Friday, August 31, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: amiibo Unlocking Fighters?

This rumor has been floating around for the last days and it's certainly something that you would expect: apparently you will be able to unlock fighters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate by scanning one of their amiibo.

This makes a lot of sense and adds a certain value to the amiibo, which they didn't really have with Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U. Sure, there were the figure fighters, but I've personally never bothered with this feature that much. Simply using normal CPU opponents always was more convenient.

Now, the fact that you have to unlock all characters except for the original ones from Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64 wasn't really met with full enthusiasm from all the fans. Not only takes it time until you can get fully into action, you might run into a situation, where you want to play the game on someone else's Switch, who hasn't unlocked your main yet. And that's a problem.

There will certainly be different ways of unlocking the characters like in past Smash games. The main method will probably be the unrevealed "Spirits" mode, but you might also get new characters from playing a certain number of matches or fulfilling other requirements. But all of that will take time. Now, amiibo would add a shortcut, where you can unlock a character right away, if you really want to play as him/her/it.

My main is Zero Suit Samus and I would love to be able to play her right from the start. Luckily, I got her amiibo, so I could potentially do so, if the rumors are correct.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Revisited

In preparation for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate I'm playing some older Smash games. For the most part this means playing Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, but I've also been looking into the first game lately, finally completing it on the Wii Virtual Console.

My entry into the Smash Bros. series came with Super Smash Bros. Brawl in 2008, when I opened this blog. At the time I also was a fresh Metroid fan and gained a greater appreciation for other Nintendo series that weren't Zelda. But I also got quickly used to the fully customizable controls of Brawl, where I had a hard time going back to the previous two Smash games.

Sadly, Super Smash Bros. never made it to the Wii U Virtual Console for some reason, because otherwise I could have made use of the control options there. But the main issue is and always will be pressing up to jump. I hate this behavior and I immediately turned it off in Brawl, because in a Nintendo game with Mario, Kirby, Samus and side-scrolling Link it felt unnatural to jump without a dedicated button press. I'm also used to pressing in the direction of a jump shortly before the jump, which in classic Smash results in accidentally performing two jumps quickly one after another... Ugh.

So, I will probably never get used to this, but the original Super Smash Bros. isn't an extensive game with tons of hardcore challenges like Melee. So, I thought that I should at least try to complete it and that way honor the origins of Smash.

When the game was released nine years ago, I already unlocked three of the characters (Jigglypuff, Captain Falcon and Ness), but I was still missing the following:

  • Luigi
  • Mushroom Kingdom stage
  • Item Switch
  • Sound Test

For Luigi you have to beat "Break the Targets" with the eight original characters and this is where I probably gave up at the time due to the controls. But with some practice it's doable.

For the Mushroom Kingdom stage, which I wanted to check out for my research about classic stages, you have to beat Classic Mode with all eight original characters. I've already done three for the other unlockable characters, but I had to do the other five, which felt very dull. I'm happy that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will have different scenarios for all the characters or else it would be extremely boring.

To unlock the Item Switch you "simply" have to play 100 Versus matches with any settings. I've set them to 1 minute, but even then it felt like it took forever and got boring quickly with only ten characters and nine stages to choose from... In Ultimate you would meet this requirement by trying all stages alone. Not that you would have to unlock the Item Switch with such arbitrary requirements there... But I guess it was okay at the time, where you had nothing else to play and this option was a nice change of play.

Last and least, the Sound Test requires you to beat both "Break the Targets" and "Board the Platforms" with all ten characters... This was the most challenging part with my aversion against the controls, especially since some of the courses followed Nintendo's level design patent for frustration. None of it is Champion's Road level of bad, but some can be quite infuriating, like for example Jigglypuff's "Board the Platform" course. It wouldn't have been too bad on the Wii U Virtual Console, where you could use Restore Points to spare yourself the pain of near-endless repetition.

But it's also the most interesting part, because you really master the characters this way and learn quite a few tricks while you're at it. For example I never knew that you could just hold the jump button for Kirby's float jumps. Nonetheless, I still wouldn't miss these modes in Ultimate at all. It's a one-time completion thing for me. But going through this mess of randomness and bumpers again and again just to give that final jump for the final platform another try certainly ground my gears.

Anyway, overall it was nice to see, how it all started. Despite having a Nintendo 64 and remembering the odd commercials at the time, I never got the original game myself, so it wasn't a part of my childhood. But still I gained a certain appreciation for the "originals", characters and stages alike. Except for "Board the Platforms".

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Echo Estimations #2

Echo Fighters. Easy to make, now high in demand. While clones generally got despised in previous Super Smash Bros. games, the re-brand helped wonders and people, who might have been against clones in the past, are begging for them now.

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate it's also a way of including some fan favorites, which otherwise probably wouldn't be playable at all or just be represented as an alt costume. As Sakurai explained in a column about the clones in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U, the key is that the clone characters only get balanced against their original counterpart, not against the entire roster. This saves a lot of development time and makes the Echo Fighters an easy way to fulfill fan requests. They are essentially alt-skins with some additional efforts.

Now, the last Direct has blown the doors wide open for Echo inclusions with Richter, Dark Samus and Chrom...

Dark Samus used to be a case of "should be unique", but she got in as an Echo Fighter anyway. Other than the above reasons, there is also the fact that she looks quite similar to Samus, where similar looking characters probably should also behave similarly to avoid confusion, especially in chaotic matches like 8 Player Smashes. Still, she has quite different animations from her counterpart, which sets her apart.

Chrom got in as an Echo Fighter of Roy, which is a loose connection. He probably should have been another Echo Fighter of Marth, but Lucina already took this spot and there is only ever one Echo Fighter per character (the ε-numbering and the shared slot on the roster should make this clear). So, Chrom got in as an Echo Fighter of Roy, the original clone of Marth, despite him having no real relations to the character story-wise. Still, Echo Fighters probably have to come from the same franchise as their original.

In addition, Chrom borrowed the Up Special from Ike, so Echo Fighters don't necessarily have the exact same moves as their counterparts. Probably all the clones in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will become Echo Fighters this way, unless they are returning from the first three games.

Richter also showed that it's entirely possible that new characters might get Echo Fighters right out of the box and that 3rd party franchises might receive Echo Fighters as well. It's certainly a good way to add some more content to franchises, which so far only have one fighter, but which aren't really a big priority.

With the new insights let's go over our list of Echo Estimations from last time by adding and re-evaluating contenders:

  • Black Knight (Ike)
  • Black Shadow (Captain Falcon)
  • Celica (Robin)
  • Dixie Kong (Diddy Kong)
  • Dry Bowser (Bowser)
  • Funky Kong (Donkey Kong)
  • Impa (Sheik)
  • Hilda (Zelda)
  • Isabelle (Villager)
  • Jeanne (Bayonetta)
  • Ken Masters (Ryu)
  • Medusa (Palutena)
  • Octoling (Inkling)
  • Ribbon Girl (Spring Man)
  • Shadow (Sonic)
  • T-elos (KOS-MOS)

Black Knight and Ike share the same sword fighting style, where he could become an Echo, who is slightly heavier, but even stronger. He's also a fan favorite and a "bad guy" from the Fire Emblem franchise for once. Much like Chrom, he even had a Mii costume in Smash 4, where many of those were used to acknowledge fan favorites. But since we already got an Echo Fighter from the Fire Emblem series and Ike seemingly still has an alt color based on the Black Knight, chances aren't that good. Also, realistically someone like the Black Knight shouldn't even be able to jump, while Echo Fighters tend to have the same basic attributes as their originals, so a strong and heavier Echo might not be an option at all... He could appear as a boss and/or an Assist Trophy in the game, though.

In the same sense as the Black Knight, Black Shadow could be added as an Echo Fighter of Captain Falcon, finally giving this franchise some more love. It would certainly fit with the current "rival theme", which also introduced Ridley and King K. Rool. In addition this could be a nod to the original Melee Ganondorf, who was a Captain Falcon clone in that game.

We're not done yet with discussing Fire Emblem characters, where with the exception of Corrin every of the existing characters could have an Echo Fighter, especially now that there doesn't have to be a real connection between the Echo and the original. I personally would have loved to see Tharja as the "shadow" of Robin, but she doesn't really use a sword / dagger and we already have too many characters from Fire Emblem Awakening. So, Celica from Fire Emblem Echoes could be a candidate here, seeing how she is both magic user and a sword fighter. Her main gimmick would be hurting herself with her own magic, which basically makes her the Pichu of Fire Emblem. They could even include Alm in her Final Smash, similar to how Chrom used to be in Robin's Final Smash. But she isn't really a perfect fit, because she is a faster character, who uses entirely different magic from Robin... So, like Black Knight she feels like a possibility, but not a strong one.

With Dark Samus being an Echo Fighter, it's fully certain that Dixie Kong will make it into the game as an Echo Fighter as well. Her Up Special can be completely different from Diddy's rocket barrel, however, which used to be the main issue before. Otherwise she looks very similar to Diddy and probably could re-use all his other moves, including the Peanut Gun, which could be a bubble gum gun like in Tropical Freeze. Diddy Kong's old Dixie recolor also hasn't been sighted yet. Plus, we haven't seen Diddy Kong's Final Smash yet, where both he and Dixie could perform some "Double Trouble".

Dry Bowser is still more likely to become just an alt costume, but getting an amiibo of the skeletal character would certainly be interesting...

Nothing has really changed for Funky Kong, except that his animations could be quite different from Donkey Kong, utilizing the surf board in some form.

Impa now feels more likely after Chrom was added, where she even has a deeper connection to Sheik than Chrom has to Roy. But what still speaks against her is that they probably would use her Skyward Sword incarnation, who would be quite taller than Sheik. And so far all the Echo Fighter share the same body proportions as their counterparts... But let's see.

Hilda is still one of my favorite picks and nothing has really changed for her either. She doesn't seem any more or less likely than before. She could fully use her scepter all the time, setting her animations apart from Zelda's.

Isabelle and Shadow already got covered in my previous post about Assist Trophies that might become playable. Though, in Isabelle's case it's still unclear whether she would really become an Echo Fighter or her own thing. Shadow is full Echo material, however, since he looks very similar to Sonic.

Jeanne is again a candidate, which makes the most sense for being an Echo Fighter, but she feels somewhat unlikely to appear in the base game, because Bayonetta has still her Jeanne alt colors. Samus doesn't have her Dark Samus colors anymore, which hinted at the inclusion of said character. Ike also seemingly lost his Chrom colors. But with Jeanne's colors still being a thing, it doesn't look so good for her. Maybe as DLC...

Ken Masters on the other hand is still likely. Street Fighter got lots and lots of music added and Vergeben, the guy who leaked Ridley and Simon Belmont, now insists on both Isabelle and Ken. So, things are looking good for the Ryu Echo Fighter.

Like Black Knight and Black Shadow, Medusa would be another Echo Fighter to fill in some more antagonists into the game. But her moves would have to be very different reskins for her to make sense as an Echo Fighter, like Dark Pit's Electroshock. And overall she would certainly be material for a semi-clone with a similar movement style, but different Special Moves, maybe even bringing back some of Palutena's lost moves.

The Octolings are like Jeanne most likely material for DLC, because Splatoon 2's "Octo Expansion" might be too new to make an appearance in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If they were a thing, they probably would have been showcased together with the Inklings.

Last but not least, we have another "what if"-scenario similar to Ribbon Girl, where don't even have the corresponding original fighter on the roster: I'm talking about KOS-MOS & T-elos from the Xenosaga universe. Both androids are recurring characters with their latest appearances in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I'm not all that familiar with the source material, but I like the idea and really like T-elos' design and personality (she's basically an android Cia), where her as an Echo Fighter of KOS-MOS would be nice to have.

Anyway, the likeliest out of these choices seem to be the following, all of them being fan favorites and having some clues hinting at them:

  • Dixie Kong
  • Isabelle
  • Ken Masters
  • Shadow

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Potential Assist Trophy Promotions

Let's face it. Assist Trophies are second class citizens in the Smash universe. While for some characters it's probably the only way to be present on the battlefield at all, for others it's a missed chance of becoming a playable character.

But it doesn't have to be that way forever. Little Mac showed everyone that you actually can move up the ladder from being an Assist Trophy to a playable fighter, after he used to be an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and then became playable in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U.

Now the same has happened for Dark Samus, who got promoted to an Echo Fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. And with that it makes sense to take a look at the list of Assist Trophies, who are still missing in action:

  • Barbara*
  • Chain Chomp
  • Devil
  • Dillon
  • Elec Man
  • Excitebikes*
  • Helirin*
  • Infantry & Tanks
  • Isaac*
  • Isabelle
  • Jill*
  • Kat & Ana
  • Lakitu & Spinies
  • Magnus
  • Mr. Resetti*
  • Nightmare
  • Phosphora
  • Ray MK III
  • Sablé Prince
  • Saki Amamiya
  • Shadow the Hedgehog
  • Skull Kid
  • Tingle

We are going to discuss the ones in bold. The ones marked with an asterisk used to be in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but didn't return in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U. While this might reduce their chances, this doesn't have to mean anything, since with Ultimate they might try to bring back them all, unless there are technical hurdles or the characters became playable.

And the latter might the reason, why some of the missing Assist Trophies haven't been shown yet. A big factor might also be the ballot, where people could have voted for some of these characters, despite them being Assist Trophies. The top contenders are currently Skull Kid, Isaac, Shadow and Isabelle, who all have evidence that they might become playable.

Skull Kid is easily the favorite here. His reveal was teased in Sakurai's room decoration during the last Direct (the same was done for Donkey Kong during E3), the Moon is now there as a new Assist Trophy without the Skull Kid and we haven't seen Young Link's Final Smash yet, which might be revealed to be Fierce Deity to fight off Majora in some form, which could be Skull Kid's Final Smash (since the Moon is an Assist Trophy). There are many good reasons, why Skull Kid may become playable, which was already discussed in this post.

Of course there is also Tingle, but he does re-appear in the Great Bay stage, which might be a reason, why he doesn't return as an Assist Trophy. And between Tingle and Skull Kid there isn't really a contest. Aonuma was even originally against including Tingle to Hyrule Warriors, because he knew that he is really unpopular in the West.

Isaac from Golden Sun was completely absent in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U, which doesn't really bode well for him. But Golden Sun has its fans and supporters, where the ballot might have changed things, much like for King K. Rool. Now, Sakurai hinted at a special screenshot on Twitter, where you have Link and Marth standing before Rathalos. Thing is that this shot has a very similar arrangement to the fighting screen in Golden Sun, where Isaac would stand to the right of them. So, he might have a solid shot this time. Felix could also be his Echo Fighter.

Shadow and Isabelle both haven't been shown yet, while new Assist Trophies from their respective franchise were introduced: Knuckles and Kapp'n. This doesn't have to mean anything, since one franchise can have more than just one Assist Trophy, but both would also be popular characters and make easy Echo Fighters, which speaks for their inclusion. Isabelle was also leaked by the same guy, who said that Ridley and Simon Belmont would be in.

Dillon is in a similar position to Isaac, where his inclusion would bring an entire franchise to Smash. But he probably lacks the same popularity that Golden Sun has. The only reason to push Dillon would be to promote his game series on the eShop, where in an interview with Kotaku Kensuke Tanabe even admitted that he is afraid that Dillon simply lacks the awareness... It's possible, but probably not as likely as Isaac.

While the Excitebiker often gets mentioned as the possible obscure retro rep, it's really the Sablé Prince from For the Frog the Bell Tolls, who could take this spot. Since the game has ties to Link's Awakening, I personally would enjoy this quite a bit, but his representation as an Assist Trophy was already quite clever (he does fight in dust clouds), where there's no real need to do more than this.

The focus should be on the fan favorites, where Skull Kid, Isaac, Shadow and Isabelle certainly are the most popular choices. Well, other than characters like Waluigi, Ashley, Midna or Bomberman, who were already deconfirmed as playable fighters, because they are (still) Assist Trophies.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Game-Based DLC Packs?

The Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct started with presenting all its Castlevania contents, where you got this complete and neat package of a new fighter, an Echo Fighter, an amazing stage full of bosses, an Assist Trophy and 34 music tracks. Nintendo titled this "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x Castlevania":

And when the above crossover logos appeared, it immediately reminded me of how Mario Kart 8 handled all its DLCs, both paid and free. And then it hit me that this would be the perfect way, how Super Smash Bros. Ultimate should handle its DLC. Small packages that focus on one game or franchise.

The only problem are Assist Trophies and how they would work online. They would need to be something that's accessible to everyone and not just to people, who purchased the DLC. But maybe they could also be a free extra to be available alongside the new DLC.

Let's say ARMS really doesn't make it into Smash Ultimate, because the game was still too young. Then it would be the perfect contender for such a pack:

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x ARMS

  • New Fighter: Spring Man
  • New Echo Fighter: Ribbon Girl
  • New Assist Trophy: Byte & Barq
  • New Stage: Sky Arena
  • New Music Tracks: 6
  • Price: 6.99

Let's say, they add Dixie Kong as an Echo Fighter to the game, but don't go any further with the DK franchise (no additional stages and such), the following pack could be nice to have:

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

  • New Fighter: Cranky Kong
  • New Echo Fighter: Funky Kong
  • New Assist Trophy: Rambi
  • New Stage: Bright Savannah
  • New Music Tracks: 4
  • Price: 6.99

Or they could do something cheaper, where you only get an Echo Fighter and a stage, but not a new fighter:

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

  • New Echo Fighter: Hilda
  • New Assist Trophy: Yuga
  • New Stage: Lorule Castle
  • New Music Tracks: 3
  • Price: 3.99

There are many possibilities here, which could cover recent and future games on Nintendo Switch like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses or even Metroid Prime 4. If you don't like a specific title, you can simply skip the pack and keep it out of your Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: European Limited Edition

We're getting this in Europe and I've just pre-ordered it. It's nothing too special, it's just the game, the GameCube Controller and the adapter. I never got the GameCube Controller Adapter for the Wii U, so it's finally nice to have one. And I wanted to get that controller anyway, because I only have two GameCube controllers so far (including the one from Smash 4), so this is a nice deal.

There is also another big reason, why I'm getting this package. The German version has this ridiculous USK logo on the game cover, where they had to de-center the game's logo and remove Yoshi from the cover:

It looks so bad that I was even considering importing the game. But the Limited Edition will have the game with its normal cover inside without any ratings, because it isn't required there. This was usually an advantage of buying Limited Editions packages like this one. You get a nicer cover for the box.

December 7th may come now... And it's time for Nintendo to finally sell me a Zelda themed Switch. But even if they don't, I know someone with a Switch, who would be willing to let me play. The same person also has borrowed my copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which I've won in a raffle. So, my Switch library keeps growing without the system in my possession.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Skull Kid?

Today's Direct for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate showed us a new Assist Trophy, which was the Moon from Majora's Mask crashing on the stage. What a spectacle! But it's really noticeable, how Skull Kid was missing in all of this. They could showed his Assist Trophy in addition to the moon or even make the Moon the final phase of his pranks. But he is nowhere to be found...

His chances of becoming playable basically sky-rocketed and he is slowly becoming my new most wanted, next to Princess Hilda and Minecraft. The Zelda series needs at least two newcomers, now that Fire Emblem has surpassed Zelda with its count of playable characters. And there's a good chance that Fire Emblem will have at least one more newcomer as well. So, Zelda needs to step it up!

With Echo Fighters Hilda and Impa seem like the likeliest candidates now. I was previously against adding Impa as an Echo for Sheik, but seeing how Chrom got added as a Roy Echo, the characters don't necessarily have to be counterparts in some form, like Samus and Dark Samus. Speaking of, Dark Link or Shadow Link could have been Echoes as well, but they are seemingly still just alternate costumes.

Anyway, back to Skull Kid... It seems like there is a bigger focus on villains this time with Ridley, Dark Samus and King K. Rool all being added to the roster. And the only villain left in the Zelda series, who is interesting enough, who isn't a one-off character, who isn't potentially stuck in some Capcom rights limbo and who isn't just another henchman of Ganon would be Skull Kid. He appeared in three major 3D Zelda games and was basically the villain of one of them. He's easily the most deserving candidate to finally become a playable unique character from the Zelda series in Smash, who isn't part of the Triforce Trio.

Majora's Mask itself is also an icon of the series. It has been in a lot of games lately, including A Link Between Worlds, as an item in Breath of the Wild and even a Mii costume in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U. Plus, Majora's Mask 3D came out in the same year, where Super Smash Bros. Ultimate started development, so it was certainly in mind at the time.

I can already picture the reveal trailer, where Young Link fights against him and both their Final Smashes clash at the end: Fierce Deity vs. Majora's Wrath. Since the Moon is an Assist Trophy, it makes sense that Skull Kid's Final Smash is some form of Majora. The trailer could start in the Lost Woods with the Earthbound kids getting lost and being tricked.

Skull Kid wouldn't need his own stage, necessarily, but a Clock Tower stage on the Carnival of Time would be amazing to have. It could even transition to the Moon Meadow.

Apparently, the room deco in the Direct referenced the colors of Skull Kid, mainly the colors of the couch and a yellow and a purple chair for Tatl and Tael. Nintendo seemingly did something similar for K. Rool in the E3 Direct, where you had a barrel and rope ladder in Sakurai's office, hinting at a DK newcomer. The hype is on!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Dark Samus Joins the Battle!

And there we already have both major Metroid villains finally playable in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. That they would reveal Dark Samus so soon after Ridley was quite surprising and overall I have mixed feelings about her inclusion as an Echo Fighter.

Dark Samus as a playable character is great, no question, Metroid is finally getting all the representation it deserves. It's also fully understandable that Dark Samus became an Echo Fighter, because she looks very similar to Samus and therefore should also behave very similar.

And they didn't introduce the whole Echo Fighter concept for no reason. Semi-clones probably won't be a thing in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and with Dark Samus being an Echo Fighter it should be clear that Dixie Kong most likely will be one as well, if she makes it into the game.

But... it's not entirely accurate to the source material and the Dark Samus Assist Trophy had some really cool moves, which are probably now gone. She shot three homing orbs of Phazon like in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, while in this game she shoots actual missiles, which she never did in the Metroid Prime Trilogy. It's off, but at least she's levitating and she also does her clone move in the victory animation. So, it's not all bad.

Well, I guess this is the price for having her playable, which is certainly awesome and well deserved as the antagonist of the Metroid Prime Trilogy. I also hope that Dark Samus would come with alternate costumes based on Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, especially the final form.

The only other Metroid character that might have a shot later on would be Sylux, but for now Metroid is fully complete in terms of playable characters, where you can't really say the same for the Zelda series. Which brings us to the next post...

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: 96 Classic Stages!

Brinstar Depths! Pirate Ship! I'm happy!

This is a direct response to my post from June, where I suggested that the game should aim at exactly 100 returning stages. Well, they aimed at 100 stages for now, but four of them are new, which leaves us at a total of 96 returning stages. Close enough!

We already knew about 80 of them and these are the ones that got confirmed today:

  • Peach's Castle (64)
  • Kongo Jungle (64)
  • Mushroom Kingdom (64)
  • Rainbow Cruise (Melee)
  • Yoshi's Island (Melee)
  • Brinstar Depths (Melee)
  • Fountain of Dreams (Melee)
  • Mario Bros. (Brawl)
  • Pirate Ship (Brawl)
  • Hanenbow (Brawl)
  • Golden Plains (3DS)
  • Paper Mario (3DS)
  • Dream Land GB (3DS)
  • Mute City SNES (3DS)
  • Gamer (Wii U)
  • Windy Hill Zone (Wii U)

You can view the complete list of stages on the official site.

I'm really happy about most of these and I got almost everything I wanted. If you look at my list of suggestions from that last time, there's not a single stage here that wasn't on that list. Four are missing, however, which are marked bold in the next list, which shows all stages that didn't make it:

  • Planet Zebes (64)
  • Sector Z (64)
  • Mushroom Kingdom (Melee)
  • Icicle Mountain (Melee)
  • Poké Floats (Melee)
  • Mute City (Melee)
  • Rumble Falls (Brawl)
  • PictoChat (Brawl)
  • Rainbow Road (3DS)
  • Pac-Maze (3DS)
  • Woolly World (Wii U)
  • Jungle Hijinx (Wii U)
  • Orbital Gate Assault (Wii U)
  • Pyrosphere (Wii U)
  • Miiverse (Wii U)

I can live without all of those, so there is nothing on this list, where I feel like this is a big loss. It's quite surprising that so many Wii U stages didn't make it, considering that they wouldn't take as much work to port over, but there were probably good reasons for these omissions.

I guess, except for Rainbow Road (and maybe Woolly World) I can even understand, why all of these stages didn't make it, especially with the new toggle for Stage Hazards. How would vertically scrolling stages even work then? And the other of the missing stages feel simply redundant or were probably too much effort for their own worth.

Orbital Gate Assault for example was said to be one of the most difficult to make stages (one year development time according to Sakurai), which is why it probably was left out considering that the stage isn't that much fun to play and even had some collision errors.

Jungle Hijinx, while completely unique, was also pretty bad with the background level, because it was hard too see what's going on there. And if you think about it, this gimmick probably wouldn't work any longer with the new Stage Morph feature, which is probably why the stage didn't make the cut. I personally didn't like the stage all that much, so I'm not sad that it's gone.

It's a small shame that they apparently didn't go for a "PictoChat X" stage, which combines both PictoChat and PictoChat 2, but whatever... Not a huge loss. Oh, and Metal Cavern from the 64 original remains in a limbo, but I could see this one as Stage Builder material.

Of course it's possible that they will announce more returning stages than the ones that got showcased today, but it's most likely the final selection, where from now on they will only reveal more new stages.

If I could chose four more returning stages to complete the 100, it would be Metal Cavern, Rainbow Road, Woolly World and Mute City (Melee). The latter wasn't on my original list, but it's still different enough from Port Town Aero Drive to be considered. And they renamed the Mute City stage from the 3DS to "Mute City SNES", so it has this going for it. But maybe they just did this to match Dream Land GB...

Anyway, I got all my most wanted stages and I'm especially happy about Brinstar Depths and Pirate Ship. With Pirate Ship we have absolutely all Zelda stages in the game with one for each major 3D Zelda title. And with Planet Zebes and Pyrosphere not making the cut, it's nice that at least Brinstar Depths returned. Though, I'm still hoping for a new Metroid stage.

Overall the selection of new stages seems pretty slim so far. Only four ones, though four excellent ones. Five, if you already count that Monster Hunter stage. But I hope that each of the bigger franchises will get at least one new stage, which includes both DK and Metroid. Heck, even Fire Emblem should get one, considering how many games it had in the last years, full of potential places.

However, judging from the stage select screen, there are probably only five unannounced stages left for a total of 108.. There are six open slots on the stage select screen, but the last one is probably used for the new training stage in Training Mode. With the Monster Hunter stage and the rumored Minecraft stage, it would mean that there are only about three more stages left... Which isn't a whole lot. But I hope that there's more than that in the end.

I also hope that you will be able to change the order of both the stages and characters to sort them by franchise. It would be nice to have all Zelda stages right next to each other and so on.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct: Roundup

What a show! It started with a blast and it ended with a blast. And we just got two of the most anticipated newcomers confirmed: Simon Belmont and King K. Rool. I expected one newcomer and maybe two Echo Fighters, so my expectations got surpassed. But of course it was Mr. Sakurai's tactic to keep our expectations in bay for this one, which worked really well so far.

The Castlevania representation is overall glorious. Two weeks ago I watched the AVGN episodes of the classic Castlevania games and I really felt how all of it would great material for Smash. And they nailed it. Simon Belmont looks great and the Dracula's Castle stage is absolutely impressive with all of those bosses. 34 music tracks and an Alucard Assist Trophy... No 3rd Party franchise got so much love when it entered Super Smash Bros. like Castlevania did and it's quite amazing.

On top of that we also got Richter Belmont as an Echo Fighter, which emphasizes the lineage of the Belmont clan. Much like there are many different Links over the ages, who fought Ganon, you have many different Belmonts, who fought Dracula over the ages. And having at least one of them as an Echo Fighter feels right, even though I didn't recognize him.

Anyway, we also got Chrome and Dark Samus as Echo Fighters and while I can see the popularity, I'm not too excited about either choice. There will be a separate post about Dark Samus right after this, but I can already say that Chrome feels massively redundant. Yes, he's popular and he already got teased as an addition in Smash 4. But he's the fourth Marth in this game and the fourth blue-haired sword fighter. Is this Sakurai's way of respecting the weapon triangle? Because axe and lance wielders would have to be respectively weaker or stronger than the sword cast? Well, they could have at least added a bow user.

Chrom is also the fourth character from Awakening and I'd rather would have someone from a different game, like Celica. Speaking of, the chances of getting any more interesting Fire Emblem characters feel slim now.

And of course we got King K. Rool. I have to admit that I wasn't really sure about him before now, because to me he felt like a relic, but seeing his trailer completely changed my mind. It's certainly a worthy addition and now all we need is Dixie Kong. But seeing how Dark Samus became an Echo Fighter, Dixie will most likely be one as well. Maybe she gets revealed together with Funky Kong next time.

There were also some Assist Trophy confirmations, including Ashley and Shovel Knight. I'm a little bit disappointed about the latter, but it's still good to see that Shovel Knight got any representation at all. This is still huge deal, considering his Indie status. And Assist Trophies have now a better chance of becoming playable in the next game. I never got the recent Ashley hype, where I'm fine that she's still an Assist. But it's still noticeable how certain Assist Trophies are still absent... Mainly Shadow, Skull Kid and Isabelle.

More about Skull Kid later, but it turned out that the Vergeben leak was pretty much legit. He confirmed returning Snake, returning Ice Climbers, Ridley and Simon. That is quite a lot for lucky guesses. And that leaves the following:

  • some Minecraft content (probably a Stage + Assist Trophy)
  • Isabelle (probably an Echo Fighter)
  • some 7th Gen Pokémon (no big surprise)

I'm mostly excited for the first part and it looks like some 3rd party franchises now get representation in form of stages and/or Assist Trophies, like Monster Hunter did. Both Minecraft and Monster Hunter don't really have a protagonist, because the player builds his own character, where a "Minecraft" stage and a Creeper Assist Trophy would be the perfect representation. But of course there could still be "Steve" as a character, who would be similar to the Villager from Animal Crossing... He's certainly very recognizable, unlike a generic hunter from Monster Hunter.

96 returning stages have been confirmed in total. I'm very happy with the selection, but more about that in a separate post. A cool feature was certainly the Stage Morph, where as a Metroid and Zelda fan I was quite happy that they used Brinstar and Skyloft to showcase this feature. Now you can switch on the fly between your favorite universes!

The new and old modes and all the different ruleset options are all pretty great. The secret hidden mode seemed like an Adventure Mode, the whole Monster Hunter boss fight seemed to take place there, unless the series is really getting just a flat stage. The Dracula fight also seemingly took place in a bigger variant of the Dracula Castle stage. Update: Apparently the mode is called "Spirits". It's likely that this will be the main mode to unlock characters by collecting their spirits.

Now, all we need is a good Stage Builder and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will really be the best Smash ever.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct Announced

The wait is over and we're finally getting more infos about the game on Wednesday! It feels unusual to have a dedicated Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct so early already, because normally there is only one of these per game and it's still four months until the release. But I'm happy to learn many new things soon and it's possible that they might do more than one for this game, much like they did with Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U.

The biggest topics on Wednesday will probably be "Stages" and "Items". After all these are the sections on the official site that are still offline. They've showcased two new stages and a handful of new items at E3, but it hasn't been a focus yet. Even the large number of returning stages (and items) was only graspable from all the E3 footage so far, but we still don't know the true extent of this.

It's imaginable that they might go through all returning stages, similar to how they went through all veteran fighters during E3. And then show off some new stages to finish things off. One of the new stages could even come hand in hand with a new Echo fighter, e.g. Lorule Castle with Princess Hilda.

Afterwards they could go through most of the items and what has changed, where it would be great to learn about all returning and new Assist Trophies as well, which could finally debunk certain characters. Apropos, Vergeben (the one leaker that I find to be somewhat believable) insisted that Isabelle was going to be playable this time, next to Simon Belmont. So, she would get the promotion from her Assist Trophy status, despite the fact that the Assist Trophy didn't really feature any fighter potential. But she certainly isn't the only candidate for getting promoted: Dark Samus, Ashley, Isaac, Shadow and of course Skull Kid all would be popular picks as well.

Of course there also will be at least one major newcomer reveal: Simon Belmont, Captain Toad, King K. Rool, some Pokémon, you name it... There are many possibilities and I'm open for surprises. But at this point I'm more interested in stages, to be honest, especially the total number of returning ones.

Another big topic would probably be game modes, but I feel like that's something that won't be revealed until later. They haven't even prepared a section on the site yet. With Nintendo Switch Online launching soon, some details about the online mode(s) might also be revealed, but again it's slightly early for this. So, the Direct still might focus on what's in the "Smash" mode of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Delfino Plaza Confirmed

We're in desperate need for more info about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where the blog so far didn't really help. Other than music pieces, there hasn't been anything new on the blog since the big reveal at E3. It's just things that we've already seen one and a half months ago...

But there was a special exception today. When going over the Rodin Assist Trophy, they showed him in the Delfino Plaza stage from Super Smash Bros. Brawl:

This stage was still unconfirmed so far, which gives me hopes that they really haven't shown the full extent of returning stages just yet. The chances for Pirate Ship returning are looking even better, now.

That's also now a total of 80 returning stages! 20 more and we will break the 100.