Sunday, November 15, 2015

Random musings on the other games that were and weren't mentioned during last week's Nintendo Direct broadcasts

The trio of Nintendo Direct broadcasts that aired a couple of days ago featured a bunch of wonderful looking games.

Two of them: localized versions of the 3DS iterations of Dragon Quest VII and VIII, which amazingly are being brought to both Europe and North America by Nintendo at some point in 2016.

Of course, Nintendo also ignored a bunch of 3DS and Wii U games during these latest Directs.

Speaking of which, here are a few thoughts on some of the ones that actually earned a mention as well as some of the ones I wish had been mentioned.

First, the chatter about the ones that were given a nod:

Bravely Second (3DS)

Bravely Second: End Layer--Unfortunately for North Americans like myself who are chomping at the bit to play the English version of this Bravely Default sequel, the only attention Second received in the Nintendo Direct aimed at our neck of the woods was a sentence or two. Still, among those few words was a promise that the game would hit store shelves here this coming spring, so I won't complain too loudly about that oversight. (If you call Europe home, you'll be able to get your hands on Bravely Second within the first three months of 2016.) Anyway, although I would've loved a specific release date or glimpse of the title's Western box art, I'm happy we at least were given confirmation it'll be out soon.

Final Fantasy Explorers--I've had the North American version of this 3DS-based MonHun wannabe pre-ordered for some time now, so it would've really sucked if I thought the footage included in this Direct was subpar to the point of turning me off of the game entirely. Delightfully, that wasn't the case. In fact, the gameplay showcased here made me even more interested in this title than I was earlier. Sure, it's more than a little rough around the edges, with low-poly character models and a shockingly iffy frame rate, but even then it looks like good fun to me. The question is, do I keep my pre-order in place for the standard edition, or do I cancel it so I can go for the pricey collector's edition instead?

Fire Emblem Fates (3DS)

Fire Emblem Fates--This is another 3DS title I pre-ordered a while back. Did the snazzy special edition, which features all three versions of the game (Birthright, Conquest and the digital-only Revelation) as well as an art book and a carrying pouch, prompt me to ditch that "standard" copy in favor of this $80 counterpart? Nope. Don't get me wrong, the Fire Emblem Fates SE sounds awesome, but I've only played about seven hours of Fire Emblem Awakening thus far, so I don't think I need to own three different iterations of its follow-up. Or at least I don't need to own all three right from the get-go.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD--Ah, a Wii U game. Finally! Sadly, unlike a lot of people, I don't find this one all that appealing--and I would say that even if I actually owned a Wii U system. That's not a rip on Twilight Princess, mind you; rather, it's more of a comment on how I feel about the Zelda series as a whole these days. In other words, if we're not talking about throwback games like A Link Between Worlds (which I adored), I just can't muster up much interest.

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (3DS)

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam--If you'd like, you can take some of what I just said about Twilight Princess HD (the part about not being able to muster up much interest, mainly) and use it here, too. Why? For starters, the Mario & Luigi series has never really done it for me, especially from an aesthetics standpoint. I'm feeling similarly apathetic about the Paper Mario series these days--which is a shame, as I loved its first two entries for the Nintendo 64 and GameCube. Both Super Paper Mario for Wii and Sticker Star for 3DS ended up boring me to tears, though, and none of what I've seen of Paper Jam makes me think it'll provoke a more positive reaction, so until and unless that changes, this game is getting a "hell no" from yours truly.

Pokémon Blue, Red and Yellow--It's about time, Nintendo. It's about time. Why the company decided to wait until the end of the 3DS' life to add this trio of classic RPGs to the system's Virtual Console is beyond me. Did it have something to do with Nintendo's crack team of engineers figuring out how to make it so gamers could swap monsters, which most folks surely consider to be a staple of this decades-old series? Maybe. Whatever the case may be, I'm glad I'll finally be able to try my hand at Yellow. I finished Red way back when, and later picked up a copy of Blue, too, but Yellow's always been a mystery to me. Hopefully the wait will have been worth it.

Star Fox Zero (Wii U)

Pokémon Picross--Is it wrong that I'm planning to download and play the Japanese version of this upcoming, digital-only puzzler (again, for 3DS) because I prefer its logo to the North American version's. Probably, but I don't care. The good news for people who'll be forced to play the release with the less-appealing logo: the gameplay's sure to be the same, and it looks like a lot of fun. That said, here's hoping the game can be enjoyed without spending any--or much--real-life money.

Star Fox Zero--I know this is a terrible thing to admit, but I haven't cared for the Star Fox series since the Nintendo 64 sequel hit the streets eons ago. Every title since that one has failed to ping my radar, mainly because they focused on gameplay that strayed from what previously had been the Star Fox brand's tried-and-true formula. So, when Zero was announced in 2014, I couldn't do much more than yawn. Although I'm still pretty ho-hum about the game, and I doubt I'll pick up a copy should I ever acquire a Wii U, I thought what was shown of it during this Nintendo Direct was impressive enough. How about all of you?

With that out of the way, here are some comments about a number of 3DS and Wii U titles that I wish had been discussed during this round of Western-focused Nintendo Directs:

Genei Ibun Roku #FE (Wii U)

Genei Ibun Roku #FE--I have a feeling Nintendo of America and Europe decided against showing off this intriguing Wii U game because they're going to focus on it further down the road. Which makes sense, as it's probably not going to see the light of day outside of Japan for some time. Also, if you're starved for footage of this Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei crossover, it's easy enough to find on line right this minute. Granted, it's of the Japanese version, but that's better than nothing, right? Anyway, one last comment and I'll move on: this definitely is a title I'd buy if I owned a Wii U--despite the fact that I have very little experience with either of the series that inspired it.

Minecraft Wii U--Everyone was convinced this Wii U port of the world-conquering sandbox game would be given a nod during last week's Directs. Apparently Nintendo has other plans. Which is fine by me, I have to say. Sure, it will be cool to see Minecraft on the Wii U where it seemingly belongs, but people have waited this long for it to happen, surely they can wait a bit longer.

Picross 3D 2 (3DS)

Mother 3--It seems almost cruel that owners of Japanese Wii Us will soon be able to play this EarthBound sequel on their Nintendo-branded consoles. Does it surprise me that the company's European and North American arms have yet to announce it for their respective regions? Not at all--and I highly doubt they'll ever make such an announcement. Oh, well, at least we have EarthBound Beginnings, EarthBound and a rather fabulous fan translation of this final entry in Shigesato Itoi's classic RPG trilogy.

Picross 3D 2--Truth be told, I'm only including this 3DS puzzler here because I know a lot of people love Nintendo's Picross games and desperately want them to be released outside of Japan. (That's especially true of 3DS-centric iterations like this one, thanks to the fact that Nintendo's latest handheld is region-locked.) Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed the little I've played of some of the Japanese giant's earlier Picross efforts (such as the Japan-only Club Nintendo Picross), but even then I'm far from clamoring to add another one to my collection. Who knows, though, maybe this game could turn me around on the series. For that reason alone I'll cross my fingers that it's brought to Western shores in 2016.

Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus (3DS)

Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus--On the one hand, I fully understand why Nintendo may have decided against localizing this Rhythm Tengoku compilation for other regions. As far as I'm aware, none of the earlier Rhythm Tengoku games--released here as Rhythm Heaven and Rhythm Heaven Fever--have sold many copies. Still, it would be a crying shame if only owners of Japanese 3DSes got to play The Best Plus, as it's well worth the Rhythm Tengoku name despite a few missteps. As such, here's hoping Nintendo's just holding on to it until a dry period pops up in Europe and North America next year (and you know one will--probably in the spring).

Solitiba--Why have neither Nintendo nor developer (and publisher, in Japan) Game Freak done what's needed to add this digital 3DS title, which combines elements of solitaire and horse racing, to the North American and European eShops? I have no idea. Granted, it's a weird game, especially on paper, and thus probably considered a tough sell. Also, it features a lot of text, and I can't imagine translating all of it for non-Japanese gamers would be an easy task. That said, I think the effort could pay off in spades, as Solitiba probably would garner some good word of mouth post-release due to its just-one-more-round addictiveness.

Girls Mode 3 (aka Style Savvy 3, 3DS)

Style Savvy 3--Full disclosure: I've only put about eight hours into my copy of the second Style Savvy game (known as Trendsetters in my territory). And I've barely done more than glance at the two copies of the original Style Savvy--the Japanese and North American version--game currently in my possession. Regardless, I desperately want this third one to earn a place on Western store shelves, too. Would I accept a digital-only release in the US? I guess, but if I were allowed to call the shots, I'd go for a retail release as well.

So, there are my rather long-winded thoughts on a number of the 3DS and Wii U titles that were and weren't included in the Nintendo Directs aimed at North American and European gamers last week. What do all of you think about the above--or any other games I may have missed?

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