The Game Corner: February 2021. Featuring Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury.

Since I recently finished Sega’s Yakuza spin-off, Judgment, I immediately found myself going in to finish the next game I was closest to beating: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD for Wii U. While I was around 20 hours in some weeks ago, I can happily say that I’ve finished the game!

In the midst, I’ve also been playing my fair share of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Nintendo’s latest hit for the Switch brought forth quite possibly the best Mario game in existence as well as an expansion to the title. Though Super Mario 3D World, originally released for Wii U, was good enough to release standalone, the Bowser’s Fury expansion definitely sweetened the deal.

As always, I’m still playing Smash, Fire Emblem Heroes, and even finally picked back up my copy of Final Fantasy XV after three months of neglect. With that said, what are you playing this month?

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

Finishing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD gave me clarity on an old favorite. Though I beat the original Wii release in 2006, I revisited the game on GameCube several years later. While I found the latter marginally better due to the controls, both releases of Twilight Princess featured a few glaring issues. Perhaps the biggest was that enemies barely damaged Link which trivialized combat throughout the game.

The HD remaster not only condenses these fetch quests immensely but gives you the option to bolster the enemy difficulty. Using the Ganondorf amiibo will double enemy damage. Playing on Hero Mode will not only boost enemy damage but also keep Hearts from spawning in the field. You could even quadruple the enemy damage by stacking the two if you like.

In one fell swoop, Nintendo not only managed to restore a classic in HD but fixed the most glaring problems the original title suffered from. Plus they even added the Cave of Shadows which is a new enemy gauntlet that you can tackle in Wolf form. You can view a list of changes here.

You earn this statue for clearing the Cave of Shadows.

This remaster makes Twilight Princess HD the definitive version of the game and one that will hopefully come to Nintendo Switch later this year.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

I might have said this before, but Super Mario 3D World is my favorite Mario platformer. Not counting the RPGs like Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario, it’s my favorite Mario game thanks to its incredible level of polished design. I honestly believe it’s on the same tier as Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel, all of which were designed by the same team.

You can play around with filters.

Nintendo not only ported 3D World to the Switch but even added a few quality-of-life improvements. Perhaps the most stunning is that you now move at 1.5x speed which streamlines the levels even more than before. Plus you can now play online with friends!

But let’s talk for a moment about the expansion, Bowser’s Fury. This new mode marries Super Mario Odyssey’s open-world gameplay with Super Mario 3D World’s controls and powerups. This new quest introduces an awesome, powerful version of the titular villain known as Fury Bowser.

With 100 Shines to collect, Bowser’s Fury offers between 5-10 hours of gameplay in this fun little campaign on Lapcat Island. It also includes offline co-op allowing a friend to play as Bowser Jr. to aide you. Whether you enjoy the Super Mario Sunshine references, the new music, or Odyssey’s gameplay, you’ll have plenty of reasons to try this lovable new expansion mode!

Final Fantasy XV

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve owned this game. I bought it in 2017 and have still only just cleared the first few chapters. Even worse is when I shelved it in November 2020 and only just started playing it again. Thankfully, re-learning combat wasn’t the rude awakening I was afraid it might be.

Sadly, the Naga was nowhere near as attractive as I was hoping for.

Right now, I’m about to storm an Imperial base to get the Regalia back. I finished the Ramuh trials and I’m looking forward to finishing this chapter as well. I’m honestly hoping to finish Final Fantasy XV before XVI comes out.

Super Mario Galaxy

Welcome to my guilty pleasure. I have already cleared 120 Stars on all three games of Super Mario 3D All-Stars. So why am I playing Luigi mode in Super Mario Galaxy? Either because I hate myself or because I love the game that much.

As I mentioned earlier, Super Mario Galaxy is one of my favorite games of all time. At the time of its 2007 release, one could argue that it was the greatest game Nintendo has ever released. Its Metacritic score speaks volumes about not just its quality but how well it has lasted throughout 14 years. 3D All-Stars remastered the title in glorious HD and it still looks and plays like a charm.

Wii version.

However, while I already enjoyed my run-through as Mario, Luigi mode is literally just the same game over again except you jump higher and skid on surfaces; a tribute to Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels. In the end, you get 120 Stars and unlock the opening level once more to collect one more star each: once as Mario, once as Luigi, for a total of 242 stars. No Grandmaster Galaxy or any such reward exists for doing so, either.

I literally did this years ago. Not once, but twice.

Fire Emblem Heroes

I subscribed to Feh Pass. I’ve continuously apologized to myself for the past week for doing this. After a year of resisting, I finally caved. With the amount of time I spend on this game, despite being F2P, I figured I might as well treat myself to some of the quality improvements. I already love continuously auto-battling through Tempest Trials+ without having to check my phone every minute as well.

Brave Ike made me do it.

Onto other modes, though, as usual, I know nothing of what I’m doing. I still teeter on Aether Raids Tier 19-20 and Arena Rank 17-19. I seldom play a number of modes, like Hall of Forms and Pawns of Loki. I figure since I’m finally subscribing to Feh Pass for $10 a month, I may as well try to get a little better at the game, right?

My current main team for general purpose and Abyssal maps.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

My on-and-off relationship with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 began since getting it in 2017 when it first came out. Unfortunately, I’ve just left this one largely on the backburner. It’s not a bad game and I even beat and enjoyed the first Xenoblade on the Wii. But when it comes to prioritizing my backlog, this one has scarcely been on my radar.

If you think I can’t juggle Xenoblade and Final Fantasy XV, you’re sorely underestimating me.

Thankfully, I decided to pick it up and play it for real. After a quick romp of re-learning some of the mechanics, I think I got a handle on everything for the most part. Blades, Cores, and all that complicated mess you don’t get in your standard JRPG really add to the learning curve. After 20+ hours I finally finished Chapter 3 and you know what that means!

I literally could not have picked a better time to get her.

I’ll be starting Chapter 4 soon. I enjoy watching the plot pick up from here. Hopefully, I can get Zeke soon and add him to my party. He’s my favorite character so far.

Zeke is represented by Cloud as a Spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

I’m still kicking around online. In addition to tormenting myself on Elite Smash, I’m also playing in Best 3 out of 5 sets against noteworthy players. For starters, I managed to beat a notable DK player from North Carolina and one of my longtime rivals, KDK, in a set 3-2 using Terry. I also battled Deluxemenu and won 3-2 against his Bowser, but I’ve also lost to his Min-Min in two sets. Mr. E won 5-3 in a First to 5 and I fought a close set with NickRiddle which he took 3-2.

On the bright side, I’m feeling pretty good about this win. I lost to his Sephiroth hard with Roy but Terry gave me three wins. Can’t be mad about that.

I’ve been doing well with The Legendary Hungry Wolf online lately.

While I still don’t intend to enter online tournaments yet, I’ll still keep it in the back of my mind just in case. Right now, I enjoy playing with my friends and other high-level players in competitive sets. As long as I get to do that, I’m happy.

Oh, and before I forget, here are some clips I can finally share with you!

Punch, Punch!

Here’s MY Falcon Punch!

I’ll follow you to your grave.

Finally, here’s an Ike mini-montage I made last year with Aether spike finishes. It’s the one thing keeping Ike viable in this meta!

That’s all for this week’s Game Corner! What are you playing lately? Share in the replies below!

As always, don’t forget to follow our social media links below. Stay tuned for next time’s Game Corner as I’ll surely, hopefully, have made some more progress and maybe a new game or two added in there.

Until next time!

Rango’s Smash Column – Why Are You Not Using Wolf?

Welcome to the Smash Column! Last time, I pondered the idea that Ike might be the weakest character I use. Despite being the most skilled with him, the realization that he might be a B-Tier character with more than a handful of losing matchups dawned on me. However, he works so well against the likes of Pikachu and Bowser that even if he wasn’t already my main, I wouldn’t drop him.

This week, I want to cover the opposite side of the spectrum. Whereas many tournament players swear by Wolf being one of the best characters in the game, I’m on the verge of dropping him. While I cannot deny Wolf’s results in tournaments, thanks especially to Zackray and Larry Lurr, part of me wonders if he’s for me.

Who suits you?

While this is a topic I’ve discussed extensively in the past, I’ve learned that, naturally, you do better with characters that suit you. Just because players swear that Pikachu, Peach, and Joker are the top characters in the game doesn’t mean you’ll get top results using them. You might be more naturally inclined to use Snake, Palutena, or Wario instead. Even then, who says you need to use a top tier at all?

Ultimate is known for being considerably balanced compared to its predecessors.

With that being said, I love Wolf both in Smash and as a character in Star Fox. He’s a mercenary who answers to nobody but himself. Wolf O’Donnell is a total badass and one of the greatest rivals in gaming history.

In Smash, I love that he’s heavier than Fox and Falco, deals immense damage off his attacks, has one of the single best projectiles in the game, and KOs early off Smash attacks and his back aerial. With that being said, Wolf has been one of my secondaries since Smash Ultimate came out.

Okay, so why not use Wolf?

What’s wrong with me, right? Why not use a borderline top-tier character? Even Larry swears that Wolf is the among best characters in the game.

Truth be told, I’m kinda bad with him. I don’t exactly get Wolf. I’ve spent dozens of hours playing the likes of Roy, Chrom, Terry, and Bowser to know that they’re right for me. Likewise, I’ve spent dozens of hours playing Mario, Cloud, Lucina, and Incineroar to know they’re not right for me.

If Incineroar was a bit higher on the tier list, though, I might change my mind.

Even the few times I played Joker online, I realized that though he feels overpowered at times, I just don’t have as much fun using him as I do the rest of my characters. With that being said, I find Wolf more fun than Joker as well as the rest of the top tiers. Wolf has a fluid and flexible game with an overwhelming selection of options.

However, Wolf is not without his weaknesses. You do so much as miss a confirm and your opponent will survive to 150% or higher every time. Wolf’s approach to killing moves, however, comes from a rather linear and predictable path. You either get the early KO off of his powerful killing moves or suffer while your opponent survives to ridiculous percents and KOs you under 100.

It’s the same reason I stopped using Mario.

He’s not exactly ideal at KOing off the top either as most of his best KOs come from the ledge. In other words, unless you manage to strike a kill move under 100%, don’t be surprised if your opponent survives to ridiculously high percents.

Final Thoughts

All-in-all, I feel like I’m doing well enough using my current assortment of characters. I feel Ike, Terry, Roy, and Bowser cover each other’s bad matchups well-enough to handle the roster. Even up against a threat like Greninja or another Bowser, I don’t think it’s remotely out of Ike’s league to handle if they’re his -1 matchups. However, against the likes of Samus, Palutena, ROB, and others, I feel it’s wise to cover your bases.

On the flipside, it’s like I said before. I enjoy using Wolf. He’s incredibly fun and feasible. He’ll do well against the likes of Palutena, Shulk, Zero Suit Samus, and other problem meta characters. He isn’t perfect but he can definitely bring the heat.

Regardless, just as I continue to make the mistake of playing Incineroar online, I still enjoy using my casual characters from time to time. While I love playing Wolf online, as a tourney character, he’s teetering right now. Not because he’s bad but because he might not suit me as well as the others.

That’s all for this Smash Column. I hope you find these entries to be entertaining and informative. Hopefully, you can also glean some material to help step-up your game as well.

Finally, make sure to follow us on our social media links below. I’ll keep you updated on my Smash journey with next month’s column. Until next time!

Nintendo Direct 2/17/21 featuring Pyra from Xenoblade in Smash!

Nintendo recently showcased their first Nintendo Direct in over a year. Featuring 50 minutes of footage, they unveiled several new games as well as the latest character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Pyra and Mythra.

 

With that being said, Nintendo featured 50 minutes of game trailers. You can check out the link to the Nintendo Direct below.

We will also cover a few of the choice announcements featured in the presentation as well!

Pyra and Mythra in Smash

First, the big announcement and quite possibly the most relevant in this Direct. Pyra and Mythra from the Nintendo Switch JRPG, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, will come to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate!

While people have been fervently asking for the protagonists, Rex and Pyra, to get into Smash, the dream seemed to end since Rex became a Mii Costume in Smash. Furthermore, it seemed unlikely Pyra would get in alone as she’s tethered to Rex in battle.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017)

However, Smash broke the script once again adding not only Pyra to the mix but Mythra as well. Revealed as Pyra’s other self at the end of Chapter 3, Mythra can use light magic in battle. Also, while Smash 4 ended the Zelda/Sheik transformation ability, it seems character switching has returned with these characters.

Smash creator Mr. Sakurai will surely reveal a character showcase video in the coming month. Keep up with us as we update you with the Pyra/Mythra showcase in the near future. Look out for Pyra as part of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighter Pass 2 DLC next month in March 2021!

Project Triangle Strategy

From the team behind Square-Enix’s Octopath Traveler comes a new Strategy/RPG called Project Triangle Strategy. As with the former title, this one’s starting with “Project” in the title but will likely drop it from the final title.

Just so we’re clear, Octopath is designed largely by the team behind the Bravely Default series. The team was inspired by Final Fantasy V to create Bravely Default and Final Fantasy VI for Octopath Traveler. For longtime Square-Enix fans, it’s a no-brainer to see that Triangle Strategy looks and feels like a successor to Final Fantasy Tactics.

Final Fantasy Tactics (1998)

I’m curious about the name, though. Octopath Traveler not only featured eight protagonists but the word “OCTOPATH” represented their names. O for Olberic and Ophelia, T for Tressa and Therion, and so forth. Triangle Strategy may or may not carry on that tradition.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to this one. I love Fire Emblem but I have scarcely played another JRPG not named Final Fantasy Tactics or Shining Force. As usual for Bravely and Octopath titles, I’m also digging the character artwork as well.

On a related note, the team also developed an Octopath mobile title which has yet to release in the west.

Look for Triangle Strategy in 2022. In the meantime, you can download a free demo as well as submit feedback in a survey. Trust me when I say the development team listens. They’ve released feedback videos and changes for Octopath Traveler and Bravely Default II. So don’t be afraid to speak your mind when you’re done playing the demo!

Famicom Detective Club

Nintendo is remaking two murder mystery visual novel titles for Nintendo Switch. The Missing Heir and The Girl Who Stands Behind are full remakes of two mystery titles developed in the 80s for Nintendo Famicom, hence the name. As such, these titles never came to the U.S. despite receiving several ports in Japan.

It’s worth noting that Ayumi Tachibana, one of the characters, made two brief appearances in America. One of which was as a Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee. The other was as a Spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Nintendo Switch is past overdue for a visual novel title. Titles like Ace Attorney, Hotel Dusk, and Zero Escape found success on the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS handheld systems. However, perhaps this will best scratch the itch for visual novel fans looking for their fix on Nintendo Switch. If you enjoy the sense of mystery and dialogue from games like Konami’s Snatcher, then this will definitely be a treat.

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir and Famicom Detective Club: The Girl Who Stands Behind will release on May 14, 2021.

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection

Normally, I wouldn’t cover a compilation title as part of the major announcements of the Nintendo Direct. But when it includes one of the greatest action games in history, included in Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection, I must oblige.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma, the re-release of Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden for Xbox, features some of the cleanest, fastest, and heaviest hitting action in any game in existence. Easily comparable to the likes of Devil May Cry, God of War, and Bayonetta, Team Ninja’s key title features badass ninja, Ryu Hayabusa, out for blood and vengeance against the dark forces of Vigoor who attacked his clan.

Much like the aforementioned titles, you will get to equip a multitude of weapons that will suit various enemies and bosses. Furthermore, you can play this already challenging title on harder difficulties each time you clear the game. If challenging action is your thing, Ninja Gaiden Sigma is for you.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 also offered a quality 3D action experience. Unfortunately, I’ve only heard bad things about Ninja Gaiden III. While I find it doubtful that Team Ninja will restore or “fix” anything wrong with Razor’s Edge, I feel good knowing that a new generation of players will get to try out one of the best action games ever released. The real hope of this news is that we someday might finally get a Ninja Gaiden IV.

With that being said, expect the release of Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection on June 10, 2021.

Splatoon 3

Nintendo’s finale to the Nintendo Direct was Splatoon 3. Despite some novelty Splatfests happening in Splatoon 2, we had a “final Splatfest” over a year ago and, as such, Nintendo would no longer update the game. This was a surefire sign that Splatoon 3 was in development.

This one looks like it takes place in a western scene. Unlike the metropolitan utopia of the first two games, you’ll see a lot of dust and desert everywhere you go.

While I haven’t touched Splatoon online in a while, something about the campaigns always manages to pull me in. I cleared both the Splatoon 2 campaign and the Octo-Expansion, which while challenging, ended with the most devastating and difficult boss I have ever had the displeasure of fighting. Let’s hope that Nintendo never pulls a stunt like that ever again.

No.

Look for Splatoon 3 in 2022. We’ll keep you up to date with the latest game in the series as news turns up.

Final Thoughts

I’m feeling lukewarm about it honestly. Not because it’s by any means bad but I’m not sure I would have saved Splatoon 3 for the final part of the presentation.

Don’t get me wrong. I was hoping for something big like Metroid Prime 4 even though I counted on it still being too early in development to showcase just yet. But I’m still surprised Nintendo didn’t pick another IP to showcase at the end of their presentation. Let alone that Mercury Steam could work on another 2D Metroid game like Samus Returns, we could have had a new F-Zero, Star Fox, or even Kirby title like a sequel to Kirby Air Ride. This definitely ended on a weaker note than past Nintendo Directs.

Furthermore, Zelda series director Eiji Aonuma also shot down the possibility of seeing Breath of the Wild 2. However, he opened the possibility up that we might get to see the game later this year. If E3 happens, we might see it during June. Otherwise, it sounds like Nintendo is at least dedicated to having another big showing later in the year. As it’s Zelda’s 35th anniversary, it’s all but likely that we’ll get much more than Breath of the Wild 2 in a Zelda-themed Direct.

Meanwhile, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is getting a remaster and will retail for $60.

With that being said, I also want to mention Square-Enix’s unbelievable effort for both developing new games, like Triangle Strategy, as well as remastering titles like the visually-ageless Legend of Mana. Speaking of which, enjoy this final trailer of Bravely Default II before the game releases on February 26, 2021.

We will keep you covered on the upcoming releases for Nintendo Switch. Be sure to follow our social media links below!

Till next time!

Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection: New to the Series? Here’s a Quick Primer to Get You Started!

Capcom is set to release their upcoming platformer, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, for the Nintendo Switch next month. First debuting at The Game Awards 2020, the upcoming title marks the first entry in over a decade. Known for its brutal and punishing difficulty, the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series continues to charm players with its soundtracks and monster designs.

This series features you playing as Sir Arthur, a knight who must rescue the Princess from the demons of hell. These hordes of monsters take many forms with some surprisingly twisted and terrifying for such a bright and colorful game. The end of each game features a showdown against the demon lord which usually comes from Biblical and mythical origins, such as Samael and Astaroth.

Much like Konami’s Castlevania, the series features a gothic horror approach albeit a bit more colorful and less bloody. Arthur can also equip different weapons which include throwing daggers and even firebombs which act like the series’ own Holy Water. 2D side-scrolling aficionados will immediately feel at home playing this title.

Did You Say Hard?

Yes, I did say this game is hard. It’s a daunting and unforgiving series dating back to the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins release in the mid-80s. Arthur can only take two hits before he’s reduced to a pile of bones.

Fear not because later titles, like Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts for SNES, offered easier difficulty levels and extra lives. For the unsuspecting player, though, Normal will rip them to shreds on just the first stage. Though, coming from Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, I can safely tell you that it is the hardest stage in the game before the final. The rest are moderately difficult but not spawn-zombies-in-your-face difficult. You can learn more about the difficulty settings and new modes here.

I’m not going to say something outlandish like “Ghosts ‘n Goblins is the Dark Souls of 2D platformers” even though that wouldn’t be far from the contextual truth. The series is, in fact, soul-crushing at times. Fortunately, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts for SNES is quite fair in that it punishes your mistakes but rewards good play. It comes down to more than just stage memorization. Your reflexes, proper item choosing, and your ability to time your jumps carefully will reward your play in time.

Can I just say that I adore Shinkiro‘s art?

Curious About Trying the Series Before Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection?

If you own a Switch and have an online subscription, you have access to the NES and SNES libraries. As such, you can try Ghosts ‘n Goblins for NES and Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts for SNES. Unless Switch ever adds a Sega Genesis library ala the Virtual Console from past Nintendo consoles, you might have to emulate to get Ghouls ‘n Ghosts.

Sony’s PlayStation Portable also featured Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins which released in 2006. This was the first rebirth of the series before its long slumber. This title also added easier difficulties.

With that being said, I only recommend Ghosts ‘n Goblins on NES if you’re a complete masochist. You do not have a double jump and movement is much stiffer. If you want to play a quality platformer, then I strongly recommend Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts on SNES. It’s an enjoyable game with some great music and a reasonably difficult challenge for platforming enthusiasts. Don’t feel bad if you’re new to the series and want to try an easy difficulty either.

Brief Timeline of the Series

If you’re interested in the release order, take a look here!

Ghosts ‘n Goblins came out in the Arcades in 1985 and NES in 1986. Known for its tremendously difficult platforming action, the series would kickoff with Arthur rescuing the Princess from the clutches of the demon Astaroth.

Ghouls ‘n Ghosts debuted on Arcade machines in 1988. The sequel to Ghosts ‘n Goblins actually featured a backstory of a demonic genocide to include the life of the Princess. While ported on multiple systems, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is perhaps best known for appearing on the Sega Genesis.

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts came out on SNES in 1991. This key title featured quality-of-life improvements to control, giving Arthur a double jump, and began to round out the difficulty. The title received a Game Boy Advance port in 2002 as well featuring new level designs.

Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins is the first reboot of the series. Not affiliated as a direct sequel to any game, Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins brought the series to PSP in 2006. This version brought new difficulty modes which affected level designs. Plus it featured a new equipping system allowing Arthur to store his weapons. The title received a Japanese-exclusive re-release as well.

Capcom releaesed the ever rare Makaimura for Wonderswan in the 90s as well as two mobile apps, titled Gold Knights, for mobile devices. The series also spun-off into titles such as Gargolye’s Quest. This culminated into the popular SNES title, Demon’s Crest. Additionally, Capcom also developed the Maximo titles for PS2, a sister series which took the formula into 3D.

Final Thoughts

I’m eager to try Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. I feel Switch has been hurting for games over the past year and Capcom’s helping inject some life (and death) into the library. Plus nothing feels quite as good as seeing an old franchise revived once more. We haven’t seen Arthur since his inclusion in Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite.

But Infinite is ugly so we’ll show you Marvel vs. Capcom 3 instead.

Capcom will also release Capcom Arcade Stadium for Nintendo Switch in February. This title will feature 32 Capcom classics including Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Super Street Fighter II Turbo. You can also choose to buy them in bundles instead of the whole game at once.

ACT Capcom Arcade Stadium

Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection will come out for Nintendo Switch on February 25, 2021. Within a month away, you may want to check out Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts and see what the fuss is about. Be sure to follow our social media channels below for our latest gaming content!

Until next time!

Bravely Default II: Demo Overview and Preview.

With February around the corner, Square-Enix is primed to release their latest JRPG, Bravely Default II. With the visuals and gameplay of an older Final Fantasy title, Bravely Default II features the Job system allowing players to change the classes of their party members. The newest demo offers you up to 5 hours to clear two bosses in the game’s Chapter 1.

Last year, Square-Enix offered players a brief demo for Bravely Default II. The first build also came with a feedback survey. The newest demo incorporates much of that feedback along with a bit more gameplay to enjoy.

What to Expect from the Bravely Default II Demo.

If you have yet to try it, Bravely Default II will take place in Chapter 1. The game will offer you the four protagonists off the bat: Seth, Gloria, Elvis, and Adelle. Each one comes pre-equipped with one of the early-game classes, such as Vanguard, Black Mage, White Mage, and Monk.

Adelle’s name sounds like the name of a sorceress from Final Fantasy VIII, Adel. Bravely Default’s Edea was also named after a sorceress from the same game.

You’ll garner one new Asterisk, or class-change, before the end of the demo: Bard. This performing art will be used to buff your allies’ stats. You can also make it your default class, thus leveling it up, or as a sub-class. It’s entirely up to you on how you want to approach it.

In my experience, I found the demo to be fairly challenging. The new weight system means I can’t stack defense equipment on my party members and need to balance out what to give them. I ended up losing several times to the second boss, Anihal, the Beastmaster asterisk, before preparing once again in the shop with more items and better equips. Thankfully, this forgiving title gives you Teleport stones to warp out of dungeons and even warp points to move closer to the boss fight when you return.

For Newcomers to Bravely.

Bravely Default II comes from the titles that predated it on Nintendo 3DS: Bravely Default and Bravely Second. The first title came out in 2014 and offered one of the greatest soundtracks on the system’s library. If you’re familiar with composer, REVO, he composed the opening theme songs of Attack on Titan and Sailor Moon Crystal.

Bravely Second came out on 3DS in 2016. The direct sequel to Bravely Default followed the tales of the four heroes with two of them being main party members alongside new characters. Unfortunately, Bravely Second had both cast another writer and a different composer, Ryo, who’s known for the second opening theme of the anime, Fire Force.

Despite these changes, I found Bravely Second to be superior to its predecessor in a number of ways. While the title never quite became as successful overall, the gameplay quality-of-life improvements included stacking battles for EXP, balancing several classes, and removing a dreaded time loop of sorts that plagued the second half of Bravely Default.

Even with its glorious references to Puella Magi: Madoka Magica and Fullmetal Alchemist, Bravely Second was a standalone JRPG that could rank among the best on the 3DS. It astonished me to see the developer of the game apologizing for his past work due to its lackluster success. It explains my confusion for why this title wasn’t called “Bravely Third” and as such, I stand with fans when I say Bravely Second doesn’t warrant an apology.

However, after Bravely Second, the development team created Octopath Traveler on Nintendo Switch. This highly successful sprite-based HD-2D JRPG became an instant hit and one of the console’s best games. Following this act, it’s also great to see Tomoya Asano’s team working on the Bravely series once more.

Final Thoughts

I’m excited to try the final version of the game. While Bravely Default had its heart in the right place, I was a huge fan of Team Asano’s later works. Bravely Default II will join up the Nintendo Switch’s stellar lineup of JRPGs. Among them include Dragon Quest XI S, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Xenoblade Chronicles, Pokemon Sword and Shield, and the studio’s past work, Octopath Traveler.

Bravely Default II will come out for Nintendo Switch on February 26, 2021. Be sure to try the demo if you haven’t already. Finally, be sure to follow us on our social media channels below for our next batch of gaming content.

Until next time!

Super Mario 3D All-Stars Review: Don’t Miss This One.

ACT Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Nintendo released Super Mario 3D All-Stars, for Nintendo Switch, on September 18th, 2020. This compilation title features three Mario titles: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. Notably, the title and the concept both echo the SNES compilation title, Super Mario All-Stars, which featured the NES Super Mario Bros. titles.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars managed to upscale three Mario titles into HD. While they might not qualify as full remasters, these upscaled ports offer the same classic gameplay that you’ll likely remember from the 90s and 2000s. With that being said, if you have not played these titles, then I strongly suggest getting it.

Bear in mind I only recommend playing two of these games. Super Mario 64 is a defining classic that marked the standard for 3D gaming. Super Mario Galaxy is a top-tier quality adventure that excels in every single point. However, Super Mario Sunshine is, at best, middling, and I would strongly advise reading a review before deciding to jump in and try it. However, just for 64 and Galaxy alone, you’re definitely in for some of the best experiences ever.

Story

Given that these are Mario titles, it goes without saying that all three involve Princess Peach getting kidnapped by Bowser. As such, Mario adventures out to rescue the princess once more. Each one has its own take on the story, however.

Super Mario 64 features Bowser abducting Peach in her own castle and taking away the Power Stars. Super Mario Sunshine involves Mario and Peach going on vacation before a shadowy fiend frames Mario for spreading toxic graffiti and later abducting Peach. Finally, Super Mario Galaxy has Bowser kidnapping Peach and taking her to his own empire at the center of the universe!

ACT Mama Peach
He won’t let you take Mama Peach away!

Each game has its charm and introduced new characters and left a lasting legacy on the Mario series. Super Mario Sunshine introduced Bowser’s son, Bowser Jr., as well as the Pianta and Noki races. Super Mario Galaxy introduced Princess Rosalina and the Lumas. Both Bowser Jr. and Rosalina have since debuted in the Super Smash Bros. series along with the stages from their respective games!

Audiovisual

Super Mario 3D All-Stars features a visual upgrade to each released title. But more than that, it speaks echoes for Super Mario Galaxy’s 1080p upgrade. While I have seen the title played on the Dolphin emulator years ago, I cannot stress enough that Nintendo should have developed the Wii as an HD console. Super Mario Galaxy was an absolutely beautiful work of art, from its animations to its backgrounds, and still managed to impress even despite its home console’s limitations at the time.

I enjoyed the various sound effects of each game and I feel Mario games always have the most memorable jingles. All games feature memorable and catchy soundtracks that perfectly fit the theme of their respective worlds.

While we’re on the subject of sound, let’s not talk about Sunshine’s voice acting.

With that being said, all three Mario titles feature compositions by veteran Nintendo composer, Koji Kondo as well as Shinobu Nagata in Super Mario Sunshine. However, Kondo composed along with Mahito Yokota and the Mario Galaxy Orchestra in the Super Mario Galaxy soundtrack. Featuring a full orchestral soundtrack, Galaxy pushed the limits of both Nintendo and the Mario series to deliver an epic, unforgettable soundtrack.

Gameplay

All three titles feature glorious 3D platforming action. However, there’s something to say about all of them. For better or for worse, each one has something notable to offer.

Super Mario 64 was the first to feature full-on 3D platforming action. Granted, this means some of the movement and camera control is a bit stiff. I’m not fond of Tick Tock Clock at all. And I found several Stars to be annoying, like 100 Coins in Rainbow Ride or the work elevator in Hazy Maze Cave.

Fun Fact: Tick Tock Clock was completely redone in the Super Mario 64 DS remake.

Super Mario Sunshine was the black sheep, however, While the controls felt smoother, Nintendo added the new FLUDD mechanic to wash away slime and give Mario new abilities. Unfortunately, the title fell flat on its face thanks to a terrible camera, poor physics on slopes, and numerous tedious stage designs. All of these culminated into Super Mario Sunshine becoming a less-than-stellar title that ended up much more frustrating than enjoyable.

These stages are no bueno.

Finally, Super Mario Galaxy offered a complete 180 from Sunshine. In doing so, Nintendo created a fantastic and polished adventure. Smooth controls, great controls, and new concepts featured Mario defying gravity in numerous stages. Galaxy’s creative stage designs went above-and-beyond anything Nintendo had accomplished since and created an enjoyable masterpiece that’s smooth and easy to control. Plus it offered a solid challenge for players of all skill levels.

Galaxy offered challenges such as Daredevil Comets which made you clear the stage without getting hit.

Overview

First off, Super Mario 64 remains a defining classic 25 years after its release. It’s still an upper-level Mario title that brings forth some creative exploration elements. It’s funny to note how some elements, like riding Koopa Shells underwater, were only briefly touched on but never fully developed until Super Mario Galaxy. Even in spite of a few hazardous camera angles or the wall-jumping for Blue Coins to get 100 Coins in Rainbow Ride, Super Mario 64’s problems were few and far in between. I’d give it a 9/10 overall.

Super Mario Sunshine, unfortunately, created more despair than joy. The happy memories I had playing this at age 14-15 were clouded by the pretty visuals, easy controls, great music, and charming character design. Unfortunately, the Secret Stages aren’t just challenging but incredibly faulty as well. Whether you’re falling through platforms or the camera angle screws you over, they weren’t implemented with polish thanks to the title being rushed.

On the bright side, the open-world concept did give rise to an indeed stellar Mario title: Super Mario Odyssey. Unlike Odyssey, however, I have to give Super Mario Sunshine a 5/10. I wouldn’t play this title unless you were cautioned about what you were getting into first.

ACT Super Mario Sunshine Chuckster
No.

Finally, Super Mario Galaxy is a title I cannot say enough good things about. It’s such a beautiful little masterpiece that I remember how much fun I had with it in 2007 when it first came out. Whether you’re playing handheld or on TV, it controls surprisingly well. Even the motion controls for catching Star Bits aren’t a problem. While it might not be as easy as the Wii remote at first, on the bright side, you don’t have to worry about anything obscuring the sensor anymore either. Moreover, it’s just an inherently fun game.

I think my only real gripe with Galaxy is how they add Luigi after you beat the game with 120 Stars. You’re basically playing the exact same game again. Your only reward, once you collect all the stars, is honestly minimal and not really worth it. Unless you’re really eager to replay the game, I would say one run is enough to satisfy completion.

Can’t say I really care.

As much as I loved Galaxy, I honestly believe Galaxy 2 managed to surpass it in several ways. If I could, I would replace Sunshine and add Galaxy 2 to this collection instead. I give Galaxy a 10/10 for being one of the most enjoyable experiences that I forgot how much I loved 14 years later.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that Super Mario 3D All-Stars will only be available for retail and digital purchase until March 31st. However, don’t fret! You will almost certainly find used copies in GameStop as well as on eBay and other websites. After all, it’s not much different than what Nintendo used to do with promotional releases like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda Collection’s Edition for GameCube. While these promo titles should be available for as long as any other, it’s a shame Nintendo will discontinue them like some Disney Vault property instead.

These are great games well worth their place on the Switch and I would be remiss if I said to skip them just because you played them before. I would only say this if you already have the consoles to play these titles on and the handheld adaptability does not interest you. Otherwise, I recommend picking up Super Mario 3D All-Stars if you seek a quality title like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy.

Be sure to follow us on our social media links below for our upcoming reviews and features at AllCoolThings. Until next time!

Rango’s Smash Column: Has Ike Become My Weakest Character?

Welcome to Rango’s Smash Column! This week I want to discuss the competitive meta regarding my main, Ike.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve continued to play online to keep my skills honed. While I prepare for tournaments to return, I go back and forth trying out which characters I like most. In essence, I’ve largely filtered out which characters I plan to use in the competitive long run over those I enjoy but might not fit me.

My Top 10.

For example, I love using Mario and Wolf. They’re also both high-tier characters. However, I don’t find certain parts of their top-level play to comfortably fit my style. Even though they cover certain matchups, I feel like I’m more comfortable limiting my roster to six.

ACT Current SSBU Roster
My competitive characters.

With that being said, I’ve picked up Roy and Chrom since they’re both incredibly fun. Roy predominately since he’s quite possibly a top tier character, insanely fun to use, and covers several detrimental matchups for Ike. Among these include ROB, Zero Suit Samus, Fox, and Palutena.

In particular, Ike is my main and always will be. I’ll save you the story of how this came to be. However, what I will address is that he might actually be my lowest-tiered character right now.

What happened to Ike?

Please keep in mind these are personal experiences from me and should not represent the competitive meta as a whole. This includes online play which, due to COVID, has eclipsed offline play without the availability of tournaments.

Ike initially started as a high-tier character in the Ultimate meta. He won an early wave of success when MKLeo won the Smash Conference United tournament, the first major, in January 2019. Ever since that win, however, Ike began to slip from the meta as more people learned his matchup and found stronger characters. As such, MKLeo dropped him in favor of superior top tiers such as Lucina and Joker.

However, last year, Ike received several prominent buffs in Version 8.0.0. While losing part of his important Neutral Air combo, he gained strengths in his Aether (Up B) and Forward Aerial as a prominent KO move. You can read the full patch notes here.

Unfortunately, one thing we’ve learned from buffs in Smash is that they only take a character so far. Without proper mobility fixes, buffed characters will still remain in their place. Incineroar and King K. Rool number among two who received buffs yet still play in the lower tiers. However, Cloud’s buffs may have pushed him to the high tier thanks to several key buffs to an already agile character.

Ike’s Strengths

Ike benefits from tremendous early KO power and reach. With his weight at 107, he can also survive vicious blows which can wipe out most of the roster. He also has recovery mixups to make up for his mediocre air speed. This allows him to recovery horizontally, vertically, as well as onto a platform and autocancel.

His range allows him to play keep-away using Neutral Aerials as well as heavily punish would-be approaches. Ike also does a surprisingly good job against a number of troublesome top and high tiers. Most notably includes Pikachu who many agree is among the best characters in the game.

Finally, Ike’s grab game is marginally more robust than that of most sword characters. His Down Throw can combo into Forward Aerial and Up Aerial. These combos work well until 80% on most of the roster.

Ike’s Weaknesses

Unfortunately, due to Ike’s slower mobility, he lacks proper approach options against faster characters as well as those who particularly specialize with projectiles. I’ve always found Roy and ROB to especially be among Ike’s worst matchups. You can look up my match history with HyperKirby and Benny on YouTube if you want to see how bad they can be.

Against Roy, he loses aerial exchanges to Roy’s own faster disjoints and can get juggled heavily in disadvantage state. Offstage, Roy can cripple Ike for free with Counter or easily punish his other recovery options. ROB, on the other hand, is a master of zoning and forces Ike’s approach. While Ike can win these matchups, they can become quite difficult and even more so against someone who knows the matchup.

I’ve also found Ike to struggle particularly against Marth and Lucina as well as Palutena, Pac-Man, Zero Suit Samus, Fox, and Peach. The latter are what I call the “-1” or “slightly losing” matchups. But the most recent threat comes from the latest DLC character, Sephiroth. This fighter not only cleanly outranges Ike with his Masamune blade but also excels at zoning using his two projectiles, Flare and Shadow Flare.

Moreover, his edgeguarding can bring Ike to his knees and Scintilla will act as a Counter against Aether while recovering. Finally, Sephiroth’s recovery, especially in One-Winged Form, makes Aether spike much more difficult to bring him down with.

How the Smash Team Could Buff Ike.

One thing I wish is that Ike had a bit more range on his sword, Ragnell. In the Fire Emblem series, this two-handed weapon is one of the largest swords. Yet I’ve found myself losing range battles against the likes of Marth who uses a one-handed Falchion. I don’t understand why a greatsword would lose a ranged battle to a smaller weapon. This would be like Cloud, who wields the Buster Sword, losing in exchanges against Roy for instance.

In theory, along with Cloud, the only fighters who should challenge Ike’s disjointed hitbox range are Shulk, Byleth, and Sephiroth.

I feel unless Ike gets mobility buffs, he may find himself dangling in the mid-tier of the game again. His buffs helped remedy several issues but not the more pressing matters which come from his slower mobility against projectiles. Proper counterplay can practically cripple him when using a more effective matchup. As it stands, I place Ike in B-Tier or the upper-mid tier.

For the record, the S-Tier (top) and A-Tier (high) fighters tend to have only a small handful of losing matchups. A-Tier characters are borderline top tier characters, such as Wolf, who have a few weaknesses holding them back from dominating the meta. Wolf, Mario, Link, and Pac-Man sit in A-Tier while Peach, Joker, Pikachu, and Snake sit in S-Tier.

Note that all tier placements are unofficial and based heavily around theory, hearsay. Smash Ultimate is the first title to not have an official tier list from the Smash Back Room. As such, the roster’s high tiers, such as Chrom, Snake, and Wario, tend to dance around A-Tier and S-Tier depending on who lists them.

Matchups

I once found Ike to be one of my best characters. However, I feel that he might be just a tier beneath the rest of the fighters I tend to use. Chrom, Roy, Bowser, Terry, and Cloud sit around A-Tier but I firmly believe Ike places slightly below their level now. Despite that, he’s my favorite character by a mile and there’s no way I’m dropping him. He was a low tier in Brawl and Smash 4 and completely unviable in top-level tournament play despite my persistence using him.

+2 Ike wins heavily. -2 Ike loses soundly.

Keep in mind, however, that he can win any matchup in Ultimate. He isn’t the victim of -3 matchups like Diddy, Sheik, Cloud, or Bayonetta as he was in Smash 4 or against Meta-Knight in Brawl. His chances of winning stem from proper matchup knowledge, strong fundamentals, patience, and adaptability. Ike still outplaces the likes of Little Mac, Jigglypuff, Isabelle, and K.Rool in the current metagame.

Having Trouble With Your Main? Find a Counterpick.

In the event that your main becomes nerf or the meta evolves to the point that they become weaker, one of the smartest things you can do is find a secondary. While the most important thing you can do with your main is to learn their bad matchups, sometimes you might not want to climb that uphill battle against someone with a clear advantage.

Smash players have argued before that solo-maining is important. There is some truth to this. S-Tiers and most A-Tiers, like Pikachu and Roy, can generally get by without a secondary. Even Roy’s weakness against Pikachu can be circumvented with the right counterplay and matchup mastery.

Melee pro Armada explains an argument on solo-maining. You can watch it here.

There’s a nugget of truth here. If you’re growing as a player and still grasping the fundamentals, I cannot stress enough that learning one character competitively is incredibly important. Learning new characters best comes when you’re feeling more confident with your main but you still have a couple of struggling matchups that don’t get easier anytime you play them.

However, counterpicking has saved my bacon several times both in competitive tournament matches and money matches out of bracket. It’s every bit as important to know your main as it is to sort out your tools and find what works best for you.

Importance of Counterpicking

With that being said, if you’re looking to broaden your horizons, I strongly recommend learning a new fighter. At the end of the day, your approach to the game is what counts. If you feel like your main isn’t cutting it and you could do better with another character, you’re better off learning what you’re capable of than to continue doing what isn’t working.

It’s worth noting that several prominent fighting games require you to learn more than one character.

In my case, I’ll go to Smashcords, find a character I’m struggling with, and look up their matchup charts. If I see consistently that my main is losing to that character, then I have reason to believe it’s better to find a counterpick. In such a case, I’ll see who wins against them and pick which character I like the most out of those selections.

No one I use counters Greninja. Therefore, my best bet is to learn the matchup as Ike.

In one more example, I hate fighting Samus as Ike as well as just in general. But if I sort out my winning options against Samus, maybe Roy and Chrom will do better.

Final Thoughts

However, I feel much more comfortable picking up other fighters. Not just to cover bad matchups but honestly because I no longer want to solo-main as I did in the past. I feel it’s wiser to sort out your bad matchups and find the tools that counter them. Smash is inherently a counterpicking game. Without any sole-dominating force in the meta to invalidate fighters like in past games, it’s worth picking up more than one character to fight against your bad matchups and cover your bases.

In Ike’s case, he does well against most of the roster. As an upper-tier character, I’ve seen him argued as an A-Tier fighter despite his weaknesses. He can KO incredibly fast thanks not just to his powerful launching strikes but his Aether spikes which KO at 0 and allow him to survive the fall first in most scenarios.

Ike is among the best at mounting comebacks from a stock deficit. While he works wonders against Pikachu, fights like Sephiroth, Marth, Lucina, Roy, and ROB put a damper on his potential. It’s up to you to find out what works and who you want to use to cover him if you choose to use Ike as well.

That’s all I have for this Smash Column. Be sure to follow our social media links below and stay up to date for the next Rango’s Smash Column.

Also, if you would like to learn more about my competitive history, please refer to my Smash Wiki page.

Until next time!

Resident Evil Village Preview: New Details on Trailer, Demo, and Alluring Antagonists.

Earlier this month, Capcom unveiled their Resident Evil Showcase. This presentation featured several new ways to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Resident Evil survival horror series. But moreover, they showcased a new trailer for Resident Evil Village as well as a PS5-exclusive demo. Prior to the game’s release, Capcom will release a new demo for all platforms featuring the title.

One of the biggest eyecatchers involves the new villains featured in the demo. Among them include Lady Alcina Dimitrescu, an 8 ft. tall voluptuous woman with a vampire complex. Aiding her are three girls, dressed in black, which are presumed to be her daughters. Needless to say, the internet quickly became smitten with her.

“Welcome to the family, son.”

What we know about the trailer features a castle similarly to Resident Evil 4. Moreover, much of the setup features a sort of gothic atmosphere as the women chasing you around seek your blood. As such, you will find pools of blood within the catacombs.

What to Expect from Resident Evil Village.

Resident Evil Village is romanized as “VIII,” indicating this is also Resident Evil 8. As such, it is the direct sequel to Resident Evil 7. Featuring RE7’s protagonist, Ethan Winters, his wife Mia Winters goes missing once more. He must also rescue their newborn daughter, Rosemary, from their kidnappers.

The first-person view returns from Resident Evil 7. It will also feature an inventory setup akin to Resident Evil 4. Additionally, a merchant will appear to sell you wares.

Capcom released a PlayStation 5-exclusive demo called Maiden. This roughly 20-minute demo features you playing as an unknown protagonist attempting to escape the jail beneath the castle. It will introduce you to the basic mechanics of the game.

Additionally, Capcom revealed a new multiplayer title. Tiled RE: Verse, this will feature major characters from across the series duking it out in free-for-all gunfire. While Capcom received lukewarm reception for releasing Resistance alongside the Resident Evil 3 remake, this title will also be released alongside Village.

Final Thoughts

I can’t say I’m not excited for Resident Evil Village. I adored Resident Evil 7 and found it to be one of the best games I ever played. I strongly recommend it to everyone reading this article right now. I hope Capcom will polish Resident Evil Village just as finely as they did with 7.

I honestly cannot take my eyes off the new antagonists either. Resident Evil scarcely features an antagonist as attractive as Lady Dimistrescu. She’s easily my favorite new female villain design in the series.

Resident Evil Village comes out on May 7, 2021. It will release for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC. Be sure to keep up with us and follow our social media links to get the latest coverage on the title!

Until next time!