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“Two Button Crew Theme” by Katie Straughn
Developed by WayForward Technologies, Shantae and the Seven Sirens may be the half-genie’s most ambitious game yet. Not only does the game return to the series’s Metroidvania roots, but it also serves as a grab bag of all of the series’s best ideas. Read more Shantae and the Seven Sirens Review
I arrived at the airport around 9 A.M. Upon entering, I was greeted by two young raccoons who immediately got to work arranging my trip. We boarded the plane not long after that. Once finished suffering a long, boring flight during which there was nothing to do except watch an informational video and avoid eye contact with the other passengers, we arrived on the island. The two young raccoons informed the other residents and me that there was an orientation meeting nearby and that our presence was requested. Needing to retrieve my tent and other supplies, I begrudgingly followed the others to what appeared to be a construction site. There a middle-aged raccoon delivered a droll and poorly-rehearsed corporate monolog. Read more Hideaway Island An Animal Crossing: New Horizons Narrative Let’s Play
Vitamin Connection brings new meaning to the word cooperative.
Most games are pretty content with just putting you and a buddy in the same space and letting you play together, working in tandem and exploring the same areas. Even though you are working together, what you or your pal are capable of doing isn’t beholden to what the other does. In Vitamin Connection you have a truly symbiotic relationship – you play as a couple of ridiculously cute cartoon bobbins who save a family from their literal ills by way of a two-pilot capsule ship that can’t function without full
communication and cooperation from your friend.
Well, you could by playing the game solo, but what’s the fun in that!?
Each stage is set-up like an episode of an old Saturday morning cartoon – a member of the Sable family is on their way to an outing when disaster strikes as they step out the door and they become sick. It is then up to our heroes, Mina-Girl and Vita-Boy, to get them back on the healthy train by attack the bacteria plaguing them so they can get about their day. You travel through their interiors on mostly predetermined paths (with occasional branches to help you find secrets or pick your own route) and find and suss out that level’s big baddy by taking on what amounts to boss battles in pivotal areas of the body.
As you’re traveling, one player is in control of moving the ship in all directions and also the trigger to the Vitamin Beam which you use to clear your path. The other play is in control of rotating the ship, which is crucial in navigating your human host as well as aiming the Vitamin Beam. Both jobs are not created equal, with the person in charge of rotation and aim has to use motion controls which makes for some harrowing moments. The challenge of the game can be mitigated by one simple trick – communication. If you talk to each other and work together, it becomes a breeze!
The aforementioned boss battles are less your typical “find the weak spot and attack” nomenclature and more like mini-games. These too often make use of the Switch’s oft-forgotten gimmicks by having players play Irritating Stick-like obstacle courses and the IR sensor camera to extend a hand through a highway of viruses. It’s a nice break for the most part and yet another fun way to test your communication skills, but it felt like the game would ramp up the difficulty of these segments rather quickly, with my son and I getting stuck on the second level because the IR camera was finicky and the bad guy’s patterns being rather unforgiving. It was frustrating and could have done with maybe a different control option, but it doesn’t dilute the enjoyment we were having.
If nothing else, Vitamin Connection’s presentation compelled us to keep going as the saccharine storyline and infectious music kept us entertained so much that we had to see it through to the end!
Much like Affordable Space Adventures on the much-maligned Wii U, Vitamin Connection feels like an essential on the Switch. The game can be played solo, but it’s use of motion control feels important to the experience as a whole, thus making this game a tough sell for people intending on playing by themselves but imperative to those who have a friend or kid on hand. It has that WayForward charm permeating the whole experience and was so much fun I plan on playing through it again soon with a different son!
Vitamin Connection is a worthwhile way to spend a sick day, especially if you’re stuck at home with a co-pilot.
Now that Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is finally complete, it’s time for the TBC team to get their opinions on the record. Join us as we discuss Shovel of Hope, Plague of Shadows, Scepter of Torment, King of Cards, and all things SHOVEL KNIGHT!
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“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
Untitled Goose Game by House House is a unique, charming game for Nintendo Switch.
Disguised as a goofy goose sim, this stealth/puzzle game has you work your way through to-do lists, perfect for a productivity nerd like myself. But these tasks are all mischief related, and involve messing with innocent people’s things without getting caught.
There are four areas to explore, so while you may have an ear-to-ear grin throughout the experience, the credits could roll before you feel that your investment has been returned. It took me under two hours to complete (though post-game content in the form of additional to-do lists should effectively double your play time).
Everything is quite sound here, whether we’re talking about controls, music, systems, graphics, etc. This game took awhile to release considering its short length, and it is evident that the developers made the most of that time to iron out any potential kinks in the gameplay.
While I would love to praise the game in specific ways, it’s difficult to do so without spoiling the moment-to-moment gameplay, which is often humorous and always inventive and charming.
I had a great time solving all the puzzles as they progressively got more complex. Making someone spit their coffee out as a troublemaking goose was an experience I won’t quickly forget.
Making someone spit their coffee out as a troublemaking goose was an experience I won’t quickly forget.
Untitled Goose Game is clearly lacking one feature, however, and that is a hint system. After having just played BoxBoy + BoxGirl, I can’t help but think of how helpful that hint system could have been if implemented in Untitled Goose Game.
Without an option for hints, some puzzle solutions just will not present themselves to you, no matter how long you waddle around the level flapping your wings and honking to no effect. You can always Google a walkthrough, but something more subtle and built-in would have been a worthy inclusion.
The value proposition for Untitled Goose Game is… well, suspect. House House is up against a lot of great competition on the eShop, especially around the $20 asking price. My gut tells me that the game will perform well during sales, but otherwise will have a hard time convincing people to part with a crisp green Jackson.
Conclusion: Untitled Goose Game is a tight, fun, memorable experience that leaves the player wanting more.
Product provided for review. Thanks WayForward!
Please note that I played the P.C. version of the game. The following review is for the game itself, and does not cover platform specific details such as performance or glitches.
Developed by Wayforward Technologies and published by Arc Systems Works, River City Girls is, as the name would imply, a spin-off of the N.E.S. classic River City Ransom. Much like its 8-bit predecessor, River City Girls is a blend of side-scrolling beat-em-up combat and open-world action-adventure exploration with a sprinkling of R.P.G. elements on top. The game follows the adventures of the tough, temperamental, and sarcastic Misako and the cute, bubbly, and emotionally unhinged Kyoko as the two set out to rescue their respective boyfriends from being kidnapped. Read more River City Girls: Review
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is here! This blog post concludes the Ultimate Countdown.
What a wait it has been! It’s been so fun to see glimpses of this game over the past nine months, and the next character reveal was always an event to look forward to.
Now we have the game in our hands, and our wait has been rewarded.
To savor is to enjoy completely.
This game has to be the title with the most content, the most replayability, of any Nintendo game ever!
Nintendo fans have a horrible reputation for being insatiable, for calling a game “old news” the week after it hits store shelves.
It be tempting to start calling for certain balance patches, to create campaigns for additional DLC…
But this time, what about being content? How about being satiated? Let’s appreciate Sakurai, the development team, the marketing folks at Nintendo, the Treehouse testers, everyone who was involved in making this superb title.
And let’s enjoy it fully for years to come.
It’s Thursday—AKA, RELEASE NIGHT!
We’ve endured the long wait for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, although if you think about it… the wait really hasn’t been that long! We only learned about this title in March, and development faced zero known delays, something that’s almost unheard of for this series.
Word on the street (read: Reddit) is that eShop servers will update at midnight Eastern, which is fortunately 9pm in Pacific timezone where I live. If you preloaded the game digitally, that’s when it should unlock on your home screen!
Simeon and I are ready and extremely excited to play. I just wanted to share a quick post about our plans for release night.
If you’re not picking up the game and playing it right away, we’d love to have you join our release night stream!
I’ve got one more blog post in this series, publishing tomorrow, Dec. 7th at noon Pacific.
noun: the best achievable or imaginable of its kind.
adjective: being or happening at the end of a process; final.
Will Super Smash Bros. Ultimate be the last game in the series? Is the subtitle more of a noun, or an adjective?
It certainly seems that this 5th entry in the series is a celebration of all things Smash. Until E3 2018, we were unsure if the Switch would see a simple port of the Wii U game, or if we would get a true sequel. From the moment the words “Everyone is Here” flashed across our screens, we knew that this game was something special.
With every character and nearly every stage reporting for battle, it’s easy to see why some would think this is the climax of the franchise.
Not to mention Sakurai’s constant threats that he may be finished with Smash development after each entry nearly kills him. He calls the games being completed a “miracle” and has battled various physical conditions while new games are in development, often putting strain on his wrists and his sleep schedule.
I believe we’re nearing a time of turnover in Nintendo’s headquarters in Japan. Of course, the President’s chair has seen a few different occupants in recent years, but their stable of developers and directors is also showing its age. Miyamoto-san has been actively raising the next generation of Mario makers, resulting in many of the new ideas found in Super Mario Odyssey. It’s only a matter of years before Aunoma decides that it’s time to retire as well.
Sakurai is a bit younger than his aforementioned contemporaries, but has seen more crunch-time than just about anyone in the industry. He also tends to take on more responsibility than necessary, insisting on doing all the balancing himself by hand. Carrying a franchise as large as Super Smash Bros., with a roster as big as it’s grown, is too big a burden for one man.
I can easily see Sakurai stepping down after Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If he had additional games in him, I don’t think this Switch title would have gotten the name it did.
Now, from a business perspective it’s hard to imagine a world without a new SSB game in the pipeline. It’s one of Nintendo’s most dearly loved franchises, one of their best selling series, and is one of their few tenuous connections to hardcore, competitive gaming and events like EVO and Genesis.
I don’t think Nintendo will ever let Super Smash Bros. die, but Sakurai will likely pass the leadership on after the Fighter Pass DLC is complete.
Here’s a quick list of who the best characters are in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Note: I’m counting down to the release of the game, so this is pre-day-1-patch! Always remember that your favorite character has a good chance of being patched into oblivion. That’s another reason why character selection is only 10% of the key to victory.
But some characters are going to start out with a bit of an advantage, and here they are:
Isabelle is a beast to play against. She has the side aerials of Villager, making her a great zoner. She has a Lloyd rocket that gets planted slyly in the ground, difficult to see and able to be set off remotely or by proximity. Isabelle also has an absurdly powerful pocket move, dealing ~3x the damage of whatever she pockets. Characters like Samus, Mewtwo, Lucario, or others with charge shots can die at extremely low percents if Isabelle nabs your attack.
Young Link is nimble and packs a hefty punch. His arrows feel a bit overpowered, as they fly quickly, have little to no endlag, and light the opponent on fire. And speaking of projectiles, Young Link isn’t damaged by his own bomb’s explosives, meaning he can be much more aggressive at close-ranges. Thanks to Ocarina of Time, he still possesses the hookshot that allows him to tether-grab and tether-recover, which his adult counterpart lacks. Young Link can also reliably kill with up-air, which has a powerful lasting hitbox to punish any airdodges.
In Smash 4, Roy appeared to be the meatier/slower/stronger version of Marth. In this game however, a group of competitive Smash players huddled around a TV watched as a challenger approached, and it turned out to be a very speedy and very strong Roy. We couldn’t believe how quick he was moving around. Getting up in people’s grilles and hitting with the base of the sword is going to be easier than ever thanks to this huge buff.
It’s too early to tell on a few others, but Donkey Kong looks promising with his low-percent “Ding Dong” (carry > up-throw > up air) still in tact, and some new grounded combos. King K Rool is a heavyweight that actually has a fantastic recovery. Inkling looks to be a bit overwhelming with a super-fast squid form dash. Yoshi also has nothing but buffs (though few people will take the time to learn him).
Time will tell how tier-lists shake out after several patches and after millions of players experiment with the new roster, but if you want to get a head-start on online matches day one, these characters would be a great place to start!
What factors determine the winner in a “serious” Super Smash Bros. match?
It’s easy to think that it all comes down to tier lists; whichever player trains with the more optimal character wins. I have also fallen into this trap, having second thoughts about playing a certain fighter because their stats are lower.
However, after giving this some thought, I’ve decided that character selection is only a small percentage of what determines the result of a match. I present… the pie-chart of victory!
Stage choice is the smallest factor. Very few stages favor certain characters so much as to make them dangerous (and those can be striked/banned in the selection process). Whether you’re playing on Battlefield, Dream Land, or Smashville matters very little. I have known players that only practice on Battlefield, however, and that is to their detriment. As long as you put in some hours with each of the legal stages, nothing is going to surprise you too badly.
I’ve seen entire tournaments won with a bottom-tier character. I’ve seen players in a bind pull out their “pocket Cloud” or their “pocket Bayonetta” just to get trounced because, although they went with a top-tier pick, they didn’t have the practice needed. Tier lists aren’t everything, and in fact, playing the fighter with the best stats will probably cripple you in other areas. You won’t learn to compensate attacks that have slow start-ups with reads. You won’t learn how to leverage rage to even out a disadvantage. Playing characters with drawbacks teaches you the game much better than the star of the roster will.
Most noticeable In Super Smash Bros. Melee, there’s a momentum that occurs when a player gets ahead. It would be hard to explain using only in-game language, because it’s actually a mindset problem. When a player takes his opponent’s stock, the opponent should have a good opportunity to get off the platform and strike back, starting up a combo while under invincibility. What’s more likely to happen, though, is that the winning player will take another stock. And probably a third. That’s why there are so many 4-stock compilations of SSBM. This trend applies to all Smash games, and in Smash 4 where players only had two stocks, you could often see a competitor give up after a 50% disadvantage. You wouldn’t notice this as much in the gameplay, but in the playercam. Someone who believes a comeback is always possible will be capable of unlocking the biggest key to victory:
This is more important in Smash Ultimate than ever before. With an enormous roster, you’ll never be able to practice every match-up, coupled with every competitive playstyle. You’ll go into tournaments or serious online matches without the knowledge needed to form a gameplan in advance. Smash Ultimate players will need to be able to plan piece-by-piece simultaneously while playing. If you get hit by a combo once, how can you get out of it the second time? A true combo—how can you avoid the setup? We have three whole stocks to work with, meaning that you have plenty of time to go from aggressive to defensive and back again if the situation calls for it. Adaptability also includes a player’s reflexes, which is just responding to what’s on screen in a split-second moment. Active learners win in Super Smash Bros.
Reading your opponent is the most proactive you can be in a game of Super Smash Bros. It’s predicting when the other player will use a laggy move, and having a response ready. It’s determining if your opponent will be recovering high or low. It’s knowing when a roll is about to come out, so you can have an attack ready. It’s the foresight to see that a counter or air-dodge is about to come out, and being ready to punish it. This is also known as “getting in the other player’s head” and will completely knock them off their game. It’s good to have fast reflexes and be able to respond quickly to what’s on screen, but it’s a whole other thing to be playing based on what’s about to be on the screen.
You can’t shortcut practice! Months and years of grinding against other competitors will allow you to level up your reads, adaptability, your mindset, and knowledge-base from which to know the right characters and stages to pick. Just showing up and losing, then watching other players will help you place better the next time.
Squad Strike mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate looks amazing!
Nintendo has yet to explain this mode very well, but thanks to the game leaking we have some great new details about this optional mode.
(Yes, these are leaked details—but come on, there are no spoilers for a mode in a game, right?)
I said Nintendo hasn’t done Squad Strike justice, because they weren’t very clear about what it actually does. Their short presentations left too many open questions. Do you have one stock for each character, and play as multiple characters in one round? Or are you and an opponent just creating a playlist of characters to battle in a set order? Or is it a series of different matchups, but your character’s individual stocks carry over (“winner stays in” style)?
I’m ecstatic to say that the answer to all these questions is yes!
Squad Strike has multiple modes inside the mode. It’s like mode-ception.
✅ Our dream of picking multiple characters for one match will come true. When I die with Mario, Dark Samus will appear on the spawn platform.
✅ Tournament style Crew Battles work in the game, where I can take out multiple different players in a row as long as I hang on to a stock.
✅ My sparring-partner and I can create multiple match-up scenarios ahead of time, then play through them uninterrupted.
With this much flexibility and this many new options, I might spend more time in Squad Strike than in the actual Smash mode!
Back when Simeon and I were doing the Daily Show for Nintendo fans, we put out a video that went on to be very popular: What’s Better, Physical or Digital Games?
YouTuber tip: Any time you can title a video with the exact question people are typing in to search, you’ll find a lot of viewers who need help! And I think we were able to provide some solid advice.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate hits store shelves and digital shops in one week, so it’s about time we made up our mind about what format we’re buying, eh?
I didn’t plan it that way, but it looks like there are an equal number of advantages either way! It truly is a conundrum, isn’t it?
But don’t decide just yet! There are a few more factors.
This is another option I can’t stick under either one of the above headings, because in a way it’s physical and digital! By purchasing a Smash-emblazoned Switch, you receive a digital copy of Ultimate.
It’s a tough choice, but I think I’ve landed on physical standard. I’d like to have that case sitting on my shelf, plus I’ll get a bit of a discount, and I’ll be able to buy my Ridley amiibo at the same time. What about you? How are you going to be purchasing SSBU?