Eggs.

Now that Nioh 2 has been released, Team Ninja may have freed up their schedule. While Nioh 2’s DLC will still come out over the next year, players want to know if they will return to Ninja Gaiden. With a new console generation coming, players want to return to playing as the world’s most badass ninja.

Keep in mind that the time span between Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom (NES) and Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) spanned 13 years. While only seven years have passed since the release of Razor’s Edge, one can only hope that Team Ninja has not forgotten about their stellar action series that helped put them on the map.

Which Ninja Gaiden title was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow our social media channels below for the latest gaming content to take with you!

Rocksteady Games Showcases New Game – Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.

Warner Bros. Entertainment recently featured their DC Fandome. The virtual-con event showcased a plethora of DC Comics properties with new releases. From comics to movies to video games, there was a place for everyone who watched.

One game of note was Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Developed by Batman Arkham series developers, Rocksteady Studios, this title will take place in the Arkham-verse while featuring the titular Suicide Squad. DC villains who’ve banded together will take the fight to the Justice League. As you play as Harley Quinn and her associates, you’ll be coming against the DC Universe superheroes.

What to Expect

The Suicide Squad comes face to face with Superman at the end of the trailer. However, this version of Superman kills a man as his eyes glow red. This is not the first time a DC game toyed with the idea of an “evil” Superman. One prime and recent example includes Netherrealm StudiosInjustice series. While the Justice League is under the control of Brainiac, Amanda Waller summons the Suicide Squad to deal with the League.

This new Suicide Squad game will be a series first. While members of the Squad have appeared in the Injustice series and the Batman Arkham titles, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League will band them together for the first time. Longtime Harley Quinn voice actress, Tara Strong, will reprise her role.

Along with four characters, Suicide Squad will feature 4-player co-op. While you can opt to play solo, this feels similar to how Marvel Ultimate Alliance will allow you to play as superbeings with others. We’ll keep you posted on how this gameplay will work as details become more apparent.

Skip ahead to 9:49 if you want to get to the interview with the director of Suicide Squad, and past Batman Arkham titles, Sefton Hill.

Final Thoughts

When I first saw the subtitle, it sounded too silly to be real. On the flip side, even Marvel did this before with their own comic arc. I’m specifically referring to a storyline featuring Deadpool.

Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe (2012)

What makes this more interesting to consider is that the Suicide Squad aren’t people with such powers as to take on a godlike Kryptonian. They’re assassins and human beings.

With that being said, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League will launch in 2022 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and PC. Be sure to keep up with AllCoolThings for the latest info on WB Games and Rocksteady Studios’ upcoming title.

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What Were the 6 Best Metroid Games?

When the Metroid series debuted in 1986, on the NES, space warrior Samus Aran took the galaxy by storm. The Metroid series has underwent evolutions several times. Moreover, it’s gone through near decade-long hiatuses several times since its inception.

Therefore, as a long-time Metroid fan, I want to address the best Metroid games in the series. While Nintendo’s intergalactic series remains highly prolific, the gap between the chaff and the wheat might greatly surprise you.

Super Metroid

It comes as no surprise that Super Metroid remains the series’ standard. Longtime fans swear by Super Metroid as the epitome of the series. Evolving from its 8-bit predecessors, this title introduced the mapping system, beam-stacking, and some colossal boss fights.

Super Metroid not only redefined the Metroid series but also gaming as a whole. At the time of its 1994 release, this 24-megabit title was Nintendo’s largest game to date. It also began the modern-day Metroidvania formula thanks to its use of a mini-map. While Metroid on NES introduced gaining abilities to open up new paths, Super Metroid perfected that formula.

The title was known for its massive boss fights, beautiful animation, and diversity in level designs. From the caverns of Planet Zebes to the underwater terrain of Maridia, Super Metroid created incredible and varied worlds. Even though it could be beaten in 8 hours or less, Super Metroid offered replay value for speedrunners, item hunters, and those who simply wanted to pick up and play it again. Best of all, it was polished in a way that still holds the series’ standard. As a result, Super Metroid remains one of the best games on the SNES.

You can play Super Metroid on the Nintendo Switch Online SNES library as well as the 3DS eShop.

Metroid Prime

After Super Metroid, the series spent eight years in hiatus before returning to the Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance. Metroid Prime not only debuted the series in 3D but in first-person as well. Dubbed a “First-Person Adventure” by Nintendo, this title offered more elements than your standard FPS title. Exploration, platforming, and puzzle-solving made up the game’s core concepts.

Metroid Prime continued much of the same action Super Metroid introduced players to. The familiar beams from past titles offered new abilities. Wave Beam was electric and Plasma Beam was fire. These were key in not only solving puzzles but utilizing strategies against enemy weaknesses as well. Furthermore, Missile upgrades allowed these weapons to utilize more powerful abilities such as the Wavebuster and the Flamethrower.

Additionally, Metroid Prime featured more fearsome, gigantic bosses and massive locales. While the artifact hunt near the end might have added some unnecessary padding to the game, Metroid Prime was indeed the longest game in the series at the time. With that being said, Metroid Prime became one of GameCube’s finest hallmarks and a defining title of the 2000s.

Metroid Fusion

The sequel to Super Metroid released on Game Boy Advance at the same time as Metroid Prime. While Prime served as a midquel within the series, Fusion (dubbed “Metroid 4” in the opening) saw Samus taking on the Biologic Space Labs (BSL) to hunt down the X-Parasites.

Metroid Fusion brought much of Super Metroid’s wonderful gameplay and animations to the handheld system. Samus would also gain new weaponry such as the Ice Missiles and Diffusion Missiles.

But what made Metroid Fusion stand out more than anything was its sense of terror. The atmosphere in Fusion indicated you were being stalked by a powerful clone known as the SA-X. This killing machine could end Samus’ life with only a few hits. Along with the music and the bosses that destroyed entire sections, Fusion had the player gripping their handhelds in suspense throughout the game.

Metroid: Zero Mission

Developed as the remake to the original NES Metroid, Zero Mission offered a new story with the upgrades seen in more recent titles. Not only did it feature the gameplay similar to Super and Fusion, such as maps, but it played incredibly fast.

Zero Mission not only served as a wonderful reimagining of the original Metroid, however. It also added a new chapter after the battle with Mother Brain. This new part featured a stealth mission that would also show the origin in Samus’ story.

Moreover, Zero Mission did incredible justice to the boss battles, powerups, and locales of the original Metroid. It was a massive improvement in every way to the original title. As with Fusion, Zero Mission was a stellar game for the GBA.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

The Metroid series’ debut on Wii featured a new control scheme. Developed around using the Wiimote + Nunchuck, players could aim with the controller for accurate precision aiming. Corruption also introduced a new suit power which would briefly power up Samus.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption included voice acting for the first time in the series. This served as a vehicle for one of the most plot-driven entries in the series. Samus met new hunters that were part of her mission and would even interact with them.

Much like the games before it, Corruption featured impressive boss battles, abilities, and gorgeous locales. Unlike Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, however, the player wasn’t forced to get lost and look around for nothing for over an hour. It also did not include a massive fetch quest divided between two worlds. Corruption flowed wonderfully by taking the best parts of its predecessors.

Metroid: Samus Returns

Much like Zero Mission, Samus Returns serves as a reimagining of a previous game. This remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus (Game Boy) was done by Mercury Steam. However, the developers also collaborated with series creator Yoshio Sakamoto as well as one of the composers of Super Metroid.

Samus Returns was fittingly named as it ended the second major hiatus of the Metroid series. Featuring larger areas and Aeion abilities, Samus Returns continued to build upon the formula. While reintroducing Metroid evolutions, these served as boss battles with various patterns to challenge the player.

While Samus Returns wasn’t the prettiest game, one could suggest the visuals weren’t as gorgeous due to the limitations of the 3DS hardware. However, Samus Returns played incredibly well and featured the fast-paced gameplay Metroid fans enjoyed. Moreover, the final boss was an incredible surprise for players including those who had played Metroid II for Game Boy.

Final Thoughts

Three years after the release of Samus Returns, I’m eagerly awaiting Nintendo to announce a new Metroid game. Even if we get a 2D title before Metroid Prime 4 – more likely than not at this point – I’m always ready for more. I feel that the series had its ups and downs. While the lower points of the series weren’t exactly stellar, the best games were among some of the greatest of all time.

What’s your favorite Metroid game? Do you have a favorite boss fight? Let us know in the comments below.

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