Saturday, October 20, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Princess Hilda?

Well, this will be a broken record, but I still wanted to do a separate post for this, since I've been doing this with all potential Zelda newcomers for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate so far. But ever since the concept of "Echo Fighters" was introduced, I've kept bringing her up: Princess Hilda from A Link Between Worlds.

The idea mainly stems from Princess Zelda's new design, which comes from A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds. It looks amazing, but it also invites the possibility of Hilda as her Echo Fighter, who is like Zelda's dark mirror image. A playable Princess Hilda has been a big topic for me with Hyrule Warriors: Legends and its final DLC characters, where sadly she didn't take that last, open character slot, but now Super Smash Bros. Ultimate can make up for it.

Hilda could also turn into a more unique Echo Fighter, at least when it comes to the different attack animations. The Special Attacks based on the Goddess spells could use a purple, orange and yellow color scheme for an inversion. She could also use her staff for the different spells and the Phantom probably should be replaced by a Lorulean soldier. For the Final Smash she will trap someone in these dark tentacles, like she did with Yuganon, which would work like Zelda's Triforce attack, but with a different animation.

Still, she would work mostly the same as Zelda, so this character would primarily focus on presenting a visual difference, similar to Princess Daisy. But right now it doesn't feel likely that we'll be getting many more Echo Fighters and on the list of potential characters, which includes classic characters like Dixie Kong, she doesn't really have a high priority...

Friday, October 19, 2018

SoulCalibur VI Looking Good as Ever

Say hello to Ivy Valentine, sexy dominatrix since 1998. Some might say that a scantily clad character design like that is a "relic of the past", but others might find this to be unadulterated fun in video games.

And it's nice to see that Bandai Namco doesn't feel the need to cater to any social justice warriors by altering what makes Ivy ultimately Ivy. I personally don't even find her "beautiful", because she's rather masculine, but her scandalously revealing appearance is part of her character and her fighting style. It's distracting and it's supposed to be, where she uses her body as a weapon in multiple ways.

And as unrealistic as this might be, it's something that you would only find in a video game, where some things should just stay like they were in the late 90s. The Dead or Alive series already toned down their female character designs quite a lot, something the series always has been known for. But by making them look more "realistic", it also lost some of its appeal... So, it's good to see that at least SoulCalibur doesn't shy away from some unrealistic boobs.

In a way Ivy is quite similar to Cia in Hyrule Warriors, who also fights with a whip-like weapon and wears revealing outfits to seduce and distract. I'm afraid that they make her more "chaste" in the next game, but then she wouldn't be the same Cia any longer...

Also, both games stay on a comic level of violence. Being a blade-based fighter, SoulCalibur could be a lot more extreme, but I bet that no one would complain, if you could actually cut Ivy into bloody pieces. But shame on the game for having jiggling breasts! :D

Anyway, SoulCalibur VI got released today, it looks great and I'm still hoping that it will be coming to Nintendo Switch with Link as a guest character and maybe someone from the Fire Emblem series.

It would also be interesting to have a character from the series in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where my vote would go to Ivy, since she seems like one of the most iconic and recognizable characters of the SoulCalibur franchise.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Potential Mii Costume Promotions

This is a follow-up to the potential Assist Trophy promotions post from August, where we have been looking at all the missing Assist Trophies and which ones still could become playable characters. In the meantime Isabelle was already confirmed as a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where she also had another thing going for her: she was featured as a Mii Fighter Costume in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U.

Plenty of these existed for the games' DLC and Isabelle isn't the only Mii Fighter Costume, which has now become playable. The Inklings, Chrom and King K. Rool also made the jump from a costume for the Mii fighters to a playable character.

Naturally, they targeted popular characters for the Mii Fighter outfits to throw a bone to the fans of these characters. A Mii costume is better than nothing after all... It seems that they won't return for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, however, or at least we haven't seen them yet. But it is possible that they are gone, because they want to make the Mii Fighters playable online this time and maybe they don't want to obscure which type of Mii Fighter you're playing behind these outfits. With some it's almost impossible to tell on first glance... But this is just a thought.

But if the Mii Fighter costumes aren't returning, it's likely that more of the portrayed characters will make it into the game in some other form. It's not guaranteed that they will become playable, however. Ashley is a great example of that, where she did get such a Mii costume, but ultimately she was confirmed as an Assist Trophy yet again. So, take all of this with a grain of salt.

Let's go over the list of Mii Fighter Costumes, which still might result in playable characters, because they haven't been featured as Assist Trophies, as Stage Bosses or in Final Smashes yet:

  • Akira Yuki (Virtua Fighter)
  • Black Knight
  • Chocobo (Final Fantasy)
  • Geno (Super Mario RPG)
  • Gilgamesh (Tower of the Druaga)
  • Heihachi (Tekken)
  • Hunter (Monster Hunter)
  • Jacky (Virtua Fighter)
  • Llyod Irwing (Tales of Symphonia)
  • Majora's Mask
  • Talos (Sonic)
  • Toad
  • Viridi

Well, first of all, it's quite astonishing, how many guest characters from many different 3rd party games were featured with these items. The ones that became playable were all 1st party, however, where only few of those are left...

The most interesting one for the blog is of course Majora's Mask, no questions asked. Attached to Skull Kid it would become part of a playable character in Smash. The official site even described this item as the following:

Don this Legend of Zelda artefact to bring Skull Kid into Smash! ...Moon not included.

The Moon isn't included, because it's an Assist Trophy, but we'll take the rest! With that this post covered everything of importance, but let's still go over the rest a bit...

The other big Nintendo character left would be Toad, though Toad himself is already featured in the moveset of Peach and Daisy. Captain Toad still might have a shot, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

We already discussed the Black Knight as a potential Echo Fighter, where it's more likely that he might end up as a boss in the Spirits Mode. Viridi also doesn't seem likely, since she is in the background of the Reset Bomb Forest stage. And if they do another Kid Icarus Uprising character, it probably would be Medusa.

And that's it for the 1st party Nintendo characters already... The other Mii Fighter outfits based on Nintendo characters either have been playable before (e.g. Link and Samus) or were promoted to playable status already. So, fingers crossed for Skull Kid!

As for 3rd party stuff, it feels unlikely that much of it will find its way into the base game, since we don't seem to have many fighters left... DLC is a different story, where some of the Mii Fighter costumes could into fully-fledged DLC contents the next time.

Heihachi seems like one of the biggest candidates for this, where he seems be the face of Tekken, much like Ryu is the face of Street Fighter. Since Nintendo is already working together with Bandai Namco for Smash, it's not unlikely that they will get more of their characters into Smash, including someone from Tales of Symphonia.

Sega seems also very cooperative in general, where Tails certainly feels like a potential character for the Sonic series, next to Shadow, who would be an Echo Fighter of Sonic himself. Virtua Fighter is another possibility, but Tekken feels like the bigger choice at the moment, if they are going to add more characters from other fighting games.

Capcom on the other hand doesn't seem to have anything on the list. The different Mega Mans are all featured in Mega Man's Final Smash and therefore probably won't be playable. The Monster Hunter can essentially be ruled out already as well, because they would have revealed this fighter together with Rathalos in some big Monster Hunter content reveal similar to Castlevania. But they didn't.

Square Enix has been known for being very restrictive when it comes to licensing characters and contents, but nonetheless there could be another Square Enix representative in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate according to the leaker Vergeben. And from this list Geno seems like the biggest candidate. Sakurai wanted the character to be playable since Brawl and you can really notice this from the way they introduced the Mii Fighter Geno, who got his own splash screen and even a special arm cannon. It's like the costume was treated like its own fighter. He also seems very popular, where he has a shot at either making it into the base game or being one of the first DLC characters.

I'm personally not a big fan of the idea, simply because Geno feels rather unimportant. Adding a side character from a single game over any Zelda newcomer at this point would feel almost insulting. But I probably wouldn't mind as much, if we were also getting Skull Kid... Since Geno is featured in the "Forest Maze" of Super Mario RPG, it could make sense to reveal him together with Skull Kid, where the Forest Maze would be the Lost Woods. This would certainly be a nice trailer for the final newcomers.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Six Reasons Hinting at Playable Skull Kid

For the last two months I've been quite active on the Smash Ultimate boards of GameFAQs, fighting the same battle over and over again: I'm an advocate of playable Skull Kid, mainly because there have been many signs pointing at his inclusion as a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate since the Direct in August.

But there have been some fierce detractors, who are very outspoken against Skull Kid. Some of it has to do with the board's obsession of self-proclaimed "leakers", like LeakyPandy, who claims that Skull Kid will only appear as a boss. One other "leaker", who supported Skull Kid after the August Direct, lost all of his credibility later on, which took the wind out of Skull Kid's sails and even worse, gave the Skull Kid detractors the thought-terminating cliché that Skull Kid's support only came from said leaker.

But that's far from the truth, because there have been many reasons, why people might believe that Skull Kid is finally playable this time. I took the time to compile the six most convincing reasons as a reference:

  • His Assist Trophy wasn't shown yet, while we got a new Assist Trophy from Majora's Mask, the Moon, completely without him, which is suspicious and puts him into a similar position to Isabelle (or Shadow).
  • Young Link is the only Zelda character, where we haven't seen his Final Smash yet. It might be Fierce Deity Link, where they want to save it for Skull Kid's reveal, where his Final Smash might be a form of Majora (e.g. Incarnation or Wrath).
  • Majora's Mask was a Mii costume item in Smash 4, much like Chrom, Isabelle or K. Rool, showing its popularity. It was even tagged as "bring Skull Kid into Smash", which shows that this wasn't just about the mask.
  • Both Metroid and Donkey Kong got a new rep in form of a villain. Zelda is very popular and also long overdue of a new rep (nothing in Smash 4, only a clone in Brawl), where Skull Kid is arguably the most popular and recognizable choice for a new playable character and a villain. Skull Kid was also a recurring character in the Zelda series, appearing also in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, while Majora's Mask was included in both A Link Between Worlds and Breath of the Wild as an item.
  • Majora's Mask 3D was freshly released in 2015, when development of Ultimate began. Fans had been asking for this remake for years in the "Project Moonfall" campaign, showing its popularity to Nintendo.
  • During E3 the room decoration with a barrel and a rope ladder eventually hinted at a Donkey Kong newcomer in the colors of King K. Rool (red, yellow and green). During the August Smash Direct, where King K. Rool finally got revealed at the end, we had another suspicious room decoration with a sofa and two chairs in the colors of Skull Kid's rags and his fairies. This is commonly known as "chair theory".

Especially the latter gets a lot of bashing - even the name "chair theory" is just an insult, because the people like to reduce it to the yellow and purple chairs, which could hint at a number of characters, like Waluigi, or at nothing at all... It's often dismissed that there's a suspicious sofa as well and that the same thing apparently happened for King K. Rool during E3. So, this theory gets ridiculed all the time and a lot of laughs.

Of course none of this confirms Skull Kid as a playable character, but all of this is strongly suggesting the possibility. And because of this I've been defending the idea since the last two months. I still might be completely wrong and really end up being disappointed, because Skull Kid was only a boss after all. But I would be disappointed in that case either way, because it would be the same situation as in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U, where the most promising Zelda characters end up as non-playable.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Legend of Zelda SPECIAL

Living the life of luxury!

So, Nintendo released a "SPECIAL" or "SP" version of the original The Legend of Zelda for Nintendo Switch Online. These SP versions of NES games already were listed a while ago and I was wondering what it could mean, but luckily I didn't put much thought into it, because it turns that they aren't all that special after all.

In case of The Legend of Zelda, it's really just a pre-defined savegame, where someone uncovered most of the secret caves and did get all the items that you can obtain before entering any of the dungeons. So, your inventory got the following additions, when you start the game:

  • Three of the five overworld Heart Containers
  • The White Sword
  • The Magical Shield
  • The Blue Ring
  • The Power Bracelet
  • The Blue Candle
  • The Arrow
  • Food
  • Red Potion
  • 8 Bombs
  • 9 Keys
  • 255 Rupees

For the most part this is exactly what I'm always doing, when I start a new game of The Legend of Zelda. Well, I usually don't go for the Power Bracelet this early and I usually also don't buy any Keys, but otherwise this is my exact shopping list before going into any of the dungeons. It makes the game simply a lot easier and enjoyable to go for all these items early. And that's probably the thought behind this "SPECIAL" version...

However, for me personally this version takes a big part of the fun away, because I really like going for all these items early in the game, growing more powerful on every step. And this version already has the job done for me, which is kind of boring. But I guess, it's a nice offer for anyone, who isn't that familiar with the original game and just wants to try it without much frustration or the use of any guides.

Anyway, if they do more of these "SP" versions, they definitely should do one for Zelda II - The Adventure of Link. Last time, when I replayed the game on the 3DS two years ago, I noticed how much more fun it is to replay the game in its "2nd Quest". There you play the same game over from the start, but you get to keep your levels (ideally everything on 8), all your Spells and the two sword techniques.

The game plays so much better this way and is a lot more enjoyable, especially in the beginning. This would be ideal for such a "SPECIAL" version, where certainly many players would give the game a real chance for the first time, simply because it doesn't kill you left and right early on. So, let's see...

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Zelda Stages: Great Plateau Tower

Last but not least, we're taking a look at the one new Zelda stage in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: the Great Plateau Tower from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the new and revolutionary game in the series. It sets itself apart by being a very simple stage for a change, which takes place on the Sheikah Tower of the Great Plateau as a simple flat stage. You can destroy the top for an additional platform, but that's really it.

Overall, this feels like the perfect representation for the game. The Great Plateau is the one thing that every Nintendo fan should have experienced or at least seen from the game. Using the Sheikah Tower as a the stage itself is as simple as it is clever and nicely brings the Sheikah technology into the mix, while the beauty of Hyrule's open and vast landscape can be beheld in the background. It's pretty much perfect.

As a fun detail the Old Man can appear with his Paraglider. And if the Smash team is really good, they will use floating platform from the end of the "Final Trial" as this stage's Omega form. We'll see about that.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Zelda Stages: Skyloft

This is the last of the returning Zelda stages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and with it we really got all eight Zelda stages back. It was the only new Zelda stage in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, while previous Smash games usually added two new Zelda stages.

The stage itself offers a set of moving platforms flying around Skyloft from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. It works similar to Delfino Plaza and lands in a total of twelve different spots around the sky island. While the platforms are moving, you can see Skyloft in the background, which looks very close to the Wii original in detail.

The stage itself takes place during the middle of the game, because the three beams of light are there and Light Tower is opened, but the Statue of the Goddess is still in its rightful place.

It's the only Zelda stage with this travel platform mechanic and there isn't really much to say about it except that it's quite nice... Sadly, there is no atmospheric night variant with Remlits attacking the players.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Zelda Stages: Spirit Train

While A Link Between Worlds didn't get any real representation in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, it did add stages based on the previous two handheld Zelda titles: Ocarina of Time 3D and Spirit Tracks. The Spirit Train is so far even the only Zelda stage in Smash, which came from a handheld-exclusive title.

This alone already makes this stage feel quite special, but it's also very different from the other Zelda stages. It's probably closest to the Pirate Ship in idea, but it feels more like Big Blue with the train moving through the landscape. Once you land on the tracks, you will quickly move off the stage.

The stage can be really busy, where the rear carriage can be swapped with different types or Dark Trains appear to create chaos. So, like almost all Zelda stages this one isn't really suited for competitive play.

Toon Link appears in the stage as a conductor, despite the fact that he's playable. If he's in the match as a fighter, Alfonzo will take his place, which spawned countless "Leave it me!" memes over the years, where Alfonzo takes the place of characters in other stages, like Ridley in the Pyrosphere.

On the Nintendo Switch the graphical update is really remarkable and makes you hope for a "Spirit Tracks HD" sometime in the future.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Zelda Stages: Gerudo Valley

If you count Hyrule Castle, this is one of two stages that originated from Ocarina of Time. But Gerudo Valley was without a question more strongly inspired by the source material, diving into one of the favorite parts of the game, mainly because of the amazing music.

Like Bridge of Eldin, this is another stage essentially based on a bridge, where both ends let you walk off into the blast zones. The stage has a little bit more to it, however, with platforms on each side and a bridge that can be destroyed. Koume and Kotake will haunt the stage afterwards, leaving either the west side burning or the east side freezing. The Song of Time will then later repair the bridge.

As some nice details, you can spot the Gerudo Fortress in the background, as well as some targets from the horseback archery range. Overall it will be nice to see this stage in HD for the first time in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Zelda Stages: Pirate Ship

In Super Smash Bros. Brawl the Pirate Ship was introduced as Toon Link's stage and it came together with the Bridge of Eldin, where it perfectly depicted the contrast in style between The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.

It's a much more colorful stage with many fun events, elements and nods to the original game. The catapult was originally used to fire rocks at the Helmaroc King and Link into the Forsaken Fortress, where he it may fire players off the stage. The King of Red Lions might appear behind the ship as a platform, which is in a way similar to the giant turtle in the Great Bay stage. Lookout Platforms might target the stage with cannon fire. The ship might drift ashore on a rocky island or get blown into the air by a cyclone...

So, lots of different things can happen on the stage. Ideally, the Ghost Ship from Phantom Hourglass would also appear in a ghostly fog to have a reference to that game in the stage as well. But maybe this is something that they have been doing for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate...

In Ultimate the stage will return for the third time. It was also DLC in Smash 4, but because they couldn't get the stage to work on the Nintendo 3DS, it is the only piece of DLC that's exclusively available in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

At least they had a nice idea for Omega version of the stage, which takes place on one of the Lookout Platforms instead:

You can even spot the Pirate Ship sometimes in the distance and it's one of the most special Omega stages.

(Update: sadly, they've changed the Omega and Battlefield variants in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate into something more generic. It's loosely based on the platforms, but it doesn't have the roof, nor the wooden pillar any longer. It's floating above the ocean and looks really lame.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Zelda Stages: Bridge of Eldin

The Bridge of Eldin is one of the most iconic places in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, because of the battle against King Bulblin and the game's intro. Therefore it's no surprise that this was chosen as a stage in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The stage also returned in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and of course is part of Ultimate's stage selection like all the other Zelda stages.

In Ultimate, however, it looks very different from before. They put a lot more details into the background and even the bridge itself, which feels very "off" and doesn't look like the original at all. Especially the large part of Hyrule Field to the left, where some of the bigger horse battles take place, is way too hilly and rocky in this version. And the field to the right also looks a lot more accessible, as if everything in the background is something that you could freely explore like in Breath of the Wild, but this wasn't the case in the original game.

Despite the artistic liberties or maybe because of them it still looks quite interesting. You would have expected them to simply go with the visuals of Twilight Princess HD, but instead they make you wonder what could have been, if Tantalus had put more effort into the remaster.

The stage itself always has been very simple overall. It's one big platform that lets you walk off into the blast zones, which can be abused for some easy K.O.s. The center of the stage can be destroyed by King Bulblin and then repaired by a portal, which is a nice nod to how you repair the bridge in Twilight Princess.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Zelda Stages: Temple

Ever since its introduction in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Temple or "Hyrule Temple" has been a staple in the series, re-appearing in all home console iterations. So, together with Hyrule Castle this Zelda stage appeared the most often in Smash, four times in total.

Temple was also always was one of the largest stages in the series and one that has many fans, which certainly was one of the reasons why this stage kept returning. The stage is fun to play in 8-Player Smash and it's infamous for its "Fight Club" area at the bottom and other easy-to-abuse corners. So, like all Zelda stages it never really could be considered for tournament legality... But for everyone else this is certainly a fun stage, which would be dearly missed, if it didn't return.

The stage is also quite extraordinary when it comes to the Zelda franchise. Most other stages are based on the popular 3D Zelda outings like Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess. But Temple is based on the Palaces in Zelda II - The Adventure of Link and with that came one of the most popular music tracks in Smash history - the Temple theme.

There's a nice detail in the stage's Omega form, where you can see the actual stage split in two in the background:

While floating ruins and palaces in the sky can be found in some Zelda games like Skyward Sword or Four Swords, the Palaces in Zelda II - The Adventure of Link didn't appear in the sky like that and the stage could be mistaken for one from the Kid Icarus franchise on first glance...