Editorial

5 Ways Nintendo can fix the Switch Online Service


Nintendo has historically been known as the greatest video game company out there. Certainly they have a lot of great titles. The consistency and unchanging nature of their games is part of why they’re an easy pick for starting someone off on their first console. You know what to expect and the games are pretty high quality. That being said, they have their share of weaknesses though. A big one if their online services. For years Nintendo has lagged behind the other companies. At least they had the excuse that their online product as free though. Now you do have to pay for it so that makes the issue all that much worse. Let’s look at 5 things they can do to fix their online.

1. Make it Free

This is the most unlikely option of course but it is one that would solve a lot of the issues. The online would be terrible compared to the competitors but since you wouldn’t be paying for it you probably wouldn’t mind a whole lot. When things are free you tend to cut them some slack because you aren’t losing anything. Nintendo also doesn’t really need to charge for much. They opted not to go for dedicated servers anyway and their NES/SNES Online catalogue is basically just a bunch of emulators that anyone can download for free online. As such we know that the space for these is tiny and it doesn’t take a whole lot of power to have them online. Still let’s look at more realistic options.

2. Use dedicated servers

This is an easy one. If you boot up a Sony or Microsoft game right now and head online you can expect to have close to 0 lag in your matches. That’s because the connection isn’t peer to peer so even if one of your opponents has a terrible online system it won’t affect your match. Compare that to Nintendo where if one player has a bad connection it will mess it up for everyone. That’s pretty inexcusable. Lag completely ruins an online experience when it’s at its worse. Input Lag can be crazy to deal with and normal lag is just as bad when it comes to trying to nail a solid combo. Nintendo’s really got to shape up in this area because it is very noticeable at this point.

3. Time to add GameCube Online

This is a big one, the GameCube needs to be online. There are too many crazy amazing games for them to not be here. I’m guessing Nintendo wants to make us pay 60 bucks for an HD Remaster but that’s not the play here. Putting these games online would be hype and it’s not like Nintendo would have time to port all of them either way. Give us a few big ones like Mario Sunshine and Melee. If those are going to get remasters then give us Pokémon Colosseum and F Zero GX. Either way GameCube games are a huge jump from the level of quality and replay value of the current titles. The NES and SNES games are fun to be sure but they are also very short. Adding in GameCube will really be the ticket to get people buying the online pass. I dare say you could even skip N64 and go back to it later. GameCube is what the people want and trust me, it would definitely go a long ways to getting Nintendo’s online into the big leagues.

4. Time to get Leaderboards

This is a big one that all of the other consoles have. We need some kind of online rankings here. Whether it is through trophies, achievements, or something else it would be immensely helpful. It would also be an extra incentive to get online if that was the only way to see your position. It’s always fun to try and get everything so this would also greatly help the replay value of all the Switch games. It’s never too late to start and this would be a good addition. It’s also worth adding into individual games like Super Smash Bros should have had this at launch along with a few other online features. This editorial is more about general Nintendo Online though so I’m just giving it a small nod here. In general the Switch needs some kind of ranking system.

5. Miscellaneous free stuff

Finally, we just need more freebies. Xbox and PlayStation give you random AAA games for free at times, backgrounds, and other perks. When’s the last time you got anything for free from Nintendo? At best they give you times freebies like ARMS and Mario Tennis which you get to play for a little while and then it’s gone forever. That barely counts as a freebie because you can’t keep it. No sir, I want a freebie that I can actually keep for the long haul. Even small things like new layouts, Switch backgrounds, emblems, etc would go a long way. You need to give people something, by not giving any freebies it definitely makes us feel bad. It’s like Nintendo just isn’t looking out for us. It wouldn’t take very long at all. Nintendo’s track record with reward programs is pretty bad though, I still remember how bad Club Nintendo’s rewards were for a long time.

In short, Nintendo needs to shape up on their online offerings. It is totally within their ability to do so if they really apply themselves. Until they fix these things they will continue to get mocked by everyone all the time. Even recently Super Smash couldn’t make the cut for EVO in large part because the servers are so bad. Make no mistake, that’s absolutely the big reason why it was cut. It’s a shame because it would have been good for everyone to have seen the state it is in on the big screen. That would have been the best chance to get Nintendo to change something ASAP. That boat has sailed though.

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon Review


It’s time to take a look at the final Mystery Dungeon game. It’s been a pretty fun ride getting to experience all of these games. It had to come to an end at some point though. This one definitely ends things on a high note. Not only is it the longest game in the series (or at least it took me the longest amount of time to complete) but it adds a bunch of new features that are pretty cool. This is definitely a game with a ton of replay value as well so it’s really a win-win when you think about it.

The game starts off with the main character getting transported into the Pokemon world. He used to be a human but he has lost all of his memories which is pretty unfortunate. He is attacked by some Beeheeyem and fortunately gets saved by Nuzleaf. Nuzleaf takes Terry (main character) home to his village where he meets up with Snaz (main partner) and they become quick friends. There are some bullies in the village but for the most part it’s a pretty nice place. Snaz hopes to one day become an Expedition member but kids aren’t allowed so he will keep training in the meantime. Terry does his best to fit in and has lots of adventures. Meanwhile in the main plot, someone or something has been turning Pokemon to stone. It is targeting all of the legendary and mythical Pokemon. Whoever this villain is, it’s definitely someone powerful. If the Pokemon don’t watch out they will all be conquered before they have a chance to fight back.

I definitely like the idea of someone trying to get all of the legendaries. We haven’t really seen a plot like that and it’s also a good chance for all of these Pokemon to appear. It’s definitely a cool premise and while I would have liked to have seen some of these fights on screen, I suppose that would have been difficult. Still, in terms of plot this is definitely pretty high tier and probably the game with the highest stakes. Explorers of Darkness has the best plot to me though with all of the time travel but this threat is more high tier. We even get to see the heavyweights like Mewtwo and Rayquaza. Who’d have thought that all of these guys would have had to team up? A movie based on this would be pretty cool.

The story is definitely a lot of fun. It gives you time to get introduced to all of the characters and make connections. Once the climax hits then you also get to have a lot of big battles and plot twists galore. The series also has fun flipping the script near the end as all of the games tend to have the same beginning and ending. This one throws a little wrinkle into that which I thought was pretty cool. It felt like the game was being pretty self aware there.

The gameplay is your classic dungeon exploration like the others. The goal is to reach the exit of each floor and this goes on until you end the dungeon. Each Pokemon has 4 attacks and you should use them carefully because it’s easy to run out of PP. As you go through the dungeon you’ll pick up items. A new addition here is a ring that lets you attach little items onto it in order to boost your stats or inflict status changes on the opponents. These are incredibly handy and it’ll be nearly impossible to beat some levels without it unless you do some hard grinding. There are a ton of mechanics in this game like the Alliance moves which allow you to use more than one attack at a time. I’d advise you to learn them all and fortunately the game does bring them up so you can’t really miss em.

Another new addition is if you die during a dungeon, you can rescue yourself by sending another team in. This may not be so handy at first but later on in the game you will have tons of Pokemon ready to help you out. As soon as I got my Level 50 Dragonite I was ready for business. You can only rescue yourself 5 times per dungeon though so don’t use it as an excuse to die all the time. Also, you can’t rescue yourself during a boss battle of course so play those very carefully. Leveling up in this game takes a super long time so the emphasis is really on using items. I beat this game in the 20s which is pretty unheard of for an RPG so don’t underestimate the power of items. They are extremely handy.

Another good tactic in this game is to hide behind your partner Pokemon. Let them take all of the risks while you take the rewards. Trust me, this is a tactic that will really take you far. You can use various commands to try and manipulate them but the easiest way is to walk close to an enemy and then hide behind your teammate which forces them into battle. As you battle your attacks will also gain level ups which makes them more powerful and more accurate. This is really handy if you tend to always use the same attack over and over.

Super Mystery Dungeon does a fine job of mixing elements from previous games together. I feel like they knew this was the last one because of how much this feels like the final entry. You take a quiz to determine your Pokemon like in the first games, but if you don’t like the selected one you can override the choice by just picking like in the recent 3DS title. I stayed with the results of the Exam for mine because it felt more fun that way. I ended up being Fennekin. You’ve also got your classic quest system although it has been greatly improved. It’s no longer endless so each mission feels a lot more real now. You also have all 720 Pokemon in the game so you’ve got a ton of quests since many of them want your help. There are also a lot of playable Pokemon, I unlocked around 50 of them and so I’m sure if you were to play it to 100% completion you would unlock a lot more. It’s really cool to play as everybody.

This game really takes all of the mechanics to their absolute best. While we do lose some items from previous games like the farming and building aspects, I can’t really say that they are missed. As long as we have the quests I feel pretty good about it personally. This game can be very difficult because of how low leveled your Pokemon are though. As I mentioned, obtaining EXP takes forever so you’re going to just want to plunge ahead. Use the items carefully and as the game goes on you’ll get a good feel for when to use each one. It’ll come to you. The game also does something fun with the final boss so don’t worry about losing there. Even if it feels like you aren’t getting anywhere, just keep fighting and you’ll be okay. Don’t make the mistake of quitting to try again later.

The graphics here are definitely real solid. It’s still going for that nice 3D approach and we get some fun cutscenes. A really cool visual is when we see two Pokemon firing off a giant energy blast together. It’s a fun team up and the attack is like a Kamehameha. The soundtrack is also fun. It brings back some classic tunes while adding in new ones. There aren’t really any standout themes but what we get is pretty fitting and flows pretty well together with the scenes. At this point some of the tunes will be pretty nostalgic if you’ve been following the series. The story is pretty long at around 17 hours and the post game is enormous since you have to try and find all of the Pokemon/Complete all of the quests. You won’t be completing this game very quickly that’s for sure.

Overall, Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon is pretty great. It really ends the series off on a high note. Ultimately I would rank the series as follows: 1. Pokemon Explorers of Darkness 2. Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon 3. Pokemon Gates to Infinity 4. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon the original. This one really ranks up there and it’s just hard not to get sucked into it. There’s so much to do here and every part of the game really feels like a lot of time and money was put into it. You will definitely not be disappointed in the slightest. If you don’t have this game yet then I recommend changing that. It’s a really solid Pokemon RPG.

Overall 8/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Wario’s Woods Review


It’s time to look at another classic NES game from a while back. It’s pretty neat that Wario actually got his own game so long ago. Personally I wouldn’t have really expected that. The guy’s popular but even Luigi has only had a handful of games in his career and he’s a lot more popular than Wario. This game’s pretty fun. It’s basically a slightly different take on the Dr Mario series and that works out pretty well. I prefer Dr Mario but this one has an actual story which is cool. The story isn’t deeper than just a handful of cutscenes every once in a while but they’re still pretty cool. I’ll take what I can get.

The gameplay is all about matching the objects and destroying all of the monsters. To defeat a monster you have to match it with 2 blocks of the same color. One of those blocks has to be a bomb and then you’ve got 3 objects in a row of the same color. When you get a match then all 3 objects are destroyed and you rinse and repeat as more blocks appear. New blocks constantly fall from the ceiling so you have to move quickly. If the blocks make it all the way to the top then you’ll have lost as an energy blast instantly zaps you into oblivion. Trust me, it’s not a fate that you will want to experience. At times Wario will take control of the stage and will make the ceiling start falling towards you. That is when the stages are at their hardest so keep on matching. One thing to take note of is that you can match blocks diagonally as well so keep that in mind.

Eventually the monsters themselves get a little more powerful. The only way to defeat them is through the diagonal option and that gets really hard to do when there are monsters everywhere. Other monsters can regenerate so you have to blow them up twice within a short span of time. If you only blow them up once they go back to full power. So there is definitely an increase in difficulty to the point where the final levels are incredibly difficult. It took me around an hour just to knock out 2 near the end. Ultimately I made it to level 60 out of 99. That’s pretty good progress I’d say and kudos to anyone who made it to the end. It’s definitely a lot more difficult than it would appear.

You’ll figure out little tricks as you play the game though. You can quickly grab and then drop a piece while still moving so you sort of cheat the gravity effect. You can jump on top of a bunch of blocks by holding up when lifting a lot of them. Sometimes you will match some blocks you didn’t even know were there while jumping and placing. That’s because the blocks only have to match for an instant in order to count so sometimes I recommend just running around and seeing what sticks. It’s a method that can prove to be most useful.

The graphics are solid. I like the animations and how everyone looks. Wario definitely appears as more of a villain than usual that’s for sure. The presentation is just solid with everything appearing clearly. You won’t have any issue with wondering what is going on in the screen. The soundtrack is more on the generic side, but catchy nonetheless. It’s an easy beat to listen too as you try to make the connections. Wario’s Woods is definitely a soothing game even though it’s very difficult. You can always try again and again until you have it beat.

The amount of content here is also impressive. 99 distinct levels is more than even most modern games would supply. It’s impressive and you don’t really need any replay value other than that. There are some other modes here like a Vs. mode though so you’ve got options. I’m surprised Wario’s Woods never got a sequel or some kind of re-release. I feel like there would be a market for it and you can be sure that it would work quite well as a mobile title. Just look at Dr. Mario. That was one of Nintendo’s better mobile titles if you ask me.

Overall, Wario’s Woods is pretty fun. I appreciate the extra development time they clearly put into this. This is a game that has aged well. If you plan to play the game all the way to the end then definitely expect to stick with this one for quite a while. It’s just fun to play and the kind of game that you can plug in at any time. The fundamentals will come back to you pretty quickly but you will want to play it a lot to keep your speed up. The faster you match the objects the better in order to increase your score and make it up to the end.

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

We Love Pocket Monsters Review


It’s time to look at a super short Pokemon series. This was a small 4 koma with two chapters of around 3-4 pages each so you can see how it doesn’t take very long to read. It seems like a small advertisement of sorts for the latest Pokemon season. Ash and Go make a quick cameo as well as they help one of the girls try to catch a Pokemon. It’s nice enough, but there seriously is only so much you can do in that amount of time. 4 Koma does make sense in this respect since you can certainly get a lot more work done that way than with traditional pages. In a sense each page can have 2 really tiny stories. So this was a fun read but it’ll only last you around 5 minutes and probably less since a minute per page is pretty generous.

So the basic premise is that there are two girls who are really excited to get a Pokemon. They look a bit younger than 10 but it can be hard to guess age and I always thought you didn’t really have to be 10 to get a Pokemon outside of the main trainers. We see little kids with Pokemon in the anime all the time. A lot of the time they’re more for being pets as opposed to in actual battles though which makes sense. In the pages we quickly see their personalities. One girl is very energetic and loves just jumping into situations. Unfortunately her aggressive personality does cause Pokemon to end up running away from her which can be sad. Even Pikachu panics and zaps everyone which is something you don’t see him do much anymore. The other girl is the more laidback/reserved member who is still excited about Pokemon but does so with more restraint. Both of the characters are fun enough.

The art is all right. It’s definitely nothing amazing but it still looked good enough to me. It’s not as if it would be distracting or anything like that. It’s bright and you can follow what is going on which is ultimately what you’re hoping for here. There isn’t enough time for any fight scenes or anything like that so we don’t get to really test the artwork. Maybe someday we’ll get a full fledged story with these characters. I’d be up for that although admittedly the odds of something like that happening are incredibly slim. I just gotta face the facts that this is pretty much just a one shot though. Hey, the more one shots the better right?

Overall, This is an extremely short review but it’s an extremely short manga so I’d say that makes sense. I basically wrote 100 words per page if you break it down. There’s literally no reason for me not to recommend this because of how short it is. If you happen to see this story online then you may as well give it a read. You can’t really go wrong here and I’m always up for more Pokemon content. After wrapping up all of the Mystery Dungeon and Ranger games recently they just get me more and more hyped for the upcoming episodes in the anime. I’m hoping Ash is able to claim victory in the tournament.

Overall 5/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Balloon Fight Review


It’s time to look at another NES game I recently finished playing through. Balloon Fight is definitely a pretty popular one despite the main character not becoming playable in Super Smash Bros yet. Don’t worry, it’s only a matter of time until they fix that. In the meanwhile it’s fun to look back at how the franchise began. The game has aged quite well and does something almost no other NES game at the time had even thought to do….it has 2 modes. In almost all of my NES reviews I have to mention that there isn’t really anything to do in the way of replay value. Well, that’s not the case for this game. In Balloon Fight you’ve got the main mode and an endless score version.

So the main gameplay of Balloon Fight is that you have to try and pop the balloons carrying your enemies. Then you knock them out before they can grab more. The game is endless so you just see how many levels of this you can survive. Each level has around 4-8 enemies for you to beat. At first this is pretty easy as there are no obstacles or elements getting in your way. The game gradually gets harder though as eventually you have lightning bolts being fired at you and things of that nature. It’s a challenging but fun experience. Your main incentive will be to keep trying to beat your old score.

Then you’ve got the other gameplay mode where you’ve got an auto scrolling screen and a bunch of balloons floating around. Every few balloons you grab lowers your ranking. Your goal is to make it to Rank 1 and then you’ll have beaten the mode. It keeps on going endlessly if you want to keep getting more balloons but that is your main goal. It’s pretty fun and certainly different from the main mode so I like the diversity. You can tell that this game had a good amount of development time behind it. This is what I like to see.

The graphics are simple but effective. The enemies are colorful and the background is catchy. The music theme is also pretty iconic at this point. There’s not much else to say on a technical basis but it doesn’t disappoint. Between the two modes this game should last you close to an hour. There’s also a little replay value in trying to raise your high scores although I wouldn’t say that the replay value is too high either. It’s just right considering that this is a free title with the NES Online.

The controls are very smooth as well and I like how the physics are handled. You can’t just turn at the drop of a dime or anything like that. You do have to account for gravity and everything. If you tried going somewhere very quickly then you will not be able to stop as fast as you would have liked. Also, one fun thing about the game is that crossing the edge of the screen actually doesn’t result in you losing a life the way that it does in most games. That’s a fun little element that may seem pretty random, but I think it does serve to help make the game even more unique. It’s all pretty impressive if you ask me.

There’s not a whole lot more to say about this game in part because of how simplistic it is. The gameplay you’ll understand within seconds of playing it because moving and floating is really all you can do. You beat all of the enemies the same way after all. Sometimes it seems like the simplest games ended up being some of the most addicting ones. It’s the same principle behind a lot of current mobile games that hit it big. There’s just something fun about doing repetitive actions. You start to do them real automatic like and it works out quite well if you ask me.

Overall, Balloon Fight is definitely one of the better NES games. This is exactly why I played a bunch of the low budget type games first. I figured that the longer I kept putting off the big games the more satisfying it would be when I ultimately started playing them back to back at the end. Now all I’ve got are the really big games and the marathon works quite well. I’d definitely be up for a big budget sequel to this someday. I think that would really work well since there is a ton that you can do with the balloon setup. You could even throw a plot in as that’s not something you typically saw a whole lot of back in the classic days.

Overall 6/10