My Super Smash Brothers 4 Wishlist

ssb4

As many of you probably already know, Super Smash Brothers 4 (SSB4) is just around the corner and myself, Luke, and some of the Savannah Gaymers have already started playing Brawl and Project M in anticipation for the new game. Overall, based on what I’ve seen of SSB4, I’m quite impressed with the way things are going and I’m all aboard the hype train. Tripping is removed, Little Mac is confirmed, and Namco, a company that actually has experience developing fighting games, is helping out with the balancing of characters. That being said, there are still some features, characters, etc. that I hope make it into the game. In no particular order, here is my top 10 wishlist for SSB4:

1) I want the speed of SSB4 to be somewhere in between Melee and Brawl. In general, I prefer Brawl’s floaty mind game-oriented playstyle to Melee’s fast-paced combo-oriented playstyle for the same reason I don’t like the VS fighting games too much (Marvel vs Capcom, Capcom vs. SNK, etc), there is too much stuff going on at once and I feel the gameplay devolves into whoever combos off first wins. That being said, I get that Brawl took it too far in the opposite extreme. The hit stuns on moves are too short, and the move animations are so long to the point where you can shield almost any move and hit the attacking character back before they are even done with their move’s animation. I would be perfectly happy with a medium between the two.

2) I want advanced techniques toned a bit from Melee. I don’t want to dumb down the competitive scene in the same way Brawl did, but I will say that the amount of hard to master but essential techniques in Melee was ridiculous. I remember when Josh and I were practicing Melee before Brawl came out and Josh was trying to learn to wavedash (he mained Gannondorf so it was essential for his character). At one point, Josh got frustrated and said something around the lines of, “Dammit! I don’t have the fairy fingers for this!”. And that’s my point, you shouldn’t need an 18 dexterity to be competitive in smash. Again, a happy medium between Brawl and Melee’s advanced techniques would be amazing.

Wavedashing

3) I want alternate costumes for characters.  Sakurai already stated that he doesn’t believe in alternate costumes since he wants all characters to be in their most iconic state, so the chances of this happening are small. Still though, it would be pretty awesome to have Dr. Mario as an alternate costume for Mario, or something like Dry Bowser as an alternate costume for Bowser.

4) I want Jigglypuff to return. This is a pretty obvious want of mine since I love her with all my heart. I wasn’t worried about her not returning at first, considering she’s been in every game since the original on 64, however, I recently discovered that she almost didn’t make it into Brawl (which explains why she was so bad in that game). Jigglypuff is basically irrelevant to Pokemon at this point and the only reason why she remains popular is because of Smash. Regardless, that bitch better make it back in AND she better have that sunhat so I can continue playing as Monica Beverly Hillz.

jiggly

Can’t you see I’m trying to get some sun?

While we’re on the subject, can Jiggly please have back her old Rest move from Melee back so she can do things like this again? Thx. (Editor’s Note: Video is optimally watched without sound.)

                        

5) I want a revamp of Pokemon Trainer. At first, Pokemon Trainer seemed like a cool character concept. He controlled three different pokemon that can be switched out mid-game and each pokemon got fatigued after fighting for a while in order to force the trainer to switch pokemon. It was great in theory, but the reality was that the fatigue feature along with the long transformation time between pokemon made the character almost unplayable. If you would’ve asked me my thoughts on Pokemon Trainer a couple of weeks ago, I would’ve said he should just be removed entirely, but after playing Project M recently, I think it would be a shame to remove Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizad from the roster. I don’t think they should necessarily be split up into 3 different characters like in Project M since that would take up way too many spots. I just want Pokemon Trainer to be more like Zelda/Shiek except with three different characters instead of two. If Pokemon Trainer is removed from SSB4, then can we at least get Mewtwo back? Thx.

6) I want Sakurai to continue to de-clone certain characters. Brawl made some huge steps here in trying to make characters like Falco significantly different from Fox, but overall there were still too many clones in Brawl. Why Gannondorf and Captain Falcon still had the same basic moveset in Brawl was beyond me. We know that Toon Link is confirmed for SSB4, so hopefully, they took some steps to make him something more than a faster, better, Link.

7) I don’t want Chrom on the SBB4 roster. Fire Emblem: Awakening is the most popular  Fire Emblem to date and basically propelled the franchise into mainstream popularity, so I expect there to be some sort of Awakening representative on the roster, I just don’t want it to be Chrom. Don’t get me wrong, Chrom is a good character, but I worry that he would replace Ike on the roster, and Ike is a unique character who feels and plays very differently from Marth. Furthermore, Chrom almost seems like he’s in between Marth and Ike in terms of power and fighting style, so it would be weird for him to be in the game with Ike’s moveset. Technically, they could all three appear in SBB4, but I would have a problem with all of the Fire Emblem representatives being blue haired swordsman. If they were to have an Awakening representative in SBB4, I would perfer it to be Robin (Avatar, Myunit). I think the blend of sword fighting and magic would be refreshing plus Robin can be played as either gender similar to Wii Fit Trainer. If that doesn’t work, can we at least get a popular character who isn’t a lord, like Tharja? Also, I want a Lucina alternate costume for Marth.

Marvin would have a new main if Tharja was added.

Marvin would have a new main if Tharja was added.

8) I want SBB4 to have decent online play. Let’s face it, Brawl’s online play was awful. Matchmaking took forever, it was laggy, and you could only play timed matches. I would literally kill for SBB4 to have ranked online matchmaking and options to play things like 1v1 4 stock matches with an 8 minute time limit.

9) I want two specific stages to return. The first is Dreamland 64. It’s basically the perfect stage: simple, balanced, great music, and with a low-impact stage hazard. It has been my favorite stage since 64 and I’m sad that it didn’t make it into Brawl. The second stage I want to see returned is a little bit more controversial. Story time! Back at EA, I was playing in the finals of a doubles tournament. It was me (playing Jigglypuff) and I think Ben (playing Fox) vs the developer who won our singles tournament a few weeks before (playing Marth) and his developer friend (playing Sheik?). We win the first round and lose the second round because the match came down to Jigglypuff vs. Marth and that’s a bad matchup for me (Jiggly needs to get in close which is hard since Marth wields a long sword). We’re about to play the final match and it’s time for Ben and I to choose a stage. We decide to go for the gambit and choose a stage where Jiggy might be able to maneuver around Marth. What stage did we choose? POKE MUTHAFUCKING FLOATS! What resulted was one of the most hilarious and epic games of smash I have ever played in my life. We still lost that round (barely), but Poke Floats still has my pick for the best moving stage of all time and I want it to return.

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POKE FLOATS!!!

10) I want the following characters to be added to the roster even though most of these will never happen: Birdo, Daisy, Dixie Kong, and Geno (from Super Mario RPG).

There you have it. Those are the ten (or more) things I want to see make it into SSB4. Will I still buy the game on release date even if nothing on this list actually makes it into the game?

Fire Emblem: Awakening Review Part 2

Now that we got all the stylistic stuff out of the way, let’s delve into some of the new mechanics in this game. Fire Emblem: Awakening got quite an overhaul in this department compared to previous Fire Emblem games so there is a lot to cover. Since so much has changed, I will only address the changes that I actually have an opinion about. Let’s start with some of the minor changes:

– The World Map has returned. This is quite a welcome change as it helps break up some of the linearity of the game.

– Light magic has been removed. I was a big fan of light magic, so I’m sad that this is gone.

– There is a section of the menu called the Barracks where you can see characters interact with each other and find items. I think the barracks had a lot of potential, but all character interactions are characters asking fixed questions and saying fixed lines no matter who they are speaking to. This makes the dialogue feel super awkward and it screams of laziness.

Barracks conversations are filled with random monologues like this one.

Barracks conversations are also filled with random monologues like this one.

– There are a ton of new classes (Dark Fliers, Dark Knights, War Monks, etc.). I always love it when they add new classes but my problem with these, however, is that most of these new classes are bad. In addition, classes no longer have any innate skills or attributes.  Instead, classes only exist to teach characters skills, limit their weapon choices, and set caps on attributes. For example, swordmasters, snipers, and berserkers no longer have innate critical bonuses (which is one of the reasons why these classes are so bad in awakening).

– The only victory conditions present in the game are killing the enemy commander and killing all enemies. I actually have a big problem with this. In past games, the maps in which you had to defend for X turns were always some of the hardest, most strategic battles in the game. I feel like this change takes a significant amount of strategy away from the game (more on this later).

I don't even...

I don’t even…

Major Changes:

– Fire Emblem: Awakening makes the first Fire Emblem game where you can turn perma-death off. When I first heard of this change, I was horrified. Then I thought about it for a bit, and now I’m totally on board. I was worried that it would serve only to dumb down the game, but then I realized that regardless of what mode you play it on, most people are still going to try to not get their characters killed during battle. The only difference is that if a character does die through a freak accident (which happens sometimes), you don’t have to worry about restarting the entire battle you were on. To be honest, even though I played with perma-death on in my game, part of me kinda wishes I didn’t.

– Fire Emblem: Awakening also allows the user to create a character for the first time. Your character has a special class, and is important to the story. I love this change for the most part. Character creation in RPGs is always fun and makes you more personally invested in the story. My only complaint here is that it would be nice to be able to choose your class from the beginning (I would’ve had my MU be a thief or myrmidon over the tactician class any day).

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– Characters can get married to each other in this game! Seriously, this game is half dating sim this time around. In addition, married units have children and these children join your party! Don’t ask how this happens … shenanigans. Let me get some things straight. The new support system is fun, since planning out relationships is lulzy, but I don’t think I like it overall. Why? Very few characters are limited in who they can support with, meaning that everyone can support with anyone else and get married to whoever they want (unless they’re gay). This seems really great on the surface, but it means that the support conversations are super general and the marriages are weird. Because everyone can support each other, the support conversations from C to A support all have to stay relatively platonic. Then suddenly, as soon as you reach an S support with someone, they pop the question, even though the two characters never actually flirted with one another or even had a real conversation. Their love usually grows from something stupid like, ‘You baked me a couple of pies, so now I want to marry you.” Seriously, some marriages can get weird. You can set up some creepy pedo relationships (like a 30 year old guy marrying a 10 year old little girl) or have a human marry a half-rabbit, half-human hybrid (seriously, inter-species relationships are hot). In my opinion, I think the story and characterization could’ve been enhanced if there were more restrictions on relationships.

Pies bring people together.

I would marry anyone who baked me a pie. 

– As I mentioned above, married units have children that join your party. The children are easily my least favorite part of the game. I actually enjoy their significance to the story, and some of the children are actually some of the most entertaining characters in the game. In fact, when I listed my three favorite characters in the game in part 1 of this review, two of those three were children characters. So why do I hate them so much? The children are broken. Children characters inherit skills, state growths, and class selections from both of their parents. This means that they can inherit ridiculous skills they have no business knowing, they have extremely high stat caps, and their stat growth rates are so good that they can easily outshine their parents with only a couple of levels under their belt. I purposely limited the amount of children I could use on my end game team since they are so good I considered them unfair.

This post needed more Henry pics.

This post needed more Henry pics.

– Fire Emblem: Awakening has a developed end game. Every week, there are new DLC maps coming out, new free spotpass maps, and new teams to fight. This gives the game a ton of replay value as it never really ends. In order to compensate for the fact that characters would eventually hit level caps from this type of end game, the developers introduced second seals. Second seals allow characters to reclass to things that make sense for the character to be able to reclass to. So for instance, Kellam, the lovable tank that no one seems to notice, could second seal into the thief, knight, or priest classes, which all make sense given his personality. Second seals allow characters to gain infinite levels since you can reclass characters back to their starting classes and level all over again. My problem with second seals has to do with the children characters, who can reclass to any class either parents could become. This means that a character like Noire, who is clearly wielding a bow in her portrait, can become a sorcerer or a knight or a priest or anything you want her to be. I should mention now that the main reason I don’t like Final Fantasy Tactics is that the job system strips away characters of their uniqueness since everyone can be any class. It saddens me that Fire Emblem is starting to go in that direction, but second seals are a necessary evil if you want Fire Emblem to have never ending playability.

kellam_class2

Overall, when you take everything I said together it becomes clear that Fire Emblem: Awakening is less of a strategy game than its predecessors. In past Fire Emblems, the main thing you think about outside of battle is which characters to use in your party. The rest of the strategy actually manifests itself in battles. In awakening, since battles are straightforward, enemies just rush at you with no rhyme or reason, and every win condition during battles is just kill all units, there is little incentive for people to actually think strategically in battle. Instead, the strategy in Awakening becomes selecting your team, deciding who gets married, picking skills to pass down to children, and deciding which characters are going to change classes to learn specific skills. The focus is more on developing character statistics and less on actual strategy. Fire Emblem: Awakening is basically turning the franchise into a team-based Diablo game.

Another one couldn't hurt.

Another one couldn’t hurt.

Now it may seem like I’m being harsh on this game, and honestly, I am, but only because every other reviewer in the world is looking at this game through rose-tinted glasses. The game has some serious flaws that no one is talking about because the flaws only become apparent when you play the game a ton. Don’t get me wrong, I did love this game. In fact, if I had to give it score I would give it a 90 out of 100. But this game is definitely not game of the year material, and it’s not even my favorite in the series. It is the most accessible game in the series for new players, so even if it’s not perfect, it’s going a long way to making the franchise mainstream.

Fire Emblem: Awakening Review Part 1

I love SRPGs. I loved them ever since I played the first Shining Force when I was 10 years old. While they no longer make Shining Force games, the genre has found a second coming in Fire Emblem series. When I heard that they were going to be making a Fire Emblem for the 3DS, I knew that I had to get the handheld just to play that game. So when Fire Emblem Awakening came out last month, I went ahead and finally purchased a 3DS and played the game non-stop all month. Now it only seems appropriate for me to write a review for the game. No gimmicks this time, just a standard cookie cutter review. I’ll try to keep it as spoiler free as I can. This game is pretty massive and there is a ton I want to say, so I’m going to split this review into two parts. Part 1 is going to be all about style; Part 2 about substance.

fire-emblem-awakening-characters-artwork

Story:

Fire Emblem games are not known for their stories. They tend to emphasize game play over style, and Awakening is no exception. In almost every Fire Emblem, you play as a young prince who is trying to fend off an invasion by a neighboring evil country. The antagonist is always searching for a relic called the Fire Emblem (which takes various forms depending on the game), the Fire Emblem is always in the possession of the main hero (who usually isn’t even aware of its existence), and the Fire Emblem always has the power to summon forth a god-like dragon that will destroy the land. Awakening doesn’t deviate from this formula at all. The story is basically told in three arcs. The first and third arcs are pretty good despite being formulaic. The second arc (which is the longest) is an absolute mess. I had no idea what was even happening during this second arc. The end of the game is pretty underwhelming as well. There were several major plot holes and questions strewn throughout the story that never get resolved (such as why the risen appeared). Luckily, this game can get away with having a weak storyline since its gameplay is the main focus.

A heroic swordsman vs an evil sorcerer? Shocking!

A heroic swordsman vs an evil sorcerer? Shocking!

Graphics:

For a DS game, I think Fire Emblem’s graphics are pretty amazing. The 2D images in this game are super pretty. The character portraits are great, the 2D cutscenes are nice and are appropriate. The 3D parts of the game are a little bit iffy. I’m not talking about the graphics that jump off the screen (this is on 3DS afterall, but it was done well in this game and was non-intrusive), but rather the 3D character models, designs, and animations. The 3D character models are awful. Every character looks like they have no feet. I don’t understand. In addition, none of the 3D character models really stood out to me, and some of them just look awkward. The knight/general class is the biggest offender here, since they are wearing ridiculous neck armor that is super top heavy. This, combined with the fact that they have no feet and tiny legs, makes it looks like they could could never get up if you tipped them over. Barbarians, assassins, and sorcerers look pretty ridiculous as well. The combat animations, however, are very pretty and well done.

no feet

Seriously, I don’t understand.

Characters:

Fire Emblem games have a huge cast of characters, so it’s hard for any of them to develop to any significant extent throughout the course of the game. The series tends to rely on stereotypes and tropes for each character, and Awakening is no exception to this. Despite using character archetypes, some of the characters in Awakening are pretty amazing and memorable, as Awakening does a very good job in making stagnant archetypes seem refreshing. The starting cast is a little weak compared to previous games in my opinion, but some of the latter characters are fantastic. Henry (the demented dark mage), Inigo (the closeted gay womanizer) and Severa (the bitchy teenage brat) are probably my favorite characters, and they all come around the middle of the game. There are enough good personalities in this game that I was able to fill almost my entire end game team by picking characters I liked as opposed to powerful filler characters.

Of course you do.

Of course you do.

That’s all for today. Part 2 will be entirely devoted to gameplay elements.

Bonus! Here is some Henry realness for everyone:

Henry 1

Henry 2Henry 3 Henry 4