The Game Corner: March 2021. What are you playing featuring Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Welcome to the Game Corner! This month, I’ll cover a bit of my backlog featuring Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and a few other quality titles. If you like JRPGs and Fighting Games, you’ll surely find a favorite here!

Thanks to Pyra and Mythra’s inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s Fighter Pass 2, I hopped back onto the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 hype train. Having played them a bit, I gotta say I enjoy their playstyle. They may have what it takes to become my new secondaries. But in addition to trying them out on Smash online, I figured it would be worth exploring the stories they’re from as well.

In the meantime, I also managed to beat a Zelda title after a 10-year span and even jumped back into an old fighting favorite: Dragon Ball FighterZ. In the meantime, I continue my playthrough of Final Fantasy XV. Though to be fair, I haven’t touched it in a week so I’ll be omitting it from this list. Rest assured, I will have it beat before Final Fantasy XVI comes out.

Speaking of Final Fantasy, I postponed my playthrough of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Since I’m less than halfway through the game and Square-Enix announced the Intergrade and PS5 version enhancements, I’ve decided to wait until its release to resume my playthrough.

For those of you Final Fantasy fans looking to bite into a classic type experience, though, I recommend checking out Bravely Default II for Nintendo Switch. I watched my girlfriend beat this game and it really strikes the right chord for classic Final Fantasy fans. If you love the Job system of Final Fantasy V, you’ll surely want to sink your fangs right into this one.

With that being said, let’s get into this week’s Game Corner, shall we?

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

While I’ve been regularly playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 since the beginning of the year, the Pyra/Mythra Smash release hype bug bit me. I’ve only just now reached Mor Ardain, however, and am about 30 hours in.

Can I just stop to say how much I love this official artwork by Matsusugu Saito?

When Shulk was announced for Super Smash Bros. 4, it prompted me to finish my long-delayed playthrough of Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii. I guess you could say history repeats itself here. Speaking of which, my girlfriend also started her playthrough of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition for Nintendo Switch. While I’ve beaten the original game and don’t intend to play it, I look forward to watching her discover the worlds of Bionis and Mechonis for the first time!

While I intend to finish the storyline of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, however, I don’t see myself finishing the side-quests. I’ve heard they become quite repetitive and to the point that it would lose my interest. However, since I purchased it pre-emptively, I have a mind to do the Torna – The Golden Country DLC episode once I beat the game.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Beating Spirit Tracks was an adventure 11 years in the making. Having gotten this game in 2010, I never beat this game on my DS. I ended up losing it in late 2011 and never found it until recently. Or rather, my girlfriend found my lost copy several months ago. With that said, I finally got to beat the one Zelda game that I never finished. Despite my last entry being in the Fire Temple, I picked the game back up relatively quickly.

Spirit Tracks really brought me back to another era. The blocky, low-resolution character models still charmed me with their glorious facial expressions and animations. The dated touch-screen controls were fairly gratuitous with Link being able to tap-and-hit enemies. I do recall it being a quality improvement over its predecessor, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and it held up even a decade later.

Overall, I wouldn’t say it was the most special or must-play Zelda title by a long margin. Despite the long train rides and some annoying padding, though, Spirit Tracks can win over any Zelda fan.

The beautiful soundtrack harmonized perfectly with the unique story and writing in the final chapter of the Wind Waker era. However, in spite of the good dungeon design, boss battles, and funny moments, I would be okay with Nintendo never releasing another Zelda game with touch controls.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

What’s this? I’m playing another fighting game? Since several of my friends are doing it, I figured I may as well join in. Dragon Ball FighterZ resonates with largely balanced gameplay, long-strung combos, and entertainment to all player levels without ever being BS. Though if you follow the competitive scene, you might disagree after the release of the latest DLC character: Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta.

While I’m playing online in worldwide matchmaking, I’m  rather upset that casual battles aren’t sorted by rank. This makes fighting people on my level more difficult outside of friend battles. In other words, either I get bodied by players well above my level or I fight a player who ragequits after losing one character.

I’ve been experimenting with a number of characters and team choices. But to make it short, basically any variation of Goku, Vegeta, Gogeta, Vegito, Gohan, and Trunks are on my team along with the occasional Piccolo. While I said I would main Vegito or Gogeta at one point, I’ve been chugging along at my own pace. I’m trying out Blue Vegeta right now and some of his combos make me feel like I might have a future in this game after all. On top of that, I’m also only 4,000,000 zeni away from unlocking the final trophy!

Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection

Speaking of challenging titles, this one brings me back. You love 2D platformers and Capcom games, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection sends the perfect love letter on Nintendo Switch. It brings me right back to Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts on SNES albeit without a double-jump ability.

Despite that, it’s way more forgiving than most of the past games. You have no lives or continues and multiple checkpoints. You can adjust the difficulty between deaths and use a skill tree to learn new magic spells.

I’m not gonna lie. I’m playing on Squire and enjoying it just fine. I don’t even play this series for getting destroyed repeatedly. I love the art style, music, and overall gameplay. Dying a dozen times per stage is just a side-effect to me.

Speaking of art, this has some of the creepiest yet most charming artwork, monster design, and backgrounds you will ever see in a side-scroller. And despite what I’ve seen from some reviews, this game isn’t really any cheaper than past entries and, like I said, a bit more forgiving. More like Contra than Castlevania, it does rely greatly on pattern-recognition and memorization. But if you’re fine with that, I think you will like this game.

Pokemon Sword

Finally, after all these years, I’m back on Pokemon once again. I think the 25th-anniversary presentation struck a chord with me to get back into Pokemon. I loved this series as a kid, grew out of it as a teen and came back into it as an adult. Granted, I was never as obsessed and hype about it as I was back then. Still, I like to keep up.

The upcoming releases of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, as well as the Pokemon Legends Arceus, got me wanting to finally start my run of Pokemon Sword. Well, I’m in Galar with my Raboot, Stufful, Corvisquire, and a few others. I’m on Route 4 and about ready to enter my first gym battle.

I’m not saying I’m partial to Fire-type starters, but…

As it stands, I’m not sure when I’m going to transfer my Pokemon to Sword. Part of me wants to finish my Pokedex in past entries while the other says to just transfer my favorites to the game, like Sylveon and Pangoro. Not like I would be able to use them until I get gym badges but I still want to build a team around my favorites.

Anyway, the game is quite fun so far and I like the open-world landscapes of each route. It’s structured much better than the samey, minimal paths between major areas like in other JRPGs such as Tales of Xillia. Battling moves fast, character design remains strong as always, and I’m looking forward to my next Pokemon adventure!

Final Thoughts

Believe it or not, I also started a playthrough of Yakuza 3, Last Window: Secret of Cape West, and Persona 5 Strikers. I also started up The Champion’s Ballad DLC in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Since I finished Twilight Princess HD and Spirit Tracks, I figured it was time. But I suppose discussion on those will have to wait till next time.

Right now, I want to focus on clearing a number of backlog titles. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Final Fantasy XV top my list of games I want to finish before moving onto others. Plus I want to keep my skills in Smash polished. Since I got my first COVID vaccine, I’ll be getting my second one next month. I would love for tournaments to return around May or June.

Until my next entry, feel free to share your journal in the comments. Whether you’re playing a new hit or an older classic, or you’re keeping your skills ahead of the curve in a competitive game, share your current play log in the replies!

Also, be sure to follow our social media links and stay up to date with our gaming and anime features. Until next time!

Rango’s Smash Column: March 2021. How Are Pyra and Mythra Looking?

Welcome to Rango’s Smash Column!

Earlier this month, Nintendo released Pyra and Mythra to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. As part of Fighter Pass 2, this duo-unit can swap on a dime akin to Zelda and Sheik in past Zelda titles. However, more in line with the Echo Fighters of Smash, Pyra and Mythra share a similar moveset albeit with major differences in frame data, properties, and their Special moves.

After a week to try them out, how do Pyra and Mythra fare in the competition? I’ve been playing them online against a number of players and I gotta say they handle incredibly well. As someone who generally favors swordfighters and melee-type battlers, I think this is one of the best DLC characters I’ve played as!

I’ve given myself a few days to work out their mechanics and understand the fundamental differences between the two. Overall, Pyra hits harder and launches much sooner. Meanwhile, Mythra moves faster, can combo off of nearly anything, and her recovery is marginally better. This is thanks both to her Side B, Photon Edge, moving across wide gaps while her Up B recovery moves can briefly launch her upwards.

Together, with her faster air speed, she’s the better choice when moving back to the stage from a disadvantage. But take note not to get launched as her weight is 92 compared to Pyra’s 98, making her easier to KO as a result. With that said, I want to take the time to cover my findings with you and show you a bit of what the latest Smash DLC fighters are capable of.

Mythra, the damage dealer.

The Aegis’ true form wields a light-elemental blade. Mythra boasts minuscule damage and KO power for an incredible combo game and her ability to get away with nearly every button press. Imagine Marth without a sweetspot but moves with Meta-Knight’s speed. Plus she has Foresight, a dodge-counter ability similar to Bayonetta’s Bat Within.

Mythra is most fond of staying up in the enemy’s face to rack up as much damage as possible. Her frame data all but ensures that she will get away with whiffs while stuffing most offense attempts with her priority. However, she won’t get a KO with anything but FSmash which, at best, kills around 90% on the ledge. While you can hit a Forward Throw tech-chase mixup into this, her KO ability feels quite limited.

In the early Mythra meta, players have found a way to use her Neutral B move, Lightning Buster, into mixups. She can use it to ledgetrap as well as followup from a platform hit. While this will boast her damage dealing a little more, Mythra is best suited to building up damage until she switches out to Pyra.

Pyra, the killer.

Whereas Mythra plays more akin to Marth and Meta-Knight, Pyra feels more comfortable to the Roy and Ike player. Her heavier weight, slower speed,and flame sword attacks will feel right at home to any players of Roy and Ike. It also goes without saying that her impactful KO game contends among them as well.

Pyra has better range on her flame sword and multiple ways to KO an opponent. Her Up Aerial can KO off the top while Forward Aerial is better suited to edgeguarding. Back Aerial can also KO off the top, as well as auto-cancel, while Down Aerial can spike opponents using a large sweetspot.

In neutral, Pyra can end matches with Foward Smash within 70%. Up Smash and Prominence Revolt, her Up B, can also end matches under 100%. Dash attack can punish landings at a distance and a charged Flame Nova will not only end stocks but break shields.  In short, Pyra will end matches with among the most reliable KO ability in the game.

And that’s not to say her combo game isn’t without strength either. Pyra’s best starters come from Down Tilt and Down Throw. Plus her Side B, Blazing End, makes for a fantastic projectile. It starts relatively quickly and lingers for over a second making it ideal for camping and ledge-trapping. In the air, it will also KO around the 130% mark to punish landings.

Final Thoughts

Until I see their meta continue, I don’t think I’m going to switch over to them as secondaries, or at least not yet. They definitely give me everything I could ask for in a fighter, or pair of fighters rather. However, given that I have most of my bases covered with Pyra’s strength, Mythra’s speed, and a little of both with my current swordsmen, they’ll largely be my casual fighters to use online.

Make your own here.

However, that’s not at all to discount their ability in competitive Smash. All DLC characters from Fighter Pass 2 have proven to be relevant choices in the meta. Pyra and Mythra, right now, I would place in A-Tier. The only things really barring them from S-Tier are their lackluster recovery. Now, while bad recovery hasn’t impeded strong characters in the past, such as Wolf or Smash 4 Cloud, Pyra and Mythra don’t have a Limit mechanic to improve their recovery either.

Pyra falls like a stone with a single vertical option which you can punish. Mythra, speaking of Cloud, does not auto-snap the ledge off of her Side B. Overshoot the ledge and you’ll land on the stage and die to a ledge-trap. Undershoot it and you’ll fall just shy of the ledge-snapping point.

Their strengths, collectively, come from their range and their incredibly useful Special move options. Their Side B moves, in particular, cover various options. Photon Edge can punish nearly anything while Blazing End functions as one of the strongest projectile damage-dealers in the game. Even though Pyra becomes unable to attack during Blazing End, she can evade enemy attacks and move freely.

I see them hitting Ike and Roy’s level being not-quite top tiers but good enough to contend with most of the roster. They might lack recovery and edgeguarding options but while Mythra deals damage without punishment, Pyra will put the competitive meta on notice with her ridiculous KO power.

Keep up with All Cool Things for our latest Smash coverage. If you enjoyed this article, consider following our social media accounts!

Until next time!

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

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

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

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

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

Pyra and Mythra

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

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

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

How Mythra and Pyra Could Affect the Meta.

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

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

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

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

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

Nerfs

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

Buffs

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Until next time!

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

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

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

Who suits you?

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

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

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

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

Okay, so why not use Wolf?

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

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

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

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

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

It’s the same reason I stopped using Mario.

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Pyra and Mythra in Smash

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

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

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017)

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

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

Project Triangle Strategy

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

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

Final Fantasy Tactics (1998)

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

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

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

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

Famicom Detective Club

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

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

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

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

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection

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

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

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

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

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

Splatoon 3

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

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

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

No.

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time!

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!

Rango’s Smash Blog: I Still Play Competitive Smash and I Do Not Understand Why.

Welcome back to Rango’s Smash Blog! If this is your first time here, allow me to introduce myself.
I’m a competitive esports player and part-time Smash coach. I’ve been playing Smash since 1999 and playing competitively since Brawl came out on the Wii. My offline tournament journey began in 2014, upon the release of the 3DS and Wii U titles, and I’ve been competing ever since. As a previously sponsored player who traveled to tournaments across the country, I made myself a name as both as a ranked Georgia player and one of the best Ike mains in the world. If you’re interested, you can read a bit more about my tournament history.

2020 and Online Tournaments

Ever since COVID started, I’ve been inactive in the tournament scene. With CEO Dreamland, hosted in March, being the last major offline tournament, many players have resorted to playing in online tournaments. Moreover, even Nintendo has made bare-minimum efforts to improve online. With that being said, however, I’ve had no interest in playing in online tournaments.
 
I’ve done my fair share of entering a few online tournaments. Waiting around for matches at home isn’t the same as actually being inside a venue while interacting with people. It just feels like sitting in a waiting room, in your house, when you could be doing something more productive. It honestly surprises me how many players participate in online tournaments.
 
However, I also notice that the online rankings differ vastly from the offline rankings. Perhaps a number of top players have just as little interest in entering online tournaments as I do and prefer to focus on content creation and other endeavors.
I cite MKLeo and Fatality as two people who place much higher on the offline rankings. As such, I find this ranking to be subjective either to how online meta works, Or perhaps this is due to top players’ lack of interest in online tournament play.

Why I don’t enter online tournaments.

With that being said, why not enter? They’re easy to find and, I know if I wanted to, I could enter and do incredibly well. I not only main Ike but use several characters proficiently to cover his bad matchups. The online tournaments I’m aware of don’t even have a buy-in, so it’s basically entering for free and getting paid for placing high.
 
But truth be told, I’m not interested. While I take my offline tournaments seriously, I’ve always been someone who plays Smash for fun first and foremost. The same guy who enters 1v1 tournaments to win is also the same guy you’ll spot playing 8-player matches with items on. I’ll sooner go to a convention and play fun matches with groups of people than go ham when I’m trying to have a good time. I’ve won my fair share of con tournaments and even won free badges to southeast anime conventions such as Ichibancon and Triad. However, the pacing of a con tournament, coupled with its casual ruleset, no longer interests me.
 
With that being said, part of me wonders if it would be a good financial endeavor to enter online tournaments. It’s hard to find good training partners in Smash online. I struggle to find matches on Anther’s Ladder and even Discord. In fact, most of what I really do is just end up playing on Elite Smash, the random matchmaking mode. This leads me to play against players with poor habits, use annoying characters, or end up leaving after one match.

Nintendo’s Online and Fighting Games

This is mostly Nintendo’s fault for not only having poor netcode but also for offering poor matchmaking options. Joining an arena is a potluck of players of various skill levels which include those lower than what I seek. Even though a more recent update added Elite Smash to play with higher-level players in Arenas, it’s totally empty. I kid you not that searching for high-level players on arena matchmaking leads to no results. It’s just as empty if you host arenas too.
 
All-in-all, I want tournaments to come back. I’ve tried filling the void by playing more viable online fighting games, like Tekken 7. But nothing hits quite like Smash. It’s my favorite game by far and the one I still play online in.

Getting Back into the Game

For some reason, though, I just can’t stop playing online. Even if I’m tormenting myself on Quickplay, it feels good to just play my characters, practice, and feel some level of improvement. Sometimes I’ll find a good challenge on Discord and we’ll host arenas to play sets in. While it doesn’t happen often, those are some of the highlights of my day.
 
More than anything, I feel like I’m just prepping right now for offline tournaments to return. Once COVID goes away, perhaps thanks to the new vaccines, we might be able to venture out and compete once more. I would love to become a sponsored player again and travel the country in search of new challenges. I definitely want to become a better player than I am now and I certainly look forward to what comes once we get back in full gear.
 
Right now, playing online is just to prepare for offline tournaments. I might consider an online tournament if it conveniences me and falls into my time slot. Whether I do or do not, however, I’ll still be playing Smash online and getting ready for that day when we can compete offline once more.

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!

SNK to Release a New Console. Check Out This Brief Retrospective on Neo Geo Consoles!

SNK is a Japanese video game company known for developing titles such as Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters. Following their recent announcement of KOF XV, SNK has also announced the development of a new console.

If you’ve played Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, you may also recognize Terry Bogard as the DLC character from Fighter Pass 1. The same Terry comes from SNK’s long lineage of classic arcade fighting hits.

To this day, SNK features dozens of titles under their belt. While their online showings of The King of Fighters XIV and Samurai Shodown have been less-than-stellar, the latter did at least receive a huge following, in America, at offline tournaments. However, SNK has also focused heavily on re-releasing their classics in compilation titles as well as their Neo Geo mini-consoles.

SNK is known for the Neo Geo arcade system which was like a portable arcade cabinet that you could rent or purchase. Featuring top-notch sound quality, these machines from the early 90s played quality fighting game titles.

I recommend checking out this video. The first few minutes cover the history of the Neo Geo better than I can.

However, with the recent news, SNK plans to release a new console in the near future. This comes along with the recent announcement of The King of Fighters XV. Given their bold statement of making it the most ambitious title they’ve released, SNK seems to be attempting to define the early part of this decade with some major hitters.

Neo Geo

SNK introduced the Neo Geo in the early 90s. This arcade system offered multiple arcade titles. SNK still had some success with the Neo Geo Pocket and Neo Geo Pocket Color systems before eventually moving on strictly to hardware.

SNK released the Neo Geo Pocket in the late 90s. This featured portable titles such as SNK vs. Capcom, a fighting game that predated the successful crossover fighter, Capcom vs. SNK 2. It also featured 8-bit hits like Samurai Shodown and The Last Blade.

In 2013, SNK released the Neo Geo X. This was a portable version of the console which could play the full console-quality SNK titles. Additionally, it could be plugged into a dock to play the game on the TV. As mentioned in the above video, this concept predated Nintendo’s Switch by four years!

Impact of Terry in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

My personal experience from SNK came from playing Capcom vs. SNK 2 and curiously trying The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match for Xbox 360. When Terry came to Smash, however, I immediately resonated with not just the character but everything that came with him.

The King of Fighters stage, the background characters, and all the music featured within motivated me to try more of SNK’s titles. The previously posted video also showcases, by Sakurai, how KoF impacted Smash Bros. with the use of dodge rolls, spot-dodge, spot-dodge attack cancels, and even Squad Strike.

Thanks to the presentation, I also ended up starting with Fatal Fury Special and The King of Fighters ’95 before moving onto Code Mystics’ ports of KOF ’97, Samurai Shodown V Special, The Last Blade 1 and 2, and Garou: Mark of the Wolves. While I was already a fan of Rock Howard in CvS2, I was more than thrilled to finally play through his home game.

While I was tempted, multiple times, to get the Neo Geo Mini microconsole, I stopped myself as I feel the cost of the system wouldn’t justify the experience. In the COVID era, it’s hard enough to find people to play with offline. Without online play, it might be better to just wait for more games to be ported with the rollback netcode implemented.

On that note, I also picked up SamSho (PS4) and KOF XIV. But unfortunately, their poor online netcode made it nearly impossible to find random online matches. No one wants to play a fighting game with poor netcode no matter how popular it is offline.

Significance of SNK

SNK was much more popular in Japan and Mexico than it was in America. While it has its own competition among other popular fighting games, such as Tekken, it never quite got off the ground in America. KOF was largely more populated by fans of Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs. Capcom, and others.

However, SNK plans to release both this new console as well as make KOF XV their most ambitious title. There’s no better way to capitalize on the latter than to add netcode, strong single-player modes, and some of the best audiovisual quality you could ask for in a fighting game. SNK music is among the most enjoyable to listen to in gaming.

The upcoming Neo Geo console will likely not be released to compete with the likes of the Nintendo Switch, PS5, and Xbox Series X as some might suggest. Rather, by following suit with their past iterations, the upcoming Neo Geo will likely give SNK their own platform to publish their own games on. For fighting game enthusiasts and SNK supporters, this likely also means re-releases of past arcade games once more. But it will also likely house one of the releases of the upcoming KOF XV.

With that being said, here’s hoping that SNK can truly make an impact on the world within the next few years. SNK enthusiasts know their games aren’t the most popular or well-known in the U.S. But if Samurai Shodown means anything, it’s that they still know how to make quality titles that resonate well with their fans. We badly want SNK and KOF to become more popular and we hope that KOF XV will become the best game SNK has ever made!