Tag Archives: smash bros

Xenosaga Episode III Special 4: Beyond Xenosaga

Previously on Xenosaga: Xenosaga is over, folks! There are no more games left, I’ve said everything about the franchise I want to say, and I don’t think we’re going to be seeing Xenosaga HD in time for the Christmas season. It’s done, folks!

But just because a franchise ends, doesn’t mean it’s completely forgotten. Xenosaga has sent its tendrils far past its own release, so we’ll be spending this, the final update for this LP, looking at the games that Xenosaga, in some way, touched.

If you see a game’s title in bold text, fair warning, there are likely to be spoilers.

Now let’s start with the most obvious entry, the immediate sequel to Xenosaga…

Final Fantasy 13 (12/17/09 Japan, 03/09/10 USA) Playstation 3/Xbox 360

Wait… no. That’s… that’s not right…

FGC #211 Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS

SMAAAAAASHSuper Smash Bros For 3DS is the most confusing, straightforward game I have ever played.

The Super Smash Bros. series is not at all complicated. Like Mario Kart, I’ve found that even videogame luddites can identify this series, and you can usually get a flash of recognition from “it’s that game where Mario punches Pikachu”. And it’s not hard to see why the game is popular among gamers and muggles alike: it’s a simple, fun experience for everybody. Here’s jump, here’s punch, here’s “special”, now go to work on blasting Jigglypuff into the stratosphere. Anybody can pick up and play Smash Bros, and that’s probably the main reason anyone bought a second (or fourth) controller for the Gamecube.

And speaking of the Gamecube, Smash Bros. has been practically unchanged from its original incarnation. Alright, yes, I know there have been all sorts of changes to the formula over the years, from wavedashing to tripping to some alternate universe where Donkey Kong is actually viable, but the core of the gameplay, and the basic, amazing concept (let’s you and him fight) has been unchanged through the console generations. Mario games are astounding, but if you’re somehow buying a new one blind, it’s impossible to know if you’ll be running around in 2-D or 3-D, or whether or not this will be a Mario that acknowledges powerups at all or is stuck gobbling coins to replenish a lifemeter. Smash Bros has been Smash Bros for four console generations, and there hasn’t been a Smash Bros: Spirit Tracks or Smash Bros: Federation Force anywhere in that lineup. From the moment a Smash Bros. game is announced, you know what you’re going to get.

DRILLAnd before Smash Bros. 4 (For?) was released, there was quite a bit of glee regarding what we were going to get. Mega Man! Little Mac! Pac-Man! On a personal level, the Super Smash Bros. 4 roster seemed practically made for me. I still remember when Super Smash Bros. Brawl (3) was released, and my greatest lament about the title was that it and Super Mario Galaxy were released too close together, so we were denied any references to Rosalina, Luma, or any of the pure joy that was emblematic of Super Mario Galaxy. And now here’s Rosalina and Luma! And a Galaxy stage with that amazing Galaxy music! Why more could I ask for? The Koopa Kids? The return of Ike? A Mega smash that featured multiple generations of fighting robots? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Super Smash Bros. 4 seems like it was made for me, practically from its first preview.

And Nintendo knew this. And Nintendo did its best to trick me.

Super Smash Bros For the Nintendo 3DS sounds like a wonderful idea. It’s a Smash Bros. game, and it’s portable. That should be all it takes! I want to say I committed roughly eleventy billion hours to Super Smash Bros. Melee. I didn’t play Super Smash Bros. Brawl nearly as much, but I did unlock the trophy that only appears after playing some ludicrous number of hours, so it certainly saw some usage. Even if Smash 4 3DS was just going to be Brawl again, I’d get it for that all important portability factor. But with the full roster we’d find on the console version, Smash 4 3DS was a no-brainer. I love Smash Bros! I’ll love it just as much on the terlet.

I want oneExcept…

I said I devoted hours and hours to Melee, but my own Melee save doesn’t reflect the “real” number of hours I’ve played the game. Why? Well, because a lot of hours I remember playing Melee took place at a friend’s house (and on a friend’s system). I had the “base” Gamecube when I went away to college, but in the local neighborhood, most of the playtime was spent on my buddy Sean’s ‘cube, because he had parents that were cool with us abusing his den until 2 AM. And, in thinking about it, I probably would have played Brawl as much as Melee, but even by Brawl’s release, I had gradually aged out of the “let’s play videogames until the sun comes up” demographic. Brawl saw a lot of play with my friends, but it was generally during previously unthinkable daylight hours, and before someone had to get back to feed the dog/kids/other walking responsibilities. Make no mistake, I did personally complete all one player challenges in previous Smash Bros. games, but that wasn’t what kept me coming back after breaking a few analog sticks; that would be the friends breaking my analog sticks.

So, when I really thought about it, I realized I didn’t need Super Smash Bros For 3DS. It’s a party game on a system that is party-adverse. Yes, there’s online play, but that was never the scene for Smash Bros; Smash is all about hopping on the couch and pummeling your friends until they start pummeling back in reality. Get there!“Quiet” Pokémon may easily be played with friends across the internet, but Smash deserves the big screen and few friendships broken through excessive shouting. I’m sure this is fairly old fashioned thinking, but Smash isn’t Smash to me unless I can see my opponent sweat those final thirty seconds. That is impossible on the 3DS.

So, naturally, Nintendo released Super Smash Bros. For 3DS about a month before Super Smash Bros. for WiiU. And, yes, I’m weak. I probably would have purchased six copies if Nintendo gave me a remotely valid reason.

And that’s when the weirdness started.

As you might expect, I happily played Super Smash Bros. For 3DS (again, a game practically made for me). The game contains a host of one-player content, and, more importantly, a reason to play the one-player content (must… unlock… more… characters…). Smash Run could be a mere distraction of a mode, but the promise that you might collect all those rad special moves and extra outfits is enough to keep my attention for hours. It’s been a long time since I felt I had to unlock every last bit of content in a videogame (… when did Lightning Returns come out?), but I knew, with Super Smash Bros For WiiU on the way, I may as well get in all my practice on the 3DS version now. Maybe I’ll even have a super-powered Dark Pit to transfer into the console release!

And that’s about when it hit me: I wasn’t playing Super Smash Bros. For 3DS like a Smash Bros game, I was playing it like a demo.

Complete with batSuper Smash Bros. For 3DS is a real game. It easily features more one-player content than Super Smash Bros. (N64), and I’m pretty sure there’s more to do than in Super Smash Bros. Melee. This is the largest Smash Bros. roster ever (even if you don’t count the “uncombined” characters), and just completing basic “smash mode” with each character takes some time (and skill). There’s a strangely robust final boss, and an innumerable number of minions lurking around Smash Run. And there is multiplayer (even if it’s not couch-based) that only requires the simplest of Wi-Fi connections to get out and smash the world. This is, in every way, a Smash Bros. game, and not even an incomplete one at that.

But… I played it like a demo. I played it thinking “yes, this is a fun technique, I will use this knowledge on the real game”. I played it taking notes on what might be useful when I’m fighting my friends in a month. I played it observing every tactic I could utilize when I tackle Master Hand again, during the actual game. There is barely any practical difference between one-player mode on the 3DS versus WiiU, but I beat the 3DS version’s challenges knowing full well that I’d be doing it again “for real” on the WiiU. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was the appetizer, the WiiU version was the main course, and I never played either game without that (subconsciously) in mind.

chompAnd this causes me to get stuck in an infinite loop of sorts. The game is just as robust as every other Smash Bros! But I haven’t touched it since the WiiU version was released… But that’s just because you don’t play it portably! But I don’t play it portably because I feel like I’m not making progress on the “real” game. But that’s just a fabricated idea, it’s just as robust as any other Smash Bros…

This game should be a forthright, mindless experience.

But it leaves me… jumbled.

And I have no idea why I bought all this DLC for a game I don’t even play…

FGC #211 Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS

  • System: Well, you know what, I’m going to say Nintendo 3DS.
  • Number of players: Technically four! Though I will never see the other three players…
  • Oh, like you don’t have friends with portable systems: You know what? Most of my friends have console systems, but it’s their kids with the portables nowadays. And it just seems weird to ask an eight year old if he wants to play videogames tonight.
  • PLINKFavorite Character (conceptually): The fact that Mega Man gets his biggest showcase in the last decade on a Nintendo game is not lost on me. I can’t play as the character for a damn, but man am I just happy he’s here. Fight for everlasting pieces of that Dragoon, little metal boy.
  • Favorite Characters (for realsies): He might be DLC, but Roy is my boy (and, man, did I think I was never going to see that guy again). Something about beefy, fiery hits just gets my motor revving.
  • So, did you beat it? I collected every damn challenge trophy before Super Smash Bros. For WiiU was released. I’m pretty sure I mastered playing this “demo” while asleep to pull that one off. Though I think I did golden hammer that one challenge about collecting every special move.
  • Feel like anyone is missing from the roster? Nope.
  • Did you know? Including his Black Hole Bomb final smash, Mega Man has a special move from each of his adventures… except Mega Man 10, 5, and V. Though I guess Beat works as a Mega Man 5 rep. Still would have liked to see the Spark Chaser, though.
  • Would I play again: You’d think this would be a yes, but there is evidence to the contrary.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… The Tick for Sega Genesis. Get ready for a heaping spoonful of justice! Please look forward to it!

Does it count?

FGC #203 Paper Mario

Here comes something!Paper Mario proves it: We want to be Bowser.

Maybe I’m just sensitive to such thinking because of my recent “love for the bad guys” article, but let us consider the whole of the Paper Mario franchise. Recent Paper Mario games, like Paper Mario: Color Splash and Paper Mario: Sticker Star, feature Mario working together with Toads and the gimmick du jour… but not Bowser. Bowser is, like in every other Mario game that does not involve sportsmanship, an antagonist, and nothing more than an obstacle to be overcome. And, hey, guess which Paper Mario games are the least liked.

But let’s go back a little further. Super Paper Mario is probably best described as “experimental”, as its fusion of platforming and RPG mechanics simply did not work in a lot of places. But it’s also a damn memorable game, with some set pieces (like a destroyed world, 8-bit Hell, and some nerd’s basement) that seem to be wholly unique within the franchise. And, yes, Bowser is straight up a playable character alongside Mario, Peach, and that green guy. The giant lizard even gets some kind of story arc and a rival to battle against! You can’t tell me that Super Paper Mario doesn’t get extra adoration for its playable Bowser.

And then we go back a little further, to the impeccable Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. This is a game that requires no excuses; it is simply a beautiful, delightfully constructed RPG absolutely oozing with creativity and wonder. It’s a story for another article, but I would say, without question, that if the Gamecube somehow was only capable of supporting one game, PM:TTYD would still make the system essential. But that’s all fluff compared to the simple truth that the best damn part of that game is playing through the opening stage of Mario Bros. as a constantly growing Bowser. PM:TTYD was demoed for the world with two stages: a battle against Hookbill representing the “real game”, and fun times with Bowser, the event everyone reported. How did that not become an entire game!?

Winner!This brings us back to the originator of the Paper series, Paper Mario. Those of you that have played the game are probably already disagreeing with my thesis, as, come on, Goggle Bob, Bowser is the main and undisputed villain of Paper Mario. There is no Shadow Force or Mr. L or even a mysterious, last minute “I was secretly responsible for everything” monster at the end of the book. Bowser is the bad guy, he’s identified as such before even Mario is introduced, and he’s the final boss. He doesn’t even transform into some kind of Final Fantasy version of Bowser for that finale, either. He’s “Bowser, but, ya know, bigger”. I guess he borrowed a weapon from the Kirby series? That’s about it.

But consider Mario’s role in the story. Mario is, as ever, the hero. Mario ventures across the Mushroom Kingdom’s latest incarnation, and collects about 113 less stars than in his last adventure. Mario stomps on shyguys, kicks over turtle shells, and wields a mean hammer when goombas finally decide to get some headgear. Coins, fire flowers, and mushrooms are collected, and, in the end, Mario finds all the stars and saves Princess Peach from Bowser’s uncertain machinations (I guess he’s just a single dad looking for a strong female presence in his household?). For the entire world, this looks like a pretty typical Mario adventure, complete with some fireworks and parade floats in time for the credits.

But…

ShinyMario makes a lot of friends during his quest. I’m partial to Goombario the goomba and Kooper the koopa troopa, but there’s a place in my heart for everybody’s favorite manic mailman, Parakarry the parakoopa, too. Lady Bow the boo is a bit too high society for my tastes, but Bombette is to be commended for contemplating the rights of sentient explosives. Watt is just a wee baby sparky, and would probably get along well with Mama Sushi… if cheep cheeps could deal with electricity a little better. And Lakilester the Lakitu… well, I guess he tries. And that’s Mario’s JRPG party.

And you may have noticed that not a single one of those allies are “good guys”.

Mario has a pretty healthy support staff. There have been Peach, Toad(s), and Green Man ever since Super Mario Bros. 2. Since then, we also gained Yoshi(s), Daisy, and a handful of occasionally helpful monkeys. That cast has mushroomed (ha) in recent years, with the Piantas, Nokis, Rosalina, Toadette (she counts!), Wario Bros, and I guess we could even include the baby bunch. Point is that, assuming you need to fill a JRPG or karting roster, you’ve got a lot of Mario friends to choose from before you have to dip into the villain pool. Well, Wario might be kind of a gray area, but he’s… certainly helpful to the party’s wallet.

But Paper Mario is all about the villains. Okay, yes, technically every Mario ally is on the side of the angels, and it’s not like Mario had to coerce his party (too much) into joining the battle to restore wishes; but the fact remains that every one of these creatures is from a wicked gene pool. I’m trying not to be judgmental here, but forget thumbs, almost half of this roster doesn’t even have arms. I don’t see any famous pieces of art coming out of the bob-omb galleries, and I’m pretty sure that goombas are more teeth than man. Again, I commend the likes of Kooper for joining in a benevolent quest, but that doesn’t make up for nearly every one of his contemporaries being accessories to kidnapping over the years. Mario’s friends are Bowser’s usual army.

So, are you really Mario?

HilariousYou jump. You swing a hammer. You can shoot fire. And so can Bowser. Bowser premiered in Super Mario Bros. with the exact same skillset as Mario (and an endless supply of hammers rescued from an ape’s construction site). Aside from a slight size difference, the key difference between Bowser and Mario was simply that Mario was alone, and Bowser had eight levels of minions to toss at the hapless plumber.

And now, here we are: Mario has his own army. It’s limited, but they’ve got 1-up mushrooms, so Goombario is going to last longer than his usually squishy brethren. Do you really need a house full of boos when you’ve got one Lady Bow? Of course not. So now we’ve got one or two extemporary minions versus a mass of anonymous randos. We know who is going to win this one, but hasn’t Bowser already won? In order to defeat his greatest enemy, Mario has become the very thing he battles. Mario is Bowser.

And we all ate it up with a spoon. Paper Mario is the story of Bowser fighting another, slightly less-equipped Bowser. And all we want is more.

Bowser is the hero Paper Mario fans desire.

FGC #203 Paper Mario

  • System: N64, and Virtual Console. Highly recommend the Virtual Console release, as that allows one to ignore the weird visual stink of the N64.
  • Number of players: One Bowser Mario.
  • Favorite Companion: It’s Watt. There’s something delightfully… spooky regarding her incarceration as a lantern sprite, and, once she’s on the team, she shocks monsters with the best of ‘em. And she’s friends with Fuzzipede, too!
  • STAR POWER!Reused Plot: So there was a time in history when there were exactly two Mario RPGs, and both games told the story of a villain damaging the universal mechanism for stars granting wishes. Was this a calculated move to “retell” Super Mario RPG, or did no one have any original ideas? We’ll never know.
  • Goggle Bob Fact: I want to say this was the last game I bought at the tail-end of my “poor college student” phase. Shortly after I bought this game used (well after the heyday of the N64), I picked up my first “adult” job (even if I was still a student), and suddenly had enough spare income to afford things like used videogames. But I can still remember when I bought this game assuming its scarcity would only increase in the future, and I pretty much threw away my last $30 to play a children’s storybook game. I regret nothing.
  • Reused Game: Apparently the previous owner of my copy of Paper Mario was named Rachel. I cannot bring myself to delete her last save file, because there is something wrong with my brain.
  • Did you know? Every last Paper Mario support character was apparently supposed to reappear in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, but I guess they got cut for time, as only their updated sprites remain in the code of the final version. This is a tremendous loss.
  • Would I play again: This is a great game! It’s also a game that is completely overshadowed by PM:TTYD, so… Sorry.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Dragon’s Crown for the Playstation 3! Get ready to beat ‘em up while possibly nursing severe back issues. Please look forward to it!

Go nerds!