Happy 19th Birthday, Pokemon Gen II

So today is the 19th anniversary of Pokemon Gold and Silver being released in North America. Having played the Silver version ridiculously extensively when younger, I feel like Gen II remains my favorite to this very day. The grumpy you’re-no-fun part of me says it was because I was old enough to truly appreciate it but still young enough to have a child’s awe. Oh well. I still think it’s my favorite generation.

It just felt BIG. All the activities you could do made it feel big. That you had two regions made it feel big. The different day/night cycles and weekdays made it feel big. It felt big and lively.

When I got the Ruby version, yes, the graphics were much better. But the day/night was now a technicality and it just didn’t feel as big. Oh, it was probably as big or bigger in terms of actual tiles, but it didn’t feel big to me. Silver felt big. Silver felt really big.

I’d say Silver and Fallout New Vegas are my two favorite RPGs of all time.

 

Fire Emblem Three Houses Released

So, Fire Emblem Three Houses is now officially released for the Nintendo Switch.

What I’ve seen of it has been very good, I love the art-style, and from what I’ve heard, a lot of my biggest fears have been overtaken [without spoiling anything]. It feels like Intelligent Systems has been using the series new tent-pole status and the success of Heroes as a way to move outwards a little, not as a way to stay huddled on the track like some other successful franchises.

Plus, there’s a bit of guilty pleasure. I’d previously made the goofy thought exercise of “what if I stuffed the entire playable cast of every previous Fire Emblem game into a modern military battalion?” And now, guess what? There’s a “battalion system” to reinforce your fighters. Not since I anticipated “The Dentist” as being important to the Payday 2 plot have I been vindicated in such a fashion.

The Pokemon Direct

So the Pokemon Direct just aired. The long-awaited main series titles for Switch are called Sword and Shield versions. The region is called “Galar” and seems to be based on England. From what I’ve seen it looks interesting.

I think the most revealing part is that Game Freak seems to (as of now) be backing off from Sun and Moon’s not having conventional “gyms” per se, with the direct showing a normal gym challenge. The starters look decent, at least.

The “more for the Pokemon brand” is, in my opinion, a  hint that someone from Sword/Shield will be a later Smash Ultimate DLC fighter. I mean, I like gimmicks and think the Persona 5 Joker was a nice Snake-style choice, but my head must take precedence over my heart. Dreams of obscure fun characters must give way to the likelihood that it’ll be probably be stuff like characters from this and Fire Emblem Three Houses.

 

Fire Emblem Wariness

So I saw the preview for Fire Emblem Three Houses, of which more was finally released in the latest Nintendo Direct. While a lot of it looks impressive, I have to say that I’m wary. I think it’s just the trend of the series and the school setting.

Basically, my reasoning goes like this. Since Awakening, IntSys has thrown every anime antic but the kitchen sink at FE. Now they’re drilling straight into the Anime Antics field of school settings. That’s my wariness. My hope is that the gameplay can get something interesting out of the system (and I can see the possibilities), and the “anime school antics” aren’t done too badly.

Although I like the design of the three main characters, at least.

The latest Nintendo Direct

So, I saw the latest Nintendo Direct. A lot of it was basic announcements, with the kicker being a new Animal Crossing game and Isabelle being a playable character in Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Still no focus on Fire Emblem Three Houses. Might just be IntSys wanting to be tightlipped or the game being tough to describe in a two-minute video without being either too spoiler-y or too redundant (ie, it’s a strategy game like the other fifteen games in the series before it). Oh well.

Nintendo E3

So, I saw Nintendo’s E3 presentation. Two things of note.

-We finally have something for Fire Emblem Switch/Three Houses, which is better than nothing, even if all I’ve seen is A: The characters are surrounded by NPC soldiers, and B: The game is unsurprisingly keeping Awakening/Fates’ art style mostly the same. (I could do a whole big post on how after Awakening, FE is a victim of its own success, but that’s for another time, and I don’t want to jump the gun when the game isn’t out yet).

-The reason everyone was here. SMASH BROS! Now I’m biased for two reasons. Melee and Brawl were my childhood multiplayer games of choice, and Smash Bros. fans have a reputation for being —picky— even by the standards of other gamers. So while a part of me wanted something fundamentally different from the “focus more on past characters than new ones” they’re going for (at least at launch), I can understand it. Still. New. Smash. Bros. It looked very good.

Payday 2 Spring Break 2018 Reflections

And, it’s done. So, my thoughts on this Payday 2 event:

  • Story elements. I’ll talk about those below, so those who care about spoilers aren’t spoiled right away.
  • And Joy for the time being remains stuck in Consoleland.
  • Likewise, the fandom’s dream, No Mercy, remains elusively out of reach. (I personally don’t see the hubub, and want an official remix of the heist track more than the mission itself)
  • The game has slowed down definitely, development wise. Not unexpected, but you can’t have it all. Thus if this is the worst Overkill can do (they have a reputation for messing up events in some fashion or another), it’s not bad at all. At least they’re updating at all.
  • A stealth heist was the first delivery. My thought was going to be “And the next is either going to be No Mercy or some new one thrown together with mostly existing assets that will be bland like Alaskan Deal.” I was half-right. It was a new heist thrown together with mostly existing assets that was awesome.
  • Now for the story part. Last chance for spoilers, if anyone cares.

 

 

So, it’s becoming this weird almost Assassin’s Creed story of boxes, aliens, and secret lairs. And yet, I didn’t mind at all. I liked it. Yes, it was ungrounded, but somehow the subject matter makes it work. I think there’s a big contrast between:

“Decipher ancient conspiracies and rob the equivalent of the warehouse from the end Raiders of the Lost Ark”

And:

“Have people in instantly outdated meme masks steal goats in a crossover with a deliberately buggy game.”

I had fun with it at any rate.

The Nintendo Direct

So, the newest Nintendo Direct was released.

Nothing for the new mainline Pokemon and Fire Emblem games that we still know very little confirmed knowledge of save for the fact that they exist. (Either E3 or a standalone announcement, I suppose, which makes sense given their size and prominence). So, that disappointment was there-if you can call it a disappointment.

As for me, well, it was like “ok, stuff that looks kinda neat, stuff I’m not really interested in, oooh-No More Heroes, ok, ok, Undertale for the Switch-Whoa! Ok, ok, hmm, that was decent, port announcements, ok, uh, uh, so I suppose it’s-uh, wait-SMASH BROTHERS! WHOA BABY IT’S SMASH BROTHERS!”

It is, indeed, the announcement and reveal of the newest Smash Bros. My delight can hardly be contained.

A reference in their eyes

I may have noticed a small developer’s reference to a past game of theirs. In the last Advance Wars game, I noticed that Caulder’s clone daughters have yellow eyes.

cloneeyes

The morphs in Fire Emblem 7 also have yellow eyes. Both are artificial humans. It still could be a coincidence, but it looks likely it’s Intelligent Systems doing a little callback/in-joke.

Nostalgia and Innovation

One of the games I remember as a child, and one of my first “Git Gud” games where I remember progressing from “clunking around” to “no-hit runs”[1], was Wario Land 4. The game itself is a solid, effective platformer with the typically “quirky” (to put it mildly) Wario style.

But one thing I thought was interesting about it was how it was a step forward in shaking off the anachronistic arcade holdover of “extra lives”. There’s no “game over”, and dying simply fails the individual level. (It’s one that the proper Mario games have noticeably been considerably slower at going for, simply because of a “why mess with what works” attitude). Plus the score system, another arcade holdover, actually has some value in WL4. It’s interesting to look back on in hindsight.

[1]And deliberately doing poorly so I could see all the bad endings.