Monday, March 30, 2020

Nintendo Switch Flipnote Leak

Update: This turned out to be an early April Fools' joke. Well, they got me and it hit the right nerves, I must say. :D


There are a couple of screenshots of Flipnote for Nintendo Switch going around, which according to this site were data-mined from Nintendo's servers. This is entirely possible and normally wouldn't be of any interest to this blog, if it weren't for this screenshot:

leaked screenshot of Flipnote on Nintendo Switch

It shows a couple of things drawn in Flipnote and the contents are really interesting. Of course none of this doesn't have to mean anything, but if this was to be presented around the next major Nintendo Direct in June, it could be in direct relation to some other upcoming announcement.

So, what can we see here?

  • In the top middle we can see a scribble of LD-002G Scervo, the robot pirate captain from Skyward Sword, holding a Nintendo Switch in his hand. He also seems to have Link's head over his shoulder, like a fairy. It's weird that they would go for Scervo out of all characters in the Zelda universe for something like this, but Scervo holding a Switch is even weirder. So, this is a really curious depiction and could point towards Skyward Sword HD finally coming to Nintendo Switch this year.
  • There are two drawings about Mario, which doesn't have to mean anything, but could be related to the newest Super Mario 35th Anniversary rumors, where we would be getting lots of Mario games this year.
  • In the same sense we can see Olimar from the Pikmin series. This is entirely harmless, so it's not anything as outlandish as Scervo holding a Switch, but it still could be related to either Pikmin 3 or even Pikmin 4 coming to Switch.
  • And there's Ribbon Girl. This could be related to ARMS in general, since Nintendo really seems to be pushing the game out of its grave again at the moment, but it could also be her, because she made it into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. However, considering how super secretive the development of the DLC fighters is, this is very unlikely.

But all of this could point at some really good news. I'm personally hoping for Skyward Sword HD, because it could finally lead to that golden Nintendo Switch Special Edition I've wanted for three years now. And Ribbon Girl would be my favorite fighter from ARMS to make it into Smash, where I would 100% main her. I would be really happy about all of this.

Well, let's stay cautiously optimistic and see if there is any truth to any of this in two months... .

About the Super Mario 35th Anniversary Rumors

Mario on top of a flag pole in Super Mario 3D World

So, there have been some incredible rumors going around about the Super Mario franchise and its 35th Anniversary, see for example on If these rumors from different major sources are to be trusted, Nintendo will celebrate Super Mario's 35th birthday big time with various remasters/ports of most of his 3D games to the Nintendo Switch, as well as a new Paper Mario title.

The 3D titles include the following:

  • Super Mario 64
  • Super Mario Sunshine
  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • Super Mario 3D World Deluxe

Rumors about the latter have been going around for a while now together with an enhanced port of Pikmin 3. And a enhanced port of Super Mario 3D World seems very likely in any case, since this takes the least effort. In the end Nintendo will probably have ported all major Wii U titles to the Nintendo Switch that didn't get a direct sequel (like Splatoon 2 or Super Mario Maker 2). So, this is entirely possible.

But getting HD remasters of three of Mario's previous 3D outings almost sounds too good to be true. Unlike a port of a game that was already in HD, this will take some significant amount of effort, but Nintendo has hired various studios in the past to do their remasters for them, like GREZZO or Tantalus in case of Zelda.

Speaking of Zelda, if these rumors hold true, then this could translate to Zelda next year as well. So far it was questionable whether Nintendo would be celebrating a 35th Anniversary to begin with (it's not a decade, nor a quarter century), but if they're willing to use this date for advertisements, it could lead to a similar line-up in 2021 for Zelda.

We're talking...

  • The Wind Waker HD
  • Twilight Princess HD
  • Skyward Sword HD
  • Oracle of Ages & Seasons
  • The sequel to Breath of the Wild

Not necessarily all in one year, but all being in development. Skyward Sword HD still might come even this year, but more about this in the next post...

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate x ARMS – Challenger Pack Predictions

Super Smash Bros. x ARMS logos

That the next Challenger Pack for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will feature ARMS has been very exciting news for me, because it's one of my favorite games for Nintendo Switch, despite its shortcomings. But it's super stylish, has great music and excellent character design.

And in general I'm an advocate for more 1st party titles in the DLC for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. They should at least try to represent the era of Nintendo Switch and the late era of Wii U and Nintendo 3DS somewhat, where so far we only got Splatoon, Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey in the base game. Fire Emblem: Three Houses was a start for the DLC, but ARMS is even better. And I bet we will also be getting another Pokémon from Sword & Shield, while ideally Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze will finally get the representation it deserves...

Anyway, as for ARMS, they did a clever announcement here, where they didn't reveal the exact fighter, only the game, so people will be speculating about their favorite candidate from ARMS for the next two months.

all 15 fighters from ARMS as showcased in the Direct

It's theoretically possible that they might go with a collection of characters here, like with the Koopalings or Hero. But in this case only the physically similar fighters like Spring Man, Ribbon Girl, Min Min or Ninjara could be considered and they would all loose their unique personality and special traits with that, which would be a shame. Multiple characters via alts only work well, if they really are the same thing, may it be because of the Clown Kart or because of their silent protagonist status. But with ARMS it would be a waste, where getting one character with his full personality in place would be the better deal. So, let's focus on this.

Spring Man?

If we were talking about a newcomer in the next Super Smash Bros. game, then pretty much everyone would expect Spring Man to be the first ARMS representative. But he's already in the game as an Assist Trophy and the nature of this reveal makes him quite questionable overall. Why make it a secret, if they are just going with the main dude anyway? Why tease the possibility of getting any fighter from ARMS, if they are just going with the poster child?

Well, maybe it's to avoid questions about his Assist Trophy or even the expectation that they will upgrade more Assist Trophies afterwards. In this special case it's theoretically possible to turn Spring Man's Assist Trophy into Springtron whenever a Spring Man player is present, but such a trick wouldn't work for most Assist Trophies.

However, getting an upgraded Assist Trophy would feel cheap in any case, because then you are paying for something that's already half in the game. Spring Man's model and some of his animations and sound effects are already there, all they need to do is finish the job, while all other DLC fighters so far were completely new.

As a compensation they could go for yet another exception and include an Echo Fighter in the pack, two for one. In this case the Echo Fighter would almost certainly become Ribbon Girl, the game's second poster child, which was even a suggestion that I've made when Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was still in development in 2018. And this would be an ideal outcome.

But all of this would make this Challenger Pack quite extraordinary, where Sakurai would have lots of explaining to do, why these are exceptions and we shouldn't be expecting anything like this for any of the other Challenger Packs...

Who else?

With all of this in mind, the "Ryu" of ARMS is probably out of the picture, but there are more than a dozen other possibilities to go with, which are all more interesting anyway and where I'm personally hoping for one of the ladies, because other than female Byleth the DLC really only offered male fighters so far. And ARMS has some very cool girls to offer.

So, let's talk about the three most popular ones:

  • Ribbon Girl would be my pick. She's the second poster child of the game, where she's on the cover of the game punching Spring Man in the face, and therefore would represent the game as well as Spring Man – she even sings in the title song. Her singing could also be used to give her lots of personality via taunts and idle animations. And for what it's worth, her default Arms have the same color scheme as the ARMS logo. She would also be the most suitable to receive colored alt skins based on the other fighters. And her multi-jump and fast fall abilities would fit Super Smash Bros. very well, while she's overall not too obscure with her mechanics, like some of the others. However, with that she would probably end up as another boring reveal, much like Spring Man. She's simply the most obvious choice next to him and these two characters would probably be received best as Echo Fighters of each other in a nice bundle.

  • Twintelle is overall super popular and arguably the sexiest character in the game, which is part of the reason why she has so many fans. It's "dat ass". But her main gimmick is that she doesn't have extendable "Arms" and instead fights with her hair, which might not be the best representation for ARMS overall, a game that is all about extendable arms. The Direct even directly stated that "this fighter's arms can exteeeend", which wouldn't be true for Twintelle (though this doesn't necessarily have to mean anything, because the fighter was probably even a secret to the people making the Direct announcement). Using her hair could give her additional options for grabs, however, since she can use her arms normally. In ARMS she is also able to slow down enemy attacks, which would make her feel very similar to Bayonetta overall – Bayonetta even acts as Twintelle in her Spirit Battle. But because Bayonetta experienced some glitches after the last update, people speculated that she might be the base for the next DLC fighter, so this could actually speak for Twintelle...

  • Min Min is a another fan favorite and even won last year's "Party Crash Bash", which was essentially a popularity content tournament, where it's possible that this has influenced the choice for a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. She also offers some more interesting weapons and abilities like the dragon arm, which could be utilized for Special Moves and showcasing the use of two different Arms, or the ability to kick, which would be perfect for aerial attacks and even jabs, while overall staying quite close to the concept of extendable arms. So, she's special enough to make her more interesting and even work better in Smash, but not too crazy to make her more complicated than necessary.

However, there is one small issue here: all of these ladies are already present in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in the form of Spirits, together with Spring Man and Ninjara. Of course they could simply change the existing Spirits somehow, since it would be silly to exclude the most popular choices upfront because of some PNGs. They could even replace the fighters in the existing Spirit Battles with the DLC characters, if you have purchased them.

In case of Ribbon Girl and Ninjara things would even be less complicated, because they don't actually have a Spirit Battle. You can only summon them via cores. That's actually another point in favor of Ribbon Girl, while Ninjara overall doesn't feel as likely as the others, because we already have two Ninja characters in Smash Bros. already.

But you never know how Sakurai's team has planned things and it's even of note how there are Spirits and an Assist Trophy from ARMS in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate already, but no music at all, leaving this for a potential stage later on. So, maybe an ARMS fighter was on the list that Sakurai has received when planning the DLC early on, even before the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

And if Spirits from the base game really still disconfirm and it's not going to be any of them (which would be a shame), then we would be dealing with the following 10 fighters:

  • Master Mummy
  • Mechanica
  • Byte & Barq
  • Kid Cobra
  • Helix

  • Max Brass
  • Lola Pop
  • Misango
  • Springtron
  • Dr. Coyle

Mechanica would be an odd choice for similar reasons as Twintelle, because she doesn't really have extendable arms herself and instead uses a mecha suit. Byte & Barq were designed around a partner mechanic, much like Rosalina & Luma, where this might be too much for a new fighter in Smash, because the extendable arms are already more than enough for a fighter gimmick. Add different types of Arms on top and there's no need for another major mechanic, really.

Master Mummy and Kid Cobra would be cool, but would also feel like rather random choices. There's nothing that makes them really stand out, where they should be picked over any of the others. So, in the end Helix probably sticks out the most with his gooey existence and would also offer the ability to shrink and grow... maybe even as a recovery move. But then again, he would give the impression that ARMS is all about stretching your entire body, which isn't exactly the case. And he would end up being needlessly complicated for a first ARMS fighter.

The other five were all DLC characters, where Lola Pop, Misango and Dr. Coyle seem a little off and are probably not as recognizable and known as the earlier fighters. Dr. Coyle's levitation also makes her feel like the wrong pick for Smash, though it's not exactly something that has stopped other characters. And Misango is in a similar situation to Byte & Barq, where his main gimmick with the different perk masks is another major mechanic on top of what we already have.

As for the rest, it would be funny, if they were going with Springtron, simply because Spring Man is an Assist Trophy already and he's the next best thing to him. But as already said, Springtron could act as the Assist Trophy in case they are going for Spring Man. And out of the DLC list Max Brass is probably the strongest contender, because he's the greatest champion of the ARMS universe and could add another good heavy fighter to Smash.

The Stage?

Speaking of Max Brass, I've always listed the Sky Arena as a "perfect" stage for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, if ARMS ever were to be represented, simply because you could fall off this place. And this still holds, no matter which fighter they are going with. It's used as the stage for the grand finale in the game and could even feature Max Brass (and the Hedlok) as a stage boss. In the very least its awesome music is a must.

screenshot of the Sky Arena in ARMS

Otherwise they could go with whatever stage the new fighters has in ARMS, but stuff like Spring Stadium, the Sparring Ring or the Sky Arena seem like the best fit for some general ARMS representation. Especially the Spring Stadium feels iconic to the game and would probably come with the most fun mechanics, something very unique like the King of Fighters Stadium, but with bounce pads.

screenshot of Spring Stadium

Ribbon Ring might also be okay, but if they are really going for both Ribbon Girl and the Ribbon Ring, it would more feel like a "Ribbon Girl Challenger Pack" and not one for ARMS in general... Stages like the Ramen Bowl or the DNA lab also feel too "special" already, where they are too focused around the respective fighters. So, it's probably going to be Spring Stadium in any case, where it would create a good mix, if Spring Man himself isn't the fighter.

screenshot of the ARMS basketball arena

Alternatively, they could also go for "Buster Beach", which is used for many of the game's mini games like "Hoops" and "V-Ball". It's also the home stage of Byte & Barq, but this shouldn't really matter and they could even use the two as an obstacle.

As long as the stage comes with all the best songs from ARMS, it will be a win anyway. Similar to Fire Emblem: Three Houses there will be some really good music coming with this Challenger Pack. It's just all so catchy and now all we need is more from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

In any case I can't wait to see the next fighter in action in June!

Nintendo Direct Mini – March 2019

Nintendo Direct logo

Well, after the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons it was only a matter of time, before we were getting some news. The big, new title is out of the way and people are hungry for more games. And there is no better time for a Nintendo Direct than now, where everyone is staying at home and wants to kill time with new video games. The audience is ready!

And then Nintendo dropped the whole thing without a warning. I've actually prepared a lengthy predictions post, where I've said that I don't expect any news about the sequel to Breath of the Wild and Metroid Prime 4 before a Nintendo Direct in June, around the time where the E3 would have taken place. And my expectations weren't betrayed here.

I was still hopeful about something for Zelda or Metroid, however, like Skyward Sword HD, or the announcement of a new 2D Metroid, or even an update for the Chamber Dungeon in Link's Awakening. The latter seems to be out of the question by now, sadly. GREZZO has probably moved on to their next projects, like remaking the Oracle games. If they really were considering more content for Link's Awakening, it would have been announced by now.

However, my predictions ended with the following statement about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate:

Also, the upcoming Direct will certainly show us the contender for the sixth Challenger Pack of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Ryu Hayabusa, Minecraft Steve, Doom Slayer... There are so many possibilities here that this is always exciting. (And with Nintendo's recent announcement of an ARMS online open tournament, they still might even go with Ribbon Girl or another character from ARMS, which would be cool. This little gem deserves more attention.)

And you should have seen my joyful reaction, when Nintendo indeed announced that the next Challenger Pack will be about ARMS. After the first Fighters Pass I wasn't as hopeful about it any longer, so it makes me very happy to have been wrong with this sentiment. More about that in a separate post!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Why Breath of the Wild is a Success to the Zelda Franchise

Link in front of a beautiful landscape wearing his hoodie

The truth hurts, but someone has to come out and say it.

It's already been three years since the release of the biggest and most successful title in the Zelda series yet: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. As a title for both Wii U and Nintendo Switch it invited gamers with an open world like it never was done before. And now, three years later, it already has the power to ignite nostalgic feelings in those who've dwelled in its world for hundreds of hours. Something that is certainly rare for a game of this age.

And the success speaks for itself. With over 18 million units sold, it has surpassed the previous milestones of Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess... even when combined (not counting their remasters). Of course Breath of the Wild was a launch title of the Nintendo Switch and this certainly has contributed to its sales, but keep in mind that Twilight Princess was in the exact same position, being released for both the GameCube and the very successful Wii. And Breath of the Wild has still completely outranked the title and keeps selling and selling as one of the Switch's absolute must-have titles.

But why is this? What makes Breath of the Wild so attractive to many Zelda fans and a broad audience alike?

Let's start by saying that the game is far from perfect. There is a lot that Breath of the Wild could do better, like its inventory management or the motion-controlled puzzles. There is a lot that Breath of the Wild could learn from its predecessors, especially when it comes to dungeon design or rewarding side quests, and the game also repeated some mistakes of the past. Like Skyward Sword, it suffers from the same lack in enemy variety, with variants of the same few enemies everywhere. And like The Wind Waker, it has many repeated elements all over world, like towers or certain bosses. So, Breath of the Wild is not above previous Zelda games in every aspect.

And if you've followed this blog's run of the game, there was a lot to criticize and nitpick everywhere. But none of it could change what an outstanding achievement the game was for the series and open world games as a whole. None of it could change how much fun it was to play.

It all comes down to three important aspects, the Triforce of the Wild: exploration, freedom and growth. These are the three main ingredients to this game which makes it such a compelling experience... at least for most people.


Zelda games always have been about exploration, but arguably this has taken a backseat in some of the later installments, like Spirit Tracks or Skyward Sword, in favor of gimmicks and telling an event-based story. But Breath of the Wild is all about exploration and it does incite this in a very natural way.

It does have some of the typical open world tropes, like towers and enemy camps, but the game doesn't flood you with markers on a map and instead relies on your own curiosity. What's over there? What's behind that mountain? Why is a rock lying here?

Link standing on a cliff around Zora's Domain

It provides interesting landmarks to follow, like the towers or large mountains, where from there you might discover something new, like a shrine. And on your way between these things you might discover a small secret, like a Korok or a treasure chest.

This creates a nearly endless exploration loop, where there's always something for you to discover. Whether all of these discoveries are interesting enough is a different question, but the activity of exploring itself is so much fun that finding Korok Seeds and new Shrines always feels like it's rewarding enough.

They also never distract too much from your overall journey. There's always time for another Korok puzzle or another shrine on your way through the large world. And this way the game never feels exhausting or boring.

Exploring is also so much fun thanks to the massive...


Before A Link Between Worlds Zelda games have gotten more and more linear, where you were led from point A to point B all the time. This not only makes exploration far less compelling and exciting, it makes for a less interesting game, because games are ultimately all about the player's choices.

Breath of the Wild doesn't limit you in any way, except for doing the Great Plateau in the beginning. But afterwards you can go and do what you want, even straight to the final boss. Of course one might argue that being able to go everywhere right from the start is too much freedom, however, this isn't just about the freedom that you have in how you proceed. It's about the freedom you have in everything. How you explore. How you travel. How you fight. How you solve a puzzle.

It already starts with the ability to climb almost everywhere. That's a never before seen freedom in Zelda games and most video games (except games like Minecraft), where walls are usually limits and borders. But not in this games. Combined with the exploration cycle, a building like the Temple of Time or a huge rock wall become something that you want to climb, because you're curious what you might find on top.

And if you're on top of some vantage point, you might spot something new and then you can simply glide there with the awesome Paraglider item. It's technically not a new idea for Zelda, because the Deku Leaf in The Wind Waker offered the same mobility, but there you were constrained to the little islands. Here the world is yours to explore and the combo of climbing and gliding everywhere makes this such an addicting experience.

On top of that the game rarely tries to limit you in whatever other challenges it provides. If you're fighting a group of enemies, you have a ton of different weapons to find and use, but you can also use the environment to your advantage. Roll a boulder at them, blow up some powder kegs, redirect a lightning strike or anger some bees. Or you can try to be stealthy and avoid combat as much as possible.

And the same level of creativity is shown in puzzles solving. Traditionally puzzles in a Zelda game have a single solution for you to find, but in Breath of the Wild you can just go crazy and try all sorts of things to solve all the Shrines and environmental puzzles. The tools were given you right from beginning or can be found around you, so you just have to use them in a way that works and within the sophisticated physics engine of the game. And this makes puzzle solving so much more interesting and even adds some replay-value to it, because you might want to try a different solution next time.

But the most important thing about the freedom in Breath of the Wild is that it creates stories. Every player's journey is different from each other and everyone has a different story to tell about his or hers adventures in Hyrule. And this makes people talk about the game, which ultimately adds to the success.


With no walls to hold you down and no major items to act as keys, there is literally nothing stopping you from going to the final boss right from the start and finishing the game. Except maybe dozens of Guardians, some Lynels and of course the final boss himself.

While Breath of the Wild doesn't limit progress in the usual ways, it puts a much stronger emphasis on becoming stronger. Collecting hearts finally matters again in this game and the skills you get from the Champions help a great deal as well.

But equally important is mastering the game's combat mechanics, like the parrying. If you start playing Breath of the Wild, you will probably struggle with facing some tougher Bokoblins already, while in the late game you will confidently take on even the mightiest Lynels.

You really earn your place as the hero, where every single Spirit Orb and every bit of combat experience counts. And this keeps you going.

Link wearing the Fierce Deity armor and standing at the edge of the Great Plateau with Lynel gear, looking at a beautiful sunset


Of course this isn't all there is to the success of Breath of the Wild, where the visuals certainly play an important role as well. The graphics are an eyecatcher (for the most part) and offer the timeless appeal of games like The Wind Waker, combined with really beautiful scenery and landscapes. It's hard to look one's fill of this games and it invites you even more to explore it all.

Additionally, the theme of the Sheikah technology and the idea of the Champions added a breath of fresh air to the series and also helped for creating basically its own brand in the Zelda series. It made Zelda look cool again.

But overall it's the Triforce of exploration, freedom and growth what makes this game so fun and so successful. So, let's hope that the sequel to Breath of the Wild is able to continue this success and does not listen too much to the voices of those, who aren't happy with the current direction.