StarFox Zero…Time For a Fresh Look

Sometimes it seems as though the rumor mill has an affinity for Nintendo and their games. Several weeks ago a rumor surfaced regarding StarFox Zero and a possible second delay. Despite Nintendo’s saying there were to be no more delays for the game, the rumor actually began to gain more and more traction going in to the recent Nintendo Direct. Those who have been anticipating this game since it was first announced will be happy to know that those rumors were indeed proven false, and StarFox Zero will indeed still be releasing on April 22.

In addition to the information given out during the Nintendo Direct, Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto also recently shared more information on the upcoming title. The recent interview was very insightful, shedding a lot of light on his thought process, and what went into creating this game. Miyamoto-san referred to StarFox Zero as neither a sequel nor a prequel in the series, but as a re-imagining of the Nintendo 64 version of the game, StarFox 64.

“Because the game is split between two screens, we feel the gameplay this time is going to feel very fresh,” says Miyamoto in response to a question about the game’s name. “And thus we thought it would be a good opportunity to go back to the roots of Star Fox. The game itself is not a Star Fox ‘4’ or ‘5’, and it’s not a new spinoff. It really is going back to the roots, and that’s where the ‘Zero’ comes from.”

Miyamoto-san also shared that the game’s unique design will have a dimension-hopping, narrative-bending plot. It will be interesting to see how the story unfolds for the players as they go through it multiple times. There is also the introduction of teleporters that will play a role here.

“We designed the game in a way that you play through the map the first time and you get to the end and you defeat Venom,” says Miyamoto, referring to the final enemy planet. “At that point, the teleporters become very important from a gameplay perspective. You’ll have perfected your own skill and then you’ll use those teleporters to find new routes through the map. Even if you’re not paying particular attention to the story, finding those different routes and playing through the map will help you understand the character relationships and the role that the teleporters play.”

StarFox Zero Teaser SiteDuring E3 last year, Nintendo introduced two new developmental game ideas that they had been working on, as Project Giant Robot and Project Guard. Both of these were in the prototypical phase as they were being made into games. Since then, however, Miyamoto-san has decided to curb Project Giant Robot for the time-being. He then reiterated that Project Guard is now StarFox Guard.

“‘Project Giant Robot’ [control giant robots using the Wii U GamePad’s motion controls] was something we started as a second project, and unfortunately we haven’t yet decided to turn that into a full game,” says Miyamoto. “But ‘Project Guard’ [a tower defense style game involving security cameras and nefarious encroaching robots] was something that even at E3 2014 was loosely set in the Star Fox universe. “Project Guard” we’ve been working on simultaneously, and we’ve actually completed the game, and it’s now titled Star Fox Guard.”

One thing that Miyamoto-san has said about the origins of this new installment, was his desire to create the game in the form of a TV series. That, however, is no longer the case due to further development ideas. It’s also encouraging that he is thinking beyond StarFox Zero to future installments.

“At the time of E3 2014, that was the direction,” says Miyamoto. “Afterward, going back to work on the game in Kyoto, we got a lot of feedback from Star Fox fans and fans on the staff. And what we decided to do at that point was take the game more in the direction of Star Fox 64. So it will feel more like a longer form movie, and we did that because we wanted to try to complete the game in a way that will satisfy those longtime fans.”

“But I still have a desire to create Star Fox in a form that’s maybe better suited to the current age, where people have different competing demands for their time, where you’d be able to play maybe in shorter bursts in a more compact form. So I’ll continue to look at those ideas and see what we can do with them in the future.”

Another key element that Miyamoto-san wanted to build into the game is a significant replay angle. Many of the games that are released nowadays are void of much replay value, as many are easily beaten, then traded in for as much as possible at the local game store.

“I look at the essence of Star Fox as being an action game, and I feel like we don’t see much of this type of action game in the marketplace anymore. To me what really defines an action game is that you learn a new skill, you perfect that new skill, and then you really use that skill to find the best possible path through the game.”

“So in this case you’ll play the game and get all the way to Venom and defeat Venom, then based on the skills and the techniques you’ve learned along the way, you’ll use those to find different pathways to get to Venom. And along those pathways you’ll find that the skills you’ve learned will be challenged more by the new missions you’ll unlock. That to me is the essence of what makes an action game great, and I think we’ve done a really good job of perfecting that with Star Fox Zero.”

Keeping in line with Nintendo’s strategicStarFox Guard 3 focus on continued expansion of the gaming community, this game has been designed to welcome new, younger players. Because most people are not familiar with the Action Game genre, or at least may be new to gaming, on the whole, accessibility is a priority.

“We recognize that there are probably going to be younger kids who are playing a Star Fox game for the first time with Star Fox Zero, and maybe this will be their first action game,” says Miyamoto. “So we feel we’ve designed the game in a way that it will be welcoming to those new users and help introduce them to this style of action genre.”

“At the same time, we also feel the game is going to be a lot of fun for people to play in the living room with other people in the household. In particular with the cooperative mode, and also with the very simple shooting style of gameplay that’s in Star Fox Guard, we think it’ll be a great way to introduce people who maybe aren’t as good at this action style of gameplay to the fun of the Star Fox universe.”

Miyamoto-san even believes that a bit of handholding isn’t a bad thing. Not everyone who picks up a controller has the desire to be a game master, nor do they necessarily have a background of playing games at all. Sometimes they are either brand new to gaming, or are not familiar with a particular genre, but they still desire to have some fun with something new. That is where handholding can be beneficial. He is not looking to lower the hurdle, so to speak, but to allow the player to master certain skills, and have a sense of accomplishment.

“So I think that action games like this have to have a certain level of difficulty to achieve that satisfaction. And particularly with Star Fox Zero, if you try to complete this game, I think you’re going to find it to be quite challenging. But it’s because of that, that we have things like Star Fox Guard and the cooperative mode in this game. What those do, is allow people who maybe can’t deal with that level of challenge or difficulty to easily be a part of the gameplay and enjoy this universe.”

“And then beyond those modes, we have additional ones for people who like the game but find it too hard to get past certain levels. So for instance there’ll be a way for them to get an invincible Arwing, so that they can fly through and see the levels. But at the same time, we’re also preparing modes for Star Fox fans looking for an even harder challenge, such as a ship that does more damage, but which also takes more damage.”

After E3 last year, many people who either watched the footage of StarFox Zero or even attended the event and got some hands-on time with the game, determined that the early version was sorely lacking. Many sited the visuals of the prototypical build saying that they needed a big overhaul, as if they were being presented as a final cut. Others noted the lack of enemies in the environment and said that this just was unsatisfactory. While there were still those who felt the controls would simply not work…there was just no getting used to them to be done. Well, Nintendo obviously was not finished making the game, so all of the above concerns were addressed, especially the controls and the two-screen controls have been significantly play-tested and finessed.

“We realized that for players who were seeing it for the first time, we needed to come up with additional ways to make it easier for them to understand,” says Miyamoto of the unusual ways Star Fox Zero makes use of both your TV and the Wii U GamePad’s 6-inch screen when you’re operating the game’s vehicles. “So that was an area where we put in a lot of effort. For instance, since you have many different vehicles, and because the gameplay differs where each of those vehicles appear, people may have different control expectations. So we worked very hard to try to find the right balance on each of the vehicles. Those are some of the things that have changed.”

“…So we spent a lot of time identifying the right balance in control responsiveness for each of the vehicles.”

In the end though, Miyamoto-san’s broader goal is to build interest in dogfighting games. Most contemporary gamers are not very familiar with many of the game genres that filled out the rosters of local arcades. The games that survived off eager players pouring countless quarters into the slots to get another crack at their goal. Some were puzzles, so were platformers, some were shmups, and others were dogfighting games. The multiple genres gave gamers a hearty variety of game choices, so it allowed them to avoid getting stuck behind some wall of repetitiveness created by the unimaginative. That is part of what Miyamoto-san is hoping to do, bring more people to this type of game so that they can experience more.

I hope what will happen is that people will play with this new control scheme and we’ll be able to introduce new players to the Star Fox universe and get them interested in playing more of this dogfighting style of combat and action games in the future. That’s my real hope.”

There was a lot to learn from Miyamoto-san on his motivation behind the creation of StarFox Zero, and I hope by sharing that here, more people will understand the aim and goal of the game’s design. Far too often, we are inundated by the negative musings of commentators in this community. There is rarely a shortage of opinions, and sometimes it is just a bit too much. Give this game the opportunity to stand on its own when it releases next month on April 22.

Are you a fan of the StarFox series? Is this game on your must-buy list? What are you most looking forward to experiencing with StarFox Zero? How excited are you for the game, right now?


The Start of Something Special

Thursday, March 17, 2016 marked the day that Nintendo NY opened up the doors and welcomed players and spectators alike for a Pokkén Tournament Early Access competition. 16 competitors faced off in the new game that released today, and two winners were crowned, one each from the two divisions (Senior – born from 2001 and later, and Master – born 2000 and earlier).

The tournament was streamed live on Nintendo’s media channels and the competition was fierce from start to finish. The event lasted for just over 4:30 hours, but it was great to watch all of the contestants battle it out to see who would eventually be crowned champion. Nintendo of America also live-tweeted the event throughout, so a lot of the details were made available for those unable to watch live.

The first competition saw the Senior Division competitors’ Quarterfinals rounds take place which set up an incredible slate of Semifinalists.

From there, we saw the competition move on to the Masters Division which was structured in the same manner. That Semifinals bracket was as such:

Afterward, the exhibition tourney between all of the trainers took place. The winner of that competition was Trainer Justin Wong.

From that point forward, it was all about the Seniors and Masters Divisions’ Semifinals and Finals, respectively. Squaring off in the Finals were the young competitors, Wayland and Cayden. Their battle was epic, and even came down the the final deciding round of the final game of a best 3 out of 5 games Final. There was even the drama of the winner having to come from behind to win after being down 2 games to 1 early.

The Masters competed at a very frenzied pace, and all of the competitors really put on an incredible show. The Finals came down to a battle between Jeffrey and Tevin, and a tough battle, it was.

This competition was so exciting to watch, especially as it went on and got more intense. Watching the competitors play this game, even as it is still very new, really did create an excessive level of anticipation for me, and I am sure it did the same for many other viewers, as well. I highly recommend picking the game up if it was even remotely on your radar. The game play was described, on site, as a mix of several different fighting games, but still with  a style all its own.

Are you excited to play Pokkén Tournament? Were you able to watch the competition yesterday? Will you be picking it up today? Or have you already picked it up? Who do you think will be your favorite Pokémon to play with?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!

And if you’d like to watch the competition once again, or even for the first time, feel free to check it out below:



New Splatfest Coming This Weekend

Nintendo of America has announced the latest North American Splatfest. Players will once again have the opportunity to test their skills and loyalty in the newest Splatoon event. This new Splatfest will pit #TeamSnowman against #TeamSandCastle.

This contest will take place this coming weekend on Saturday, March 19, from midnight to midnight. As with all other previous Splatfest events, players are tasked with competing against other teams in Turf War mode.

There is also additional information that you need to note before the start of the event. So check that out below.

Have you competed in any/all of the previous Splatfest events? How has your record been, so far? Which team do you expect to compete on?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!

Nintendo Direct – My Reactions Pt. 2

In this entry, we will take a look at the second half of the Nintendo Direct presentation that took place a week ago. A few days ago, I shared my thoughts on the first half of the Direct, as it covered the Wii U information. This time we are looking mainly at the Nintendo 3DS, but also a couple other things.

blogger4Let’s start with the new information regarding amiibo that was shared, first. The fourth Wave of Animal Crossing amiibo cards will be available on June 10. Also in amiibo news, the Isabelle (Animal Crossing) amiibo will be available in June, as well.

The Virtual Console will also be receiving an upgrade on NEW Nintendo 3DS systems with exclusive SNES titles coming to the systems beginning immediately after the Direct (on last Thurday, March 3). The first 3 titles that are available are Pilotwings, Super Mario World, and F-Zero. Then on March 24, Super Mario Kart, Earthbound, and Donkey Kong Country will be joining the lineup. After those, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, and Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest will be arriving on April 14.

Bill Trinen then announced the new game from Game Freak called Pocket Card Jockey, which pairs Solitaire and Horse Racing to create a unique experience. The game is set up much like a continual RPG, in a simple design and system. This game is due to arrive in May.

Next was Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, the sequel to the wildly popular Azure Striker Gunvolt. The original is being made available at a discounted rate from March 2-June 1 in the Nintendo eShop. Gunvolt 2 will be available in the 3DS eShop in the Summer.

Fire Emblem Fates: Revolution was then FE Fatesintroduced with the release date for yesterday (March 10). Additional DLC content was also announced that will be coming available on March 17, as well. In addition, more maps will be added to the game weekly through April 21.

The Nintendo 3DS installment of the highly popular Hyrule Warriors, titled Hyrule Warriors Legends. Also announced, was the Season Pass that would automatically give players access to the coming DLC content that is scheduled. Transfer codes allowing access to Wii U owners of the game will give players the additional characters. Bill also announced a GameStop pre-order exclusive 16-page artbook will be available, as well. Linkle’s story will soon be revealed, and at the first DLC pack release, the new character Medley will also be available for free. This game will be releasing on March 25.

Disney Art Academy will allow players inside access to drawing many of the beloved Disney characters that so many of us grew up loving. Whether we are already talented and  budding artists, or novices in the skill, this title could very well prove to be a treat. Its release is set for May 13.

Bravely Second End Layer was the next title bravely-second-end-layershown off. Prior to the game’s release, there is a unique story available for free with the Demo that launched a couple days ago (March 10) in the 3DS eShop. Bet Buy Gamers Club members will also receive an email code that would allow them early access to the Demo on March 7. The full version of the game will be available on April 15, but it can now be pre-purchased in the 3DS eShop. The free demo for the original Bravely Default is also still available for download in the eShop, as well.

The next RPG that Bill touched on was Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past which has been completely rebuilt specifically for Nintendo 3DS. This game is set for release later in 2016.

The new Monster Hunter X is finally heading West and has been renamed Monster Hunter Generations. This is billed as the most customizable Monster Hunter game ever. A bonus that was also mentioned is that any players who play Monster Hunter Generations on their 3DS that has Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Save Data present on the system will receive bonus content in the game. The game will also feature a special crossover Armor Set based on Marth, from the Fire Emblem series. Monster Hunter Generations will be available in the Summer.

lkn0ibbpfekqo3m6snexyzutrh4i3ugnKenseke Tanabe then re-addressed the highly debated Metroid Prime Federation Force which actually began development since 2009, with a bit of a break for lack of the ability to realize the concepts due to hardware limitations, until the NEW Nintendo 3DS launched. Tanabe-san also shared a video that showcased the concept and story for the game that illustrates the very purpose behind the game’s creation, and how it is very much within the Metroid Prime universe. Nintendo will also be showcasing the game at WonderCon in late March, so stay tuned for even more information on Federation Force very soon. It is due for release in late Spring.

Rhythm Heaven Megamix was then shown off, which not only combines 70 of the previous goodness from the series but also 30 new games. It is due for release later this year, as well.

And finally, Bill introduced the new game, Kirby Planet Robobot. The game also includes a separate mode called Team Kirby Clash, in which players can play a co-op mode with up to 4 players. amiibo-compatibility is also a part of the game. Several unique features are opened up by tapping different amiibo.

This Nintendo Direct on the whole was a wonderful dissemination of information. There was a little reiteration of previously shared material, but the additional things that filled out the 41-minute video were plenty to hold gamers’ attention for the remainder of time with the current platforms. And in the end, we still have a little more in-store for us in the waiting.

If you were unable to watch the Nintendo Direct, or would like to see it again, feel free to check it out below.

Overall, this Direct was pretty big. 41 minutes packed full of information that was a mix of old and new, and a couple of surprises in-between. Since the broadcast, there have been many different things said about the Direct. Some were good, some were not so good, and still there’s no question it was necessary. The amount of time that had passed between this Nintendo Direct and the last one in November, left a certain level of anticipation with most that begged for more.

I think I will address some of the post-Direct sentiments that have been shared around the internet since its showing, and give my impressions of those in the next post. I will say though, that it’s very interesting how so many people tend to jump to negative conclusions after Nintendo Directs and other forms of information dissemination from the company. Human nature is what it is, but if the sole purpose of discovering something new is to find everything possibly wrong with it, even with limited information, then that is a bad way to exist. Finding out what I like about something new that I am seeing is what I have learned makes for the best possible reality. Seeing the worst in everything says a lot about the person. Make the most out of your viewing.

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!


New Employee’s amiibo Journal Chapter 1

Nintendo has uploaded another comic, and this time featuring Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. The game is an exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS and was released on September 25, 2015. This comic is designed to help promote the game, so if you are unfamiliar with the game, or just want to enjoy a nice smile, have a look.

It has been a while since we had a Friday Fun post, so I wanted to hopefully get back to them here, this week. I hope you like…

New Employee's amiibo Journal Chapter 1.jpg

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!