Monday, November 26, 2018

Aonuma Teases Skyward Sword for Switch?

We know what you are thinking, Skyward Sword on Switch, right?

Eiji Aonuma visited a Zelda concert in Osaka this weekend and apparently teased the audience about Skyward Sword on Nintendo Switch (source). This does seem very unusual, if you consider that he wasn't allowed to announce anything about Majora's Mask 3D for years, but times keep changing...

But maybe they are very close to announcing this game, where there might even be a Nintendo Direct in December doing so. Twilight Princess HD got announced around the same time frame and then released in March of the following year.

In any case I would have expected a Skyward Sword HD release for next year, where I already compiled a list of possible improvements earlier this year. This list included the reduction of motion controls and Fi's comments, fixing the repeated treasure messages, improving the warp system and adding more Medals and a typical trial cave dungeon with the normal enemies from the game.

So, there is lots of potential here for improvements and additions to make a new version of the game worthwhile. It will be especially interesting to see, how they handle the controls, because the game should still be playable in handheld mode at the end, where you only have limited motion controls.

But the main reason, why I'm rooting for Skyward Sword HD on Switch should be clear: I really want a Nintendo Switch by now, especially with games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate around the corner, and Nintendo kept me waiting long enough. Luckily, I can borrow a Switch for Smash, but I want my own system sooner than later, where I'm still waiting for the inevitable Zelda Edition. And Skyward Sword HD would probably come with one, where the system could have golden Joy-Cons, much like there was a golden Wiimote originally bundled with the game. And I would really like that.

Another possibility that comes with the game lies in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: one nice way of promoting Skyward Sword HD would be adding Impa from that game as a (free) Echo Fighter of Sheik. And getting some more Zelda content into Smash would certainly be a good thing.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Got Creating a Champion Hero's Edition

This piece of beauty arrived at my mail on Friday, the Breath of the Wild - Creating a Champion Hero's Edition:

Known as "Master Works" in Japan, this massive artbook contains probably almost every artwork, illustration and piece of concept art for Breath of the Wild. With 424 pages it's about the same size as Arts & Artifacts (428 pages). Let this sink in for a moment... This artbook about one Zelda game has the same amount of content as the artbook for the entire rest of the Zelda series. This alone shows what massive milestone Breath of the Wild is for the series. It's sensational.

The Hero's Edition comes with a couple of extras, namely the photo of the Champions, a large cloth map of the new Hyrule and a Spirit Orb, an actual dark blue glass orb with the Goddess Symbol enclosed inside. Here are some photos of its contents:

One thing of note: there was a price sticker on the back of the sheath, even though the whole thing was wrapped in plastic foil and the sticker should have been on the foil. And we're not talking about one of those stickers that are easily removable, it's a persistent one leaving sticker marks on the object. It's probably some production mistake (wrong order or so), but this isn't nice to have on such a collectible.

Otherwise I'm really happy with this purchase and I will probably be studying this new book in great detail during the next days.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Ocarina of Time's 20th Anniversary

20 years ago, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time got released in Japan, creating a new era for the Zelda series and gaming as a whole. The game's 10 Anniversary was one of the first highlights on this blog, where at the time we already looked at what made the game so great and how it positively influenced the success of the Zelda series with many titles to follow. I took the liberty to update said post (fixed some spelling and markup), so go check it out.

Now, let's continue the list from the original post with all Zelda releases since the 10th Anniversary of Ocarina of Time to see how its legacy continued in the last 10 years:

This is certainly a big list, though a big part of it is made out of spin-off titles, DLC, re-releases and also remasters. The latter started with nothing less than Ocarina of Time 3D on the Nintendo 3DS, which gave the Nintendo 64 classic a pretty overhaul. Thanks to this version the game is still very enjoyable today.

Anyway, the previous list back in 2008 ended on the notion that hopefully the next game will have the same impact as Ocarina of Time, which didn't came true with titles like Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword. But by now, ten years later, we can finally claim that Zelda found its next big milestone with Breath of the Wild in 2017, which quickly became the most successful Zelda game by now and really made the franchise fresh and exciting again.

With that it even feels difficult to go back to the older 3D Zelda games, including Ocarina of Time, because they feel so very limited in comparison. For example, you can't freely explore the world anywhere you go, so you can't just climb the hills around Kakariko to look what's behind them. Or the combat feels very clunky and enemies are rarely found...

But at the time Ocarina of Time was the Breath of the Wild of its generation. In 1998 you've never experienced an open world like that and the game was ground-breaking in almost every aspect. Compared to the world of Breath of the Wild, the Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time might feel dull, but back then it cleverly created a never before seen sense of freedom in video games. It created a feeling that there's always something to discover behind the horizon and for the longest time the Zelda series struggled to capture the same sense of freedom (except for the Wind Waker), until Breath of the Wild finally came along.

Still, there are a couple of things, where Ocarina of Time outshines Breath of the Wild, like the dungeon design, or the music, and use of ambient sounds. So, it's not like everything has been surpassed yet and like there's absolutely no reason to return to Ocarina of Time, ever.

Also, you can't dismiss the influence that Ocarina of Time still has on the franchise, even today. Despite its innovations for the series, even Breath of the Wild wasn't able to fully move out of its shadow and builds upon the nostalgia that Ocarina of Time brings. It already starts with how you visit the ruins of the Temple of Time early in the game, a constant reminder of the days of the past.

Afterwards you find your way to Kakariko and while the village is vastly different from the old windmill place in Ocarina of Time, you still have some influence here like a minigame, where you have to bring a number of Cuccos back into their stable. And this is a part, where Ocarina of Time is still a lot more fun and rewarding in comparison.

And one of the biggest things that Ocarina of Time established were the different tribes of Hyrule: the Sheikah, the Gorons, the Zora, and the Gerudo are still very prominent in the new Hyrule after all this time and make a big part of the story, where especially the Zora storyline reminisces in the tales from Ocarina of Time.

At least Breath of the Wild managed to get away from the timeline that Ocarina of Time had created. By looking at the classic Zelda timeline you quickly realize how important Ocarina of Time was to the series even in story, since it's essentially the pivot point of the timeline. It's probably one of the reasons why they set Breath of the Wild loose from the old timeline. But it still didn't manage to entirely escape Ocarina of Time's shadow, which just shows how the N64 classic is still important to the series after all this time...

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Odyssey's Ongoing Outfits

What does Super Mario Odyssey do, what the last two Zelda games didn't? That's right, the game keeps updating with new content, specifically in the form of new outfits / costumes. Almost every month the game is getting one new set of clothing, from Satellaview Mario to Zombie Mario...

Given, it's not exactly the most exciting and engaging way of updating a game. These outfits cost lots of coins and all you need to do to get them is grind money, where Luigi's Balloon World minigame seems to be the preferred method. But it's still something that keeps you going back the game from time to time. And that's better than nothing at all.

Now, the last two Zelda games had something similar: there were the different collectible outfits in Tri Force Heroes, as well as the many different armor pieces in Breath of the Wild. Both had the potential to add some regular, free DLC updates to the game, but in both cases Nintendo passed after one or two updates, while they still keep updating Super Mario Odyssey after one year. And that's a shame, because it could have done a lot with little for these two games...

Tri Force Heroes

Ah, the outfits in Tri Force Heroes. They were easily the best thing about the game and it was a lot of fun to unlock and try them all. In the end not every outfit was all that useful, but that doesn't really matter for the fun of it. And putting Toon Link in all these different costumes sure was fun.

At the time data miners found out that there were six reserved spots for DLC outfits and two of them actually got released together with the Den of Trials: Linebeck's Uniform and the Fierce Deity Armor.

This was certainly exciting, but what happened to the other four planned outfits? We probably will never know, but it would have been a good way of bringing players back. Even if it's just a small addition of one outfit at a time, it's something that dedicated players would like to check and try out. This could lead to playing some rounds online, helping other players with their Challenges and so on. Maybe you even need to get some more materials first before you can get the new outfits... So, there's an incentive to play more

It would have been a way of keeping the game alive a little longer, but sadly Nintendo didn't pursue this.

Breath of the Wild

While there have been many additional armor pieces via amiibo and the two DLC packs, there was only one set of armor distributed via a free update, the Salvager set based on Xenoblade Chronicles 2:

It wasn't the best outfit and some fans didn't really like it, but it was still a nice promotion and it was still a reason to return to the new Hyrule for a moment, looking for the special red shooting stars. At least the sidequest itself was much more entertaining than the lazy sidequests that lead to all the other DLC armor pieces...

So, it was something and apparently Nintendo didn't have any interest in adding something more. It probably was due to the fact that they didn't want to keep updating a Wii U game, but it would have been something that kept Breath of the Wild in the news and that kept players returning to the game every once in a while, even the ones that already completed everything (like me).

And of course they could and should have expanded the armor limit, while they're at it. It's still annoying that they never bothered with fixing that... And some more costumes to finally use the expansion would have been a nice apology.

Well, maybe with the next Zelda game they will consider putting Link in some new clothes every once in a while.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Spirit Tracks on Smartphones?

About two weeks ago Nintendo has renewed their trademarks for both Mario vs. Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (see here). The interesting part is that it lists ‘program for smartphone’ under the purposes... Of course this is all just standard procedure, but if they currently were to remake both the Nintendo DS Zelda games, the Nintendo Switch wouldn't really be a suitable platform. A smartphone, however, would be.

You would simply display both screens as one big screen, where the lower half is the one for the input. Smartphones come with microphones that could be used for the audio inputs as well, though it would be best to find an alternative for that, because playing the Spirit Flute was especially annoying. The other problem would be drawing on maps, because without stylus controls this wouldn't be all that accurate. But otherwise the games could work really well on a phone.

This brings us even back to the topic of a Nintendo 3DS successor, where one idea was to attach a controller to a Smartphone. That way they could make a majority of the Nintendo DS and 3DS library accessible again. The Nintendo Zelda games are in the special position that they don't require button inputs, however, so they could work on a Smartphone without any attachments.

Well, I personally would still prefer a new Zelda game on smart devices over a remake of Spirit Tracks, which is one of my least favorite Zelda games. A sequel to the game could be interesting, still.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Nintendo Keeping their System Sellers in the Spotlight via DLC?

In the "Six Months Financial Results Briefing for Fiscal Year Ending March 2019" (see here), Nintendo's new President Shuntaro Furukawa had the following to say about system sellers:

Titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Super Mario Odyssey are what we call “hardware drivers” in that consumers are very often interested in buying these titles when making a new hardware purchase. Titles released already in the previous fiscal years remain capable of driving hardware sales. The key is to figure out what makes these titles appealing, and how we can get consumers to understand that appeal. Going forward, we plan to incorporate add-on content and other factors that will keep these titles in the spotlight, so they will continue to sell alongside the hardware.

We take the value of software very seriously. What we want with our evergreen titles is to maintain their values as long as possible without lowering the prices.

Well, Furukawa is certainly right that Nintendo has some strong system selling titles like Breath of the Wild, which keep selling the hardware. And in general it is a good idea to keep their strong titles in the spotlight by any means possible, so that they stay in the media. Adding some content updates once in a while is a good method and lets the players keep coming back to the game, where as a result people are talking about it.

While this would be a good approach, Nintendo is hardly a company to follow it. If they keep updating one of their games for over a year, ideally even with some free content like it's the case for Splatoon 2 or Super Mario Odyssey, then this is already truly something special and out of the ordinary for Nintendo. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe would be a title, where they could add so many different things per DLC, but which so far only got two major updates: one to support Nintendo Labo (lame) and the other was the Breath of the Wild content.

Speaking of Breath of the Wild, Nintendo is absolutely done with the game and so am I. I've done everything there is to achieve in the Wii U version and the only reason to boot the game again would be some updates. It doesn't have to be major DLC Packs - even small stuff counts, like in version 1.3.3, where they've added the Salvage Gear as a promotion for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. They could have kept adding armor to the game (and ideally fixed the armor limit along with it) and keep Breath of the Wild in the news that way, like they do for Super Mario Odyssey with its outfits.

And they probably would have, if it wasn't for the Wii U version. Nintendo most likely doesn't want to do anything for the Wii U anymore, where the Wii U version of Breath of the Wild now is in the way of any more updates. But maybe they'll do it with the next Zelda game, which may come to the Switch alone.

But overall Nintendo has a history of disappointing me by not updating their games in some form...

  • Tri Force Heroes never got to see the rest of its six planned DLC outfits.
  • They never made a 30th character for Hyrule Warriors, even though the roster obviously lacks a slot, nor made the promotional My Fairy Costumes in Hyrule Warriors: Legends available to everyone.
  • They never increased the armor limit in Breath of the Wild, nor fixed the unobtainable treasure chests.

Of course Nintendo (or Koei Tecmo in case of Hyrule Warriors) wasn't entitled to do any of this, but it still would have been things to either keep the games in the spotlight or to improve them. But they didn't care (enough).

Now, the next big game, where Nintendo will most likely disappoint on that end, will be Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. They have announced five DLC Packs that come with a fighter, a stage and some music. And knowing Nintendo, this will most likely be all there is, while they could do so much more to keep the game interesting, like releasing additional stages and Echo Fighters or providing us with a Stage Builder. But they probably won't...

Friday, November 9, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Echo Estimations #3

Third time is the charm! After...

Echo Estimations
Echo Estimations #2

... we will discuss potential Echo Fighters once more, grooming and expanding our list of potential characters that could become Echo Fighters. Since the last time we finally got Ken (60ε) confirmed as Ryu's Echo Fighter, while the Black Knight got deconfirmed as an Assist Trophy.

The same essentially happened to Ribbon Girl, because Spring Man will only be an Assist Trophy in the game as well. Poor ARMS. (Though, technically Ribbon Girl could become her own thing. Out of all characters in ARMS, she fits Smash the best with her multi jump ability. Plus, she is as much as a poster child as Spring Man and even sings the title song.)

But right now we should assume that every other potential Echo Fighter won't see the light of day as well, because the upcoming Fighter's Pass DLC won't include any Echo Fighters. It will be all new ones. Still, Nintendo could release some new Echo Fighters in addition, either as free updates or some cheap separate DLC, to appease certain fan requests and to keep the player base happy or even to promote current and upcoming games on Nintendo Switch. Echo Fighters require much less development efforts than a new fighter, so it's potentially something that Sakurai's team could do in between the five upcoming DLC fighters.

So, let's go through our list of potential Echo Fighters one last time, this time sorted by their hypothetical numbers:

  • 02ε) Funky Kong
  • 11ε) Black Shadow or Blood Falcon
  • 16ε) Impa
  • 17ε) Hilda
  • 35ε) Mega Charizard X/Y
  • 36ε) Dixie Kong
  • 54ε) Medusa or Viridi
  • 63ε) Jeanne
  • 64ε) Octoling

Funky Kong is probably one of the less likely candidates here, considering that Dixie Kong hasn't even made it into the base game herself. If they do an Echo Fighter for the Kongs, it certainly will be the Diddy / Dixie combo. She is easily one of the most requested Nintendo characters at this point.

All in all it would also be thinkable that one of the DLC Packs will revolve around Tropical Freeze and introduce any of the remaining Kongs from that game as a unique fighter, including Cranky Kong. But of course such a DLC could go hand in hand with a free Echo Fighter as a promotion...

If Nintendo ever wanted to do something more for F-Zero in Smash (or in general), adding an Echo Fighter to Captain Falcon would probably be their choice, seeing how the franchise is practically dead at the moment. Either Black Shadow or Blood Falcon would fill this role quite perfectly.

Moving on to The Legend of Zelda, the biggest disappointment was certainly the lack of a new unique fighter from the series. An Echo Fighter could be a consolation price for Zelda fans, where Impa would probably be the more meaningful one, but Princess Hilda would probably be more interesting and a nicer visual match. However, if they are planning to release Skyward Sword HD on the Nintendo Switch next year, Impa with her Skyward Sword design could be a nice promotion for that title. So, Impa is the likelier candidate of the two.

A newcomer on this list would be Charizard's Mega Charizard X or Y evolutions. This is an interesting case, because he would be listed as an Echo Fighter of the Pokémon Trainer, but only be an Echo Fighter of Charizard alone, bringing the standalone Charizard from Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U with his infamous Rock Breaker move back.

Both Medusa and the Octolings are cases, where the fighters could end up as semi-clones similar to Isabelle, less so in case of the Octolings, more so in case of Medusa. Viridi is another alternative as Medusa's Echo Fighter, who could potentially even use some of Palutena's lost moves, while Medusa would be closer to the overall body shape of Palutena.

Last but certainly not least, we have Jeanne as Bayonetta's Echo Fighter. Since Bayonetta still had her Jeanne alt, she felt quite unlikely for the base game, but updates and DLC tell a different story. In fact, if there were to be more Echo Fighters as download, she would be the likeliest candidate, considering that she basically was Bayonetta's Echo Fighter in their games and considering that Nintendo might want to promote Bayonetta 3 with such an addition.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Nintendo Selects DLC

Last night Sakurai tweeted in English that the selection of the DLC line-up is now done and was entirely made by Nintendo. Sakurai will then decide what fighters can be made from their selection.

And I have to say that I actually feel relieved about that. I was worried that the DLC might dive too deep into the 3rd party realms to a degree where I don't care anymore, but if Nintendo is behind the selection, they will most likely go for their own characters and content that matters for them.

Of course there probably still will be 3rd party stuff, but it will most likely focus more on content that is present on Nintendo systems. With Square Enix games like Bravely Default, Bravely Second or Octopath Traveler come to mind. Alternatively, there is Dragon Quest, where Nintendo used to be the publisher as well, but I'm not sure about having characters drawn by Akira Toriyama (the author of Dragonball) in the game. It might become a license issue. And I doubt that they would go for Disney's Kingdom Hearts in the same sense or curiosities like Geno.

The biggest Square Enix star would probably be the Chocobo as another Final Fantasy rep, however, since this creature is in countless Square games and even in games like Final Fantasy Adventure (Seiken Densetsu / Mystic Quest) on the GameBoy. The Chocobo was also a Mii costume in Smash 4. And overall I wouldn't mind, if they fleshed out the 3rd party franchises more instead of adding many one-character-parties.

Minecraft still will be a big deal in any case. Nintendo loves Minecraft. Sakurai loves Minecraft. And the world loves Minecraft. It's the second-most successful game of all time and Nintendo wants Minecraft on all their systems, where they even released a Creeper New 2DS XL. And with the DLC packs being made out of a fighter, a stage and some music, it's likely that "Steve" will become playable now.

Otherwise, however, Nintendo will probably focus on their own IPs to promote their games on the Nintendo Switch: games like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze or Splatoon 2, even ARMS, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or future titles like Bayonetta 3, Yoshi's Crafted World, Fire Emblem: Three Houses and even Metroid Prime 4...

Usually Smash Bros. games are stuck in the previous generation, for example Super Smash Bros. Brawl focused heavily on contents from GameCube titles. But the DLC can change this for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where hopefully Nintendo will make sure of that.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Metroid Contents for DLC?

When it comes to playable fighters, Metroid really hit the jackpot in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with the additions of both Ridley and Dark Samus. And at this point it would certainly be presumptuous to expect anything new for the franchise in the five DLC outings, especially since they've covered all important characters by now.

However, Metroid really could use a new stage and if the rumors are true that Metroid Prime 4 is currently developed at Bandai Namco, the Smash team probably would have first hand insights into the project. And if Metroid Prime 4 will be released next year, a DLC pack in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate could be a good promotion.

Such a DLC pack would have the following guy as its fighter:

Sylux. We know little about him or her so far, but this will certainly change with the upcoming game. And his siphoning energy beams could create some potential for a new moveset. A stage would probably from the new game as well, where we currently can't predict anything.

Of course all of this is very unlikely. If Metroid Prime 4 was current, Sylux would probably end up as an Assist Trophy and they would completely ignore the game for a stage. And with the DLC they will probably focus on games and franchises that haven't had any (new) contents in the base game.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Zelda Contents for DLC?

The short answer: no.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will feature five packs of DLC, where each pack contains a new fighter, a new stage and some additional music. This is quite similar to what was offered for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U, where some characters like Bayonetta or Ryu came together with their own stage and some songs. The big difference is that there seemingly won't be any standalone fighters except for the Piranha Plant, nor standalone stages. (And there won't be any Mii outfits, but they probably didn't sell much anyway.)

We should assume that each individual pack will form a themed unit, where the fighter, the stage and the music are all from the same game or franchise. Much like Bayonetta, the Umbra Clock Tower and several music tracks from the Bayonetta games. There is no reason to assume that one pack will have a Zelda character and a Metroid stage, though this particular combination certainly would be awesome.

And this puts Zelda in a difficult position, because there only will be nine new stages and one of them is already the Great Plateau Tower. They also re-designed Link based on Breath of the Wild and they brought back Young Link, so from the perspective of the Smash development team they are most likely done with the Zelda franchise, where they probably should focus on other IPs.

Also, with Skull Kid out of the picture, because he's still an Assist Trophy, there aren't that many potential characters left. Well, there's still this guy:

Tingle. And I would find it hilarious, if he made into Smash Ultimate as a fighter. He even used to be my most wanted at some point before Smash 4. But the outcry would probably be bigger than it currently is for Piranha Plant. And he doesn't really have an interesting stage to come with him. They could do the Tingle Tower from the Wind Waker, but it probably would end up quite similar to the Great Plateau Tower, just in the same setting as the Pirate Ship. (Alternatively they could go with the Rupee Tower from Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, but this would effectively turn him into his own franchise like Wario.)

The Pirate Ship also excludes Tetra as a possible character now, because that would have been her home stage. Impa could be still a thing, but she honestly was never that interesting, nor popular, plus she would have been an ideal Echo Fighter for Sheik, but there won't be any Echo Fighters in the paid DLC (unless maybe one of the new characters comes with an Echo like Simon and Richter).

Well, it still could be that Nintendo might release a couple of Echo Fighters as free DLC or as a separate DLC Pack. There would be lots of good potential here, like Dixie Kong for Diddy Kong or Jeanne for Bayonetta, which also probably would be the best shot at one more Zelda fighter in the form of either Impa or Princess Hilda.

But this is a big "IF", so overall we shouldn't expect anything for Zelda in the upcoming Smash DLC.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Final Direct Letdown

The last months have been a joy ride. The anticipation for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and all the theories for what could be still be included in the game were a lot of fun and the main focus of this blog for five months straight. But this probably ends soon.

The Direct was quite the hype killer. "Kencineroar" became a reality. The box was right and we really only had Ken and Incineroar left, which is certainly disappointing and didn't really end the roster on a high note. At least Sakurai wasn't lying or exaggerating when he said that we shouldn't expect many more fighters... But he could have spaced out the reveals more evenly, keep some of the bigger ones for the end, instead of revealing half of the additions in August.

On top of they deconfirmed many potential popular characters as Assist Trophies, including Shadow, Isaac, Spring Man and... Skull Kid. They didn't even bother with showing the latter during the Direct, he was simply put on the website, where it's like Nintendo wasn't even aware that the fans expected him. They also deconfirmed Echo Fighters for DLC (for now), so there goes my hope for a playable Princess Hilda yet again.

The whole Spirits Mode was lame. We are not getting trophies, but glorified stickers, where for each one you have to do lazily made substitute missions. "The Imprisoned in Smash? Well, we sure are too lazy to make him an actual boss, so we will just let you fight a giant K. Rool!" This reminds me partly of the Hyrule Warriors DLC, where they used huge Bokoblins as the four Giants from Majora's Mask and the Sealed Grounds as Clock Town, while Skull Kid was Lana wearing a costume.

It feels so lazy and it really hurts... There could have been so much amazing content in this game, but instead we are getting quick efforts left and right.

Stages are another disappointment. Yes, we're getting five more stages for a total of 108, but the five new stages will be DLC. So, there's only four new stages in the base game and so many missed opportunities for great stages from recent games, like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze or Metroid: Samus Returns. Having 99 old stages back is nice and all, but we already know all these stages, so they aren't as exciting.

At least there could have been a Stage Builder, so I can make my own new stages. But no, this feature was cut altogether. And this alone doesn't feel like the "ultimate" Smash to me (given, the game is subtitled "Special" in Japan, but hey, it's what it is in English). This was probably the biggest disappointment of the Direct. I can live with not getting the characters that I was hoping for, but the Stage Builder was one of my favorite features in the previous games, which probably just got cut because it would have meant more development effort. Or they thought that people wouldn't want to make their own stages, now that we have so many old stages back...

The Metroid fan in me is happy that we got Ridley and Dark Samus, but he's also disappointed that there were no new Metroid stages. The Zelda fan in me is happy that all Zelda stages are back and we're getting a new one with the Great Plateau Tower, but he's also disappointed that there were no new Zelda fighters and that almost every potential character got deconfirmed as an Assist Trophy again, like in Smash 4.

Well, as for a Zelda newcomer, I initially didn't expect one and I probably should have kept listening to this notion, instead of obsessing over the possibility that Skull Kid could make it in as a playable fighter this time. But with the August Direct it really seemed like this possibility was a reality with all factors combined. If they had revealed Skull Kid as an Assist Trophy together with the Moon, this wouldn't have happened, but instead they kept him off the list until the last second, keeping up the hopes of Zelda fans for all this time. This was really unlucky und poorly executed by Nintendo.

Of course DLC is a thing, but there will be only five packs from what it seems and the Piranha Plant. This character is certainly fun, but after the big blow from today I can't laugh about it right now. Maybe later. Hopefully, Vergeben was right about Minecraft as well and there will be a Minecraft pack. I would like that very much. I don't care about the rest, because there is probably nothing in it for me...
ARMS is out of the picture with Spring Man being an Assist Trophy (unless they are going for some other ARMS character, like Ribbon Girl, Min Min or Twintelle) and so seems to be Xenoblade Chronicles 2. This doesn't really leave much for fighters from newer Nintendo games. Maybe some older stuff, but older Nintendo characters feel more like something that they would do in the base game, like Ridley.

Most of it will probably be 3rd party anyway. Vergeben confirmed that there will be another Square Enix character. Nintendo could also be making deals with Bethesda for Smash and there might be something coming from Bandai Namco as well, like Heihachi from Tekken or KOS-MOS. Ryu Hayabusa from Koei Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive series feels also like a must.

Update: They showed Young Link's Final Smash on stream and it's simply the Triforce Slash. No Fierce Deity or anything. The disappointment continues...

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Final Direct Expectations

Well, it's time. In a few hours we should finally know everything there is to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Of course it's possible that there might be one more fighter reveal later during this month, but we should have an almost complete picture after the Direct.

I still expect it to start with a new franchise to Smash. According to Vergeben, Isaac is still an Assist Trophy in the game, so there goes the idea of major Golden Sun representation. But there are still many possible 3rd party entries like Minecraft, Banjo Kazooie, Tekken or even Tales of Symphonia.
I personally would be really happy about Minecraft, because this is one of my favorite games ever. Steve seemed like a strong contender here, but it really could be that there will be Minecraft content in the game without a playable character, like a stage ("New World"), an Assist Trophy (Creeper) and a boss (Ender Dragon), similar to Monster Hunter...
Now, I was hoping that they would get the obligatory Pokémon newcomer out of the way with some other Pokémon announcements, like they did for Isabelle, but this didn't happen yet... However, they could simply reveal such a character in the middle of the Smash Direct, since another Pokémon is about as special as some more Echo Fighters. It doesn't feel like something that they would use at the beginning or the end of a Direct.

In case of Incineroar it makes sense to feature him in a boxing ring. They could have Little Mac to fight off multiple Pokémon, until Incineroar appears to finally beat him. They could even reveal Ken in the same trailer as a fiery challenger for Incineroar...
But as long as it ends with Skull Kid, I'll be happy. This is really the one character I want the most for Smash at the moment, now that we already have Ridley and Dark Samus, while Skull Kid also had the most evidence for him outside of supposed leaks.

Otherwise I'm mostly interested in the remaining stages, as well as a good Stage Builder. Bring the features from Brawl back and let us use all of the game's backgrounds.