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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: New Balance Patches, Spirit Events, and Event Tourneys are OVER!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - The only new stuff left are future amiibo.

If you were hoping that a renewed sense of importance in the Super Smash Bros. series going into 2022 would have Super Smash Bros. Ultimate continue to get content updates... you'd be wrong. Spirit events and event tourneys are now repeating. And the final balance patch, 13.0.1, was released last night. It supports some new amiibo and has these fighter adjustments, summarised in the following Beefy Smash Doods video:

I must admit that I'm happy to once again receive some buffs. Well, less me and more my Koopa Clown Car. The Grinder that appears with my dash attack is stronger and more consistent, along with the car's tongue (well, it's not stronger, but it's more likely to KO due to its new angle). My Up Smash's propeller blades are even stronger now, and one of my favourite tricks, the Kart Dash's spin-out, is more powerful as well in terms of how far it'll send my opponents! That's on top of the buffs from 9.0.0 where the side-b got more armour on it.

Ike (the same Ike who isn't gay) got some buffs too, but I don't find them notable compared to that time his Aether got drastically improved.

I like that Steve, Min Min, and Pyra and Mythra all got nerfs, but I'm upset that some other characters, like that electric yellow rodent Pikachu, didn't get a thoughtful nerf even once and has been considered top tier since the game came out. I'm not really sure who would be forward-smashing with Mythra to begin with instead of just switching to Pyra, but I'll establish my superiority regardless:

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

KoopaTV's November 2021 Review Newsletter

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I don't like this coming month, you know.

The next of these newsletters I publish, it'll be 2022. That's WEIRD. I don't like it.

Anyway, this newsletter is all about making sure you're caught up with what happened with KoopaTV (your favourite website, surely?) during the month that just passed—November 2021! We'll cover the top articles, the top reader commentary, a leaderboard notice to the current KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program round, and our Corrections Corner that (unfortunately) isn't empty this time.

Top Five Recommended Experiences of November 2021

In chronological order...
  1. The Evolution of the Fire Emblem Soldier — This is a rather in-depth article examining the humble (and disrespected) beginnings of the Soldier class in Fire Emblem... and how they've achieved parity and even equality with other classes in the latest games.
  2. Ring Fit Adventure Fitness Log Week 52: Fighting Super Pet Contest Rejects — This is my compromise for excluding the actual Super Pet Contest article from this top five, but this really is the best Fitness Log of Fitness Master mode so far because it's brimming with actually interesting game info, fitness info, and... some aspects of my personal life.
  3. Yeah, Activision is Dumb for Having In-Office Alcoholic Drinks — While this isn't the... typical take people and companies are having from what's going on with Activision Blizzard, it's a topic I feel rather strongly about and I've yet to hear any justification for it.
  4. Riot Expands League of Legends Lore with Indie-Developed Spin-offs — I may not be a fan of League of Legends (and that's an understatement), but I very much respect the Riot Forge initiative and think it's a model for other publishers to follow.
  5. Habit-Forming Game Comparison: Ring Fit Adventure vs. Pokémon Smile — I've been vocal in my support for Ring Fit Adventure on KoopaTV for the past couple of years, and I've also done things with Pokémon Smile. Using a framework from an author specialising in how industry hooks customers on developing habits, I evaluated and compared the designs for those two games.

There are several articles I ended up snubbing in this top five (including those with interesting gimmicks to them that I would really like everyone to see), so what you should REALLY do is consider every KoopaTV article worth reading... and then go check them out.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Monster Hunter Rise and Monster Hunter Stories 2 Roadmaps Completed

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - That's a wrap.

Okay, with one big exception that won't happen for a while (Monster Hunter Rise is getting a big paid expansion called Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak... in summer 2022, which is so far away it's hard to imagine), the free update roadmaps for highly successful CAPCOM titles Monster Hunter Rise and Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin are done. All five CAPCOM Collabs complete for Monster Hunter Rise, and CAPCOM delivered the Free Title Update #5 in October 2021 for Monster Hunter Stories 2 as promised on release. There's not much to get into for that unless you're invested in the game, which... I'm not, yet, though I do own an unopened physical copy! As for Monster Hunter Rise, the completed updates are in time for its January 2022 release on the Steam platform, previously being a Switch exclusive.

What was the final CAPCOM Collab wasn't actually the final collaboration (and I'll get to that) in general, but let's look at it:

(I wanted the fifth collab to be Ghost Trick, but at least Ghosts 'n Goblins has...ghost... in the name...?) After completing the event quest Night in Shattered Armor which requires you to hunt down the targeted monsters (Volvidon, Basarios and then a Rathalos) to the Ghost 'n Goblins Resurrection Execution Grounds music, you get access to Arthur-themed layered armour, which will also transform throwing kunai to Arthur's lances.

Since that's... underwhelming, what was the real final collab (at least, as of publishing this in case they decide to go back and do some other unannounced content)? Well, it's out now, and not of another CAPCOM property:

Monday, November 29, 2021

I Got and Started Pokémon Shining Pearl!

Turtwig Von Koopa avatarBy TURTWIG VON KOOPA - Plus, I got the keychain plush.

Last week, I was upset over The Pokémon Center delaying its shipment of Pokémon Shining Pearl to me by a week. Fortunately, it wasn't delayed any further. I'm now a proud owner of Pokémon Shining Pearl... and a Piplup keychain plush.

Pokémon Shining Pearl inside Nintendo Switch box art Sinnoh Grand Underground Piplup keychain plush plushie
I think the inside of the boxart depicts the Grand Underground of the Sinnoh region.
Getting a Piplup plush isn't stopping me from picking Turtwig.

I did say I'm a proud owner, so that means I have a favourable first impression, right? ...Yes, yes I do. I'll tell you all about that throughout this article! But first, I'm doing an on-going Shining Pearl adventure blog on KoopaTV's Intranet forum, Planet Koopa. So if you want updates on how I'm doing trekking through Sinnoh, look there. That's just a tradition I've been doing since Pokémon SoulSilver, so I don't quite have a Sinnoh-to-Sinnoh comparison, but... It's something. I'm putting that content there and not on KoopaTV because KoopaTV isn't supposed to be my personal blog. (...The Ring Fit Adventure Fitness Logs are... totally different.)

Friday, November 26, 2021

Habit-Forming Game Comparison: Ring Fit Adventure vs. Pokémon Smile

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Both these games want you to do pro-healthy things. But they have very different approaches.

More and more games want to instill good habits in users. Healthy habits. Games as a source for good. That's explicitly the goal for games like Ring Fit Adventure on the Nintendo Switch (even the antagonist says as much) for exercise and Pokémon Smile on mobile devices for brushing teeth, as well as Pikmin Bloom for walking.

Habits take time to form, and they need certain elements. According to author Nir Eyal—who has worked in the videogame industry helping companies motivate and manipulate their players—and his book Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products, designers can build lasting habits in customers with a four step “desire engine” (that you can learn about in significant more detail at this talk he gave with several gaming references) that he abbreviates as A TARI:
  1. Trigger—gets you to act. Can be external or internal.
  2. Action—when doing something is easier than thinking about it. Fast decisions where the brain doesn't have to think. To get an action, you need to be motivated and have the ability to do it (and have the trigger).
  3. Reward—habit-forming tend to be “variable rewards”, where every time you do the action, you don't know if you'll get something out of it. Your dopamine system spikes when you're searching for a reward, in anticipation for it.
  4. Investment—users think about future rewards that make the next (or repeat) action more likely.

Nir believes through proper design, designers can make a certain behaviour—started by someone trying to seek pleasure—into a habit. That means you feel pained (or stressed) when you don't do it. You can use that design for good or for evil. For this article, I'm going to review and compare Ring Fit Adventure and Pokémon Smile and see if they have this proper desire engine design. Did Ring Fit Adventure and/or Pokémon Smile succeed in their core design elements to build habits in their users’ lives?

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Nintendo Switch Black Friday/Cyber Deals 2021

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Take your pick!

Just an upfront disclaimer: This article isn't going to be an exhaustive list of every interesting game on sale right now. If there's a game you think you're interested in... just look around the store listings. It's probably on sale. Unless it's something like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. But there are a number of first party Nintendo games on sale right now! Along with third party. So many of those. Including from Activision Blizzard, despite that company being deserving of a boycott.

Anyway, Nintendo put out a Cyber Deals news release with a video showcasing the games they REALLY want you to know are on sale right now until December 1 at 2:59 AM Eastern. Remember, this is their Cyber Deals list, so it's Nintendo eShop and digital downloads. There are many additional games not on sale on the eShop but are pretty universally on sale at retailers that will sell you physical copies of games, and I'll get into that as well in this article. But back to the Cyber Deals... while this article won't exhaustively list every game on sale, I will, for posterity, list the games in Nintendo's sales video that I don't think I can embed but it's just a montage of game footage so you're not missing much:

  • Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity—30% off ($60→$42)
  • New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe—30% off ($60→$42)
  • MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE 3: The Black Order—30% off ($60→$42)
  • Persona 5 Strikers—50% off ($60→$30)

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Big Three Console Manufacturers’ Responses to Activision Blizzard's Misdeeds

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - How do they compare?

You may have read my reaction to the Wall Street Journal investigation that Activision Blizzard's CEO, Bobby Kotick, knew about on-going sexual harassment in the workplace for years... and in some cases, directly contributed to it. Since then, many others have also reacted (though focused on... different aspects of it than I was), and many people, including current Activision Blizzard employees, are calling for Bobby Kotick to resign. In response, Activision Blizzard's board of directors created a “Workplace Responsibility Committee”, still fully confident that the company's current leadership can turn its toxic culture around with an extra committee laying around.

It turns out that, one way or another, the big three console manufacturers (Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft) have reacted to the story. Let's review what those reactions have been up to this point.

How Nintendo Has Reacted to Activision Blizzard

Nintendo of America has not put out a public statement, but someone from within did leak an internal email dated November 19 from president Doug Bowser to all employees to media outlet Fanbyte. This leak was later confirmed to be authentic by Nintendo to multiple outlets, though Nintendo declined to make any further public statement.

In that once-private message, President Bowser expressed that what's going on at Activision Blizzard is “disturbing” and against Nintendo's values, but fell short of promising any particular, specific action. However, Nintendo is in contact with their Activision counterparts, as well as the gaming lobbying group the Entertainment Software Association, which every company in this KoopaTV article is a part of. What those conversations look like is private and not leaked. But it seems like Nintendo wants to raise the standards of every big gaming company in America. The ESA hasn't made any public comment about the situation

While Activision Blizzard's videogames aren't a featured part of the current Black Friday deals on the Nintendo eShop (which I'll write a dedicated article about very soon), many of them are on sale right now if you choose to look for them.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Pokémon Center's Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl Shipping Delay

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Alternatively, why I haven't written an article about the release of Pokémon Shining Pearl/Pokémon Brilliant Diamond yet.

You must already know that Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl released on the Nintendo Switch on November 19, 2021. I've been discussing it on KoopaTV in optimistic terms because the Sinnoh region and Generation 4 are in my top three things I'm a total fanboy of. It turns out I haven't played a mainline Pokémon RPG since Pokémon Moon, which released five years ago. I've skipped everything else out of apathy (Pokémon Ultra Moon) or active dislike and distaste for its game design (Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Pokémon Shield).

So a game that goes back to the good times before GAME FREAK decided to stop being interested in good game design practices (with some... possibly non-minor unfaithful tweaks) is the type of Pokémon game I should be happy with. And so I pre-ordered Pokémon Shining Pearl from the official store ran by The Pokémon Company International, the Pokémon Center:

Pokémon Shining Pearl Pokémon Center store online pre-order starters plush keychain
You'll receive a bonus plush key chain of a randomly selected starter with your pre-order!
(While supplies last.)

Generation 4 is a rare generation where I'd be quite happy receiving any one of those random plush keychains (another being Generation 3) because I like the designs for Turtwig, Chimchar, AND Piplup. Obviously, Turtwig is my most favourite, but I'd like to have any of these. So the store expects the game to be shipped for arrival on the day of release... and to this day, I still don't have the game. What happened? Well, over the weekend, there wasn't any communication for what was going on. Then on Monday, the Pokémon Center Support site published this article and put it as a support-wide announcement bar, explaining that they are aware of a shipping delay and there are shipping constraints that will result in a new expected delivery date of November 26. I was one of the first few people to have looked at the article because I was... constantly refreshing their support throughout Monday. Perhaps the problem has to do with the greater shipping problems affecting other industries as well. (We can get into the politics of that in the comments if you want?) I dunno. But they are promising to expedite the orders.

Then today, I got an email finally saying my package has shipped and I should expect it to arrive November 26. I'm left wondering if I'll get the plush keychain after all or if they'll consider it a job well done just to get the game. Because if it was a matter of the latter, I could've gotten it by shopping elsewhere. Or via digital download but... I'd rather not do that. Still, it's annoying to get it after Thanksgiving and not before.

I'm also wondering if I should get that life-sized Lucario from the Pokémon Center. That's a pre-order, too. I dunno with these pre-orders... I already got this Delibird Holiday Express Moomoo Milk & Cookies Tank Car Figure and that shipped without any issue whatsoever. You can guess why I bought it. The quality is great, I gotta say.

If you wanted to keep track, the top three things Ludwig is a fanboy of are, in no particular order, the Ace Attorney series, the two Tellius Fire Emblem games, and Generation 4 (Sinnoh) of the Pokémon franchise. He's quite biased about them, but you would be too if you experienced them. Ludwig is eagerly anticipating to re-experience Sinnoh, and he will publish an article when he actually receives the game... and/or the plush keychain.

Ludwig finally got the game and wrote about his start with it.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Expanding my Brain in the Limited Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain Demo

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - My brain's BIG-LEAGUE. I don't need this academy, clearly.

This is apparently a “Ludwig brags about high scores he got in a game demo.” article. Anyway, Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain releases this December 3, 2021 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. To remind people that the game exists (and the enormous social good it does for a fractured Earth), Nintendo released a demo last week. It's very quick, so I recommend you download it and let me know how you did.

First, you go through some very limited avatar creation, customising your looks and a quote. And then you can play three activities out of the... twenty that it seems are available in the full game. Only in practice mode. The full game has a test mode that will chain them together and give you a holistic brain score across five categories, in addition to ghost-data-based online multiplayer. The demo also had local multiplayer available, but I didn't check that out.

The three available games (and my high scores) are...

Friday, November 19, 2021

Ring Fit Adventure Fitness Log Week 53: Allegra's Top to Bottom Switch

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Deep breathing... of the wild!

Hello, and thanks for coming to the this edition of KoopaTV's Fitness Fridays series. In this fitness logs, I talk about my fitness journey for that week. Mainly through Ring Fit Adventure, though last week had a number of extra items to it!

Following the events of week 52, each of the Four Masters now get their own story arc. This week we're in World 53: Fitness Master Lv. 304, which is based on World 30: Extra Fitness Lv. 198. Allegra takes the stage here. ...Well, theoretically. Ring said that I'm already left in her dust, which is why she didn't appear in the world's intro, and I better catch up to her. Some story arc that is.

Ring Fit Adventure World 53 Allegra keep sprinting forward leave you in the dust
Why do Allegra's story arcs keep involving me chasing down a fleeing woman?

Starting on Sunday, I stopped by the Town at the beginning of World 53 to buy some outfits with the very limited number of Onyx stones (and money) that I have, and went north to clear Gluting Gallery (Novice) for 5 Peaches. Despite the game being based off the potentially problematic Overhead Side Bend motion, I got a perfect score on it. This was also aided by me getting a haircut last week so I could actually see in front of me.

And then we very quickly got to the problematic part of this entire world, right up-front: The Fitness Gym's Glutes Set. I should mention now that I play Fitness Master mode on the maximum difficulty level, 30, which means the following rep counts are the highest they can get since they scale based on that difficulty number. Behold what I have to go through: