A Gamer Perspective – The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky

Originally released for PC in 2004 and rereleased to the PSP in 2006, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky remained exclusive to Japan for many years. But thanks to XSEED, the game saw a worldwide release in 2011, through GOG and Steam, and gamers from the entire world managed to finally get to try Falcom beloved series. And even this being a port of an old game, its solid gameplay and strong storytelling maintains it as compelling piece of software as it surely was back in the day.
One of the main hooks of any game is the gameplay. And Trails in the Sky doesn’t drop the ball in this regard. Employing a system that utilizes a turn based combat mechanic with elements of strategy games, it keeps you engaged in every combat, be it a normal combat or against bosses. The game utilizes mechanics you would usually see in a more traditional RPG, like magic and special moves, called arts, but it does so with a spin: the position of your character on the combat zone is vital. If by any chance you decide to attack, but forgets that the enemy is casting a spell on the area you are standing in, you are bound to receive significant damage, not to mention potentially stat effects, which could be the difference between victory and defeat. Not only that, but the combat also uses a turn based system similar to the one utilized in Final Fantasy X, in which there is a small column on the left indicating which enemy or ally is next to act.This gives an additional layer to the gameplay, such as consideration on who would be best to attack next, or see yourself in a situation in which you ponder how to best maximize the number of turns you will have before the enemy has its chance to attack. The only issue I have with this system is that, while the game seems to make moving around the grid as important as attacking, having a more offensive stance in battles usually is the best and most effective way of dealing with situations. When an enemy is casting a spell that can affect many if not most of your characters for example, most of the time it’s simply more effective to just kill that enemy first or use abilities that nullify such attacks, than simply moving out of the spell range, because when you do so you lose a turn, or at the very least the chance to act before the enemy does. And as a consequence, outside of a few boss battles, you don’t end up using the move option that much. For a game that emphasizes positioning, the lack of its importance is such a missed opportunity.
But the strongest point of the game is easily the world it has built. Falcom managed to craft a realm filled with personality and depth, and you can feel the passion in the interactions between the characters, especially between Estelle and Joshua, the main protagonists, and inside of the five main towns you end up visiting in the game. With every conversation you have with the residents of the Kingdom of Liberl in which the game takes place, you learn a bit more about its culture and history. When you talk with people that know personally the characters on your party for example, you learn more about their personality, how they tick, and even small glimpses on their past and what made what they are. If not, then you get a peek on the political affairs of the realms that inhabit the continent you live in, or the latest gossip around town. As if that weren’t enough, every time something of importance happens, most if not all dialogue of the NPC changes to reflect that change. It’s this care to the small details that make Liberl feels like a living place and its world memorable. And one of the reasons its world and story are so engaging is that the game is not afraid of taking its time to tell what it wants to tell. There are some sequences when a story point is explained or some story event is unfolding that takes up to 20 minutes to finish, or at the very beginning of the game, it can take the player between one to two hours to begin its first fight,depending on how fast you go through the dialogues.But it dosent feel like a chore because of its brilliant writing and engaging story, and it just ends up adding to the appeal of the game.
But it’s not only the world and its lore that’s very well built, but also its characters. Through the journey, you accompany Joshua and Estelle in their journey across the country of Liberl to become full-fledged bracers, which is an independent organization that upholds order and peace in that world, be it locally or internationally. And this is the perfect excuse to see both main protagonists grown during their adventures. At the beginning, both are rookies and fairly innocent, both to the ugliness of the world and to their own selves, but by the end of the game, they have both matured in these two aspects. And it’s a joy to see they grow. And while the cast of supporting characters aren’t as deep as these two are, they are also quite enjoyable to get to know and they are really relatable, some more than others.
With the plethora of open world games and developers wanting to adopt a more western style in the development on their works, more and more the narrative and story equation of a game ends up being sacrificed in the name of “player freedom”. So it’s ironically refreshing to see an old game prove that a more linear approach to an idea might just be more effective than what is available on the market today. Don’t let the outdated graphics fool you: with its solid gameplay, superb storytelling and great soundtrack, this is a game that is recommended to all RPG lovers, and to anyone who likes a great story.
 
Score: 8.3
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E3 – Expectations and Dreams

The busiest time of the year in the videogame industry is almost here! In just a few weeks time, we will learn more about exciting games that have already been announced, learn about new games that we didnt know we wanted, and new memes that will be created.In that spirit, I thought it would be fun to write what I expect and hope of the big three conferences(Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft) and in a separate point, the same of the other companies.

As a general rule though, for each segment it will only be listed the games that each company own. So in another words, for the big three, I will only especulate about first party games or collaborations(second party games).As for third parties, they will be listed in a different segment.

Will we see a new entry at E3?

 

Microsoft

This is the conference I am least interested in(out of the big three). Not only because they will focus on a hardware revision, known at the time of this writing as the Scorpio, that will most likely have an effect as strong as the PS4 Pro, both in terms of sales and innovations, but it will likely take a good chunk out of the conference time to talk about things like performance and framerates, and thats just plain boring.

Outside of that, I expect already announced games to appear, such as Crackdown 3(and this one especially being used to demonstrate Scorpio power), Sea of Thieves, and smaller games like Cuphead. And thats it. Which brings me to my dreams segment for Microsoft. They NEED to announce new projects and new IPs. A new Halo or Gears of War or Forza is all fine and dandy, but they wont be bringing a new audience to their ecosystem with the same brands and ideas, nor excite their own fanbase, because those games are already expected. Scalebound was one such title that could have helped in that regard(if it did turn out to be a good game, I mean), but we all know what ended up happening to that venture. Microsoft needs to take more chances, and needs to do that now.

God of War for PS4

 

Sony

For Sony, I believe their show will be based more on already announced games, of which they have many, rather than surprises. We will definely get updates and new trailers for God Of War, the new Spiderman game(especially since the movie isnt that far off),Days Gone,Uncharted:The Lost Legacy,Detroid:Become Human and Knack 2(for better or worse). I dont think we will be seeing either The Last Of Us 2 or Death Stranding here, simply because Sony already have alot to cover, along with the usual third party games they will show and the one or two surprises that we will get(from Sony themselves). Not to mention that these games are still ways off, so it makes sense for them to hold them off for another show, like PSX. I could see a Bloodborne 2 announcement being made, but I wouldnt hold my breath for it.

They will also dedicate a part of their time for the PSVR, as they have been doing for quite a while now. I expect only one new first party game to be announced for it though, with the rest of the time being filled by third party games. I feel like this will happen due to PSVR not being a platform that has a big install base(and wont have such potential, due to price point, nature of the product itself as more of an acessory, among other reasons) and that VR is still rather limiting in what you can do with it, and thus it disencourages bigger investiments in more games, especially ones that would require bigger budgets. And there is also the fact that Sony is not known to be very supportive of their hardware iniciatives outside of the home consoles, so there is that too.

As for what I dream to see on the show, I hope that whatever Sucker Punch is working on right now, is not Infamous related. I would like to see the knowledgeand experience they gained from the infamous series being put into a new IP, with a completely different feel to Infamous. And the take on a fresh idea might help them achieve greater heights, as it did help Guerilla games with Horizon.

What I would really like to see is Sony to tackle in the RPG genre, especially the JRPG.There has been some precedent here and there, like Legend of Dragoon in the PS1, but other than that the Playstation brand has been really lacking in that reagrd from the first party perspective.And while Horizon is a great game, its too light on RPG elements to I really consider as such.

As for my final delusion, I would love to see a reboot of the Pursuit Force franchise. It is a rather obscure franchise, one that was developed by Bigbig Studios, a studio previously owned by Sony but that became defunct in 2012. I loved to death the first game( one of the hardest boss I ever fought is in there. Took me three freaking days of continuous tries to take down Hard Balls), and a new game being developed from the groundup for the PS4 could make for an awesome game, seeing that it was already a good one on the PSP.

Potential game of the show?
Potential game of the show?

 

Nintendo

This is the most interesting of the three. Not only because they have a new system in the wild, a system that goes by the name Switch, but because outside of the first year, we know nothing about whats comming to it. Hell, even most of the first year lineup games are still shrouded in mystery, such as Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Super Mario Oddysey, Fire Emblem Warriors and that mysterious Ubisoft game… *cough* Mario vs Rabbids *cough*.We should also see the second DLC for Breath of the Wild. So we will see all of those games on the show, both in the Spotlight segment and in the Treehouse segment, along with the likeliness of seeing some of the second party games announced back in January, like Project Octopath Traveler, and Nintendo will reserve some time for the third party stuff, that will surely appear, even if a little.As for Metroid, I dont think we are going to hear anything about it, at least not at this E3. I do believe that one is being developed, but since Nintendo will focus on games releasing on 2017 and (what I guess) going to release up to mid 2018, Metroid wont be shown. Animal Crossing though, is something that will be displayed. The mobile game is bound to release within this fiscal year, and it stand to reason that the actual game will release soon after that to capitalize on the attention its little brother gets. And since the mobile release isnt that far off, the possibility of the actual console game presence on E3 is significant.

Outside of games, we will definitely hear more about Nintendo online services for the hardware, along with more details about how the Virtual Console will work on it. I personally believe that the initial Virtual Console catalogue will consist of existing games on both the Virtual Console of the Wii U and 3DS, along with a few more entries, such as Gamecube games. To finish that segment, they will finally announce Mother 3 will be localized to the West through the Virtual Console.

As for the 3DS side, nothing will be shown in the Spotlight. Nothing. The Spotlight will be used exclusively to promote the Switch and everything related to it. 3DS will touched upon only at the Treehouse segment, which I believe will mix 3DS games with Switch games. And whatever new announcement Nintendo wants to make for the 3DS will be made betwenn the games shown at it.

For what I dream of being shown at the show, is the new game that Retro is working on, and that it is a new IP.We all want a new Metroid game, but I will personally be much more interested having Retro work on something entirely new that they have pitched to Nintendo, and thus trying something new.Imagine Retro tackling a big and ambitious adventure game in the veins of Uncharted or Tomb Raider, or making a edgier first person shooter like Metroid, but without the restrains that comes with that brand and having the creative freedom to do whatever they like? My mind simply melts thinking of such possibilities.

One game that I really want Nintendo to go back to is Golden Sun. This franchise holds so much potential, being potentially the best RPG franchise on the GBA. And while the DS title, Dark Dawn, was its weakest entry, it was still a good game. Given that the Switch is also a portable device and that it is also starting to receive, and primed to be, a great console to RPG lovers, Golden Sun deserves a second chance.The game would just need the same breath of fresh air that recent Nintendo titles got and seems to have gotten, like Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Oddysey and ARMS.

One day it will be in our hands

 

Other Companies

For Capcom, I expect them to show further footage of Capcom vs Marvel Infinite. We know little about that game, and it is going to release in September, so we are bound to receive more information about it. Oh, and I predict it to have an Switch version announced there too.I also expect to see Resident Evil 7 Not a Hero DLC there, along with a release date.Same goes for Monster Hunter XX for Switch, and only for Switch.

As for what I dream out of this company, is a Megaman X reboot. I NEED a new Megaman X game, and given that it has been so long since the last entry and that its story is a chaotic mess by now to put it lightly, it needs a reboot. Please Capcom, Megaman is probably your biggest mascot and one of the biggest icon in the videogame industry. Give him some love.

For Square, I fully expect a KH III trailer at the Sony conference, along with an extremely vague 2018 release date. Dragon Quest XI will also be showed, with a release date for the west. The Switch version will not be showed, simply because they dont want to potentially lose sales for the 3DS and PS4 version in Japan. But if they do show it, there wont be a release date for it. The new Tomb Raider game will also be showed and, for once in many years, wont be shown when its still at pre production and wont take a decade to release. Also I find that there is a possibility of Life is Strange 2 showing up there, especially due to the fact that the first game will be free on PS plus for June.

As for what I dream out of this hate and love conflict I have with this company, is a new Chrono Trigger game. Either a remake of the first one(that keeps the same philosophy of the battle system) or a sequel that forgets that Chrono Cross ever existed and applies a battle system similar to the first game. Its baffling that this critically acclaimed, and considered by many as the best game of all time, has been laid dormant for so long. Its time for a comeback.

A second thing I hope out of this E3 is that KH III is announced for Switch, along with all the collection games. Assuming the game can run on the Switch, it just makes too much sense.

For Ubisoft, they already showed their hand.Far Cry 5, The Crew 2 and so on.EA will most likely be the same it was last year. Half of the conference will be sport titles, the other half will be Battlefield 1(or its sequel) and Battlefront 2.

For Bethesda, I expect to see more of Quake Champions, and fully expect the reveal of The Evil Within 2. The original game has been succesful enough and there has been too many leaks and clues about it for this title to not exist. And given the early success of the Switch, I also expect Bethesda to briefly mention the Skyrim version for Switch here.

As for Fromsoftware, I think a Dark Souls collections will be announced, and will release in all platforms.I also believe that they will show a new IP, and while it will borrow ideas from Dark Souls, it will be a really different game from what they usually do.

What I really hoped they would do is a remake of Eternal Ring. Even though the game is extremely dated nowadays and was okayish by the time it released, I had so much fun with it and it had so much potential. Fromsoftware is a very different company today, and the game could use a second chance and the experience gained through the years to become something truly special.

And thats it!Obviously I missed many companies, but there are simply too many to cover, and those are the ones that I am personally more excited about. What do you think about these predictions? Too far fetched? Too excited about a possible new Megaman X game to disagree with me? Post your thoughts below!

Does the Switch Really Need AAA Third-Party Support to Succeed?

The relationship that many third-party publishers have had with Nintendo in the past 20 years or so was, and is, always an interesting topic. When did Nintendo start making mistakes to the point that they lost the trust and support from these companies? Why do some of these publishers insist on not porting their games to Nintendo consoles, even when their games can run decently on the console? And most important of all: what would it take for these companies to come back to Nintendo? For as interesting as a topic it is, I wont be discussing about any of them here. At least not directly. What I would like, however, is to discuss the current relationship Nintendo has with those companies in the context of the Switch.

The Other Guys

These consoles, while powerful, didn't have the most compelling software at launch [Image via Forbes]
These consoles, while powerful, didn’t have the most compelling software at launch [Image via Forbes]

I’ll get directly to the point. Does the Switch needs third parties? The simple answer is no. At least not the big AAA titles, and not for now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to have third parties to either help sell your system, or to pacify gamers until the next big first-party game.But for the Switch, it’s a bit different than what usually goes down when a company launches a console. When Sony and Microsoft released their eight generation consoles, they didn’t have any big, high quality first party title to carry the momentum.

So in order to fill that launch window and the gap until either a heavy hitter comes, either from a Sony owned internal studio or from another partner of them, they bombarded their system with third-party games. These were either ports or “remasters” of the past generation, enhanced in one way or another, or smaller games that are fast enough to make so that independent companies can make it in time for the launch or the first six to twelve months of the release. Outside of having a good console and concept, they compensated the lack of a compelling game to sell the console with a sheer quantity of releases from a myriad of developers.

Doing it Themselves

Breath of the Wild outsold the Switch itself. [Image via Nintendo]
Breath of the Wild outsold the Switch itself. [Image via Nintendo]

The Switch, on the other hand, doesn’t have the luxury of having that big support from other publishers at the start of its lifecycle. But you know what? It doesn’t really need it. Why? Because Zelda. Or to be a more specific: a high quality game. For what Nintendo lacks in quantity, it simply compensates in quality. And that will remain to be true for the upcoming months. It’s not simply the great decision of balancing the releases through the year that is helping sell the console, its also the fact that every single game they release, is a high quality work that is translated into hype, which in turn is translated into sales.

Zelda did that job for the first two months, and now it’s time for MarioKart to do its part. It’s already the fastest selling Mario Kart game of all time! By the time June comes, Arms will be the one that will need to do the heavy lifting, and even if it dosen’t perform as expected, E3 will be right there with exciting game reveals to compensate for it. After that it will have Splatoon 2, then Xenoblade Chronicles 2, then Fire Emblem Warriors, and finally to finish the year with style, Super Mario Oddysey. And for the gamers that still need a bit more to play between big releases, there is the excellent indie support that the Switch is getting, with at least one release per week.

It's going to be a busy year for Switch Indie fans
It’s going to be a busy year for Switch Indie fans

The whole point is: Nintendo doesn’t need to earn back the trust of everyone at the same time. It can do that in parts. Along the end of the life of the Wii U and the 3DS, Nintendo managed to form a great relationship with indie developers, to the point that, now with the Switch released, I would go as far as to say that its indie support is as good as the PS4, maybe even better. Not only that, but the Switch is also bound to get all support from the A and AA Japanese developers, the same ones that used to develop games for the Vita.

We are already starting to see the gears turning, as some games from that sector are starting to be announced for it, with Nights of Azure 2, Fate/Excelle and a new Senran Kagura (with HD rumble) being some of them. Not only that, but there are currently 20 Unreal Engine 4 titles being developed for the Switch in Japan alone. In my opinion, I fully expect that we will start to see more games being unveiled for it between E3 and Tokyo Games Show.

It Can Still Get Those AAA Releases

[Image via Nintendo]
[Image via Nintendo]

Trust is something that you have to fight for to get, and that doesn’t happen overnight. Companies understand one and only one language: money. And as long as Nintendo keeps playing their cards right and keeps the Switch’s incredible momentum going, it will receive more support. Now, I don’t expect a lot of support from the big western studios, and expect even less ports of the big AAA western games. But if Nintendo manages to get and maintain strong support from indie and Japanese developers, on top of high quality first party titles, I think that the Switch will be an incredible machine, one that third-party publishers won’t be able to ignore, and one hell of an experience to be a part of.

Nintendo doesn’t need to win all battles in a few years. If the Switch does end up being a success, the west will be more than willing to lend an ear when Nintendo launches its next console.

What Nintendo learned from Sony

There is no doubt that the PS4 is dominating this generation and will keep doing so for the foreseeable future.Its slew of great game, with its good hardware, is making a killing and I don’t think anyone is going to be able to challenge it to the point that Sony needs to worry about.In the other side of the coin, Nintendo just had its worse selling console with the Wii U, and seemed to be out of touch with gamers, specially with the release of recent flops and badly received games like Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival, Mario Tennis Ultra Smash, and Metroid Prime:Federation Force, just to name some titles.And yet, Nintendo managed to turn things around with the Switch.And that, in my opinion, is due to two things:That Nintendo is a great company with excellent talents, and its recent willingness to learn from their mistakes and from its competitors successes.

The first thing would be the marketing.Even though we all know that the early PS4 success is largely due to the total screw up by Nintendo and Microsoft (the 2013 E3 is certainly memorable because of this), it’s easy to forget that their marketing strategy also played a large role into this. It’s not the amount of ads on TVs or promotions on local retailers that I’m talking about, but the content and theme of the marketing itself.Its something we take for granted now, as if it were obvious from the beginning, but the majority of people that game nowadays are usually adults in their mid 20 and 30s.People that grew up with gaming, and now have a stable income and can afford himself or herself to spend a little more money on hobbies such as gaming.And Sony marketing reflects that.Now look at the marketing strategy ever since the Switch was first revealed back in October.See a resemblance?Nintendo commercials used to be to good with the Wii and prior to that console, but with the Wii U it did not only not convey the message well about what the system is, but also tried to appeal to the wrong market, since the Wii U was mostly made up of more hardcore gamers, not casual ones.But with the Switch,Nintendo finally understood that its current fanbase is older now, and the overall gaming community also is.Not only that, but the ones that buy consoles in its launch, or even in its first year, when its more expensive, is the more dedicated gamers, which usually are young adults.And even Nintendo acknowledged that.In it’s recent fiscal year report, Nintendo said the majority of Switch buyers were men in their 20s and early 30s.And its ads certainly reflects that.

The second thing would be games.Back in December, I was really impressed by the range of games that Sony showed in their annual Playstation Experience conference.The games showed there were not only your typical first person shooter, or your usual open world game, but there were also platformers(Crash Trilogy),Visual Novels(Danganronpa V3),fighting games(Marvel vs Capcom Infinite), JRPGs(Ni No Kuni II), a myriad of different indies, and many more.That conference basically encompassed the reason why Sony is winning this generation:game diversity.And Nintendo seems to be doing just the same with the Switch.First up, they opened with a huge open world adventure game, in the form of Zelda Breath Of The Wild.Next up, they carried the momentum with a world renowed racing game Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.In June, they will release their new take on the fighting genre with ARMS.In July, they will keep everyone interested with their different take on the third person shooter with Splatoon 2.Betwenn that and December, believing Nintendo insistence that it will launch this year, Switch will get its big open world RPG with Xenoblade Chronicles 2.And finally, to end the year with a high note, Nintendo will release a game in the platformer genre with Super Mario Oddysey.And that’s not even to mention the smaller games that have been/will release, such as Fire Emblem Warriors and Snipperclips, which also covers different genres.Nintendo in not only worried with the release of great games on a steady pace, but since it does not have the advantage of depending on third party like Sony does, Nintendo knows it needs to build up diversity early on through its own games and studios, much like Sony did with the cooperation from third party games, so that later on, with an install base big enough, it can relly on other companies, since they would be more willing to invest on the platform with a bigger certainty that their game can sell there.

Wether this strategy ultimately pans out and Nintendo ends up with a success on their hand, I think it stands to reason that, at the very least, Nintendo is learning with its mistakes.They know that giving a different experience than what the others are giving and making a desirable piece of hardware isn’t enough, you also need to market it right and make games that people from all walks of life wants to play.While its hard to say at this point in time wether the Switch will be a success or a failure, I think its safe enough to say that we wont be seeing another Wii U unfold in our hands.

Top 10 Wii U games

With the beginning of a new year, and the inevitable full reveal of the Switch(and as a consequence, the death of the Wii U), I feel that it is an appropriate time as ever to make a list which contains the 10 best games on Wii U.I will stress out that this is merely my opinion, and I do not represent in any way opinion of any group of people.It is, after all, only my own opinion.But feel free to regard this as the supreme list of Wii U games, as it would be the wise decision to make.
 
10. Splatoon
Nintendo biggest new IP for the past few years were not only immensely fun, but also a breakout success.Not only it managed to innovate with its painting mechanic, that focused on covering ground with your ink instead of killing your oponents, but it also managed to make the game a blast to play.Betwenn the tense Turf Wars battles and the constant updates the game got through the months, it never stopped making us feel like a squid.Or was it a kid?
 
9. The Legend of Zelda:The Wind Waker HD
The Legend of Zelda:The Wind Waker HD did a wonderful job of updating the already beautiful artstyle into something truly special.If by any chance you missed the chance to play the original on Gamecube and happen to have a Wii U, you own yourself to buy and experince this game.
 
8. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze
As it is normally said, there is no better developer than Nintendo when it comes to 2D platformers.But Nintendo has outdone itself with Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze.Its level design, music scores and boss battles, coupled with a gruelling difficulty, makes for a game that could even rival the Country games in the Super Nintendo in terms of excellency.
 
7. Shovel Knight
Not only Shovel Knight knows where it comes from, but it also dosent shy from braving its own path.It is a brilliant game built upon the legacy of games that defined genres, but also one that stands on its own feet.If you are a fan of old platforms games like Megaman or Castlevania, or just plain good games, you cant go wrong with Shovel Knight.
 
6. Super Mario Maker
If any game was made with the objective to take the most of the Wii U concept, it would be Super Mario Maker.With its powerful creation tool, the gamepad makes the process of creating Mario levels extremelly easy.Not only that, but with its wide array of choices and ways to create and play levels, coupled with more than 30 years of history and nostalgia, its a game that every Wii U owners should have.And with its user created content, the ammount of content is virtually limitless and should keep anyone busy for a long time.
 
5. Super Smash Bros for Wii U
Not only almost every aspect of it is polished to perfection, it is the ultimate Smash Bros game simply in terms of its incredibly sized roster or multitude of modes.It dosent matter how you like to play it.From its modes ranging to online to offline 8 player smash, and characters starting with Megaman and going to Sonic and even Shulk, it will get you covered.And once you start playing it, it will never let you go.
 
4. Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario 3D World may not be as ambitious as previous titles, but it fulfills the promise of multiplayer Mario much better than anything done before. Super Mario 3D World is marvelous, and its constant variety and fantastic co-op play proves that Nintendo still knows how to make a Mario game feel different, yet fun.
 
3. Bayonetta 2
Bayonetta 2 is, without a doubt, one of the best action games ever made.With its stylish and relentless action, it just keeps you at the edge of your seat through its entire playthrough, from the most mudane of battles, to the exhilarating and tough bosses.Even if you are not fan of the genre, you should check it out.Its that good.
 
2. Mario Kart 8
Even with a battle mode that is less than stellar, Mario Kart 8 still manages to be the best Mario Kart game Nintendo has done in a long time.It is a testament of just how good and solid the game is.Striking the perfect balance betwenn refining old ideas and introducing new ones, Nintendo managed to create a game that not looks beatiful, but plays flawlessly.
 
1. Xenoblade Chronicles X
Xenoblade Chronicles X was for me the most ambitious game that has been released on Wii U to date.It was not only the crazy amount of content it containss that drawn me in, but just how beautiful and deep it is.With more menu options than most games can brag about, the customization and possible playstyles it has is incredible.And that is before you get your first Skell, which not only makes you reconsider how you approach everything, but changes completely how you see the game and its world.And before you know it, you will be standing by a cliffs side, doing nothing more than just looking at how gorgeous and fascinating Mira is.

And thats it!This is my top 10 Wii U games.What did you think of it?Excellent?Less than excellent?Do you think I missed a title that should have been there?Write your thoughts below!

Turn based vs action oriented: Which one is better?

Ever since consoles became powerful enough that could handle real time action games with a level of quality that rivaled the ones provided by games that utilized turn-based mechanics, there has been an ongoing discussion debating which system is the best one: action oriented or turn based.And the discussion has been reignited with the release of the anticipated Final Fantasy XV.And the answer is much simpler than you think.
One fact cannot be denied: Turn based games are not as mainstream as they used to be.As technology evolved, new gameplay oportunities opened up, and more and more developers tried to take a chance on something different, on games that uses a more active approach to their games,especially RPGs.And it worked.New franchises were born and released to universal acclaim, like Dark Souls and The Witcher.Even franchises that had a more slower pace initially, like the first Mass Effect and its bigger focus on the RPGs elements, such as pausing the action to make decisions, took a different turn and became more fast paced.The demand for action-oriented, faster paced games is high, and sales corroborate that.Each franchise given as an example sold better with each new entry, with Dark Souls 3 and The Witcher 3 being extremely successful, both commercially and critically.Not only that, but even estabilished franchises like The Elder Scrolls had its best selling game with Skyrim, at a time when tecnology allowed for a more fluid and action packed game while maintaining its immersive and immense world.Action games allows the player not only to better test your skills at the game, requiring constant attention and reflexes,but it is also more engaging.A battle that would normally last as long as three minutes on a more tradicional RPG, takes about half as long or even less, with gameplay system that relies upon speed and reflex.Final Fantasy XV, a game that seemed really devisive amongs its fanbase due to the change to its gameplay style, went to be the fastest selling entry in the franchise.While it should be noted that its also the first entry to have a simultaneous worldwide release, its still nothing to scoff at.
But at the same time, games that uses a turn based combat system are far from dead.Pokemon Sun and Moon, having just released in November, are breaking every kind of record, being the fastest selling Nintendo game in the Americas, Australia and Europe.Fire Emblem has been steadly growing since Awakening, selling millions with the most recent installment Fire Emblem Fates and being considered by Nintendo as an important IP for them.Persona 5 launched this year in Japan to become the best selling entry of the franchise in Japan, having sold more than 460k units in two months without digital, and bound to sell more than one million units when it finally launches in the west.And there are other examples, like Bravely Default, Valkyria Chronicles, Dragon Quest, X-Com and many more.And that is not including the indie scene.Turn based games, and strategic games as a consequence, offers a kind of experience that other genres cant offer: the satisfaction of carefully planning your moves, controlling your whole party and guiding them to victory, or just plain enjoying a good combat system.And the most important of all:the exhilaration to see it all clicking together.They arent as popular as they once were back in the 4th and 5th generation, but they are still relevant and wont go anywhere anytime soon.
So, which system is the better one?The short answer is neither.Both of them offers a gratifying experience if the game ideas and systems are properly implemented and developed.The experience is different enough that both can coexist.Comming back to the first game I mentioned in the article, the fact that Final Fantasy XV will be successful(both critically or commercially) or not wont hinge on its mechanics, it will depend on one factor and one alone:If the gamer ends up having fun with the game.And that is the whole point this industry exists.

Playstation Experience, an example on why Sony is winning this generation

December 3th was the day Sony hosted their third annual PSX, a conference dedicated to their platform and their games.With it, came an overwhelming ammount of announcements on titles that had already been announced but little known about, and of titles that were completely new and exciting.It was a very well paced show, and most important of all, a very entertaining one.But the most important lesson that came with this show was one that wasnt outright presented, and its also the one reason why Sony is outselling the competition this generation.

Instead of starting the show with numbers and brags about how many units the PS4 sold and how many PS+ subscribers it has, it already started with the thing we came to watch in the first place:a game(and Uncharted 4 DLC at that!).That opening statement pretty much sums up why Sony is being successful so far and one that can be read betwenn the lines throught the whole show:Sony understands what gamers want, that what we mostly want out of our consoles are great gaming experiences.But it also understands that it cant always play it safe.For every Uncharted 4 DLC made, there is a Gravity Rush game around the corner.For every Horizon Zero Dawn, there is a Knack 2(for better or worse).Sony understands that to succeed, it needs big mainstream games, such as Uncharted, The Last Of Us, Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, Destiny, and so on.But it also acknowledges the simple fact that it also needs diversity, and sometimes needs to take a chance with new games,either by developing on its own or promoting third party games and putting it on the spotlight both in genres popular and otherwise, like Gravity Rush 2,The Last Guardian, Danganronpa 3, Ys Origin, and indie games in general.

This allows them to offer variety, to have a bit of everything and to have the potential to appeal to everyone, on top of having a great piece of hardware.The system isnt watered down by the over importance given to other apps such as netflix, PSVue, or trying to replace everything and be the only entertainment product you will ever need, as the XOne was initially marketed as, and it also hasnt any new gimmick that is underused and comes at the cost of having a better machine, as was the case of the Wii U.It is used mostly for one simple thing:gaming.And therein lies its greatest strenght.

Granted, things may change in the future.On Microsoft side, Phil Spencer is making many great decisions, with the XOne S, which is a great product,the bigger focus on games,even though they still lack as much variety as Sony or Nintendo provides, and the upcomming release of the Scorpio, which seems to be a really powerful machine.And on Nintendo side, they also seem to be hitting all the right notes, with their mobile initiative being a success so far, the Switch setting a great first impression with the reveal trailer, Nintendo branching out to movies and theme parks, and the seemingly great first year that the Switch will have, based on the latest rumours.But that dosent change the simple truth:The truth that Sony has simple nailed this generation so far.

Opinion:Switch has the potential to sell 100 million+ units

Before I begin, I would like to state that there are several factors that are yet to be announced/confirmed that could change the game, such as the console specs, baterry life, games and overall first year lineup, price and so on.Having said that, I will show the logic for my assertion and my beliefs:

With the Nintendo Switch reveal, after what felt like several decades of speculations, rumors, and very convincing mock-ups, we were finally shown what the NX, now officially called the Nintendo Switch, is like.And as expected, the internet went on meltdown trying to figure out what the Switch was capable of, what games would be on it, how much power it had and most importantly, if Nintendo continued to be doomed.But the discussion of wether Nintendo would have a success or a bomb on their hand seemed to stay only around the teaser trailer, without taking account on other factors that have been happening in the last couple months.That is why I wanted to make this claim and explain why Nintendo have a good chance of overcoming that challenges ahead of them, and stand victorious.

The first and most essential problem that it needs to overcome, and which all my other arguments are tied to, is to convince to the overall market(which Ill clasify here as mostly consistent of casual gamers) the value of the Switch, be it by the device power, functionalities or the games, and thus making it atractive for them to buy.How to solve this problem?Well, as I stated at the beginning, there are still several factors that we dont know of(nothing official, though there are several rumours floating around), and Nintendo could simply come out and show the greatest launch line-up ever, with the most powerful system of the universe and also being at the same time the most versatile machine in existence.But since we dont know any of these, I will focus on the one aspect we know well enough, which is the mobile/movies/theme parks initiative.It already is a common understanding that Nintendo lost the casual fans it gained with the Wii and to some extent the DS.But that same crowd remembers Nintendo titles, carachters and IPs, be it being introduced to them in the 7th generation, or long before.So having movies, theme parks and mobile games about Mario, Zelda, Metroid and so on would not only increase exponentially Nintendo awareness to the general public, but it would help sell Nintendo products, such as the Switch.And for proof, look no further than Pokemon GO.In July of this year, pokemon GO launched to gigantic success, reaching gigantic download and financial numbers, breaking down any kind of record along its way.But its effects werent only restricted to the smartphone market, but also to their console counterparts, more especifically 3DS and its two pokemon releases.In July, 3DS sales exploded, making it the best selling console that month in the NPD and being up YOY the next months including September.In the software side, pokemon games,which were around 2 or 3 years old, were selling 100k plus each week on US alone.And with Sun and Moon having just released, we are starting to hear official news about it, saying that it was the best launch in Europe and in the Americas, and pretty much in the way to be the best Nintendo game released worldwide, at the very least in recent years.And now, Super Mario Run is bound to release on December, and there is already more than 20 million users who signed up to be notified at the game release.Couple that with the fact that there are still more mobile games comming, most notably Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem, that Nintendo learned its mistakes with the Wii U and should push for a stronger marketing campain and the overall efficiency of the Nintendo-related ads/commercials of the past year, Nintendos prospect to bring the general public back to its system seems bright.

The second point that Nintendo needs to adress is the overall support for the system, both from the third party and also internal(first party games).One of them seems already resolved out of the gate:The first party support.One of the issues that the Wii U suffered was the frequent drought it had during its lifespan.With the hybrid concept and what we can suppose the fusion of the development teams that would go to each one of their systems(home and portable), Nintendo can pretty much supply the Switch with little third party support.And the rumours seem to back it up.Laura Kate Dale, a trustworthy leaker, released a statement not long ago with a list of games that are supposedly comming out in the Switch first year.That list contains new games such a New 3D Mario game, Breath Of the Wild and Pikmin 4, and also contained ports of some of the best Wii U games, such as Xeno0blade Chronicles X, Mario Maker, Splatoon and more.But that still brings up another issue: Many consumers buy console systems because of third party games, such as Call Of Duty, GTA, Fifa, Madden, and many more.But to even that there is a solution.Simply put, the objective of a company is to make money.If Nintendo can pull in enough people in the first year, thorugh the efforts of their strong marketing, be it through normal ads on the Tv/internet/other places or their mobile games and movies, their first party offering and the third party they can muster thorugh their partneship with other companies, they can convince the companies that there is an audience in their system and money to be made, thus assuring third party support, at the very least at a decent level.And companies are already interested in the machine.Todd Howard,an executive producer at Bethesda, already said he is very impressed with the Switch and said that the demo that was showed to him at 2016 E3 was one of the best demos he ever saw.And that comes from a company that historically never supported Nintendo and was never afraid to say so.And even if more demanding games that can run on XOne and PS4 cant run on Switch due to power differences, developers will make games more tailored to it, trying to get a piece of the money of the Switch, much like happened to the Wii.And hopefully with much less shovelware.

And the third and final concern, which is directly linked to my second point:Nintendo NEEDS to nail the Switch first year.For all the positivity that came out of the reveal trailer, there is alot of skepticism around the Switch, and rightfully so.The Wii U was a failure and underdelivered in many aspects, and Nintendo has the reputation of being a good second console, but never as being THE console to have, simply because its offerings, though excellent, lacks in variety and quantity.So what gives me so much confidence that we will see a stellar first year for the Switch?First of all, we already have alot of awesome games either confirmed or almost confirmed for the system, as I already pointed it out, and all seemingly comming in the first year.And the future seems bright too, with a new 3D Mario game, which looks more in vein with Super Mario 64, being in active development for it.Not to mention the number of other Nintendo games that are in development that Nintendo simply didnt talk about(evidenced by the lack in number and quality of Nintendo titles that launched in the last 2 years give or take) and the number of third party companies partners that already pledged their support.Even though we all know how that went for the Wii U, we can expect some level of support the first year, as the recent outpour of support for it seems to indicate.But the thing that gives me the most confidence to say that Nintendo wont screw up the launch/first year is the Wii U.The Wii U was a massive failure and one of the reasons it failed was due to its horrible launch and first year lineup.And nintendo knows that.They even went as far to admit that in public.And seeing the great decisions that nintendo has been making this last year, either their mobile initiative, the great ads they have been making,Amiibos in general, or simply being more aware(and admiting) of their mistakes, I truly believe they will nail this.

Now, there is alot of more factors to consider, such as OS, online functionality(which also seems that they are going to fix, due to all the evidence this last year with the revamped Nintendo reward program, the employment of Dena to help them with that and so on), and the other ones that I already listed at the beginning of this post.And it is also important to note that, as a handheld, the Switch seems incredible, with the jump of power and capabilities being enourmous from the 3DS, making it easy to market to its 60+ million installed base.But overall, I am very confident that the Switch will be a very successful product and who knows, maybe it will bring Nintendo back to the glory it once used to enjoy.