What does the future hold for 2D side-scrolling revivals?

As I recently completed my first playthroughs of Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection and Shantae and the Seven Sirens, a thought occurred to me. Games like this have suddenly started appearing left and right over the course of the last few years. While indie devs began to fill the gap of side-scrollers with games like Shovel Knight and Freedom Planet, Nintendo, Capcom, and even Konami have begun stepping up with revivals of their own.

Developed by fans and published by Sega, Sonic Mania Plus sets the example of an ideal revival for 2D side-scrollers.

And yet, before you knew it, they were gone. Just fizzled back out into obscurity after a few years without a peep since. E3’s coming up next month and it’s given us hope that we’ll get to see more of what we love.

Donkey Kong Country Returns (2010). Developed by Metroid Prime team, Retro Studios, this was a prime example of how to do a revival.

However, that’s not to dismiss the claim that a number of these revival titles could be more than what they are. After all, that’s one of the main reasons they develop sequels, right? I would love to see more of our familiar favorites coming out from our favorite developers. And I can think of a few games that come to mind.

Mega Man 11

One of the predominant side-scrolling series across the past 35 years, Mega Man deserves a place in every gaming generation. Returning for the first time since 2010, the Blue Bomber geared up for a new adventure to take on his nemesis, Dr. Wily. Featuring new fusion abilities, Mega Man 11 set a new standard for trademark copy abilities and gave you new ways to progress through levels.

Unfortunately, Capcom’s mascot took an unwarranted leave of absence after the release of Mega Man 10. Shortly after its release, series producer Keiji Inafune left. Ambitiously attempting to replicate the success of Mega Man at his new studio, Comcept, his next game left disastrous results to say the least.

Mighty No. 9 (2016) featuring pizza explosions.

Meanwhile, Capcom finally decided to cave under the pressure of demand and, after a seven-year absence, developed Mega Man 11. The very notion that Mega Man had returned had people leaping for joy. This new title brought Mega Man into HD and looked much better than Mighty No. 9 could ever hope to be. The Nintendo Switch release even featured an exclusive amiibo.

Future of Mega Man

However, it comes with a few issues that could be tackled. It’s a good Mega Man title but one that could always use more. While I feel the soundtrack wasn’t as much of a hit as past games, it still did its job. But where are the extra playable characters akin to Mega Man 9 and 10?

Mega Man 10 featured Protoman and Bass as playable characters. But the real question is when will Roll become playable in Mega Man?

In addition to Mega Man 12, fans continue to demand Mega Man X9 as X8 came out on PS2 in 2004! While Capcom has been on fire with its recent Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, and Monster Hunter releases, here’s hoping they haven’t forgotten their beloved mascot either.

Metroid: Samus Returns

When Nintendo announced Metroid Prime 4 at E3 2017, they announced a side-scrolling 3DS title alongside it: the reimagining of Metroid II: Return of Samus for Game Boy. Metroid: Samus Returns is the first 2D Metroid title to come out since 2004’s Metroid: Zero Mission for Game Boy Advance. Developer Mercury Steam took the reigns and gave Samus Returns a 2.5D remake playing similar to the hit title Super Metroid. Adding a map, new abilities, and some mighty battles, the developer took cues from past Metroid titles, including Prime, and delivered a hit Metroidvania on the 3DS.

Now, I can’t vouch that Metroid: Samus Returns was the prettiest looking game on the system. While its animations looked great, I feel its character models and backgrounds looked rather bland. Call me spoiled by the 2D sprite work used in Metroid: Zero Mission but I feel the art could have used a bit more polish. However, it’s at least passable and the game itself still delivers a solid experience. I should also mention, however, that Samus Returns looks gorgeous on the Citra emulator.

Metroid: Samus Returns is a remake of 1991’s Metroid II: Return of Samus.

Samus Returns added the new Aeion abilities which allowed Samus to use powerful rapid-fire abilities or stop time. The final boss fight also took a massive swerve from the original Game Boy title in the best possible way. However, unlockable images in the gallery showed the potential for a sequel. Despite being released in 2017, this has yet to surface. It goes without saying Nintendo is long overdue for releasing another Metroid title.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection

When I beat this game, I can’t say I was as satisfied as I’d hoped to be. Instead of taking the balanced level design and double-jump options from Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, it was more of an enemy mob rush akin to the original arcade and NES Ghosts ‘n Goblins title. As such, I found myself unsatisfied with several design choices.

This comes despite its awe-inspiring artistic work. The animations, colors, and gorgeous level backgrounds spoke of an epic fantasy adventure worth your eyes and ears. The new skill tree system gave Arthur new abilities and spells to help him survive using skills like Doppelganger to double or triple his attacks.

Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins (2006). Before Resurrection, Capcom waited 15 years to release a new title in the series.

However, even despite my critique, that doesn’t mean I want the series to go away. If anything, I want Capcom to continue digging back into their vault and reimagining their franchises for the modern era. Ghosts ‘n Goblins already took a decade and a half before coming back to the forefront. I would love to see it since there’s another certain demon fighting game series by Capcom which has yet to see a new game.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Bloodstained is interesting in that it’s essentially an indie title but one by a former well-known producer from Konami. The former producer of the Castlevania titles from Symphony of the Night onwards, Koji Igarashi, created Bloodstained as a spiritual successor to his titles. The game included much of the same gameplay as his Metroidvania titles and even featured his game’s composer, Michiru Yamane, at the helm.

Through and through, Bloodstained is heavily inspired by Koji Igarashi’s last mainline Castlevania title, Order of Ecclesia, which was released in 2008 for Nintendo DS. The 1800s setting consists of demon attacks on villages while the female protagonist enters a castle and absorbs enemy shards to gain their powers.

Sometimes it feels a little too close to Order of Ecclesia, but that’s also not bad. However, it leaves less of an impact than Symphony of the Night, which practically defined its own genre. It also doesn’t feel like a polished refinement or evolution, like Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, but rather serves as a love letter to the series’ fans.

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (2008). This title featured a female protagonist named Shanoa who could absorb glyphs for enemy powers.

Pros and Cons of Bloodstained

My gripes with Bloodstained came from its visual style and some pacing issues. Even though they fixed the game’s lighting and backgrounds, something about the game still looks rather stiff in comparison to past Metroidvania titles. Another problem stemmed from its disastrously long loading times should you get killed.

In one instance, you also have to kill an aquatic enemy to gain the power to swim. Yet you’re given no hint to this and in past games underwater travel was unlocked through a nigh-unmissable item you could obtain after a boss fight for instance. Plus, while previous Castlevania games unlocked Boss Rush and extra character modes after clearing, these were free DLC pieces that came months after the main game came out.

Speaking of extra character modes, I feel Julius Mode in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow did it best for having actual dialogue and an alternate final boss battle. I feel IGAvania titles rely too much on the “swap character but have no storyline” formula that they’ve done since Richter Mode in Symphony of the Night. In addition to a game rounded out with unlockables from the start, I would love to see the next Bloodstained title look prettier and offer more to the extra character story.

Getsu Fuma Den

Finally, on the subject of Konami and Castlevania, the developer actually unveiled a trailer featuring the remake of a title never released in the U.S. While Nintendo delved deep into their vault to remake the NES title, Famicom Detective Club, Konami figured they would do the same. In a time where the aforementioned titles gained success from longtime fans and newcomers, Konami decided instead of releasing a new Castlevania to dig into their own NES vault to release this mystery title.

Konami initially showcased Getsu Fuma Den: Undying Moon was initially via DLC in 2011’s Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. The multiplayer dungeon crawler’s final level featured a metal remix of one of the game’s themes, an 8-bit level from the game, and a new character: Getsu Fuma. The game’s theme also came to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

As such, Konami has hopped onto the retro remake bandwagon to capitalize on a franchise previously unreleased to the west. While Konami has been under heavy scrutiny for the past decade, their release of Super Bomberman R has at least shown some promise that they might begin developing actual console games. The announcement of Getsu Fuma Den certainly does not disappoint!

Final Thoughts

I could go on about games we would love to see. By no means am I disappointed to see how many 2D side-scrollers we’ve received since the latter half of the past decade. Even if Capcom keeps releasing Resident Evil 4 HD and Okami HD, that doesn’t mean we might not get Viewtiful Joe HD someday.

Viewtiful Joe (2003). A stellar platformer and beat ’em up hybrid.

But it also goes to show the progress that fan demand has made in getting developers to release these long-standing series with a glorious HD makeover. Whether it’s through their art styles, new music, creative game mechanics, or just a nice throwback to the past, these quality gaming experiences prove they can last as well now as they did in the 80s and 90s.

Before a cease and desist order from Nintendo, fans created their own remake of Metroid II titled AM2R.

With E3 coming up, I really hope to see what else developers will throw at us. 2D side-scrollers deliver some of the most enjoyable experiences gaming has to offer.

What’s your favorite 2D platformer or Metroidvania revival of the past decade and what do you hope to see? Let us know in the replies below. As always, be sure to Like our main page and follow our social media accounts for more quality gaming content.

Until next time!

Castlevania: A History of Boss Fights and Their Best Era on Nintendo DS.

Konami’s illustrious Castlevania series is one of the most well-known and beloved side-scrolling series in gaming history. Starting with the NES Castlevania, the series evolved from a difficult 2D platformer into a Metroidvania which invited exploration and RPG elements. Not only is Castlevania known for its stellar soundtrack and gameplay but features a remarkable history of boss battles as well.

However, it’s worth noting that the series’ boss battles evolved over the course of decades. While Castlevania was always known for its difficulty, the boss fights themselves only offered a simplistic variety of attack patterns. Rather, once the series debuted on the Nintendo DS, Castlevania boss fights quickly became tougher.

Note that this list will cover the 2D Castlevania titles from the NES (1986) to Harmony of Despair (2011). This list is meant to cover the evolution of the boss fight creativity within the Castlevania series over the years. With that being said, please be mindful of the Castlevania series spoilers below.

Traditional Platformers – NES

1986’s Castlevania featured boss fights from horror novels, movies, and even the Christian Bible. Among them included Vampire Bat, Medusa, The Creature, the Mummy, Death, and Count Dracula himself. Each boss featured considerably simplistic patterns. However, Simon Belmont’s limited movement made evading their attacks difficult.

Without Holy Water or Cross, you were screwed.

Castlevania III featured several characters including Grant Danasti. This agile pirate could freely control his jump movement in midair. In the Japanese version, he could also throw Knives while also equipping another sub-weapon. Grant could trivialize most boss fights including Dracula.

Haunted Castle’s Dracula featured a sinister yet contrasting visual style to the rest of the game.

Traditional Platformers – 16-bit era

Super Castlevania IV gave Simon free movement control. However, unlike Grant, Simon was considerably larger and thus not quite as agile. Boss fights still played as they did in past games with large health bars but limited movements and simplistic patterns. Despite some bosses being tougher, they could still be trivialized with proper methodology.

Castlevania Bloodlines featured two characters – John and Eric – while Rondo of Blood also featured two characters – Richter and Maria. In Bloodlines, the final boss fight was blocked with a major gauntlet of boss battles including Death, Elizabeth, and Dracula himself. Rondo of Blood also featured a boss gauntlet against the original four bosses from Castlevania before fighting the dark priest, Shaft.

Metroidvania Era – Symphony of the Night

When Symphony of the Night came to PlayStation in 1997, players gained control of a new character: Alucard. Son of Dracula, who originally appeared in Castlevania III for NES, this revamped design of Alucard could equip swords, magic spells, and summon familiars. The Metroidvania era meant the game progressed akin to titles like Super Metroid which featured a map and free exploration. However, you needed to gain certain powerups or keys to gain access to another part of the castle.

Alucard’s free movement, his equipment, the item inventory, and RPG leveling mechanics gave the player new ways to conquer bosses. While some could pose a challenge to the player, proper equips and well-timed dodges could trivialize most of them. Particularly, weapons such as the Valmanway (aka Crissaegrim) or the Alucard Shield + Shield Rod combo effectively rendered all challenge null.

Granted, it took a bit of time and work to even access these items. Symphony of the Night allowed the player a bit of a challenge up until a little past the first half of the game. But with such equips, even the game’s superboss, Galamoth, could fall within seconds.

Metroidvania Era – Game Boy Advance

I found the Dragon Zombies to be among the hardest fights in the game.

Years later, Circle of the Moon, which came to Game Boy Advance in 2001, offered a bit harder of a challenge. I daresay you needed to grind levels in order to take out Adrammelch, Zombie Dragon, Camilla, and Dracula. Nathan needed to find DSS cards in order to cast magic and summon creatures. In my case, I just used a DSS glitch to summon Cockatrice to level the playing field against the bosses.

Neither Harmony of Dissonance nor Aria of Sorrow presented much boss challenge in their Normal difficulty modes. Bosses still moved with their stiff movements. Rather, only the rival battles against Maxim and Julius, respectively, could really be considered challenging for the player. Julius in particular dealt out harsh damage and could use multiple sub-weapons in his boss battle.

Metroidvania Era – Nintendo DS

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow continued the Game Boy Advance titles onto the stronger hardware of the Nintendo DS. Dawn of Sorrow was in fact a direct sequel to Aria of Sorrow. However, the spritework and use of 3D backgrounds, thanks to the stronger processor of the latter handheld, ran more in line with Symphony of the Night on PlayStation.

Portrait of Ruin featured Dracula and Death in the final battle.

However, what stands out here is the particular design of boss battles. Players who failed to read and memorize its pattern would end up punished and lose tons of health compared to past games. Whereas it might be easy to be a bit overleveled in the GBA titles, the DS games knew how to punish the player’s mistakes and give them the right challenge for their approximate level in line with their location.

Flying Armor, the first boss in the game, could pose a serious challenge to the newcomers. It set a standard for much tougher bosses like Abaddon.

Order of Ecclesia took it a step further. Released in 2008, the final true Castlevania title by series producer, Koji Igarashi, offered an even more difficult challenge than its predecessors. In addition to bosses that dealt hard damage to the player, hoarding items was scarcely an option.

Eligor was a colossal boss which had several phases.

Players needed to rescue the villagers of Wygol Village and complete side-quests in order to unlock shops and items from them. In addition to the challenge, you could kill bosses using unique methods as well. Climbing an elevator to kill a giant enemy crab or fighting several phases of a powerful mech golem painted Castlevania’s noteworthy boss fights in a new light.

Extra Modes and Other Titles

The result of the bad ending included a fight with Dracula in Dawn of Sorrow’s Julius Mode.

While players may debate on the difficulty of Symphony of the Night, Harmony of Dissonance, and Aria of Sorrow, keep in mind it offered unlockable character modes. Richter, Maxim, and Julius could all be unlocked from these respective games. Moreover, they could not take advantage of the RPG elements such as inventory and equipment. While they could dish out powerful attacks, they were also subject to greater limitations than their respective game’s main protagonist.

Harmony of Despair

Finally, Koji Igarashi’s last game for Konami was Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. Playing as an online multiplayer dungeon crawler, the 2011 title featured a series crossover involving protagonists and stages across multiple games in the series.

Largely taking cues from the DS titles and Symphony of the Night, these bosses required proper strategizing among teammates thanks to their high HP count which could take minutes of dealing damage to finally slay. Furthermore, certain bosses, such as Galamoth and R.Count (from the retro Castlevania stage) could even send out projectiles to attack players outside of the boss room!

Final Thoughts on Castlevania

Castlevania and its boss fights evolved with the times. Throughout the years, it went from bosses with fairly predictable and stiff movements to boss fights against powerful demons and even mechas. Their ever-changing patterns and high damage punishment made games in the latter titles even greater than their predecessors. Furthermore, the boss battles against rival characters, such as the Belmonts themselves, usually ended up being among the hardest.

No matter if Death was facing Richter or Maria, he would yell out, “face me, boy!”

Koji Igarashi’s Bloodstained Series

Koji Igarashi formed his own studio, ArtPlay, after leaving Konami. Having developed Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, you can find more of his genius designs in this game. Additionally, Inti Creates developed two 8-bit retro spinoffs, the Curse of the Moon series, to accompany Ritual of the Night.

These games offer their own twist on the Castlevania boss formula with a more elaborate pattern akin to something like Shovel Knight. WayForward also developed the Classic Mode in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night which featured a major throwback to the original NES Castlevania.

There’s nothing bad to take away from the original boss fights. However, after the fairly easier titles in the original Metroidvania (or IGAvania) titles, the DS titles easily had some of the best boss fights in the series. I daresay they set a new standard for boss fights in platformers thanks to their challenging, yet balanced, level of difficulty. Their quality spritework, animations, and creative ways of defeating them left DS fans some of the best boss fights in gaming history. But until Konami ever revives the series I recommend investing time into IGA’s Bloodstained titles.

Which Castlevania game do you believe had the best boss fights overall? Let us know in the replies below. Finally, be sure to Like our main page and follow our social media channels for more quality gaming content!

Until next time!

Rango’s Smash Column – The Fascination of Spirits and Trophies.

Hello and welcome to Rango’s Smash Column! In this edition, I want to step back from the competitive scene and talk about one of the most fun aspects of Smash: Spirits and Trophies. The lore behind spirits and trophies details some of the finest aspects of the history of the series represented in Smash. Each Trophy and Spirit has a story to tell and invites you to their world.

Trophies gave you brief history lessons on games exclusive to Japan.

With that being said, I’ve been doing a little bit of research into the Spirits and Spirit Battles of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. By connecting the dots, I wanted to compare the Spirits represented by other characters. To my surprise, I found some fascinating parallels among several of my favorites.

Resident Evil once had a Spirit Board event.

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of collecting Spirits. Honestly, I buzzed through World of Light in a few days, cleared it 100%, and that was it for me. However, I still can’t help but appreciate the work it took to get thousands of characters into the game. Although the Spirits replaced the fully rendered Trophies from games before, I still appreciate the representation that went into them.

The Allure of Trophies

Trophies became a thing in Super Smash Bros. Melee in 2001. Originating from the character bios in Super Smash Bros. for N64, Trophies featured fully-rendered models of characters, stages, and items in Smash.

Donkey Kong’s bio in Super Smash Bros. for N64.

These not only included in-game references but those outside of Smash as well. That is to say, a multitude of characters and other references from Nintendo’s history appeared as unlockable trophies.

Famicom Detective Club, released for Nintendo Switch, debuted in the west only recently.

Players could decorate their collection, add background filters, or just spend minutes reading up on Nintendo lore. To be absolutely honest, the appeal of Trophies had me wanting to play dozens of Nintendo games. Metroid was among the many titles I badly wanted to play from reading Trophy lore.

Look at that detail. How could you not want to try Metroid after that?

While Melee offered several third-party trophies, such as the Proximity Mine from Rare’s Perfect Dark, Brawl began to take more cues from outside of Nintendo’s universe. Trophies from Sonic the Hedgehog and Metal Gear Solid debuted in Smash. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was the first title to offer HD Trophies and brought some of the most beautifully rendered designs in Smash history.

The Appeal of Spirits

Unlike previous Smash titles, Ultimate does not include Trophies. The absolute multitude of having to design thousands of characters into fully-rendered Trophies sounds absolutely maddening. However, the Smash team still opted to give multiple characters representation detailed as images with custom passive abilities or stat boosts. The World of Light mode harbored Spirits across different worlds.

How about an entire area dedicated to Street Fighter II?

Despite the scaling back to Spirits, one of the most interesting facets is how many non-Nintendo franchises are included even in spite of previous third-party representations. Rayman, Shantae, Shovel Knight, Resident Evil, Octopath Traveler, Bravely Second, and the Mana series number among the many titles which received representation within Smash in some capacity.

Persona 5 Strikers and Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection save data netted you these Spirits.

One of the best things to happen to the Spirit Board came from Sephiroth’s inclusion in Smash Ultimate. Unlike Cloud’s inclusion in Smash 4,  Square-Enix decided to compliment Sephiroth’s release with several new remixed songs and open the door for Final Fantasy VII Spirits as well.

Spirit Representation

I still think Ike should have represented Olberic.

Another interesting facet is how the Spirit correlates with its respective fighter. For instance, they represent Ike with other heavyweight swordfighters including Magnus from Kid Icarus, Sigurd from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Hendrik from Dragon Quest XI, and Ephraim from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. Ike shares traits with these Spirits including their similar tank stats for HP, Attack, and Defense. Plus they all have something in common with their never-back-down personalities.

Meanwhile, Spirits represented by Chrom largely include Swordmasters from Fire Emblem titles.

Another favorite, Cloud, represents two characters from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and one from Astral Chain. While I already liked Kyle from Astral Chain, his intrinsic connection to Cloud only resonated with me further. Plus, I noticed Cloud was represented by Zeke even before meeting him in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Despite this, Cloud and Zeke contrast heavily in personality!

Despite his recent inclusion to the roster, Sephiroth would represent Jin better at this point.

If you’re interested in checking who represents who as Spirits, I recommend checking SSBWiki and searching for your favorite characters. The connections might surprise you and might even lead you to discover a new favorite character.

Final Thoughts

Spirits and Trophies always fascinated me. Even today, I’m discovering series I’ve never played before and learning new things about them. Trophies helped get me into tons of Smash series through their fascinating descriptions and Spirits continued the tradition.

Remember when Pyra wasn’t playable?

I always found it fascinating how Sakurai would determine who goes with who. Like why Roy represents Garet from Golden Sun or why Chrom represents Matthew from the same series.

Smash has always been a museum of sorts for Nintendo history. It later gained its status as a massive library for gaming history with its addition of many third-party universes. It’s astounding to see how far it’s come and how many players discovered new franchises just because of a Trophy or a Spirit.

Until Pyra/Mythra came to Smash, Pneuma from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 never had official art.

Do you have a favorite Trophy or Spirit? If these influenced your decision to try a new game series, share your story in the replies. As always, be sure to Like our page and follow our social media channels. Keep up with our quality gaming content and be sure to Like our main page!

Until next time!

It’s a Fine Time to Play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – The Champions’ Ballad.

It’s 2021 and the gradual decline of the COVID pandemic has incentivized Nintendo back to releasing titles on a regular basis. The first Nintendo Direct in over a year was followed by the announcement that Nintendo would be at E3 in mid-June. With Nintendo preparing to release some quality first-party titles, I took a step back to finish what I started. The Champions’ Ballad.

Although I played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on its 2017 launch, I managed to clear all 120 Shrines shortly after I beat the story. I gave the Master Trials a quick attempt before putting it down for the next four years.

In that span of those four years, however, I’ve come across an interesting game that captured the essence of Breath of the Wild. I’m talking especially about Genshin Impact, the free-to-play Action/RPG by Chinese developer MiHoYo. Borrowing heavily from Breath of the Wild’s visual aesthetic, exploration, combat gameplay, loot, and cooking system, Genshin Impact became a worldwide smash hit over the course of several months. In just under the year, Genshin Impact has grossed over $1 billion in revenue.

Playing Genshin Impact

I’ve enjoyed my fair share of the game despite how short of the time I’ve played it. However, my busy backlog has kept me from investing in it as much as my friends who have long soared past my progress. Yet I appreciate the obvious combat similarities such as the continuous spin attack of the Greatsword weapons. Unlike Breath of the Wild, Genshin Impact lacks a lock-on mechanic, feels decisively easier, and focuses more on character stat-building than procuring survival weapons and timing dodges and parries.

Genshin Impact (2017)

Now with that being said, I appreciate Genshin for what it’s done. I’m not remotely upset at how much it borrowed from Breath of the Wild. Seeing people protest the game just looked ridiculous. This does not mark the first time another developer used Zelda as an inspiration. For instance, compare the aesthetic of Secret of Mana to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on SNES.

Secret of Mana (1993)

Square-Enix borrowed the art style of A Link to the Past using Secret of Mana as a basis before carrying the style over to Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, and Trials of Mana. With that being said, Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series sets a perennial example that continuously inspires other game developers.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1992)

Playing the Champions’ Ballad.

Now, having gone back to Breath of the Wild for the first time in over four years, it took some time to remember the controls. Well, more like a few minutes really. I don’t really know what came over me to finish this quest besides a bug telling me to finish this part of my backlog. Perhaps the release of Age of Calamity made me want to see the rest of the tale of the Champions of Hyrule.

Well, the Champions’ Ballad ended up giving me a reasonable challenge starting with draining all but 1/4 heart of health with the required weapon, the One-Hit Obliterator. While this feels daunting at first, keep in mind the Great Plateau isn’t exactly known for flooding you with enemies. Moreover, only one shrine had mini-guardians for you to slay. Once you finish the last shrine, you can put the weapon away and restore all your hearts to normal as you enter the next stretch of the Champions’ Ballad.

The One-Hit Obliterator drains nearly all your health. But you can one-shot enemies as long as the weapon lights up.

Once you’re done with the first half, you can travel once more to Hyrule’s mainland to enter four different quests. Relative to the Champions and their Divine Beasts, each region featured a triangle of monoliths detailing three shrines each. You had to decipher where each shrine was or you could do what I did and use a guide.

The Second Half

More than anything, Kass wants to finish his teacher’s song. Hence the Champions’ Ballad.

Each shrine offered its own puzzle thematic and no two shrines were alike. It brought back fond memories of solving the 120 shrines of the main game and evoked that feeling of wanting a challenge once more. For what it’s worth, the Shrines offered the best part of the Champions’ Ballad.

After each series of shrines, you would enter a Divine Beast to fight an EX version of the Blight Ganon bosses you encountered before. Each one featured a new form and you were limited to the weapons you could use. To be honest, I didn’t find them any harder than before. The new forms offered a puzzle element to figuring out their weakness. But once you learned it, they went down quickly.

Once I finished each boss fight, I was awarded an upgrade to a Champions’ power. Each one could now cool down much faster than before. After which, Kass would play a song that would stir a flashback featuring Zelda recruiting one of the Champions.

 

The Proper Sendoff to Breath of the Wild.

I enjoyed the puzzles and combat throughout the game. To include some extra content, Nintendo included various armor pieces based on the Zelda series’ past, I have next to no interest in collecting them. They’re side-quests for the sake of side-quests. I feel little reward is given for collecting them especially when I already have the fully-upgraded Tunic of the Wild.

The Champions’ Ballad successfully unifies the Zelda timelines by bringing together armor from every era.

Once I finished the Champions’ Ballad, I received the Master Cycle Zero. But I think the real reward was learning more of the backstories of Princess Zelda and her Champions. Getting to experience the world of Hyrule once more sent me back to enjoying Breath of the Wild for the first time four years ago. It was a fun little challenge and excuse to revisit the title once more. This made for a wonderful sendoff until Nintendo finally, and hopefully, showcases the sequel to Breath of the Wild at E3 this year.

Your final reward is literally the successor to a reference from Mario Kart.

It’s not perfect but despite its imperfections, Breath of the Wild still sets the standard as a defining Action/Adventure title of the current gaming generation. I think the dungeons in this game were quite a good challenge even though I prefer the traditional dungeon layout of previous Zelda games. I also found the game’s single-biggest flaw to be the lack of enemy variety especially compared to past Zelda games. I’m hardly fazed about the breakable weapons especially considering the abundance at which you receive new ones.

Final Thoughts

Breath of the Wild proved to be one of the best games in the Zelda series, a top-level title for Nintendo Switch, and a must-play for any fan of the series. Champions’ Ballad provided a cherry on top that gave players one more reason to explore the world once again.

Until the sequel comes out, I’ll be chugging through my backlog and playing a little bit of Genshin Impact here and there. I won’t play anything to fill the void of Breath of the Wild, however, because it’s a wonderful game on its own. While I might finish Age of Calamity to close the circle on the story of Breath of the Wild, that might be a while to come. Given the size of my backlog, I can’t promise I’ll finish it before the sequel to Breath of the Wild comes out.

Give Champions’ Ballad a try if you’re looking for an excuse to jump back into Breath of the Wild. It might seem daunting at first but it comes around as a solid, level challenge for anyone to enjoy.

Have you tried Breath of the Wild or played its DLC? Let us know in the replies! As always, be sure to follow our social media links for our exclusive content and coverage. And be sure to Like our main page!

Until next time!

Rango’s Smash Column: Georgia Smash Tournaments Return!

Disclaimer: If you play competitive Smash in the state of Georgia and want to come to one of these tournaments, 4o4 esports is located at 6035 Peachtree Rd Suite C-220, Atlanta, GA 30360. Every Thursday, 4o4 esports hosts a Smash Ultimate tournament and adheres to the COVID CDC guidelines. Visit their page to learn more.

Welcome to Rango’s Smash Column and what a week it’s been! While I initially planned to write a column on salt, frustration, and how to deal with it, I feel a more pressing matter has come to mind: the return of Georgia Smash local tournaments!

While 4o4 esports has been hosting smaller-level local tournaments in an attempt to bring back the offline competitive Smash Bros. scene, last week’s April 29th tournament brought in 64 entrants and 720 viewers in its Twitch chat. Among those in chat included tournament organizers and talent  across the country, including Benny, 2GG Strides, and Dabuz. Meanwhile, players in attendance included Fatality, LordMix, Kola, and Mugen (formerly known as HyperKirby).

You can watch the full tournament here.

What it Means for Tournaments to Return.

The most pressing part of this tournament comes from two factors. One, the return to offline tournaments in other regions draws nearer. Tournament organizers and players will surely take note of this successful event. Following COVID guidelines, such as wearing masks in the venue, other scenes across the U.S. will surely be able to run tournaments safely before long. Thanks to the rising availability of the COVID vaccinations, players should be allowed to attend and compete in tournaments sooner than later.

However, the more pressing and long-term consequence of this tournament comes from all the eyes on the stream. Years ago, during the Smash 4 era, the most prominent scenes in the country included Tristate (NY, NJ, PA), SoCal (Southern California), and Florida. The Midwest, NorCal, and Texas began to grow in strength over the course of Smash 4’s prominence and into the dawn of Ultimate. However, Georgia was considered a state with limited talent with the outside looking in. Save for the most prominent members of the Georgia’s Power Rankings (PR), Georgia had some talented players but was largely overlooked as one of the major threats in the Smash scene.

Georgia’s Rise to Prominence.

Although Georgia had incredibly daunting players, such as Fatality and ScAtt, the state’s talent quickly began to grow during the beginning of Ultimate. Kola (formerly known as SaltOne) and HyperKirby began to take out the state’s PR players. Among these also included Sonido who quickly rose in the ranks as a top Sonic main. Several of these players were either considered for the Panda Global Rankings or entered Area 51 which heralded the honorable mention section. Before long, numerous players across Georgia began challenging the top players of the state and landing upsets in the process.

Numerous players called the 4o4’s tournament stacked. After all, the bracket included 64 players including a number of proficient players. But perhaps even more pressing was the number of times I saw “Georgia is the best scene in the U.S.” While the state’s top-level talent has proven to show effective results in national tournaments, such as Fatality’s #2 placing at 2GG Civil War in Smash 4, these same players are laying it on the line against the new standard of competition within the state.

Long story short, Georgia’s talented players are constantly on the rise. The current PR extends to a Top 15 with an honorable mentions section. However, this only showcases the tip of the iceberg among the Georgia state talent. Previously, it was not uncommon for state scenes to have roughly 5 high-level players ranked before a skill gap separated them from the rest of their state’s talent. However, as time went on, players practiced the game, got better, and continued to enter competitions. Compared to the mid-to-late 2010s, Georgia is brimming with talented, high-level players.

Moving Forward.

Among the notable rising talent in Georgia includes Kevetex, a Chrom main, and Fallen Thunder, who mains Steve. Both of these players successfully eliminated Fatality in Winner’s and Loser’s bracket, respectively. Preem, an Inkling main, also made his way to Top 16 and took a game off of Mugen in Winner’s. Meanwhile, Dusk, a Roy main, brought his way to Top 8 before his elimination by Vivid, a  Toon Link.

Despite the rise of new talent in the scene, both Winner’s Finals and Grand Finals featured Mugen vs. Kola. The two players that dominated the Ultimate tournaments in the first year of Georgia tournaments retained their reputation by making it to the final match in this tournament. Two of the greatest rivals in Georgia’s history, also quite possibly Georgia’s best doubles team, continue to pave the way forward for the rest of the state’s rising talent to follow.

However, Mugen and Kola only number two of the dozens of players rising up the ranks in Georgia. Among the many players that competed, worked their asses off, and achieved the highest results they have in their tournament careers, the crown is up for grabs. It’s anyone’s game and if there’s one thing Georgia players do well, it brings out the best in each other in competition. We love to compete and we hate to lose.

The Key to Victory.

As long as Georgia players continue to foster growth, we can become the greatest Smash scene in history. With the spark ignited by 4o4 esports’ tournament, this state could become a major hub with new eyes set on Georgia’s Smash events. As a competitor myself, I feel excited returning to tournaments as well.

Are you keeping up with Smash Ultimate tournaments during the pandemic? If you keep up with watching tournaments or compete in them, let us know in the replies below. Keep up with All Cool Things on social media to stay updated with the latest content. We’ll keep you posted on the Georgia Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament scene!

Until next time!

 

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Game Corner May 2021: What Are You Playing This Month?

Hello and welcome to the Game Corner. These entries will feature site editor Rango’s gaming backlog. If you enjoy Nintendo, JRPGs, and fighting games, you’ve come to the right place!

I’ll be covering a bit of my gaming blog each month and include my thoughts on each game as well as a bit of progress I’ve made. If you’re a fan of Nintendo games or Japanese titles on PlayStation, then you’ll surely enjoy what’s to come! By all means, feel free to post your play log in the comments as well.

This month, I’ve been covering a smaller selection of games thanks to my recent Pokémon addiction. Since the Game Corner was named after the slot machine mini-game areas of the Pokémon titles, perhaps it’s apropos that I finally add a Pokémon game to the lineup.

Unfortunately, I need to get a move on with filling out my Pokedex. Resident Evil Village is right around the corner, Famicom Detective Club comes out next month, and Capcom recently announced The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles coming out later this year.

Well, with that being said, let’s get to the games!

Pokémon Sword

I haven’t been this addicted to Pokémon since the first two gens. While my love for Pokémon Silver could not be topped for the longest time, I hate to admit that I also found Gen III underwhelming and skipped both Gen IV and V on the DS. People tell me I picked a fine chapter to omit since Platinum and HeartGold/SoulSilver are community favorites while the Black and White titles are said to have some of the best stories in the series.

Feel free to add my League Card: 0000-0005-F6DG-P1

While I found myself returning to the series with Pokémon X and Y, I had a passing interest in the 6th and the 7th gen titles, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Good games to play and beat, but for some reason, I never felt compelled to fill my Pokedex. This might be due to their limited postgame campaigns.

However, Pokémon Sword hooked me since I started playing it. While I’m more than aware of the many complaints regarding the National Dex and other minor issues, I found myself loving it far more than I expected to. But most importantly, perhaps the timing to which I played the game – after the DLC released – might have played a factor in my favoritism.

This good boy helped me catch many Pokémon. Teach Boltund Nuzzle and it will paralyze your opponents for minimal damage.

Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass

The Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra both provide lengthy campaigns across new regions in Galar. The dozens upon dozens of Pokémon to collect, the interesting characters you meet, and the more challenging battles you face not only add more to the game but make the overall experience more enjoyable. While you could get by with the limited postgame campaign and Pokedex adventure in the base game, the DLC more than supplements the title. Crown Tundra alone adds Dynamax Adventure allowing you to catch rare and legendary Pokémon with friends or online players.

Legendary Pokémon appear at the end of these 4-battle campaigns. However, they will not appear on your Pokedex.

I’ve already caught all the major legendaries from both campaigns and finished their storylines. With 76 hours in and 244 Pokémon captured, I’m spending most of my time now in Dynamax Adventures. In addition, I finally tried out the Battle Tower for the first time. I missed these in past generations and already know it will be quite the challenge.

Final Fantasy XV: Comrades

Unlike Pokémon, I can’t say I’ve spent much time in Comrades yet. Over the last couple of weeks, I managed to clear both the main storyline as well as the DLC episodes. Like Pokémon Sword and Shield, I’ve found XV to have a concerning number of complaints from players only to end up enjoying the game far more than expected.

Comrades offers a multiplayer campaign and allows you to customize an avatar character before starting your adventure. It takes place after the party lands in Altissia but before the timeskip.

I hate to admit that I’ve been a bit slow in entering this adventure. Part of me feels burned out from playing Final Fantasy XV and all of its campaigns. Worse yet is that NieR Replicant, another Action/RPG by Square-Enix and prequel to one of my favorite games of all time, NieR Automata, just came out. Hopefully, I get to it sooner than later. On the bright side, by the time I finish this campaign, Final Fantasy VII: Intergrade will come out for PS5. I’ll be playing that, finishing the playthrough I started, and hopefully will be ready for Final Fantasy XVI to come out whenever it does.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Hooray! I finally got 20 million Zeni and the last trophy! After owning this game since launch, it took a bonus event with a daily 200,000 Zeni bonus and a few romps through the Tournament of Power mode to finally grind out that last trophy. That’s quite possibly the dumbest and most time-consuming trophy requirement I have seen in a fighting game since My Kung-Fu is Stronger in Mortal Kombat.

As far as the game itself goes, I’ve been off-and-on playing it as a hobby title. While I doubt I will end up going to tournaments in FighterZ, I will say I’ve found myself favoring it over Tekken 7. Previously, I’d been dabbling in other fighting games to play alongside Smash Bros. FighterZ has not only held my attention long enough for me to play at least weekly but I also have several friends who also enjoy the game regularly.

Since we’re all playing together, I might end up showing a bit more action and playing it a bit more. I finally found a team I can get behind as well. Since Goku and Vegeta are my obvious favorite characters, and I can’t pick between the two, I figured I should learn them on the same team. Even though I love Vegito and Gogeta, I want to start with these guys, plus Adult Gohan, before I move onto other fighters. Playing FighterZ has also got me wanting to try Street Fighter V again down the road.

Fire Emblem Heroes

I can’t believe I actually hit Tier 26 in Aether Raids last season. I didn’t even understand how to boost my score until recently. I’d just been fighting with my base team, a bonus unit, and hoping for the best. But now I think I’m finally understanding how to build a proper team and get a move on to climb up the ranks. Sadly, I can’t say I’ve had as much luck this week. On the bright side, we got a new legendary banner.

The recent banner released features child units of the major characters from Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones including a duo unit of Eirika and Ephraim. While I thought last year’s child units, based on Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, was a one-time deal, I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes an annual banner now.

I think my new favorite unit of the week is my Brave Hector as well. I’m now using him for Arena Offense and might even try him in some Aether Raids Offense and Defense as well. Time to try and see if that works.

Borrowed from the Gamepress build with a little help from r/FireEmblemHeroes.

I also managed to conquer another Abyssal map. Seiros’ map was giving me some serious trouble. But with a quick tweak to my main all-purpose team, we got the job done. A defense tanking Claude who can take out flyers really makes the difference.

I’m looking forward to how the story advances. We’ll have new units coming out likely next week. Any suspects on who might be showing up? Your guess is as good as mine!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Even in spite of its bad netcode made even worse with the recent patch, I can’t peel myself away from Smash. Since Georgia’s 404 local offline tournaments are coming back, it’s only a matter of time before offline events in general return. I need to continue training and stay ahead of the curve.

I think I’ve finally narrowed down my characters.

While I continue to master matchups and my secondary characters, especially Roy, I’ve also found myself using Cloud a ton again. Arguably a high-tier character at this point, Cloud has a toolkit for nearly any matchup out there. His Blade Beam projectile, Climhazzard out-of-shield option, Limit Charge to force approaches, and his overall reach, damage building, and KO power still make him an excellent choice for players at any level.

I can’t say he covers any matchups that aren’t already covered by the Top 3 characters I use. However, he’s definitely one of the most favorite recent choices along with Roy.

I look forward to returning to the competitive scene once more. I can’t say I’ve had an interest in entering WiFi tournaments or streaming and becoming a content creator. However, I still regularly play Smash online and find the occasional strong opponent in Elite Smash. Sometimes when you find a strong opponent on random matchmaking, you end up building bonds on Twitter. You never know who you’ll find next.

That’s a wrap!

That’s all for this week’s Game Corner. I can’t say I’ve had much variety outside of my usual suspects and a heavy abundance of Pokémon. I’ll continue catchingPokémon and try to fill up my Pokedex before the next update. I’m a little over halfway to 400 so it might not take much longer. In the interim, I will continue to farm Dynite Ore and hit up the Battle Tower.

What are you playing this month? Share your play log in the replies below! As always, be sure to follow our social media account for the latest and greatest from All Cool Things!

Until next time!

Watch Baki If You’re Looking for Your Next Combat Anime Fix

I recently finished the Netflix anime series Baki. Recommended by the good guys who run the Manime panel at Anime Weekend Atlanta, my girlfriend picked this one out for us. She picked this right after we finished Kengan Ashura, another stellar combat anime series I recommend.

With that being said, Baki has its ups and downs. But I will say those downs don’t really hit until the end which I’ll get to shortly. For what it’s worth though, this anime kicks ass. The animation, the music, the character design, and even the narrative history on martial arts and other tidbits of trivia hit a high note.

You’ll enjoy the grossly exaggerated feats.

For those wondering, this adaptation of Baki does not take place at the beginning of the manga. This anime begins with the Most Evil Death Row Convicts arc. The previous tournament arc is essentially recapped right in the opening.

With that being said, I would love to get to the point on why I recommend Baki.

What to Expect from Baki

Baki the Grappler is a martial arts shonen manga released in Japan in 1991. It features the young martial artist, Baki, who seeks to defeat his father, Yujiro Hanma, also known as the Strongest Living Creature. Having murdered Baki’s mother, he seeks revenge while training and fighting against many powerful martial artists.

Yujiro Hanma is also known as The Ogre.

Compared to your contemporary shonen anime, however, Baki is a great deal more violent and geared towards a more mature audience. Think more like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure in terms of violence because it pushes on horror levels of gore. On the flipside, Baki also offers insightful trivia on martial arts, history, as well as some grossly exaggerated anatomical feats such as surviving bullets to the face.

The fighters can engage each other anywhere at any time.

The Netflix arc focuses not just on Baki but on a myriad of fighters. The Most Evil Death Row Convicts arc features five fugitives who escaped the death penalty and traveled to Tokyo in order to seek defeat. These convicts fight against Baki as well as his fellow martial artists including Doppo Orochi, Kaioh Retsu, and Gouki Shibukawa, among others.

Stellar Work of Animation and Narrative

Being released in 2018, Baki features some of the most cutting-edge animation. Many of the fights feature some incredibly hard-hitting blows and fast-paced fighting. Along with the stellar character detail, I can’t say enough good things about it.

Every fighter in this series is a true badass. Fighters like Biscuit Oliva and Jack Hanma are among the most intimidating people introduced alongside the already frightening Death Row Convicts. Not to mention some of the convicts are just downright sick in the head, like Spec, who will surely disturb you.

I enjoyed watching the dub which featured prominent voice talents like Steve Blum as Doppo Orochi. However, feel free to pick whichever language suits you.

Baki brings a wonderful notion of dread especially throughout the first part of the Death Row Convicts arc. The villains are seemingly unbeatable at first and the fights involve a number of grotesque sequences. For a martial arts series, I daresay the level of violence might blow your mind.

A Couple of Drops in Writing

However, Baki isn’t a perfect anime. I feel there were a few studders here and there with the writing. Naturally, whether it’s the same as in the manga or not, I’m not sure. I certainly don’t fault the anime production team for bringing this to life. Regardless, the writing dips once during the first arc and essentially the second half of the last arc.

**SPOILERS BELOW**

For starters, Dorian’s defeat egged me a little bit. He was soundly defeated by Doppo Orochi. Yet he retaliates in a sneak attack against Orochi only to be defeated quickly by Kaioh Retsu. As such, he loses his mind and regresses to a childlike persona. I don’t know why that was ever necessary when it could have ended at Orochi.

This problem also extends similarly to my least favorite arc, the Muhammad Ali Jr. arc. While the manga pays great tribute to Ali, his son initially starts off as an incarnation of Ali, but younger, in the Baki series. Beating down tough fighters using Ali’s skills, Ali Jr. quickly becomes a dominant fighter. Where does that lead us?

I will say, however, that the series pays tremendous respsect to boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

After his utter defeat, he is rematched by and loses to the 3 competitors he previously defeated. Suddenly, he’s going to challenge Baki Hanma and expect to win? After his inevitable defeat, he’s reduced to a crying mess. While I’m all for an arc where a powerful character is humbled and grows from it, nothing came of this ass-whooping that Ali Jr. received.  It felt like a pointless direction. And to make matters worse, the arc ends on the cliffhanger of Baki and Yujiro finally going to battle.

**END SPOILERS**

The Ali Jr. arc in itself wasn’t terrible. But it didn’t live up to the Raitai Tournament and certainly not the Most Evil Death Row Convicts arc which I found epic. It still had plenty of gorgeously animated visceral scenes but it lacked the tension of the previous arcs as well as building up a prominent fighter just to drop him like a basket of eggs.

Final Thoughts

I especially enjoyed the Most Evil Death Row Convicts arc. I loved the premise of a life-or-death tournament where a battle could happen at any time. These frightening convicts with superhuman strength were fighting to kill and the series wasn’t afraid to gross you out with it. The latter arcs were endearing with their fights and animation but nothing quite hit like the first one.

With that being said, Baki isn’t perfect but it’s certainly worth watching. For shonen and martial arts enthusiasts, definitely give this one a watch. If you’re interested even further, seek out the manga or the older anime series to catch up on what happened before the Netflix series.

If big muscles, hand-to-hand combat, and gory deaths excite you, Baki will surely deliver. While I would disagree with the direction of writing in a couple of places, I still found myself entertained throughout. The Death Row Convicts and Raitai Tournament arcs were surely exciting.

Keep up with AllCoolThings on our social media links below to find our latest updates. Also, check out Kitsu.io for a new anime profile experience where you can link your MAL account.

Pyra and Mythra enter Smash Bros. Could they redefine the competitive meta?

Earlier this week, Nintendo dropped the latest DLC characters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Pyra and Mythra. Hailing from the Nintendo Switch JRPG, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, these two can transform into each other akin to Zelda and Sheik from previous Smash Bros. titles. Utilizing a similar moveset, however, Pyra and Mythra feature notable differences in their abilities.

The latest release also features the 11.0.0 patch. This includes an update that allows you to disconnect stray wireless controllers. For players who participated in offline tournaments, this will be a godsend once the pandemic ends. Furthermore, the latest update included a number of character balance changes. You can read the full patch notes here.

Pyra and Mythra feature a new stage as well as numerous tracks from their home game. This includes 3 new remixes for Smash. You can also find some new Spirits from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 as well as spirits from two recent Nintendo Switch releases: Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection and Persona 5 Strikers.

With that being said, let’s discuss the new fighters, shall we?

Pyra and Mythra

Showcased in February’s Nintendo Direct, this duo-fighter enters with a plethora of fast and powerful sword techniques. While the two largely share the same moveset, Mythra focuses more on speed while Pyra focuses more on damage and KO launch power. While this approach is akin to an Echo Fighter, they share a single slot!

Mythra focuses on speed sword techniques similar to Roy and Marth. Her Photon Edge is a fantastic horizontal punisher that sweeps across much of the stage. Mythra can also use Forward Throw to tech-chase into multiple options including a killer Foward Smash near the ledge at just under 100%.

Pyra, on the other hand, focuses more on powerful single strikes akin to Roy and Ike. While she’s far less mobile than Mythra, she’s effective at KOing at early percents. All of her Smash attacks can KO under 100% as well as her dash attack, Flame Nova, and Prominence Revolt. Finally, Pyra’s Blazing End serves as an effective projectile that deals tremendous damage.

How Mythra and Pyra Could Affect the Meta.

Mythra boasts incredible speed in the air and on the ground. She’s quite effective for dealing damage at early percents, punishing landings and whiffs with Photon Edge. I tend to use her at the start of the round to rack up damage while keeping a mobility advantage. She can soften up the foe a bit while avoiding damage and striking combos.

Pyra, on the other hand, comes out around the 60% mark, on average, to finish the job. To even consider KOing around such a mid-percent sounds insane at first. But when you use Pyra’s Forward Smash you’ll quickly see why she’s incredible. Take Roy’s Forward Smash, double the range, and lose the sourspot. While’s it’s a bit slower than the former, it makes up with its incredible range.

I’ve also found Pyra’s Down Smash to effectively break partially-weakened shields. Flame Nova, with a full charge, can also penetrate shields. Another thing is that, if you want to use Pyra throughout the match, throwing out Blazing End makes for an effective zoning tool that will force the enemy to approach. This makes up for Pyra’s lack of speed on the ground.

Mythra is overall great at approaching and her speedy attacks can often get the first hit on opponents. Her Up Moves, which include Ray of Punishment and Chroma Dust, can also edgeguard opponents. Try launching a foe, snapping the ledge, and using one of the two as your opponent attempts to recover.

On that note, I would now like to touch upon the most recent update.

Nerfs

Four of the top tiers, Palutena, Joker, Wario, and Zero Suit Samus. Palutena received nerfs to her dash attack, forward aerial, and standing grab. Joker also received endlag nerfs on both Eiha and Tetrakarn/Makarakarn, thus leaving him more susceptible to punishment on whiff. Meanwhile, Wario received shorter duration on his Up Tilt and several charge levels of his Waft ability. For players struggling with these characters in battle, surely this will come as a breath of fresh air. Finally, Zero Suit Samus is now more vulnerable when landing on Neutral Aerial, and Boost Kick starts slower than before.

Buffs

On the flipside, several characters received buffs. Captain Falcon and Ganondorf can now act after using their respective Up B moves. Until recently, if they used their Up B against opponents offstage, they could tech the move and edgeguard Falcon/Ganondorf before they could react. Known as “rockcrocking” or “tech-checking,” this left them at a disadvantage. This recent patch will allow them to act faster to avoid the counterattack.

Furthermore, Pichu received minor buffs. He got intangibility on his ears for Neutral Aerial which will give him more attack range without getting punished up close. Plus his recoil damage was lessened considerably on several of its moves. While Pichu was initially seen as a top tier in the early meta, several nerfs brought him down a bit while Pikachu climbed to the top tier. However, perhaps these new buffs might close the gap between the two Pokemon once more.

But perhaps the most startling change involved Byleth. After a year since their release in Fighter Pass 1, Byleth’s Down Aerial and Down Smash, both of which use the axe Aymr, will launch opponents to the blast zone sooner. Down Aerial will also break shields sooner. These slow moves now feel less like “high risk, low reward” moves and will prove to be major tools thanks to their superior launching power. Byleth’s Up B, Sword of the Creator, will also KO sooner and starts up faster. You can use it to chain into Areadbhar.

Final Thoughts

Pyra and Mythra look like dangerous characters. They’re fast, strong, and when used in harmony, might turn the tide in the meta. As a fan of sword and melee characters, I’m looking forward to using them in battle more. I would love to see how they change up the current meta.

The nerfs to the top tiers were, as always, greatly appreciated. Anything to level the playing field for Ike is welcome in my book. Meanwhile, buffs for Byleth also make my day. I was using Byleth when he first came out and wanted to use him as a potential secondary. Sad to say he ended up being a lower-end character on the tier list. But these powerful buffs to Byleth’s toolkit might make the difference in his tournament performance and future tier placement.

I also cannot get over how great it is that we can now turn off Pro Controllers that aren’t being used. Anyone who hosted a tournament, or even participated, knows the frustration this would bring. The previous player’s Pro Controller, on a tournament setup, still being active yet could not be disconnected was a major inconvenience at events. Once the COVID pandemic ends and we can enter tournaments again, this will be one of the most appreciated changes in the patch.

I’ll be keeping the Smash Column updated and may get to add some of my Pyra/Mythra matches to the feature. Be sure to stay tuned for our updates. In the meantime, follow our social media links. Keep up with AllCoolThings as we follow Smash Ultimate into the last 2 entries in Fighter Pass 2.

Until next time!

Fire Emblem Heroes: What’s new for March 2021 featuring A Hero Rises!

Welcome to our first monthly entry for Fire Emblem Heroes! Nintendo’s mobile gacha RPG took the world by storm when it released in February 2017. Celebrating its 4th anniversary, Fire Emblem Heroes features a plethora of units and skills coming out this month. Among these include the 5.3.0 update.

As an avid player myself, I’ve been keeping up with the releases! As a recent subscriber to Feh Pass, I already got my monthly unit, Tana. Coming off the recent Voting Gauntlet, we got a new Forging Bonds event as well. You can see all the current and upcoming details below.

A Hero Rises Results for 2021

Congratulations to the winner of A Hero Rises, Lyn: Ninja-Friend Duo. The duo-unit came through in the Final Round of the recent Voting Gauntlet. While Seiros was initially the chosen favorite and ranked the highest in the early voting stages of A Hero Rises, the ever-popular protagonist from Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade snuck the win in classic ninja style. As such, all players will be awarded a free Lyn + Florina unit!

New Units and Forging Bonds

This month introduces a new banner featuring four characters from Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Dedue, Marianne, Linhardt, and Ingrid. These four characters also come with a new Forging Bonds campaign.

I feel bad for Linhardt, though. He got the short end of the stick and received no new abilities. He’s a copy-pasted mage unit who will serve as a fodder 4-star unit. However, Dedue’s defensive ability reflects similarly to Gustav who appeared in last month’s Day of Devotion banner. He can swap places to take close-ranged damage. We’ll also be getting another free unit to go with them.

If you don’t remember this old bastard, he was causing major problems through the first arc of Three Houses.

Final Thoughts

The Three Houses banner follows up with the Legendary Claude banner so I’m always happy to see this game get represented. However, I feel that the Ashen Wolves banner cannot come soon enough. The DLC of Fire Emblem: Three Houses featured four prominent characters who quickly became favorites. I would love to add them to my team.

In other news, I can’t lie about my feelings for A Hero Rises. I was really hoping to get Seiros in my army. Granted, she is best girl in Three Houses. As such, I can’t help but vote for the Hero who kept peace in Fodlan for nearly a millennium. However, since I don’t have Lyn: Ninja Friend Duo in my army yet, I suppose I can take solace knowing I get a new unit.

As far as Book V goes, I’m enjoying the story right now. I love Norse Mythology and seeing the contrast between Nidavellir’s dvegar (dwarves) and Jotunheimr’s giants. With that said, perhaps we will get to add the Jotunheimr princesses to our army in the next year or so.

I look forward to playing through this month’s story chapter and meeting the Jotunheimr princess, Nott.

Finally, we’ll be updating you with Fire Emblem Heroes monthly so be sure to keep an eye out. As always, follow our social media links and stay tuned for our quality gaming content. Also, be sure to keep up with Fire Emblem Heroes on Twitter or whichever social media platform you prefer.

Until next time!

New Pokemon Snap, Diamond and Pearl Remakes, and Legends coming to Nintendo Switch!

Nintendo and The Pokemon Company recently showcased a new presentation featuring three upcoming titles for Nintendo Switch. This showcase was presented in February 2021 which marks the 25th anniversary of Nintendo and Game Freak’s illustrious monster-catching RPG!

Among the featured titles, the first game showcased New Pokemon Snap while the other two were new announcements. Nintendo has finally confirmed the remakes of Diamond and Pearl! But perhaps even more intriguing is the announcement of a brand new Pokemon game: Pokemon Legends Arceus.

New Pokemon Snap

In the recent presentation, New Pokemon Snap received a new trailer going further in-depth with the title. Taking place in the Lental region, you’ll get to snap pictures of wild Pokemon across various landscapes!

This successor to the 1999 N64 hit, Pokemon Snap, will feature the same on-rails gameplay. You’ll use various items to goad Pokemon into posing for your pictures and send them to the professor. Better pictures mean a higher score!

New Pokemon Snap will also come with modern-day features like filters and stickers to add to your photos. You can also post them online and get ratings from other players. The game is set to launch for Nintendo Switch on April 30, 2021!

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl

Originally released for the Nintendo DS in 2006, the fourth generation of Pokemon games introduced online play to the series. This included both online battling and trading as well. Newly titled “Brilliant” and “Shining,” these remakes will retell the Pokemon story in the Sinnoh region.

As opposed to remaking these titles in full 3D, like Sword and Shield, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will retain the original 2D look. This art style will reflect much closer to the original DS releases.

Nintendo previously used this approach for their remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

While past Pokemon remakes included elements of the “third” game, such as HeartGold and SoulSilver borrowing elements from Pokemon Crystal, we cannot say if this will take cues from Pokemon Platinum in the same vein. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will be released in late 2021 for Nintendo Switch.

Pokemon Legends Arceus

Finally, on top of remaking Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, Game Freak and Nintendo are creating an original storyline set within the same region of Sinnoh. This will tell a story around the “God” of the Pokemon universe, Arceus.

By appearance alone, it differs vastly from the traditional Pokemon storylines and settings. There’s no telling if there will be a goal to fill up a Pokedex, or the past-era equivalent, or how much it will deviate. However, this story not only features prototype Poke Balls but also an open-world setting!

Pokemon Legends Arceus is expected to release for Nintendo Switch in 2022.

Final Thoughts

As a Pokemon Snap fan from the N64 era, I can definitely say I’m looking forward to the new release! It will feel good to revisit the photo-catching gameplay once more. While I previously downloaded Pokemon Snap to my Wii U Virtual Console, I’m definitely looking forward to this one.

Believe it or not, I never played Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, or Platinum. I started moving away from the series after Gen III and, as such, feel like I skipped out on an important chapter in the series. After watching this presentation, I finally started my Pokemon Sword playthrough. With that said, these remakes couldn’t come at a better time.

Finally, the big announcement came from Pokemon Legends Arceus. Revisiting Sinnoh in an era set in an ancient eastern world, this original storyline looks a bit darker and more focused on a fantasy storyline. This looks to be one of the biggest spin-offs in the Pokemon series’ history. As opposed to the typical catch Pokemon and become League Champion story, this original storyline will tell its own tale.

Be sure to keep up with us for future updates on the upcoming Pokemon titles. And visit our social media links to stay tuned with us for the latest on quality gaming content. Till next time!