Newcomer: Pong

I pay a lot of attention to Super Smash Brothers Brawl, and anyone else who pays as much attention as I do will probably have seen at one time or another a thread concerning a character someone wants to be in the game. These threads are incredible slugfests between fans who seem to think that allowing any other character than their favorite into Brawl will somehow jeopardize their favorite's chance.

Do I have news for them.

What follows is an overly thorough explanation as to who's in and who's out in Brawl.

There are two major attributes with two values that each character in Brawl may have. They can be a veteren or a newcomer, and be from a previously featured franchise or an unfeatured franchise. For the sake of this analysis we will start with featured franchises and extend them as far as seems feasible.

It is important to note that Sakurai Masahiro, the director of the game, has stated he is aiming for a roster 40 fighters strong, with 3 (hopefully) being third party.

Beginning with the obvious, we have the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom. Officially, we already have four of them confirmed, Mario, Yoshi, Bowser and Wario. Ignoring Dr. Mario as a clone, we have Luigi and Peach from past games who will very likely reappear. The question becomes, will anyone else new appear from this franchise?

The answer is "probably" but there's only one that comes to mind, Toad. Outside of him, the number of appealing candidates is very thin. The various basic Mario baddies would universally be long stretches, Waluigi has never been in his own game or featured his own moveset, and Wart's crew also doesn't have much room to expand upon. So, we turn up the following list for Mario:

Confirmed: Mario, Yoshi, Bowser, Wario
Sure Bets: Luigi, Peach
Maybe: Toad
Iffy: Waluigi

Moving on we reach Donkey Kong. He's been confirmed, but looking at his series he's the major star. It's possible they could expand his frachise's presence with Diddy and Daisy Kong, but beyond that everything's a stretch. I'd be surprised if they didn't do something to expand there, it's just a hard question of what. So, for Donkey Kong:

Confirmed: Donkey Kong
Maybe: Diddy Kong, Daisy Kong
Iffy: Cranky Kong

Next is Captain Falcon. He is all but confirmed for the game, as we've seen stages and items relating to him. Still, official is offical and for now he's only a Sure Bet. Expanding on his series, however, is somewhat confusing. The character many thought was an obvious shoe in, Samurai Goroh, turned into an assist trophy. Almost all of the other racers are completely forgettable, or at least not popular enough to make an appearance as a fighter. This only leaves the villains as likely candidates, Black Shadow and perhaps Deathborn, but it seems tenuous. So, for Captain Falcon:

Sure Bets: Captain Falcon
Maybe: Black Shadow
Iffy: Deathborn

We have now reached the Zelda series. Link and Zelda have already been confirmed. Ignoring Young Link as a clone, that leaves Sheik (Zelda's alterego) and Ganondorf (not ignored for his importance) as unconfirmed but extremely likely combatants. Ganondorf is, however, extremely likely to see a moveset remake. It is unlikely we will see him featuring moves that mirror Captain Falcon.

As far as expanding the Zelda series showing in Brawl, there aren't a lot of options availible. You could bring in Windwaker Link, but it would take a fair amount of work to differentiate him from Link. More likely might be a Wolf Link/Midna pairing, but even that is questionable. Chances are, we might not see much more from the Zelda series at all.

Confirmed: Link, Zelda
Sure Bets: Sheik, Ganondorf
Maybe: Wolf Link/Midna
Iffy: Windwaker Link

The Metroid series, for only having one character, doesn't have much room for expansion. Beyond Samus and Zero-Suit Samus, the only plausible options are Dark Samus (tough to not make a clone) and Ridley (a rather popular option). Motherbrain and Kraid are simply too big, immobile and uninteresting.

Confirmed: Samus, Zero-Suit Samus
Probable: Ridley
Maybe: Dark Samus

Kirby and his Dreamland, sadly, don't have much to offer either. Following Meta-Knight the only other consistant (and plausible) character is King Dedede. Still, we could have a good three from Kirby.

Confirmed: Kirby, Meta-Knight
Probable: King Dedede

I'll hit on a few series without any expansion possibility. Ice-Climbers and Mr. Game & Watch don't bring with them any possibility of expansion. However, in order to hit the 37 Nintendo characters we will likely see them returning.

Probable: Ice Climbers, Mr. Game & Watch

Now we reach Earthbound. Of all the series currently featured, this one has the highest growth potential. Beyond the possible additions of Jeff and Poo from Earthbound, there are more potential characters from it's Japan-Only sequel. Sadly, most of Paula's abilities were stolen by Ness, and I find it unlikely Ness will be revamped to allow room for her.

Sure Bets: Ness
Probable: Jeff, Poo
Maybe: Mother 3 Characters
Not Happening: Paula

Star Fox has some interesting possibilities. Beyond Fox being confirmed, Falco is popular enough of a character that he will likely return in some heavily modified form. In addition to those two, there have been a number of calls for Star Wolf to be playable, and a nigh torrent for Krystal. I find the latter more likely than the former.

Confirmed: Fox
Sure Bets: Krystal, Falco
Maybe: Wolf

500+ Pokemon, and I can't think of any that are obvious choices to be added to the game. Pikachu, Jigglypuff and Mewtwo all had significance in that they were critical characters in the anime series. I have long since stopped watching that series. If any new pokemon is to appear as a playable character, they are going to be related to the anime.

Confirmed: Pikachuu
Sure Bets: Jigglypuff, Mewtwo
Probable: Another Pokemon
Not Happening: Pichu

Lastly we reach Fire Emblem. To tell you straight, I don't expect either Marth or Roy to return. Roy is a clone, and Marth's series is both old and largely unknown in the US. Chances are we'll see Marth replaced by a nearly identical Ike, accompanied by characters from his recent entries into the series.

Sure Bets: Ike
Probable: Titania, Soren
Not Happening: Marth, Roy

Lets take a quick census here.

Confirmed: 13
Sure Bets: 10
Probable: 9
Maybe: 8
Iffy: 4

Gasp! What's going on? That's more than 37!

It is, and this means that not everyone seen here is going to make an appearance. We can expect at best one of the Iffy characters to be playable although that's very unlikely, we'll see one or two Maybe characters, most of the Probables, and if I have to tell you whether or not Sure Bets and Confirmed characters will be in or not you need more sleep. That means approximately 33 accounted for.

Who are the remaining 4? Good question. There could always be a few more from the Maybe category, but from frachises ot featured we could have some of the following:

Probable: Captain Olimar
Maybe: Something from Custom Robo
Iffy: Paper Mario

As for Third Parties

Confirmed: Solid Snake
Probable: Mega Man, Belmont, Arucard
Not Happening: Sonic

Yes, no Sonic. Mario and Sonic at the Olympics is a title lauded for being their first meeting in friendly competition. Having them meet in a violent brawl beforehand takes the wind out of the sails.

So there you have it. My predictions regarding Brawl. December 3rd can't come quickly enough.


Wii iz 4 fite!

There were a lot of good games on the Gamecube. Such incredible titles as Metroid Prime, Mario Kart: Double Dash, Pikmin, Eternal Darkness and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles graced the system. However, there was one game that dominates the console to this day:

Super Smash Brothers.

It's third iteration, Brawl, is on the way. If you are blissfully unaware, check out the official website. For someone long since used to Blizzard's style of information update (Read: You might learn something about the game after it comes out), this website is absolutely stunning. In fact, it puts the entire industry to shame.

Every weekday you get another tidbit of information. Usually it's something minor, like an in-game item or some previously announced character's moveset. Sometimes you get some neat new information, such as a new character. Today we got a 15 second teaser of actual gameplay footage, and the release date of the game!

Anyone planning on buying the game for Christmas should probably A) Reserve it at a local video game store as soon as possible and B) Start searching for a Wii now. The closer we come to the holidays the harder it is going to become to find one. This summer is probably the best time to look.

If you can't tell, I am very excited about this game. I am guaranteed to be reserving this tomorrow or Saturday, and I'm sure a lot of other enthusiastic gamers will as well. Quite simply, it's looking really sweet.

In other news, Mario Kart for the Wii comes out early next year. I don't remember if Brawl is online capable or not, but Mario Kart will be. Thus, if all my siblings are able to pick up a Wii, fun times will ensue!

You know you want to do it! Your future children/spouses will love you! Really!


E3 2007: Gut Reactions

I haven't actually watched any significant portion of the news conferences, the Sony conference isn't even over, but I thought I'd share with you my gut reactions about this year's E3.

Firstly, it's obviously very different. If you watched the conferences from previous years you'll note a significantly less active crowd. There are applause and cheers, but it feels unenthusiastic compared to the past. If it wasn't universal, you would think each of the big three gaming companies were in trouble.

Microsoft seems to be attempting to join the mini-games bandwagon with a Viva Pinata game of that flavor. Halo 3 looks absolutely awesome. Microsoft seems content to stay their course for the most part, while attempting to ramp up support for more casual gaming.

Nintendo annoyed a lot of hardcore gamers by focusing largely on casuals with their conference. Most of what was seen will be more of the family fun stuff like WiiSports and Wario Ware. There were tidbits for hardcore gamers (Mario Kart in the first months of 2008, Super Smash Bros Brawl on December 3rd 2007, online play and more), but it wasn't the focus of the show. Expect temper tantrums to continue before hardcore gamers realize that they aren't going to be the sole focus of gaming anymore.

Sony didn't impress me. The incoming games they've described show a lot of great ideas, and that's to their credit. They don't seem to have done anything extremely stupid this conference, so far anyway. However, I am going to level one severe criticism at them, namely the redesigned PSP. There are legitimate reasons for having done this, but the way they seem to have gone about it leads me to believe they are simply trying to duplicate the success of the DS Lite. As much as the DS redesign helped sleekify matters, I don't believe the already sleek PSP is going to benefit in the same way.

It's hard to know what to expect from the rest of E3. It'd be nice to get some news on Spore or Hellgate: London, but I'm not going to hold my breath as the layman is not the target of the new conference.


WoW: Raid Progress

Last night was an interesting, and fun, experience.

We delved into the wizard's tower and experienced our first "raid" as a guild. Several interesting things happened.

  • We were slaughtered by spectral steeds (they came from.... behind).

  • I died in the defense of the weak (twice).

  • I lived in the defense of the weak (more than twice).

  • The first boss was defeated at our hands, and there was much rejoicing (yay).

  • We were slaughtered by the ghosts of angry barmaids, masters of drunken martial arts (more times than we want to remember).

  • We were slaughtered by the wizard's butler (apparently he doesn't like unannounced guests).

  • After many hours of trial and error, we left the wizard's tower, swearing we would return and conquer it on the morrow.

Despite only a few of us having any experience with groups of this size, we did extremely well. Working with nine other people to defeat the dangers of the tower was a blast, especially when the unique traits I brought to the group were required. Though we largely failed to accomplish a whole lot, most groups are able to clear the whole tower in half the time we spent in there, it was a blast and an experience I'd love to repeat.

The only problem is that there are a limited number of players allowed inside, and we have more than that number eager to participate. Some people had to be left out, and I hate leaving people out. When the time comes I'll gladly serve my time outside of the wizard's tower, knowing that I'm letting someone else have the fun I had.

I'll continue updating as I participate in the guild's progression.


WoW: Raid Prologue

World of Warcraft is a game that is sufficiently complicated to require its own terminology for a lot of things. "Raid" is one of such terms.

A "Raid" is a dungeon designed for a group of players numbering 10 or greater. These typically are complex and require a fair amount of coordination from the group. The rewards match the effort.

This evening I will be participating in a Raid for the first time. My guild is attempting to enter a powerful wizard's tower and delve into its mysteries. This guild was founded by an awesome married couple I met in-game and mentored somewhat, and through their hard work attracted other intelligent people. Our chance of death is staggeringly high.

Raiding is a large section of the game, and something I have heard much about but never experienced myself. I'll likely bring my feelings as to the subject here later.

I'd originally intended on delving into some theory concerning the group roles of WoW, but it came out incredibly dry and boring (even for me). You are all spared.