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Friday, August 16, 2019

A Player vs. Player Battling Update For Pokémon Sword & Shield


Last week, I was praising The Pokémon Company International from refraining from weekly updates for Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. The fact that I'm starting off a new article this week with that message probably means that we got a new update and that cadence makes me frown.

Oh well. Watch the obligatory trailer. But as far as I'm concerned, the most important information is tucked away on the official website:

Last week I wondered if Galarian Weezing's second ability would explain why it's a Fairy type. Neutralizing Gas doesn't scream “Fairy” to me. Well, eh, that's not true. The fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream did all kinds of things like that. Perhaps I'll nickname Galarian Weezing “Puck”.

Dynamaxing requires a Key Item (the Dynamax Band), but the actual Pokémon doesn't need an item. They can hold whatever they want, unlike a Z-Move or a Mega Evolution. That means you can flexibly choose who will Dynamax as the battle unfolds, instead of committing to it ahead of time. I think that's a net positive.

The most important aspect of today's announcement is the Battle Stadium, the online player vs. player area. There's Ranked Battles, which match-makes you based on your win rate by putting you in tiers. This partially resets after every “season” to make sure people keep playing instead of getting at the top and no longer playing, a weakness in other ladder systems that lack decay. There are also Casual Battles, because it's important for matchmaking services to offer ranked and unranked matches. (Take notes, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.)

The most important aspect of the most important aspect are Rental Teams, though.

Pokémon Sword Shield Rental Teams battle stadium official website
Now, despite how bad the movesets look on the left, these are player-generated Rentals, not GAME FREAK-generated.

There is a reason why Battle Factory was my favourite facility in the Battle Frontier (back when it existed). I don't like team-building. I REALLY don't like team-building in-game. I have amazing Pokémon knowledge and good decision-making and adaptable thinking.

Rental Teams means that I can enjoy Pokémon Shield's story mode for the story and not have to worry about training for effort values or mass-breeding for the best individual values (eugenics). If I want to have fun competitively, I can just download someone's Rental Team! And you can bet there will be vast communities out there listing all of their Rental Teams. Good addition.

Ludwig skipped over a lot of minute details about some new items and specific effects of some Max Moves, but he figures no one cares about that. Do you care about the player vs. player aspect of in-game Pokémon? If so, what do you think about these additions? If not, why don't these additions make you care?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

DuckTales Died For Street Fighter-cosplaying Duck Figures?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I think it's worth it?

Last week, CAPCOM announced that DuckTales: Remastered would be leaving digital storefronts on August 8–9, 2019. It's gone now from all consoles and Steam.

Nevermind that no one's been thinking about DuckTales: Remastered recently. In fact, the last time we did, it was March 2014 and it was an entire gaming generation ago. The caption associated with DuckTales didn't age well, I guess:
“Why leave DuckTales to die when it can see new life and new sales from new folks?” 

No explanation was provided, though Disney is probably responsible. It seems highly doubtful that CAPCOM woke up one day and decided to kill it off—though Disney likes doing that with licensing and expirations. Probably pretty similar to what happened to the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series on the Nintendo eShop. Either way, you can still redownload DuckTales: Remastered if you purchased it previously but removed it. No one is stopping you from still playing it. And, of course, good ol’ reliable physical versions still work.

Nintendo did their weird thing where they scrubbed DuckTales: Remastered from their website entirely. (Archived game page here.) CAPCOM still has their page up, because the game still exists. Developer WayForward (CAPCOM is only the publisher) still has the page up on their website, because the game still exists. ...I guess after this article is published those pages might go disappear.

Anyway, where those ducks have fallen (perhaps they got hunted, as was a popular sport back in the DuckTales heyday), new ducks have taken flight. And this remains CAPCOM-related, so this probably is a big conspiracy. Behold, the TUBBZ cosplaying Duck collectibles, featuring Street Fighter:

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tips, Tricks, and Insider Information to the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate North American Online Open August 2019

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Read this, and you'll be well-prepared to perform excellently this Saturday.

Have you joined the thousands of people across Mexico, the United States (except territories and Puerto Rico), and Canada (except Quebec) in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate North American Online Open August 2019? If you haven't, you can join here. If you have, you may have some questions. KoopaTV, through interviewing the tournament administrators at Battlefy (they like us enough to send me a shirt, which in no way biases my coverage) and reading the rules for you—plus having a lot of experience in the prior tournaments in this series—is here to help with some answers.

What you're about to read are the basics of the tournament, such as the prizes, rules, and tournament structure... and then my tips on how to win and take full advantage of those rules for your benefit. You'll also read some undisclosed insider information I managed to get from interviewing a Battlefy representative.

The Basics: August Open Prizes, Rules, and Tournament Structure

The Super Smash Bros. Ultimate North American Online Open August 2019, unlike Nintendo's other partnerships with Battlefy this year, will feature NO ITEMS in ANY round of play. It's a best-of-three (first to two won games wins the set), three-stock, seven-minute format. The stages are the same mixed bag from the June Open: Final Destination, Battlefield, Smashville, Yoshi's Island (from Super Smash Bros. Brawl), Pokémon Stadium 2, Castle Siege, and Frigate Orpheon. All stages have hazards off, and your Battle Arena will need to have the stage selection set to Random.

This is the ruleset for the entire duration of the tournament, which begins and ends on August 17, 2019. It begins at 9 AM Pacific/12 PM Eastern, and continues for four hours in the Ladder Round. After that's done, there's the single-elimination Bracket Round for the 32 best players in each region for a 256-person bracket which begins at 2 PM Pacific/5 PM Eastern. Expect to play for a while.

To make my point more clear, I created this picture of the tournament structure:

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Trump That Saved Christmas From Tariffs On China...Because of Game Boy Camera Lies?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - ...He saved it from himself, but hey, who's keeping score?

While we were rating how Microsoft and Nintendo (but not Sony) did at E3 2019, those three major console manufacturers were writing to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, out of great concern for President Donald John Trump's announced tariffs (taxes) on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports, in pursuit of addressing things like intellectual property theft.

I did write years ago during the 2016 campaign that candidate Donald Trump would take China intellectual property theft seriously as President Donald John Trump, writing,
“Which candidate for United States president best sides with the videogame industry, an industry that thrives on exploiting intellectual property? Donald Trump, the man who will have a zero-tolerance policy on China's abuses? Or Hillary Clinton, the woman who tried to destroy the industry within the United States of America, and has no position or plan on China and its intellectual property abuse?”

Alright, if the videogame industry has to write a letter to President Donald John Trump to not screw up the videogame industry over China, then candidate Donald Trump might not have been the best candidate for the videogame industry on the China issue. ...Eh, well, still can't be worse than Hillary.

REGARDLESS. The tariffs have been delayed until December 15 (from September 1), which means that, unless you're highly irresponsible and buying directly from China (retailers will stock up prior to the tariffs taking effect), the holiday season will be free of the price increases that tariffs would necessitate. Hooray. For now.

Christmas is saved. And Black Friday/Thanksgiving.

And Chanukkah too, I guess. But there's more to the story, especially regarding the contents of the console manufacturers’ letter.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Online Tourney Events Aren't Worth Writing About

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - It's much lower effort.

I just wrote about how Splatfests have officially ended in Splatoon 2, and that I'll miss writing Splatfest articles on KoopaTV for a while—or perhaps we'll never see them again if “Splatoon 3”  doesn't go as planned. In that article's italicised footer, I asked if there are any alternatives to Splatfests out there so we can keep writing that style of article.

Cue last weekend. Nintendo invented a special Event tournament for its new (4.0.0) Online Tourney mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. What's special about it? It's themed Heroes vs. Villains. Here's the description:
“It's a clash of good against evil! This tourney is on for a limited time and allows only certain fighters.

The further you advance, the better the spirit you'll win!”
Does that mean that Nintendo will be bringing back Splatfest-esque competitions, just in another game? And KoopaTV should write about them? Heroes vs. Villains is literally even a Splatfest theme from Splatoon 2 (made in coordination with the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate)—and of course I chose Villains back then.

The answer to those questions is “no.” Here's why:

Friday, August 9, 2019

June 30, 2019 Nintendo Quarterly Financial Update

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I thought there'd be questions. More importantly, answers.

It is August 9 today. Does the article headline seem a bit weird to you? Yeah, I'm talking about stuff from June 30. But it wasn't released until July 30. ...And it's been still late ever since because I've been waiting for an investor question & answer session or an actual company briefing with slides and information. Those are the most interesting part of these.

But there isn't any and if I keep waiting for one, I'll probably miss this quarter entirely.

Unfortunately, without questions and answers, there isn't really anything interesting in this. Here's the obligated chart of >million-seller Nintendo Switch titles that aren't the very top echelon and would break the scale. Now Super Mario Maker 2 is on there, with 2.42 million sold:

Nintendo Switch software titles sold June 30 2019 Super Mario Maker 2 Tennis Aces Bros. U Deluxe 1-2 Switch
Seriously, who the hell is buying New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe?
Also, I'm very displeased to report that Kirby Star Allies has stopped being relevant to Nintendo.
(Ludwig still thinks March is 30 days long, but that'll be fixed in three months.)
For some reason, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe managed to sell over a million copies in the three months between April 1 and June 30. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate hasn't managed to do that.

There are 36.87 million Switch consoles sold, and 17.89 million of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sold. Only 14.73 million Super Smash Bros. Ultimate sold. Those are scary high attach rates. Meanwhile, Splatoon 2 is only at a mere 9.02 million.

Without questions and answers, I have nothing but numbers to throw at you. Perhaps there's no session because Nintendo is busy with a corporate social responsibility (CSR) report or something. Yuck. It features such momentous statements like,

Compliance Code of Conduct
Maintain a resolute stance against anti-social forces.
Our position on anti-social forces is unwavering.
...Yeah, whatever. So's my commitment to writing articles on these quarterly updates, even if it's total filler for this site.

There's some bits of that CSR report that warrant much further commentary and investigation, but that's outside the scope of this article, even if this article only exists to serve as a reference for later.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Cadence of Hyrule Free Demo Available! Impressions Inside...

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - You're free to demonise my impressions. They're controversial.

Today I got a Nintendo Switch News notification that Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda (henceforth referred to as just Cadence of Hyrule) has a free demo. Sure, I'll try it. It did dazzle us during that Nindies session some time ago. It's developed by indie company Brace Yourself Games in an amazing development story where Nintendo pretty much just said, yes, sure, you can use our intellectual property.

Fun times. But is Cadence of Hyrule itself a fun time?

Cadence of Hyrule is immediately striking in that its music—over a couple dozen remixes of The Legend of Zelda series music that each have contextually-differing tempos and senses of urgencies—is fantastic. A clear contrast from the aural failings that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild last brought to the series. Plus, the graphics remind me of The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, which is always a positive.

Looking through the general options menu, there's all sorts of options for accessibility including language selection and a friendly-to-the-colour-blind option. The demo takes you right to making a new game (with yourself or with a second player), and as far as I could tell, I was beginning the game like the full game would be. (It was later made obvious that, no, the full game doesn't have this same progression.)

I couldn't tell from the demo how involved the story would be throughout the game, but the gist seems to be some music-related jerk named Octavo (not to be confused with DJ Octavio of Splatoon) is doing something bad in Hyrule even though he doesn't belong there, and he has four Champion bosses that are enforcing whatever his bad thing is.

As for gameplay... 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Galarian Regional Variants and TEAM YELL!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - This is a positive direction.

Shells up: On KoopaTV, you'll notice that the coverage of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield is substantially more interesting than vast quantities of National Dex complaining spam—there's a legitimate concern there, but it won't interrupt how we'll cover the game's pre-release news drops.

And the last news drop was last month about Gigantamaxing, so this is a good improvement over every week from three years ago and GAME FREAK is taking our advice about not revealing everything in the game ahead of time

Today's news drop comes in the following themes:
  1. New Pokémon!
  2. New people!
  3. New features!
Most of these are available in this two-minute trailer put out by The Pokémon Company International, with the official Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield website filling in the gaps:

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Reggie Fils-Aime Gets POLITICAL About GUNS and GAMES!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I called it!

It hasn't even been a full four months yet since former Nintendo of America President and Chief Operating Officer, Reggie Fils-Aime, retired from the company to enjoy his life. Right as he was retiring, he created a Twitter account. I wrote an article that was received as an out-there, wild take: Reggie would use his account for political posting and trolling President Donald John Trump, very similar to former FBI Director James Comey.

My offbeat take is CORRECT. But some background first:

Over the weekend there were some unfortunate mass-shootings that took place in El Paso, Texas (shout-outs to a KoopaTV fan there that ALMOST went to the fateful Walmart but avoided it) and Dayton, Ohio (no KoopaTV fans there). Those are under investigation and I'm not going to comment on their particulars. I also doubt I'll comment on them after their investigations are complete. It's a gaming site, not a crime blog.

Unfortunately, people look to politicians—not prayers—for answers and comfort in times of disturbance and turbulence. Even more unfortunately, the current president of the United States of America, President Donald John Trump, isn't good at providing coherent answers or comfort. He singled out “the gruesome and grisly video games that are now too commonplace” in his conference about the incident, as something in the culture that glorifies and promotes real violence. This is far from the first time there's been a shooting and President Donald John Trump has identified violent videogames as something that should be examined. He even had a roundtable with industry figures about it—though he didn't pay attention during it because he doesn't truly care about the subject.

It's a good thing that President Donald John Trump doesn't deeply care about violent videogames when he states things like that. However, videogame industry people care greatly about the topic, and that includes former executives like Reggie Fils-Aime. Check out his tweets:

Monday, August 5, 2019

Unless You're A Solid Snake Fan, EVO 2019 Was Great!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I thought it was great. Couldn't be worse than before.

There was a time, as recently as last year, that the collective Super Smash Bros. community was having large doubts about the future of the fighting game at the Evolution Championship Series tournament series (popularly shortened as EVO). EVO 2018 was, in a word, a disaster. If you needed another descriptive word, it was an embarrassment.

EVO 2019 totally changed that. For starters, no more Super Smash Bros. For Wii U. For that matter, no more Super Smash Bros. Melee. Only one Super Smash Bros. game: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, at the prime Sunday night last game slot. As a result of consolidating all of Super Smash Bros. into one game, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was the highest-attended game in terms of stream-viewing and entrants, at over 279,000 viewers and 3,500 entrants. Even some Super Smash Bros. Melee players participated, notably Plup at 17th place. Plus, the four winners of the Super Smash Bros Ultimate North America June Open 2019 that got tickets to EVO 2019 as their prize all did very respectably, with HPT Seth at 49th place, Heeew and Wisdom at 97th place, and RamonM64 at 257th place. Very good for winners of an item-friendly tournament.

We all ultimately watched a diverse Top 8 for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which ended in MkLeo beating Tweek's Pokémon Trainer (the tournament was pre-4.0.0 so Ivysaur got a lot of down-air spikes throughout the tournament) after a bracket reset (MkLeo was from loser's side), which Tweek totally choked because he kept insisting on going to the less-favourable Pokémon Stadium 2.

You can watch the grand finals for yourself here. They're definitely emotional and intense and hype. It went past midnight in Eastern time, and some of the matches before the grand finals were getting me very sleepy and I didn't think I could keep myself awake to watch the grand finals. But I was jolted wide awake once the action happened: