All posts by themancalledscott

Born of cold and winter air and mountain rain combining, the man called Scott is an ancient sorcerer from a long-forgotten realm. He’s more machine now than man, twisted and evil. Or, you know, he could just be some guy who loves video games, animations and cinema who just wanted to write about such things.

The Weekly Wizard: Issue #1: Switch Happens!


Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Weekly Wizard, a new segment here at Miketendo64 by TheManCalledScott, the evil genius behind WizardDojo.com. Here I will give opinions and such on current happenings in the world of Nintendo gaming, or maybe give little retrospectives on Nintendo’s past. Whatever I’m in the mood for, really…

For this first ever edition of this new segment, I figured it only made sense to write about the biggest thing in the world of Nintendo right now: the imminent launch of the Switch!

Continue reading The Weekly Wizard: Issue #1: Switch Happens!

Freedom Planet Review


img8a1

Freedom Planet is a love letter to the glory days of Sonic the Hedgehog. In fact, it started development as a Sonic fan game, until its developers at GalaxyTrail decided to create their own IP out of their love of the 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog classics. The end results are a satisfying platformer that could even be called the best Sonic game of recent memory, even if it doesn’t boast the titular hedgehog.

From the get-go, the Sonic influence is obvious. The game adopts the 16-bit visuals of the Sega Genesis, and no doubt its musical score echoes inspiration from Sega’s heyday (not just in Sonic, but a Nights Into Dreams influence can be heard from time to time as well).

The base game includes two playable characters: Lilac is a suspiciously hedgehog-esque dragon who has powerful kicks and hair whips, as well as the ability to “dragon dash” using stored up energy, and a helicopter spin to add a little boost to her jumps. Carol is a wildcat who isn’t quite as strong as Lilac, but has quicker clawing attacks, can wall jump, leap between specially marked platforms, and can use the aforementioned energy for a rapid kicking combo.

Post-release add-ons for the PC releases have added additional playable characters – including Milla the dog, the game’s tritagonist – though the Wii U version has yet to receive these updates.

Either way, having two characters from the get-go gives players a little bit of diversity in its campaign, as Lilac and Carol battle armies of robots to save their planet from the evil Lord Brevon.

This simple story is perhaps the biggest differentiation between Freedom Planet and the 16-bit Sonics that inspired it. If you play the game in Adventure Mode, each level is introduced and concluded with a series of cinematics, complete with voice acting.

I have to say, for having 16-bit limitations, the cinematics are actually quite impressive, though they can at times become a bit too lengthy, which is probably what inspired GalaxyTrail to also include Classic Mode, where players jump directly into the levels without all the cinematics.

freedom_planet_cutscene

On one hand, I feel the game is definitely meant to be played with the story intact, and something feels a little off when playing it without them. But on the other hand, I’m not too big of a fan of some of the characters (like Milla, whose cuteness is forced to the point of obnoxiousness, or Torque, an alien ally who often wears a duck beak for some reason), whom I feel are a little on the pandering side, and again, some of the cinematics drag on and on. In the end, I suppose it’s all down to personal preference.

The gameplay remains stellar, however, with clever level designs that contain multiple pathways a la 16-bit Sonic, with new mechanics added throughout the adventure to keep it all fresh.

There are minor tweaks to the Sonic formula at play, however. Instead of rings that work as a health system and a means to gain extra lives, Lilac and Carol collect red leaves, with every two red leaves refilling one of their hit points. Meanwhile, blue crystals need to be gathered in quantities of 200 in order to gain an extra life.

If there’s one big drawback to Freedom Planet, it’s that it boasts a rather glaring inconsistency in the difficulty between the levels and boss fights. The levels themselves can be easy or reasonably challenging, but even some of the game’s early bosses are on the frustratingly difficult side of things. It’s one thing if a hard game has hard bosses, or if the boss fights gradually become more difficult. But I can’t help but feel there’s no real transition in the boss difficulty. The levels themselves gradually stack up the difficulty, but the boss fights are difficult from the offset.

freedom_planet_running_boss

The complaints are ultimately minor, however. Freedom Planet itself is a whole lot of fun, and feels like a Genesis classic that never was. It’s lightning-fast platforming and smart level design stand favorably alongside Sonic’s most fondly-remembered adventures, it’s fluidly animated with surprisingly strong production values, and its soundtrack – like any great 16-bit title – is a thing of utterly infectious beauty.

Sonic may have lost a step or two over the years, but Freedom Planet is a reminder that the foundations Sonic built were timeless and, of course, way passed cool.

 

8.0

TheManCalledScott’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Nintendo Switch Games


The Nintendo Switch is imminent. As it’s worldwide March 3rd release approaches, we all have our lists of games we’re looking most forward to from the new home console/handheld hybrid.

1-2-Switch looks like it has the potential to be a great party title, and Arms looks to do to the fighting genre what Splatoon did for the shooter. But there are five games that I can safely say I’m most excited for, so I figured I’d cram them all into a list. Because that’s what I do sometimes.

Keep in mind that this particular list is based on games that are officially announced for the Nintendo Switch. There are rumblings (and very justifiable assumptions) that Yooka-Laylee will see a release on Switch, but it isn’t confirmed officially as of this writing., so games in that ballpark won’t be found here (though if it were included, Yooka-Laylee would be towards the top for sure). Obviously, this also means that games that I would like to see, but are currently just pipedreams (like a new DKC), are also not here.

Now with all the technicalities out of the way, here are my top 5 most anticipated games for the Nintendo Switch.

Continue reading TheManCalledScott’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Nintendo Switch Games

The Nintendo Switch Hype is Real!


TheManCalledScott’s quick, early thoughts on the Nintendo Switch’s lineup.

Wizard Dojo

Before I get to my opinions of the Switch or its lineup of games, I just want to express how grateful I am that those horrible rumors of a Mario RPG/Rabbids crossover turned out to be false. The idea of Super Mario RPG FINALLY getting a sequel, only to have it defecated upon by the presence of the Rabbids (the most insufferable gaming mascots of all time) was just too much to bear. But it was all nothing but lies and deceit. This is cause for celebration.

Anyway, the Switch looks pretty incredible. I like the different play styles (console, handheld, and tabletop), and the controllers look quite nice. The “differing battery life” seemed like a vague answer to one of everyone’s biggest concerns, but I guess I can worry about that another time. The good definitely outweighed the bad with Nintendo’s presentation (though what, must I ask, was up with…

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Luigi’s Mansion Arcade Review


A Wizard Dojo review.

Wizard Dojo

Luigi's Mansion Arcade

In 2015, Nintendo released an arcade iteration of their Luigi’s Mansion franchise to arcades in Japan, courtesy of developer Capcom. The game has since made its way to select arcades stateside, as something of a test run to see how well it fares outside of its native Japan. Hopefully this test run turns into something more, as Luigi’s Mansion Arcade is the best of the recent arcade transitions of Nintendo franchises.

The first highlight of Luigi’s Mansion Arcade is the setup itself. The game is featured in an enclosed cabinet, giving it a darker, more isolated feeling that fits the game’s haunted house theme. The cabinet features a seat for two players, each of which use a controller modeled after Luigi’s Poltergust 5000 vacuum.

Unlike the GameCube original or the 3DS sequel, Luigi’s Mansion Arcade is presented in a first-person view, meaning that players see everything from Luigi’s viewpoint. The players…

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The Wii U Game I Must Have Ported to the Switch


If rumors are to be believed, it seems that the Mario Kart and Splatoon titles heading for the Nintendo Switch aren’t entirely new entries, but enhanced ports of their Wii U editions.

This may come as a disappointment to some, but I think there’s a bright side to this. It’s true that the ports may be done to get some quality titles onto the Switch early on, but I think it’s also something of a testament to both the longevity of Nintendo’s titles, and the quality the Wii U brought to Nintendo’s franchises (seriously, the games were great! Why didn’t they sell more?). I’ve long since stated that Mario Kart 8 is the best entry in the long-running series, and if Nintendo fixed the battle mode and added some better character selections, it would pretty much be perfect. So if the Switch Mario Kart is just that, I’ll have no complaints.

Point being, while I would like to see some sequels to a number of Wii U games on the Switch, I’m also all for enhanced ports, provided they make some meaningful changes to the titles. But there is one Wii U game I’d love to see get an enhanced Switch port more than any others.

No, it’s not Super Smash Bros. It’s not Xenoblade Chronicles X. It’s not Pikmin 3. Those are all great games, and seeing them ported to the Switch would also be great.  But the Wii U game I most want to see get an enhanced port on the Switch is none other than…

 

DKCTF

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze!

 

Pretty much anyone who knows me or reads anything I write should know that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is my favorite Wii U game, and one of my favorite Nintendo games of all time. Retro Studio’s Donkey Kong Country Returns was a fantastic return to form for DKC, but Tropical Freeze cranked everything up to all new levels.

The level design was some of the most creative ever seen in any game of any genre, the gameplay additions (such as Dixie and Cranky) were terrific and meaningful, and the soundtrack (composed by the legendary David Wise) is one of the finest in gaming history. Simply put, it was one Hell of a platformer.

DKCTFDespite its quality, Tropical Freeze was only a modest success. Perhaps partly due to the Wii U’s overall lackluster sales, and partly due to Nintendo fans (astoundingly) being disappointed at the game’s initial reveal, instead wishing for a new Metroid title from Retro Studios (because apparently one DKC from Retro was enough, but three Metroids weren’t???). No matter the case, the game sold decently enough, but doesn’t even rank as one of the Wii U’s 10 best-selling games. And despite getting strong reviews upon its release, it basically went under the radar from there, winning very few awards and rarely ranking nearly high enough on lists of best Wii U games.

This is a crying shame, not just because of the game’s immense quality, but also because it all but ensured that it never received any DLC or significant updates in a generation when Nintendo finally embraced such concepts.

Granted, a fantastic game stands on its own merits, and doesn’t need any additional content (just look at all the SNES greats). But considering that the Wii U was the console that saw Nintendo regularly update titles, often with significant additions (such as with Mario Kart 8, Splatoon, and Super Mario Maker), this really felt like a missed opportunity.

Though Tropical Freeze was a substantial improvement on the already-great Donkey Kong Country Returns, it still stands at being two whole worlds shorter. Once again, I prefer quality to quantity, and would prefer a shorter game with more polish and creativity than a lengthier one that features less in those departments. But how great would it have been to see additional stages, or even additional worlds, added to Tropical Freeze? What about extra modes, more secrets, or additional animal buddies?

Looking back, it seems like Nintendo and Retro Studios could have done something for the game post-release.

Now, I would absolutely love to see what Retro Studios could do if they were to make a third Donkey Kong Country title of their own. But since they’ve already announced that their next game (sadly) has nothing to do with DK, that’s off the table (hopefully we’ll get another DKC down the road at some point).

DKCTFSo if we won’t be seeing a new Retro Studios DKC anytime soon on the Switch, the next best thing would be for Tropical Freeze to make its way onto the console/handheld hybrid with some additional bells and whistles. This may not be entirely likely (again, the game was only a modest success), but if there’s one Wii U game I’d want to revisit on the Switch above all others, it’s definitely this one (okay, I suppose Mario Maker has a ton of potential, but Tropical Freeze was my favorite, okay?!).

Maybe with Retro working on another title, a different studio could handle a potential port, while adding new features to the process? Or perhaps Retro could cook up some brand new stages for the game as a side project? I don’t know, I’m just throwing ideas. All I know is I would absolutely love for this to happen.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is one of my favorite Nintendo games of all time. And you can never have too much of a great game. If Nintendo is really going to enhance some of the Wii U’s best games and bring them over to the Switch, it would be a perfect opportunity to make one of their greatest releases in recent memory all the more special.

They may have missed the opportunity to add more levels, bosses and gameplay additions to Tropical Freeze with DLC or updates. But hey, better late than never, right?

While we’re at it, can we also get the Tropical Freeze soundtrack on CD or something? That would be wonderful.

DKCTF

Nintendo Wii Turns 10!


Feel old?

Wizard Dojo

Wii

Time to feel old, everyone! The original Nintendo Wii was released in North America ten years ago today. Yep, it was November 19th 2006 that the gaming landscape was changed forever, as Satoru Iwata’s home console brainchild was released, and changed perceptions of what it means to be a gamer.

The Wii opened the door for audiences who previously seemed as far removed from gaming stereotypes as possible. No longer were video games just a “geek” pastime, but a hobby for just about everyone, from small children to grandparents and everything in between. It not only changed the direction of Nintendo, but even Sony and Microsoft took note, and if the popularity of mobile games is any indication, the Wii’s impact is still being felt.

Sure, the console had more than its share of shovelware (but then again, so did the PS2, not that anyone seems to bring that up)…

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Paper Mario: Color Splash Review


Is Paper Mario: Color Splash a return to form? Or does it fall flat?

Wizard Dojo

Color Splash

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars began the concept of transforming the world of Super Mario into an RPG series. Though Super Mario RPG never got a proper sequel, its legacy was continued by two series: the handheld Mario & Luigi titles, and Paper Mario. Both series were great in their own right, but it was Paper Mario that felt closer in spirit to Super Mario RPG.

Despite the Mario RPGs being among Nintendo’s best titles – up there with Zelda, Donkey Kong, and the Mario platformers – Nintendo, for reasons that will never make sense, decided to opt out of the Mario RPGs as time went by.

The last two Mario & Luigi titles have basically stripped away the depth in story, characters and gameplay from the first three titles, but Paper Mario has been altered all the more. Super Paper Mario took away the turn-based battles…

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Could Dark Souls be Coming to Nintendo Switch?


Although the Nintendo Switch has now been revealed, there’s still a lot of mysteries surrounding Nintendo’s upcoming console. For example, we know that Nintendo is trying to rectify their third-party troubles, which have been a thorn in Nintendo’s side for too long now. Yet we still don’t really know what games  to expect from them.

There is one prospect that’s really peaked my interest with this new third-party prospect, however… The possibility of Dark Souls, or a Souls-like game by From Software, appearing on Nintendo Switch.

This previously seemed like an impossibility, but let’s take a look at Nintendo’s official list of third-parties who are developing for the Switch.

Nintendo Third-parties

Better yet, here’s how that same image looks through my eyes.

From Software

That’s right, From Software is developing for the Nintendo Switch. And my mind is going crazy with possibilities.

Now, a worst case scenario is that From Software’s involvement may have nothing to do with the Souls games. But they’re a great developer nonetheless, so it wouldn’t be too bad.

But what if this is an indicator of From Software bringing the Souls series to Nintendo’s newest platform? The most obvious possibility would be a port of Dark Souls 3 which, frankly, I wouldn’t mind, because it’s an utterly amazing game. Though a collection of all three Dark Souls titles doesn’t seem impossible.

Either of those options would be very much appreciated. Personally speaking, I think the Souls series is the best modern gaming franchise, so for it to finally appear on a Nintendo console in any capacity is incredible. Plus all the Nintendo players who missed out on Dark Souls in the past have can finally experience this terrific series.

Now, here’s where I go into my own wish fulfillment, but what if From Software were to develop a brand new Souls-style game exclusive for the Switch, much like they did with Blood Borne on the PS4?

Yes, this is a bit of a stretch, but it could also be exactly the kind of third-party support Nintendo needs. Nintendo managed to make Bayonetta an exclusive property, what if they were able to do something similar with From Software?

Again, a Dark Souls 3 port or a Dark Souls collection are more realistic options, and even if that’s the case, that’s some exquisite third-party support right there. But seeing as Dark Souls is available on other hardware, it wouldn’t exactly drive those who already own them on said hardware to jump ship (though for me personally, Dark Souls is Dark Souls, and I’ll take it!).

The possibilities that could emerge from a Nintendo exclusive Souls-like game are quite intriguing. Would it be a brand new IP? Or could From Software dabble into an established Nintendo franchise and give it a Souls makeover? All I know is, if it were to end up as good as any of the other Souls titles, it would be every bit as much of a reason to buy a Switch as Mario or Zelda.

There are still so many questions as to what the Switch has in store. Hopefully we’ll start getting some answers sooner rather than later. And if those answers include the Souls series and Super Mario appearing on the same console, then it would be a dream come true.

For now, it’s only a dream.

Mario Party 2 Review


A Wizard Dojo review.

Wizard Dojo

Mario Party 2

The Mario Party series has seen many, many iterations since the release of its first entry in 1999. Though the series’ annual releases eventually meant the games would eventually be watered down (even now that the releases are no longer annual, the newest entries are frowned upon more than ever), the original N64 trilogy is fondly remembered. Perhaps none more so than the second installment, which was released in 2000.

Mario Party is a rather easy series to summarize: Players take control of a different character from the Mario universe (here including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Wario and Donkey Kong), and take turns moving across board game-inspired levels, with mini-games spread throughout after each player has taken a turn. The basic goal of Mario Party is to have more stars than the other players by the time the game is over.

Just like any real board game, things are a…

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Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Arcade Edition Review


A Wizard Dojo Arcade review.

Wizard Dojo

M&SATR2K16OGAE

The Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series has been around for a good while now, and its newest edition – which sees characters from the Mario and Sonic universes take part in the Rio Olympics from this past Summer – now brings the series to arcades. The Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series isn’t exactly the biggest critical darling of either franchise (to put it lightly), so how well does it transition to arcades?

Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Arcade Edition follows the same basic formula of its predecessors: Players pick one of several Mario or Sonic characters, and partake in mini-games themed after Olympic sports. The difference here is that the arcade cabinets provide some unique control schemes.

Two large joysticks are placed in front of the player, while they simultaneously stand on a footpad similar to those found in Dance…

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Mario Kart Arcade GP DX Review


A Wizard Dojo Arcade review.

Wizard Dojo

MKAGPDX

Mario Kart as been one of Nintendo’s most successful and beloved franchises. Every major platform since the SNES has seen the release of a new Mario Kart title, and in more recent years, Nintendo has teamed with Namco Bandai Games to produce a series of Mario Kart titles for arcades. The third and most recent of which, Super Mario Arcade GP DX, can be played in many arcades in Japan and in the west. But just how well does this arcade installment stack up against the traditional entries on Nintendo’s platforms?

In many ways, Mario Kart Arcade GP DX is a pretty interesting game. Not only does it bring Mario Kart to arcades, but in many instances you are able to save data so that you keep unlocked features with future visits (though not every arcade provides the means to save progress, and simply have many of the game’s aspects…

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Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 64) Review


How well does the original Super Smash Bros. hold up?

Wizard Dojo

SSB64

Super Smash Bros. quickly became one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises. And how could it not? It’s a fighting series where Nintendo’s most beloved characters duke it out with sumo-style rules, and Mario Kart-esque weapons. But after the sequels built so strongly on the series’ formula, going back to the original may come us a slight disappointment. While the 1999 original Super Smash Bros. remains a fun game in its own right, it feels more than a little empty when compared to any of its sequels.

As stated, Super Smash Bros. is a fighting game where – rather than depleting your opponents’ health – the goal is to accumulate enough damage to send them flying off the screen, thus eliminating them. It’s a simple enough setup, but it has proven so much fun that the series has produced some of the most insanely replayable games of all time.

On the…

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Mortal Kombat Trilogy (N64) Review


A Wizard Dojo review.

Wizard Dojo

MKT

Back in the mid 1990s, Mortal Kombat was all the rage. Its ridiculously violent “Fatalities” made it the subject of controversy, while its stylized combat and esoteric secrets made it the talking point of many gamers. It makes sense then, that during the height of Mortal Kombat mania, the series would see something of a “best of” installment. Released in 1996 on home consoles, Mortal Kombat Trilogy took the foundations of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, and added in characters and stages from the previous installments in the series, while also hosting some new characters of its own. But just how well does Mortal Kombat Trilogy hold up?

Well, on the plus side, it’s still very much possible to have some good fun (as well as a bit of frustration) when playing with friends. On the downside, the single player options really don’t feel worth the ridiculous difficulty, and some of…

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Goldeneye 007 Review


Some classics don’t stay classic.

Wizard Dojo

Goldeneye

Goldeneye 007 was not only the most acclaimed game in Rare’s illustrious library back when it was released on the Nintendo 64 in 1997, but one of the most revolutionary video games ever made. Few would argue that it’s the most influential licensed video game of all time, as it singlehandedly popularized the idea of multiplayer first-person shooters appearing on home consoles. Simply put, without Goldeneye 007, it’s very likely that the FPS genre wouldn’t have risen to the unparalleled popularity with the likes of Halo and Call of Duty in the decade that followed.

Goldeneye had a solid single player campaign modeled after the James Bond film of the same name, but it was with its multiplayer mode – which was shockingly thrown in development at the last minute – that gave Goldeneye 007 the most praise and its long-standing acclaim. I myself can remember spending countless hours with…

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