Review: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.

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Every 7-8 years high lord Sakurai blesses us with a fighting game that doesn’t hold back. From polished gameplay to an overwhelming number of gameplay modes to a plethora of fan service, Nintendo’s mascot fighter is back. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time for Smash Bros.

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Smash Bros. on 3DS raised a lot of eyebrows when it was first announced since it will be the first time we can smash on the go and for the most part it doesn’t disappoint. With a staggering 51 characters this iteration of Smash Bros. has easily the largest roster with many of the newcomers proving their worth. The 31 stages however, don’t have the same impact with many stages returning from past games and the new stages are dull in design. Luckily, the competitive Smash Bros. scene has left it’s mark on Sakurai since every stage has it’s own “Final Destination” version for more competitive play.

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The game modes have also been tweaked for the 3DS hardware. The main attraction this time around is “Smash Run,” a 5 minute rush through a massive level grabbing stat boosts to prepare yourself for a final showdown. Unfortunately, this mode is a novelty at best with the big finale being only a minute long rendering the previous 5 minutes pointless. Classic mode returns with an overworld map similar to the “Find Mii” minigame on the 3DS. All-Star mode is here as well with a unique twist where the player smashes through each character based on the year they were created. Customization is now much larger than it was in Brawl with the ability to change character’s stats and special moves. This goes one step further with the inclusion of Mii’s for complete customization. These new options can make fights pretty hectic if Bowser is running faster than Sonic and Jigglypuff hits like a truck on steroids.

Upon first glance gameplay is pretty solid with the thought of “Yup. It’s Smash.” running through your head. Dig a little deeper and the flaws begin to surface. The game itself doesn’t have any flaws gameplay-wise, but instead the 3DS hardware is the main problem. The circle pad on the 3DS isn’t as precise as the accepted smash controller (Gamecube) and can lead to some frustrating moments of “That’s not what I meant to do!” as you play. The game’s camera doesn’t do any favors either with it pulling out so far sometimes that you can easily lose the small dot that resembles your character on screen. When these issues are absent Smash Bros. is Smash Bros. You will beat the daylight out of other Nintendo Mascots with a massive grin on your face as the game runs smoothly at 60 fps.

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To many Smash Bros. is a multiplayer fighting game and this is where Smash Bros. on 3DS falls apart. Couch multiplayer is still accessible with local wifi, but the lag is unbearable at times. It happens so frequently that the game becomes unplayable. Things only get worst when you go into full online matches. Their heart is in the right place with online modes emphasizing party play as well as competitive play, but the lag on this precision fighting game ruins everything. This was a problem 7 years ago with Brawl’s multiplayer on the Wii, but the fact that 7 years later the online functionality is just as bad is unacceptable. With so many issues plaguing Smash Bros. multiplayer I can’t imagine this game having the same longevity as previous games in the series.

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Smash Bros. for 3DS is good, but it should be great. Hardware limitations and poor online hold it back from reaching the heights of previous installments. When it works Smash Bros. is a blast and will put a massive grin on your face. Even with the flaws Smash Bros. is still Smash Bros. and shouldn’t be missed by any 3DS owner.

Design: 7/10
Gameplay: 8.4/10
Presentation: 9.0/10

Final Score: 8.1/10

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Top 5 Smash Challengers

With many gamers anticipating the next Smash Bros. game we’ve compiled the top 5 MUST HAVE characters we want in the next Smash Bros. game. We had trouble coming up with 10 characters since our Super Smash challengers can’t be clones or lame inclusions (like a koopa or something.) Here’s our Top 5 Smash Challengers!

5) Shulk (Xenoblade Chronicles)

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To start our list is Xenoblade’s main protagonist, Shulk. Wielding the legendary Monado Shulk could be used as not only a great swordsman, but also as a great ranged caster. The Monado’s powers can also allow Shulk to defend himself with special shields and buffs adding more RPG elements to Smash Bros. His final smash could be his signature Buster attack attacking all enemies in a line.

4) Bayonetta

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Forget the fact that this scandalous witch is a little too mature for Nintendo’s taste. Bayonetta’s skill set will dominate her opponents. With her flexibility and dual pistols Bayonetta could unleash hell on other smashers with acrobatic moves and gun play. Her final smash could be one of her classic “Torture Attacks.” Of course she’ll also have her lollipop.

3) Sora (Kingdom Hearts)

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With the keyblade for melee attacks and different types of magic for ranged, Sora from Kingdom Hearts is a no-brainer.  Different abilities could be Sora’s glide ability, his guard break could break through shields, and magic that could be cycled between fire, ice, and thunder. His final smash would easily be his Valor form where Sora wields two keyblades.

2) Chrom (Fire Emblem Awakening)

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Chrom and his trusty Falchion need to be in the new Smash Bros. With his epic sword play and overall badassness, Chrom is a much better choice currently than longtime smash mainstay, Marth. Chrom’s dual-strike can inflict double damage to his opponents and his bow breaker could allow Chrom to dodge projectiles. His Final Smash could be his Rightful King Ability buffing all of his other moves as well as movement speed.

1) Banjo Kazooie 

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As a smash character the inclusion of Banjo Kazooie is the most obvious. Banjo handles the close quarters melee, while Kazooie can shoot eggs and handle ranged attacks. Kazooie would also allow for short term flight and great anti-air play. Banjo Kazooie’s final smash would be accomplished with the help of Mumbo transforming the enemies into weak animals that Banjo can easily pick off. If only Microsoft didn’t own the rights…sigh =/

How to make the next Super Smash Bros. Amazing.

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Nintendo isn’t holding a press conference this year at E3 opting to instead show off their software for the 3DS and WiiU. Arguably, the biggest game they’re showing is going to be the new Super Smash Bros. Game and this title alone could make the WiiU relevant in consumers eyes. So here are some ways Nintendo can make the new Super Smash Bros. amazing and quite possibly save the WiiU.

1)The 3DS functionality-Nintendo already showed that this cross platform multiplayer can work with the WiiU and 3DS versions of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. It makes perfect sense to see it in SSB as well! Not only having cross save functionality, but having cross multiplayer as well. The 3DS is easily capable to have internet and Smash Bros. is the perfect game to have 3DS and WiiU multiplayer going cross platform. Playstation All-Stars did it with the PS3 and Vita so it will be stupid if Nintendo doesn’t implement this amazing system.

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2)Customization-With Namco Bandai helping out with development it would be cool to see a customization system as deep as Soul Calibur’s create a character. I’m not saying SSB should have create a character (because honestly we know our god damn Mii’s will be in the game) but SSB should have a customization option for each character. With the amount of unlockables and pointless stickers in Brawl it would be awesome to have some of those unlockables be hats, clothing, passive perks, etc. This would lend well to an RPG style mode where Mario and crew could get new outfits and perks as they fight.

3)No More Clones!- In this modern generation of gaming where characters and outfits are DLC it would be nice for Nintendo to get rid off all those microtransaction bamboozle jello puddings. Take out the unnecessary characters no one likes and just have those be unlockable character skins. Mario will have Dr. Mario skin, Luigi will have Luigi’s Mansion Skin, and Kirby will have Epic Yarn Kirby. Just make these skins in place of the color palette swap available now in SSB and right away the new game will will improve with more character slots and no god damn Pichus.

4) Awesome Levels and a Level Creator that’s not half-assed- Nintendo needs to rock the levels in the New Super Smash Bros because if I see another damn Pokemon Stadium level I will be pissssssssed. A lot has changed in the world of Nintendo and it would be awesome for them to include new creative levels such as maybe a Rayman Legends song level that moves like the Rainbow Cruise did. Or another giant level like temple in Melee (I still love that level with all my heart.) Hell, Nintendo can even throw in level transitions since other fighting games have them as well. The other thing they need to do is make a level creator that is not half assed. The one from Brawl was ok, but it was very limiting and uninspired. If Nintendo went into the depth such as Halo’s forge, Little Big Planet and/or let the modding community go nuts then the next Super Smash Bros. will have some very very long legs.

5) 8-Bit Mode- Nostalgia.Duh.

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6)Patch the game!-This will hopefully be a no-brainer, but it’s Nintendo so we  never know. Brawl shipped and immediately it was clear that some players were unbalanced….META KNIGHT. With patches so common in games it will easily improve much needed balance to the Smash Bros Franchise and hopefully means that the game’s replay value will skyrocket. Do I hear the faint sounds of EVO?

7) Put Chrom in the game.- Ok this point is mainly me being a Fire Emblem Fanboy, but it must be done. Chrom is the star of Fire Emblem Awakening for the 3DS, which is one of the best games of the year. Knowing how Marth and Roy are fan favorites in Melee it would be awesome to have Chrom take their place.

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8) Do not go overboard on 3rd Party Characters- Snake was awesome, Sonic was ok, but please don’t turn this into Playstation All Stars. I understand Nintendo focused 3rd Party characters such as Shulk (Xenoblade Chronicles), Shin Megami Characters, and even Rayman, but please don’t go crazy. With Namco Bandai helping out I’m worried we’ll see more Tekken characters or Soul Calibur inclusions. Even if they throw Tales characters in it might be a bit much. Concentrate on the essentials and Super Smash Bros. will be in a good place.

9) A Story Mode that doesn’t suck- I know some people enjoyed it, but personally I hated the Subspace whatever it was called. That was a crap way to tell a story and confused the crap out of everyone. It would be cool if they took a page from the Mortal Kombat book and did the story that way…Rather than having each character randomly bump into each other fighting the poor man’s version of Kingdom Hearts’ shadows.

Ok so that’s my list if you have any other suggestions leave them in the comments below! Super Smash Bros. will officially be revealed at this years E3!

 

Bit-Sized Review:Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon

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Who ya gonna call?

Platform:Nintendo 3DS
ESRB: Everyone
Price:$39.99
Genre: Action/Adventure
Appeals to: Fans of Exploration and hate Mario.

Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon is the long awaited sequel to the 2001 Gamecube game Luigi’s Mansion. Armed with his Poltergust 500 vacuum cleaner Luigi is back to go chase down those mischievous through the many nooks and crannies of Evershade Valley. Does Luigi’s 2nd adventure prove he’s better than his famous brother or is it Ghostbusters 2?

Story: Unlike the repetitive story with Mario’s games, Luigi’s Mansion has a really good story. Luigi is (reluctantly) called into action by his good friend Professor E. Gadd. It seems the peaceful ghosts that the professor was researching have turned evil when the sacred Dark Moon disappeared. It’s up to Luigi to investigate the mansions and suck up any ghosts along the way. The story doesn’t go too deep (It’s Nintendo so don’t expect the Odyssey here…) but the writing is witty and each character is bursting with personality. After playing Luigi’s Mansion other Mario games felt bland since Luigi is such a likable character. The way Luigi moves and reacts to his world is natural and also pretty hilarious. He doesn’t move really fast and acts like the awkward kid in your middle school. Luigi is also creeped-out and paranoid of his awful situation. This creates a unique character that you never see in video games anymore and mainly puts a smile on your face as you play.

Design: Luigis Mansion Dark Moon is a game that will keep you coming back for more. Each mansion is filled with tons of secret rooms, collectibles, coins, challenges, etc. It is very impressive how much care went into each level. So much so that each level does feel like it has it’s own personality. The game is broken up into a short mission structure, which is perfect for on the go gamers. E. Gadd also keeps in contact with you via Nintendo 3DS Skype call to give Luigi tips and advice. This does get annoying though as E. Gadd CONSTANTLY calls you and it stops the game to hear his gibberish. Navi has competition in the annoying sidekick department. There is also a great co-op multiplayer that pins 4 Luigi’s together in a roguelike mansion. It’s addicting, but finding other players may be difficult.

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Gameplay: The main gameplay of Luigi’s Mansion is exploration and ghost hunting. Luigi uses his vacuum to suck up money, collectibles, window curtains, whatever. However, when he comes across some ghosts the fight is on! Luigi has to suck away the ghost’s health bar until the ghost is weak enough to capture. This can become especially challenging as more ghosts can overwhelm Luigi and beat his butt. Luckily, Luigi can use numerous gadgets to stun the ghosts such as the flash which makes hidden ghosts appear and freezes them in place. It does seem like the combat is less of a focus here, but that is mainly because the exploration and puzzles are extremely well done.

Presentation: I’ve already commented about the games charm and personality, and the presentation only adds to that. Luigi’s animations are top notch, the way he hums along with the game’s music when he’s nervous is so charming, the ghosts are funny and the environments are original and expertly created. Simply put, this is one of Nintendo’s best presented first party games.

Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon is an absolute must play for 3DS owners. From the game’s charm and personality, to it’s brilliant level design and exploration. This is Nintendo at its best. If I had one nit-picky complaint about Luigi’s grand adventure…its WHY ISN’T THIS FOR THE WIIU!?

Story:8.8/10
Design: 9.7/10
Gameplay:9.0/10
Presentation: 9.5/10

Final Score: 9.2/10

Bit-Sized Reviews: Monster Hunter Tri/3/learnnumbersJapancomeon ULTIMATE (3DS)

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I once had a friend ask me

“Hey man, what exactly do you do in Monster Hunter games?”

I then proceeded to punch him in the face.

The Monster Hunter games have always been a modern day equivalent to the old-school games of yesterNintendo…(Look it up). Games that weren’t about story and all about providing a rewarding experience. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, which is a port of the 2010 Wii game succeeds in this vision, but not without some minor (modern day design) stumbles along the way.

Story…?: There isn’t much of a story to Monster Hunter. You hunt Monsters and have a jolly ol’ time. The game’s story comes from the every day conversations that you have with the local village people (followed by a gay dance party YYYYYYYYMMMMMCCCCCAAAA). These townsfolk talk to you as a normal person would and they are so well written that you get a sense of their actual lives beyond being a video game NPC. This kind of storytelling isn’t successful in most video games because honestly, who cares about a non-playable character? CAPCOM DOES. And the game’s world is much better because of it.

Design: Monster Hunter 3 is an action game with RPG elements. There’s no leveling up as the strength of your character is based around the items you craft. From the central town hub the player can engage in many activities such as receiving quests from the humorous guild girl, forging weapons at the pint sized blacksmith, or kicking back with the buff son of the Chief (don’t call him Junior). When you receive a quest you go to your camp to prepare by gathering items and basically getting your bearings for the journey ahead. Each quest has a time limit, and also has clever sub-quests within for those completionists. This is fantastic as the game has over 150+ hours of quests (WOOOOOOT! VALUE!) The game’s design does have some faults however, because of modern day design choices breaking the well established design of old-school games. The online multiplayer is messy (bc Nintendo) and for some reason there’s no online multiplayer for the 3DS version. The latter is especially disappointing since Monster Hunter is basically designed for the “get up and go” gamer. The quests are relatively short and perfect bite-sized entertainment for the 3DS, but dammit I wanna play wiff frandz! The weapon crafting is unbelievably deep and satisfying, especially when you have a sword made out of the huge monster you just killed (Strikes fear into those monsters left over mwahahaha) The game also has each area to explore broken off into numbered sections (much like the old games). This creates a disconnect with the well established world as it suddenly feels more like a game and less like a coherent world. The touch-screen is also an interesting inclusion as it has some amazing ideas…and one awful idea that deeply effects gameplay. The great idea it has is how you can customize the bottom screen however you want. This makes choosing items easier, and clears up the clutter on the top screen. The awful design choice is the game’s camera…..

Gameplay: Seamless transition for the win! The game’s camera is awful and pretty much forces 3DS owners to buy a circle pad pro. There is a lock on system (for huge monsters) and you can center the camera with “L,” but this doesn’t help at all with enemies who move quickly. The camera is at it’s worst when you’re underwater. Without the circle pad pro you are confined to use a virtual D-PAD on the touch screen (I’m not kidding). This means you can’t multitask (like as in…any video game ever) because you have to stop fighting, move the camera, then fight again, and watch as your enemy moves out of the camera’s view again. Water fights are the worst and easily the most disappointing part of the game (Which isn’t a big deal because water fights are still excellent). Now that I got the bad news out of the way time for the good news. The gameplay is fantastic. The achievement you feel as a player when you kill a difficult monster is incredible. There are so many different weapon types to experiment with that you can shape a gameplay experience that works for you. This kind of flexibility really shines as I would rock a great sword for large enemies and my dual blades for smaller ones. Despite the camera, the gameplay is flawless. You have to use instincts when determining how you’re doing against an enemy, such as if they’re limping or crying the gameplay really makes you think about how to approach each individual fight and thus makes each battle rewarding. Plus the items you get means wearing the poor basterd you just killed as a trophy (gleeful squeal).

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Presentation: The game is beautiful and full of life, but minor things hold it back from being a masterpiece. When you kill an enemy and search the body for items the character does an awkward animation inside the poorly animated corpse, thus reminding you it’s a “game.” And the stupid animations when you use items can become very frustrating. Seriously, there’s a huge fricken monster running towards me and my character has to seriously flex for 3 seconds every time I heal with a potion?! GAHHHHHH this always ends with the health I just regained going bye bye immediately and is very frustrating. besides that the game is extremely immersive and the music is the high mark of the game. The score is memorable and will be stuck in your head for days/months/years.

Monster Hunter 3 ultimate is a fantastic game that may be beginning to show its age, but is still worth it for any WiiU or 3DS owner (That is…if you’re not still playing Fire Emblem….cause that game is da bomb diggity yo). This port may not be perfect, but the core game is still so rewarding and full of life that it easily makes up for any shortcomings.

Design: 8.0/10
Gameplay: 9.6/10
Presentation: 8.7/10

Final Score 8.8/10

Bit-Sized Reviews: Fire Emblem Awakening

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Chrom and friends are on a quest to save their kingdom and damn is it good. The gameplay is incredibly deep, yet accessible. The tactics involved make you carefully plan your every move (especially with classic mode on) The story is wonderfully told through gorgeous anime cutscenes, but truly shines with the “Barracks” and “Support” sections. These areas flesh out each characters story and relationships with other comrades (even to the point of marriage and children). This adds another layer of strategy since the children get traits passed down from their parents. MY CHILDREN WILL BE SUPER SOLDIERS HURRAH! The only downside to the game is the use of sprites on the maps. It contrasts with the huge technical achievement with the cutscenes and combat sequences. Overall though, this is a game you buy a 3DS for. The gameplay, story, design, and presentation are so well done that you will get cramps in your face from smiling too much years from now when you’re still playing this game.

Story: 8.8/10
Design:10/10
Gameplay: 9.6/10
Presentation: 9.3/10

Final Score: 9.4/10 (BUY IT NOW)