My Missing Link

I’m a shitty Zelda fan.

Believe me, I do my best. I haven’t missed a Zelda game since Ocarina Of Time (my NES and SNES days are a blur of relying on adults to determine what games I should play), and I try my damnedest to finish them.

But there’s always been an odd exception that forces others to question not only my love for the series, but also for Nintendo altogether.

I haven’t played A Link To The Past.

If the leading game journalist were to climb atop a mountain,stone iPad tablet in hand, I imagine what I’ve failed to do would be one of his ten commandments.

I’d be stoned to death, or at the very least berated on Twitter.

As my buying habits dictate, I bought the game two years ago on the Wii Virtual Console, but I’ve only managed to put an hour or so into it. Story of my life.

Regardless, I ran head first into A Link Between Worlds. So, for my part, I can say that the love surrounding this latest entry is fueled by more than nostalgia.

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Getting Ripped

For some, Tearaway‘s features read like a compilation of gaming’s most notorious.

*Augmented Reality puts YOU in the game!
*Touch Controls to leave your (literal) mark with!
*Motion controls for extra accuracy!
*Use the microphone because that’s rad!

I suppose we’ve been conditioned to expect the worse of anything that extends beyond the buttons and sticks of our controllers. There are bad examples out there, games that resort to a list like that just for the sake of it.

But Tearaway isn’t that type of game, with its use of those features as far from gimmick as it gets.

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The folks at Media Molecule use everything the Vita provides, not to be as distinctively a ‘Vita game’ as possible, but because it allows them to tell a story they couldn’t otherwise. Anyone can incorporate every aspect of the hardware, it takes real creativity to put it to good use.

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Year of the Bra-ler

Senran Kagura Burst is a ripe with conflict. Not just the variety you’ve come to expect from a brawler, but as whole it’s a body of work that has me wondering just what it’s trying to say.

If it were as simple as “it’s that boob game”, one could jump to the logical conclusion that Burst is a pandering mess. However, it is not that cut and dry.

Burst is fun. Burst is well written. Burst is self aware. Does this mean I can get over the countless crotch shots, impossible breast physics, and upskirts that would make a toilet cam blush? I’m not sure if I even know yet, but I’m having an interesting time finding out.

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Eight Weird & Wonderful DSiWare Recommendations

The DSi Shop was never as glamourous as the eShop. Belonging exclusively to a physical iteration of the DS was just the start of its problems, with its layout and speed remaining an issue throughout its life. But, flying in the face of all this drama is the fact that good games remain! I’m not here to just tell you what the ‘Top X DSiWare Games That’ll Rock Your Butt’ are (someone else took care of that), but instead I thought I’d share some of the more obscure titles. They are still top notch, and I’d put them against your Shantae‘s any day of the week, but maybe you just never heard of them. Maybe some dope DS game came out earlier that week and you never thought to punish yourself by loading up the DSi Shop.

Let’s kick this thing off.

Maestro! Green Groove by Pastagames, $4.99/500 Points

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Now this is a treat for rhythm-action fans. Developed by the folks at Pastagames (Arkedo Series – Pixel, Pix’N Love Rush), Maestro is a musical platformer, comparable to HarmoKnight. It does everything right as far as my preferences for the genre, a highlight being Maestro employs one mechanic throughout its entirety. As opposed to something like Rhythm Heaven which is several mini games all using different mechanics, Maestro delivers a single mechanic that grows as you play. As Presto, that pink bird you see up there, players strum and tap the touch screen in tune to the music. The soundtrack is composed of interesting takes on classical music, which sits with me better than an all original arrangement that may have its fair share of clunkers. Presto is constantly in motion, with the player controlling his path by swiping the strings he runs on. Collectible fruit litters the path, but there’s also strings to strum in time with the music, as well as enemies to tap. It works wonderfully, and the difficulty ramps up quickly; Pastagames clearly doesn’t want you to butcher the works of Beethoven and get away with it. As lovely as Maestro‘s soundscapes are, its visuals are just as arresting.

Glow Artisan by Powerhead Games, $4.99/500 Points

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When browsing a digital games store, there’s certainly no shortage of puzzle games. While you’re drowning in a sea of ‘match three’ puzzlers, grab hold of Glow Artisan and it will pull you back to shore with its rippling, tanned muscles.

Glow Artisan manages to take something as simple as color mixing, turn it into something complex, but still keep it fun as all hell. On the top screen, players are presented with a 5×5 grid of coloured squares. Using the touch screen, the player is asked to recreate that image. By sliding from left to right and top to bottom, the player creates a row of coloured boxes. You are able to choose the colour, and by overlapping one with another, create a new colour altogether. Where things get complex is when the erase tool is thrown into the mix. The collection of squares you’re attempting to duplicate will have empty spots on its grid, you achieve this by use of the erase tool. What’s tricky is that you must erase an entire row or column, so that particular empty spot on the grid takes some special planning. Where and when you place your row becomes a science, and the game’s difficulty ramps up immediately. It’s insanely complex, but there’s just nothing else like it. As hard as it is, the game pulls at your logical and creative sides so perfectly that you can’t help but fall into that ‘just one more try’ syndrome. If you think I’m crazy, know that Nintendo saw the quality in Glow Artisan as well, allowing Powerhead Games to participate in the ‘Developer Showcase’ portion of WarioWare DIY.

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One Knight In Armature: An Interview With Jack Mathews

As bright as the spotlight that beckons Batman, I’ve made my love for Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate quite clear, both here on the site and Nintendo World Report’s Connectivity podcast. When I finally bested the last of the game’s villains, I couldn’t wait to pick the brain of Armature Studio, the folks behind the game. I got in touch with Jack Mathews, a director of Blackgate, as well as one of the founders of Armature Studio, and was able to discuss Batman, the expectations for someone who worked on the Metroid Prime series, and why they develop for handhelds.

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What is the meaning behind the studio’s name?

Jack Mathews (JM): When we first started the studio, the idea behind it was to develop prototypes, then use distributed development to use outside resources to ramp up development of the game. An “Armature” is the substructure of a building or a sculpture, so it seemed to make sense. Of course, over time, we have evolved to a more traditional studio model, so the only part of that business model that remains is the name.

Many games set out to have Metroid-like design, but I’d argue that few are successful. What is the most difficult part in developing an exploration heavy game, and how does Armature Studio address it?

JM: Metroid-style games have a huge amount of hurdles to overcome. Due to the backtracking and exploration, you need interesting environments. Due to the “item-based progression” (using abilities as keys rather than, well, keys), you need to be able to have cool enough items that are fun, but also interesting challenges that make the player feel smart when they realize they can use the tool they just got to help them on something they saw awhile back (hey, there was a weak wall and I just got explosive gel!). All of this stuff hits the player abilities, the room and scenario design, and the art direction. It’s very difficult to keep all of those moving pieces together.

As for what we do to address it, intense amounts of planning.

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The Dog Days of 2011

When was the last time you played as an anthropomorphic animal?

Seriously.

Was it Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time?

I realize the glory days of the furred hero are long past. Its corpse shambles along, energized by Ratchet & Clank‘s diminishing returns, and the artwork of fans who imply these stars were more endowed than their creators let on. When the old guard is caught making out with human women, it’s clear that beastkind is no longer wanted.

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Do you wish to once again drown in the tears of a fatherless Fox McCloud? Cozy up to a dozing Banjo? Then have I got the game for you.

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Stopnote

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Swapnote is dead!

Long live every existing alternative!

The 3DS messaging service, known as Swapnote, is no more. I see the cries for mercy, the threats thrown at our Nintendo overlords. But for all the lamentation over the program’s abrupt ending, I want to reply back with that famous Reggie Fils-aime picture.

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I just can’t reciprocate those feelings, bro. I never enjoyed Swapnote, so I won’t be losing any sleep over the decision.

Nintendo reports that due to children throwing their 3DS friend code into the wild, asshole losers are getting ahold of them and sending gross stuff their way. Do I believe this is happening? Absolutely. Is it the reason Swapnote has been gutted? I imagine it plays a role, but I’m sure there’s something else at play. Perhaps Miiverse’s introduction to the 3DS would destroy any reason for Swapnote to exist.

Did you use Swapnote as a fun way to exchange doodles? Great, you have my sympathies. What I’m bothered by is the sudden appearance of Swapnote ‘super fans’ claiming the 3DS’s one message delivery system is gone. Guess what? You outed yourself as someone who never used Swapnote because no one used it to exchange messages. Wanted to ask your bud to play some Mario Kart before bed? I hope you were intending to play two days later, because that’s when he’s getting your note. Swapnote was very much a Nintendo product, but one that’s largest flaw made it a novelty at most. When I remember that it staggered your downloaded notes, and made any sort of organization a chore, I can’t believe it didn’t die sooner.

I feel the overwhelming backlash is just being upset over something being taken away. Should we worry about Nintendo taking the eShop away because Jonny Kiddo is buying Mature rated games? Nope! Nintendo just realized what a turd Swapnote was, and will atone for its sin with the eventual release of Miiverse on 3DS.