Nintendo Direct 9/13 Thoughts and Impressions

Nintendo used their Direct today to showcase their upcoming Switch and 3DS titles aimed at releases throughout the rest of the year and early next year.  While some were duped into thinking there might be Smash Bros. info, I myself was baited by a troll retweet from a beloved game developer that there may be some Bayonetta news.  Either way, the Direct delivered quite a bit and left some to be desired in other aspects.  I won’t be going over everything, as there was a lot of information mentioned that was already known, but I will touch on all the bigger announcements.

Nintendo 3DS

  1. Pokemon Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon: Nintendo reconfirmed that the new entry will focus on Necrozma’s interactions with Solgaleo and Lunala, whilst having numerous new additions to the game to keep it fresh and interesting.  The biggest announcement is probably the New 2DS XL Pokeball edition that launches prior to the games on November 3.pokemonds
  2. Kirby Battle Royale: Kirby is getting a neat new game packed with multiple mini-games along with a single player and online multiplayer mode on January 19. This is in addition to the mainline switch title that was announced at E3.
  3. Mario Party: The Top 100I don’t like or enjoy Mario Party in the slightest, but it’s difficult to ignore the nostalgia from I get from the original N64 titles. Nintendo’s bringing back the top 100 mini-games across every single Mario Party game, and it’s sure to delight fans of the series.  Everyone can party to their heart’s content on November 10.
  4. Orange and White New 2DS XL: We may never know why both colors of the new system didn’t release simultaneously, but Nintendo is finally giving North America the system some fans were hoping to get originally.   This 2DS XL lands in stores on October 6.

Nintendo also announced details about a 3DS Minecraft port, a port of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, several different Atlus RPGs and new Yokai Watch 2 content. I think it’s a healthy way to round out the system announcements aside from reminding us about games like Metroid: Samus Returns and other titles that we already are aware of and are so close to releasing.

Nintendo Switch

Switch software was clearly the biggest winner from the Direct and had quite a few surprises.

  1. Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Alongside a new trailer, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is also getting an awesome themed Pro Controller as well as a special edition that comes with a soundtrack, steel book case and 220-page artbook.  The trailer also did a much better job at coherently explaining the battle system and introducing the world than any of the Gamescom demos I watched. I think the price is a bit hefty at $99.99 but it’s cool that the hardcore fans have a cool edition of the game if they so choose. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 arrives on December 1. xenoblade2
  2. Fire Emblem Warriors Lyn Announcement: I never thought anyone could instantly defeat Persona 5, Nier: Automata, and Breath of the Wild for my game of the year contender but announcing my favorite Fire Emblem character is a pretty good way to do it.  In all seriousness the game will hopefully be a bit more diverse in roster and hopefully won’t be “Fire Emblem Warriors: Awakening and Fates Edition featuring Marth.” Nintendo let us know that not only are the conscious of fan demand, they devoted a whole minute and a half to letting us know about one character roughly 5 weeks prior to the game’s launch. This Warriors title is still set for October 20.lyn (1)
  3. Arena of Valor: A MOBA is being developed for the Switch.  I don’t really know what to say other than it look’s strikingly similar to League of Legends and will be an eShop exclusive this holiday.
  4. Doom and Wolfenstein 2: Doom for the Nintendo Switch will be a part of the holiday lineup while Wolfenstein 2 will release sometime next year and not in October as it will on PS4 and Xbox One.  I do still think this is quite important as everyone loves to point out how Nintendo systems lack “hardcore” titles.  The fact that Wolfenstein 2 is making it onto the platform hopefully will encourage developers to release and develop their larger AAA titles for Switch as well.
  5. Breath of the Wild Championship Amiibos: We finally got information about what they actually do and when we get our hands on them! In addition to getting special equipment and items, the amiibo will unlock special divine beast helmets relative to the beast they protect.  These amiibo release on November 10, and hopefully the second part of the DLC will launch alongside them.Switch_ZeldaBotW_amiibo-Urbosa_helm
  6. Project Octopath Traveler: In what I think was one of the cooler surprises this Direct, Square Enix is developing a peculiar new RPG for the Switch.  As the title alludes to, there are 8 protagonists each with special talents that let them perform special actions.  As we see in the trailer, one character has the ability to challenge anyone to battle, while another character can lure other characters to other locations.  The game is being helmed by the producers of Bravely Default and sports what the devlopers are calling “HD-2D,” which I think looks fantastic visually.  Theres a demo of the game available for download right now, and I’ll be posting my impressions of it soon. 
  7. Kirby Star Allies: The Kirby title announced at E3 finally has a title! Though not slated until Next Spring, fans get to look forward to making enemies allies and teaming up with 3 other friends for 4 player co-op.  The game definitely seems like it could be one of the more interesting local multiplayer Switch titles.
  8. Super Mario Odyssey: With roughly six weeks until launch, Nintendo showed off several new worlds and even a few story details in a new trailer of what’s shaping up to be the biggest Mario title since Galaxy 2.  I’ll let the trailer speak for itself, but this is game is surely a game of the year contender and anyone who misses the days of Super Mario Sunshine, Mario 64, or Mario Galaxy needs to make sure this is on their radar.  I’m pretty eager to run around the different worlds in a sombrero when the game launches on October 27. A Mario Odyssey Switch bundle with red joy cons, a carrying case and a digital copy of the game will also be releasing alongside the game. I also wrote about my hands-on time with the game at E3 which you can check out here.  

Just as it did in the 3DS segment Nintendo reminded us that there are a plethora of other titles releasing soon as well as several exclusive to the eshop.

I wouldn’t expect another Nintendo Direct for quite some time unless there’s more information to be talked about prior to the holidays, but it was definitely a solid Direct overall in my opinion, even if I’m only looking forward to a handful of what was talked about personally.


E3 2017 Recap Part 1: Hands-On Impressions

As someone who has been following the games industry for well over 10 years and got to attend E3 for the first time ever, describing the show in a few words would be impossible.  I think I’m more equipped to describe what I saw played, and what I played myself, in many words and enough detail to give you guys a better idea at what to expect come release date.

I want to preface my impressions by clarifying that part one is all “hands-on,” meaning that I played the game myself, with a controller in my hand at a demo station.  Part two will be “Eyes-On,” which refers to a live demo I viewed behind closed doors and watched a developer of the game play in real time.

Hands-On: Super Mario Odyssey

Let’s start with what I feel was far and away my game of show.  The demo units inside the Nintendo booth featured a level where you got to explore New Donk City as well as a desert level.  Having witnessed almost everyone before me in line play around in the city, I tried the desert for a change of pace.  Fans of previous Mario adventures such as Galaxy and Sunshine should feel right at home as soon as they pick up a controller.  All of Mario’s signature jumps have returned including the triple jump, turnaround jump, side jump, and crouch leap.  Mario can also throw his hat Cappy via a simple button press or a flick of a joy-con.  Immediately upon exploring it was apparent that the level was expansive and didn’t just feature ways to advance and reach a goalpost.  Small shops and hidden alleyways are home to NPCs that give you clues as well as stores that let Mario obtain fancy tuxedo outfits and the like.

mario e3

Platforming is as solid as ever, and this time around Mario has the new ability to capture certain enemies by throwing his hat at them.  At one point I faced an obstacle that required me to jump onto moving platforms that rotated on a cadence.  I happened to throw my hat and hit a bullet bill, allowing me to capture it and fly above the platforms and reach the other side with ease.  It may seem like it cheapens the platforming experience, but it felt like a refreshing way to use my environment and enemies to my advantage.  Another point in the level featured hidden pathways and collectibles.  By inhabiting one of the stone golems nearby, I could tap a button to put on the sunglasses the golem was wearing in order to see the hidden paths that lie ahead.  These instances were both completely optional, I never had to utilize Mario’s new power, but they were definitely a welcome inclusion and made it feel distinctive from Mario’s past adventures.

One of the most interesting new features was when I discovered an 8-bit warp pipe that transformed me into the pixelated Mario we’re all familiar with.  The game briefly transitioned into a 2D sidescroller that had me jumping and avoiding enemies in order to reach the top of a building, where Mario then assumed his regular form.  It was a brief aside in an already expansive and secret-filled level, but it was also a seamless integration of Mario’s history that felt like a fun way to incorporate 2D platforming in a 3D game.  I can’t wait to see what other mechanics lie within other levels in the full game.

mario e3 2

I think many people, myself included, had mixed feelings of Mario exploring a city with humans.  I’m glad to say that when viewed live, none of that detracts from the overall experience.  Pauline (who fans may remember from the original Donkey Kong games) makes a return as the mayor of New Donk City, and the inhabitants are lively and will serve to aid Mario in several different ways.

New moon-shaped star pieces and other collectibles were also present in the demo, though it isn’t clear how they tie into the story just yet.  It seemed as though there were several per level, and may be similar to items such as star coins from the past.  Overall, Super Mario Odyssey played great, looked phenomenal, and most importantly was fun to play.  My time with the game was brief at just 10 minutes, but it was enough to convince me that this is a title I cannot miss.  Had Zelda not released the same year as Mario Odyssey, I’d expect it to be a heavy game of the year contender, and for some it will be.

Hands-On: Marvel VS Capcom Infinite

MvCI was the game I was most excited to play on the show floor, but I left my demo session with mixed feelings.  It should be immediately noted that this game does not feel like Marvel 3.  I would describe it as an interesting medium between Marvel 2 and Tatsunoko VS Capcom.  The game features 4 buttons, light punch, heavy punch, light kick, heavy kick and buttons for your infinity stone and tag-in.

Although the game has no assist attacks like previous titles the tag-ins in this game makes up for it, especially with all of the options you have at your disposal.  Likewise, Infinity Stones feel very core to the overall gameplay and may have the potential to give characters a boost in areas they’re lacking, be it a projectile game or mobility.  Speaking of mobility, air-dashing was noticably absent from many characters.  Players like myself will definitely need to rely on other tactics in order to close the distance between you and your opponent.  I opted to try out Strider, Ryu, Captain Marvel, and Zero whom was the only one with an air-dash.

The returning characters I tried felt very similar, and my opponent obliterated me with Spencer combos I had seen in Marvel 3.  I’m hopeful that there’s more tricks up these characters’ sleeves as I’m very much a novice when it comes to Marvel, so I’m sure there were things I missed.  As much as I would like to go into detail about input lag, frame data, ground bounces, and other hardcore jargon I’m simply not qualified to do so. The main reason I left my play session with mixed feelings was because the game failed to really wow me.  I enjoyed it and had fun, but that was it.  Overall MvCI still feels like a VS game and I’m looking forward to picking the game up come September.

Hands-On: Dragon Ball Fighter Z

Dragonball Fighter Z is already the incredibly fun and exciting fighting game that I hope Marvel Infinite ends up being.  I am by no means a Dragonball fan.  All of my interest left in the franchise stems from nostalgic memories from my childhood.  Dragon Ball Fighter Z nevertheless manages to captivate my nostalgia in an endless fury of explosions, ki blasts, and incredibly flash combos.

The demo features Super Saiyan 2 Teen Gohan, Goku, Vegeta, Majin Buu, Perfect Cell, and Frieza in his final form.  Luckily, I was on the demo unit in the corner with the least supervision, so I got to sneak in an extra game and try out every character as the game is 3 versus 3.

Visually the game is easily on par with the 2.5D artwork of Guilty Gear Xrd.  It’s incredible how phenomenal the game looks this early on in development.  DBFZ does its very best to be as flashy as possible while being as accessible as possible.  Long combo strings can be executed with one button and ki blasts can be executed rapidly with another.  Special moves are executed similar to street fighter’s “hadouken” input or reverse hadouken inputs.  All characters were able to dash, fly, teleport and pummel the crap out of each other pretty effortlessly.  Granted, those who try to execute a game plan will be rewarded while players relying on single button combos will struggle to win consistently.

I can easily see this game bringing in novices to the genre in addition to bringing in fans of the series with its accessibility, especially with how well it replicates the over-the-top action of the anime in glorious visuals.  I still am shocked by just how much I enjoyed my time with this game.  I can only hope that a switch version becomes a reality as it would be fantastic to enjoy this in portable form.

Hands-On: Shantae Pirate Queen’s Quest DLC

Shantae: Half Genie Hero is due to get it’s first bit of DLC very soon, and Wayforward was kind enough to have the Nintendo Switch version available to try out for fans and backers alike.  This DLC features Shantae’s nemesis, Risky Boots, who is playable for the first time.

Risky feels very unique compared to Shantae.  She brandishes a sword, and wields a gun with different types of ammo that you can toggle through via the shoulder button.  Some explode on impact while others fire in multiple directions when you shoot it.  Risky also has a grapple hook that she fires directly above her.  You can’t change the angle, but it’s still very useful for ascending to platforms.

Because Risky isn’t a genie like Shantae, she cannot transform into any animal forms to advance.  Instead, Risky must fire her gun at targets that reveal platforms.  These platforms appear for a short amount of time, where you must navigate Risky across before they disappear.

The levels are the same locales that players will remember from the main game, but Risky felt distinctive enough to bring something new to a game that was already great to begin with.

Wayforward obviously took their time with this DLC as it looks great and is animated incredibly well.  Fans of this game have a lot to look forward to, and backers get it for free!

Hands-On: Ni No Kuni 2 Revenant Kingdom

I still remember how excited I was for the original Ni No Kuni.  It promised to be Studio Ghibli inspired world that I could explore and experience an incredible narrative.  But no matter how fantastic the characters were, no matter how visually pleasing the game was and despite having a story that was compelling, the entire game was completely marred by the atrocious combat .  It kept me disengaged and I stopped caring about completing the game and exploring more of what it had to offer.

ni no kuni 2

I’m elated to say that Ni No Kuni 2 completely ditches everything about the combat from the previous title and has switched to a real time action style in the vein of the “Tales-Of” series.  Gone are the days of training familiars and seeing the main characters in the background. The protagonist is now playable and offers a slew of ways to dispatch enemies that are both interesting and fun.

Ni No Kuni 2’s demo stations offered a look at two different fights from two different parts of the game.  I opted for the arena trial that tasked our main character Evan to defeat a beast-like monster in order to continue on his quest.  There was clearly very little context provided so as not to spoil anything from the main game, so I can’t say much more in regards to the story.  What I can explain in detail, however, is the combat.

ni no kuni

As previously mentioned, Ni No Kuni 2 has adopted an action style combat system where you execute attacks in real time.  You have light and heavy attacks, which when pushed in succession offers quick multi hit combos to take down foes.  Evan also is adept in magic, and can blast enemies from a distance.  There is also a guard button, a dodge roll button, and holding R2 brings up a subset menu that allows you to push any of the face buttons to perform strong special moves.  One of these moves (R2+Square) had Evan unleash a fury of slashes with his sword, while another (R2+Triangle) performed a healing spell.  I didnt notice any sort of drawback to spamming these moves, whether it be a meter or another resource that drains from these commands wasn’t clear from my time with the game.  I imagine there was something I missed here, but I couldn’t tell what exactly that was.

The best news is combat is simple yet enjoyable.  I was easily able to conceptualize what I wanted my character to do and execute it with little trouble.  The controls were responsive and I always felt like it was my timing that was off or a mistake on my part if I got hit.  One thing of note is that hitstun seemed to be absent while fighting.  I definitely took a few hits but my character did not seem to flinch if they were light.  At one point I was knocked down for several moments, but that was what made me realize I hadn’t flinched before that.

Another layer to the combat in this title is the supporting spirits called Higgledies.  These will let you apply buffs to your party including healing, attack boosts, defense boosts and shield barriers.

Overall I walked away excited to dive back into a world coated in the art style of a studio I adore.  The story this time around promises to be more mature and from a more adult perspective.  JRPG fans truly have a gem on the way this winter.

Ascent from Ash: A first timer’s Dark Souls Retrospective

The Dark Souls franchise has the fortune, or perhaps misfortune, of being known for the promise of death.  I was originally alienated by the claim that I would enjoy myself while dying repeatedly and foolishly made the assumption that this franchise was not for me.

It was not until becoming enthralled in developer From Software’s Bloodborne that I was sold on venturing into the world of Dark Souls 3.  Four full playthroughs and nearly 100 hours split between 3 different characters and I can confidently say it is one of my favorite gaming experiences.  With the upcoming Ashes of Ariandel DLC just over a month away, I thought I’d take a look as to why exactly Dark Souls is such a unique entity and how I went from feeling alienated by it’s motif of death to allured.


“Ashen one, be sure to bring me more souls”


As I mentioned, Dark Souls loves to tout it’s “You Will Die” moniker, sometimes to the point where you ask yourself just how that could be fun.  Death serves several purposes in the game, but I think the most compelling purpose is how it teaches the player.  Similar to Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3’s difficulty is designed to teach the player how to approach the game.  Players who take a hack and slash approach to groups of enemies will likely find themselves being punished by a quickly diminishing stamina bar, as well as a trap or two and a death screen for their hastiness.  Rather than get frustrated at my unsuccessful attempts to progress, I found the game telling me in an abstract yet effective way that it takes a creative use of resources to overcome obstacles.

If I see a mob, perhaps I can lure enemies out with a firebomb.  If a heavily armored enemy blocks my path, a ranged approach might be the best option.  While some of these may sound like common sense, environmental hazards and other obstacles add complexity, and your strategy has to adapt with it.  This lead to each encounter being meaningful, as even the weakest of enemies have the potential to kill you if you make too big of a mistake.  In some cases, I just needed to “git gud” as the Dark Souls social media accounts encourage.

This is…Hyrule?

Dark Souls 3 contains nearly 20 interconnected locations in which the player will traverse.  Though each contains a disgusting amount of horrors who will all try to bar your way, each area made me question just what was going on.  As a huge Legend of Zelda fan, I immediately recalled different dungeons and other ventures from my time in Hyrule.  But I never found myself quite as enthralled or inquisitive toward what Hyrule showed me.  Towns in Hyrule were often lively, characters would interact with me, and the music was unforgettable.  But for me, Hyrule never made me question what was going on.  I found the lack of narrative and the absence of answers to be just as interactive, if not more so as when I first met Princess Zelda.  What does it mean to rekindle the flame? What happened to make Irithyll, a striking castle town, barren of life?  Each question answered gradually fleshes out the lore that is so intricately hidden within conversations, secret areas, and NPC encounters.  It’s what motivated me to press on, I had to know what was around the next corner and how it all ended.



“Prithee be careful…”

You are not alone

As enthralling as I found the world of Dark Souls 3 to be, it wouldn’t be what it is without invaders.  While connected online, other players from various covenants will have the opportunity to invade your world.  For finding and killing you, they’re awarded special covenant items as well as souls.  In addition to the most heinous enemies you’ll encounter, you also have the change of another player lying in wait to ruin your day.  Frustrating as the feature might be to some, some of my most memorable moments were when my friend and I would face off 2v2 against members from the Aldritch Faithful whilst dodging giants and 10 foot tall rats.  I found this to serve a dual purpose of both alleviating the feeling that you are entirely alone in your quest to rekindle the flame as well as provide exciting diversions from the main story.


Among everything else that made Dark Souls 3 so engrossing for me was the immense feeling of satisfaction you get from overcoming the games’ toughest obstacles.  You are rewarded for perseverance, you are rewarded for experimentation, you are rewarded for exploration and you are rewarded for finally toppling the boss who you thought you couldn’t possibly best.  Hidden endings, awesome gear, and fantastic weaponry are fun payoffs as well.

Dark Souls 3 entranced me in ways that I never expected it could.  I would recommend the series to those looking for a challenge and have an affinity for medieval fantasy settings.  I’m looking forward to more gear, new areas, and even more deaths when Ashes of Ariandel releases in October.

Thrill of The Hunt

All of the games we love have some meaning behind them.  These meanings are developed through the moments we experience that stick with us, the characters we can’t forget, and the worlds we want to explore continuously.

Monster Hunter harmonizes all three of these concepts into an entity that cannot be replicated.  Its been going strong in Japan for years, and now its popularity is reaching more people all around the world.

Because Monster Hunter X just released in Japan, I thought I would reflect on what Monster Hunter means to me.

Monster Hunter means being pitted against foes that dwarf you in size while trembling with excitement at the thought of taking them down in style.

Monster Hunter means having strange feelings of adoration for a beast that you’re bent on slaying .  It’s hard not to be in awe over the incredible design of the monsters you encounter.  You can’t quite explain it-even if you love them, you’re still fine with taking them down anyways.  Over and over again.


Majestic Ferocity.  Video Screengrab by me

Monster Hunter means playing online and staying up with your friends until 3 in the morning trying to obtain that final Elder Dragon Gem that you need to complete your new weapon.  Your dreams later that night may involve obtaining extra materials that you will realize you don’t have when you wake up.

Monster Hunter means randomly meeting other fans of the series and instantly discussing our favorite weapons and monsters.

Monster Hunter means being serenaded by phenomenal music during every hunt.

Monster Hunter means creating your own story through memorable hunts and unbelievable moments.  There’s very little narrative in the series, and that’s OK.  The hunt, the living environments, the topples, mounts, and the KOs in between all craft memories that motivate you to hunt again and again.  Monster Hunter’s story is the player’s experiences, making no two hunter’s stories exactly alike.


Prime hunting grounds.  Video Screengrab by me.

Monster Hunter means developing superhuman patience.  You’re very aware of the 2% drop rate of the material you’re looking for, but you’ll keep trying anyways.

Monster Hunter means wondering why that felyne will somehow only steal your mega potions.


The face of evil.  Video screengrab by me.


Monster Hunter means being rewarded for your perfect positioning and mechanical ability.  Knowing your prey is only half the battle.  Hunting them effectively will lead to moments like this:

Above all, Monster Hunter means having fun.  Whether it’s playing online with friends, crafting a fashionable armor set, or finally defeating that elder dragon, every one of these aspects is a blast.  Hopefully we’ll be able to start creating memories with Monster Hunter X like Japan in the near future.

Thank You for Playing

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  To go with the theme of the holiday, I want to share something that I was grateful for today.  Nintendo President Satoru Iwata unfortunately passed away earlier this year, but recently, the Gaming Historian YouTube channel released a video chronicling his life.  There is a lot regarding Iwata that I was previously unaware of, and I learned a lot.  Check out the video below.  It’s long, but very detailed and worth watching.

It’s inspiring to see just how much Mr. Iwata’s legacy affects people.  I think I can speak for more than just myself when I say that today, among our family, friends and other things, I am thankful for all of his hard work in shaping not only Nintendo, but the industry as a whole during his lifetime.

My Top 6 Nintendo Direct Announcements

After a lengthy hiatus, Nintendo streamed a new Nintendo Direct, the first since the passing of President Satoru Iwata earlier this year.  This time, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime and Director of Product Marketing Bill Trinen were on camera sharing the newest information with fans.

The announcements were exciting as well as disappointing in some regards.  I’m going to focus on what I found most interesting rather than go through every piece of information.

  1. The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess HD

Nintendo kicked off the Direct with a game that is extremely dear to me.  Twilight Princess released on the Wii and the GameCube nine years ago, but that game was an experience I’ll never forget.  It’s unfortunate we’ll have to wait until March 4, but I’m more than happy to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the franchise with one of my favorite titles.

2.  Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow on 3DS Virtual Console

Nintendo seems to be using one of their old automatic money printing techniques as they announced that we’ll all be able to return to the 8-bit Kanto region on Feb. 27.  Not only can we play the games on the 3DS, but we can trade Pokemon and battle via wireless communication.

3. Star Fox Zero Delayed until April.

We previously had heard about the delay last month, and now we have a release date.  We did get some cool new footage of the transforming Arwings and Landmasters and a closer look at how the game will use the Wii U game pad.

4. Linkle

I’m not a Dynasty warriors fan, nor can I say that I am I interested in Hyrule Warriors.  However, it is noteworthy that Nintendo showcased a brand new character for the 3DS installment of Hyrule warriors named Linkle.  All we really know is that she wields dual crossbows and is a Hylian warrior in every sense of the word.  With an awesome design to complement her robust fighting style, I definitely would not mind seeing Linkle in some non spin-off titles in the future.

5. Fire Emblem Fates

We finally learned how Fire Emblem Fates will be distributed in North America!  The game will release in two different versions, Conquest and Birthright.  Both are unique games that tell different sides of a related story. There will be a third version titled Fire Emblem Fates: Revelations which “reveals” even more details of the story and will be available digitally.  We also get an awesome special edition that contains both versions with a few extra goodies.

6. Cloud is in Super Smash Bros

Trends right after Cloud's announcement.

Trends right after Cloud’s announcement.

I’m not really a Final Fantasy fan, and this announcement felt like it came out of nowhere.  Nevertheless, it was earth shattering news for a ton of Smash fans.  I don’t know how a character who’s only been on Nintendo platforms a couple of times got in, but it’s definitely a lucrative move.  I think James Chen said it best on twitter when he tweeted that Smash has become a playable celebration of games, and I agree that this inclusion furthers that sentiment.

So there you have it, all the Nintendo Direct news that I’m most excited about.  Nintendo fans have a solid amount of games to look forward to, and I didn’t even cover the new Splatoon content, new Pokken trailer or the new Dragon Quest that’s on its way. What are you most looking forward to?

Fun Stats about Game Consoles

Companies love to tout console sales, and the NPD gives us data on a monthly basis.  But a few days ago our friends at the Pew Research Center released some interesting demographics about console owners.

I found the following to be the most interesting:

  • More women own consoles than men — cool!
  • Roughly 40% of Americans own consoles — not bad!
  • Only 35% of high school students own consoles — they should go buy some more.
  • Only 37% of Americans with a completed degree own consoles, making me fear for my gaming time after I graduate.

Check out the information on the right.  Do any of these statistics surprise you?

Advertising Games for Dummies

Game advertising is strange.  Gaming enthusiasts aren’t persuaded to buy their games through the commercials they see alone, at least not anymore.  We have press conferences, conventions, and websites, to name a few.  By the time TV ads air, it has been years after we’ve been obsessing over trailers, live streams, and media coverage.

It’s rare to view interesting or memorable TV spots for the games we’re so excited about.  But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Instead, we can remind developers that it just takes a little creativity to make an entertaining and memorable commercial for their games.

Let’s look at one of the greatest ad campaigns for gaming I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing first.  In 2011, a marketing prodigy at Electronic Arts began the “Your Mom Hates Dead Space” commercial series.  The premise was very simple: bring in mothers to view the current trailer for their newest video game Dead Space 2, and film their reactions.  Priceless and unfiltered, these moms did exactly as EA hoped.  They provided a hilarious look at a purposely violent and bloody horror game.  There is no fast food or product placement here folks.

This approach is so much more appealing compared to a heavily cut trailer with quotes from reviewers popping up everywhere.  This is because EA is focusing on both grabbing your attention and entertaining you, regardless as to whether you’re familiar with the game or not.

The Monster Hunter Tri advertising campaign is another great example.  In 2012, Capcom released the next installment of their incredibly successful Monster Hunter series in Japan for North America.  But how do you sell something that’s big in Japan in a place where it wasn’t popular yet?  Meet Ironbeard.

Ironbeard in all his glory. YouTube screengrab by me

Ironbeard in all his…bearded glory?                      YouTube screengrab by me

You sell your game by getting an awesome guy to dress up as a hunter from the game with a giant sword on his back, the flagship monster from the game in the back of his truck and send him to mall parking lots and fast food drive-thrus preaching the word of Monster Hunter to the world.  It’s so bizarre, yet simultaneously comedic, that you cannot possibly forget about Monster Hunter.  I had the honor of meeting Capcom’s marketing man at Wonder Con this past year and told him how much I enjoyed these commercials.  He laughed and replied, “Could you tell that to a few CEO’s I know?”

Last but not least, I’d like to present a gem from Nintendo themselves.  Nintendo has had a reputation for being very family friendly, but they break this image every so often.  One instance was when the original Smash Bros released and Nintendo cooked up this ad.  It isn’t long before a walk through a meadow gets old and Mario and Pikachu are never friends again, huh?  This is humorous and lighthearted enough to get Nintendo fans interested while still being memorable and worthy of the Smash Bros. legacy.

So come on game companies!  You’ve already proven your creativity!  Let’s see more of these in the future.

Colbert brings Zelda to the Late Show

As someone who consumes games media, you learn to expect certain headlines from the media outlets you follow.  Headlines such as “(Insert game you’ve been waiting years for here) delayed until 2016”, or “League of Legends character you hate playing against buffed for no reason.”

A headline I didn’t expect to see was that the phenomenal Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses orchestra would be performing on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  I have no idea how this came together, or how a late show with subject matter that really isn’t games related approved this, but I’m happy it happened.

What does interest me is Symphony of the Goddesses, which I highly recommend.  This symphony has been traveling and performing since The Legend of Zelda’s 25th anniversary several years ago.  I’ve been to two of their shows and had an absolute blast.  They play a bunch of songs and the orchestra is accompanied by a video feed of the specific title from the song they’re currently playing.  Be sure to check out their world tour schedule.

3 Video Game Composers You Should Know About

When we think back on our fondest gaming memories, more often than not we’ll remember the music that would get stuck in our heads for days and flesh out the moments that made these memories so strong in the first place.  As odd as it may sound, what we may not associate these music pieces with initially are their composers.

There are too many incredible composers to mention, but I want to highlight three every gamer should be aware of.

  1. Koji Kondo
koji kondo

Koji Kondo. Source:

Let’s get the most obvious musician out of the way first.  Kondo is widely considered a master of his craft as well as a legend in the industry.  His resume includes countless music arrangements for Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda, and the Star Fox series.  In a 2007 interview with, Kondo was quoted as saying, “The ultimate goal for me is making music, or at least one of the main goals for me, is to create memorable melodies.  That goal is there regardless of the tools we have.”  I would imagine that Kondo’s lifetime achievement award he received in 2007 from the Game Audio Network Guild is indicative of him achieving that goal.

  1. Junichi Masuda
junichi masuda

Junichi Masuda. Source:

Even if you’ve been trying to “catch ‘em all” since 1996, I would argue the real Pokémon master is Junichi Masuda.  Masuda has been composing music for the Pokémon series since the beginning and has been directly involved in the music for every main title.  Every cave you ventured into, every gym leader you fought and every 8-bit tune in between was scored by Masuda and his team.  If being the main composer on the series at Game Freak since 1989 wasn’t enough, Masuda also is a game designer and oversees development on new features, game scenarios and character designHis most recent role is in the newly announced Pokémon GO game for iOS and Android that is slated for release in 2016.

  1. Yoko Shimomura

Yoko Shimomura. Source:

The final mention goes out to the highly acclaimed Yoko Shimomura.  Shimomura has a diverse resume of music on a variety of different titles rather than from any one series.  Shimomura began her career at Capcom and is responsible for the majority of tracks from Street Fighter II.  After leaving Capcom, Shimomura arranged the music for Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, which boosted her popularity.  Shimomura later went on to work at Square Enix, where she was tasked with arranging music for the wildly popular Kingdom Hearts Series.  She currently is working on the music for Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV.  These are just a few examples of the work Shimomura has done, and she has had one of the most successful careers in the industry.

There are many more talented artists who have composed fantastic game music.  I would encourage you to look into the people responsible for your favorite tracks.