Grave Digging: The Nerf Mentality of Warframe’s Update 18.13

I’ve been playing Warframe off and on for about a year, now. When I’m into it, I could spend several hours a day claiming rewards, leveling gear, and maintaining this monstrous undertaking of a game and not think anything of it. When I’m not into it, it’s a chore to open the game and get closer to that ever-elusive login reward.

Update 18.13 happened in one of my off bouts. Relatively cut off from the community and what exactly was happening with the update, I checked my Twitter feed one morning and was met with this.

Now, the Viver nerf was before my time. I remember just getting into the game and watching a video from Mogamu, a popular Warframe YouTuber, much like Quiette Shy, talk about the fact that “there will always be a Viver“. For some background, Viver is a map on the planet of Eris where players would group up, infiltrate a ship, and destroy infested hives to complete the mission. From what I understand, a certain team setup would yield immense amounts of experience and allow players to level their equipment quickly and efficiently.

While I agree that devs should balance their game to minimize the need for power-leveling, I also advocate for power-leveling in Warframe’s case. To be considered adequate for high-level play, you need a full arsenal of mods, better-than-decent weapons, and a fleshed-out build for your warframe that maximizes your participation in the team. Luckily another map, Draco, was found to be the next-best place for power levelling.

That being said, maps like Draco and Viver become vital to long-time players looking to throw themselves into the hardest endless survival missions they can find. They don’t want to spend an excess amount of time leveling gear and frames, they want to challenge the game with all they’ve got. These long missions are sought after due to Warframe’s issues with enemy scaling. After a certain amount of time, enemy levels ramp up quickly, and after a while, their levels start glitching out. As seen below, a five-hour survival mission in the games highest endless survival brings on enemies over level 3000.

Update 18.13 brought some changes to certain frames. Some received passive abilities if they didn’t have them beforehand. Other frames were tweaked to improve their performance and make it so that the powers, based on the theme of the frame, had more synergy. One frame, Mesa, the so-called gunslinger, received a buff to her abilities. Her ultimate ability, which had been nerfed late in 2015 to remove its horrendously AFK-enabling auto aim, scales with secondary weapon damage, as many people called for prior to the update, to name one positive change.

As for other frames, such as Mag, a magnetic-based frame, Trinity, the dedicated healer, and Valkyr, the berserker, had no such luck. The aim was to make the frames more balanced, but instead, as was the case with Mag and, in my opinion, Trinity, they have been made relatively unusable.

Valkyr’s ultimate ability granted her invulnerability for as long as a player’s energy pool would sustain it. Now, not only does this ability eat more energy per second it is activate, but also deals a percentage of the damage Valkyr would have taken back to her after the ability is dispelled if she is standing near any enemies. This is one nerf that I’m fairly content with. It removes the “press 4 to win” mentality that Valkyr carried, similarly to Mesa. I see both of these as improvements: they open up different options for builds per frame.

However, Mag, who once dominated a specific enemy faction in combat with her Shield Polarize ability, no longer has the one-button area of effect (AOE) ability that players essentially relied on after her previous nerfs. Trinity’s heal ability no longer targets all players across the map, but limits its range to 50 meters, in game. To me, this diminishes her as an asset to the team, but could give her additional survivability on her own.

Since the nerfs came at a time when I haven’t been too involved in Warframe, I’m in the process of giving both Mag and Trinity their dues. While I’ve picked it back up over the last few days to tweak builds and see how they actually perform, I’m not optimistic for the future of the game overall. The scaling issue has been around for a long time, and while Digital Extremes (DE) promises that it’ll be fixed Soon™, I’m beginning to wonder if they’ll just leave it as-is and let players have at it.

There is a responsibility for devs to make their game balanced, as I stated earlier, but punishing players for making the most of unpopular frames, at least in Mag’s case, doesn’t feel right. I’ll come out and say it now, I’m very biased. Mag was the frame I started with. The fact that I had a certain mod for one of her abilities gave me an edge in starting out, and I was able to overcome the learning curve by being included in higher level missions because of it.

One of Mag Prime’s last promotional images. (Via Warframe.com)

Bias aside, it’s unfortunate to see Warframe suffer so many nerfs in such a short period of time. These sudden changes not only confuse the player base and make it harder for players to challenge themselves, but it also gives the impression that DE really doesn’t care about their community. It seems to me that DE wants Warframe to be played a certain way, and if the player base isn’t playing the game the way they want it, their solution is to force players to do so, but not by editing their game’s core mechanics. Instead, the logical thing to do is to make the frames less powerful and hope that we’ll just get the message, right?

Paragon: Another MOBA Comin’ to Town

For the past few years, Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBA) have become increasingly popular. With League of Legends and DOTA 2 being at the top spot in terms of popularity, SMITE and Heroes of the Storm are starting to make their mark. Paragon is currently in Beta and I managed to gain some in-game experience from the first Free Beta Weekend. I personally hate fighting against AI, but that was my majority experience due to my “ability to wait”. Each individual playing the Beta had already received an invite via email, so the chances of experiencing a full lobby of players are kinda slim. (Insert sad face here)

The game will be a PC and PS4 exclusive.

Epic Games

This company is behind the scene’s of the well-known Gears of War series, which is one of the most graphically amazing games of our time! I’m more than confident that Epic Games will make this game beyond worthwhile. I also want to make it crystal clear that Epic Games truly impressed me. Why? They are pouring in effort and addressing problems to make the MOBA community a better place.

Graphics

Oh, my lord.. The graphics… The all-mighty gods of the gaming world have answered our prayers! *As you read this article, you begin to faintly hear “Hallelujah” in the background* Every visual aspect of Paragon is ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL. I consider myself very picky when it comes to graphics, but oh man.. I cannot point out a single flaw about the game’s appearance– the up-close look at heroes, detailed minions/mobs, the eye-opening scenery of the battleground, the clean design of the game lobby. Just see for yourself!

What you see when you spawn in a match (Screenshot by me)
What you see when you spawn in a match (Screenshot by me)
I took a screenshot in spectator mode
Screenshot taken in spectator mode, which is why the teams are displayed

How could you deny such pleasure from seeing these screenshots?! (Or maybe it’s just me)

Heroes

So far, there are 16 playable heroes and I’m certain more will be added throughout their release. After playing multiple MOBAs, it would be cliché and obvious to call the heroes “unique” because each MOBA has its own set of different heroes. They wouldn’t be different characters if they were all similar. However, there seems to be is no lore for the heroes! It was worth mentioning because everyone knows the character’s lore is “important” in a MOBA, right? lol

One of the unique Heroes in Paragon
One of the heroes, Muriel, available to play in Paragon

To view more information about the heroes, click here.                                                           or here! Decide your path 😀

Gameplay

What I enjoy about this MOBA is the incorporation of the elevated surfaces. The map isn’t one flat area with walls, comparable to a maze. Paragon has a third-person POV, so you are actually IN the action. It is similar to SMITE‘s camera view, but I find the gameplay more intense. The heroes’ skills may be a factor, to be honest. The skill effects, overall, make it look like you’re in a movie but without the cinematic angles. On top of that, the music adds that epic, desire-to-win vibe. Getting into the actual gameplay, it felt slow-paced although it took the average amount of time to finish a game. After waiting a long time to successfully experience a Player vs Player match, the match ended in 42 minutes.

Not only that, but the health/mana potions refill (3 charges) every time the player is back at base. I find it neat because you don’t need to constantly invest your money on pots! Also, unlike League of Legends, creep score (last hitting minions for more money) is not important. All you need to do is walk over orange orbs obtained by fallen nearby minions! Since today is Memorial day, I’d like to take a moment to remember the minions who served for our team. (I’ve always felt bad for minions. They blindly fight to death for people who don’t care about them!)

Players can also collect various cards to form decks and further use in game, which is awesome sauce!

There are many cards to collect and use
There are many cards to collect and use

These are some of the ones I’ve collected so far. As of today, there are a total of 259 cards sectioned off into categories: Order, Intellect, Corruption, Fury, Growth, Universal. Builds are already being formed and tested as we (technically I) speak!

Why it’s Good We Haven’t Seen Last Guardian Since E3 2015

The Last Guardian surprised everyone last year when it premiered a trailer at E3. Everyone believed the game was doomed to be in development hell forever, as it was announced at E3 2009 but was said to have been in the making since 2007. However nothing was heard from the game since. People also believed that since the director, Fumito Ueda, left Sony in 2011, that the game would never see the light of day, despite Sony and Ueda himself always insisting that the game was still “in-development” while giving VERY few details. Lo and behold, out of left field last year came the trailer for the game that is now leaping to the Playstation 4. But since that E3 we still have not gotten any other footage, or even a set release date for when in 2016. People are beginning to fear it may slip back into development hell, but theres a good reason we haven’t seen anything: Because there is so much that could be given away.

The developers of the game, Team ICO, wanted to put a demo for The Last Guardian in there remastered collection of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, however Ueda felt not enough was created for a proper demo. Image Source: Amazon.com

Ueda has gone on record as saying that the footage shown at E3 was very carefully chosen from what they had so far as to not spoil anything. Ueda claims the game to be very story heavy, and showing anything more would ruin the narrative going in. Ueda and Team ICO’s previous two games, Shadow of the Colossus and ICO, both had stories that told very little and left a lot up to the players to fill in the blanks. However, it is very interesting that Ueda claims that this game will be more story heavy.

The story is meant to be central in the game, building upon the relationship of the boy and the beast Trico as they try to escape the temple in the sky. Image Source: Gamespreso.com

This could mean an entirely new type of narrative that Team ICO hasn’t done before. The minimalist story-telling has constituted endless theories and discussions posted on the internet, but it may be interesting to see how Ueda can perhaps give a story with a few more details filled in. This even has the potential to lead to more discussions and speculation. However is Ueda only saying this when it may be slipping back into development hell? Very possible. But for now, let’s hope more details, and possibly a release date, can be given at E3 in a few weeks.

 

Three Days Remain: The Majora Effect

Since Nintendo’s beloved The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was released, its defining hallmark was the fact that the game ran on a steady three-day timer. Your objective, as the young Link, is to save the world and return a powerful, evil mask to the Happy Mask Salesman. In three whole days. At 6 AM, on each day you experience in-game, you’re presented with a screen that ominously reminds you just how many hours you have to complete whatever you’re doing, save the world, and return the mask. With a whopping four dungeons, a multitude of side quests, and a great trouble thrust upon your shoulders, three days seems like… not long enough.

The first thing seen entering Clock Town. (Image from YouTube.)

The main thing is that as Link, you gain access to the Ocarina of Time after completing the first cycle. After all, this game wouldn’t be a true sequel without some callbacks to the first. After you get the ocarina, you’re free to control the flow of time. The Song of Time allows you to skip forward, slow the passing of time, or return to the beginning of the three-day cycle. You can now use time to your advantage. Anything you collect or progress will be reset upon returning to the beginning of the cycle, though if you’ve beaten a dungeon you don’t have to do it all again, just the boss battle.

So let’s say, in your first play through, you’re in the final hours on the third day, and the timer is counting down the minutes until midnight. You’ve completed a dungeon and helped Anju and Kafei out with their quest, but there’s still more to do. You’re not done calling out to the four giants just yet. So you warp back to day one. Save the game, start over. Your restockable items like bombs and rupees fly out of your pockets as you fall through a spiral of clocks, winding backwards.

Link falling through time after playing the Song of Time.
It’s just like a weird dream I had once! (Image from Zelda Informer Wiki.)

You go up to any NPC you helped out or at least talked to in your previous cycle and they spit back that same first line of dialogue. To them, those three days didn’t happen. You didn’t help them out. For all they know, this is your first time in Termina, and you’re just stopping by for the carnival. You’re not here to save them. They don’t even know they’re in danger. Majora is still out there, in mask form, and for all they know, it’s having a nice picnic in the mountains.

For years, I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around this situation. To me, Majora’s Mask holds some of the most intricately designed backstories in The Legend of Zelda‘s in-game universe. Clock Town feels like the small, rural town that I imagined I’d grow up in. Everyone knows each other and for the most part, they’re pretty friendly towards one another. Then Link, an outsider, swoops in and saves this tiny town from an imminent doom that they don’t know about.

And after everything, even during the time that Link is scrambling around to try and fix whatever problems everyone’s going through, he’s forgotten about. After the carnival, nobody remembers him, though he’s collected the masks as tokens of the memories he’s shared with the townsfolk. In the long run, it’s not even about saving the world for Link. Termina is just a pit stop on the road to finding his friend. He didn’t have to help the Happy Mask Salesman, he didn’t even have to care about anyone in the town. He could have called it a day and left.

Majora’s Mask forces players to think about things other than them in the game. Sure, you could ignore the side quests and focus on the four dungeons, but no matter what you do, there will always be someone that needs help. They may not always remember, and you may not even gain anything from it, but you will remember. Even now as I play through the game, I do my best to memorize the steps I have to take for every single side quest so that I won’t forget anyone next time. Majora’s Mask is the only game to ever give me characters I care about so much that I’d draft an entire game guide in my memory for their sake.

Majora’s Mask is all about making the player question their own morals. (Image from Google+)

The fact that the game is on a timer makes your decisions have more weight. Regardless of your course of action, it’s impossible to help everyone in one cycle. Someone will be left behind, and someone will be forgotten about. In the end, I’d much rather finish the game and have Link be forgotten by the citizens of Clock Town than fail to help them when I’m able.

Gaming’s Undervalued Treasures: Alien Hominid

Alien Hominid box art. Image courtesy of Hardcore Gaming 101.
Image courtesy of Hardcore Gaming 101.

Alien Hominid is a nice throwback to run n’ guns
Alien Hominid is the definition of an homage, as it pays tribute to is the genre of run n’ guns.

Shooting out on the highway! Image courtesy of Nintendo City.
Shooting out on the highway! Image courtesy of Nintendo City.

Run n’ guns are generally simple; they feature one, two or four different soldiers/cyborgs/aliens/etc. and they either will move forward horizontally, or in Ikari Warriors vertically, or shoot everything in their path. Explosions and bullets will be flying all over the screen when playing a run n’ gun, giving the player a sense of adrenaline only over-the-top 80s action movies can deliver.

Fan favorite franchises like Contra and Metal Slug are synonymous with the genre. Alien Hominid plays a lot like the latter, but contains the difficulty of the former. Being released for consoles in November of 2004 as a budget title and published by Q3 (Who? Exactly.), it’s no wonder Alien Hominid was overshadowed by other juggernaut games released at the time. Games released the same time as Alien Hominid were Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Halo 2, World of Warcraft, Half-Life 2 and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Alien Hominid did not stand a chance against those giants. Which is a shame, since it was good enough to be part of that upper class of games that year. Heck, it was even better received than the newest Contra installment, Neo Contra, also released in 2004.

An example of the quirky art style. Image courtesy of Moby Games.
An example of the quirky art style. Image courtesy of Moby Games.

Alien Hominid also has one of the more unique art styles found in any video game. The simplistic and cartoony graphics, along with some solid gameplay which thrives on two players, make Alien Hominid a run n’ gun absolutely worth checking out. Even after the guns have been put down, there are more than a few throwback mini games to keep the player busy as well as some silly unlockables.

Alien Hominid  has an interesting background
Dan Paladin, otherwise known by his online name “synj,” is the brainchild behind the lunacy of the artwork. A longtime contributor to Newgrounds.com, Paladin’s boxy, yet overly animated, style is the first thing players are going to look at. Newgrounds’ co-founder, Tom Fulp is also one of the developers behind Alien Hominid, as his love for old school video games shines in the game’s action.

The duo actually released Alien Hominid through Newgrounds.com as a “beta.” Newgrounds users were only playing the first level, but compared to a lot of Flash based games on the site, the game felt bigger and played with more polish.

Paladin and Fulp, along with their friend John Baez, started the Behemoth, an independent video game developer. Alien Hominid was a success on Newground for a couple of years, with it being featured on their main page predominately and was later released as the Behemoth’s first game. The Behemoth later went on to develop Castle Crashers and Battle Block Theater.

Alien Hominid doesn’t break down walls, but instead crashes through them in spectacular fashion
Alien Hominid has an easy to follow story, much like an classic run n’ gun. An FBI agent shoots down a UFO carrying our little yellow hero and he crash lands on Earth. The FBI try to cover this up in a hilarious, not so subtle fashion, but the alien is not having any of it. From here on out, the alien starts his (her? Its?) sadistic quest to get revenge.

Alien Hominid intro. The one guy who caused this. Image courtesy of Moby Games.
The one guy who caused this. Image courtesy of Moby Games.

The presentation of the game is very familiar to those who have watched Flash cartoons hosted on Newgrounds. It has a vibrant color scheme, with yellow and green being the big stand outs. The animation is not Disney quality, but has a kinetic energy to it that is more along the lines of a classic Tex Avery cartoon. Character’s eyes will bug out and mouths will drop right down to the floor. Characters will look minimalistic when they are idle and but it adds to the charm of it all. Bosses are over-the-top goofy as well. However, the level of gratuitous violence is what sets it apart from classic cartoons and more along South Park.

The FBI trying their best to cover up the incident. Image courtesy of Hardcore Gaming 101.
The FBI trying their best to cover up the incident. Image courtesy of Hardcore Gaming 101.

The alien will be biting heads clean off of the FBI agents, slicing and dicing them and even shooting them in areas where no man should be shot. The alien and the FBI also have no qualms blowing up everyone’s cars on the highway. It’s not overly gory or done in a tasteless manner though, as it still has this cartoonish edge to it all. Still, not exactly a kid’s game with all the beheadings going on.

The gameplay does not bring the newest food to the table, but instead makes a classic meal exceptionally well. Alien Hominid has a simplistic control scheme of jump and shoot. There are other moves in the game, such as the ability to throw grenades, use a melee weapon (borrowed directly from Metal Slug) and dig underground as a stealth tactic, but for the most part, players will have to make sure the Alien Hominid is shooting, jumping and dodging. It helps the controls are consistently fluid and responsive.

Alien Hominid
EXPLOSIVE action and HUGE bosses are found aplenty! Image courtesy of Nintendo City.

Metal Slug is Alien Hominid’s main source of information, even down to the “How to Play” screen that shows the player the controls. Even the sense of humor is similar. The whole tongue-in-cheek manner of the story and presentation will certainly create some laughs among the players.

On the side, there are a couple of old school minigames made with Atari in mind. The most prominent, Super Soviet Missle Mastar is an excellent parody of Cold War era paranoia.

An enormous difficulty curve may not be for everyone
Similar to Metal Slug, Alien Hominid showcases an immense level of difficulty. It is not Contra: Hard Corps level difficult, where bosses being thrown at the player every few feet, but it does require a level of skill. Make no mistake, Alien Hominid is not the most difficult game of all time, but it is certainly no cakewalk either. This is where it might scare some players, but if they are used to the overly difficult nature of run ‘n guns, then they can brush this off.

Alien Hominid boss
Alien Hominid may be one of the few games with a pudding boss. Image courtesy of Nintendo City.

One of Gaming’s Undervalued Treasures
From a little Flash game to big retail release to even an HD re-release on the Xbox 360, Alien Hominid is proof that anyone with a creative vision for video games can make it in the field. An imaginative and energetic art style and tight gameplay which harkens back to a cult hit video game series, make Alien Hominid one of Gaming’s Undervalued Treasures. It is an absolute blast throughout and can be enjoyed with two players, like any old run ‘n gun. Alien Hominid may be punishing, but sometimes it hurts so good.

It is not terribly obscure, as copies on Amazon don’t break the bank and the game is now available as a download but if any lower tier game was released around holiday 2004, they would be lost in the shuffle too.

Let’s Talk: What to Expect in DayZ

BAM to the zam through the pituitary gland! I’ma go straight in and say DayZ is worth getting if you like survival games. There are definitely a TON of zombie-related games like Call of Duty zombies, Left 4 Dead, The Walking Dead, Dying LightPlants vs Zombies to name a few. Whether it’s single-player or not, we just wanna feel the thrill, test our survival skills, and gore is always a plus (at least for me). Let’s put the dim, flickery spotlight on DayZ for a moment, shall we?

Current Status

DayZ is still in Alpha through Steam since Dec 16, 2013. Based on their twitter profile, they plan to release it on Xbox and Playstation in the future.

The devs at Bohemia Interactive seemed to be slacking and the whole community was convinced the game would never go into Beta, but the devs are picking it back up again!

Gameplay

I wouldn’t consider it much of a zombie game, since you have to worry about other players way more than the actual zombies. The biggest threat a zombie could be is giving away your position. But before this all happens, I have to mention that it’s a pain to get into the “good” servers (amount of lag based on the host). There is a 50 player maximum in a server, which means it can be a pain to get into the same server as your buddies. Another thing– it can take an insanely long time to cross each other’s paths. Sometimes you gotta die a few times to finally meet them, too. There will be times where another player begs you to kill them, so don’t be surprised! The map is HUUUUUGE!! There is no default auto-run key, so you gotta set a macro for it. Because, believe me, your hands start to ache.

Interactions

Talk if you don't want to die
You could end up in this situation (Image taken from official DayZ website)

I can’t say this enough, but communication is extremely vital in this game. State your intentions immediately. Your ability to negotiate and the level of cooperation in both parties will determine your fate! After all that time and effort looting, it would be a shame to die and become a Bambie (aka fresh spawn) again. You never know what types of people you’re going to encounter, so it would be safer to listen to whoever has the advantage.

Note: if you’re looking for a chillax time, I recommend going to the”Roleplay” and “No KOS” (Kill On Sight) specific servers. Image below is a perfect example of how involved you can get in the community!

DayZ
My former DayZ family forming a circle around a fist fight. It was after a trial we held about a cheating wife having intimate relations with the man’s best friend

Aside from the cookie-cutter buildings, the graphics look noice. Imagine how it’ll look when it comes out of Beta! (hopefully soon)

Why I’m Confident Mother 3 Will be Localized by the End of the Year

When it came out in 1994, Earthbound was a massive loss for Nintendo of America, and it seems that it’s haunted them to this day in more ways than one. Right off the bat Earthbound was a major financial loss during its initial release—its poor sales are commonly attributed to its poor advertising, RPGs not being popularized in the West yet, and most of all, you could only buy the game in a special edition that came with the guide that cost $70. Needless to say, there weren’t that many people at the time who wanted to pay $70 for a game that they hardly knew anything about, so sales were atrocious, therefore Nintendo didn’t produce many carts of it, nor did they bother to release its sequel game Mother 3 that came out 12 years later.
You’d be hardpressed to find a fanbase so devoted despite how Nintendo of America has neglected them than American Mother fans. Earthbound became a cult classic a few years after its initial release—just long enough for carts to be nearly impossible to find since Nintendo of America stopped distributing them so quickly. When Mother 3 finally came out in Japan 12 years later, for the first time in a long time for many Earthbound fans, hope had finally seem to come back! And so they waited for the announcement that Nintendo of America would translate Mother 3, but that announcement would never come. The closest thing they would receive was Lucas being in Super Smash Bro’s Brawl on the Wii, but his being there was not a decision made by Nintendo of America.

Image Source: Earthbound Wiki

When time passed and there was still no announcement, fans started to get angry. More importantly, fans started to get vocal. Threads about wondering where Mother 3 was became all too common in not just Earthbound and Nintendo forums, but video game forums as a whole. Notably, in an interview with Reggie Fils-Aime (Nintendo of America President) in 2007 he said, “…For example, I’m still being bombarded by Mother fans who are asking for [Mother 3] to be translated to English and launched here in the U.S.” Nintendo was clearly hearing the Mother fans, but they didn’t care to listen because of the horrible financial loss that was Earthbound—even though it had aged terrifically and is widely considered to be one of the best games on the SNES.
The next time America would hear about Mother 3 wouldn’t be until 2015 when Lucas was going to be added to Super Smash Bro’s 4 on the Wii U and 3DS—though again, his addition to Smash wasn’t a decision made by Nintendo of America. His release, however, got a lot of people wondering: Mother 3 turns 10 years old next year, and there’s a new group of Smash players being introduced to the Mother franchise through not only Lucas and Ness being in Smash, but the addition of Earthbound on the Wii U virtual console, and more importantly, the release of Mother 1 (retitled Earthbound Beginnings) which had previously been translated but never officially released in America because of poor timing (Which is why they decided to release Earthbound despite the myriad of production and translation snags that were had with it.) Nintendo of America seemed to finally be acknowledging the Mother franchise again—was there actually hope for Mother 3 all these years later?
On February 3, 2016 their prayers were finally answered when Emily Rogers—an employee for Nintendo who has been known to leak out information that thus far has been true (usually about when  NX/Zelda U news would be annoucned) tweeted, “Don’t be surprised if Nintendo celebrates a game’s 10th anniversary this year… just some food for thought.” followed by a tweet with a picture of Kumatora—one of the main characters of Mother 3. The Internet went into a frenzy wondering if Mother 3 had actually been confirmed after all these years.

Image source: SSL Forum

There’s no reason to discredit or doubt what she says, as her track record of leaks has been pretty solid. On the other hand, however, she’s never leaked anything even close to as major as the potential release of Mother 3. Personally, I only see that as more reason to believe her, though—if she’s used to only leaking small, generally unimportant details about what Nintendo of America is doing, then why would she dive into something she knows would set off a frenzy? She knows that all eyes will be on her now, and if she’s wrong about this, she’ll be one of the first people a mob of enraged Mother 3 fans who had shown a glimmer of hope would be hunting down. An English release of Mother 3 has become such an unbelievable concept that the idea that a Nintendo employee would leak something like that has to be believable—if she wanted to leak something huge just to mess with everyone it would make more sense for her to go after something bigger and more relevant like Zelda U—a game that she had previously been leaking small tidbits of information for, and would therefore be far more believable.
Shortly after these tweets were set free, another Nintendo employee, Liam Robertson, tweeted “I was asked to keep quiet, and then Emily decided to let the cat out of the bag herself. Hopefully this clears some confusion.”  “What I heard about Mother 3 (rumour) was that it was in the final stages of localisation in Nintendo of Europe a little while back.” “Emily sure likes to play around lol. My tweet wasn’t nearly this explicit and I got told off for it.” Tom Phillips of Eurogamer would later go on to corroborate them as well. She also recently tweeted that Mother 3’s announcement would likely be done at E3 in June—which would be a wise move on Nintendo’s part not only because their last E3 was considered to be a failure, but because this is also the first E3 for the new President of Nintendo, Tatsumi Kimishima. E3 is essentially the Olympics of video game distributors—if he were to have as lackluster of an E3 as Nintendo did last year, it would haunt his career (and PR) forever. If there were ever a time for him to bring out the absolute best of the best, it’s this E3. Nintendo has already announced that E3 will be mostly focused on Zelda U, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be entirely on that. Last year, for instance, although Star Fox Zero was the focus, it wasn’t the only thing we saw. Granted it was still almost entirely what we saw, my point still stands that there were a few other miscellaneous announcements. Zelda U could be the star of this E3, and the release of Mother 3 in English would make for a wonderful ending announcement to send Nintendo off on a good note.
I’m confident that Mother 3 will get announced sometime this year—more than likely at E3, but still sometime this year at the very least. If there were ever an E3 for Nintendo to do well at, it’s this one. More than that, Nintendo of America has been better about acknowledging the Mother franchsie by adding 1 and 2 to the Wii U Virtual Console and putting Earthbound on the New 3DS virtual console. They’re actively creating more Mother fans, and when they’re combined with the millions of insane Mother 3 fans who were already here, it would sell tremendously. Knowing that there’d be these same millions of Mother 3 fans demanding your head on a pike to be paraded through the streets if you were wrong, I don’t think anyone would leak anything about Mother 3 getting a translation this year just for fun—let alone it getting corroborated by two other reliable sources. It’s Mother 3’s 10th birthday this year, and Nintendo has always really liked celebrating major birthdays for their games— Super Mario Bro’s turning 30 last year for example, and even the 20th birthday of Earthbound by putting Earthbound Beginnings on the virtual console.

All the signs are pointing to it.
C’mon Reggie, give us Mother 3.

Remade, Rebooted, Redundant?

Oftentimes its hard to stay original in any creative industry, most especially gaming. What play-style can you create that no one has seen before, or what new story can you use to hook an audience? Oftentimes, big-developers will put stock into these new innovations, however for the most part they will push remakes or sequels as they are sure-fire ways to get profits. And why wouldn’t they? These are franchises that we love and we want to see continue. Oftentimes, if a particular sequel is met with in-adequate sales or critical reception, then most likely the next number will be forgone in favor of a remake. Fans could be asking for a sequel for years while others think it would be best to try and start from scratch. And then there are times when a franchise that has no desire from the community to continue.

Dead to Rights was a great deal of ridiculous fun, but way too past its prime. Image source: Amazon.com

This can be seen in games such as Dead to Rights Retribution, which was meant to revitalize the franchise after the mediocre Dead to Rights 2. Ironically however, the remake didn’t do much better in either sales or critical reception. The franchise tried to stay relevant, but with a hap-hazard remake coming out four years after the its popularity went stale, there was so little interest in what was done different that it seemed to be the final nail in the series’s coffin. But there are cases where the fans can end up being blind-sided by a remake when what they really wanted was a sequel. Fans of Devil May Cry know this feeling all too well, as the outrage soared over the announcement of its grittier reboot.

The remake of Devil May Cry, or DMC: Devil May Cry, was a complete overhaul of design and tone for the series. The once cheesy and anime-like setup and style for the Devil May Cry characters were replaced with more gritty and modern styles that more reflected the hipster and internet activist crowd. While it kept the supernatural elements of the old series, such as the main protagonist Dante being  the son of the demon lord Sparda and fighting demons to protect the world, it darkened his backstory at the same time making his attitude more rebellious. Instead of wearing a red trench coat with white hair, he instead sported a modern-punk faux hawk with a tank-top and a black jacket. Fans were bashing this design the second it had come out, and while Ninja Theory, the new developer on the game, tried to tweak it to fit the fans’ tastes more, it still was bogged down by hatred of change. But did that make it a bad game? Not at all. I even felt it was an interesting change. Don’t get me wrong, I still revere Devil May Cry 4 as one of my favorite games for the Playstation 3, but while this new game made a lot of changes, I felt the changes worked. Although there were of course some eye-rolling lines as well.

Only a slight change in Dante’s design. Image source: Butterfly Samurai.com

 But what of the gameplay? The game was very similar to the old, having players utilize a variety of different guns and swords against different types of demons in the general hack-and-slash style. However, fans didn’t like some changes to it, such as the update to the style system. The system used to reward players for attacking enemies in different combos, dodging hits, and doing so in short amounts of time. The new system however just allowed a player to rack up points until they got hit, which for some felt overly simplistic, losing the reward for skill the game once had. Another factor was the lack of lock-on targeting which had been essential in every game so far. Thankfully though, Ninja Theory included it within the remastered DMC: Devil May Cry Definitive Edition for the Playstation 4. But all things considered, the story remained very similar, if only re-updated. Dante and Vergil are still brothers, and are still trying to take down the Demon king Mundus. However, while trying to keep the game fresh, it only turned off more people than it pleased, which is unfortunate because I consider it a great game,and I’m a huge fan of the series. And much like how this remake won’t be expanded, neither will the out-of-left field Prince of Persia from 2008.

When I read that a remake of Prince of Persia was being made for the Playstation 3 in Game Informer, I was confused. I had Two Thrones on PS2, and I thought it was great. Only later did I find out that it did the most poorly out of the three Prince games, Sands of Time and Warrior being the previous in the “Sands of Time” trilogy of the game. The game wanted to branch off of the original trilogy instead rather than continue the current. Now the game was based around a completely new character, having no name and not even called “The Prince”, as the previous protagonist had been, and his main goal is to help mystical princess, Elika, free the land (which has several Persian aesthetics and motifs) of corruption. While a lot of focus was on acrobatics and platforming, the game was now an open world game wherein the player could go after any of the four bosses in any order. After beating one, the player would be given a new ability to explore the world better. Erika also helps the player in acrobatic platforming. However a noticeable departure is the loss of the time reversing mechanic, relying more on a variety of gained abilities to make up for it. These abilities weren’t as powerful as time-reversing, but each was gained from a boss and allow the player to explore the world more.

Elika clearing the darkness from another section of the map. Once this finishes the player gets a new power. Image source: Destructoid.com

 Another interesting note is the use of cel shaded graphics which helped set it apart. Unfortunately, the game received a luke-warm reception. Fans of the game series felt it was too easy and disliked the one-on-one QTE based fights that were based off of the original trilogy. The game would get an epilogue in DLC, however it only prolonged the gameplay a little bit while not furthering the story nearly at all. Prince of Persia would again be rebooted with The Forgotten Sands. However, with the most it could tout being the ability to run up frozen water, it seemed a desperate attempt to once again revitalize the franchise, but sadly enough it may have been the final nail in the prince’s coffin. At least for now.

So in summation, what can be said about remakes and reboots, and can they really work? It makes a lot of sense why someone would try to re-energize a series. It helps to bring them back into the limelight and possibly be improved for the modern times. For instance Far Cry seemed to get a complete tone shift in the third came which made it one of the best selling games in 2013. And while Ratchet and Clank may not be old, the new reboot released helped it break away from what a lot of fans saw as being a stale formula from titles sushi as All 4 One and Full Frontal Assault. However, there are times when people aren’t ready for the change and aren’t as receptive, such as with  Prince of Persia or Devil May Cry. And even then, some franchises may seem only the more dated when being brought back such as Duke Nukem Forever or Star Fox Zero. The remakes and reboots that work do so because they know what made the original great, and instead of copy it, change it just enough to be interesting, but still be recognizable, getting the same emotions from fans as well as possibly some new ones.

Nintendogs: Man’s Best Friend, Loyal to the End

In 2005 and 2006 a little game called Nintendogs took the handheld gaming world by storm.  Such a simple idea, taking care of virtual puppies, the idea had been done before, but most of those games had an ending; ultimately there was a way for the game to end whether it be training the dog after a certain amount of time or completing mundane care tasks with little reward.  Then the Nintendo DS artfully used its stylus and touch screen to create an interactive environment in which the person behind the screen acted more as an actual owner and less of an errand boy.

First of all, you got to pick your own dog.  You were given enough money to pick whichever dog you wanted that was available in your specific game.  Then you got to name it, feed it, give it water, give it baths, make sure they were happy and energized with toys and walks.  You can could teach your puppy tricks and even train it for competitions.  You could make your dog a pro athletics champ or maybe just dress them up and take them out on walks hoping for a special mystery gift to show off your doggy prowess to your friends who also had the game.

The game offered tons of opportunities to redecorate the house, dress your pup up, and become a competition champion.  The only real end goal was maxing out the trainer points which were earned while playing the game, but in the end there were always the dogs to take care of.  The puppies always needed to be fed, given water, washed and walked at the very least.  There was always something to do in Nintendogs; so why do so why are so many puppies left abandoned?

It is really sad when you think about it, the puppies being left all alone with only themselves or maybe they have a friend or two to play with.  They’ll be parched, starving, and filthy with flies jumping off of them, but they’ll slowly walk up to the screen begging for a bit of love and attention.  It’s almost heartbreaking going back to an abandoned Nintendogs game, simply because they don’t die; they just wait.

It could be said that this style of punishment is used in other games, but in games like Animal Crossing the villagers move away if you don’t keep up with them.  That would almost be better than the Nintendogs treatment.  Yes the dogs run away, but that actually only happens if the game is left on.  If that game isn’t played the dogs are left in a state of abandonment, still growing hungrier, thirstier, and dirtier with each passing day.

 

Thinking about the dogs being left to just wait reminds me of that one story, Hachi: a Dog’s Tale, the story of a very loyal dog who constantly waited at the train station for his master so that they could come home, but after the master dies while at work, Hachi finds himself waiting still for him to come to the train station, leaving Hachi to wait for the rest of his life.  He was so loyal he couldn’t bear to leave his spot.

You can’t really ever hurt your Nintendog.  They can get “sick,” but there isn’t a risk of losing them.  They just look a little off for the rest of the walk after they eat trash, but after a few paces they’re back to their chirper selves.  You can tug their leash a little too tight, but they only whimper for a second then they bark with joy.  You can tug their paw a little too hard and it prompts a sneeze or they dance a bit jumping back and forth on their paws, but you can never really hurt them at all.  They don’t hold a grudge over anything that their owner does or doesn’t do; they just continue to wait for love and attention, even if it’s the form of a few style taps on the screen.  Give them food, water, a bath, maybe even a walk; make your Nintendog’s day, they’ve only been waiting ten years.

nintendogs wikia
Image from Nintendogs Wikia

Gaming’s Undervalued Treasures: Final Fight 3

Picture courtesy of Giant Bomb user dracocall
Picture courtesy of Giant Bomb user dracocall

Final Fight 3 deserves more love from SNES fans
The original Final Fight, released back in 1989, is often seen by several old school gamers to be one of the most memorable beat ‘em ups.

The game was a massive success in the arcades, as well as home consoles. Capcom created and developed a sequel exclusive to the SNES under the immensely intriguing title Final Fight 2, which is a solid game in its own right.

Final Fight 3 was also released as a SNES exclusive. However, it came near the system’s end in 1995. The game features the largest roster of characters, each with their own truly unique special moves to add to the already near-perfect gameplay.

GUT Final Fight 3 7

Final Fight 3 is also one of the few side scrolling beat ‘em ups to feature branching paths which effect the game’s ending. From a technical stand point, Final Fight 3 contains some fist pumping anthems which fit the chaotic fights seamlessly and curb check the tinny sounds of the original game. Final Fight 3’s colorful, comic book-like graphics are pleasing to look it throughout.

Since it was released so late into the SNES lifespan, and was BLASTED by several major video game magazines , Final Fight 3 faded into obscurity.

The only franchise to feature a pro wrestling mayor as its hero three times!
Final Fight 3’s story is similar to most beat ‘em ups; an interchangeable gang, (this time the Skull Cross Gang, which to be fair is a totally bad ass name), takes over an interchangeable city (Metro City) and our heroes (Mayor Mike Haggar and friends) must walk forward and punch and kick everyone in the face in the name of justice.

What is nice to see when the game is booted up on the SNES, is an extended intro which gives a detailed backstory, including the riots the Skull Cross Gang has started throughout city. New comers to the series, Luica and Dean are even given a quick origin story and players are caught up with the returning Guy and Haggar.

The cut scenes actually add to the story of Final Fight 3. Image courtesy of Giant Bomb user 234r2we232.
The cut scenes actually add to the story of Final Fight 3. Image courtesy of Giant Bomb user 234r2we232.

Lucia is a booty short wearing cop who mildly resembles Jennifer Jason Leigh in Single White Female. Dean is a big Image Comics looking-dude who controls electricity and whose family was killed by the Skull Cross Gang.

Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen! Image courtesy of Hardcore Gaming 101.
Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen! Image courtesy of Hardcore Gaming 101.

Refined and polished to borderline perfection

By this time in the mid-90s, the beat ‘em up genre was very much a road well-traveled. Final Fight 3 is walking down that road, but the gameplay has beneficial tweaks here and there which make Final Fight 3 fresh and exciting.

The new cast members, Dean and Lucina in action! Image courtesy of Giant Bomb user Kou_Leifou
The new cast members, Dean and Lucia in action! Image courtesy of Giant Bomb user Kou_Leifou

For starters, Final Fight 3 introduces a run button, similar to how Sega’s Streets of Rage 3 did. However, it does not feel as slippery as it was introduced in that game. Running in Final Fight 3 allows for more moves for each character, adding in a  bit of depth in a genre that is not known for being deep.

 

 

The return of Guy is something most Final Fight fans will love about this game. Image courtesy of Giant Bomb user ignor
Guy executing a running attack!. Image courtesy of Giant Bomb user ignor

Each of the four characters has their own unique play style and special attacks. Guy is the quick, combo heavy one, not unlike his appearances in Street Fighter. Haggar is a grappler/powerhouse, Lucia is your basic, all around character and Dean is a charge-like character. It helps to have more variety, especially when it comes to playing with other friends.

Final Fight 3 also takes on a more colorful and animated art style that is not like the other games. Characters appear a little cartoony and have that mid-90s Capcom vibe which gives Final Fight 3 an appealing look. It gets rid of the gritty style of the first game and overall looks better than 2.

Haggar has spent most of his political career on the streets! Image courtesy of Giant Bomb user kou_leifou.
Haggar has spent most of his political career on the streets! Image courtesy of Giant Bomb user kou_leifou.

Finally, the branching paths will offer some new scenery along with a chance to get a different ending. Not the greatest feature of the game, but it helps add to the experience of playing Final Fight 3.

Final Fight 3
’s features similarities to another Capcom franchise…
Even when compared to most beat ‘em ups, the first and second Final Fight had beyond easy control set ups. One button to jump, one to attack and pressing the two made the character do a special attack. There was a separate button in 2 which controlled the special attacks.

An example of the super moves found in Final Fight 3. Image courtesy of Giant Bomb user kou_leifou.
An example of the super moves found in Final Fight 3. Image courtesy of Giant Bomb user kou_leifou.

This control scheme is implemented in Final Fight 3, but there is the addition of more special attacks. How the player executes the moves is more in line with a fighting game, very similar to how Street Fighter or Darkstalkers plays. Fighting game fans can feel right at home with the special move system along with the super meter which can be triggered and create a devastating super move.  

Final Fight 3’s only flaw is the mild repetition
A welcome addition of characters, moves and smoother gameplay allows Final Fight 3 to be great. Not flawless though, as the game suffers from what many other beat ‘em ups suffer from. Repetition.

Dispensing some justice with a lead pipe. Image courtesy of Giant Bomb user 234r2we232.
Dispensing some justice with a lead pipe. Image courtesy of Giant Bomb user 234r2we232.

The player will be taking Haggar and friends on an excellent adventure through some vibrant locales, but the enemies and even the bosses will not be as creative. At least halfway through the game, enemies start to repeat.

The music does not fare much better, as the same tunes are repeated ad nausem throughout the game. They aren’t bad, the song “For Metro City” is arguably the highlight of the soundtrack, but when the player is hearing the same four songs over and over again, it gets old.

One of Gaming’s Undervalued Treasures
Final Fight 3 is one of the best examples of a sequel being overshadowed. The original Final Fight has a massive following and several ports to consoles, whereas 3 has the SNES port and it is exceptionally rare. However, the game can be downloaded on the Wii and Wii U thanks in part to the Virtual Console.

A beat ‘em up worthy of anyone’s collection, Final Fight 3 offers gameplay a little more complex than the average side scroller and features some fantastic controls as well. The graphics showcase the SNES colors expertly and the multiple characters and paths will make this an instant replay, especially among fans of classic beat ’em ups.