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!