A dreadful return

Parts of the Internet loves Metroid, but to an ill degree. Outside a few hot takes about sidescrolling games shouldn’t cost as much as games with three dimensions of movement, Metroid Dread has seemingly gained quite the amount of positive attention. Not that I’m here to piss into your cereal, but the developers of Dread have misunderstood Metroid to a degree. At its core, Metroid has been about powering up as you adventure through the game world in a balanced manner. There are obstacles that are required to beat, though not necessarily only in one manner. At its core, Metroid games are sidescrolling open-world games, or as we used to call them, adventure games. What does this have to do with Dread, and by that extension, that Metroid 2 remake on the 3DS? That modern Metroid is broken, and it was Fusion that shattered it.

For better or worse, Metroid missed the cereal train back in the day. Super Mario Bros. and Zelda were always the bigger franchises anyway

If you play any Metroid game prior to the modern era, there are few things you should notice. One of them is that Samus is strong by default. She may not have a long-range shot, but she has great mobility nevertheless and her rate of fire is not diminished like it is in Samus Returns remake and Dread. All the areas in the Classic era are filled with all sorts of little crawly animals you’re supposed to take down, which require Samus to be strong. It makes it much easier to kill enemies that fly in front of you as you power up, yet not all that necessary if you don’t want to item hunt. While Fusion manages to replicate this to a point, Samus Returns is a hollow game with large areas of one or two crawlies around, and this design change was made to compensate for the new melee and aiming mechanics. Much like how Other M had awkward as hell controls between third and first-person modes, Samus Returns suffers from awkward shooting and melee mechanics that necessitated changing the core play, and through that, how Metroid plays out. Perhaps you can argue that it offers a more relaxed pace for the game and the player is now required to time his actions better. However, the player already could dictate the pace they wanted, and weapons always took a degree of skill.

There is a concept of adding unnecessary mechanics for the sake of differentiating from the flock. Samus Returns reeks of this with everything it changed during the remake period to accommodate the melee mechanic. As weird it is to say aloud, Metroid is a shooting game much like Mega Man or Contra. Leave the melee for the Belmonts. Some fighting games, like Guilty Gear Accent Core, are faulty of this same thing, where there are additions of new mechanics for the sake of new mechanics that do not add any real value. In Metroid‘s case, this has caused a core change in how the game now must be played and approached while still being represented as being the same game. Metroid has become its own imitator. The surefire way to make a better Metroid title than Metroid 2 or Super Metroid (do you remember when people were arguing which one is better? I sure do) is to take the core element and expand upon them and see how far you can take them. The only reason people seem to prefer the melee mechanic is that Samus’ firepower was otherwise gimped and kicked down. If Samus Returns would have kept her firepower the same, there would be no reason for melee counters.

I don’t mind Samus’ new look though. It’s fine, but they should’ve stayed away from using white in the standard armour

An element that Dread is lifting from Fusion is the unkillable enemy chasing you. While SA-X is often cited as one of the more memorable things from the game, in Dread this seems to be a game-wide threat. This is turning Metroid into a stealth game, as now there seems to be a mechanic where you can turn Samus into a statue so one of these coloured robots (which look like iPhone store guards) can’t scan her. I’m sure we’re going to get story reasons why they can’t be destroyed and the game’s story will allow them to be destroyed by the end. That’s so goddamn tiresome. Metroid being an adventure game, an open-world title, fights this kind of written-in-stone story-driven progression fights against its nature. The same criticism was laid down on Fusion as well, though there it even broke the game’s core mechanic of non-linearity as you could only get items in a certain order as programmed into the game’s code. There was no sequence-breaking or creative choices done from the player’s part. Just like Samus Returns and Dread have minimised the player’s part in the exact same manner.

The thing is, Castlevania can do close-combat in non-linear games with some projectiles is because the overall design lends to it. It feels and looks like Castlevania, and more importantly, plays like Castlevania. It has balanced the game systems with the AI and game world to a fine point. Neither of these modern 2D Metroid Nintendo is making, and yes I am putting this on Nintendo as Sakamoto is still spearheading this franchise to hell, play like Metroid should. We have tons and tons of Metroid clones on the market with superior design in every aspect, and yet whatever the hell Samus Returns tried to be is shoddy lower-midtier garbage. Metroid doesn’t need to have melee attacks or counters. All of the play mechanics got gimped because of the want of this one extra mechanic that the game’s design can’t handle without breaking down. You can shave Samus Returns play to counter everything. All other mechanics are secondary and borderline useless. Unlike Castlevania, Samus Returns and Dread have screwed up whatever design the best of Metroid had to offer. Samus isn’t a goddamn ninja; she’s a fucking space Terminator. She’s not supposed to be a bac knock-off copy of her Smash Bros. version in her own games.

I won’t find any spot to talk about this otherwise, but holy shit doesn’t Samus Return have a terrible soundtrack. Most of the time you’re listening to this trash ambient soundtrack, and only in areas where you’re supposed to have a nostalgic rush you hear what is essentially re-used tracks from Prime. If you back and listen to Classic Metroid game soundtracks, the scary ambient things were saved for very specific areas and moments, but otherwise, you always had a rocking tune in the main areas. Maybe that’s for the better. Every time modern Metroid tries to do something new it flounders and fails like a fish on the Sun’s surface.

Speaking of white, these iPod dogs look less threatening and more… boring. Why would Samus shoot its face though? It looks like its most armored spot, while its lanky joints look like they would snap off from the ball sockets

Metroid is never going to escape Other M and Sakamoto. Hell, you might as well drop all hopes for Metroid Prime 4 at this point, as Metroid has long gone to be a story-driven adventure rather than the player’s adventure. Metroid was about the player facing a world and the sort of adventure that would be. Now, unlike its current contemporaries, it is about the player having to play out the outlined story. Best examples of this in the series? Metroid Fusion as a whole, and gimped world and adventuring in Metroid‘s GBA remake. Metroid has become about Samus despite Samus herself was never important. How the player had his adventure was, and we’ve lost it.

We can pinpoint the day when Metroid was lost. It’s the day when Gunpei Yokoi was killed in that car crash. I’m sure some people remember that there was an era where Yokoi’s name was attached to Metroid like Sakamoto’s is nowadays. I don’t like blaming one person for a failure of the whole team, but when you have a person who is put into a leadership position and publically proclaims his role in making and spearheading Samus’s story and knows her secrets, we can put his head unto the guillotine bed just fine. Just like with Link and other silent player characters, they’re supposed to be there for the player to play as. Take that away, and you’re forced to create a proper characterisation and framing for them, and seeing how video game writing is dumpster fire tier, and people like Sakamoto have zero talent or experience with actual story writing, you’re going to get stuff like repeating THE BABY the nth time.

Metroid Dread looks, sounds and probably will play cheap. This is sock-filling, a stopgap game. I’m sure it has a competent budget and all that, yet its lacklustre nature compared to independently made adventure games are laughing it out from the park despite their shoestring budget. Hell, just ignore what Nintendo is making and go play AM2R again.


Nintendo in this year’s E3 is a good example how they can drop a name and have people wild. No other game company has this level of power. Simply by showcasing Metroid Prime 4 people were wetting their pants from sheer excitement. This has been parodied few times over in some webcomics, where devs just walk on the stage and name things. Cue for audience throwing money at them.

I’ve got nothing against Shinya Takahashi (no developer is relevant, only their product is) but he should have been replaced with Reggie. It’s better than broken English or dub, as Reggie can be related with easier. Of course, the opposite goes in Japan and other regions. At least all these people emphasize gameplay.

Miyamoto wants the Switch to have a longer lifespan than five years, which is seen as sort of standard for consoles. Nothing actually determines that console has to live for that time. On the contrary, we have notable examples of consoles that lived much longer than that. The Game Boy, Atari 2600 and Sega Mega Drive all had long life spans. A console is dead when its support is dropped. As such, Nintendo should hit all the niches. Metroid Prime was a hit in the West and is still the most sold Metroid game, which is astonishing considering it was on the GameCube. Metroid Prime 4 can be expected to follow Prime series’ path, but seeing Prime 3 was pretty terrible compared to the first one, and how Sakamoto has his hands in everything, I’d rein in expectations before solid footage and info.

Might as well discuss Metroid II remake as well. There is very little reason for it to exist on the 3DS, outside if it has been in development hell. It should have been pushed to the Switch, but why this even exists I don’t know. It would seem Sakamoto has a hard-on for destroying Metroid‘s legacy with remakes and forced cinematics. First three Metroid games used aesthetics from the Alien franchise combined with other pop-culture materials, yet none of this exists in Metroid II remake. It’s filled with bloom and stages that have no resemblance with original Metroid II‘s levels, and has both cinema and gameplay elements from Other M. Will it sell just because it’s a 2D Metroid? Probably, but this isn’t what people asked from a new 2D entry in the series. Nintendo needs to kick Sakamoto out from his position and give it to someone who will make a game that is what Super Metroid was to the original; larger, wider, and longer. That would require too much work, and Sakamoto being enthusiast about remaking it tells us that it’ll be worse than the original Metroid II.

Then again, they haven’t kicked Aonuma out of Zelda team yet, so someone really has to fuck up hard before they’re removed from their chair.

On the other hand, Nintendo’s again pushing anime aesthetics with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Fire Emblem Warriors. While they can do whatever they want, Western consumers still don’t like it. If you’re intending to gather the anime and weaaboo game audience, then this is the best path for you. That’s just the reality for you. General consumers don’t have anything against cartoony content as such, anime aesthetics just are something that has a stigma and visuals that don’t resonate with them.

Then again, there’s Mario Odyssey. I’m not sure what the hell they wanted this game to be, but something is really off about this game. It might be that the whole game surrounds around that hat taking control over characters and forcing them under Mario’s controls. That, and it looks dull. Super Mario 64 may be legendary, but it was the first step of mainline Mario games going down. 3D Mario games have never sold as much as 2D ones, but I’m guessing Nintendo’s not interested developing one any time soon. While Nintendo wants to develop games to everyone, it seems that they’re not interested doing so with their main franchise.

And the rest is largely just trailers. Sony and Nintendo had a very similar act this year. Neither had an emphasize on the hardware and concentrated on content on their current systems. Reggie mentioned that third party developers are committed on bringing games on the Switch as well, which means that most people will be buying the consoles for those games on the long run rather than the first party titles. While Skyrim may be at a memetic position for being on almost every platform, it’s probably a sure seller. Rocket League is cheap and fun. Minecraft still holds its place up.

So, who won the E3? Nobody, it’s a silly concept. Well, all the companies really, because their core consumers got excited and will spend money on their products.

And there we go, Another Metroid 2 Remake DMCA’d

I didn’t joke when I mentioned in my previous post that Nintendo would take down Another Metroid 2 Remake. On top of that, they have removed digital editions of Nintendo Power from the Internet Archive. Nintendo is rather draconian when it comes to their take downs and to some extent they are required to do so. They are required to enforce their IP copyrights. This DMCA notice and link takedown was seen miles away. I am surprised that they didn’t take the project down in its inception, and waited until it was finished. AM2R had been under works for a decade and the developing team should’ve put their effort into something original rather than a remake. That is the reality of the situation.

The Metroid fan community of course is making this the biggest misstep Nintendo has ever made, which is just blowing out the frustration. Nintendo has given a damn about Metroid outside glory trophy projects like Other M or Federation Force. Nintendo did announce that their IPs were free to be used under the Creative Endorsement Program on NicoNico, fan made games and other larger projects that aim to recreate elements or games have always got struck down with a hammer. Super Mario 64 HD, NES Visual Compendium and understandably, an emulator application for iOS. These are just few examples, and scrounging through the net I’m sure one could find even more. There was some brouhaha about Nintendo sending DMCA notices to Youtubers and some people making porn drawings of Nintendo characters. Speaking of porn, Nintendo bought out Super Hornio Brothers‘ rights to stop their distribution.

Each and every time Nintendo’s lawyer has issued a DMCA, people come out form the woodworks and proclaim that this will be the end of Nintendo, that they will crash and burn. The same applies to other companies as well, but to the same exact degree. While money is probably the main issue, there are other concerns.

While the creating staff could issue a DMCA counter-claim and argue that AM2R is a non-commercial derivative work that falls under fair-use laws, it’d most likely end up being in court and I highly doubt any of the staff has the money to venture into a legal battle against Nintendo, even when it is a game they’ve been working on for over ten years. That pisses me off. They spent years making a fan game instead a new product they could benefit from, and now all they got was DMCA.

The staff is technically free to work on AM2R, unless Nintendo decides to issue a Cease and Desist notice towards them. Nothing new on that front either, Nintendo has a history in that too. Prime example of this would probably be the fanmade The Legend of Zelda film, thou to be fair these guys tried to sell tickets to their fanfilm. However, even when one would argue for Fair Use, this is very largely somewhat grey region.

I give AM2R‘s the benefit of doubt that they did consider at some point turning this into something original, something that wouldn’t remotely infringe Nintendo’s IP. Now their game will be just another entry in the list DMCA’d fan products. While Axiom Verge may split opinions about its quality, the creator nevertheless had the right touch. Rather than outright remake a game he created something of his own.

Yes, everything is a copy of a copy. The difference we have nowadays is that people don’t try to do their own thing anymore. Comic heroes like Superman may be derivative works of legendary figures from Ancient Rome, Star Wars can be said to be derived from Flash Gordon and Indiana Jones is a direct homage to countless pop-adventure serials. Yet, they all are their own, new thing and trying to do something different. They don’t just take what exists as is and reuse that. All the three examples crafted something different and something more, creating a new whole new mythos around them. Projects like AM2R are sad because they could be something more if they were to stand on their own legs, but as they are now they’re just bunch of fanfiction.

These people have stopped creating anything new. They simply take what others have taken and recycle them. That is extremely sad and one of the reasons why modern fiction suffers. This is the other issue I mentioned earlier. If you want to work on an IP, you better see the work and enthusiasm to convince the IP owners to either grand you the license for a fee or strive to work under the IP owner. I am making this split steep in order to simply say Create your own shit. Make something new. I implore all content creators to make your own thing rather than lean on to something that already exists.

The whole originality issue aside, AM2R seems to have gone well within the fandom, which is why the same fandom seems to have gone almost nuclear. Nintendo rarely lops their ear at whatever complaint they get from consumers, and Metroid is a prime example of this. As is Super Mario Bros. and slew other franchises they have. Much like all big companies, these are single cases for them with no weight to them. Sometimes they may see a point to make a profit out of it and for PR purposes, but largely it will be just another incident that will be put back in few weeks whenever the next thing to get mad about pops up. Modern Internet seems to move from one issue to another in a breath. After all, this is just another day and nothing new or special.

However, Nintendo can’t do anything about the game now. It’s out there, in the wild and it won’t take you long to pop into your favourite search engine and look for a third-party download. It should be more or less clear at this point that Nintendo is no interested in delivering a 2D Metroid game.

Metroid 30th anniversary

Metroid is a good example from Nintendo not giving a damn. Once one of their name franchise on the NES, Game Boy and Super Nintendo,  and sure, why not on the GameCube as well. Now Metroid‘s a little more than another piece to use Nintendo’s creators to do whatever they wish to very little acclaim. While GBA’s Metroid Fusion has a cult following without a doubt, and was the Metroid to many, it was without a doubt the first step towards what would end up being Other M.

Much like any other long-running franchises, Metroid has a raving fanbase. Most of them have credited Super Metroid to be the best entry in the series, despite it being more or less a straight up remake of the NES original. You could say that one game per console was more than enough to Metroid, as the games in the end didn’t innovate on the formula or furthered it. It refined the action-adventure genre for sure, but it wasn’t the only one to do so. Castlevania: Symphony of Night gave it further twists with role-playing elements in form of stats growths next to equipment collection. It was Gunpei Yokoi’s passing that can be cited to end the series as it stood.

Metroid Fusion took the franchise backwards, mainly in that turned a series that was known about its adventure into a more linear direction, and the solitary elements were softened with a constant companion A.I. Fusion‘s story is a good example where it simply stops the gameplay for not good reason than exposition. The franchise at this point was more or less a good example of gameplay doing all the storytelling, adventure being the story itself. Super Metroid had an opening cinematic that gave the game a setting, and the rest was told during gameplay.

Fusion and Metroid Prime could be described to be the beginning of the second era of the franchise. Super Mario 64 could be argued to be the first good transition from 2D to 3D, and Metroid Prime an example from 2D to first-person action. Whatever sort of success the Prime series had is for another time, but it can’t be argued that it lifted the franchise to the public mind once more, even if in somewhat limited manner.

Nintendo’s Japanese branch didn’t really care about the series in the end, and Other M was more or less their take on what they regarded as true Metroid. It’s not a surprise that when you start discussing motherly instincts and essentially destroy Samus Aran’s character by giving her a character. Not to mention that the simple but expansive core gameplay from the previous entries of the series was abandoned for a more complex and unintuitive mechanics. Most, if not all fault can be but on Sakamoto for essentially doing Other M what it is, though the execs at Nintendo, Miymoto included, should’ve put stops on the game. Other M starts the third era for Metroid, that’s essentially where it all went to trash.

What made the Metroid is pretty much lost in the franchise. Federation Force is less a Metroid game than a school project to practice game development. There is arrogance with the game, and that same arrogance made the Wii U a failure. 3Ds was more successful, yet when compared to the Game Boy and DS, the 3Ds’ success has been more or less abysmal.

The trailer above just shows how Nintendo continues to make non-Metroid games. The producer of the game, Kensuke Tanabe, wanted to do a first person shooting game for a handheld console. That already had been done few times over, and Metroid Prime: Hunters did it better on the DS.

Hunters wasn’t a small game either. It had demos and a rather large marketing campaign, and while it’s success was rather lukewarm, Hunters is more or less a decent spin-off. Its multiplayer was fun with Quake 3-esque gameplay and was fast paced. The visuals fit Metroid as a franchise, something Federation Force fail at. Hunters is a serious game, whereas Federation Force is a cutesy, soft and rather laughable in its gameplay.

Both Tanabe and Sakamoto have done whatever the hell they wanted with the series, and it shows. Nintendo has barely recognized Metroid for some time now to the point of ignoring its anniversaries. While Nintendo has been DMCA happy with some of the fan productions, Return of Samusremake has been left alone for years now, and now that it’s out, Nintendo can’t really take it out. It’s out in the wild and you should check it out.

Metroid‘s future looks bleak. It hasn’t seen any good entries for some time now and it’s clear that Nintendo is not interested in creating anything special out of it, and seeing how they’re intending to the Prime subseries towards more Japanese style, they’re not going to let another Western company after Retro Studios.

Metroid hasn’t made good money for some time, so it’s understandable that Nintendo wouldn’t want to invest resources in making a new game. On the other hand, if Nintendo would have invested in making good Metroid games in the first place. Taking Metroid to its roots would probably be the best option Nintendo has now. However, making a new 2D Metroid in the vain of the first three games requires effort and hard work. The whole action-adventure genre gets a new entry almost every other month nowadays, as it seems to be one of the more popular genres with the smaller developers. Axiom Verge is even taking similar cues from H.R. Giger’s designworks. Aliens Infestation is an interesting specimen in that the gameplay takes after Metroid to a large degree, or perhaps after Pharaoh’s Curse if we want to back to the originator.

A good entry in Metroid is not enough. Whatever entry Metroid will needs to be stellar and be true to the core of original Metroid. Otherwise we’ll see the 40th anniversary with no entry whatsoever and the franchise will go way of the dodo.

Monthly Three; Video Game

What separates a video game from both arcade and computer games is that they’re blend of both. They’re easy to pick up and drop like arcade games, but offer a more complex composition of things similar to computer games. There are no new genres or such with consoles, but there are new amalgamations and ways the consumer interacted with their home television. That was what the first generation was all about, and despite Pong originating from the arcades, it is the quintessential video game, brining people together in front of the television screen. Computer games were for those who owned a computer and usually were for people who played them alone. Arcades required you to go out there and was a social event of sorts. A home console brought both of that together in a cohesive whole.  Let’s start with a game that took the best of both worlds.

Continue reading “Monthly Three; Video Game”

Monthly Three: What’s in a name (of a remake)?

Remake get a lot of hatred, overall speaking. Unlike with remasters, remake takes something that exists, and rather than creating something new, it recycles elements of the previous product to create something new. Rather than creating something new or enhancing something old with new techniques and technology. Still, simply using the same core starting point with a piece does not make a remake. For example, the Transformers live action series are less a remake of any of the cartoons and more a different take on the work and story. Their quality is another thing altogether.

In film, remakes have become something to abhor, especially how the 2000’s was largely controlled by panned remakes of reheats of past franchises. From Clash of the Titans to Wolfman and whatever the latest horror movie remake out there is. That actually may be Godzilla Resurgence, which shows that remakes have their time and place as well, and that they can be done well, potentially. 1982 The Thing is an excellent remake that brought the story to a new generation with visuals and tone that still haven’t made obsolete. Similarly, The Fly from 1986 gave David Cronenberg a reason to do further body horror through a classic horror movie, and

That is the core idea of remakes after all; to take the old piece and recreate it for modern audiences. The problem is that not all pieces require a remake of any sorts. Wolfman is an example of an ageless classic that works more as a period piece nowadays, and much like 1934’s Dracula, works the best because of the era they were made in. This particular Dracula has never seen a remake, but further adaptations of Bram Stoker’s original book have been many, for lesser success most of the time.

The 1998 Pyscho is an example of a remake that remakes the original film point by point, almost replicating every scene of Hitchcock’s version. It’s a largely pointless way to make a remake, as it doesn’t do anything on its own, outside one added masturbation scene for shock value. The resources wasted on this Psycho could’ve been used for something better.

While we do expect remakes to do their own thing and add something to stand apart from their progenitor, often they just miss the point of the original piece. 1999’s The Haunting went straight up haunted house with being absolutely explicit that yes, there are ghosts about. The original film from 1963 is very subdued, never defining whether or not the main character is truly seeing ghosts or not, and works in allegories. It’s a subtle piece, something that the 1999 remake is not. It’s completely in your face remake with broken budget and has absolutely no subtely to it, not to mention it lacks any sort of legit scary moment. It stands apart from the original, and outside them idea basis, has nothing to do with the original piece and should’ve been named something else completely. Just like Gatchaman Crowds.

2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street on the other hand is just a bad movie outright, largely having worse special effects than the original 1984 and being explicit in everything it does instead of treating the viewer with respect.

In music, covers and different versions of songs are essentially the industry’s remakes. The basic beats and lyrics are the same, most often, but given completely new sound to them most of the cases, or simply taking it as it is and trying to do it better.

Remakes in music does offer much more freedom, in a sense. While a film remake can aim to change genre and stand completely apart from the previous work, just use it as an inspiration, in music you can take pretty much any song and give it a completely different take without much any hate. Game music is an example of this, with large number of songs being remade in rock, metal, symphonic, jazz and other arrangements. Companies themselves do this very often, Nihon Falcom having perhaps the largest selection of different pieces of each of their songs.

I’ll have to indulge myself just a bit here and list few of Yuzo Koshiro’s Morning Grow from the first Ys game, because the piece is simply one of my favourites in the series…

…Thou this dance pop version confuses me to this day. Provincialism Ys is a strange album

Unlike with films, cover songs in music are often less about the money and more about the love for that a particular song. The other side of the coin there are songs that are remade simply to be sold rather than about the song itself. Still, some authors and studios push remakes and covers of certain songs to ride on their popularity for simple monetary. After all, all remakes, film or music, are meant to be sold. However, in music remakes rarely obsolete the original piece, if ever.

In games all this is a bit mucked because companies tend to use remake and remaster liberally. Ducktales Remastered is an example of this, as it is a full-blown beat to beat remake and not a remaster.

Much like films, game remakes may get a cold shoulder from the consumers, sometimes because they don’t simply play as well as the original, sometimes because they have nothing new to them outside lick of new paint, or sometimes because they’re simply not wanted or needed.

CAPCOM tried to reboot the Mega Man franchise on the PSP with Mega Man Powered Up and Maverick Hunter X, but the main problem with both of them was that they were the exact same games CAPCOM had re-released for decade and a half at that point, solid two now. It didn’t help that they were on a system that wasn’t really all that successful, Maverick Hunter X ran slower and had more issues than the Super Nintendo original and only fans really bought MM Powered Up. It looked too cutesy and despite its addons offered nothing of real value, at least according to the bush radio. It didn’t help that it was a game aimed for a younger demographic on a system that was clearly meant for the older audience in the market.

What do the consumers expect from game remakes? The general idea seems to be that keeping it true to the original, refining some rougher elements and adding more content seems to be the right thing to go with. However, with older games this can become a problem, especially if the title is required to move from 2D to 3D, a change that can screw up the gameplay.

a boy and his blob is an example of a remake that took the original game and worked it from the scratch up. It’s a pretty good game on its own rights, and rather than hitting on nostalgia cashgrab, did something good. It largely ignores stages and everything else from the original game. Perhaps this sort of ground-up remodelling of a game is beneficial, as it allows the remake to stand apart from the original game, and act both as an independent piece and semi-sequel/reboot.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Metroid: Zero Mission, a game that remakes the NES original with seemingly the same maze layout while streamlining the experience, adding new content and forcing a story narrative in. Zero Mission is often called the better between the two, but it can’t be denied that it only stands on the shoulders of the NES original, removing large parts of the adventure the original game had going on for it, and perhaps even saying that Zero Mission tries to pander with nostalgia rather than stand on its own legs. It’s speedier gameplay is not necessarily better either, as original Metroid was very methodical, seemingly slow, and required a lot exploration from the player’s part instead of being directed to the next destination. In many ways, the Metroid is similar to Dark Souls in this rather than to its remake. To many the simple fact that Zero Mission is on a better hardware and plays more like a modern game makes it better, despite the fact that as a game it is a simple repeat, just like Ducktales Remasted.

Remakes have a place in every industry, despite their divisive nature. The good remakes show that you can use the same basis and narrative to create a new wholesome piece that can stand against the original without any problems, whereas the bad ones on the other hand show you how much certain works are largely timeless, at least for now. Remakes can work as a vessel for something great, despite their inherent repeating nature. Sometimes, repeating something is required to move forwards.

Do genres need to be absolutely accurate?

Adventure. That’s a term that encompasses a lot of ground. There are many forms of adventure, as many as there are people. Add action to it, and you have something that people want to hear, see and play.

As a genre, console action adventure games have always been about finding new ways to find your way around a vast map, spotting things you can’t just yet reach until you’ve done some more venturing and action. Without a doubt during that venturing you will face new spots that require you stray from your plan, because there may be something you want to check out or is required. It’s all part of the adventure.

Games like Contra, Mega Man or Castlevania are linear action games, there’s very little venturing done in them. Castlevania Lords of Shadow is in many ways just a direct 3D transition from the classic mould with little adventuring. Perhaps this linearity was that ultimately put people off. While one could argue that Mega Man Legends did the same, it is far more closer to Zelda’s Action RPG genre. The two are not interchangeable, but very close to each other to the extent people making assumptions that Zelda is an action adventure.

Action adventure as a term has been adapted to describe very different kind of games because people like to call their games as adventures. More often than not, the adventure part in this comes from the story they’ve written for the game, which of course is more or less incorrect and doubly so when it comes to console games. The PC adventure games have always been a genre that can easily be contrasted again console action adventures, where fighting is usually minimalistic or does not exist, but the emphasize is on scrounging the rooms and screens, solving puzzles and similar things that the genre is known for. If you’d add the action element there, you’d have a new kind of game, a game like The Legacy of the Wizard or Space Hunter.

The term Metroidvania has been coined by fans to describe two dimensional action adventure games, a term that needs to die out. It’s a term that describes nothing about the genre. In addition, this is largely used by the Western core gamers, who mostly have lost touch with the general public. Doomclone originally was used to describe games similar to Doom, but it soon became apparent that such naming is stupid and the term First Person Shooter, FPS for short, took its place. FPS is such a simple and effective name for a genre. It describes the very core of the gameplay idea, much like how survival horror does. What does a Metroidvania describe? Nothing. It’s a nonsense term from nonsense people.

Metroid was, and still is, one of the most influential action adventure games out there, but it wasn’t the only one developed at the time. While Space Hunter was released a year later, it was in development at the same time with Metroid, a reason why Metroid’s original title couldn’t be used. The original Mugen Senshi Valis was released in the same year as Metroid and while it was more linear than Metroid, it has an unmistakable adventure take on the stage build. Non-linearity is what separates action from action adventure at its core, and during the 80’s European platformers were known for their more non-linear approach than their Japanese and Western counterparts. While Metroid’s position as a game that made the genre a household name with the general public, the genre wasn’t born with it. When asked to describe what sort of game Metroid is, most people will drop the terms action and adventure in some form. Non-linear is another one, and while I personally would call them non-linear action adventure games, that is a bit mouthful to say, not to mention the amount of space it takes.

It’s rather amusing to note that Castlevania; Symphony of the Night was released in the US in 1997. The term Metroidvania was born only after this, and the first mentions of this term that I personally recall date to somewhere early 2000’s. For more than a decade the term action adventure had been used to describe a genre of certain kind of games this then new non-linear Castlevania games and Metroid belonged to. This is, in a way, a showcase of core gamers ignoring the history and rewriting it however they want. Remember how the PlayStation, Saturn and N64 era was called the Third Generation at one point? Both hardcore gamers and the gaming press acted like there existed no game industry before the NES. This is also reflected in people calling the late 90’s as the Golden Age of gaming, despite the term is already used for the era encompassing the from the late 1970’s after the first video game crash up until the second in 1983, when titles like Space Invaders and Pac-Man made immense impact not only on the gaming industry, but also on the culture at large. Atari became the biggest name in the home video game system market as well.

It may make me sound like an old grumpy guy when I’m saying that gamers need to stop for a moment and look at the past. Rewriting history with one’s own notions does not serve anybody. Just like in the sciences, historical accuracy is about speaking the true, not what we want to regard or find as true.

There has been little discussion how accurately video game genres should be noted. If we were to describe all genres as they are listed, then we’d have Shenmue games in the F.R.E.E. category and Mega Man Legends games belong in Free-Running RPG. These are of course nonsensical and should be largely ignored, much like the term Metroidvania should be. Genres in general encompass large scope of different kind of products, much like Horror movies have both comedies and exploitations under its banner, so does action adventure. Being unnecessarily nitpicky about how strictly we divide the genres will only lead to further division down the road, which will at some point end up in a game title becoming a genre. This has almost happened with Metroidvania, but it indeed already happened with Doomclone, from which we luckily got rid of.

Ultimately, genre is a descriptive way of categorising something, and as such we need to use descriptive names to tell customers what it is. To ignore this is nothing but stupidity.

Waiting for right controller interface, it seems

A future for F-Zero? Playable Star Fox? No to the first one, yes to the latter one.

It’s interesting that Miyamoto talks about F-Zero may return once the right controller interface becomes available, because that’s a load of horse shit. What sort of controller interface needs to be made available for a new F-Zero? If a GameBoy Advance is enough to accommodate F-Zero’s controls, then surely their controller interfaces on 3DS and Wii U would do just fun for a racing game. Hell, all you really need is to adapt Mario Kart controls, even with the tilting of someone wants to, and hey presto you got a controls.

Unless Miyamoto means physical control interface, in which case the next F-Zero will be utilising some sort of new controller, which could lead the game being extremely gimmicky and/or expensive. Just look at Tekki /Steel Battalion on the Xbox. It has a controller interface that was custom built for that game and its sequel, but goddamn if those two are not expensive and saw limited production. Could you see Nintendo producing a controller made just for F-Zero, a series Miyamoto himself called a no-seller? Then again, alternative controls would be welcomed on any platform, as long as they are affordable.

Also, there is a sect of F-Zero fans who regard the GameCube controller as the all end for the series, much like how Smash Bros. players, and some devs, regard that controller the best and only one for the series. Nintendo has that GC Controller adapter for Wii U now, so that’s no excuse either, thou some would disagree.

What is more important is what is not mentioned; Metroid. Did the failure of Other M make Nintendo look at their other space sci-fi franchises with a new look? During last E3, Nintendo representatives did not state that new Metroid games would be developed anytime soon; only that they are having internal discussion what they could do next with the series. It would be good to hear what Nintendo is discussing of their games and planning for them. Then again, we are in the near future and nothing tangible has come forth. Both Takahashi and Miyamoto give diplomatic answer how they like the different styles of Metroid. Miyamoto’s comment how there are things they could do with the Prime series is like musician saying there’s thing left you can do with a guitar.

Granted, there has been some rumours on Retro working on something Metroid related, but rumours are worth nothing. If one takes the developers into notice, it’s good to remember that the people who worked on the Prime series games no longer work at Retro Studios. Yet, somehow I’m getting a feeling that the power that be in Nintendo are just turning their heads this time and measuring some reactions, but that fails when you remember how Nintendo’s devs barely give a damn about the wants of their customers.

Now playable Star Fox sounds nice, all things considered. However, the last few titles were not all too successful and it seems more people are forgetting the DS Star Fox for whatever reason, and the two games on GameCube were more or less panned down. The Wii U Star Fox better put something new on the table rather than recycling stuff like either version of Star Fox 64.

Speaking of new entries for silent franchises, where’s one for Star Tropics?

Retro never got resurrected

According to an interview of sorts, Nintendo won’t be releasing a new Mario game this year. It’s not like the recent Mario titles have sold all too well, so this is nothing new.

However, the main thing here is the retro revival thing. The Ultimate NES Remix is essentially a minigame collection based on existing franchises. The game itself isn’t anything notable, but it has a popularity for a reason. It does indeed carry loads of games that we’ve seen having an impact.

Retro gaming never went anywhere. These simple games with enough depth may have become overshadowed by the large scale computer games with the mixed pollution of the platforms, but even then you always had the exact kinds of games people usually consider retro on our machines. The non-linear adventure games you saw in Metroid and Space Hunter still exist from major developers and publishers, one of the latest being TMNT: Danger of the Ooze, which according to a friend is a worthwhile game. Then you had the 2D Mario games, though we can agree that the term ‘new’ is not more or less expired at this point. The New Mario Bros. series was pretty successful with its first two iterations on the DS and Wii, but even then we all can agree that the Wii game sold mostly because they brought back the Koolapings. That revelation alone sold a thousand copies or so.

This is tooting the same horn again, with the exact same song to boot, but looking at the success of the Mario franchise we see a division between the Modern Mario, ie. 3D games and the retro style Mario titles or he 2D games. It’s no secret that the developers at Nintendo prefer the 3D Mario. This is even reflected in the interview, where it is said that the devs have fun experimenting with them. While I have nothing against experimentation and fun, but it tells a lot how projects they themselves found fun are getting greenlit. Work is not always fun, and games like New Super Mario Bros. for the DS, or Super Mario Bros. in itself, were results of a need to create a successful product. Miyamoto himself stated few years back how 2D Mario takes more work to develop, and that reflects well on the mindset at Nintendo; these projects needs to be fun to work with, to hell with the end quality.

The comparison between release gaps of different franchises is nothing new. While Smash Bros. could use more frequent releases, the fact that Sakurai himself doesn’t want to work with the franchise keeps them being made. That, and comparing release gaps between Mario and Pikmin 3 is easy to notice; Pikmin games have never been all that popular. It’s worrisome that the teams focus on recreating gameplay experience rather than concentrating on how to beat the previous ones, or how to trump the existing ideas rather than inject new ones. Adding content and making previous instalments obsolete are two different things, and the latter of the two is what would serve the industry, and the customer, far better. Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, or the Lost Levels, is a prime example of rehash in that everything was recycled from last game with some new ideas introduced. It’s far from a good sequel, and Super Mario Bros. 2 the West got is far superior game. It didn’t just recreate the gameplay, it made it something more and new ideas were not just introduced, but made better and built so that the whole thing would house a game that would made the previous game look like a chump. And it did!

Retro and old-school gaming never died, despite the powers that may be want you to believe otherwise. Indie developers had very little hand in any sort of revival, because there was no revival. Retro gaming, as the overall population usually understand it, is about playing the old consoles and the old games. Their revival would mean these would be resurrected, but it’s hard to resurrect anything alive. Mega Man franchise had those 2D games going on well into the 2000s, albeit with low quality titles.

If we call a game like Donkey Kong Country Returns a retro game, then where is the imaginary line between modern and retro? Is it the 3D revolution? If so, then Donkey Kong Country was released after the eve of Virtua Fighter. Some could argue that the PlayStation is the signal line, but the release dates between DKC and PSOne is less than a month.

If we tie retro to describe the overall most common type of game during the NES and SNES era, then what does it make the older eras? Or the next ones? Currently the cinematic gameplay is taking over, or has taken over depending from who you ask. Before that we had the overabundance of 3D environments, and before that FMV games. Or do we simply put all pre-1995 games into one category without even understanding their significance? You don’t see people commenting on Atari era, or how it was claimed that Nintendo has been doomed since around 1988. There is much to learn from the past, and I’m afraid simply recreation of gameplay with new ideas will not cut it.

Why would you want to release games that are sometimes on lesser level than their predecessors?

No developer will put their effort in giving past successes proper treatments. For Nintendo it is because they simply refuse to do so. You will not see a new 2D Metroid on Wii U or its successor. They never gave it to Mario either, you only got budget looking titles with that wah wah sounds instead of proper music. If a new 2D Metroid would come, it’ll be an title on a handheld with tight budget going against a 3D iteration on a home console, much like how Fusion and Prime tackled each other, and in the end Prime won. After that we got Other M, which showed how Nintendo doesn’t even get their own franchises. Kirby games have been doomed to be easy pieces of yarn and mediocrity, but then again that’s what Kirby games have been most of the time. F-Zero wasn’t successful either in 3D or in 2D, and even Miyamoto asks why people would want a new game that doesn’t sell. Same with Mario Kart. It seems we’ve all forgotten about 2D Mario Kart.

Some would argue that for Zelda too. Aonuma’s 3D puzzle Zelda took over, despite the classical Action RPG having more audience.

Steam developers follow in same suit, where their games are stuck to faux-pixel graphics and repeating certain gameplay cycles over and over. These game may have passion, but what does passion do for the game if the developer lacks ambition? It’s nothing but pretension to see a game being released that chooses to replicate gameplay that the developer is fan of, rather than to see the developer pushing forwards. Looking back to learn from mistakes and successes is the right thing to do, but after that your gaze should be turned to the future. Then, realize whatever visions you see in there.

Accurate portrayals, in my Smash Bros? Ha, barely.

Far too often you’re faced with a service people who are simply far too headstrong in their own view and opinion, preventing the maximised customer satisfaction. This is a problem with the creative fields that will always be there, mostly because of the human nature. This leads to situations where the ends and means of the provider are set first and the customer and his needs wants are left as a secondary thoughts. You’ll see this happening a lot with people who have a some sort of high status in their field, like James Cameron or Miyamoto.

Sometimes the customer does fight back and often the service provider will argue against them. This is inherently normal and endorsing discussion to open further possibilities the customer had no thought beforehand is something that doesn’t happen too often. However, when the service provider throws a hissy fit, a temper tantrum and proclaims his vision as the only solution and how it cannot be modified, adapted or changed to meet the ends better, the image of the provider will be tarnished and further co-operations may become uncertain. Attacking your customers with your own bias and views is almost suicidal, especially if you work for someone else and are representing your employer.

Incidentally, this is sort of thing gamers have been facing from the gaming press for the three last months. It’s almost universal.

In game design, there are multiple points where the customer wants can be met, like inclusion of certain characters or character archetypes. Forcing the developers’ own decisions over the wanted content is something that should always be carefully thought out, as this means the game has content the consumer may not want at all. For example, there are few RPGs out there that essentially force a level of romance on the player character, despite some of the players not giving a damn about this sort of dating simulator stuff. Sometimes content may be cut for many reasons, but seeing how many games see a complete shift in tone, structure and even in genre, we can blame incoherent origins of the project. Well made plan is half the victory, after all. It saves both money, time and resources. Still, in reality there are variables that may kick in and can bust even the most well thought plan.

Super Smash Bros. For Console X has been in the news with its release, and Sakurai has come out as a selfish man his interviews as of late, calling the customers as children and how they do not understand whatever they are criticising him about. As much as he creates negative promotion for the game and the company he represents, blind fandom has not stopped Smash Bros. selling like hotcakes. Then again, reading the more objective experiences with the software has convinced me enough that the series has become stale on its own rights. It’s also laughable that Sakurai in past criticised other Nintendo employees for reusing resources from past titles in their new productions, but Super Smash Bros. For Console X does just that.

It’s better to disregard what Sakurai says and concentrate what he does or doesn’t do.

Smash Bros. fandom has a set of people who have been wanting to see Ridley from Metroid as a playable character for some time now. Consumers been discussing how he could be implemented into the series to a large extent, even to the point of some making mock-ups. Actually, Ridley has been successfully modded into Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Sakurai’s reasoning for not including Ridley as a boss character are as follows; Ridley is too large in silhouette size and changing that would mean he would not be an accurate portrayal of the character, and Ridley could break the game balance. These are, of course, bullshit reasons to no end. Let’s see how accurately some of the Smash Bros. contestants have been portrayed.

What Sakurai could mean with accurate portrayal is how they are portrayed in their modern iconic look. Almost all the characters in Smash Bros. have seen changes in their looks throughout the years, and the handful of characters that still retain their original design have been amped up and pumped up. If the characters were portrayed accurately, Mario and Luigi would have no denim texture on their overalls. Both would also smile more in the game, like in the original Smash Bros., and the fire they use would look far more cartoony. Their Final Smashes are also completely out of the blue, having no consistency with past portrayals of the characters.

With the Zelda entries, the characters have more or less followed the latest iteration of the series and thus their redesigns have reflected that. That’s all good and dandy, but then you have to remember that Zelda has not been Shiek in any other main game but Ocarina of Time. If the portrayal would be accurate, the design this Zelda would have should reflect the Ocarina version of herself, which it doesn’t.

Then you have Ganondorf, who has been a clone of Captain Falcon since the beginning, thus having an incorrect portrayal how he fights. In the original Zelda, Ganon warps around and has magic shot at Link. In A Link to the Past, he warps around, shoots magical fire with the help of his trident, jumps to collapse parts of the battle field, uses magical firebirds and other tricks. None of these are seen in Smash Bros. In Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf initially just floats around and shoots magic, soon to be transformed into Ganon and wields two swords. Wind Waker’s edition of old man Ganondorf similarly uses two swords, but this time has sort emphasized dual wielding style with them. Twilight Princess Ganondorf has a roaming boar form, which later can be seen as his Final Smash, and yet the final battle is a sword fight. Hell, initial Ganondorf entry in Melee was more modelled after the Space World 2000 demo where we see Ganondorf with his then-iconic sword fighting Link. There is ample of stuff Sakurai and his team could do with Ganondorf to make him far more interesting, unique and accurate portrayal. Ganondorf is one of the most inaccurate portrayal in the whole series.

I’ve spoken before how Mega Man’s portrayal is absolutely inaccurate, so I won’t go into that any further. However, I will add that if Sakurai wanted to make an iconic Mega Man, he would most likely have used how CAPCOM has been portraying him since 1995 with high influence from Hayato Kaji’s Mega Man 8 designs a year later. However, Mega Man 9 and 10 were throwbacks to late NES Mega Man design style, so it would have been more applicable to portray him in that fashion. The best middle ground of these two design would have been Ryuji Higurashi depictions in Rockman Complete Works 1,3 and 6. Incidentally, he was also the illustrator in 9, but as mentioned, due to the throwback nature of the games his own visual flavour is far more toned down. Higurashi clearly has professional blood coursing through his veins. Thus, one can argue that Mega Man has no one iconic portrayal and is recognisable with any redesign as long as it follows the silhouette. However, this would not be accurate and Smash Mega Man is halluva far from being an accurate portrayal of any version of Classic Mega Man. I won’t go into attacks, as that would make this post unnaturally long.

With almost every entry we could rip their portrayals open, less so with characters that are from newer games. Saying Smash Bros. characters have been developed with the aim of character accuracy is on the same level as feverish babble. I have no wishes to start looking any more deeply into these characters, as its not worth spending my time on it.

As we’ve seen, Sakurai’s statement how they want to stay true to the character portrayal is all kinds of craps. It can’t be even sad that they want to portray the characters from the latest games, there are slew of characters that simply don’t do that. It is apparent that Sakurai wants to portray the characters as he sees them in his own mind. The size excuse is weak as we all know sizes in Smash Bros. mean nothing. Comparatively, none of the characters are correct sizes with each other outside few human characters, and even the you have the likes of Mario and Luigi screwing up things. It’s more applicable to say that all these characters have similar height function as Evangelions, where they change their size according to the needs of the scene.

Originally, Ridley was about a head higher than Samus in Metroid. From there on, his size has been varied wildly from game to game. Hell, Ridley and Mecha Ridley in Zero Mission are different sizes and that’s within one game. If the explanation for that size difference is because of his rebuilding, then what keeps Ridley from being smaller? One could even give a proper reasoning for this in-universe by saying how the Space Pirates have managed to miniaturise their power sources while adding more power. Or just follow the NES line; make him slightly larger than Samus and limited flight while keeping his modern design. Voilá, problem solved and Ridley keeps his portrayal intact. You can even stick with the NES and Zero Mission portrayal of his attacks to limit his flight, rather than use Other M or Prime series attacks.

Then again, Sakamoto would most likely pull the plug if they’d begin to handle Ridley in a proper manner.