What Were the 6 Best Metroid Games?

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

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

Super Metroid

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

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

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

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

Metroid Prime

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

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

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

Metroid Fusion

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

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

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

Metroid: Zero Mission

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

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

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

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

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

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

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

Metroid: Samus Returns

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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Review Plus: River City Girls.

Welcome to our first edition of Review Plus!

You will find our review shortly after the introduction. In addition to our review of the game, you will find useful tidbits of information covering River City Girls. Plus, this review will address the beat ’em up genre and the direction it’s moving in.

River City Girls is a 2D beat ’em up developed by WayForward. Known for the Shantae series, WayForward adapted the River City Ransom (NES) title which is known as the Kunio-Kun series in Japan. Featuring animated cutscenes by Studio Trigger, River City Girls features classic 2D pixel artwork along with anime transitions for the opening, boss fights, and endings. In addition, you will find part of the story told through manga-like cutscenes.

Despite its good intentions, I believe River City Girls falls short of its potential. While it features incredibly strong brawler action, a few issues hamper an otherwise decent revival of the 2D beat ’em up genre. However, the classic style gameplay remains both the focal point and the game’s strongest suit.

Story

The game starts off with Misako and Kyoko receiving a mysterious text that their boyfriends have been kidnapped. Contrary to the stories of games, like Double Dragon, the premise of the story reverses the role.

Perhaps the most pressing part of the story comes from the game’s ending. It turns the entire plot on its head in a surprising way and emphasizes the girls’ true role. I give major props to WayForward for this one.

Misako and Kyoko play foil to each other throughout the game. These single-track-minded women just want an excuse to throwdown. Despite their idiocy, you can’t help but feel charmed by their tenacity.

Unfortunately, I did not find much of the story and dialogue to be amazing. Aside from a little bit of witty banter, I found it to be cringeworthy. While much of the boss dialogue feels like wasted banter, one particular character, Godai, seriously bothered me.

Your resident creeper-stalker feeds you information while trying to get into your good graces. Even without Godai, much of the dialogue in cutscenes felt like forced humor. I honestly wanted to skip most of it but didn’t want to leave out any possible useful information.

For better or for worse, River City Girls maintains a cast of wacky characters.

Visuals

One of the high points of River City Girls comes from the artwork. The character designs and backdrops feature well-drawn details. I’m especially particular about the shop designs. Several shops have their own art of the girls shopping while a different shopkeeper takes their order.

River City Girls features 2D sprite artwork somewhat reminiscent of the 16-bit era. However, I’ve seen this style before used in multiple indie games which it honestly feels more like than a mainstream title. While WayForward tends to use a more cartoonish art style for their flagship series, Shantae, this reminds me more of games like Katana Zero.

Katana Zero (2019)

What I strongly dislike, however, is how small the text is on the menu. The menu is displayed on the character’s smartphone. However, I had to come up to my 52″ HDTV just to check inputs or side-quests that I could not read from my usual sitting position.

Unfortunately, I also ran into multiple frame-drops throughout the game. They didn’t prevail literally the entire game but were noticeable when they did. Even after a year’s release, I’m surprised WayForward still has not patched them out.

Audio

You’ll feel a solid amount of satisfaction breaking your fists on enemies and crashing weapons over their heads. However, I found some sound effects lacking. I don’t get why an enemy slamming a hammer on concrete produces no sound. On the other hand, bashing enemies feels satisfying as you might expect and keeps you wanting more.

Despite middling feelings on the sound effects, most of my enjoyment came from the music. Much of it was catchy and, along with a number of sound effects, featured 8-bit cues you would hear in the NES River City Ransom. Several of the vocal sounds featured some catchy beats you would enjoy while fighting.

Gameplay

This game presents its beat ’em up gameplay in a manner that says the genre never even left. It feels so seamless to beat down enemies with combos, throws, stomps, and weapon attacks. Despite this, however, the game will not count your combos.

One of my favorite parts of gameplay was the ability to recruit enemies to join you. If they surrendered, you could grab them and enlist them as summons. Similarly to Marvel vs. Capcom, they would hop in, use their signature attack, pose, and hop out. You would not be able to use them for a set time.

My problem came from the inconsistency of combos, however. This isn’t Tekken, but you will maximize your damage by juggling your enemies. Unfortunately, your timing must change based on enemy types. This threw me off multiple times.

Gameplay Issues

Another problem I had came from how invincibility frames work. Congratulations to the developer for not giving the characters invincibility frames while using throw moves. It makes them useless when you’re getting pounded in the back of the head. From my experience with other games in the genre, this is a big no-no.

Also, I had a moderate issue with the equips. The Frilled Bra and Frilly Bottom might be the only useful accessories I used. Everything else gives around a 5% increase or a 5% chance to activate. These passives were so useless that you could easily get through the game without using them. I wouldn’t bother buying them and would save your money for the Dojo or healing items instead.

Unlike other beat ’em ups, this also features an RPG system where you equip gear, level up, and can use items to heal. For anyone who remembers Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, this is where these elements came from. The Scott Pilgrim game paid massive homage to River City Ransom and used many of the mechanics as well.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game (2010)

Let me also mention this game is full of load times transitioning between each screen. If it was another large area, I could understand that. But I feel they put no effort into good transitioning for a 2D game released in 2019. This will likely annoy you especially if you’re making trips back to shops to pick up items or new moves.

Co-op

This game is best experienced with a friend. However, not everyone is big into beat ’em ups. If you’re flying solo, you might have a harder time with it than others. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for others to play with, this game does not feature online co-op.

However, for a 2019 brawler, this feels woefully outdated. Multiple games of its genre, released in the last decade, feature online co-op. Even the recently released Streets of Rage 4 features online co-op. I do not understand why WayForward opted not to release a feature such a basic option in a multiplayer game released today.

Extras

This game encourages a level of exploration. Unlike the stage-by-stage games prevalent within the genre, the River City titles have you moving through destinations in multiple directions. You can also find statues of Sabu and destroy them. Completing the quest of destruction unlocks the true hidden final boss fight.

Additionally, you can unlock New Game Plus. Doing so not only lets you carry over your gear from the first playthrough but you can also unlock two characters. Riki and Kunio, the main characters of River City Ransom, become available.

However, this will otherwise not change much regarding the game itself. The only other incentive is a cat side-quest that unlocks infinite SP. Keep in mind, however, that Riki and Kunio are only a glorified palette swap. Nothing about the story changes as the sequences are still voiced by the girls.

The Future of the Genre

River City Girls was the first game in which I recall to pave the way forward for brawlers in the current generation. Previously, WayForward released Double Dragon Neon for PS3 and Xbox 360. Plus, Double Dragon IV came out to a lukewarm response. WayForward’s advertisement at least shined a light on a bright and colorful attempt to bring attention to the new game.

One year after its release, we now have Streets of Rage 4. Sega’s shining star beat ’em up series came back after a 25-year hiatus. Furthermore, even Raw Thrills released an arcade-exclusive TMNT title that pays homage to Konami’s titles of the past.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2018)

2D beat ’em ups feel largely obscured by their 3D evolution. Modern games include Platinum Games’ Astral Chain or Sega’s Yakuza series. It’s hard to find the interest generated in beat ’em ups in an era without the 90s interest of arcade games. However, the demand for the genre remains real and strong enough for developers to take notice. The genre is not dead and, with this momentum, might become a mainstay for the decade once more.

Also, the creator of Scott Pilgrim noted that Ubisoft, developers of the game, reached out to him.

Final Thoughts

Overall, River City Girls excels in combat despite several flaws hampering both gameplay and story alike. I found it hard to put down as I was pummeling enemies, bosses, and even cars. It even served a heavy enough challenge for me to retry bosses several times over.

However, its addition of annoying dialogue, incredibly short length for a game released in 2019, and a few bothersome issues to gameplay made me want to end the game once I was over halfway through.

While it was cool back in Double Dragon to have enemies that looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 80s. No, it is not funny today to have these same enemies that make “Ahnold” noises with Terminator references.

WayForward’s cheap humor stems from the Shantae series which is hit-or-miss. They could do without forcing comedy and that alone would boost the grade. If you want a better, cute beat ’em up based on anime aesthetics, you could always go with Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds.

Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds (2013)

However, if you’re after a beat ’em up and you don’t mind the cheesy dialogue and voice acting, then go right for it. Even then, it features undeniable charm from the character designs. It’s at least 8 hours of fun enemy-bashing and button-mashing.

To summarize, I recommend it for enthusiasts of the genre or those seeking to play some couch co-op action with a friend or a loved one. You’ll enjoy the music, the cutscenes, and the retro homages. It’s easy to pick up and play. However, I don’t think it qualifies as being a game for everyone.

In this era, there are scarcely any releases you will find in the genre besides re-releases of classics. If you passed up River City Girls, you wouldn’t miss much more than some solid aesthetics for an otherwise alright game in the genre. Depending on the systems you own, you could download classics like Double Dragon II, Streets of Rage 2, or even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. If you want a modern release still available on current systems, Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds would surely endear you.

However, if you like beat ’em up action, then these issues might not stop you from trying a decent brawler. I recommend it to enthusiasts of the genre but I wouldn’t expect it to be anything impressive outside of the aesthetics and your standard brawler fanfare. Despite this, it should still entertain you for a few hours. While it’s not a bad game, it could truly be better.

Score: 6.5/10

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Dragon Quest XI S Coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam.

Last week, Square-Enix confirmed that Dragon Quest XI S would come to major consoles and PC later this year. Originally released in the west, in 2018, Dragon Quest XI came out to rave reviews when it debuted on the PlayStation 4 and PC. While the original Japanese version came out for 3DS, Square-Enix prepared a re-release for the title shortly after its overseas debut.

Dragon Quest XI S, a Nintendo Switch exclusive re-release, featured the 2D mode showcased in the Japanese 3DS version. However, this version of the game also added new cutscenes, storylines, bosses, and even endings to the game. This stellar level of content warranted a replay for veteran fans while introducing new ones to a fantastic JRPG. However, the latest announcement by Square-Enix ensures that Dragon Quest XI S will now be playable for owners of any modern console.

The Significance of Dragon Quest XI S

This title showcased a phenomenal level of polish from a 110-hour game. While America always struggled to embrace Japan’s long-loved series, Square-Enix added an extra dose of marketing to appeal to a larger fanbase. However, Nintendo took it even a step further the following year.

In 2019, Nintendo announced Dragon Quest XI S for Nintendo Switch. This is followed by E3 2019 where Nintendo features the game’s Hero as a new character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Shortly after, they would follow it with a new trailer for the game. Upon its release, Square-Enix would later go onto mention the game succeeded.

For PlayStation and PC fans, this is a return to form with new content not featured in the original release. For Xbox fans, this is the debut of Dragon Quest. This is also the first JRPG featuring Akira Toriyama’s creative designs since Blue Dragon released on Xbox 360 in 2007. Ultimately, everyone can now enjoy the definitive edition of this legendary title.

Final Thoughts

I found Dragon Quest XI to be one of the best games I ever played. I personally rank it up with Persona 5 Royal as one of the best JRPGs of the current generation. Its charming character design, writing, aesthetics, and battle system all hit excel points. It never forced level grinding, save for an optional encounter, and proved to have a solid challenge for those who sought it.

I did not play Dragon Quest XI S, however, as I felt satisfied with my first playthrough of the original release. Despite this, I’m currently entertaining myself with Persona 5 Royal which grants me a 100+ hour replay after beating Persona 5. With that being said, I can’t say I’m not considering playing through Dragon Quest XI S at some point.

If you’re looking for a title that paces itself well, both in story and in gameplay, Square-Enix’s masterpiece will suit your needs. It’s a worthy addition to anyone’s library. With the multiplatform release of the Definitive Edition, I strongly recommend playing this title.

Dragon Quest XI S comes to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on December 4th, 2020. You can pre-order the game now. Be sure to follow up with us on AllCoolThings by following our social media pages below!

Rango’s Smash Column: Melee Gets Rollback Netcode and a Farewell Until Next Time!

As COVID has kept players in quarantine for over a quarter of the year, now, Smash tournaments have shown no sign of opening back up. As someone who doesn’t follow online tournaments, I’ve since felt my motivation deteriorating from playing Smash. Opting to clear games off my backlog, or even play fighting games with better netcode, I wanted to cover a few quick subjects in the Smash community before signing off.

Therefore, I want to address Super Smash Bros. Melee. Known for hosting a lasting tournament scene, for over 18 years, Melee is one of the greatest games of all time. Years after the release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, series creator, Masahiro Sakurai, even admitted that Melee was his sharpest work.

The title took everything from SSB64 and magnified it considerably. The newly added Side B moves, the gorgeous character models, stage design, music, extra modes, and speedy gameplay charmed everyone who played it.

Melee Netplay Gets Rollback

The Smash community is no stranger to modding. Super Smash Bros. Brawl gained a second lease in competitive life thanks to mods such as Project M. However, perhaps the biggest mod to come from the Smash community since PM is Super Smash Bros. Melee’s rollback netcode.

Codenamed “Slippi” (likely named after the Star Fox character), this new mod allows Melee players to play using a vastly enhanced form of online netplay. You can learn more about it here.

In the past, we’ve stressed the importance of rollback netcode in competitive fighting games. We’ve listed some of the more prominent titles to feature rollback, such as Killer Instinct, and the difference it makes online. Plus, with Nintendo outright refusing to fix Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s atrocious online netcode, Smash fans are finally left with a proper alternative. In an era where players cannot compete in offline tournaments, this comes as a blessing to many.

Resource

In addition to the main site, you can also check on Reddit for a FAQ. u/Sugden_ breaks down several facets of Slippi including various modes, possibilities, and so forth. You can check the FAQ here.

If you’re skimming over the Reddit post, they’ve included a video on Slippi and Melee netplay. Make sure you view it here.

Last Words

Thanks again for coming to our Smash Column. I’m sure to be writing again when tournaments open up and I’m off competing in regionals and majors again. Until then, however, be sure to update your Smash copies on June 29th and enjoy Min-Min, the latest Smash DLC character.

I’ll keep the site updated with Smash articles. But they will not be a regular column again until offline tournaments come back. Until my motivation to play competitively returns, expect the occasional update regarding DLC characters.

Keep up with us as we provide you with more reviews, previews, and opinion pieces from your favorite games. Be sure to follow us on social media using the channels below!

Have you played Melee on Slippi? Let us know in the comments below.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Showcases its Latest DLC Character – Min-Min from ARMS.

Earlier today, Nintendo released a video detailing their latest character – Min-Min – for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Featured in a video showcase by Smash Bros. creator, Masahiro Sakurai, the presentation featured the character trailer as well as a brief tutorial and history of the character.

ARMS and Min-Min

ARMS is a 3D fighting game, developed by Nintendo, released for the Nintendo Switch in 2017. Released during the Switch’s launch year, Nintendo wanted to add a new IP to their latest console. ARMS takes cues from Nintendo’s classic series, Punch-Out!!, by positioning the camera behind the player and duking it out, with punches, face-to-face.

However, in ARMS, you use spring-loaded arms to extend your reach. These ARMs can be customized with various ways to deal damage, such as with elementals or multi-hitting attacks. You can play as a dozen different characters who use various, unique abilities to support their fighting style.

As with past DLC characters, Nintendo chose the character pick. However, Min-Min was chosen by the ARMS director, Kosuke Yabuki, and was a personal favorite pick from Sakurai as well. In ARMS, as well as Smash, she has a special Dragon arm, which fires heat beams, and can also use her strikes to reflect incoming attacks. With that said, be sure to check out the character’s official Smash page here.

Extra Info

Alongside the incoming update, Mr. Sakurai also revealed new Mii Fighter costumes including Vault Boy from Bethesda’s Fallout series. Mr. Sakurai also showcased an update for Spirits mode allowing you to rematch any Spirit you’ve faced before. Finally, players got their first look at upcoming amiibos including Joker (Persona 5) and Hero (Dragon Quest XI).

Impact on Smash

ARMS released its last update in 2018. Without much of a following in national fighting game tournaments, such as EVO and CEO, the game quickly declined in popularity. However, Nintendo recently announced that Fighters Pass 2 would feature an ARMS character. They followed this by announcing ARMS would be available to play as a free demo for Nintendo Switch Online users.

Given their continued support for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2 online tournament, perhaps this means Nintendo seeks to once again make ARMS a supported stable series. In doing so, they will use Smash Bros. to capitulate the series’ popularity and reignite interest among Nintendo Switch owners once more.

Min-Min will be available for download, on June 29th, 2020, for $5.99. If you already own Fighters Pass 2, you will download her automatically. Min-Min also comes with a new stage – ARMS Arena – as well as a selection of music tracks from her home game.

We will keep you updated on the latest in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate info. Stay tuned with us for features on the upcoming DLC fighters as they’re announced. Finally, be sure to follow All Cool Things on our social media channels listed below.

Celebrating Fire Emblem’s 30th Anniversary.

On April 20th, 1990, Nintendo released Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light for the Famicom. The Japanese Strategy/RPG series followed with several installments that never came to U.S. shores until the 7th entry. Thanks to Marth and Roy’s appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001), and largely due to fan demand to release the series outside of Japan, Nintendo would eventually release Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade (2003) in the west for Game Boy Advance.

Why do people love Fire Emblem?

Perhaps one of the most defining traits of Fire Emblem is its character design. Super Smash Bros. Melee created icons out of Marth and Roy. But the series is widely known for its colorful artwork and memorable character designs. While the fantasy storyline tasked you with saving the world, you would also learn about the backstories of your comrades-in-arms.

Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade quickly became popular thanks to its addictive Strategy/RPG (SRPG) gameplay. The grid-based gameplay offered movement similar to Chess. However, the level of flexibility and variety Fire Emblem offered, in its map design, classes, and overall gameplay, resonated well with fans.

But Fire Emblem introduced the permadeath mechanic. Lose a unit and they will stay dead. Your option would be either to press forward without them or restart the entire map and give them another chance. Note that later games, from Awakening onward, became much more forgiving in that department.

While the west had seen other SRPGs, such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, and Shining Force, prior to Blazing Blade’s release, Fire Emblem offered more to the genre. Fire Emblem quickly became known for its addictive gameplay. You could promote your units, earning a new weapon and more powerful stats. Plus you could support units, growing their bonds, and even giving them a special ending together. Blazing Blade featured several difficulty modes, including one that let you play through Hector’s Route. This began a series tradition where you could replay a title to see another part of the story.

Additionally, Fire Emblem is known for its remarkable storytelling. Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn speak of relevant, worldly themes such as racial and class divide. It showcases horrors of war and even pit former friends against each other, something you would see in Fates and Three Houses. Even the Japanese-exclusive titles, like Genealogy of the Holy War, weren’t afraid to showcase dark themes, such as incest and genocide.

Fire Emblem also gained recognition for its music. The map, battle, and recruitment themes all share special recognition. Many of them appeared as remixes in the Super Smash Bros. series. “Together We Ride,” the recruitment theme from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, stood out as being one of the most famous due to its inclusion in Melee.

Decline and Rise

Despite several releases appearing in the west, none of them sold as well as Blazing Blade. In fact, the remake of Mystery of the Emblem, for DS, never came to America. Plus, due to its poor sales, the series began a major decline. It was thanks to every possible effort by developer Intelligent Systems and Nintendo to make Awakening the success it would become. What could have been the final game in the series breathed new life into Fire Emblem.Thanks to heavy marketing, new mechanics, and broadening the fanbase, Fire Emblem: Awakening would go on to become the series best-selling title. It would later be succeeded by Fire Emblem Fates, also released for 3DS. Nintendo would continue to appeal to fans, and reel in new fans, with spin-offs, such as the free-to-play mobile title, Fire Emblem Heroes, which was released in 2017.

Most recently, Nintendo released Fire Emblem: Three Houses, for Nintendo Switch, in summer of last year. The title features over 100 hours of gameplay and story and quickly became one of the Switch’s most successful titles. Among its accolades includes a score of 89, at Metacritic, and winning the Player’s Voice award at last year’s Game Awards. Additionally, Three Houses’ success would also influence Nintendo’s decision to include Byleth into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

How is Nintendo celebrating?

In Fire Emblem Heroes, Nintendo has released a new orb banner celebrating the 30th anniversary. This includes a throwback, of sorts, to Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. These two stories feature Marth and the origin of the series. Keep in mind that Mystery of the Emblem’s “Book I” is a remake of Shadow Dragon, for the Super Famicom (SNES), while Book II continues the story after.

In this banner, you can summon childhood versions of Marth, Caeda, Merric, Palla, and recruit Minerva as a free unit. As a duo-unit, Palla also comes with her little sisters, Catria and Est. This throwback also features maps based on the original Shadow Dragon. Nintendo will continue posting updates on their social media channels for Fire Emblem Heroes. Keep up to date with their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts for more info.

Additionally, Nintendo and Cygames’s collaborative mobile JRPG, Dragalia Lost, will also hold another Fire Emblem crossover. While the series has crossed over in the past with Fire Emblem, as well as Mega Man, this event will also center around the series’ 30th anniversary. You can check it out in the tweet below.

How are the fans celebrating?

Twitter has already begun trending #FireEmblem to celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary. If you search for the trend, you will find numerous works of fanart and cosplay dedicated to the series. Be sure to check them out!

Meanwhile, some of the series’ voice actors are also celebrating the anniversary.

Many players will surely celebrate Fire Emblem’s 30th anniversary by clearing routes in Three Houses. I, for one, hope to clear my Golden Deer run before the month ends. Also, if you own Three Houses but haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the Cindered Shadows DLC from the Three Houses Expansion Pass, which released earlier this year!

How are you celebrating the 30th anniversary of Fire Emblem? What’s your favorite game in the series? Let us know in the comments below.

The Nintendo Switch Features We Want to See Most.

Nintendo recently released version 10.0.0 for the Nintendo Switch. The new update features a controller button mapping system, news bookmarks, and the ability to transfer software data between the console and the MicroSD card. If you were expecting more from the update, then I’m afraid that’s all there really is. As the Nintendo Switch has been out since March 2017, people have been clamoring for numerous features to be added to Nintendo’s latest console.

Unfortunately, even after three years worth of updates, Nintendo Switch shows itself as a gaming console with bare-bones features otherwise. While Nintendo’s previous handheld, the 3DS, was capable of multiple features, Nintendo seems much more conservative with updating the Switch for reasons unknown. With that said, we’ll go over some of the most demanded features players want Nintendo to implement.

Themes

Topping the list of most wanted features, people have wanted Themes on Switch for years. While themes have been a part of consoles since the Sony PlayStation 3‘s release in 2006, even Nintendo’s handheld, the 3DS, implemented them within 2 years of the system’s release. Featuring a pretty background with music accompanying it, themes add all kinds of life to your menu. Unfortunately, the Switch only has two themes: Light and Dark. Despite fans clamoring for it for years, Nintendo has remained silent on the subject.

Apps

Netflix, Crunchyroll, WWE Network, and other streaming apps all appear on modern consoles like PS4 and Xbox One. Even the Wii U, Nintendo’s last generation console, had Netflix on it. With the Nintendo Switch, it’s entirely possible to take the system with you and it should be able to play most of the same apps as other systems. Yet for some reason, Nintendo has once again decided to take a step back on their console’s possibilities. The only multimedia apps available for the Switch right now are Hulu and YouTube.

Avatars

While Nintendo featured avatars from Mario, Zelda, and Kirby, fans believed that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would open the floodgates for dozens of profile pictures to be featured. Yet again, Nintendo failed to deliver on an opportunity. Even with the release of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Nintendo never bothered to update their avatars with the game’s characters. But at least Nintendo updated it with Animal Crossing: New Horizons characters, right?

Folders

If Nintendo added folders, this would make it much easier and more compact to find the games you want to play. Yet another feature missing from the 3DS, folders allowed for easy organization for games. Instead, you have to scroll all the way to the right of the menu just to pull up the library and find the game you want to play.

Music for eShop

The eShop in Wii U and 3DS played catchy music. In fact, this even dates back to the Wii’s Shop. The music was so catchy it was even added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a remix. Why the eShop remains silent to this day no one knows. Much like with Themes, this would bring out more life in the Switch’s potential.

Pro Controller Disconnect

Specifically for Smash and potential fighting game players, Pro Controller Disconnect would become a massive help for the tournament scene at large. Right now, the only way to desync your Pro Controller is manually. Otherwise, you’ll have a synced Pro Controller prevent a character select screen from progressing into the tournament match just because the controller is still active. Without a way to immediately desync controllers by simply removing the USB cable from the Switch, this will continue being a nightmare for tournament organizers and pool captains wishing to go home from an event.

A Georgia Smash tournament even used it as a name for their event.

Final Thoughts

The list itself isn’t big by any means. It’s a few simple requests which Nintendo has chosen to stay silent about. Even after a 10.0.0 update, “stability enhancements” are about the most constructive thing Nintendo has done with the console save for one or two little features, such as zoom. While people will continue supporting the console due to its extensive software library, many fans remain skeptical that Nintendo will ever bother updating the system with the aforementioned features. But if the day comes, better late than never, right?

Which features would you like implemented most? Let us know in the comments below.

5 Essential Resident Evil Titles You Must Play

With the recent release of Resident Evil 3, Capcom has surged the series back into full mainstream. Following Resident Evil 7’s revival of the series and Resident Evil 2’s heavily successful remake, we want to promote the five best Resident Evil titles. Whether you’re a newcomer to the series or have played one or two games, this list will help you find the best games to play in the series. And the good news is that all of them are currently available for modern consoles and PC.

#5 Resident Evil 3

Starting with the most recent release, Resident Evil 3 successfully breathes new life into the 1999 classic. Featuring Jill Valentine, you’ll escape from Raccoon City while being pursued by a powerful B.O.W.: Nemesis. This variation of the Tyrant comes armed with heavy weaponry, moves faster than Jill, and will confront you throughout the game.

Utilizing the RE Engine from RE2 and RE7, this title features gorgeous animations using the over-the-shoulder perspective and the survival horror experience. Despite being only 12 hours long, with only one scenario campaign, Resident Evil 3 packs a punch from start to finish. Every element feels incredibly well-polished.

Original vs. Remake

To be honest, though, I struggle to pick a version of the game to recommend here. I have a soft-spot for the 1999 release. I loved the Live Selection and I preferred the structure of Nemesis’ pop-up encounters over him becoming a chase segment in the remake. For impact, I found it to be the best of the original PlayStation trilogy due to adding elements like ammo crafting, dodge step, and 180 turn.

On the flip-side, however, Carlos and several other characters got some amazing redesigns. The gorgeous visuals, sound, and animation really make the remake pop-out and breathe new life into it. If you loved the Resident Evil 2 remake, I can recommend it. If you’re not willing to spend full price on a shorter adventure, though, wait for a price drop.

However, keep in mind that major parts of the story were altered, as well as the level designs. Unlike Resident Evil 2’s remake, this feels like a total re-imagining in every conceivable way. With that said, I recommend the remake for newer players. But if you’re curious and want to see how Resident Evil 3 started, I cannot recommend the original enough. You can pick it up for $5.99 on the PSN Store for PS3 or Vita. It doesn’t have the gorgeous resolution of the Dreamcast or GameCube releases, but it’s the original version of the core game and definitively worth the price and then some.

#4 Resident Evil Remake

When series director, Shinji Mikami, stated that the 1997 Resident Evil hasn’t aged well, he set out to remake the title. Rebuilt from the ground up, Resident Evil (dubbed REmake) featured a new mansion layout, dialogue, voice acting, and boss battles. While it was largely the same game, it became a massive improvement over the original in every conceivable way. The gorgeous visuals stood out well enough to still be considered among the best on the GameCube even today. This definitive classic set the precedent for survival horror and what a proper remake should be built like.

In the past decade, REmake was released for HD consoles as well. Scaling up the resolution made a pretty game even prettier. On PS4, the title also runs at 60 FPS. And on the HD version, you gain access to new costumes as well as the ability to move much easier. You can choose to keep the infamous tank controls, but you also gain the option to run freely for smoother control.

Perhaps the best way to play this game is to purchase Resident Evil Origins Collection. You’ll pick up REmake as well as Resident Evil Zero in one fell swoop. But you can also purchase REmake standalone digitally. It’s all up to you if you want the main game or to take a dive on the series prequel as well. In addition to PS4, Xbox One, and PC, Resident Evil: Origins Collection is also available for Nintendo Switch.

#3 Resident Evil 7

Go tell Aunt Rhody.”

The chilling song in the opening tells the story. It tells the story of a man trying to rescue the wife he thought dead. As he enters the Baker Household, he finds grisly sights, dead bodies, and his wife, now turned by some kind of mind control.

Resident Evil 7 tells the story of the revival of survival horror. Bringing back tight corridors, monsters around the corner, and limited ammo, your attempt to escape this madhouse brings horror to a new level. Not only are you fighting zombies and members of the household, but you’ll come across grisly sights that will test your nerves. In a way, it’s RE’s foray into psychological horror as well, disturbing the player with gory sights wherever you turn.

I would argue Resident Evil 7 has the best narrative in the series. Even though it originally seems disconnected from the rest of the series, you’ll eventually read documents that help tie in with the rest of the series. Some lore alludes to the Raccoon City incident. Meanwhile, you’ll also discover involvement with Chris Redfield, who even has his own DLC campaign. It will also delve further into the mind of a psychopath featured in the main story.

Resident Evil 7 offers multiple modes and mini-games as well as two DLC campaigns. If you buy the Gold Edition, these come with the game for free. They’re several hours long each and worth the purchase to bring the story full circle.

As a whole, Resident Evil 7 revitalized the genre in the best way possible. Resident Evil 7 isn’t just a numbered title in the series, but a revolution. If you want the true meaning of horror, disgust, intrigue, and tragedy, I cannot recommend this one enough. Finally, be sure to check out some of the accolades befitting this title.

#2. Resident Evil 2 Remake

Using the aforementioned RE Engine, Resident Evil 2 successfully delivered a remake of the classic 1998 title. Featuring the over-the-shoulder camera from past Resident Evil titles, the engine allowed for fantastic animations, controls, and lighting. Dimly lit rooms of the RPD obscured enemies with all but a flashlight. Despite facing even tougher enemies than before, the ability to aim, craft ammo, and save without ribbons gave players much more control and freedom in the survival horror world. Note that if you played on Hard Mode, you would need to procure ink ribbons to save. In doing so, it offered a challenge for everyone.

Featuring two campaigns to get the true ending, the game would take roughly 20 hours to finish, if not a little more. Even after you clear the game, you could play some of the extra modes. These served as sort of escape missions where you fight off hordes of zombies to make it to your goal. They offered a score attack element almost akin to The Mercenaries from past titles. If you died, you would do a little better next time.

Resident Evil 2 excelled past expectations and brought forth a new definitive chapter in survival horror experience. It would later go on to be nominated for 2019 Game of the Year at The Game Awards and win the GotY award for the Golden Joysticks.

#1. Resident Evil 4

It goes without saying Resident Evil 4 tops this list. This revolutionary title introduced a camera angle that not only standardized modern Resident Evil, but many other popular games as well. Titles like God of War 4, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Horizon: Zero Dawn all use this angle as well. While loyal fans saw the direction of survival horror drift towards fighting off hordes of undead, the gameplay offered perhaps the single most polished experience in the series.

While fighting off impressive enemies and using various close-combat mechanics, Leon was given many ways to defend himself. Along with vaulting over rails and hopping out of windows, this gave the player tons of freedom over control. In doing so, it optimized the gameplay and set a new series standard. Even after you beat the game, you could play a New Game+ and carry over your goods and unlocked costumes. Those seeking a challenge could also try their hand at Professional difficulty.

Even after you beat the game, you could play through The Mercenaries mode. You could play as 5 characters in 4 different maps. This score attack mode pre-loaded you with an inventory, arming you to take down as many B.O.W.s as you could while extending the time. 5-star rewards would unlock weapons.

All-in-all, Resident Evil 4 is the defining gameplay experience with some memorable dialogue and narrative. The extras it offers remains unparalleled to this day. Plus, every release after the original GameCube version featured Assignment Ada – an extra story mode – as well as new costumes. Resident Evil 4 is currently available on all modern consoles, in full HD, including on Nintendo Switch. If you’re looking for one of the single greatest games of all time, I cannot recommend this one enough.

Final Thoughts

Resident Evil’s best games range from quality survival horror to groundbreaking titles that were heralded among the best of all time. They all feature impressive enemies, boss battles, exploration, and music. If you want to try the series, these are the best ones to start with. Depending on your experience, you may want to start with Origins Collection to play the story in order. Otherwise, you can jump into RE4 to play the best game, 7 for the new start, or 2 and 3 if you want to try the latest remakes. It really doesn’t matter because which one you start with. Each title sets itself apart well from the others, offering their own experience. Go with the one your heart tells you to because you’re in for a treat if you enjoy survival horror.

Do you have a favorite? Which one appeals to you the most? Let us know in the comments below.

How Animal Crossing: New Horizons Affects the Gaming Community During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Animal Crossing and the Coronavirus

With the COVID-19 affecting many public gatherings and gaming events, people in the U.S. have been instructed to stay at home to avoid spreading the disease. While much of the internet has shown the most serious effects and repercussions of the Coronavirus, others have tried to lighten up the severity a little. In fact, some gaming websites have already taken their jab at the virus.

However, with Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ release on Nintendo Switch this past week, one can’t deny the impact it’s had across the country. While players are cooped up in their houses playing games, one of Nintendo’s single-most anticipated titles have swept the globe’s attention. Already reaching the #1 Best Seller status on Amazon, Twitter has also added several hashtags featuring emotes to celebrate the game’s release. Meanwhile, top gaming personalities have begun streaming the game. Among these include top competitive Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players who have been unable to attend tournaments due to multiple events being canceled.

Perhaps the most fitting thing about Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ release is its  timing. For those quarantined in their house during this pandemic, many consider it to be a silver lining to the crisis.

All in all, this might be one of the single-most unifying events in gaming culture since the release of Pokemon Go. For anyone who remembers Pokemon Go’s release in 2016, the phenomenon involved bringing players together to venture outside, attend public events, and catch Pokemon together. In a similar vein, Animal Crossing unifies the gaming community, inviting players to join each other’s islands.

Online Features

One primary feature of online play allows you to visit other people’s islands and vice-versa. You can set up online codes or invite friends to play together, on your island, as well as visit theirs. You can also use text chat to send each other messages.

New to the series is NookLink. While used as an in-game smartphone app, you can use NookLink on your own smartphone as well. Download the Nintendo Switch App and you’ll find connectivity to Animal Crossing: New Horizons within the app! Once you connect, you can check your friends’ statuses, access voice chat, and even download outfits and designs online! This features scannable QR codes where you can share outfits you designed or download those from others. You can find social media groups where you can share designs.

Be sure to check out Animal Crossing: New Horizons which is now available for Nintendo Switch!

Rango’s Smash Column – Post-CEO Dreamland, Roy, and New Matchups.

Smash Column 3/19/20 – Using New Characters

Welcome to this week’s Smash Column on All Cool Things™! In this entry, I’ll be going over my time at CEO Dreamland and what I’ve learned involving character matchups. You can read about CEO Dreamland here.

Long story short, I lost to a Pichu and a Palutena in my bracket. After that, I challenged multiple players to money matches, which I won several while losing others. Moving forward, this helped give me a fresh start on what direction I should approach while picking my characters.

Counterpicking

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a counterpicking game. One character alone will seldom win tournaments at high-level play. It pays to know your options and work on learning other characters. As an Ike main, I’ve made matchup charts looking over his best and worst matchups. This month, however, I learned – the hard way – that he actually has more struggles with more characters than I was willing to admit. Chalk that up largely to online experience. Without playing against high-level players, who use Palutena, Peach, Donkey Kong, and Zero Suit Samus, I was not ready for the top tier character meta.

-2 means heavily losing matchup while +2 means heavily winning matchup.

Always keep in mind that matchup charts are neither gospel nor absolute. The meta evolves and character mains can learn new tech to stay in the game. These matchup charts are merely estimates of a character’s advantages and disadvantages against the roster. With that being said, I’ve used multiple secondary characters to counter Ike’s worse matchups. Most recently, I’ve been using Terry and Wolf. After CEO Dreamland, however, I made a chart on how I approach my matchups using which character.

I’ve used Terry to moderate success over the past few months. Since his release in November of last year, what I initially thought was a low-tier character ended up saving my hide from several of my bracket rivals.  I’ve used him to counter ROB and Daisy while knowing they could seriously damage Ike and put me at a disadvantage.

Here’s an example of counterpicking in action.

However, after my matches at CEO Dreamland, I can’t say for sure that Terry is the right call to use against certain matchups. Even though his neutral game and high damage combos make him incredibly effective, his glaring weaknesses keep him from being up to par with much of the current meta. His lack of range, poor disadvantage state, and poor recovery render him an extreme example double edged sword. Either he wipes out stocks quickly or gets taken apart before he gets a chance to return to stage. Unfortunately, I couldn’t rely on Terry to take down some of my harder matchups after losing a round with Ike.

Roy’s Our Boy?

Meanwhile, Georgia’s #1 ranked player, Kola, has made impressive waves using Roy. Known as a high-tier character, Kola’s performance with Roy has helped him win a number of matches against high level players. His most recent placing includes taking 2nd place at CEO Dreamland, eventually losing to Samsora‘s Peach in grand finals. Going over my counterpick chart once more, Roy seems to cover a number of matchups already listed in Terry’s section, including ROB and Fox.

As I’ve been practicing Roy – and his Echo Fighter, Chrom – I’ve been considering using him as a counterpick choice. Much as I would hate to look like a copycat player, Roy suits my own playstyle well with his approach options, edgeguarding, close and mid-ranged combat, high damage combos, and high KO power. Plus, I can allocate some of those threats, such as Peach and Daisy, to Roy or Wolf if I must. One thing I learned from my opponents is how effective Wolf would be against some of Ike’s tougher matchups.

The Benefit of Counterpicking

My parting notes for players is to not be afraid to counterpick. Sometimes, Smash culture will involve players telling you to solo-main. If you’re losing to someone who knows your character matchup, repeatedly facetanking with that character will not help you improve. Learning new characters will help you improve as a player by opening your mind to new methods and techniques. Not only will this grow your knowledge of playing new character, but you may pick up on new methods which can affect how you play your main as well.

They say “you’ll never be ready” and that couldn’t be more true. If you feel like your first character won’t beat a tough opponent, not allowing yourself to switch to a different character means sticking to your main with a high possibility of losing. While some players feel comfortable solo-maining, the most adaptive and flexible players will surely seek new tools in order to secure their victory.

Learning a secondary character will definitely take hours of play. You’ll have to learn them online and at tournaments. Sometimes you’ll lose matches you could have won with your main. But that’s the price you might pay due to inexperience. Eventually, you’ll master that character and have a new tool to work with against tough opponents by throwing them a swerve. Don’t limit your potential when you can expand it with newfound knowledge.

If you enjoyed reading this article, leave a comment with your main and secondaries. Let us know how you’ve sorted your character choices!