The Game Corner – What Are You Playing in June 2021? – AllCoolThings Sendoff Edition!

Hello and welcome to this month’s Game Corner! This monthly column is dedicated to our gaming backlogs and how we’re progressing through them. Whether we’re in the first half of a 60+ hour RPG or on our way to finishing up our Pokedexes, the Game Corner covers any topics revolving around finishing your backlog!

I suck because I still have games like Yakuza 3 on my backlog which I’ve barely started.

All Cool Things will be taking a hiatus after this article. We hope you’ve enjoyed the content we’ve shared with you over the past year and a half. Once con season begins rolling in around the middle of fall, we hope to be back in full form and better than ever! I’ll keep posting Smash content on my personal gaming blog, however.

Art of my OC by JageRage7.

With that being said, I just want to take the time to go over some of the games I’ve been playing. Truth be told, it’s been an ordeal to get these games lately. I’ve been so bent on practicing for Smash tournaments that I barely give myself the time to play anything else. With the return of Georgia tournaments and even the recent major at InfinityCon, I can’t afford to let my competition get the best of me! But likewise, I can’t let my backlog keep growing either! With that being said, take a look at what’s on the selection this month!

NieR Replicant

This quirky little Action/RPG serves as the precursor to 2017’s hit title, NieR: Automata. Originally released as NIER in 2010, this remaster features the younger protagonist set in the release exclusive to Japan. The hack-and-slash combat feels like something straight out of Devil May Cry while incorporating RPG elements such as leveling up, taking on side-quests, and even forming a small party of sorts.

Known for its convoluted storylines and dark storytelling, NieR Replicant grasps the player by the feelings after taking on the first few set of side-quests. Finding a lost dog in the field only starts the natural process of empty, sad outcomes for the player. If you’ve played NieR: Automata before, you might know what to expect.

I don’t know what’s better. Hearing Liam O’Brien’s accent or Laura Bailey swear profusely.

As a remaster, it does little to hide the fact that it’s a title from the Xbox 360 and PS3 era. Despite that, it runs wonderfully at 60 FPS and looks much prettier than the original, mixed-received release. I’m glad to see Square-Enix continuing to pursue the NieR series. I hope they’ll consider remastering Yoko Taro’s related work, the Drakengard series, down the road.

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir

It’s visual novel season and by season I mean it’s been years. While I’ve unfortunately let Ai: The Somnum Files and several Danganronpa titles pass me by, I finally found a visual novel that’s grabbed my attention. A full remake of the 80s Famicom Detective Club series, once exclusive to Japan, this tale features redrawn art, redesigned characters, and plenty of story to go through. If you’re familiar with games like Snatcher or Ace Attorney, you’ll be talking to people about different subjects. However, as an amnesiac protagonist, you’ll work through the story by recalling events slowly over time.

One thing I absolutely love is just the fact that Nintendo came out of the left field to revive a title that has never seen the west before. It’s like releasing a new IP except it’s an old IP formerly exclusive to Japan. Seeing as how popular titles like Zero Escape are, I’m glad Nintendo finally jumped to releasing their own brand of visual novels. This opens the door to many possibilities such as continuing the series with new games after this release. However, I’ll need to get through this series before The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles comes out later this month!

Resident Evil Village

Mommy Dimitrescu. That’s what we’re calling her, right? I’m still early on in Resident Evil Village but I’m really liking the gameplay so far. Honestly, it truly feels like a culmination of Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil 4’s inventory, crafting, merchant, and puzzle systems. Now I only wish there was a button to kick or suplex stunned enemies.

Truth be told, I watched my girlfriend beat the game already so I know how it all ends. I want to enjoy the game for myself since I love this series’s gameplay, music, and mood. I’m interested in seeing how the story moves on after Village. However, I still want to see the characters I know and love return. At least we’re getting Netflix series based around Leon and Claire.

Honestly, I hate to admit that I’m not remotely terrified of Lady Dimitrescu or her daughters. It’s nothing like the terror I felt when being stalked by Tyrant or surprised by Nemesis. In fact, I like it when they chase me around and I will leave it at that!

Fire Emblem Heroes

Meet the new face of the meta.

How did I finally place Tier 32 in Aether Raids? I’ve spent the last 2 or 3 years around Tier 20! Once I finally decided to start looking up how to build good teams, I finally started making progress with some help from r/FireEmblemHeroes. I don’t think I ever bothered caring about these builds until I subscribed to Feh Pass. Now that I pay for some better units and extra orbs, I may as well make it count.

I don’t see how myself making it to Tier 20 in Arena any time soon. Not unless I get lucky. Of course, I never expected my Aether Raids score to suddenly jump past 24 from last season. Honestly, though, I’m starting to like making multiple builds. I feel a little bit more variety than just letting Team Ike carry everything.

I have no business being up here.

Pokemon Sword

400 Pokemon in the Pokedex and Battle Tower cleared. What else is there besides online battling? Exactly, online battling. I finally stuck my nose into the competitive scene in Pokemon. Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever actually battled people in the Pokemon series. I never even really did it except maybe a small handful of times as a kid in Yellow at my daycare.

Meet my best friend!

Incineroar and Charizard serve as my powerhouses but Sylveon remains a staple in all my teams. I really want to get more use out of Pangoro but I haven’t been successful yet. I will say that single battle 3v3 feels faster-paced than 6v6 and I think I’m starting to prefer it. However, I think it might be time to start up 2v2.

He may not be Dragon-type Mega Charizard X but he still carries my team.

Thanks largely to one of my friends for supplying me with some good breeds, Egg moves, and Ability Patches, I finally decided to delve into the competitive rabbit hole. I just hope it doesn’t take too much time away from my Smash practice.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Earlier, I mentioned that InfinityCon was a major. Tallahassee, FL, hosted a 512 player tournament featuring competitors from FL, GA, IL, and other sectors. In the end, Georgia’s own Kola took grand finals and won it all ahead of skilled competitors like Myran, Ned, Fatality, and more. As a Roy and Cloud player, I was quite impressed with Kola’s performance.

Seeing this tournament has me really gearing up for my return to tournaments. I’ve already booked an event at our local World of Beer for our first return back to tournaments on June 24th. Plus, several days before that, 4o4 esports is hosting their monthly series near Atlanta. I’m incredibly excited to return to the competition if not a little nervous since it’s been over a year since I’ve competed.

My current characters in Smash. I honestly can’t stop using Cloud.

I should also mention that I coach players on Metafy.gg. Be sure to check it out and book a session with me if you’re seeking to improve your gameplay!

Final Thoughts

Fellas, it’s been fun. I could spend more time talking about how I’m trying to play more King of Fighters XIII on my PC or finally starting Xenoblade Chronicles 2 back up for the first time in several months. But I think this covers this month’s column well enough.

I would play The King of Fighters XIII if it was active.

Remember that E3 begins on Saturday, June 12, and lasts till June 15th. If you’re as excited about it as I am, make sure you stay tuned for the news and all the upcoming releases. As always, I know better than to expect Metroid Prime 4, Super Mario RPG’s return, or a Legend of Dragoon remake. However, I can always hope for something really good and out of left-field, like Zelda Oracle remakes to celebrate the series’ 35th anniversary. Here’s hoping Nintendo doesn’t let us down!

I’ve enjoyed writing this column and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much. I won’t be able to discuss releases with you for a while except on my own personal blog. Feel free to follow me there!

But make sure to leave a Like on our main page and follow the social media channels to get a reminder on when we’ll be back! We’re hoping for October if not a little later so be sure to stay tuned for our grand return!

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!

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!

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!

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!

Rango’s Smash Column: Week of 1/18/21 – Are Roy and Chrom Top Tier?

Welcome to this week’s Smash Column!

Lately, I’ve been sorting around my secondaries in Smash. I love up-close-and-personal brawler combat. As such, I base secondaries to cover the bad matchups of my main, Ike, using similar playstyles.

I main Ike and use the rest online or in tournaments.

However, as I’ve been mulling about it and discussing matchups with users on various Smash Discords, I’ve been reconsidering the use of Roy and his Echo Fighter, Chrom.

Roy and Chrom

These two Fire Emblem lords fight similarly to Marth and Lucina. Roy, much like Marth, was introduced in Super Smash Bros. Melee. However, from Smash 4 and Ultimate, Roy’s fighting style deviated more from Marth’s and became its own identity. Likewise, Chrom became an offshoot of Roy in which, like Lucina, his sword damage is based evenly around his blade.

In the competitive meta, Roy and Chrom both garner dominant results in tournaments. HyperKirby and Kola (formerly known as SaltOne) were two of the pioneers of the Roy meta in Georgia. Meanwhile, Rivers, from New Jersey, is considered the premiere Chrom in the U.S.

Long story short, from my experiences and from viewing various tier lists, Chrom and Roy are commonly viewed as high tier characters. I’ve also seen tier lists that arrange them into the top tier.

How Roy and Chrom Fit Into my Gameplan.

Full disclosure: While I love using both, I feel Roy fits me slightly better. His extra damage on sweetspot and better recovery really win it for me. On the flipside, my girlfriend enjoys watching me play and especially prefers Chrom. That being said, I can’t let her down.

Since they both play fundamentally similar, it’s good practice to learn both characters. As an Ike main, however, I feel like my character struggles heavily against the likes of Roy and ROB. In terms of matchups, I would also say he loses to Palutena, Fox, Zero Suit Samus, Pac-Man, and Mega Man. They’re all winnable matchups but they must be played with great respect to the opponent’s character due to some competitive advantages such as zoning or advantage state.

I learned my lesson from Smash 4 not to solo-main a character that isn’t top tier. While I will never not main Ike, I’ve learned to cover my bases with characters that can take on his weaker matchups. As such, I’ve proven my case: counterpicking wins sets.

Now, let’s say I need a counter against Mega Man, Palutena, or Pac-Man. Roy and Chrom are considerably even or winning in these matchups. I can use their superior mobility and KO power to my advantage to turn the tides using tools that Ike is lacking. Why fight an uphill battle when you can learn to use new tools? Plus, if I’m being honest, Roy and Chrom are just fun as hell to play.

Fun Trivia About Roy

Believe it or not, Roy was always considered poor in the earlier games he was in. He was a low-tier in Melee, a low tier in Smash 4, and both of these performances stemmed from his home game, Fire Emblem: Binding Blade. In Binding Blade, Roy was seen as one of the worst Lords in the series, in terms of stats, and only became viable near the end of the game. Once he promoted and could wield the Binding Blade, he was fairly viable, but not before spending 20 chapters being carried by stronger units like Lilina.

Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade (2002)

Fire Emblem Heroes gave Roy promise, however, in the form of several units. Among these include both a Brave and Legendary variant which made him a considerably tough Sword unit. Meanwhile, as mentioned previously, Roy maintains strong results in tournaments thanks to several talented players. As a Roy fan myself, I’m finally glad to see him doing well in both Smash and Fire Emblem.

Is it Time to Use a New Secondary?

Since I will always main Ike, there’s no debating on whether I would drop him. Not only that, but he’s one of the few characters who does well against the infamous duo, Pikachu and Pichu, with the latter being argued as the best fighter in the game.

I’ve been moving among secondaries. With the graphic I posted above, there’s no way I wouldn’t use these characters. I’ve been warned about “spreading myself thin” and I’m aware that some people still prefer to solo-main. However, I don’t think I would enjoy the game if I could only play one character.

Despite my grievances with Terry, such as botching my inputs, SDing, and landing from his godawful disadvantage state, there’s no way I can stop using him. He’s too fun not to use and has won me big matches in the past.

Sorting My Secondary Fighters

With that said, Cloud, Incineroar, and Lucina are more or less my hobby characters. I don’t plan to bring them out in tournaments save for the few times I’ve done so in the past. I’ve also been using Mario less online since I’m not sure if I want to keep using him for competitive play.

Therefore, that leaves me with Roy/Chrom, Bowser, and Wolf. I’ve been told Wolf does well against Palutena and, if I’m fighting a Roy, I have Bowser at the ready to take them on as well. Counterpicking is a viable strategy that can save sets and win matches.

Does that mean I will use Chrom and Roy as my official secondaries? Right now, I’m not sure. I enjoy playing as them online and I’m definitely learning new things each time I play. But as of this moment, I can’t say for sure if this means I will bring them out in a bracket set. If had to pick 3 characters to use, and two of them were Ike and Terry, their chances of being 3rd would be on par with Wolf and Bowser right now.

As much as I would love to save some clips and post them here, I’ve been having problems with my Switch. It will not read my MicroSD for recording matches and hasn’t been able to do so in months. However, if I do happen to get replays uploaded again, I’ll happily post them here.

I’ll be following up with another Smash Column next week. Be sure to follow our social media links below. Stay well and see you next time!

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

ACT Game Corner 1/1/21

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

ACT Pokemon Game Corner

What is the Game Corner?

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

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

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

ACT Super Mario 64

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

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

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

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

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

Judgment

ACT Judgment Yagami Kaito

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

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

Look. No touch!

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

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

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

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

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

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

Fire Emblem Heroes

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

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

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

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

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

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

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

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

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

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

Wrap-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retrospective: Best Games on the 3DS

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

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

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

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

Re-releases

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

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

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

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

The “third pillar”

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

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

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

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

No second system.

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

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

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

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

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

Where are the games?

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

What Are You Playing? – 8/17/20

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

Without further adieu…

Tekken 7

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

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

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

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

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

Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir

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

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

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

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

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

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

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

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

Who I’m currently playing as online.

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

Fire Emblem Heroes

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

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

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

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

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

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

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

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

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

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

The Five Times That Video Games Stood Up Against Prejudice and Oppression.

Given the current events and following the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we want to dedicate this piece to the protesters fighting for human rights. We’ll feature five stories in video games where characters stood up against authority figures who spread nothing but lies, hatred, and ruled with an iron fist. These uplifting stories of rebellion will hopefully bring some peace of mind and a brighter outlook on the future.

Please keep in mind that the following game sections contain spoilers. If you see the game’s title and are even mildly curious, I strongly suggest buying them.

Final Fantasy X

The Al-Bhed people were shunned by the followers of Yu Yevon, the guardian deity of the world of Spira. However, throughout the game, you begin to notice corruption within the church of Yevon. As your team became branded enemies of Yevon, the Al Bhed came to your rescue. This aid came, in no small part thanks, to Rikku, the Al Bhed girl that you befriended early on in the game.

 

This connection bridges the party to the Al Bhed working together for a better cause. Even though the Yevon loyalists in the party, such as Wakka, initially reject such a radical change, they eventually warm up to the Al Bhed. Eventually, you join up with them in a united effort to save Spira, using their machina to destroy Sin, and set a new course for the world.

Tales of Symphonia

From the beginning of the game, you befriend Genis and Raine, your elf friends. Only later do you learn that they were half-elves, a being repressed throughout Sylvarant and Tethe’alla due to their mixed heritage.

While their secret comes out later in the game, the protagonist, Lloyd, still unites his friends and continues his journey to save both worlds. Genis, despite saying he hates humans, reassures Lloyd he’s still his best friend. Even when the mayor of the town, Iselia, preaches his racism towards your half-elven party members, the people stand against him.

Regarding the overarching storyline, you later learn that the Sylvarant’s folk hero and eventual antagonist, Mithos, began his entire crusade because of the half-elven oppression and the death of his sister, Martel.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

“Sub-humans.” That was the word used to describe the laguz, or beastkin people, in Tellius. The country of Gallia waged battles with the beorc, or humans, and faced discrimination simply due to their appearance. When Ike fought against the Daein army, he traveled to Gallia, which he later learned was his birthplace. Throughout his travels, he encountered new laguz friends, united them for the cause of liberating the country of Crimea, and took down the Mad King Ashnard.

The story comes full-circle when Ike would unite the Tellius continent once more to defeat the Begnion Senate and their army. Near the end of the game, Ike’s forces, the Greil Mercenaries, defeat Senator Lekain and the Begnion Senate, ending a decades-long struggle between Begnion’s iron grip and the laguz who fought against their oppression.

Persona 5

Persona 5’s story tackles sensitive social issues. Authority figures who bully, exploit, and even murder become the victim of the Phantom Thieves’ vengeance. The whole point of the story is to help your friends rebel against oppressive authority figures and, as they join you, take the fight against other horrible people in Tokyo.

You’ll enter their cognitive Palaces, fight their Shadows, and change their conscience. Doing so will change their heart, forcing them to own up, confess their crimes, and relinquish their positions of power.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Three Houses marked the third Fire Emblem game where racial injustice became a major focal point of the plot. Claude, one of the House leaders, wants to unite Fodlan. He does so due to his Almyran background. The people of Almyra, dark-skinned warriors, faced oppression from the Fodlan continent for decades.

When joining the Golden Deer route, you’ll fight alongside Claude and his quest to reform Fodlan’s government. This includes allying with the church, the enemy of the Black Eagles route, and uniting your forces against the Adrestian Empire and Those Who Slither in the Dark.

 

Final Thoughts

For anyone keeping up with the protests, we’ve all gone through a tough time. Supporting our fellow human beings, including those who are different from ourselves, becomes an important cause in these times. Hopefully, this list helps inspire you with these courageous stories of people fighting alongside friends and make the world a better place.

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Know Your Rights Camp – Started by Colin Kaepernick, this camp helps empower teens and meets three cities, at the moment:  Atlanta, Baltimore, and Miami.

 

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