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Friday, November 25, 2022

Masahiro Sakurai's Super Smash Bros. Melee Game Concepts Video Was Disappointing

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Especially when compared to his Super Smash Bros. Game Concepts video.

Even a short-term KoopaTV reader can remember me asking at the start of September (over two months ago) asking if I should write articles about the concepts discussed on Masahiro Sakurai's YouTube channel, Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games. You said yes. And then I never followed up (even though I've watched every video on his channel, and he's talked about many interesting topics thus far). ...Until now!

My issue was that after that first video about Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64, I had high expectations for the discussion topics that Masahiro Sakurai would bring for Super Smash Bros. Melee. Of course, the Super Smash Bros. video is twice as long as the Super Smash Bros. Melee video, so just by how short the Melee video is, there's bound to be disappointment. It turns out the video wasn't just being very to-the-point, but it omitted a lot of information.

Let me explain why!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Disgraced Game Developer Yuji Naka Arrested for Suspicions of Insider Trading

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Two other guys, too, but no one cares about them.

One of the best videogame industry stories of the whole year broke while I was out of the office last week! Imagine my shock when I heard that Yuji Naka, director of BALAN WONDERWORLD and leader of a cult of disturbed losers, got arrested for insider trading. ...Actually, my first thought was that it wasn't Yuji Naka but Yuji Horii, creator of the Dragon Quest series. That's because the insider trading related to the mobile game Dragon Quest Tact, and it'd make more sense. (Fortunately, Yuji Horii doesn't appear stupid enough to do that, so Yuji Naka it is.) But even if SQUARE ENIX wants the public to forget that they ever made the massive mistake of hiring Yuji Naka and giving him a chance, it's a fact that Yuji Naka also worked at SQUARE ENIX for years to make BALAN WONDERWORLD an unfortunate and awful reality.

Here's the story, as reported by the media. Back around November 2019, it became known within SQUARE ENIX that they were working on Dragon Quest Tact, a mobile gacha game, to be released July 2020. But SQUARE ENIX would have a partner in this: Aiming Inc., which has a history of developing mobile games operated by other Japanese developers that seem successful enough. This partnership was likely to be a slam-dunk. Both SQUARE ENIX and Aiming are publicly traded companies, so a now-former SQUARE ENIX employee, Taisuke Sazaki, is accused of purchasing about 72,000 shares of Aiming Inc. between December 2019 and February 2020, as did his buddy, Fumiaki Suzuki (who bought 90,000 shares). The game was announced to the public (Aiming's involvement as well) on February 2020, meaning that stock trades made before February 2020 based on predicting the success of Dragon Quest Tact would be insider trading, since only SQUARE ENIX and Aiming would know about it. Yuji Naka, while still employed at SQUARE ENIX during January 2020, allegedly became aware of news going on in his company and also allegedly purchased 10,000 shares of Aiming. Here is an illustration of Aiming's stock price during the relevant time periods:

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Maybe I Shouldn't Dismiss Fire Emblem Engage So Fast!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Well, the gameplay looks interesting as usual.

The very first thing that Nintendo showcased in their September 2022 Nintendo Direct was Fire Emblem Engage. My live reaction to that was that it features “a weirdo with weird blue and red hair.” (Still true.) But also the (non-compliment) “This looks like something from Xenoblade than Fire Emblem.” I even questioned the game's legitimacy as a mainline Fire Emblem game, asking, “ this a mainline FE or some kind of FE Heroes-esque get-together gimmick?” By the very end of the log, I was asking myself, “I still think the weirdest thing is that Fire Emblem Engage. I might have to go back to being an anti-Fire Emblem person?” And then I haven't made any public statements about Fire Emblem Engage ever since.

That was two months ago. Fire Emblem Engage releases two months from now. There have been several tidbits of information slowly being revealed on Nintendo's social media accounts that I don't care to go into, mainly since I haven't really followed it. I have, however, watched these two recent trailers. The first is based on story, and the second is gameplay:

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Nintendo eShop Black Friday 2022 Deals (featuring Ace Attorney and Danganronpa)

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Sell me on the sale.

Perhaps I should publish this article on Friday, but if videogame companies are going to be putting games on a Black Friday sale starting on a non-Friday day of the week, why should I wait to tell you about that?

Did you know that the Ace Attorney series is on sale, again, on the 3DS and Switch? Well, there are over 2,500 games on sale on the Nintendo eShop right now, of course Ace Attorney will be involved—just like it was on sale last month, too. I'll especially plug the Ace Attorney Turnabout Collection at 41% off (35 USD), which includes five games, including Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (three games) and The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles (two games).

But right now I'm looking at another trilogy that is on sale on the Switch for the lowest amount they've ever been. And I think they're on sale starting today (and ending on December 4—same end-date for those Ace Attorney games), because someone I know bought one of these yesterday at full price on the Switch:

Monday, November 21, 2022

Farm Sim Mechanics (and Gender) Degraded HARVESTELLA

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - All I've played of HARVESTELLA is its demo, but at least I finished it!

I'm back, folks. Apparently, y'all were worried about me because, even though articles were getting published to the site (because I wrote and scheduled them!), since I wasn't responding to comments, I must've been ill or something. Well, no. In fact, if you looked at the text blurb next to the comments form, I anticipated my lack of responsiveness during my unannounced vacation, and wrote, “Expect a reply between 1 minute to 24 hours starting November 20, 2022.” For a lot of that time, I thought about HARVESTELLA, the life simulation RPG from SQUARE ENIX.

With a big harvest festival coming up in the United States of America (you people call it Thanksgiving), I decided that I'd write about my experience with HARVESTELLA. Sure, Lheticus Videre and Witch Princess have both shared their HARVESTELLA thoughts already, but I feel inspired to provide my own thoughts. For one, unlike them, I actually finished the demo before writing about it. And for two, I have a very clear point of view on it. This heading should summarise it:

How Farming Mechanics Make HARVESTELLA Worse

HARVESTELLA gives you a whole plot of land and expects you to farm for income and items. As far as I could experience in the demo, farming involves growing crops and will also include raising animals (which provide other kinds of items), which are standard activities in other farm simulation games. How do the farming mechanics fit into the RPG part of HARVESTELLA? What are the gameplay implications? I believe it profoundly affects HARVESTELLA, and for the worse.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Released, Featuring Message-Tested Open Borders

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Lemme know how you like it if you're into that.

Despite keeping up with and writing about all of the official updates from Nintendo and The Pokémon Company International with regards to Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet, I'm still not interested in ever getting it. At this point, now that it's released. I never will be. My opinion is the same as it was from the middle of the year: I don't like open-borders (open world) gameplay, and I especially think it's silly for a JRPG to have that.

It seems like Nintendo thought that lots of other people were also skeptical of the open-borders promise, so they sent a message-testing survey out to their e-mail list back at the end of September 2022. It's all about asking how you feel about large open worlds, and provides certain marketing elevator phrases and asks you if you find them compelling or not. They also really want to know how much of a Pokémon fan you are, presumably so they can filter the responses by non-Pokémon fans and Pokémon fans. Maybe long-time Pokémon fans are more hesitant on open borders versus people who aren't (yet) Pokémon fans. You might lose some and then gain more.

Pokémon Scarlet Violet Nintendo open world game market research survey
Shout-out to Nintendo properly calling Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl a remaster.
On the right picture, they gave those three descriptions and asked me to rate them, and then choose my favourite. I picked the one without open world.

Let's get these three options in text form:

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Tomato Adventure — The best game you've never heard of

By CAPTAIN STITCH - Remember those weird tomato spirits in Smash? That’s this game!

Tomatoes! Do you like them? I'm not a fan personally. Tomato Adventure is a Japanese-exclusive RPG for the Game Boy Advance released in 2002 by AlphaDream. It’s been 20 years and counting since its original release so what better way to celebrate that, than to play it in English for the first time ever! In fact the English translation was first attempted by Clyde Mandelin of Mother 3 translation fame, but eventually completed (July 2021) by…some anonymous individual. Thank you anonymous individual!

Seeing as there really aren’t too many reviews on this Tomato Temerit Themed Tirade, I figured I'd let the people of the world know that despite some quirks, this game is worth a playthrough. Its battle system alone is something that begs to be looked at. Instead of pressing A to attack, the player will use a variety of combinations of the A and B buttons and the D-pad, which allow for a varied and intricate battle system that is easy to learn but difficult to master. Unless of course, you regularly abuse save states, but surely nobody does that. Either way, when's the last time you saw a game with a plot centered on Tomatoes?

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Nintendo's Six-Month Financial Results Q&A Briefing for Fiscal Year Ending March 2023

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Also known as the Question and Answer session for the Corporate Management Policy Briefing for Fiscal Year Ending March 2023.

Following the financial disclosure and corporate management policy briefing marking the halfway point of Nintendo's fiscal year ending March 2023, they took questions. According to the translated Q&A Summary document, there were seven questions and answers, and parts of it “have been edited or revised to improve readability.” We hope that's not trying to hide anything. (It...wouldn't make sense if it WAS trying to be nefarious!)

Let's go through each of those questions for this article, then! If you want to go right to why this article is categorised as Enlightenment Movement, go to Question 6.

Question 1: With the Switch going on its seventh year next year, what is Nintendo planning next?

First of all, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa is focusing on the immediate holiday season ahead of Nintendo. Once that is successful, the Switch's seventh year will be about continued momentum, and trying to sell one Nintendo Switch console to every member of a household. Nintendo's fundamental strategy won't be different than the current one, but the games will be different (such as The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom—personally, I'm still used to seeing “the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”) and there'll be things like The Super Mario Bros. Movie that will actually be released and not just hyped up.

Question 2: How will you keep boosting Nintendo Switch Online's value so more people subscribe?

Furukawa notes that while some people aren't renewing their Nintendo Switch Online subscription (but he didn't give an actual churn metric), more people are subscribing than are cancelling or falling off. While over 36 million people are involved in Nintendo Switch Online, Furukawa wouldn't note how many are part of Expansion Pack. Furukawa connected the Nintendo Account and Nintendo Switch Online as tools to keep people playing their Nintendo Switch “for many years to come.” (I suppose that means its lifecycle will continue beyond the seventh year, too!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Microsoft Embraces Mobile; Embracer Group Soft on Mobile

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Mobile gaming sucks anyway. But I do like that Sudoku...

Two stories with very different outcomes but similar beginnings. One is that Microsoft is trying to acquire Activision Blizzard King for the opportunity to penetrate the mobile market. The other is that the Embracer Group, after acquiring Square Enix Montréal earlier this year and renamed it Onoma, has already disbanded the group and is transferring some of their staff to Eidos and Crystal Dynamics to make console and PC games—Square Enix Montréal was notable for developing mobile games like Hitman Go, Lara Croft Go, and Deus Ex Go. Embracer sees greater growth opportunities there.

How can two big gaming companies that love to acquire things have two very different viewpoints? From the very beginning, Microsoft executive leadership was particularly excited about mobile (the King side of Activision Blizzard King... and presumably not just for King's Diversity Space Tool), due to Microsoft's historically poor presence in the mobile market. As you may know, no one owned a Windows Phone. Phil Spencer definitely wants Xbox Game Pass to be on mobile devices, but getting/porting good games onto mobile devices is quite a challenge. Microsoft sees Activision Blizzard King as much better at that than Microsoft is. Besides King's crap, Call of Duty: Mobile is somehow wildly successful. (While I don't understand how you can play a competitive multiplayer first-person shooter on a smartphone and have it not be a disaster, millions of other people somehow have figured it out or have low standards.)

Monday, November 14, 2022

Nintendo and DeNA Form "Nintendo Systems Co., Ltd." to Make Nintendo Account Worthwhile

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - A joint venture for the Nintendo Account.

At first, Nintendo Co., Ltd. and DeNA Co., Ltd. formed a business alliance in 2015, exchanging capital ownership. DeNA is a Japanese company that, among many other things, has helped developed several Nintendo mobile titles and has also assisted with Nintendo's mobile and network infrastructure, including Nintendo Accounts and the My Nintendo program. In a recent (half a year ago) question and answer session with Nintendo, an analyst or investor asked about the current state of the DeNA partnership, given DeNA's announcement that they'd sell their Nintendo shares. Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa responded that the partnership is not only still on-going, but will be strengthened.

It turns out that answer was based on reality, as opposed to vapid corporate empty promises. Nintendo and DeNA have announced a joint venture to be called Nintendo Systems Co. Ltd., as a subsidiary of Nintendo. Per the announcement, “the objective [of this joint venture will be] to strengthen the digitalization of Nintendo's business, the joint venture company will research and develop, as well as create value-added services to further reinforce Nintendo's relationship with consumers.” It's scheduled to begin its existence on April 3, 2023, and Nintendo will own 80% of it while DeNA will have 20%.

It's not clear what will be possible as a result of this joint venture or special subsidiary that was not possible with Nintendo and DeNA's previous business (strategic) alliance, but joint ventures are seen in business as a much closer relationship than an alliance, given that Nintendo and DeNA are now creating a whole new, formal legal entity to enshrine their partnership that didn't exist before. In terms of impact on the output (say, how Nintendo customers will benefit), that's indeterminable at this time.

Pay attention to the objective: it's platform-agnostic. While DeNA has been one of Nintendo's main partners in co-developing mobile games (Niantic is another partner) with titles like Miitomo, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, researching and developing Nintendo Account-related stuff and customer relationship touch points can happen on your console, your mobile device, or many other opportunities. This joint venture isn't doubling down on mobile app development per se.