Thursday, April 30, 2020

No Nintendo Direct in June?

Nintendo Direct logo

According to VentureBeat there won't be a traditional Nintendo Direct around the E3 time frame in June this year, because the "work from home" covid-19 initiative has set many things back.

Well, we will survive, if this turns out to be true, but this is still a shame, because right now there is a serious news drought. We should still be getting that ARMS fighter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in June, but otherwise there isn't much to talk about... Which is normal for this time of the year, but normally things also get exciting in June again and then stay exciting for the rest of the year, until the next big release hits us.

I wouldn't be surprised, if Nintendo skips E3 this year completely and instead puts all their energy and big reveals into the usual early September Direct. But I wouldn't mind to be wrong here.

For May I have planned a special on this blog about one of my favorite video game genres outside of Nintendo's scope, Arena Shooters, but I understand that this will be only be interesting to few of my readers. But it will be still better than nothing and I want to get my thoughts about this topic off my chest.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Majora's Mask 20th Anniversary

old cover art of Majora's Mask with a green background and the mask at the center, stating 20 years

Every Nintendo lover out there seems to make a hot story out of this anniversary, since there doesn't seem to be anything else to talk about right now - other than turnip prices in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, so I might as well as join in on the fun. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask just turned 20 years today, congratulations!

This actually caught me off guard, because for me the 20th Anniversary of the game would have been in November, which was a much more fitting time for this type of game. But it seems that Japan got it half a year before the rest of the world, which wasn't unusual back then...

Majora's Mask was actually the first Zelda game, where I got the game on launch day (November 17th in Europe) and where I closely followed any news about the game from magazines and TV, because of the lack of internet. This started with articles about "Zelda Gaiden" and later "The Mask of Mujula", depicting how very different the game will be and feel from Ocarina of Time.

Not counting Ancient Stone Tablets, this was actually the first Zelda game that re-used the engine, graphics, sounds, characters, enemies and items from a previous title to save some development time. To me it never felt like this was a bad thing, because Ocarina of Time was absolutely amazing and I was excited to get more like it. To get a game that expands many of the ideas, like the masks, the time system and the different tribes. The idea of transforming into a Deku, Goron or Zora was ingenious and still is.

In many ways both N64 Zelda games also complement each other. Majora's Mask had very different environments to offer and set its focus clearly on side quests and character interactions, while it only offered four main temples. And together both games create one big experience that shouldn't be missed by anyone.

Happy 20th Anniversary, Majora's Mask!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Back to Arena Shooters

For me currently history is repeating itself from exactly ten years ago. We got the latest topdown Zelda the year before and the next big Zelda game is in the making, but there probably won't be any news about this game until June (or even later this year) and there aren't (m)any interesting Nintendo topics to talk about, at least not for me personally.

Instead I have invested time and money in some new PC hardware and got back into my favorite genre that doesn't have anything to do with Nintendo: Arena Shooters. Ten years ago this has been Unreal Tournament 3 (as evident here and here) and now it is mainly Quake Champions, but I've also tried the "new" Unreal Tournament, as well as some others.

promotional image of Quake Champions with the Ranger fighting Visor

Overall this is a genre that has been nearly dead for a decade now, where the shift has been clearly towards more tactical and console-friendly experiences like Call of Duty and of course the latest Battle Royale trend. The new Unreal Tournament was even abandoned in a pre-alpha state in favor of the very popular Fortnite by Epic Games, while Quake Champions is seemingly only developed by a single guy now (still better than no one). These type of games are just not popular any longer...

For me, however, Arena Shooters are still the way to go. And I don't even play first person shooters all too competitively, instead I play them for the fun of it, where fast is fun and unrealistic is fun. And I often find them relaxing, which may seem weird considering that these games are all about fast-paced, adrenaline-induced action. But Arena Shooters have this certain flow to them, where getting killed doesn't take you out of the game, where I rarely get stressed (unless you're doing flag runs, but that's part of the reason why I'm not a fan of Capture the Flag modes). And the high variety in different gametypes and maps always made sure that these game don't get boring too quickly.

In general I'm planning to talk a little bit more about this genre and some of its games from the last years in a special feature on this blog. Just so that you know.

I've also been playing the original Unreal Tournament quite a lot ever since its 20th Anniversary in November. Here I have been working hard on a quite extensive map pack, which I hopefully will be able to release in the next weeks. But more on that later.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Nintendo Switch 10.0.0 Update Teasing New Model?

Nintendo Switch logo

Nintendo has released a new major update for the Nintendo Switch this week, which comes with the ability to transfer data from your system memory to a SD card, as well as re-mapping the buttons of your controllers. This is certainly nice to have, but the interesting part is what normal users can't see. According to Mike Heskin on Twitter it points at a new hardware model "nx-abcd" with "evidence of a secondary display of sorts".

As someone, who's still holding out on buying a Nintendo Switch, this gives me hope that waiting over three years might eventually be rewarded. Now all this new Switch model needs is a shiny, golden Zelda edition right at launch.

It's also curious how it might support a second screen. Using two screens to play is the one thing that the Nintendo Switch currently can't emulate, even thought for most games there are ways around this, as demonstrated by Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training for Nintendo Switch or Super Mario Maker 2. But there are certainly games that would require it or profit from a second screen.

A good example are the Zelda HD remasters on the Wii U, where the second screen could be used for maps and such. If they were to port The Wind Waker HD to Switch right now, it would loose one of the things that made it actually better and more convenient than the GameCube original. But on a new Switch that somehow supports a second screen, it would still be possible to carry over these advantages.

So, let's see whether Nintendo has something to announce about this in June...