Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Zelda Stages: Great Bay

Great Bay is finally back. This is the only Zelda stage from the first three Smash Bros. games that didn't reappear in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. So, it's good to have it back and it's looking better than ever, with some details taken from Majora's Mask 3D. Apparently you can now even spot a Piece of Heart in the background, where you would find it in the original game...

Well, despite the attention to detail the stage isn't entirely faithful to the original location, of course, because some creative liberties had to be taken to turn the Marine Research Laboratory into an actual stage, like turning it by 90° or having the giant turtle appear right next to it. The whole act of the Moon crashing on Termina was also altered and of course fastened.

It will be interesting to see, how the Moon Assist Trophy is affected by this stage. Ideally they would use the Moon from the stage for this, since the Assist Trophy even starts appearing in the same corner:

So, there could be a seamless transition from what's already present. The same could even happen with Tingle, if he happens to return as an Assist Trophy - you could simply have the Tingle on the stage do weird things.

Most of the Zelda stages usually depict an area from the early game, but Great Bay is an exception to this, much like Gerudo Valley (though you can visit the Gerudo Valley first thing as a child after leaving Kokiri Forest, if you wanted to).

Monday, September 24, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Zelda Stages: Hyrule Castle

With Super Smash Bros. Ultimate absolutely all stages from The Legend of Zelda are returning for a total of nine different stages, including the new Great Plateau Tower stage. It's the first time that really all past Zelda stages are featured in one single Super Smash Bros. game and we will celebrate this by going through each of the stages one by one, talking a little bit about them.

The first one is Hyrule Castle, which originated in the very first Super Smash Bros. game on the Nintendo 64:

It's based on Hyrule Castle from Ocarina of Time, however, the stage itself is labeled as a generic "The Legend of Zelda" stage in the stage select screen of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, while both the Bridge of Eldin and Skyloft got labeled as stages from Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword respectively. So, it's not necessarily an Ocarina of Time stage like Gerudo Valley, but if you count it as such, Ocarina of Time would be the only Zelda game that has gotten two different stages in the Super Smash Bros. series.

The castle itself was one of the more special stages in Super Smash Bros. 64 and is probably best know for its "Greenhouse", the little room on right side, where it's easy to combo opponents for a lot of damage. The stage also features tornadoes, which are reminiscent of the tornadoes in the first The Legend of Zelda game, despite being dangerous and not a helpful warp tool. But it could also be a throwback to the first BS The Legend of Zelda game, where tornadoes actually were used as an obstacle, which throws the player off the screen...

This stage didn't return in the series for quite some time, until it became DLC for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U. With that it suddenly became one of the most recurring Zelda stages, being featured in four different Smash Bros. games by now, much like Temple.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Yoshi's Crafted World?

Nintendo has published some character arts of alternate costumes, including a variant of Yoshi from Yoshi's Crafted World:

This looks nice at first, but I'm a little worried that you won't be able to distinguish between this and the default Yoshi skin. But the reason why I'm posting this is that this could also lead some more content from Yoshi's Crafted World, including a stage as a replacement for Yoshi's Woolly World, which is absent from the large list of returning stages for seemingly no reason...

So, it gives me a little bit of hope that we haven't seen all stages yet.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: 108 Stages Total?

We have yet another rumor about the totals of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but this time a slightly more positive one. According to the CoroCoro magazine, there are a 108 stages in the game, as translated by SourceGaming on Twitter.

This lines up perfectly with what I had expected after the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct in August, when they revealed the total of 96 returning stages, next to the three default stages and four new ones. There they showed us the stage select screen with six open slots in the bottom right corner:

You have to account for the training stage in Training Mode, which wouldn't be visible in the normal Smash mode, so that's five open slots in this setup. 108 is also a very lovely number, if you're a fan of the show LOST like I am (it's the sum of "the numbers" in the series and often found in modern pop culture because of it, if you pay attention). So, I would be completely fine with this total, even if nine new stages aren't that many...

Well, it could be that this is simply speculation from CoroCoro's end or even a typo, because it seems odd that they are revealing the total before Nintendo does, but in any case it's what I would expect at this point.

It's certainly better than being stuck at 103, because I've seen way too many people insisting that 103 is the final total and we're not getting any more stages, because Sakurai didn't explicitly say that we would in the last Smash Direct. I do agree that we're probably looking at the final count of returning stages, because there was no reason to hold any of back at this point, unless they are completely new versions of the same stage, e.g. a Poké Floats 2.

But it's hard to believe that there won't be any new stages at this point, were it's easy to come up with five of them. Here's what my hopes and expectation would be:

  • New World: Stage based on Minecraft, possibly with Wither and Ender Dragon bosses
  • Ancestral Steppe: Stage based on Monster Hunter 4 with various boss monsters from the series
  • A Golden Sun stage, e.g. one of the Lighthouses
  • Grassland Groove: Stage based on Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, revealed together with Dixie Kong Echo Fighter
  • Planet SR388: Stage based on Metroid: Samus Returns with Diggernaut and Metroid Queen bosses

Well, the first three are simply based on what we've heard and seen so far. The Ancestral Steppe was already shown to us and could be only part of the Spirits Mode, but it also could be another new stage, which they wanted to introduce later on, since the focus was on Rathalos and Assist Trophies at the time. They did the same with New Donk City Hall, which got shown during E3, but it wasn't properly introduced yet.

If Isaac or any other Golden Sun character gets into the game, they will need their own stage. And the rumors from Vergeben included Minecraft content, where a stage would be the best possible representation, next to trophies and bosses. It would be similar to Monster Hunter, where these third party franchises don't get a character, but are represented in the form of stages, Assist Trophies and bosses.

The last two would simply be my personal picks, because I really like these games and they are still quite new. Both the Metroid and DK franchises also have two absent classic stages, which didn't return for Ultimate, so they could use some compensation...

What three of these ideas have in common are new bosses, which might be important for the Spirits Mode, because like Dracula they might be used there to an extent, while the stage is also available in the normal Smash mode.

As much as I would love to see another Zelda stage, we already got one with the Great Plateau Tower and we got all classic Zelda stages back, so we shouldn't be greedy here. Metroid, DK or any of the other franchises that aren't Zelda or Mario probably need it more.

But of course if there is any other character from a franchise that doesn't have a stage yet, then he/she/it would probably get one as well, for example if Nintendo really could get Banjo & Kazooie from Microsoft. And we still have R.O.B., who is the only character on the official page, who doesn't have a stage in his background as of yet... So, maybe he finally gets his own stage after all these years.

And of course there is the possibility of DLC, where they could add as many new stages as they wanted and maybe even bring some of the missing returning stages back as well in some new forms, like a Poké Floats 2, a new version of Rainbow Road or even Yoshi's Crafted World. The DLC stages probably would get their own tab at the top, much like stages made in a potential Stage Builder.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Only 2 Fighters Left?

So, everyone is currently going crazy over the promotional box art of the Special Edition of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in North America:

The sides of the box depict the characters in the game in their numbered order, but in groups of nine, where one group goes over one and a half rows. So, the other side of the box probably starts with the original eight characters and Dark Samus, where it then continues on the side that we see here.

A total of 72 characters would be possible on the current box layout with six rows and six columns on each side of the box, while the current character total (counting Echo Fighters, but counting both the Pokémon Trainer and the Mii Fighters as one) would be 70. If you add Isabelle next to King K. Rool, there should be two open slots on the box, but there is only one. And that's because there is one open slot on the other side for an Echo Fighter. The numbering is off right before the last group, between the Mii Fighters and Corrin, so one of these characters might get an Echo Fighter:

  • Palutena
  • Pac-man
  • Robin
  • Shulk
  • Bowser Jr.
  • Duck Hunt Duo
  • Ryu
  • Cloud

The likeliest out of these is certainly Ryu with Ken, who has been rumored for a while now and who makes a lot of sense considering that he basically was the original Echo Fighter in a fighting game. But others could have Echoes as well, for example Medusa (Palutena), Celica (Robin) or even Zack (Cloud).
But with this there would be only one unique fighter left... If this "box theory" holds true, I very much hope that Skull Kid will be the final newcomer, because it would be very disappointing to not have him in the game after all, considering all the things that hinted at his inclusion.

Some speculate that it will be Incinerour, because Vergeben (the possible leaker that I've mentioned before) has a 7th generation Pokémon on his list, next to Ken. All of his other suggestions - Ridley, Simon Belmont and Isabelle - all came true, so he's most likely onto something. But it would be super disappointing, if the last playable fighter was the tenth playable Pokémon. Update: Vergeben has by now confirmed that the Generation 7 Pokémon is indeed Incineroar, here.

Anyway, Vergeben also keeps mentioning that there might be another Square Enix representative, which would already be one more character than what fits on the box. There also might be content based on Minecraft, where it would be very weird, if Nintendo didn't use the chance to make a deal with Microsoft for a character. Here's a summary of what he currently has to say... Of course, all of this could simply lead to DLC and that's it for the main game.

But still, I'm having a hard time believing that there are only going to be two more newcomers. We're around the half point between the game's big reveal at E3 in June and its launch on December 7th. If there were really only eleven newcomers in total, they would have spaced the reveals out more evenly and not reveal half of them in a single Direct. There's probably going to be at least on more dedicated Smash Direct for the game, which would then pale in comparison to the one from August, if there's only one more Echo Fighter and one more unique newcomer left to be revealed. It would reduce the hype significantly...

And of course the box art isn't final yet and will most likely change before the release, where they could just make the character icons smaller and add another row or two columns, where then there would be space for 14 more newcomers. I wouldn't expect that many, but they could just leave a couple of slots open on each side... They could also keep the Echo Fighters separate or put some characters (like the original eight) on the back of the box for the final products. So, there are many possibilities, how this could change and make room for additional characters.

Overall I can think of at least six newcomers, which feel very likely at this point, judging from missing Assist Trophies, missing alt colors, still secret Final Smashes, hints dropped by Nintendo and also Vergeben's possible leaks.

Unique newcomers (Team Sun & Moon):
  • Isaac from Golden Sun
  • Incineroar from Pokémon Sun & Moon
  • Skull Kid

Echo Fighters:
  • Dixie Kong
  • Shadow the Hedgehog
  • Ken Masters

Other possible Nintendo characters would be Elma from Xenoblade Chronicles X, Captain Toad, Bandana Waddle Dee or even Dillon... Plus, there are many more potential semi-clones or Echo Fighters, like Impa, Princess Hilda, Black Shadow, Medusa or Jeanne.

In addition there could be more licensed newcomers from Square Enix, Bandai Namco (e.g. Heihachi from Tekken or someone from SoulCalibur) and even Microsoft (e.g. Minecraft Steve or Banjo & Kazooie).

There's so much potential that it would really hurt, if only two of all these would still make it into the game after Isabelle. Of course there could always be DLC, but there we already have newer characters waiting to be added, like Rex and his different Blades from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, where KOS-MOS and T-elos could even become their own thing, or Spring Man and Ribbon Girl from ARMS.

So, the if the box tells the truth, it will certainly be disappointing.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Edition of Nintendo Switch Announced


I'm still waiting for a Special Edition of the Nintendo Switch to finally buy one, but preferably it should be one for Zelda and preferably it would look a little bit nicer than this thing... Unlike with the "Pokémon Let's Go" Edition they didn't even bother with adding special colored Joycons, they just took the grey ones and added some decals to it. The grey ones probably aren't hat popular, so they had to get rid of them somehow. It reminds me of the first Nintendo 3DS and its Zelda 25th Anniversary Edition, where they took the black system and added gold decals. But that one was worth a purchase and looked a lot nicer.

And the dock of the Smash Edition doesn't really look all that nice either. Just some character arts put at the two sides, similar to the Pokémon Edition... Nintendo can do better than this and I probably won't be buying this one.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Isabelle Announced

Isabelle was confirmed last night as the newest newcomer to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and this was quite surprising. Well, it wasn't surprising that she's going to be playable this time around, since I've speculated as much in both my assessments about missing Assist Trophies and potential Echo Fighters. But it was still surprising to see her now and to see her as a semi-clone, effectively, getting her own number on the roster.

I've kept saying that she has the potential to be unique and it's good that they didn't go the Echo route with her, because she looks like a lot of fun, especially with the Fishing Rod. Animal Crossing certainly had some potential left in its sleeves for different moves.

But she's still partly based on the Villager and has some of his moves, which does confirm that semi-clones, like Dr. Mario, Young Link or Wolf, really still can happen. So far it seemed like a new character would either be fully unique or squeezed into the Echo role, where we jumped between the two extremes. But it doesn't have to be that way after all, though Isabelle certainly feels quite unique overall and is one of the more advanced semi-clones, so to say.

It leaves me a little bit sad that they didn't go the same route with Dark Samus, but I can still understand the design choice that was made there. Isabelle at least looks quite different from the Villager, but both Samus and Dark Samus have the same shape and therefore can look quite similar, where it makes only sense that they behave similarly as well. It's the same case for Peach and Daisy and this will also probably remain true for Dixie Kong and Shadow, if they are going to be Echo Fighters.

But if Medusa becomes playable, she will certainly become a semi-clone of Palutena now, featuring different Special moves. And for Impa there is also some potential, because she has quite different proportions from Sheik and is a tad larger. So, maybe the could turn her into a semi-clone, if she's really playable...

Skull Kid is still the most likely contender for a Zelda newcomer, however, and the Direct certainly didn't change any of it. He's in pretty much the exact same spot as Isabelle. Both used to have Mii outfits in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, which were seemingly based on popular characters. Both used to have an Assist Trophy in the same game, which is now absent. And both now got a new Assist Trophy from their games, essentially replacing them. So, Skull Kid looks even more likely after Isabelle's addition, since he shares all of her evidence and got even more of his own, like Young Link's secret Final Smash (which is totally Fierce Deity).

Monday, September 10, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Tingle?

While not being as likely as Skull Kid, we can't entirely dismiss Tingle for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Now, his previous Assist Trophy is still missing, however, he already was spotted on the Great Bay stage:

But Toon Link is also still present on the Spirit Train stage, so it doesn't necessarily mean that Tingle isn't playable. Of all the remaining Zelda characters, he is probably the one, who has the most going for him, even more than Skull Kid. He appeared in a total of five Zelda games and got referenced five more. Tingle also got his own series of four different games, which were all made for the Nintendo DS, but he never appeared in the Zelda series again afterwards.

That puts him in a similar position to Wario, though far less successful and popular, where it would be interesting to see what Tingle's franchise affiliation in Super Smash Bros. would ultimately be. Does he still count as a Zelda representative or would he be his own thing? Also, which design would they chose for him? The one from Majora's Mask or from the Wind Waker? The former is already in the game, but the latter is probably more iconic, because he had his most prominent (and most hated) appearance in the Wind Waker...

This way Toon Link wouldn't be alone anymore with his art style and they could give Tingle the Pirate Ship as his "home stage". The colors of his siblings would be used as alt colors, of course.

As for moveset potential, Tingle would probably feel like a mix of Toon Link and the Villager. He could use his balloons and drop bombs. He could also use the Slingshot from Tingle's Balloon Trip of Love and maybe even summon his party members for the Final Smash.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Vaati?

Vaati seems like a forgotten villain, who has last appeared in The Minish Cap 14 years ago... He is the only other recurring main villain in the Zelda series, but his fate was tied to the Four Sword, which has vanished completely from the series.

Still, fans are asking for his inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which is doubtful at best. His mage form from The Minish Cap, which would most likely be used for him as a fighter, simply isn't as recognizable or iconic as other potential Zelda characters like Skull Kid or Tingle. Vaati hasn't appeared in a new Zelda title for a while, while Majora's Mask 3D was a fresh thing at the time the development of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate started.

However, with the new Spirits mode there seems to be a big focus on bosses, which might be the perfect place for Vaati to finally make an appearance in Smash. Of course they would go with the giant eyeball design, which has been used in Four Swords, Four Swords Adventures and The Minish Cap for his final boss fights.

Hyrule Castle also seems like a good place for his boss fight. It's up in the air, where all his boss fights took place, and the tornadoes on the stage are very similar to the ones that Vaati keeps summoning to attack the four Links. So, in case of the boss battle he would create the tornadoes himself.

This is just an idea and still not all that likely, but it's certainly likelier than Vaati getting in as a new fighter.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Zelda Calendars 2019

Yes, calendars. Plural. There's seemingly two of them now. Abrams, the company responsible for the Zelda Calendar series that has been going for the last six years, isn't releasing their typical The Legend of Zelda Calendar for 2019. Instead they've made a calendar exclusively based on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, seeing how this is the new popular kid in town. At least this is giving us an almost fresh experience, where they even put in a little effort, like showing different character arts against backgrounds with ingame locations.

In addition Nintendo was licensing a Zelda Calendar to another company, Pyramid International. They now took over the typical calendar with motives from various Zelda games, for the most port the usual suspects - the big 3D Zelda games and A Link Between Worlds. The overall design looks a lot more polished and "valuable" than the Abrams calendars, but it's really just big artworks and illustrations in the same repeated frame, which means there are no character arts or other details to mix things up. Plus, the selection of artworks is really just the well known stuff, mostly cover arts, which feels super bland at this point, because many of these motives have been used in the Abrams calendars plenty of times already...

I'm not even sure where to hang the second calendar. Maybe I'll simply switch them in the middle of the month, where I can even save myself the trouble during June and December, because they used the same motives for both months. In June you have "Climbing Link" art from E3 2016 and in December the North American cover art of Breath of the Wild. Well, at least for the latter they've used a different crop.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Nintendo Direct September 2018 Predictions

Another Nintendo Direct was announced (see here), which will focus on upcoming Nintendo 3DS and Switch titles. I always start to listen, when I hear "Nintendo 3DS", because it might mean another Zelda game in the style of A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes, which would be amazing. But it's probably just more info on Luigi's Mansion and some other ports...

As for Nintendo Switch, it was said that the Nintendo Switch Online service will be launching this month, where some final information and incentives might be given, e.g. exclusive goodies in games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Actually, I'm not expecting too much about the latter, because it can just have another dedicated Super Smash Bros. Direct to itself, but there still could be information about its online modes and a newcomer reveal trailer at the end, where I would be really happy, if it's going to be Skull Kid. But it probably will just be the obligatory Pokémon, e.g. Incineroar...

Anyway, it's time to be excited again!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Stage Ideas

With a grand total of 96 returning stages, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate already leaves little to be desired when it comes to stages. However, only four new stages have been revealed so far, three of them based on newer games, where there are certainly many more possibilities for exciting additions.

In this post I want to go over some stage ideas that I would like to see implemented in the game. Naturally, this will focus on stages from games that I've played and liked, so there is a big bias here. I've mentioned some of these ideas briefly in previous posts, but some of them have evolved over time.

Let's start with two new stages from The Legend of Zelda. This is still a Zelda blog after all and there is no such thing as "too many Zelda stages".

  • Clock Town

    With Skull Kid being a big candidate for a newcomer, it would be nice if he came with his own stage. This would be a morphing stage, which starts in South Clock Town on the Dawn of the First Day. But time will progress and the Carnival of Time will be celebrated, where the Clock Tower opens at midnight on the Third Day. After this the stage will morph to the top of the Clock Tower. And once the Moon gets closer, the players will be warped to the Grassy Playfield on the Moon. Afterwards it will all start over.

  • Lorule Castle

    This can be a simpler stage and even mirror the classic Hyrule Castle stage with a Lorule design from A Link Between Worlds. So, it would take place on top of Lorule Castle. Nothing too special, but the music alone would make this godlike.

Next will be stages from Donkey Kong and Metroid, specifically their most recent games - Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Metroid: Samus Returns. Both of these franchises have a lot in common. Both were stuck with two fighters since Super Smash Bros. Brawl and both finally are getting a newcomer now in the form of a big bad, King K. Rool and Ridley. Chances are that there will also be Dixie Kong as an Echo Fighter, much like there is Dark Samus. Also, both franchises had a total of six stages in the history of Smash, with only four of them returning in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. So, there were two Donkey Kong stages and two Metroid stages cut. And it would be nice if each franchise got one stage to make up for this...

  • Grassland Groove

    Or anything from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze... like the Fruit Factory. You can't really go wrong with anything from that game, but the Bright Savannah has some of the best music and the basis for some solid stages, like in the Grassland Groove level. Here the platforms bob around in tact with the music, which could create some interesting stage.

  • Planet SR388

    This level will be based on Samus Returns and consist of multiple parts. It starts harmless on the surface, where Samus' Gunship is parked. But eventually the floor will crumble and the fighters will be taken deeper into the caves of Planet SR388, where the Diggernaut or the Metroid Queen could await you as bosses.

Let's stay with Metroid for a bit, where the franchise has so many more places to offer, which could be used as stages. So far most of the Metroid stages take place on the classic Planet Zebes. The original "Planet Zebes" stage, Brinstar, Brinstar Depths, Norfairs... It's all inspired by the first game and maybe Super Metroid, but it's all quite generic. The only places from other Metroid games were Frigate Orpheon from Metroid Prime and the Pyrosphere from Metroid: Other M.

  • Tourian

    Well, we got Brinstar and Norfair, so we might as well add the classic Tourian stage to complete the Planet Zebes collection. And I wouldn't be "TourianTourist", if I didn't make this suggestion. This one seems like a no-brainer. The whole set-up would create an interesting stage, where the players have to dodge Rinkas and destroy the Zebetites, so they can reach each other. Mother Brain could be still a boss in the stage, despite being an Assist Trophy. And like with the Dracula boss fight, they might do a big Mother Brain boss fight based on Super Metroid.

  • Sanctuary Fortress

    This isn't very likely, because Metroid Prime 2: Echoes isn't really the newest game anymore, but also not the same classic material as its predecessor. But with Dark Samus in the game it would be nice to have a stage to accommodate her. The stage itself could switch between Light and Dark Aether, where in Dark Aether the fighters get constantly hurt, unless they are in a light bubble.

  • Slipstream

    Metroid Prime: Federation Force certainly isn't the most popular game, but it's a recent game and could have been on the radar when Super Smash Bros. Ultimate started production in 2015. The 16th mission, Slipstream, also would make for a perfect Smash stage. It's a platform that moves on high speed through a canyon, while it gets attacked by a Space Pirate Warship. There are lots of crazy mechanics that they could use here, like parts of the platform being destroyed, Pirate Aerotroopers (Flying Pirates) attacking and the fighters working together to take out the Warship.

Last, but not least, here is a stage based on one of my favorite games ever, which hopefully will have an appearance in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate one way or another:

  • New World

    If there's really some Minecraft content in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a stage would be one of the most important things here, because the randomly generated block world is the absolute star of Minecraft. The stage itself could be something that keeps changing, similar to the Super Mario Maker stage. And it could be something, where the players are able to destroy part of the stage, block by block. The stage could also morph into the Nether and into the End, featuring boss fights against the Wither and the Ender Dragon. So much potential!