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Monday, June 27, 2022

Full Schedule and Explanation of Panda Cup Online Qualifiers for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - 32 events open to adults in North America!

Did you enjoy the first event of the officially licensed Panda Cup Super Smash Bros. circuit? That was CEO 2022 at Daytona Beach Florida, featuring Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (and other fighting games). If you missed the fun as a spectator, Panda Global has set up a video-on-demand channel with the hours-worth of exciting Super Smash Bros. action.

For Super Smash Bros. Melee, the three qualifying players who will get to play in December's Panda Cup Finale based on their performance at CEO 2022 are Chem, Magi, and Plup. For Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, those three are Riddles, Toast, and Sonix. The next in-person event, which will have two players for each game, is Get on My Level 2022 in Toronto, Canada. If you go down the list of in-person events, they're...very geographically isolated. There's a great chance that it'd be inconvenient for you to travel out to them. If you're a Super Smash Bros. Melee player, you're out of luck. But for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, you have several opportunities to qualify from the comfort of your home.

Here's an overview of how that works: The Panda Cup Online Qualifiers keeps track of what place you finish per event (and there are four events for each of the eight regions—note that these regions laid out quite differently than the ones you've seen in the Nintendo-Battlefy North American Online Open series), which is on public display here. Depending on where you finish, you'll get a point value. First placers get 100 points, second placers receive 70 points, third placers earn 45 points... down to 65th place finishers winning 1 point. By the time all four events are completed, it'll add up your point values within your region across all four events. If you're in the Top 32 (or tied for it), you'll be entered into the finals for your region. If you are the top one winner in your region, you'll get to go to the Panda Cup Finale in California in December (and receive flight and lodging for it). That means there will only be one Panda Cup Finale qualifier for each region, and therefore eight total across North America. This means there are actually forty online events (four per region and one finals per region), as Panda promised.

Participants must be 18 years or older to participate. (I see this as a good thing.) You have to be physically located in the region in order to be able to play in its event. The structure assumes that you're going to stay in the same region for all four of the events, so I recommend you don't move across regions to go to college starting in the summer or get a new job or whatever. Based on the days of the week that these events actually occur, you're... probably not meant to actually enter all four of them, but you can if you really need those points and feel like you have a chance. Also important to note: Unlike the in-person events, these are all FREE to enter.

Here's the table to all of the events. Note that the Panda Cup Finale qualifier links aren't available yet, and probably won't be until the start of October.

Friday, June 24, 2022

I'd probably get Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes if it wasn't a "Warriors" game

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - It... arguably does a lot of non-gameplay things better than Three Houses!

A few weeks ago, Nintendo released the Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes demo. Today, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes has released on the Nintendo Switch for $60. Same price as the normal Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Three Hopes and Three Houses were both developed by Koei Tecmo, and with access to the Three Houses assets, Three Hopes is very familiar to Three Houses in everything but gameplay. A lot of reused models and animations, for examples. The soundtrack consists of more action-oriented remixes. Same cast of voice actors. It's very similar presentation. Except the story diverges quite a bit since it follows the new original character, Shez. (I tried renaming him Shitz, but the game said “Contains characters or letters that cannot be used.”)

In... a narratively impressive prologue, Shez is with a group of mercenaries tasked with killing off Jeralt's mercenaries. (Jeralt, you may remember, is the father of Byleth, so Byleth is part of that mercenary group.) Shez's mercenaries are a rather overconfident bunch whose portraits are generic Fire Emblem: Three Houses enemy portraits, so they're going down one by one. Byleth is gonna kill off Shez too, until Shez gets a Deus Ex Machina moment and is saved by a mysterious powerful being named Arval that lives within him. It's quite similar to Byleth's Deus Ex Machina moment in the prologue of Fire Emblem: Three Houses with Sothis. One big discrepancy already is that Jeralt has hundreds or more dudes in his mercenary band by virtue of the game requiring that everyone has an infinite number of minions.

Fire Emblem Warriors Three Hopes many thugs working for Kostas gang Claude
It seems like Claude agrees with me that there are much MORE aggressive people around in this version of Fódlan than the original version.

You're... forced into joining Garreg Mach Monastery and must choose which house to be a part of. Fortunately, unlike Fire Emblem: Three Houses where its first part (White Clouds) goes on for a significant portion of gameplay and it's all pretty much the same regardless of which house you choose, in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes you very quickly get into a timeskip where the setting ISN'T the dreaded Monastery, and you get to have much more unique scenarios that are customised based on your affiliation. And yet... many things are still the same between them. (I played up to where the demo stopped for both the Black Eagles house and the Golden Deer house.)

Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Four Events of Splatoon 2 Inkopolis Showdown 2022

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - A month of Splatoon 2 competitive events... before it's all over...

Wait, did I not just write about a Splatoon 2 tournament sponsored by Nintendo of America and hosted by eSports platform Battlefy a month ago? Yes, I did write about the Splatoon 2 Turf War May 2022. Team Starburst won it. They're really good at that. But now we will talk about a new event, the Splatoon 2 Inkopolis Showdown 2022. (I don't think there'll be a 2023 version of it. Maybe Splatoon 3 Splatlands Showdown 2023?)

Splatoon 2 Inkopolis Showdown 2022 July 1–2 8–9 22–23 29–30
I... guess I gotta explain the four dates here.

There are FOUR events here. Each of them has exactly the same ruleset—this is unlike 2021's four-event Splatoon 2 tournament series, the fantastically named Splatoon 2 Splatter Ladder 2021, where each event was dedicated to a specific game mode. In fact, the ruleset here is very similar to the Splatoon 2 North American Open March 2022. ...Actually, I think it's exactly the same.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Direct Non-Live Reactions

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Seems alright! Solid, even.

Finally, Nintendo has put out a video or presentation to react to in June 2022! This presentation is dedicated entirely to Xenoblade Chronicles 3, which is releasing July 29. Some super fans already have pre-ordered it... and I think many others failed to actually get their order in.

I see some people who have an issue that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 gets a dedicated presentation as opposed to there being a general presentation. I don't mind it. When things are ready, they'll happen.

It's only just ME live-reacting to this, because the real Xenoblade Chronicles fans on the staff (Heavy Lobster) already watched it when the event actually happened seven hours before I got around to it. I mean, I'm not going to reschedule my whole day and delay my princely day duties for Xenoblade Chronicles 3. But you should be grateful I gave it any attention at all, after what a disaster the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 dedicated Direct was. But Nintendo has learned a fair bit after four and a half years.

You should know that I wasn't spoiled on the contents of the Direct at all before watching it, so everything below is all quite fresh and as if I would've watched it when it first aired.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Analysing the 2022 Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry, and Purchase Behaviours

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - More facts! More analysis! Let's go!

In what I'm considering an annual delight, the Entertainment Software Association (the ESA—the videogame industry's American lobbyist and trade group) has released their 2022 Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry (archived here in case something happens to the original). This surveyed about 2,000 American adults with an online survey during February 2022.

Last year I wrote about the 2021 Essential Facts About the Videogame Industry. The Table of Contents between the two years is the same, except 2021 had a “Video Games and the COVID-19 Pandemic” section while 2022 scrapped that and added the “Building Community Through Play” and “The Video Game Market and Purchasing Habits” sections. The ESA's big headline is that 92% of players report spending as much or MORE time playing now than they did during the peak of the pandemic and the government-imposed lockdowns of society. They define players as those who play a videogame at least one hour a week—though the median game time is quite a bit higher than that. The average age of a gamer went from 31 years old in 2021 to 33 years old in 2022... Which means that more older people got into gaming this year, or less younger people did, and it nudged up. Gaming is still dominated by white people, 71% of gamers said they were white. (Down from 73% white in 2021; but at par or better with the average population, depending how you want to count multi-ethnic people.)

Americans widely, like last year, view gaming as a beneficial force in society. 89% believe it can help build some kind of skill, with the vast majority acknowledging cognitive, creative, and collaboration skills. Lesser majorities see benefits in communication and leadership skills. Many gamers also see benefits in stress relief and mental stimulation (both of those were 87% in 2021, but now 89% and 91% respectively).

Monday, June 20, 2022

Star Wars: KOTOR2 Gamebreaking Bug Exposes Professional Game Reviewers as Frauds

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - What happened to ethics in videogame journalism?

Usually when gamers lament the fact that many videogames are being released into the marketplace “incomplete”, they are criticising the Games-as-a-Service model where a minimally viable product is being sold, and then the game will be supported with (hopefully free) updates for a while after. Each of these updates is supposed to provide additional content to play, and this is supposed to result in players coming back to the game repeatedly for a longer (calendar-wise) period of time than they would have if the game had everything to begin with. What often instead happens is that players just stop coming back and are turned off by how little content is in the game at launch. Off the top of my head, games in this generation with this model include Mario Strikers: Battle League (launched last week), Mario Tennis Aces, and Kirby Star Allies. Still, at least all of those games had a fundamental core to them and could be played to an end or you could have a good time with friends, whatever that end is.

By the way, Kirby Star Allies still gets knocked to this day because of being light on content at launch, even though by the end, it's much more heavy in content. I reviewed its full form—after it received its updates and after I played through all of the modes (including all of Guest Star Allies)—here. Actually trying to 100% a game before reviewing it is extremely rare in the videogame world, which is the real subject of today's article.

STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords first released at the end of 2004. It was inaccessible on any Nintendo platform until a couple of weeks ago, when it released on the Nintendo Switch. It's infamous for being a glitchy mess, but also for being a narrative-driven roleplaying game that puts emphasis on your choices and is a very Star Wars-y Dungeons & Dragons experience. Old game guides recommend that you save often and in different save files, and have long sections about glitches.

I started my article the way I did because this is a very rare instance where a game that flat-out should fail any competent quality assurance process actually released. STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is incomplete in the sense that when you reach a certain cutscene in the game (specifically after the Basilisk Crash cutscene when landing on Onderon with the Basilisk War Droid), you can't... progress. You can try again and again, but it doesn't seem like anyone has found a consistent workaround and it's affecting everyone. This cutscene is part of the storyline, so you won't be able to beat the game because you'll be stuck in this cutscene. This takes place after halfway through the game and obviously before the ending. Without having played the game myself to know (and certainly not the Switch version), I believe this is the cutscene in question:

Friday, June 17, 2022

The Pokémon Company International Won't Fix “Shinning Pearl” Typo


A month ago, Pokémon HOME got updated for compatibility with Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond, and Pokémon Shining Pearl; this is on top of Pokémon Sword, Pokémon Shield, Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!, Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!, and the Pokémon Bank. I personally did nothing with that update, since the only game or application I have access to of that list is Pokémon Shining Pearl.

However, in my article from May about the update, I pointed out how the Pokémon Home Version Features table on the official website spelled Pokémon Shining Pearl as “Pokémon Shinning Pearl”—an unfortunate and embarrassing error for a company that cares deeply about its brand. For a few weeks, I did nothing. Then, two weeks ago (June 3, 2022), I submitted a support ticket with The Pokémon Company International, saying...

"Shining Pearl" is spelled incorrectly on the second row of the version features table.
And I attached a screenshot demonstrating this, the same one from my article.

Two minutes later, I got this reply:

Hello Ludwig,

Thank you for contacting Pokémon Support.

Thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback. We regularly share player feedback and suggestions with our development team and will pass your message along to them.

Pokémon encourages players to submit feedback and comments so that our products can offer the best experience to our customers. Even though we do not always implement every suggestion, we read and pay attention to every single comment.

Please note that you may not receive another response regarding this.

Thank you for supporting Pokémon!

The Pokémon Company International Support Team

Ten business days later as of today (June 17, 2022)—which is a more-than-reasonable service-level agreement (SLA) for any basic website edit (in this case, removing one character from one page) for the web team in charge of the content management system—the typo remains. If Agent_Micky really did read and pass along my message, they would've fixed it by now. Especially if they read and pay attention to every single comment. That is... unless they are exercising their right not to implement every suggestion.

Why would they choose to do nothing for something that is so egregiously wrong and against their own brand standards? I don't know. Perhaps The Pokémon Company International employs lazy, unmotivated people. Perhaps it's the opposite and they are so short-handed and busy they can't do everything they want to do. I mean, I'd say fixing embarrassing customer-facing typos that contradict your own brand would be important enough to do a hotfix for, but apparently I'm wrong.

It would be wrong to believe that all KoopaTV does is complain about things and doesn't try to make a positive difference and fix problems. In fact, KoopaTV is managed by passionate individuals who actually listen to feedback (and has a specific mechanism—the KoopaTV Feedback Form series—to collect your feedback) and will implement it where necessary or applicable. Plus, every month, KoopaTV publishes a newsletter with a Corrections Corner section where the site showcases user-contributed corrections to articles, be they simple typos (like the subject of this very article) or actual factual inaccuracies (a very rare occurrence).

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Dragon's Dogma 10th Anniversary and FINAL FANTASY VII 25th Anniversary Live Reactions

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Two streams in one article! (Not simultaneously, though I considered it.)

During the Capcom Showcase 2022 earlier this week, they teased a special video for Dragon's Dogma and its 10-year anniversary. Rather than just show the video during the showcase, they instead looped the stream two additional times and told Dragon's Dogma fans to stay tuned for 18:00 Eastern on June 16 for a dedicated stream.

However, that's the same timeslot that SQUARE ENIX was already asking people to attend a short but exciting 25-year anniversary stream for FINAL FANTASY VII, which is really its own distinct brand from the rest of the FINAL FANTASY franchise. That means there are TWO anniversary streams for games I haven't actually played going on at the same time. ...And I'll watch them both for your entertainment and information.

I started with the Dragon's Dogma's stream. Click here to jump to the Final Fantasy VII part. ...Ah, I can't really embed the Dragon's Dogma stream because it's age restricted. Whoops.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Simultaneous Remove and Replace: The Case of the Dollar Discrepancy for Ace Attorney Trilogy Mobile

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I don't have all the answers, but I do ask the right questions.

Recall that in Japan and around the rest of the world, CAPCOM had announced that they were taking down Ace Attorney Trilogy HD from the mobile app stores that they were available on as of June 9, and then in “the summer” they would replace it with a proper port of the significantly superior Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (2019) that released on consoles and PC. It turns out that they did the removal and the replacing on the same day (or the day after, June 10). Now you can download Ace Attorney Trilogy on your mobile device, and if you're in the United States, that's for the first time ever on Android. Here's a trailer:

This isn't the first time in very recent memory where CAPCOM doesn't know when summer is. You may remember that they had an announcement of an announcement of an announcement that there would be more Street Fighter 6 information available in “the summer.” However, the next Street Fighter 6 information available came from June 2, 2022 PlayStation State of Play, where it was featured as one of the biggest and central announcements.

But there is another mystery involved besides why CAPCOM repeatedly can't figure out when the [Northern Hemisphere] seasons begin. I'll see if you can figure out what the mystery is by giving you an archived page of the Google Play listing of Ace Attorney Trilogy and the Apple App Store listing of Ace Attorney Trilogy as of June 10, 2022. ...Keep reading if you need me to spell it out for you. (Or if you want to read my discussion about it and the rest of the article. Which you should want to do that.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Tetsuya Nomura and Sora in Smash, Final Fantasy in Kingdom Hearts

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Let's get your villains in proper order.

Many talking heads and media outlets have remarked that Sora being in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate brings a frightening or troublesome wrinkle of Disney being added to the crossover's copyright statement—and Disney has a reputation of closely guarding its copyright and being a pain to work with. This very website has also engaged in that kind of commentary, including saying that thanks to Disney, “Sora is a rights management nightmare.” As well as saying that Sora brought a “difficult rights management situation with Disney.” I mean, that's not some Internet myth we made up or believed—Super Smash Bros. Ultimate director Masahiro Sakurai himself deemed it a “huge undertaking” and said Sora specifically took “more coordination than other fighters.”

Masahiro Sakurai Sora took more coordination than other DLC fighters Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
KoopaTV's fact checkers can confirm that Masahiro Sakurai is referring to Sora, not Mario.

In a fresh interview of Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura by Game Informer, he was asked about his feelings on Sora in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He described that he saw many people react that Disney is difficult to work with, but he described Disney as pretty supportive. Instead, Nomura was the real difficult one to coordinate with.

I... doubt that Disney was as seamless to work with as portrayed. Again, Disney has earned their reputation through their very real-life manipulation and lobbying of how copyright law even works. And they (likely) got DuckTales: Remastered removed from storefronts. Plus, you may note that when Sora got into the game, he... didn't exactly bring an array of other Disney things with him. It's all original Kingdom Hearts stuff, though people will point to a keychain that's shaped like Mickey Mouse's head on Sora's Keyblade as a big Disney concession. ...I'm... not so sure about that one. Disney clearly was stingy and picky about their traditional properties making an appearance with Sora. Sora himself, I suppose, is easy, as well as the assortment of original Kingdom Hearts characters used for Spirits and the Dive to the Heart stations accessible from Hollow Bastion. Disney probably doesn't care much about them. It's not like they're used for anything besides Kingdom Hearts anyway. But Goofy and Donald? No way they're coming.