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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Very, Very Limited Time Mario-Branded Amazon Cardboard Box

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - While supplies lasted, which was a very chronologically short period of time. Stay safe this holiday.

Good news: KoopaTV staffer Witch Princess got a new computer! She should be able to actually contribute on KoopaTV again, since lacking capable hardware has been her excuse up until now. It's somewhat of a miracle it reached her in one try, given that UPS was the designated shipper chosen by Amazon, and UPS has a bad history of Thanksgiving-period shipments with KoopaTV staffers.

New Dell laptop shipped from Amazon cardboard box Cyber Monday 2020
I dunno why she got a laptop and not a desktop, but it's better than using a smartphone.

Even better news? The box it was shipped in did NOT look like this:

Super Mario Bros. Amazon cardboard shipment box 35th Anniversary November 2020
...We're gonna talk more about this... monstrosity... for the rest of the article.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Is Using Game Elements Provided to Every Player Problematic “Cultural Appropriation”?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - That article title asks two questions, really. Is it cultural appropriation, and is it problematic?

There is a recent and raging culture war among the Animal Crossing fanbase on Twitter and beyond. (This, by the way, absolutely reverses all my notions that the Animal Crossing fanbase is worth being friends with.) Nintendo just updated Animal Crossing: New Horizons last week to include six new hairstyle options, among other updates, and those new styles (including an Afro and bald) have been heavily requested by players. One player, Fifi (a self-professed Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley fan), caused significant controversy with this Twitter post:

You see, some of those hair styles are associated with black people, and if you try to zoom in really close, you can sort of see “nappy” textures that other races of people don't naturally/stereotypically have (including other cultures that also figured out how to make their hair in that shape). The argument is that Fifi, a white person with a white character, is culturally appropriating African-derived culture by using the hair style, as well as by referring to “afro puffs” as “space buns.” (Opinions seem to vary based on whether it's also bad if a white person has a darker-skinned character—the team behind The Wagadu Chronicles that we profiled last month would say that is not a problem; some upset Twitter posters would say it is a problem for “grown white women” to “appropriate hairstyles”; as well as stating that “most of the in game hair styles are for white people” and they're apologising for the suffering that non-white people have to go through that white people are using the new game feature.)

Fifi is retweeting some particular displays of upset behaviour directed at her, which include attempts to shut down and/or hack her Twitter account. It's unclear how shutting Fifi down is supposed to solve the purported problem, and it's reminiscent of the counterproductive riots/pandemic-superspreaders that have been occurring in American cities over perceived systemic racism. Still, other than providing a clear contrast to when people claim they're being harassed on Twitter by certain gaming fanbases but provided no evidence of such harassment (but there was evidence of the media picking up on that to push their narratives), I'm not really interested in writing about whether or not Fifi being harassed is right or not. (Obviously not.) I'm more interested in the central questions about cultural appropriation. I thought I had a clear position, but then I looked in the mirror and remembered something that complicates my thinking...

Monday, November 23, 2020

Nintendo Digital Cyber Deals Sale: Ends December 3, 2:59 AM Eastern!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Buy, buy, buy?!

If there is one thing Nintendo wants your mind on right now, it's, uh, not anything related to the Super Smash Bros. series or its freedom, but it's their big Cyber Deals sale, featuring huge discounts on over 1400 games, mostly on Nintendo Switch! This ends December 3 at 2:59 AM Eastern. While Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn't included (because they don't want your mind on it), several other Nintendo-published titles are discounted, including Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country (at 33% off, or $26.79), Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (at 33.33% off, or $39.99) and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (at 33.33% off, or $39.99, which is probably still too high of a cost).

Perhaps more significantly, Murder by Numbers is on sale (33% off, or $10.04), and I promised you all that I'd buy the game next time it's on sale. I did so. Haven't started it yet, but I bought it.

Nintendo Switch home menu icons Murder by Numbers Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Trilogy Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection
(...Sorry, it still feels like the beginning of November. In fact, the month is almost over already.)

As the picture above should imply, the majority of CAPCOM's portfolio is also on sale (they call it the Nintendo Autumn Sale), including Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection (I've made very good progress in Mega Man ZX Advent and beaten Mega Man ZX; first time playing either) for 34% off, or $19.79. Of arguably greater importance, another compilation is on sale for Nintendo Switch: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy at 50% off, or $14.99. This is also on sale on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, though with slightly different end-dates.

By the way, the Ace Attorney titles on the 3DS (with the exception of Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, which is never on sale, despite publisher LEVEL-5 putting LAYTON’S MYSTERY JOURNEY: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy - Deluxe Edition on the front page of Nintendo's sales at 40% off, or $23.99) are also on sale, at their usual discounted prices. The fourth game, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, is 50% off or $10. The fifth game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, is 70% off, or $9. The sixth game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice is 60% off, or $12. ...We're still waiting for the seventh game to ever exist. Maybe if you buy the games, even if they're on sale, that'll help bring an announcement closer.

It's a better investment than the other 1400+ games on sale. You can get into the entire mainline Ace Attorney series (15 [you may also get Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy for $12 on the Nintendo 3DS] + 10 + 9 + 12 = $46) for less than the cost of one LEGO Super Mario set that Nintendo is currently promoting. Same goes for the just-released Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, and I guarantee you that you'll enjoy Ace Attorney at over nine-thousand times the rate as that... experience.

Of course Ludwig is going to turn any broad sale, with so many angles to choose from, into an Ace Attorney promotion. You should expect that out of KoopaTV. If you need more Nintendo eShop spending money, you should participate around KoopaTV and you may win some gift cards. Read up on the KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program for more information.

For the Black Friday deals 2019 article, Ludwig also focused that on Ace Attorney. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy for Switch was $5 more then.
Actually, the last recorded time that CAPCOM had everything on sale was at the start of September 2020. That was a while ago, by CAPCOM standards.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity Launched!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - ...Why would you buy this, I don't know.

Today, Nintendo and KOEI TECMO GAMES have released Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity on the Nintendo Switch for $60, after it was first revealed just two and a half months ago. Based on the announcement trailer plus developer commentary, KoopaTV said it would be a “real prequel” that was “canon.” We expected it to focus on storyline as it focused on the vast lore of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, pretty much at the expense of that game having a compelling story. This was based on The Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma stating that the game takes place in the crucial 100-year period prior to the beginning of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and players will be able to experience the events of The Great Calamity for themselves, “first-hand.”

Without spoiling the game, I can say that Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity does not do what one's first impression of it would indicate it would do. Or, put another way, the events of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild don't spoil the events of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity.

Anyway, note how Nintendo is marketing Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity in its launch trailer. If you don't note how, I will note that for you:

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Nintendo “News” Outlets Proclaim Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a 3-Million Seller Because Random ResetEra Guy Said So

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Sad display of “journalism” on their part.

While KoopaTV was going off official information straight from Nintendo in our September 30, 2020 Nintendo Quarterly Financial Update article at the start of this month, other media outlets were choosing other, unofficial sources of information.

For background, you need to know that Fire Emblem: Three Houses for Nintendo Switch officially has sold 2.87 million copies as of March 31, 2020. Nintendo hasn't updated that number for half a year, and they tend not to update game sales numbers unless a game has sold another million copies in a given quarter/two quarters, or if they're a top ten system seller, in which case those sales numbers get updated every quarter. That basically means we'll know how much a given first-party game will sell in its debut (if it's over a million copies sold), but we probably won't get information for many quarters afterwards unless many, many consumers decide to buy it over Christmas or something.

Anyway, in the absence of official sources but still wanting to write some kind of story, other media outlets were citing this random guy (named DarkDetective Nathan) on gaming forum ResetEra who has no sources or anything backing up his post. His Twitter account doesn't provide any credentials—he just really likes posting about videogame industry sales data. Note to journalists: Just because a guy's dedicated gimmick is talking about gaming sales, still doesn't mean that, by basic journalism standards, you take that guy's word as the truth without verifying it for yourself. However, without verifying it, this guy on this forum just dumped numbers and the gaming media went with it.

I should note that it's incredibly likely, just on a mathematical basis, that Fire Emblem: Three Houses has sold over three million copies by now. I'm not disputing that. (It would be incredible for the game NOT to have cleared that milestone, though I guess it's possible.) I'm just upset with the bad journalism used to reach that conclusion. Here's an incomplete list of outlets that took it as their only source and wrote a whole article about it, with me deconstructing their articles afterwards:

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Apple Halves App Store Fees for Tiny Developers... Introduces Economic Disincentives

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - There's a parallel lesson here...

I hope you remember this summer (good times) when Epic Games sued Apple and Google over their anti-competitive application markets on smartphones, started by Fortnite's reduced prices if people paid Epic Games via a direct payment. We focused on Apple because that was the blatantly more nefarious monopoly, and I made it clear in my summer article that Apple has no real justification for their actions. Apple rejected Epic's payment method and Fortnite has been off the App Store ever since. You can only use Apple's App Store on an iPhone, and you can only use Apple's payment method (which Apple takes a 30% cut on every in-app purchase) for any application on an iPhone.

However, Apple has now made an announcement: They will only take a 15% cut—half of their normal 30%—from app developers that have under $1 million in revenue (aggregating all of the apps they have) per year. They call it the App Store Small Business Program. Under one million describes almost 98% of developers, according to media outlets citing app analyst Sensor Tower. According to that same analysis, the 2% or so of developers with over $1 million in app revenue provide 95% of the revenues from the App Store that Apple gets, which is even more lopsided than the generic Pareto principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule. In other words, Apple's move is more for public relations (publicly the reason was because “hey, 2020 was a rough year, our small businesses need some help”) to try to influence the lawsuits against them than anything else.

Epic Games, or at least their CEO, Tim Sweeney, is less than impressed with Apple's symbolic gesture, since for the majority of business that's going on (including Epic's), nothing is impacted. I'm much less impressed with the economic implications.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

LEGO Super Mario Announces: Master Your Adventure Maker Set... with LARRY KOOPA?!!?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Larry, don't associate yourself with this or you'll get...hurt. Not by me, but by HIM and his coerced Earth children!

I recognise, both from KoopaTV page views/search traffic and Nintendo's holiday 2020 gift finder page, that a lot of people are interested in the Nintendo and LEGO collaboration products that released August 1, 2020. I'm personally very concerned about the LEGO Super Mario series in terms of their effects on children, and I'll get into that a bit more in this article. Here's a LEGO-Nintendo trailer that just went out, though, announcing new LEGO Super Mario products to come for January 1, 2021:

Let's review exactly what's announced and their suggested retail prices, and then I'll give my signature analysis and thoughts:

  1. Master Your Adventure Maker Set (60 USD/EUR)
  2. Three Expansion Sets
    1. Chain Chomp Jungle Encounter Expansion Set (20 USD/EUR)
    2. Piranha Plant Puzzling Challenge Expansion Set (30 USD/EUR)
    3. Wiggler's Poison Swamp Expansion Set (40 USD/EUR)
  3. Two Power-Up Packs
    1. Penguin Mario Power-Up Pack (10 USD/EUR)
    2. Tanooki Mario Power-Up Pack (10 USD/EUR)
  4. Series 2 of the LEGO Super Mario Character Packs (5 USD/4 EUR for a pack; content of pack is random)
    1. Huckit Crab
    2. Spiny Cheep Cheep
    3. Ninji
    4. Foo
    5. Parachute Goomba
    6. Fly Guy
    7. Poison Mushroom
    8. Para-Beetle
    9. Thwimp
    10. Bone Goomba

Monday, November 16, 2020

CAPCOM Got Hacked, and Sensitive Info Was Taken

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - KoopaTV also isn't going to repeat what leaks of that information are.

A couple of weeks ago, CAPCOM put out a press release stating that an unauthorised third party got access to CAPCOM's network and systems and apparently locked CAPCOM employees out of it. They claimed customer information was not affected, and that they were in consultation with the police. That scenario sounded a lot like ransomware (an intruder gets access to your stuff and blocks you out of it unless you pay them), and today CAPCOM published another release confirming that. Unlike before, CAPCOM is now saying that “potentially” hundreds of thousands of items of personal customer and employee data may have been taken (but not credit cards used in the CAPCOM Store), along with “confidential corporate data” such as development documents. CAPCOM disclosed this was “from a criminal organization that calls itself Ragnar Locker,” which appears to be a type of ransomware virus. Very scary stuff.

Fortunately, it appears that your online CAPCOM game-playing experience won't change, unlike what happened when 160,000 Nintendo Accounts got breached.

Not coincidentally, there are documents swirling around the Internet right now of some of those development documents that the cybercriminals have taken. The videogames media, apparently considering this a legitimate scoop of information (though one of the other times this happened, it was a games journalist who was the perpetrator), is starting to report on the contents, which seems to include development practices and coming game announcements. KoopaTV isn't going to report on the documents (some of which may seem like great news, other may seem bad) obtained by this illegal and criminal breach of CAPCOM's information systems, both because that's morally gross, and because it's inherently untrustworthy.

Consider that the information source is a group of obviously bad people who likely don't have much regard for truth or integrity (like those people who played a hacked version of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield pre-release to make it look bad, on top of its leaking issues). It doesn't seem like CAPCOM has paid the ransom, so the criminals have lots of motivation to make their victim look bad. Perhaps the crooks are releasing incomplete information—out-of-context. Perhaps information in the development documents are no longer relevant to CAPCOM's development plans, and it's out-of-date.

Regardless, CAPCOM has whatever its marketing plans are (even if they're sometimes disappointing), so I'm going to just go off of those when they come and not reward the unnamed malicious actors by treating them like a legitimate source of information. Consider that KoopaTV policy.

Ludwig hasn't gone off and willingly searched for whatever the leaked documents contain, although some (bad) friends and social media accounts have reposted some of that information that is very relevant to his (and perhaps your) interests. All of this corporate espionage seems to be an increasingly common trend, and you should take your own cybersecurity seriously and not click on suspicious e-mails or websites that are the most common gateway for malware—and some of this leaked information is probably hosted on suspicious websites. (KoopaTV isn't a suspicious website, by the way.)

Friday, November 13, 2020

Nintendo's Six-Month Financial Results Q&A Briefing for Fiscal Year Ending Mar. 2021

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - You Animal Crossers better buy more games!

If you want to know what big Nintendo investor folks are thinking as a result of last week's financial dislosure for their second quarter of fiscal year 2021, Nintendo has provided an English-language question and answer summary located here. There are ten questions, and they mostly fall along the lines of, “Wow, you increased your forecasted amount of Nintendo Switch sales for the second half of your fiscal year? Why is that?” and “How will you get Animal Crossing: New Horizons players to buy other games? Is there still demand for that, and how is COVID-19 factoring in?”

(The answers to those, provided by Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa, is because the Nintendo Switch sold better than expected and Nintendo thinks based off that, Nintendo Switch systems will sell even better during the holiday season—October through November tend to pwn all of the other quarters in performance, so they expect the whole year will be better than initially planned. Additionally, they think Animal Crossing fans will enjoy titles like Pikmin 3 Deluxe and Ring Fit Adventure.)

One guy asked about how China sales are doing, and Tencent apparently reports that Ring Fit Adventure, released on September 3 2020 in China, is off to a great start. By the way, Nintendo's supply issues for that game and the whole Switch console are all fixed by now. Also, while Tencent and The Pokémon Company are fine with Pokémon UNITE being cross-platform play, Nintendo has no intention of allowing that for Nintendo titles. (Note that Pokémon isn't a first-party Nintendo title.)

Furukawa also said that the Nintendo Switch is “just now entering the middle of its life cycle.” That's interesting, as competing consoles from Sony and Microsoft released this week. It's been a bit over three and a half years since the Switch came out. The Wii U was around for four years and three months until the Nintendo Switch released. If the Switch would last as long as the Wii U, there would be a new Nintendo console in June 2021. (Surprise E3 2021?) Obviously, the Switch will be lasting much, much longer than the Wii U did, well into 2024, if November 2020 is the halfway point.

By the way, while the investors wanted to know about Chinese sales trends, they didn't ask about why Nintendo thinks it's okay to profit off forced human labour in China from ethnic minorities.

Do you have another interpretation of any of the questions or answers asked of Nintendo's top executive and would like to share it? Go ahead and do so in the comments section, then.

Check out the previous question and answer session from Nintendo executives back a couple of months ago.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 now available...!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - The PlayStation 5 is not actually available in Europe yet, but whatever.

I had a thought to title this article, “Reasons why you should buy an Xbox Series X|S and/or PlayStation 5 at launch” and then just have a blank article. However, another KoopaTV staffer (Kamek, returning from his honeymoon) said I'm actually obligated to talk about the Xbox Series X|S and the PlayStation 5 instead of publish a gag article. Besides, scalping (buying and then reselling a product to someone else at a higher price because there is more demand than there is supply) is a good reason to buy them at launch, so the truth is that it shouldn't be totally blank.

I've already declared that I'm not buying into either of these. But that's not very interesting to talk about.

Neither the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series have compelling launch titles, so there's no reason to get them at launch. What does exist is also available on consoles from the previous generation.

For Microsoft, I have the impression that they don't really care if you get their new console(s), which is why trying to figure out the differences between them is so confusing, especially on naming. They just want you to have a subscription to the Xbox Game Pass with whatever platform you choose. (And you can have that on an Xbox One as well as an Xbox Series, with Microsoft making no distinction on their website besides “Xbox Console” vs. PC vs. mobile.) Xbox's presentation for the Xbox Series gave a very “stick to your Xbox One” impression. The Xbox Series X is $500 and the Xbox Series S is $300.

For Sony, they wanted to make a big distinction between PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, deeming the difference to be a seismic generational shift. This was laughable and mocked. They tried again a few months later, which made it very obvious that there is no compelling game at launch that would make you want to get a PlayStation 5... well, certainly not in 2020 and probably not for most of 2021, either.

Both consoles have a bias against owning physical games. The whole Xbox Game Pass strategy is digital distribution. The PlayStation 5 has a Digital model at $100 less ($400) that retains the same power as the full-priced PlayStation 5 ($500) with a disc drive. That's just the way all the console manufacturers are doing it nowadays.

This article could've gone by a lot faster and provide approximately the same message if it was just a blank gag article. That's truth and levity, folks, besides the scalping point. Still, you can comment in the comments section if you agree or disagree with the logic presented in this article, or if you're disturbed by Ludwig's increasingly vocal pro-scalping stance. By the way, KoopaTV is probably more friendly towards Microsoft than Sony, for a variety of reasons. Ludwig doesn't care about the graphical performance differences between the consoles.