Super Mario Maker Musings

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Super Mario Maker: A race to upload the most obnoxious Mario levels in existence.

Mario is my gaming alpha. He is the man who got me interested in video games back when I was 4 years old. I can’t say what it was about watching my cousins die repeatedly on the first level that caught my interest, but I was so obsessed my parents broke down and got me a Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas that year. So I think it’s safe to blame my parents and Mario for my lifelong obsession with video games.

That being said, I’ve never dreamed up original Mario levels inside of my head. Guess I’m not very creative when it comes to design and the technicalities of it all. This certainly didn’t do anything to smother my excitement for Super Mario Maker. In fact, I was always excited to go online and experience levels created by people with more creativity and spare time on their hands. Unfortunately, when it comes to the (literally) millions of levels uploaded online, the amount of quality levels is really a drop in a bucket by comparison.

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This isn’t the random clusterf**k you think it is.

In fact, my favorite levels are the levels I don’t have to play at all! “Don’t Move” levels permeate the popular online courses. Yes, that’s right… the “player” doesn’t have to do a thing! I know, it sound cheap, but many of these stages are absolutely amazing to behold. They really demonstrate the impressive mechanics and the overwhelming number of options on the table when creating levels. Plus, they’re a nice break from a sad majority of stages that only seem to exist to cause me stress. It seems like every other level is nothing but an annoying, gimmicky attempt at a “gotcha” stage that I have little to no patience for.

This is only mainly a problem due to one of my few complaints about this game. As many of you know, Super Mario Maker allows for amiibo skins while playing 8-bit Mario Bros. levels. If you don’t happen to own 100 amiibos, you can unlock skins by playing “100 Mario Challenge.” 100 is a lot of lives… right?

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Also, get used to level names that LIE, have spelling and grammar errors, and are in other languages.

100 Mario Maker has an Easy, Normal, and Expert mode, which are determined by each stages completion percentage. Easy is brain-numbingly easy. Normal usually has decent stages. But Expert? Ugh… Most Expert mode stages make me want to write death notes for the users who created this painful garbage. I would just, you know, stay away from Expert mode… if I had a choice. Sadly, the game caps how much you can unlock on Easy and Normal modes. So unless I want to go out and buy more amiibos (Someday, but not today) I have to suffer through Expert mode or just not bother. As it stands, I haven’t completed it once. Even with the feature to skip a level (I’d be livid if this didn’t exist) if I still have 8 stages to go and more than half of my lives are gone… I always quit.

I still have a lot of unlocking to do. Time is all that is needed to unlock all the building tools. 10 Mario Challenge will get you some starter levels to tinker with and completing them all gets you Nintendo World Championship Levels. Completing all of those gets you… Wait for it…

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Is that… Walauigi?

Skinny, weird jumping Mario. I have an irrational fear of it. Seriously, it creeps me out.

I still have a lot to unlock and some stage designs to play around with. There is a lot to this game, and with the potential of it being a never ending Mario game with (hopefully) more DLC down the line for level creation tools and layouts (Seriously… No Super Mario 2???? It hurts). Aside from these gripes, I’m so glad Nintendo finally made this a thing. This is the best thing to happen to my Wii U since Shovel Knight.

Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows DLC

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He’s just so… cute!

I’m back to sing Shovel Knight’s praises again! Except this time… it’s Plague Knight I’m rooting for?!

While Plague Knight didn’t especially stand out to me while playing Shovel Knight for the first time, I was immensely excited when I read about this free DLC for owners of the original game. In Plague of Shadows, the player assumes the role of Plague Knight, who is on a quest to become the most powerful alchemist out there. With the help of a few friends, of course.

I’m happy to report that we’re not talking about a mere palette swap here. I could tell a lot of time and care went into this DLC. Though it’s true that you will replay the same basic stages, they’ve been remodeled and subtle changes have been made to accompany Plague Knight’s style. And man, it is hella different. If you’ve played the normal campaign recently, it will take some getting used to.

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Just look at all these options!

Being an alchemist, Plague Knight relies on an assortment of potion bombs to blow up enemies. Don’t expect any signature shovel pogo sticking here. Instead, you’ll be double jumping, bursting, and tossing explosive vials. Bursting is an effect that will trigger when releasing the button. Plague Knight can glide, rain a blizzard on enemies below him, break through walls, and more. A common practice for gaining gravity is to double jump then burst, but you can do any combination of burst and jumping that you’d like. His bombs have THREE different features that you can upgrade and swap out whenever you want. It is very important to purchase these and experiment with them, as many effects are situational. Don’t learn the hard way (like me) that having a certain explosion or casing type can make or break a boss fight. Because they most certainly do.

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Treasure Trappings… Troupple King is my kinda Troupple.

Plague Knight utilizes magic as well. So on top of micromanaging your basic attack (which can get frustrating on certain stages… especially after the upteenth “Why do I keep dying here?!” death) you also have magic spells to consider. Some of the magic spells are wildly different than Shovel Knight’s, while others are different animations serving the same purpose. For example: While Shovel Knight gets the Dust Knuckles to soar across gaps, Plague Knight gets a dust cloud that he can walk through.

On top of the great new mechanics and creative equipment and abilities comes a fresh and thoroughly enjoyable story with delightful characters. Yacht Club Games did an impressive job of giving Plague Knight his own fresh story that runs parallel to what we saw the first time around. You’ll see some new faces, but more importantly, you’ll see a different side to characters you thought you knew. Most of the knights haven’t really changed; their ire is just temporarily directed towards Plague Knight. But damn, if it isn’t hilarious watching the pre-boss battle banter.

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Sound logic right there.

In short, the Plague of Shadows DLC is the perfect excuse to delve back into this game again. And this is coming from a person who almost never buys or downloads DLC. Typically when I am done with a game, I’m done. But for Shovel Knight fans, this is an opportunity you won’t want to miss. Plague Knight’s story is charming, fun, and hopefully a showcase of what other tricks Yacht Club Games has up their sleeves!

Shena’s E3 Highlights

All the big press conferences and interesting events of E3 2015 are now over, and I’m still sorting in my head which games I’ll be scrambling to find the time to play next year! This year there were some announcements that excited me more than I care to admit, while others I sort of shrugged off, and some that made me happy for fans of franchises that I don’t necessarily follow.

Let me start by saying that I think Nintendo totally bombed their pre-recorded show. The puppets coming out at the beginning was cute and all, but they failed in using that Muppet-esque distraction as a decoy from their shoddy presentation. It started out with a new StarFox game. I’m glad for the people who have been begging for a new StarFox game for years, though it isn’t something that interests me. The gameplay will have to be amazing to win people over, because the graphics certainly aren’t doing it. Seriously, how embarrassing. After playing Bayonetta 2 and experiencing what the Wii U can put out graphically, it looks terrible. At least during SquareEnix’s conference they came out and said, “This demo was only in 30 FPS but the game will be 60,” to let the audience know if something is indeed downgraded because it’s a work in progress.

Nintendo had a super terrible 3DS multiplayer Metroid title… thing. I don’t even know, because they didn’t bother to go into detail on that even though fans have been BEGGING for a Metroid game for years. They did delve into the 3DS multiplayer/co-op Legend of Zelda game that NOBODY WANTS. But, you know, couldn’t go out of their way to show what they’ve been doing with the Zelda Wii U game they showcased a year ago.

With Fire Emblem off of my personal radar, Nintendo still had a few titles that I am looking forward to: Xenoblade Chronicles X, “Super” Mario Maker, and that 3DS Paper Mario meets Mario RPG game looks fun too.

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I honestly don’t usually get excited about mech games!

Xenoblade Chronicles and Mario Maker got dates which makes me really happy…. December 4 and September 11, respectively. So that’s two E3 games from Nintendo being released before Christmas. I loved Xenoblade Chronicles, and really wish I had spent more time with the side quests and other optional content. Mario Maker looks like a great dose of fun creativity. I can’t wait to see the levels my fellow gamers develop that I will undoubtedly die 1,000 times on.

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A goomba pyramid…. genius.

I also watched most of Sony’s press conference. The new IPs like Horizon and No Man’s Sky look pretty awesome. The Last Guardian made a lot of people happy, but I’ve gotten “Meh” about it after all of these years. The Final Fantasy VII reveal made me shed fangirl tears… Although now I’ve got my cynical glasses on, just waiting to see if SquareEnix is going to screw it up like they have everything else in the last decade. (Okay, except FF:RK. Srsly, it’s the best F2P game ever.) I know I’ll be playing it either way… whether they totally eff up the battle system and shoehorn in all the stupid FFVII compilation crap.

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If nothing else, it will at least be pretty.

Unsurprisingly, there was also fun gameplay footage from the new Uncharted game. My hubby and I are looking forward to playing A Thief’s End, so the vehicle driving sequence with all the Drake/Sully banter kept us at the edge of our seats.

I’m shocked there was nothing God of War related at Sony’s event, but I suppose it is for the best.

Going back to SquareEnix. First E3 press conference ever. And it shows. Well, as a fan of JRPGs (growing up, anyway) some of what they showed did intrigue me. Especially that Kingdom Hearts mobile game that I’m positive NOBODY asked for. In all seriousness, I really liked what we saw of KH3 (still no release date time frame.. no kidding). The battle system looks as fun as the story is convoluted. At this point I don’t even know if I should recognize the characters playing chess in the trailer… Someone help me out here!

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Seriously, who is this Rikku look-alike?

I haven’t played Just Cause games yet, but the third game looks like a lot of fun. I’ll have to do some research on them. Judging from the footage from Just Cause 3, I think I could get sucked into the sandbox carnage on display. There was also more FFVII (including an IOS port alongside the PC port), more Final Fantasy World or whatever the hell it is called, a new Nier project, more Deus Ex Machina, and the rather secretive Tokyo RPG project. Tokyo RPG project seems to exist to solidify their dedication to creating JRPGs.

I’ll admit my focus has shifted to Western RPGs in recent years. In the last year, the RPGs I enjoyed the most were probably South Park: The Stick of Truth and the Mass Effect trilogy (I didn’t start playing them until last year). And, I’m happy to announce… there were new games announced for both series! The new South Park game is titled “The Fractured But Whole.” Let that sink in.

While I am disappointed that no new details for Mass Effect were divulged outside of the title and release time frame, I’m still excited. While many might harp on my for wishing this… I was really hoping for a Mass Effect trilogy remaster. I need an excuse to play the trilogy again. The thought of slogging through the first Mass Effect in its current state pains me, but I can’t picture just picking up Mass Effect 2 from the start. I’m weird like that.

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Bioware swears this is not Spiderman wearing N7 armor.

And those are pretty much all the games that I’m personally excited for. I’m jealous about Tomb Raider, but seeing as how it is a timed exclusive I suppose I’ll get over it. Hopefully Uncharted won’t come out too late and will scratch that itch for me.

What were your E3 highlights?

Axiom Verge Review!

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Believe it or not, that lab coat is the best part of his arsenal.

Next in our lineup here at Hardly Hobbies was yet another high profile indie game. You may have heard of it (or maybe not since it was Wii U exclusive up until last week), as it received some Best at E3 awards and a lot of interest due to being developed entirely by one man, Thomas Happ. Axiom Verge was hyped as the “Metroidvania” game that retro gamers like us have been waiting for. Like Shovel Knight, it is a throwback to games people in their late 20’s and 30’s grew up playing. Except Axiom Verge, while still a 2D side-scroller, pays homage to a totally different style of gaming.

First things first: Do we believe Axiom Verge lives up to its hype? Did it deserve all of the rewards it received, even before it was released?

Definitely.

Here’s the thing. While Axiom Verge may appear, especially to gamers who’ve never touched anything more graphically degraded than a Wii game, juvenile and simple. It is not. Like Shovel Knight, it manages to capture the essence of the games it nods to (Metroid and Castlevania, with some Contra vibes thrown in) excellently, while still being its own game. I’d rate Axiom Verge as having slightly less independence than Shovel Knight, it’s still worth playing if you haven’t played the old Metroids or Castlevanias. Provided you have patience for backtracking and exploration, that is.

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You can’t tell me this doesn’t scream METROID!!

Axiom Verge tells the story of Trace, a scientist whose lab explodes during an experiment during the opening cinematic. When he awakens, he is in this strange, alien(?) world, with only a few beings to interact with. The loneliness of Trace’s experience is compiled with moody atmospheres and ambient music, bellied by the shortsightedness of the bosses you’ll uncover who aren’t interested in talking things out. The soundtrack to this game really is superb and sets the mood as it should.

Oh, and those bosses that I mentioned? Aside from the Hornet boss, they certainly make up for how drab some of the typical enemy designs are.

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Where’s Trace?

Axiom Verge’s sense of progression is what will keep you coming back. Every play session of ours went something like this: Explore until finding a power up that changes the way you interact with the map, backtrack and find health/power upgrades, kill boss, rinse and repeat. And you know what? It works. Every power up we found got us excited to backtrack and uncover the areas of the map we couldn’t get to before. This does mean every play session involves “Hey, remember that room…?” Or, “Where was that spot again?”

And that’s okay. After all, it’s pretty much the point of these games. My one small gripe is that there’s no fast travel in this game. It’d be great if the save points acted as fast travel locations, but unfortunately they don’t. One feature that I think helps balance this development decision is how AV handles death. When you die, you pop back up at the last save point you hit. No progression lost!

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These save pods are more than what they seem…

Which is a damn good thing. Because if it weren’t for full healing and progression auto saves at death, I would have lost my patience. Mostly because I died a lot in the beginning. But, thanks to the plethora of upgrades and weapons found throughout the game, by the end of it we were near-gods. There are literally dozens of collectibles in this game. We had so many guns, I was overwhelmed when it was time to experiment. Same goes for backtracking. Just got an upgrade that allows you to teleport through thin walls? Expect to spend half an hour to an hour going back through the unexplored parts of the map.

One of the best weapons in the game is the “Glitch Gun”… this allows you to purposely glitch enemies or remove glitched walls to reveal new passages. It was a clever homage to glitches in those NES cartridges we grew up with. You can also glitch enemies, and every enemy type responds differently to being glitched. Some will spit out health for you. Others will slow down. There’s an annoying crawler enemy that spits lasers, and if you glitch it the lasers hurt other monsters instead of Trace! Loved that glitch, by the way.

Axiom Verge also hides a fascinating existential plot, but unfortunately it is buried beneath poor pacing. You’re really only treated with about 3 cut scenes, and they’re much longer than they should be. Without reading the extra notes, some of which require ALSO finding passwords to translate them, you won’t really get much of the bigger picture. I find this to be a shame, because when I went online after beating the game and read some of the notes we didn’t find or translate, I started putting the pieces together and found a deeper, more interesting plot than the cut scenes in the game led on.

AV has a unique feature that I wish more games included: Speed Run! Yes, there is a mode specifically designed for speed runners, which skips cutscenes and dialogue. While I don’t do speed runs myself, I enjoy watching them for some of my favorite games. And I can’t wait to see what players will have posted on YouTube soon!

There’s a lot to take away from Axiom Verge, whether you’re playing it to relive those glory days of gaming or not. People are putting Axiom Verge off as a Metroid clone, and it is a disservice. From start to finish, I could tell the developer poured 110% of his energy into his creation. There aren’t many games created entirely by one person, for obvious reasons, but based on the production value I never would’ve guessed. I had absolutely zero technical issues as well. Nope, I’d have never known only ONE person made this fantastic indie game. Yes, Axiom Verge deserved all of the hype it received, and I thought it was worth every dollar.

Shovel Knight Review

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I wish I could insert the sound effect that goes along with this pose.

Shovel Knight is, simply put, an entertaining breath of nostalgic air. Imagine, if you can, an 8-bit retro game inspired by the likes of some of our favorite NES platformers; Megaman and Super Mario Bros. 3 were two titles from my gaming past that I kept experiencing deja vu moments for while playing Shovel Knight. I never played Duck Tales, but the Shovel pogo-ing is unmistakable.

I’m happy to report that Shovel Knight is more than just a sum of its parts. On its own merit, it is a wonderfully crafted adventure, in which you can feel the dedication and love pouring out of its development. Yacht Club Games didn’t stop at just creating an 8-bit platformer to get NES gamers like myself to buy it. They went above and beyond to create a genuinely great game that stands on its own two feet. They could have just settled on 8-bit  graphics and music. Yet every screen has amazing color contrast and texture work, and every song is a catchy beat you’ll be humming long after you’ve turned the game off.

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Hard to believe he sleeps with that helmet on.

Shovel Knight truly is a game that would challenge anyone who doesn’t think 8-bit graphics can be aesthetically pleasing.

The world map is presented as a near clone to Super Mario Bros. 3, with progression locked until you defeat certain bosses. There are two villages you can visit to speak with NPCs and purchase upgrades, and the side-scrolling is reminiscent of LoZ 2. Health upgrades can be obtained by turning in meal tickets, while your magic capacity, weapon and armor upgrades are purchased with good old fashioned gold. I wasn’t entirely crazy about having to return to town to change armor (each armor has different features and changes Shovel Knight’s appearance). Magic in Shovel Knight is really using secondary items called relics. Each relic will use a certain amount of magic, and when your magic is out you’re stuck  unless you pick up an item to fill it. The more you upgrade your magic, the more you can use without needing to refill it. And there are a lot of different relics to collect for how short this game is.

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Yeah, this guy is a dick.

The stages themselves take the Megaman approach; 8  bosses to defeat and all! Clear a certain Knight’s stage and defeat the Knight. Unlike Megaman, defeating a Knight does not grant you with an “I Win” button to use against the next boss. In this game, you don’t get crazy weaknesses to exploit, giving more trial and error to boss fights that surpasses Megaman’s “Okay, time to find the boss weak to fire! Gee, can’t imagine who it could be!”

Instead, we get checkpoints! Checkpoints abound! One great aspect about Shovel Knight is that you can decide to make the game more difficult, therefore more faithful to some of your favorite NES games if you so choose. Checkpoints are splattered throughout each stage. If you die, you lose a handful of gold that you can retrieve by picking it up again. If you’re feeling ballsy, you can DESTROY your checkpoints for a decent wad of gold, meaning you must start even further back (or at the beginning) of the stage. I’m not the sort of person to partake in difficulty challenges nowadays, but I give the developers a nod for coming up with a clever compromise between old school difficulty and the current gaming trends of abundant checkpoints.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may have noticed that here at Hardly Hobbies, we love it when a game pokes fun at itself. Shovel Knight’s dialogue is filled with humorous puns and pokes at the cheesy, poorly-translated games of yore. SK takes it’s medieval theme and runs with it, creating hilarious dialogue that will help you unwind after getting worked up over the boss that killed you five times in a row.

And you will die. Shovel Knight isn’t insanely difficult, but it does have a handful of stages that rely on practice and memorization, particularly with shovel pogo-ing. Thanks to not having a set amount of lives, and (usually) generous checkpoints, I didn’t experience any of the rage I get when playing old school games.

Now that Shovel  Knight is being ported to systems outside of the 3DS and Wii U, I’m hoping it will receive a lot more support. It’s a fantastic game, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys 2D platformers. And shovels.

Hyrule Warriors

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Link is the same silent protagonist we all know and love…Except this time around he’s rocking a clashing blue scarf!

Are you a Legend of Zelda junkie? Are you prone to nostalgia feels? Do you enjoy the battle-simulator, hack and slash craziness of Dynasty Warriors? Enjoy babysitting incompetent AI and juggling which pathetic ally you’re going to save next? How about repeating the same attack combo about 50 bajillion times to kill roughly the same number of rehashed enemy types you’ve already seen in every LoZ game? If so, you’re in for a treat! Hyrule Warriors is everything I just mentioned, and more!

All joking aside, we had a lot of fun with Hyrule Warriors before moving on. There’s still a lot of grinding to do and Majora’s Mask DLC that just released on February 5, so we’re probably not 100% done visiting it.

Back in the day, Steve-O and I had a lot of co-op Dynasty Warriors fun. I can’t recall exactly which ones we played, because there were a few, but I do remember the co-op craziness and general feel of the games. When I found out the same company worked with Nintendo to create what is essentially a Legend of Zelda skin, I was all for it. If you’ve never played one of the Dynasty or Samurai Warrior games, they’re basically a battle simulator where you run around capturing enemy keeps, killing enemy commanders, and fulfilling other stage-specific goals while keeping your bases from falling to the enemy. In games like these it’s not uncommon to slay 1,000+ enemies on a single level. And, thanks to the jumps in technology, the lag is considerably lessened compared to the old days of playing DW. Not that it’s non-existent, but it doesn’t really hinder gameplay.

Instead, you have bad decision making hindering gameplay, like cutscenes cutting in on the action (see what I did there?). Even turning them off in the main menu doesn’t stop opening treasure chests from being a drawn out affair that ruins the flow of battle and lets enemies pop cheat shots off on you. Not a big concern during the Legends story  mode, but when trying to achieve A rankings to unlock goodies on Adventure mode it can make or break your progress. Another one of our biggest gripes worth mentioning is button-mapping for selecting items in your inventory. Stupid gimmicky LoZ bosses show up repeatedly, and certain items are needed to defeat them. But in order to look through your inventory to use things like bombs, potions, or the hookshot, you literally have to take your thumb off of the joystick you’re using to move the character around. So yeah, stand still amongst piles of 50 enemies at a time to find the item you need to use. Granted, the general cronies suffer from a severe case of the derps, but still. Every little bit counts when trying to unlock stuff.

Hyrule Warriors doesn’t take place in LoZ canon. Not sure at this point it really matters, since Nintendo can’t even figure out their own timeline. During the main campaign, you’ll gradually be introduced to both original and returning characters and unlock them as playable. Some you need the DLC for. You’ll get your merry band together and traverse a few Zelda worlds. Most of the time you have to play as a specific character. One of the great things about playing co-op is that the second player can be whoever they want: You can have Princess Zelda and Sheik fighting side by side, consistency be damned! One of you will have to make the sacrifice of playing as the mandatory character while the other picks their favorite and goes to town. Each character has their own flair and style, but swapping between them doesn’t take all that much to grow accustomed to because all the combos are the same. Literally. Leveling up character abilities requires giving them “badges” by using items collected in battle, and they all add up to variations of pressing Ys and Xs. That’s it. If you’re playing as a new character, it’ll take you all of one minute to test out all the combos you have unlocked. Then you’ll pick one or two favorite moves and just stick with them.

The variety mainly falls with weapon types and character style. On his own, Link can equip like, 6 different weapon types. Each gives him different moves and flashy things to look at. As you can imagine, his style will be entirely different if he’s on Epona compared to say, wielding the Master Sword or Magic Rod. Make sure you try each character’s weapons before dismissing them entirely. I tried Zelda’s Dominion Rod first and absolutely hated it. Yet later on she got a decent Rapier and when I tried it out I loved it. I tend to lean towards magic users while playing video games. In Hyrule Warriors I became smitten with DLC character Twili Midna. She’s slower, but her attacks cover such a large area, and her special move literally creates an enormous black hole under enemies’ feet. Another new mage is Cia. One look at her and you can tell Nintendo’s getting desperate enough to get a little risque:

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Boobs in a Nintendo exclusive game? I know, I was confused too.

 Other favorites of ours included Link, Impa, Lord Volga, and Sheik. However, I encourage you to try them all out. Some characters are insufferably annoying to the point where you won’t want to play as them (Lana and Agitha, that is), but I’ll begrudingly admit they have some cool combos as well. At one point or another you’ll be forced to play as them anyway.

Once you’ve completed the nearly pointless meanderings of the “Story” mode, you’ll want to go spend time in the nostalgic grindfest Adventure maps. It’s 8-Bit Zelda map glory, where you have to complete challenges and collect Item Cards to discover hidden goodies.

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Somehow, your fires never seem to spread from that one bush.

 Adventure Mode maps are maze/puzzle hybrids that require you to go all over the map and follow various paths to tredge your way to the weapons or hearts you want for characters. I’m certainly not the authority on this as it’s a bit grindy for my current tastes (Ok more like ‘it takes up too much of my free time to play video games’) but it adds a lot of life to the game for those who have that itch to max out their characters. The DLC maps even add more costumes for characters as well. Truth be told, I had no use for other alternate Link costumes after I had him decked out in purple. The Adventure Mode maps also add more Gold Skulltulas to unlock and collect. There’s over 100 of them. Again, lots of extras for those so inclined.

Like Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors is a game I was in for the co-op fun, not the engrossing gameplay and story. Which isn’t a bad thing, just the nature of the beast. Throw in a Legend of Zelda theme and you have a formula for hours of nostalgic fun. If you’re in it for the co-op like I am, prepare yourself for some co-op annoyances. Aside from the cutscene interruptions I mentioned earlier, there’s one other decision that constantly irked me. There is only one menu where the second player is able to join. And they have to do so every. single. battle. Firstly, nowadays it should be possible for local co-op to jump in at any time. Secondly, if I say I’m playing, keep me there until I opt out. I can’t count the number of times the second player would forget to join, making us have to suffer loading screens to turn around, back out of the battle, and start again. I also wish the second player could jump in the bazaar, where you level characters and smith gear.

And as a final note, I want to know who the hell has been designing Zelda bad guys for the last few games. Zant and Ghirahim look so terrible! Just… ugh. Do video game designers in Japan hold contests to see who can draw the fruitiest or wackiest looking villain?

 

Retro Review: Megaman 6!

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Even the cover art is so much better than the previous entries!

Love retro games, but lack the time and patience to replay the same stages about 1,000 times over because a certain trick jump or jerk boss keeps getting the one-up on you? Well, I do. Lack the patience nowadays, that is. That’s why I’m in love with the Wii U’s Virtual Console games. They incorporate a Save State feature! For those of you who’ve never played an old-school game on an emulator before, a Save State basically allows you to save your progress at any point, so if things don’t go according to plan you can quickly load your last save and try again. While you only get one save state per game at a time, the system does remember your save state forever. I started playing Megaman 6 over the summer and recently picked it up again to find my save state right where I left it.

I didn’t mean for my retro review to open up with a Wii U Virtual Console plug, but there it is. I suppose that means this isn’t 100% retro, but whatever. It is very retro in that they didn’t incorporate the neat feature found in the Megaman Anniversary collection: using the L and R bumpers to swap abilities. As much as I love Megaman (And VI is my favorite) going back and forth into the menus to change abilities is freaking annoying. Especially in VI, because during the X and Wily stages it felt like I was constantly swapping to Rush Jet and Rush “Jacked” to traverse the levels or get extra goodies. It very well may be my only complaint about the game.

Like its predecessors, MM6 starts off with a relatively uninspiring introduction, complete with the “Baddie taking over the world with souped-up robots” schtick, and kicks you into the main menu screen. Here’s MM6’s Robot Master lineup:

megaman6bosses

 I find it hard to believe there was no Bizzard, Flame or Wind man before the sixth entry.

You’ve got a few standard elemental types, then they get creative with fighter types from around the world. I’m not sure in today’s PC world if they’d get away with such stereotype-grounded enemies like Tomahawk Man and Flame Man (turban and all). Plus, if you ask me, Plant Man is pretty fabulous. He takes the Megaman bosses prancing around to a new level: with a shield of flowers. An ability I never really grew fond of, to be honest. Even more risque is Centaur Man, if you go by his story in the Megaman 6 manga. See, Centaur MAN is actually Centaur WOMAN. In love with Knight Man, or so I read online. I even saved a scanned image of the manga showing Centaur Man after Megaman broke “his” helmet, revealing long, blond locks and that feminine 90’s manga-style face. But as it turns out, the file type is Bitmap and isn’t accepted by WordPress, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. I knew there was a reason I liked Centaur Man so much, besides the fact that it’s a Centaur and I’m a Greek Mythology nut.

I absolutely love this Megaman entry. I find it underrated and overlooked, due to Megaman X (My other favorite Megaman) releasing around the same time on the SNES. Why play the sixth NES entry when you could play a shiny new entry on the SNES? Well, now that it’s 20 years later, all you retro gamers need to play this if you haven’t already!

The music and graphics are top-notch for a NES game. I have all the old school MM soundtracks on my ipod, and this one is still my favorite. Every stage has fitting and catchy tracks that somehow bring back fond memories instead of the irritating ones! The level designs are creative and fun (in a Megaman kind of way) and also feature hidden exits and pathways thanks to the Rush adaptors. The Rush adaptors that don’t consume energy but add fun variations to the level designs. And let you punch enemies across the screen. Just saying. The Robot Master weapons range from lackluster to a lot of fun. The Centaur Flash is pretty cool. The Knight Mace can actually be aimed in different directions. But then you have the Plant Man Shield thing that just feels… useless. And Flame Man’s fire shot would be cool if it continued along the floor like when he uses it. But noooo, when Megaman acquires it, it just plops in front of him and makes one pathetic pillar of fire. Oh well.

There’s a “Megamanniversary” sale going on at Nintendo EShop until tomorrow, I believe, so pick up this classic (along with all the others) at a discounted price! Then you can enjoy this retro classic and save state your way through it if you want to save yourself some headaches. If not, have at it the old fashioned way. I just don’t want to hear about how badly your carpal tunnel is when you finally beat the game.