Saturday, May 26, 2012

E3 2012 Predictions.

Another year, another E3 and a Nintendo Conference. Some say Nintendo’s last outing was lacking, and I can somewhat agree on that. All they really showed was…well, not much; it was mostly hush-hush projects, announcements for the 3DS we already knew about, and the new home console system, the Wii-U, and didn’t show any games for it. But forget about that, because E3 is just a few weeks away, and if E3 2011 was anything at all it was hype fuel for this year’s E3. With all the new titles being shown I can assure you it will not be a disappointing year. And what exciting titles could we expect this year? Here’s my honest opinions on the line-up (from most to least likely; not including games already announced for this E3):
Most definitely likely – A New Zelda.

It’s going to happen. No doubts here. Last Zelda console game was last year’s Skyward Swords on the Wii, and the last time the series appeared on a portable console was Spirit Tracks on the DS in 2009. If anything if it isn’t a new Four Swords utilizing the new Wii-U controller (seriously Nintendo, get on it) it will be on the 3DS. It’s already been rumored to boot. And if it’s true, hopefully it’s a full scale game like OoT and not another point-and-move-stylus-Zelda. Please Nintendo, utilize your technology for the greater good!

Extremely likely – WarioWare Wii-U/3DS.

To me this seems likely due to the fact that there’s a WarioWare game released on every Nintendo console, usually as a launch title. With every leap in innovation comes a new and crazy Micro-Game compilation, and I’d love to see what they come up with using the Wii-U controller. And let’s face it, if this game isn’t announced or even hinted at this year’s convention then Nintendo never came. Seriously, this is a series that is Nintendo, like every Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Wii Fit title ever made that defined this company. Saying this won’t be at the show would be like saying Wario hates money.

Probably – The next Mario game.

I have to hand it to Miyamoto. I wish I had such will to keep a game series afloat for so long and not let it go stale. Whatever crazy idea he comes up for the next console Mario game I can’t even fathom, so it’s better for me to just shut up and let imagination take it’s course. (Anyone hoping for Mario sunshine 2?)


Possibly, if not later – Mario Kart Wii-U.
Yes, yes, we already got Mario Kart 3D last year, but Nintendo thinks ahead on these things. I wouldn’t doubt they’re cooking up Mario Kart Wii-U as we speak (Hopefully with some more Super Circuit tracks). Mario Kart is never too far behind after a console’s launch after all. Hard to say if we’ll actually see it at E3, but it’s not too hard to imagine that there will be a Mario Kart for the Wii-U in the future.

There’s a good chance – Metroid Prime 4 (or a 2-D platformer).

After the mixed reviews of Metroid: Other M with it’s talking Samus and frequent cut scenes involving an unnatural amount of dialogue after dialogue for an action game, it would be a blessing for the series to go back into the Prime saga of first-person exploration and space pirate blasting. Even better for the series is go back to it’s 2-D platforming roots, but Metroid Dread just doesn’t seem to want to be made any time soon (what is so wrong with our money, Nintendo?). And what about that Star Fox and Metroid crossover? If that game is actually legit I’m going to eat my shorts through a straw. No joking.

Maybe – Return of Yoshi’s Island.

Where have you gone to, Yoshi? It’s about time for you to set on another adventure – maybe this time with multi-player mode a la’ NSMB Wii on the Wii-U. Come on, who doesn’t want to eat one another and then poop each other out in eggs? …Okay, I apologize for that frightening image if you weren’t thinking of Yoshi at the time, so think instead of the fun you’ll have jumping on each other’s heads; scrambling on one another to get your baby character back when you get hit. Ah…. A 3-D game wouldn’t be bad either, but we just want Yoshi back!


Hang on to your lucky clovers – Xenoblade 2.

As an avid CRAZY fan of Xenoblade I really, really, really, really, REALLY hope this one comes a reality. Though on the other hand I know that I’ll be very disappointed this year if it isn’t announced, and I know Monolithe Soft is working on Project X Zone at the moment so there’s a slim chance of it appearing, but I’m still clasping my four-leafer with my COLD. SHAKING. FANBOY. HANDS. IN. PRAYER for this game. Did I mention how much I love Xenoblade? Why are you leaving?

Not likely – Smash Bros. 4.

I have more hope of Xenoblade 2 being shown than I do with a teaser for SSB4, and that’s kind of strange until you think about. Hal Laboratory said themselves that they won’t start production on SSB4 until Kid Icarus: Uprising is complete, and that game just came out a month ago. If they had any time to work on the project, it’s most likely not even past the concept stage. Sad, I know, but don’t worry, we’ll definitely get a teaser in E3 2013 and then we’ll only have to wait 3 more years after that for the game to actually be released. …Okay, now I’m depressed.
Yeah, just forget about it – F-Zero.

No. Bad fanboy. Put that chair door. Put it down NOW. Good fanboy. Here’s a Scooby snack and a Kleenix tissue for your troubles. Sorry I had to write that, but let’s face it guys, the odds of this game being shown at the convention is the same as a new Elite Beat Agents, Chibi-Robo, and Mother 4 being announced this year – also, for that Mother 4 game being announced for America. I know, it SUCKS. But I moved on from EBA, and you should move on too…or better yet, don’t take a grain of salt out of my words. Yeah, I’m writing with honesty, but I can never fully predict what E3 this year has in store. For all I know, Smash Bros. 4 could be shown in all it’s Nerdgasm-inducing glory, my Xenoblade 2 dreams could come true, Star Fox would make a comeback with Metroid, and you’ll get two F-Zero games! …Or maybe not that last part- Ohhhhh, there’s no need to get hasty now…um…nice fanboy?

Also, I apologize for the lack of Kirby. I only picked three games for each category of likelihood, so I had no room left. 

P.S. See you at E3!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New alternate Legendaries + New Black 2/White2 news!!!

Things just keep getting weirder. 
It looks like Kyurem isn't the only Pokemon in Black 2/White 2 getting an alternate make-over: Legendary cloud trio Thundurus, Landurus and Tornadus are getting female alternative forms! (Beautiful aren't they?) You can catch these beauties in the 3DS exclusive Pokemon AR Searcher, which will be released sometime this Summer.
And if thought that was all, you've seen nothing yet. Here's more information concerning the new Pokemon games:  
-Pokemon Musical replaced by Pokewood; where you can battle Gym leaders from past Pokemon games!  
-Cheren is rumored to be a Gym Leader. 
-New evil team has been rumored. 
Whoa! This is shaping to be the best new Pokemon iterations yet!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Xenoblade Chronicles (9.5)

Let’s admit it: JRPGs have become a repeating cycle of cliché story telling with unappealing characters and their boring back stories, that have been sprinkled with pretty cut scenes and overly busty female characters to keep us pretending we’re interested. That’s how we define a genre that structured such fantastic games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, and TWEWY, which broke the traditional chains of common JRPGs and are still to this day fun to play as they were years ago? Is it our curse to just put up with ho-hum RPGs until someone makes a one time masterpiece that will never see another sequel or never become a franchise of it‘s own? If anything is certain, if you judge Xenoblade Chronicles based solely on it’s bleak graphics and appearance, you’re no doubt missing what could be the greatest JRPG of our time.  

Story-wise, Xenoblade does things right. The storyline is engaging and never drags out into pointless monologue that completely disrupts the flow of the game. The friendships between characters is shown distinctly through “heart-to-hearts” scattered throughout the world, which is a goofy love sim mini-game where you pick the answer and see what awkward responses you’ll get. Thankfully, for those that are not into this, they completely skip them all together. Some might not appreciate the similarity of the story telling to other JRPGs, and yes, some of the cut scenes do drag on a little, but I’m so fortunate they took the time and at least made a story that didn’t want to make you throw up.

For a game that’s not HD and looking like it could very well be played on a Gamecube, Xenoblade sure makes up for it in terms of shear vastness. Taking place on a giant robot, or Bionis, as it is called in the game, Xenoblade’s world is massive and full of life. Never has an RPG on a home console been seen on such a huge scale. The moment you look across and see the other Mechon…looking upward at it’s outstretched sword through the clouds is pretty darn impressive. The game switching from night and day can produce some nice looking scenery as well. Though I do admit that the character models could’ve received some polish: character’s mouths don’t move in-sync with the voiceovers at all, and this makes sentimental moments look more like a bad hand puppet skit than a video game cut scene. But nonetheless, I felt the rest of the game made up for it’s graphics, and in no way is the game so ugly that it would seem like the developers didn’t care.
But Xenoblade really shines in it’s brilliant gameplay. Being an open world RPG (a la’ the likes of those of an MMO) with some action elements, battles are very strategic and adrenaline fueled. This is what every RPG should feel like, and I applaud Monolithe for making this the main priority. No matter how many times I get into a battle it never feels stale, because of it‘s superb mechanics. Simply attacking an enemy won’t get you anywhere with a character like Shulk, for example, since most of his attacks do greater damage attacking on the side or the back. While a character like Dunban is more adapt at attacking in combos and accumulating Aggro, which makes him the main target of enemies and allows other characters to sneak behind and deal extra damage. If your efforts are in sync you’ll be able to issue a Chain Attack and deal even more damage, and it’s the only way to topple a giant enemy. Each character also has his/her own Skill trees that can be leveled up and linked with each other, which gives the game a unique twist outside of battle. Improving the friendship of teammates allows them to link up more skills, and become more efficient in battle. Increasing friendship also increases the likelihood of more attacks in a Chain Attack, so choosing which characters to use at the appropriate time is a fun challenge in itself.

Saying Xenoblade has a lot of content is an understatement. Xenoblade has an immense amount of optional side quests, boss battles and achievements to unlock to keep you playing for a long time. Not all the side quests are winners, and some are mostly recycled again and again, but you’re rewarded for each endeavor with a very large amount of Exp, AP and SP (for Skill and Arts leveling up). In fact, this is the main way of receiving Exp, for defeating monsters is mostly for obtaining loot. This makes level grinding a thing of the past, which used to plague all JRPGs for generations, but those who don’t want to partake in side quests don’t have to worry, since discovering new areas also gives out a fair amount of Exp to your party. And you don’t have to worry about losing your progress by accidentally encountering a strong monster or falling off a high cliff: when all your teammates are defeated instead of the title screen reloading you’re sent back to the last check point with all your status and items in-tack. You’re also not forced to save at certain points either and you can save whenever you’re not in a cut scene or in a middle of the battle. This is such a grand far cry from traditional JRPGs it’s amazing we tolerated losing all our long hours of gameplay just because we couldn’t find a Save crystal for so long.
Xenoblade is a game you absolutely cannot miss out on. There’s so much to look forward too, that I couldn’t fit everything in I wanted to say about the game here without stretching it to who knows how many pages. Xenoblade is a gem that should never fold back into the pages of history and be left forgotten. If anything, if all JRPGs in the future are like this…then I can’t wait for the future.