Video Game Review: “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” on Nintendo Switch

I love my Switch. I finally got one in January ’19 as a sort of “reward” for getting a bunch of work done. After dropping numerous hints (fine, begging), my husband didn’t budge. As they say, if you want something, you’d better get it yourself.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a must for the latest Nintendo console, of course. I downloaded it and dove (dived?) straight in.

I’ve been playing Smash games since I was a kid and battling my little brother on the Nintendo 64. Melee (was that 18 years ago? DAMN!), Brawl, and the Wii version were all great fun, and I was introduced to the world of online play when I got my Wii U.

Gameplay

Nintendo has, wisely, kept the dynamics of Smash pretty much the same as the previous games. You’re presented with a menu and energetic music, pumping you up for a fight. There’s an offline mode of regular ‘smashing’ where every ten minutes of gameplay, a new character challenge appears and you beat them to unlock them. There’s a one-player mode (which I haven’t played much of yet) and, of course, an option to play online.

Characters

I’m not going to jump on the meme bandwagon and get enraged that Waluigi isn’t a playable character because Wario is my waifu. Although I think Nintendo goes overboard with Fire Emblem characters (no doubt appeasing its Japanese audience; the game isn’t that popular overseas, as far as I know), we got a good selection (over 70!) characters to choose from.

I was delighted to see the return of my personal favorites: Princess Peach, Ganondorf (beautifully overpowered), Wario, Kirby, Zelda, Wii Fit Trainer (shut up, she’s cool) and Bayonetta (for aesthetic purposes only; I suck at actually playing as her).

Online

Smash Bros. Ultimate online has to be one of the most frustrating yet addictive experiences in the history of gaming. Do I suck at this game, or do other people really spend fourteen hours a day in multiplayer? The few times I do actually win I’m over the moon, and I’m not ashamed to admit that getting my butt kicked several times in a row has reduced me to tears more than once.

But whatevs.

Quickplay Mode gives you everything you need to quickly enter a battle. You can even adjust the preferred rules by choosing one-on-one, group smash, or team battles, and choose between stock or timed. If you’re happy with anything, you can switch the preferred rules off.

Stages

The stages are fantastic! As well as golden oldies like Pokémon Stadium 2, Hyrule Castle, and Corneria, we can see a huge amount of new stages. Some are upgraded versions of old ones, some are incredibly annoying and, best of all, we don’t have to unlock them. Of course, we also see the return of a hazard-free Final Destination.

Glitches

Nintendo is usually great at releasing virtually glitch-free games, as opposed to some western companies who are so full of bugs they need to release a bunch of patches to make it playable. However, Ultimate‘s Battle Arena Mode needs work.

More often than not, I can’t find my friends if they open an Arena, and vice-versa. It makes playing online with friends impossible at times, which is a shame as I have a few people I’d love to smash with. Hopefully, Nintendo will sort out this strange phenomenon.

Spirits

A new version of a game needs new features, of course; as well as extra characters and updated graphics, Nintendo decided to introduce Spirits, which power up your character and give boosts to your defense, attack, and grab.

I don’t think I’m the only one who has zero interest in Spirits.

I just want to play! Smash Bros. battles are a test of skill, always have been. It wouldn’t be fair to be beaten by someone sub-par just because they collected a load of Attack Spirits or whatever. Thankfully, Spirits can be switched off in Online Mode.

Smash Bros. Ultimate is a fun experience and a must for any Nintendo Switch owner. Playing online can be frustrating if you’re not amazing, but it’s motivation to get better and watch your global score rise (not so fun to watch it fall).

I’d give it five stars if not for the Battle Arena glitches and the pointless Spirits. I give Ultimate four stars out of five.

4stars

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Video Games, Music, and Ramen in Tokyo

There’s a ramen restaurant near our house. Because of its location, it’s almost unknown, but it’s really trendy. It’s somewhere between a bar and a restaurant and has a theme that’s sort of a mix between music and surfing.

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This time, the owner got out his old SNES console and asked us if we wanted to have a go. Food and games?? I’d just spent the past nine hours on the PlayStation 4 but nobody needed to know.

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He set it up and we had enormous fun playing Super Mario, Tetris, and Street Fighter 2.

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On top of that, we of course got to eat yummy ramen! I like this place because although there isn’t as much variety as other ramen restaurants, the guy can make killer tonkotsu (pork) ramen.

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We also had some gyoza dumplings and it was yummy. What a nice evening!

If you find yourself in Meguro, definitely give this place a try. It is right next to Kushi-Katsu Tanaka and it’s called Iki. Here’s the location on Google Maps.

Playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Again

Day 28

Guyyyyyyys. It finally arrived.

Hnng.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a fantastic game and one that was played for thousands, probably millions of hours worldwide in the late 00s. As a lover of fantasy roleplaying games, I did my fair share of exploring, Oblivion gate closing, questing, and guilding. My younger brother, Calum, fell in love with the game and that was the first of many he ended up playing.

Upon finishing Skyrim and Dragon Age and listening to the Oblivion soundtrack I knew I needed to play it again. I never knew until recently (which might have saved me a lot of trouble) that the Japanese and the American PlayStations are the same; as in, you can play an American game on a Japanese console and vice-versa. I found Oblivion for a fairly reasonable price on Amazon, waited several weeks for it to arrive, and was suddenly jumping on the spot.

Would it be just as magical as when I first played it? Video game graphics have come along way since 2006. But as the music played, I was a happy teenager again, ready to dive into Tamriel and close shut the jaws of Oblivion.

Sometimes when you play a game for the nostalgia, it ends up being a bit disappointing. Last year, when I still had my Wii U, I downloaded Pokemon Snap which, to my delight, was available on the virtual console.

I finished it in about two hours thinking was that it? As a kid I spent weeks exploring the levels, taking photographs, collecting items and wondering where I needed to go to unlock new stages and new Pokemon. I’m not saying that it isn’t a good game; I just didn’t get the joy out of it that I did as a child because now I already know where all the secrets and items are.

Oblivion, however, is still as perfect and awesome and insane as it was twelve years ago, and I’m ready to waste time I could be spending reading, writing, or having a social life completing quests and helping Martin Septim realise his destiny as king. For the Emperor!

Top 10 Favourite Games of 2017

Day 11 [New Year’s Resolution]: Top 10 Favourite Games of 2017

I like video games a lot, and 2018 promises to bring some seriously cool releases. I played some awesome titles in 2017, so here is a list of my top ten favourites! Bear in mind these games weren’t necessarily released in ’17, they’re just ones I played.

10. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

Released in June 2017 on PlayStation 4, I was pretty excited to see a remake of this loveable orange character, who first appeared on the PlayStation 1. I didn’t actually have a PS1 when I was a kid (we were a Nintendo 64 family), but I remember playing the original on a cousin’s console sometime in the ’90s, and The Wrath of Cortex, which vaguely resembles the second in the new trilogy, was on GameCube.

The new one was fun and actually pretty difficult! I only just managed to finish the first of the trilogy, which means there is a lot more crystal and gem collecting, box destroying, fruit pick-upping, and bad guys’ ass whooping to go.

9. NieR RepliCant

NieR was a game that it seemed only my brothers and I knew about. It had a gorgeous storyline, a great script, fun gameplay, and was completely underrated. Then NieR: Automata came out, and everyone was suddenly a huge fan (just for the record, I do like Automata too, but I didn’t start playing it until 2018).

I found RepliCant on PS3 at a BOOK OFF store sometime last autumn and decided to play it again. Although it was RepliCant where Nier is a young boy and the brother of Yonah (as a teenager, I played the XBOX version, Gestalt, where Nier was a middle-aged man and Yonah was his daughter), it was still enjoyable. It brought back some great memories.

8. Shadow of the Colossus

Another classic is Shadow of the Colossus, an incredibly artistic game that resonated with a lot of people with its fantastic orchestral soundtrack, unusual gameplay, heart-wrenching ending, and mighty monsters. I bought my PS3 especially to play this again, and it was a lot of fun to complete.

Apparently PS4 owners can look forward to another Colossus remaster (it was originally released on PlayStation 2 in 2005). If you’re a fan of the game, keep an eye out for it. According to PlayStation’s Twitter account, it’ll be out in February 2018!

7. Call of Duty: World War II

I’d never played a Call of Duty game before, but I was really excited for WWII. I’m not too big on the multiplayer function, but I really enjoyed the campaign. Sometimes I felt I really was Officer Daniels, fighting to stay alive and blowing up Nazis.

6. Destiny

I’d vaguely heard of Destiny before, but didn’t pay it much attention until I heard the song Rise from the Dark by Malukah. As a huge fan of her music, that song got me interested, so I bought it.

I actually thought it was a lot of fun. It had a lot of features I love in games: open-world (kind of), the ability to level up and upgrade my weapons and armour, and interesting lore. However, I never got far beyond the basic campaign since I wasn’t willing to pay for downloads. Considering I got it for 600 yen at BOOK OFF, it was pretty good value for money.

I’ve heard Destiny 2 is out, but haven’t heard enough good things to invest 7000 yen into it.

5. The Binding of Isaac

All right, this game is super old, but I still played it a lot in 2017 (mostly during times I was supposed to be writing or studying.) It remains a fantastic and addictive game with deliciously dark underlying meanings.

4. Dying Light

I hadn’t even heard of Dying Light until my friend Mike lent it to me. He lent me a bunch of games, and I didn’t even touch this one until it had been sitting in my drawer for several months. I finally pulled it out last year and had a go at it, expecting a lot of shooting and gore like in Left4Dead. But it was really good!

I loved the open world, the ability to collect, loot, and craft, and the fact that it wasn’t all killing zombies – you had to climb and run and hide as well. Dying Light definitely exceeded my expectations.

3. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

This gets bonus points for nostalgia and the time spent furiously playing online and losing much more than I was winning. Super Smash Brothers has a special place in my heart; my brothers and I played it from the original Nintendo 64 version all the way through Melee and Brawl, too.

I, unfortunately, sold my Wii U towards the end of 2017, but not before I had fun playing as Peach, Wario, Kirby, and Shiek.

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I’ll admit, I was a late bloomer when it came to Skyrim. I actually did buy it when it came out in 2011, but my PC could barely run it, and after half an hour of lag, I gave up and didn’t play it again until January 2017.

I don’t need to explain why this is a great game. It had its flaws, but from its open world to endless quests to great music to DRAGONS, it was fantastic.

1. Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Origins on XBOX 360 was my favourite game when I was a teenager, and the story, music, and characters (Alistairrrr) touched me on a level nothing else has ever managed to. If you’ve played Origins, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

So imagine my surprise when Mike casually offered to lend me his copy of the newest installment, Dragon Age: Inquisition. I don’t really keep as up-to-date with the latest gaming news as much as I should, so I had no idea it was even out.

I’ve easily knocked five hundred hours or more into Inquisition, and it’s everything I wanted. I’ve written around twenty articles on LevelSkip including romance guides, approval guides, and how to kill the high dragons, and the characters have stayed with me almost (almost) as much as Alistair did in Origins. It’s a total masterpiece, and I just bought the Game of the Year edition the other day!

Rumours are flying around about another Dragon Age game as well, which I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed for.

Video games are a great pastime, and I’m always looking for interesting new titles to try as well as clinging to the games I played as a kid. Have you played any of these? Which ones do you like?