Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Returning Stage Packs Idea

Battlefield in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

This is a follow-up idea to the Wii U Battlefield sighted in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (see here), where we're having a little bit of fun here. It's likely confirmed that the Wii U Battlefield screenshot came from an early build (Update: see here) or it could simply be a small addition in the next free update, so it's best to not expect much here...

However, let's go crazy for a moment and imagine an entire Stages Pass, where Super Smash Bros. Ultimate crosses over with all five previous Smash games to fill some gaps. Each pack would come with four new old stages, where all the variants of Battlefield and Final Destination are included.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x Super Smash Bros.

  • Battlefield (64)
  • Final Destination (64)
  • Meta Crystal
  • Planet Zebes

There aren't many options here and the only stage left is Sector Z, where both this and Planet Zebes probably got cut because of their very similar counterparts from Melee. Between those Sector Z has arguably the bigger visual differences, but Planet Zebes offers a different layout and therefore gets in.

Meta Crystal is the place where you fight Metal Mario in singleplayer and fans have been asking for this stage to return for years. It would certainly offer some unique aesthetics.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x Super Smash Bros. Melee

  • Battlefield (Melee)
  • Final Destination (Melee)
  • Mute City (Melee)
  • Poké Floats

Other possibilities here would be Mushroom Kingdom and Icicle Mountain, but Mute City and Poké Floats are arguably the bigger fan favorites. Icicle Mountain could still be considered as more unique than Mute City, though... So, feel free to swap things.

Meanwhile Mushroom Kingdom looks quite similar to the Nintendo 64 version, but it offers a different layout and maybe this stage can be added as well as part of an update. In any case all four remaining Melee stages would be viable for DLC.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x Super Smash Bros. Brawl

  • Battlefield (Brawl)
  • Final Destination (Brawl)
  • Mushroomy Underground
  • Rumble Falls

Super Smash Bros. Brawl really only has these stages left, with the exception of PictoChat, which would look identical to the 3DS version and really should have been part of a "PictoChat X" stage instead, much like Flat Zone.

"Mushroomy Underground" on the other hand is basically the B-side of Mushroomy Kingdom, based on World 1-2, which did not return in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, nor Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, but they could offer this here as a separate stage.

Rumble Falls also adds the first and only vertically scrolling stage to Ultimate, unless we're going with Icicle Mountain in the Melee Pack, but keep in mind that all of the returning stages also come with Battlefield and Omega versions. So, even if you didn't like this stage back in Brawl, it might still be nice to have with its variants.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS

  • Battlefield (3DS)
  • Final Destination (3DS/Wii U)
  • Rainbow Road
  • Pac-Maze

Similar to Brawl, there are only these four stages left to complete the collection. Battlefield on the Nintendo 3DS looks actually different from the Wii U version, so this gets its own slot. However, Final Destination looks quite similar for both 3DS and Wii U, where only the background was different between versions, so this gets merged into one.

It would also be interesting to see how they handle Pac-Maze on the Switch, but some of its special 3DS features could be preserved for local wireless play.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

  • Battlefield (Wii U)
  • Big Battlefield (Wii U)
  • Woolly World
  • Orbital Gate Assault

Since Final Destination was already covered by the 3DS pack, we're getting Big Battlefield here instead. Similar to Melee, there are also four candidates remaining here, where in this example Jungle Hijinx and Pyrosphere still didn't make the cut.

Jungle Hijinx could be problematic for stage morphing and complicate things for this feature, while Pyrosphere probably didn't make it back because of the Ridley boss, but of course those are really just excuses and not reasons. It's a different Ridley after all and they could simply exclude Jungle Hijinx from stage morphs. But if we're going with only four stages per pack, then Woolly World and Orbital Gate Assault are the less questionable picks.

Also, both Metroid and Donkey Kong already got new old stages in Packs 1 and 3. Overall the additions cover all different franchises: Metroid, F-Zero, Pokémon, Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Mario Kart, Pac-Man, Yoshi and Star Fox, so this would be a great mix.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Wii U Battlefield?

Pit in Smash Ultimate with Inkling's ink and the Smash 4 Wii U Battlefield visible in the background

Masahiro Sakurai likes to post screenshots from his time developing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on Twitter, like the one above (source). However, this one is quite special, because it clearly shows Pit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the Inkling shooting up, but with the background of (Big) Battlefield from Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

Battlefield in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

This doesn't have to mean anything, because it could simply be from an early build, where they've re-used the Wii U Battlefield at first. But it would certainly be nice to get some more new old stages, even if it's just past variants of Battlefield and Final Destination.

They will need to re-arrange the stage select screen for the next Challenger Pack anyway... Well, technically there is still an open slot in the bottom right corner, but that one is used for all custom stages when selecting the pool of random stages. And for the whole second Fighters Pass the select screen needs to be expanded in some form sooner than later.

They could just add another row or column, but it's also possible that they might split the stage select screen up to make it easier to find stages. There could be multiple tabs at the top, one for Ultimate, Smash 64, Melee, Brawl, 3DS/Wii U and custom stages. And if they divide it like this, they might also choose to add some more stages here and there to fill some gaps or simply to offer some fan service.

Another possibility would be "stage variants", where pressing one of the shoulder buttons could allow you to switch between different versions of the stage, where each version additionally comes with their own Battlefield and Omega forms. This could be used for the classic Battlefield and Final Destination stages, but it would also be interesting for various morphing stages like Paper Mario, where the stage variants could give you the individual sections without the morph. This could also be used to add the World 1-2 version of Mushroomy Kingdom from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

In any case I hope they do something more to surprise us... if we're just getting Challenger Packs, Spirits and Mii costumes for two years, it would be a waste of opportunities. The early days of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where they've added new features via updates, were much more exciting.

Update: Sakurai confirmed that this was a screenshot from a development stage on Twitter – he even did so in English, probably after realizing how viral the whole thing went. But this incident could give him the right idea that there indeed is a lot of interest in getting past stages back. Why not add this dev stage to the game for the fun of it?

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Link's Awakening: Official Soundtrack Announced

Link's Awakening soundtrack with two disc cases and four discs

Link's Awakening will be getting a soundtrack in Japan, which will be released on March 18th and include all the tracks of both the remake and the GameBoy (Color) original. The in total 205 tracks will be split into four discs, where there is even a disc case for the classic and remade versions, using an artwork for the original. You can find a full track listing here.

This would certainly be a nice to have item, if it also came to the west, though it's not as pretty and amazing as the Breath of the Wild Soundtrack. But like the latter it's released in March in the year after the game's release(s). In case of Breath of the Wild they probably had waited for the entire DLC to be finished, before making the soundtrack, which makes sense.

So, this should be the final nail in the coffin for any hopes that the remake might still receive any major updates. Well, it's still possible for them to add to the Chamber Dungeon without any new music, but it really feels like this game is done and gone by now.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Future Updates

More DLC fighters now in development

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will get six additional Challenger Packs during the course of 2020 and 2021. While this alone is already quite extraordinary, since Nintendo usually doesn't support their games as long with DLC, there are still things left to be desired, which won't be achieved by the second Fighters Pass alone.

But every new DLC comes with an update for the game and every update is a chance of some additional contents or improvements to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Let's go through what still should be added and fixed in the future!

Echo Fighters

Echo Fighters are essentially just glorified skins, but nonetheless they are a nice and cheap way of adding characters, which wouldn't otherwise become playable. Some of the existing Echo Fighters like Dark Samus could have been unique fighters, of course, but it's better than not being playable at all.

And there is still some potential with characters like Impa from Skyward Sword or Jeanne from Bayonetta. Those could be sold for a small price or even be free as part of the upcoming updates.


If Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lacks anything, then it's new stages. There only have been nine so far, where six of them were used to introduce new franchises. Only very few Nintendo games from the last five years actually have gotten stages in the game...

Of course the focus clearly was on bringing old stages back, but even here the game still has some glaring omissions. And the second Fighters Pass probably won't fix any of that, however, they could add stages for free or even sell them as separate DLC, both of which has been done for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U.

Stage Builder

The Stage Builder has been an amazing gift in version 3.0.0, but the selection of backgrounds and materials didn't turn out to be as good. Custom stages in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U looked much prettier than what we got here so far, so it would be nice to get at least the textures and backgrounds from that game back.

There is also an issue with the collision of platform edges, which probably should be fixed at some point.

Stage and Fighter Select Screens

If Sakurai's team has any time and resources left to work on other things, improving the stage and fighter select screens should be their first priority. There is so much wrong here, it's actually maddening how none of this has been fixed so far, since you go through these screens with every single match...

They should:

  • Give us the option to sort stages and fighters by franchise, like in previous Smash games.
  • Let us copy rulesets in addition to editing them.
  • Let us quickly edit time and stock limits on the stage select screen.
  • Let us turn stage hazards on and off on the stage select screen.
  • Let us turn stage morphing on and off on the stage select screen.
  • Remember the last choice of fighter and alt for each player.

The rule sets were a good idea, but having absolutely all options defined by them was not. They should in these cases only set the default, but you shouldn't have to create variants of each rule set just so that you can switch between normal stages and stages without hazards and so on.


Overall the options and configurations for your controls never have been better for Smash, but there are still some possible improvements here. First of all, it should be possible to turn of Smash Attack for the left stick, in case you prefer to do tilt attacks with it and Smash Attacks with the right stick.

It would also be good to have a dedicated short hop button, instead of pushing two jump buttons at once. Or better fix the problem at its root and don't make the short hop timing so extremely delicate.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Fire Emblem Heroes Introduces Scam Pass

multiple heroes burning Feh with fire magic
Burn, you greedy, little owl.

If you thought that adding Byleth to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was a terrible idea, then you might find some schadenfreude in how badly Nintendo and Intelligent Systems are currently screwing the Fire Emblem fans, at least the ones playing the mobile outing, Fire Emblem: Heroes, with the introduction of the "Feh Pass".

I'm one of these fans, though I wouldn't call myself a big Fire Emblem fan, at least not on the sames lines as Zelda and Metroid, but I'm playing Fire Emblem: Heroes on a daily basis and it got me more interested in the franchise overall to a point, where I was actually happy about Byleth's inclusion in Smash. So, that's something.

Fire Emblem: Heroes also made me a "free to play" mobile gamer, which is something I never thought I would be. I've already praised this game a couple of times on my blog, despite the fact that I never was a fan of its monetization. Gacha is always horrible and the orbs are extremely overpriced.

Even with the best volume discount you pay 80€ for 140 orbs, which is way too much for too little. I can easily earn this number of orbs within a month or less by playing the game, but get only junk out of it. If you're really lucky, you might get one or two five star heroes and maybe the one you were hoping for, but it's not guaranteed and certainly not worth the price.

For 80€ you can buy a nice Limited Edition of a Switch game and I just couldn't support a pricing like this, nor gambling in general. If it were like a tenth of the price, I might be buying some orbs every now and then to support the game, but not like this... And this is still fine, because one of the goals of Nintendo's mobile games is to get people interested in their core products. And the money that I didn't spend on orbs ultimately went into some Fire Emblem Limited Editions, which was the much better investment.

And not spending any money in Fire Emblem: Heroes never felt like an issue. I could keep up just fine for the most part and I'm even in the 21+ ranks of the ever hated Aether Raids mode, I have an army of valuable units and the game never felt unfair in a way, where I was at a massive disadvantage as a f2p player.

However, as of today this will change. With the "Fire Emblem Heroes Pass" they expect you to pay 11,50€ a month (that's a staggering 138€ per year) for the following features:

  • Access to two refurbished units per month with better stats
  • Summoner support for three units instead of just one
  • Re-wind and auto-start features
  • Special quests with valuable items

All of these are even good and necessary quality of life features and buffs, but none of this should be behind a costly paywall.

The refurbished units solve a problem with the other monetization, where units kept becoming more and more powerful over the years, because Intelligent System wants the players to spend their orbs on the new guys every time. But because of this the year 1 units might not be as valuable any longer... So, the refurbished units are a good move, but it's a bad move to lock them behind this paywall.

Summoner support for three units would also be extremely helpful in competitive modes like Aether Raids, but you have to pay for it... It's basically pay to win. And the new options should be accessible to all the players and not just the ones buying the pass.

The worst and most scammy part of it are the quests, though. They show up like normal quests and they are very easy to fulfill, where the rewards are quickly waiting to be collected in your quest menu... But when you want to collect them, it prompts you to pay for the pass. This is no joke, I'm not making this up. It's dark UI patterns from hell, the worst of the worst, and everyone involved should feel deeply ashamed about this.

And it's not even understandable, why they are going this route, if you're looking at the numbers...

Fire Emblem: Heroes is by far Nintendo's most successful mobile game and it's not even by a small margin. In fact the game accounts for more than half of the total revenue, completely stomping Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Dragalia Lost, Super Mario Run, Mario Kart Tour and Dr. Mario World into the ground.

Why it now has to copy the horrible monetization strategies of the far less successful Mario Kart Tour, also known as the worst Mario Kart in history, is beyond me... It's almost as if they want to milk the Fire Emblem player base even more, because the other mobile games are so unsuccessful. In fact, DeNA – the company most of Nintendo's bad mobile games – is even looking at a massive loss of nearly 50 billion Yen (source)... And now Fire Emblem might have to pay for it.

In any case this was a horrible move and the shitstorm is without any surprise gigantic. Even if such a monetization were necessary, it should be much cheaper and should not be of disadvantage for f2p players. Give the pass players some five star units, which are available otherwise. Give them some orbs. Let them have the easy bonus quests... But don't lock buffs and new options behind this and don't trick players into buying the pass via dark patterns.

Now, this only confirms my worries about a mobile Zelda these days. Two years ago I thought this would be a good idea, but now a mobile Zelda game is the last thing I could ever want. Please don't blemish the Zelda franchise with such awful practices, Nintendo.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Good Sales for Zelda

the Triforce next to a rising stock arrow

Nintendo has published their Earnings Release for the end of 2019 on their investor pages and with it comes the supplementary information with some interesting numbers:

  • Breath of the Wild: 16.34 million copies sold
  • Link's Awakening: 4.19 million copies sold

Well, Breath of the Wild has been the best-selling Zelda game for two years now and it kept selling and selling to a point, where it even outsells Ocarina of Time with all its versions.

What's also remarkable is how Link's Awakening has already outsold the GameBoy original, where its 3.83 million sales had been tracked until 2004, in just four months and this despite the constant complaints about how overpriced it is. Of course this might have to do with the success of Breath of the Wild, where people are more interested in Zelda in general, but this should give Nintendo the right idea of continuing with this style of topdown Zelda games.

In any case we're looking at a promising future for Zelda in the moment. Both Breath of the Wild and Link's Awakening are amazing and they are doing well on Nintendo Switch, where hopefully Nintendo will continue what they've started with these two titles.