Monday, August 7, 2017

Rewind: Looking back at Breath of the Wild

It's been a couple of months since the release of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the immediate shower of praise that it received. I too took part in this massive circle jerk that was hailing Breath of the Wild as the greatest game of the year, decided in March. However, a recent read prompted me to go back and really look at Breath of the Wild as a Zelda game and see if maybe we had gotten carried away a little bit.
First of all, I'm going to address very quickly that Breath of the Wild is an incredible game that is ridiculously well designed and absolutely deserve any Game of the Year Award that it receives. That being said, here are some popular detractors that don't bother me:

  • The world being 'empty' doesn't bother me because it emphasizes the importance of what structures do exist in the overworld
  • Breakable weapons don't bother me because there are a plethora of weapons to find and use, you should never run out
  • The rain mechanic doesn't bother me because it encourages looking at the forecast and planning ahead
  • I thought the shrines were a nice way to pad the overworld and compensate for the few 'dungeons' the game did have. I think they were well thought out and had engaging, somewhat challenging puzzles
  • Korok seeds were an excellent addition and are well scattered throughout the land. The reward of literal shit is really a slap to the cock, but in the process, you also unlock a bunch of weapon, shield, and bow slots so that's your reward too, dummy
  • The fact that Breath of the Wild gives you the ability to literally climb anywhere makes it an objectively better open-world game than other open-world offerings. This is something that I will stand by. Climbing in an open-world means exploring literally everywhere and there are no dead zones locked out by a big cliff or conveniently placed mountain or hill. 
But, of course, Breath of the Wild has plenty of flaws too. One of the biggest problems with Breath of the Wild is that the developers were so eager to depart from the series in a big way, that they ditched some things that made Zelda games really awesome in the first place. Namely, dungeons and bosses. This is a common talking point among people looking to critique Breath of the Wild, and for good reason. Breath of the Wild's four divine beasts that serve as the game's dungeons are all easy, house no enemies, and offer no variety of scenery or challenge. In the same vein, the bosses of Breath of the Wild are horrible abominations that are just variants of Calamity Ganon. 
And this is where Breath of the Wild really worked itself into a corner. By completely replacing items with runes, and by making all of the runes available at the very beginning of the game, all bosses must be defeatable by any means. This means no specialized boss battles or specialized dungeons, which in turn means no Legend of Zelda.
I completely understand the desire to introduce runes and have every puzzle solvable at the very beginning, so the player can begin his or her adventure wherever they desire; however, dungeons need items to make them unique and give them substance and challenge. Breath of the Wild's dungeons suffer heavily from all being the same, which in turn hurts the game as a whole.
Another thing that really hurt the game in my eyes was connecting hearts and stamina to completing shrines. This alone doesn't hurt the game, but by making these collectibles exclusive to shrines, you are guaranteeing shite rewards throughout the rest of the game. Every single side quest rewards you with either rupees, food, or weapons. All temporary, none very helpful.

So how does Nintendo fix these problems? Easy. Soo, so easy.
  1. Keep the massive open world
  2. Keep the large number of shrines
  3. Keep a small set of runes
  4. This time, introduce 4-6 actual Zelda dungeons, complete with their own item to help solve the dungeon and kill the boss
  5. Still tie hearts and stamina to shrines, but not exclusively. Save some heart pieces and stamina bits for quests and mini-games
Wham, Breath of the Wild enhanced. Which leaves one large talking point left: the story. 
Ah, geez.
Breath of the Wild's story isn't horrible. It's not even bad. I really thought it was interesting just because of the brutality. Zelda plots in the past have gotten pretty dark before, but this is fucking intense. Calamity Ganon turns Sheikah technology against Hyrule and just destroys everything. Straight up decimates Castle Town, wrecks Hyrule Castle and unleashes a swarm of Guardians into Hyrule to kill everyone else. However, Zelda has been containing him for 100 years, which is enough time for Link to heal up, slap the Ganon out of the Divine Beasts and return to Hyrule Castle to kick Calamity Ganon's ass. I really liked seeing all of the different races together in the same game: Rito, Zora, Goron, and Gerudo, but the story is pretty rushed along in those four locales. Nonetheless, I thought that Nintendo still managed to make some characters fairly interesting. The whole memory recovery thing is pretty stupid to me and doesn't really add anything to the game other than some exposition.
On the subject of Ganon: what the hell is he? For the entire game leading up to the final battle, Ganon is seen as a cloud of purple smoke flying around the castle. Then, the final battle incarnates Ganon into a big, bearded, bug thing. Then, after that, Ganon reincarnates himself into his rage form: a pig. I believe Ganon loses some of his oomph because he is never seen as an actual character, he is just an evil thing.

Overall, Breath of the Wild is a great game, and yes it deserves a lot of praise, and yes it did do some really exciting new things. As a game, I do believe that it could and probably will win a lot of awards at the end of the year. But as a game in the Legend of Zelda series, it's not even top 5. 9/10.

Until next time, kcduckling out.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Splatoon 2 - a few days later

Hello boys and girls, kcduckling here, I've been pretty busy this past weekend really playing the crap out of Splatoon 2 and boy I've got a lot of praise to give.
If you haven't played the original, this is a crazy fun foray into a very unique game, unlike any other shooter on the market. The main game mode is a simple, 4v4 for who can cover more of the map with their team's color of ink. Killing, or in this case, "splatting" the opponents does nothing to help your score, but rather buys you more time to ink the map. Other game modes go beyond that and are more objective-based, but everything is fun.
For those of you that have played the original Splatoon, not much has changed. A few tweaks were made here and there (more on that later), and the new horde mode is ridiculous fun, and its easier to get the perks you want on the gear you want, but other than those few things, it is very much the same, fresh experience that you got to play on the Wii U.
As a huge fan of the original Splatoon, I am glad to see that much of the core gameplay from the original still holds up. Simple little tweaks implemented by Nintendo have very subtly helped balance and enrich the online experience. These tweaks include:

  • allowing Splat Charger to hold charge for a short period of time while submerged in ink
  • adding a vertical fling to the Splat Roller
  • adding checkpoints in Tower Control
  • adding a few details to the in-game HUD to provide more information, such as what weapon players have and if their special is ready
And speaking of the specials, I do believe that there is not a single one from the original game in this one, they have been completely scrubbed and replaced. However, much of the weapons from the first game return, to my delight, as well as the majority of the sub-weapons. Not to say there is not new weapons and subs in this game. The all-new Splat Dualies, which were featured heavily in all of Splatoon 2's advertising, are tremendous fun to use and include a dodge roll that no other weapon has. As for the new subs, the Autobomb has got to be my favorite.
The new horde mode, Salmon Run, is a fantastic addition to the game that really helps out with the variety of gameplay that Splatoon 2 offers in comparison to its predecessor. Although only available every other day for 12 hours a day, this new mode drops 4 players off on a small island and assigns them each a weapon that they then must use to hold off the waves of Salmonid creatures, defeating challenging bosses and stealing their golden eggs. The time constraints are a bummer, but the randomly assigned weapons ensure that you are trying out new ones all the time, which is a great move to really acquaint yourself with the game's vast arsenal.
The story mode is just as good as the original's. Hectic, colorful, and outrageous fun. The story mode really does a great job as well as switching around your weapon constantly while each level has a new mechanic for you to learn and master by the end of it. Collectibles are scattered throughout and are addicting to hunt down. The story mode even lets you try out a super-rare weapon, not available in the game yet, which is really neat.
The online lobbies have been working fine for me, only experiencing occasional (once every couple hours or so) drops back to the lobby, and my only real complaint is that you cannot switch weapons or gear in the lobby, which can be a really big thorn in your side. The map and mode rotation occurs every two hours as opposed to four, which is better, but still tedious when you're sitting down to play the game for an extended period of time.
Splatoon is all about looking fresh as hell, and Splatoon 2 has a lot of really neat options for what you wear, (my Inkling is rocking some Yeezys-lookalikes right now) and now it is even easier to get the perks you want on the clothes you want. Splatoon 2 has added 'ability chunks', earned by playing Salmon Run or by scrubbing your current clothes, and when you have 10, or sometimes 20 of these chunks, you can put that ability onto any piece of clothing you want.
Splatoon 2 really retains the success of the original Splatoon and adds enough new features and changes to really merit its 'sequel' status. Splatoon 2 is out now and I would strongly recommend buying it.

Until next time, kcduckling out.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Splatfest

Hey everybody, kcduckling here back from one of those classic 'gone for along time without telling anybody' stints. I've been pretty busy in my personal life lately, moving cities, getting a new job, and playing a hell of a lot of video games.
Yesterday was the World Premiere for Splatoon 2's Splatfests, and this was my first time getting to play Splatoon 2 (back when they had the testfire, my Switch's internet wasn't working), and I was not let down. Available weapons were a Splattershot, Splat Charger, Roller, and the brand new Splat Dualies.
I was using the Splattershot and Roller for the majority of my three hours that I got to play, and it felt really good to jump back in to Splatoon. When I had played on the Wii U, I had always used the motion controls, but for the back half of playing this, I went ahead and switched off motion controls and just used my pro controller, and it worked really well!
The theme of the Splatfest was Ice Cream vs. Cake and Ice Cream kicked the shit out of Cake. Not even close. For my three hours that I played the game, I, a member of Team Ice Cream, only played against a Team Cake twice. Clearly the world is pretty decided on whether ice cream or cake is better.
The only other note that I have to make is that I really wish that the controls could be changes, even a few simple options. As someone who has played Breath of the Wild for over 150 hours on my Switch, it's pretty ingrained in me that jump is the 'x' button. There were countless times in Splatoon 2 when I would be in the middle of a crazy fight with someone, and I would try to jump out of the way only to pull up the map, blind myself, and then get splatted. This isn't a huge deal, as I'll probably learn to switch over eventually, but adding a simple control change option wouldn't hurt.
Splatoon 2 comes out this Friday, July 21st. It's a hell of a lot of fun and if you are a Switch owner, you should definitely pick this up.

Until next time, kcduckling out.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

PlayStation is being childish

During E3, two separate conferences showcased cross-platform gaming that would be available in the near future. These two games were Minecraft and Rocket League. Let's first think about the significance of these games.
Minecraft is one of the best games of all time. Period. I don't care that there are hundreds of thousands of Let's Players on YouTube that ruin the game for some, or that a very large hunk of the user base is 10 year old kids, Minecraft is one of the most influential, biggest, and most successful video games of all time. So when XBOX, Nintendo Switch, PC, Linux, and Mac users can all play together, why would Sony be left out?
Similarly, why would Sony stay out of Rocket League cross play? Rocket League is one of the hottest games of the past 5 years and has a humongous install base, so why limit who people can play with?
Because Sony is a real piece of shit, that's why. Their actual reason was some stupid shit like "we gotta protect our young Minecraft players from external inlfuences" yeah fucking right go eat shit, Nintendo is in on this and they are supposed to have more kids on their systems than anybody else, eh? So where's your excuse now?
In the future, gamers will hopefully all be able to play together in third party games because that would be really cool and fun and wouldn't hurt anybody nor would it hurt any one company's sales. PlayStation is unfortunately not on board yet because they are horrible people who would rather put themselves before their players.
Listen to the people, PlayStation. I got friends that play Rocket League on PS4 and I just really want to play with them. Please. Come to your senses, pull your head out of your friggin asshole, and join in on the fun with literally everybody else.

kcduckling out

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nintendo at E3

Here on the final day of Nintendo's E3 showing, let's take a look back at what just happened. Because there was some crazy shit going on during that Nintendo Spotlight. Here are my grades for all the announcements.


"I don't care" tier

Xenoblade Chronicles X 
Fire Emblem Warriors
Skyrim on Switch 

"That's mildly interesting" tier

Kirby
Yoshi

"Hey, that's pretty good" tier

Rocket League on Switch
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Breath of the Wild Expansion Pass

Might have peed my pants a little bit tier

Pokemon RPG coming to Switch
Metroid Prime 4
Super Mario Odyssey


The Switch is really shaping up to have a strong finish to 2017, with ARMS tomorrow, Splatoon 2 in July, Mario + Rabbids in August, Pokken Tournament in September, and finally Super Mario Odyssey to close out the year in October. Fire Emblem Warriors and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are also slated for a 2017 release. This is really exciting news for anybody who can afford all of those games. Me personally, will probably only end up getting Splatoon 2 and Odyssey. 
However, with this strong finish to 2017, it leads one to wonder what Nintendo has in store for Switch support in 2018. All that we know of for now is Kirby and Yoshi, and although those are both solid franchises, they are also both just platformers which is really deflating to see after the more open-world success of Breath of the Wild and now Super Mario Odyssey.
Best case scenario, we might see Metroid Prime 4 and the Pokemon RPG on Switch come out next year as well, but these are not guarantees as both of those games have just been announced with no sort of gameplay or even trailer available.
Overall, Nintendo had a strong E3 showing and it looks like its gonna be a hectic close to 2017 with all the games that Nintendo is rolling out. It's also great to see Nintendo working with Microsoft on Minecraft and Rocket League cross play (which is another post I'll have up later).
Make sure you keep up with Nintendo on YouTube and check out all of the gameplay they have for their various games, because seriously that gameplay for Odyssey is really impressive.

Until next time, kcduckling out.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Pokemon News!

The other morning, I dragged my ass out of bed at nine in the morning because I wanted to watch the Pokemon-centered Nintendo Direct live. Was I disappointed? No. But many people were. Here's what went down.

Before this Direct was even announced, Pokemon fans everywhere were theorizing that Game Freak was working on a new Pokemon title for the Nintendo Switch: Pokemon Stars. There was never any evidence to back this up nor was there any reason to believe that Game Freak would be so quick to support the new Switch console with a mainline Pokemon RPG.
However, people were still immensely let down when Game Freak revealed that their Pokemon game on Switch was actually a deluxe port of their fighter Pokken Tournament. This is a great fit for the Switch, as it adds yet another competitive game to Nintendo's summer lineup alongside Splatoon 2 and ARMS.
Tacked on at the end of the presentation was a little snippet of a new 3DS game in the works: Pokemon Ultra Sun and Pokemon Ultra Moon. Very, very, very few details were given about this new game other than a few pictures of what Solgaleo and Lunala look like now, presumably under the influence of Necrozma.



No more details given. Hopefully we can see more of both of these games come Nintendo Treehouse at E3.
Oh yeah, Pokemon Gold and Silver are coming to Virtual Console on 3DS and are compatible with Pokemon Bank.
Until next time, kcduckling out.