Tuesday, June 18, 2013

N5S Impressions - Nintendo E3 Conference 2013

E3 2013 has come and gone, and man, what a show! It's that time a year where all the biggest Nintendo fanboys from N5* (and Crossburn) come together and share their subjective opinions about the show. Here's what they thought, complete with the full video if you want to watch it again for the 27th time:

"At this point, after said companies's presentations, Nintendo stepped up with the reveal of their line-up of game both for the home-console and the portable market. At the eyes of everyone, big N's main goal was clear: to keep the Nintendo 3DS flame on and to give vail reasons for customers to own a Wii U for this year. Have they succeded?


The Big gUns: At the eyes of the average gamer - both Nintendo affitionados and not particularly keen on Nintendo consoles - this part sums up the selling points that people would pay flushing money to get those at Day 1, possibly together with a new console. New trailers for games such as X, Bayonetta 2, Pok√©mon X/Y and the Super Smash Bros. "twin games" have been released, and though if their release dates are all set for 2014 (save for the pkmn duo), the Wii U hype train finally received some fresh coal.  

Unexpected Customer Pleasers: Aside those main reveals (which were all grouped for the Nintendo Direct's final portion), several un-announced sequels to Nintendo-related franchises for the Wii U have been featured for the E3 event such as Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Mario Kart 8. Aside for the very last one, all these games will be released before the end of 2013
Stuff with the Staff: Another good way for a company to keep people in touch with their product is to keep a connection within the world and the main heads behind their products. That's what Nintendo basically did during this E3 week with interviews to game directors, both from big and small sotware house names. Whether people agrees or disagrees to what those guys had to say, this surely gives a more active joining feel to whoever want to be informed about their products.


Indie-ana Jones and the Raiders of the Third Arc: The 1st-party titles for this year look neat, but what about the gaming support from the companies outside Nintendo? In the E3 Direct, all the 2013 games from other companies have been revealed, together with the new indie additions for the 3DS and Wii U's eShop services as well.

E3 in Stores, E3 in Booths: Don't forget about that Best Buy campaign! Even if the operating stores didn't allow common players to try all the games presented such as the sequels for Yoshi's Island and A Link to the Past, the demo suppled for some of 2013's most anticipated Wii U titles is already a big occasion to have good impressions about gaming companies. You knows, as long as you forget what Microsoft tried to do...

Miiverse Artists Unite!: The Miiverse feature is surely what makes the Wii U interesting the most to whoever likes to draw and to share their creations with the entire world. Considering this aspect, the news of a new Art Academy game for Wii U which improves the Miiverse drawing tools is surely worth the attention of lots of drawing-addicted folks, isn't it?

*BONUS* The (2nd) Fastest Leak Alive Platinum Games's The Wonderful 101 has been featured in the E3-related Direct, with another interesting, yet very small portion of in-game content shown, compared to the rest. However, the fact that there will be another future Direct about the game which will be aired before its release saves it from the 'bad' section this time. Even because there are another stray of pretty-relevant problems...


Crowd-Pleasers: This point's title sounds pretty similar to the one in the 'awesome' section, and for a valid reason. While the announce of new games from already-beloved franchises is surely good news for whoever follows said franchises, that doesn't necessarily translates to good news to the general customer market. As I said before, the average customer from an event like the E3 usually expects to see a lot more chances for the companies to take the proverbial "step in the dark" and try something completely new. In this sense, Nintendo's marketing preference falls in the "predictable" category, as almost all the games presented are remakes or continuations of already-popular series for a relatively-safe profit prevision. As I already discussed earlier, both Sony and Microsoft are guilty of this factor, as most of their programmed releases are based on what people liked the most from the past console gaming generation.

Gimmick Oblivion: Another pretty sad fact is about the Wii U Gamepad's potential in most of the Wii U games revealed. The majority of the Wii U software presented in this E3 doesn't exploit the controller's potential more than a second screen for playing, unlike some of the first game presented, unlike most the main launch-window titles. While this may don't be a major problem for the sales, this already is a relevant price Nintendo has to pay in order to be a crowd-pleaser.

The Missing bUllets: We all have seen that the big titles for the Wii U are on the way, but this doesn't mean that the waiting is finally over, once for all. Again, nearby all the major interest-magnet games for the Wii U are slated for the next year; this reason for a non-Nintendo gamer alone could be enough to dump the Wii U for one of its closer rivals.


This year's E3 sadly proved - once again - that while the 3DS is now able to run with its own legs, the Wii U still needs a cranky wheelchair before starting to walk on its own. However, this won't be a lone journey, as the Nintendo staff proved - once again - that gamers's interest on a console is a good beginning to support its journey, no matter how easy or rough it can be. Sure, the expectations from everyone have been disappointed in some of the aspects wanted for an event like the Electronics Entertainement Expo, but still this is a good continuation overall as a Nintendo Direct experience, between the Direct itself and the actual booths."
-Lokamp, co-writer for Taiko Time Blog.   


"Unlike Sony with their PS4 and Microsoft with their XBox One, Nintendo has already released all their hardware for the 8th cycle and came to E3 with one and only one duty; to save Wii U's ass. For the past year the console had been suffering from a spiralling decline in interest both by players and by developers. Players because of a lack of compelling software (Nintendo's own proposals remained just that: proposals. No action at all.), and developers because of a lack of installed user base and supposedly it was tougher to develop and port games to because of the touch-screen controller. Overall, nothing has gone right for Wii U, and Nintendo came to E3 to set things right.

Although not the perfect performance, Nintendo finally unrolls a tangible action plan (albeit dominated by first-party offerings) with plans to release a ton of good games in the months to come. A lot of these aren't surprises but we've all only heard of them by name, and it's always exciting to see first footage of a new game even though you've been expecting to see it. Mario Kart 8 looks like a huge step up from its 3DS predecessor, Pikmin 3 is finally coming out, Zelda Wind Waker HD by the end of the year, Rayman too. Then Wonderful 101, Sonic Lost Worlds, Bayonetta 2, New Super Luigi U, the new Xenoblade sequel, surprises in the form of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Super Mario 3D World, and finally the game everyone had been waiting for years: Smash Bros. I could spend entire paragraphs writing about how awesome seeing both 3DS and Wii U footage of the game is (and how unorthodox some of the unlockable characters are), but this is about E3 as a whole.

3DS has received lots of love for the past year and is poised to make a stellar performance this year too. Far above every other 3DS game in hype is definitely Pokemon XY. Every new trailer released for XY makes me scream in delight, every single second of footage is delicious in its 3D battles and awesome music. Most of the new designs revealed were solid, and the new Fairy type made the deal sweeter. Pokemon-Amie (see the wordplay?) is icing on the cake, by far one of the most adorable new modes I've ever seen. Can't wait to stroke my Pokemon for hours on end and seeing them smile! Oh my gosh. 

Finally, every Pokemon player's dreams have been fulfilled.

Though Nintendo is trying its darndest to resuscitate the Wii U, I still don't think it'll be enough to get it to the heights that Wii achieved several years back. Without 3rd party support, and with the allure of both Sony and Microsoft's more powerful machines to hardcore gamers and developers of 'triple-A games' (read: shooter:other genre ratio of 948732 to 1), it's still going to be an uphill struggle for Nintendo if Wii U fails to shift significantly. It's a sad state in the videogame industry when cookie-cutter games are the ones that shift consoles and with that pull even more quality games to those consoles.

Nintendo's more subdued presence in E3 via online Direct saves costs and reduces the need for an expensive stage performance (in line with their reason for going to the show), but it definitely isn't going to make any waves in the press when the two other goliaths are competing onstage. Wii U still needs marketing: strong, positive marketing. When all the exciting first-party Nintendo games come out, the one thing that will separate Wii U from Gamecube is 3rd party developer support. Good luck, Nintendo!"
-pikaby, Nintendo 5-Star Admin and co-writer for N5-Star/Taiko Time blog.  


"Whoa, did some fed-up corporate boss just give the internet exclusive rights to host this year's E3 last week? How else can you explain that the new type of Pokemon is Fairy, Kingdom Hearts 3 is finally in development, and that Mega-Freaking-Man is going to be in the next Smash Bros? I'm still not buying it. 


If I could describe Nintendo's presentation this year, I would describe it as the anticipation you get when you see a present under the Christmas Tree, and by god, the symmetrical shape of that present is the exact same shape of the toy you've been wanting all year. Christmas comes and, sure enough, it's that Optimus Prime toy you always wanted- but that's all you get. You're somewhat disappointed with the predictability, but at the same time you'd be an idiot to complain- play with your Transformer like a man, Mr. Greedy Greed Greeds. That was Nintendo's E3 show: we got everything we asked for, and though the surprises were low we can't complain much.  

But let's look at what they showed before we reflect on what they didn't show. Super Mario Bros. 3D World has never made me more excited to play a 3D Mario game in my life. Being the first 3D Mario to support 4 players, and the fact that you can as Peach, is a huge breath of fresh air for the Mario series, that's been known for the ho-hum Boswer-kidnapped-Peach-again-whatever-yawn traditional routine that's been in every single Mario game last generation. Also, the Cat Suit is freaking amazing. There's really no words to describe how awesome it is to see Mario CLIMB up the flagpole. Definite GOTY for Wii U. 

Mario Kart 8 was soon to follow, with its flashy HD graphics and new zero gravity gimmick certainly make it stand out from the previous Mario Karts. I can't judge too much about the game without some first-hand experience, (I'm still gunning for 200cc, come on Nintendo!) but it undoubtbly looks fantastic. TBA title X by Monolith studies keeps keep getting me hyped the more I see it. Eventually, I'll have to be under lock-down prior to the game's release, because I'll no doubt be a threat to society. 

"FGHNMKGHFJRTD%^$%^&!%^*&FGHVB" -threat to society 

And of course Smash Bros. ended and stole the show with a debut trailer, revealing Mega Man, The Villager, and Wii Fit Trainer as playable characters, to the shock and confusion of the entire internet, and inspiring many "interesting" Villager fan art. Nintendo did not disappoint with a finale. 2014 is going to drive us all bankrupt and I can't wait. 

If I could be disappointed about one game shown at E3 it would be the reveal of Retro's title, Donkey Kong County: Tropical Freeze. Sure, it looks great, but we expected them doing a different IP like Kirby or Star Fox, or an all new original IP. And speaking of which: where are the new IPs? I find it kind of awkward that I was defending Nintendo for being 'original' and accusing Sony/Microsoft of being mainstream FPS sell-outs, when Nintendo ends up being the only one that didn't reveal new IPs. Mixing up previous IPs will only get them so far, and I wish Nintendo would try to create at least one new IP a year. Hopefully whatever new IP Miyamoto is cooking up is revealed next E3.  

Another disappointment is the 3rd-party support, half of which are ports, and the other half being games already announced a year ago. Lack of any new support or IPs is alarming, especially considering all the exclusives and support the PS4 and Xbox One are getting (and we're talking about a console that's already been released and is struggling to find an audience). To add insult, Square Enix is making Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 multi-plat on every system except Wii U. Same goes for Bungie's new title Destiny. It's arbitrary and unfair, and one of the reasons why I'm shying from the Wii U until another time. 

All-in-all, I'm happy that I got an Optimus Prime* toy, and while I have no idea what I'll get next year, I'll anticipate for at least a few surprises and try to keep a positive face. 
*EggBeatr8 does not have an Optimus Prime toy because he's poor and lives in a cardboard box with his bi-polar cat. Please donate and make EggBeatr's day better so he can buy an Optimus Prime toy. Happy Holidays. -EggBeatr8, writer/editor for Nintendo-5-Star Blog.       


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mini Review - The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Series

Review by Pokefreak

While Wind Waker HD, Link to The Past 2 and an unnamed Zelda Wii U game are in development, Nintendo has been kind enough to give us some filler until the Christmas season. And that filler is two games for the price of one, Pokemon style.

That's not a good way of describing it. Back in 2001, Nintendo teamed up with Capcom (who would later assist with Minish Cap and Four Swords) to make two brand new Zelda games for the Gameboy Color. The Oracle games, according to the official timeline, are sequels to Link to The Past and prequels to Link's Awakening and star the very same Link. While they were released alongside each other similar to Pokemon, these two games have very different plots and areas, despite looking near identical in graphics alone.

Yup, these screens are from two different games. 
Capcom reused the engine from Link's Awakening to make these.

The games have different puzzles and plot based on their names: Ages and Seasons. Ages has you going back and forth 400 years into the past in the region of Labrynna to fix the future and save the Oracle of Ages, Nayru (pictured in the top left singing) from her kidnapper who's possessing her, the sorceress Veran. Seasons has the seasons being thrown out of order in the region of Holodrum due to the Oracle of Seasons, Din (top right, on the stump) being kidnapped by an brutish general named Onox who sunk the Temple of Seasons into the ground. The two seem to be working together for... something. I won't spoil it.

What makes these games unique is that you can link the games together via passwords after completing them to extend your game and advance the plot even more, showing that Onox and Veran weren't the only problem facing the lands of Holodrum and Labrynna along an extended story and even a new final boss.

Overall, the Oracle games are a nice addition to anyone's 3DS. Solid Zelda action and puzzles for a cheap price and a cool addition to the Zelda storyline. Both are on the eShop for a discounted price of $4.99, so there's no real reason not to get them.