Glick on Gaming: Xenoblade Chronicles is the most unique series at Nintendo

In Glick on Gaming, Dan Glickman leaves baseball (mostly) behind to talk video gaming. This time: Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for the Nintendo Switch.

The Xenoblade Chronicles by Monolith Soft series that can be found on Nintendo consoles is an odd one, one of the most unique of Nintendo’s stable. Given that this is a company that has a mushroom-eating plumber as its mascot, that may be saying something. However, it is odd even compared to other Nintendo series. Here are a few reasons why:

IT IS BRITISH

Well, not really. It, like most games published by Nintendo, was created in Japan. It’s done in an anime style that is full of big-eyed people, scantily-clad women, and wild hair. In fact, an argument could be made that it is one of Nintendo’s most Japanese series. Its genre is even JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game). However, the vast majority of Nintendo games when they are localized (translated) into English are done by Nintendo’s American branch. The voice actors that redub any Japanese dialogue are almost always American, the spellings used are the American spellings, and so is the slang.

In Xenoblade, that isn’t the case. A quirk of history meant that Nintendo’s branch in the UK did it. It all stems from Nintendo of America’s initial refusal to bring the original game to the USA until a fan campaign convinced them to do otherwise. Since Nintendo’s UK branch had already localized the game, Nintendo of America simply decided to use their work.

As a result, almost all of the characters in the Xenoblade games speak in British accents, generally by actual British people. This leads to some glorious subversions of what you’d expect, giving the series a unique character that isn’t really found anywhere else in Nintendo’s repertoire. For example, take this character from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Nia:

Credit to the Xenoblade Wiki for this.

Now, looking at her, you’ll notice a few things. The most notable is that she is a cute cat-person with big fuzzy ears. You’d think that this character would have some sort of cutesy kiddy voice.

You would be wrong. Nia is an angry and often sarcastic catwoman with a Welsh accent:

This leads to the next thing that makes Xenoblade a unique series at Nintendo…

THE NOPON AREN’T WHAT THEY SEEM

Nintendo games are often quite straight-forward. Really, the number of Nintendo series that truly have stories that go beyond the standard “good versus evil” can probably fit on one hand. It ultimately goes to the Nintendo philosophy that puts the gameplay before anything else. Monolith Soft, the production house behind Xenoblade, is not as beholden to this, as they actually had been independent until being bought out by Nintendo. As a result, no Nintendo series has more twists and turns. And few Nintendo series have a more surprising setting filled with interesting races of beings.

Take, for example, the Nopon. The Nopon are small egg-shaped balls of fur with prehensile ears. Here is Riki from Xenoblade Chronicles 1, for example:

And just in case that doesn’t truly show Riki’s essence, here’s the official art for him:

Credit again to the series’ wiki page.

You look at him and you doubtless think: this is clearly the kid-friendly cutesy character only there to serve as comic relief. And in that, you are right. Except here’s the thing:

Riki there? He’s a man, he’s 40! He’s got 11 kids! He’s deeply in debt to basically everyone in his village! In fact, he’s so in debt that he’s basically forced to go on a suicide mission and join the heroes!

Not what you were expecting, huh? Well, the thing is that the entire Nopon race is like that. In a medium that often paints other sci-fi or fantasy species with a broad brush, the Nopon have layers. The Nopon character in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a borderline-perverted engineer who clearly has a crush on his robot creation, The Nopon characters in the Xenoblade Chronicles 1 pseudo-sequel Future Connected are a brother and sister where the sister is the big physical basher (usually a role reserved for a giant muscular man, not a cute pink bunny-ball) and the brother is the healer (usually the role reserved for a woman in games such as these). Still others in that same game are a group of explorers with various different personalities, wants, needs, and quirks.

Other Nopon you meet during the series have as varied of personalities as the humans as well. Many of them are back-stabbing businessmen every bit as cruel and cunning as the worst people you know, and they will use their cuteness to their advantage in doing so. Other Nopon are as varied as humans. There are loving mothers, deadbeat fathers, salesmen, thieves, orphans, scientists, and every other type of thing. This may seem obvious to those not familiar with Nintendo’s games, but this wide variety is rare. In the Zelda series, for example, the non-human species are often pigeonholed into specific roles. The Gorons are almost always miners and explosive experts, for example. Not so for the Nopon.

IT’S ADULT

I don’t mean it in the “there are scantily-clad cartoon women in this” (although there are) sense. Nor do I mean it in the violence sense (although there is violence). No, it is adult in theme. It covers, either directly or indirectly, some of the following topics:

  • The existence or non-existence of a higher power, and what value that being does or does not bring.
  • Whether we are in charge of our fates or destined to go on a predetermined course.
  • Racism, discrimination, and the difficulties of overcoming hatred.
  • War and the scars left by it.
  • The question of whether the nature of mankind means it will repeat its mistakes forever.
  • The need to overcome nihilism.
  • Generational trauma.
  • The relationship between man and nature.
  • Gnosticism.
  • Eugenics.
  • The burden of responsibility.
  • Friendship.
  • Whether memory is a blessing or a curse.

This isn’t to say there aren’t other video games that deal with topics like this. There are. But in Nintendo’s stable, Xenoblade is one of the few that do, and perhaps the only one that does so many.

And now, it is only a month until the third official game of the series (a side-game was released for the Wii U) comes out. The third installment of Nintendo’s most unique series.

GLICK ON GAMING: Everything you need to know about Kirby and the Forgotten Land

In Glick on Gaming, Dan Glickman leaves baseball (mostly) behind to talk video gaming. This time: Kirby and the Forgotten Land for the Nintendo Switch. The following includes spoilers for that game.

There are some important things you need to know about the Kirby series.

  1. They are infamously easy. One of the design concepts of the series is that these are games that people of any experience can beat. The first video game I ever beat without any help was the original Kirby game for the Game Boy, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
  2. They are also notoriously hard to master. To beat a Kirby game is easy, to get high scores or win in additional modes is harder.
  3. It is incredibly cute. Even in a company with Pokemon, Animal Crossing, and Mario, it is Kirby that reigns supreme in the cuteness department.
  4. It is incredibly dark. Okay, maybe not incredibly dark, but far darker than you’d expect. The last few games have had a hidden behind-the-scenes storyline about some sort of war between magic and science, there are dark gods and demons about, and on at least two occasions it’s been implied that humanity has been wiped off the face of the Earth.

With those four facts in mind, I want to share the one thing you need to know about his latest game, Kirby and the Forgotten Land:

THE MAIN CAMPAIGN ENDS WITH KIRBY POSSESSING A SEMI-TRUCK TO DEFEAT A ELF-ANGEL-GOD-THING BY RUNNING INTO IT, CRASHING THROUGH PIECES OF PLANETARY DEBRIS WHILE DOING SO.

So remember, kids: if a elf-angel-god-thing attacks you, just run over it with a truck.

Thank you.

GLICK ON GAMING: Screw you, Kraid! (Metroid Dread)

Glick on Gaming

In Glick on Gaming, Dan Glickman leaves baseball (mostly) behind to talk video gaming. This time: Metroid Dread for the Nintendo Switch.

I had spent parts of the last few weeks becoming increasingly frustrated about a stupid giant three-eyed space reptile that throws giant claw-shaped fingernails and spits rock. Its name: Kraid. Its location: Cataris sector.

Its crime: BEING GODDAMN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO KILL DESPITE COUNTLESS ATTEMPTS!

(More after jump)

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Best of 2015- How many sports has Mario played?

Originally published on September 12, 2015.

The question of who the greatest video game athlete of all time is a hard one. Many go with Bo Jackson, with good reason. Still others (such as the Cespedes BBQ duo) wisely go with the Secret Weapon himself, Pablo Sanchez. But for sheer variety, none can defeat Mario, the most versatile athlete in video game history, who, by coincidence, celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of Super Mario Brothers today!

And today, to honor National Video Games Day, which I just found out exists like ten minutes ago on Twitter, I’m running down every single sport Mario has ever played.

(Go below the jump for more)

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Breaking OOTP, Episode 4: The Seattle MARIOners vs. Pablo Sanchez and the Backyard Kids

BreakingOOTPlogo

In BREAKING OOTP, I push Out Of The Park Baseball to it’s limits in various scenarios. Some will answer questions, some will settle scores, and some will push Out Of The Park Baseball to it’s very limits, to see if I can literally cause the game engine to beg for mercy.

Last time, we made the Seattle Mariners be full of Mario and Donkey Kong characters. This week, though, we have a exhibition series between the MARIOners (minus any Mariners) and… the Backyard Baseball kids (shown here to be on the Dodgers, because reasons)! Yes, Mario vs. Pablo Sanchez. At stake: The title of GREATEST VIDEO GAME BASEBALL TEAM OF ALL TIME.

Or something like that. Go below the jump, and be sure to check the previous post to see how I created the Mario characters- I used an almost-identical process for the Backyard Kids:

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Breaking OOTP, Episode 3: The Seattle MARIOners

BreakingOOTPlogo

In BREAKING OOTP, I push Out Of The Park Baseball to its limits in various scenarios. Some will answer questions, some will settle scores, and some will push Out Of The Park Baseball to its very limits, to see if I can literally cause the game engine to beg for mercy.

The Seattle Mariners are owned by Nintendo. This is well known. The Seattle Mariners are also coming off a very disappointing season. This is also well known.

But what if the Mariners had had Nintendo’s own playing for them?

MarinersMarioWONDER NO MORE!

(AND GO BELOW THE JUMP TO SEE THE ARTICLE, AND CLICK PICTURES TO MAKE THEM BIGGER)

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SATURDAY: BREAKING OOTP brings MARIO to the MARINERS

Aside

On Saturday at 1:30 PM Eastern, a new BREAKING OOTP will go up.

What is it about this week?

Well, put simply, it is a simulation of a world where the Nintendo-owned Seattle Mariners were able to use Nintendo characters in their lineup, each given attributes derived from the Mario baseball games.

While it doesn’t break OOTP, it certainly is fun. So make sure to read it when it goes up!

For #NationalVideoGamesDay: How many sports has Mario played?

The question of who the greatest video game athlete of all time is a hard one. Many go with Bo Jackson, with good reason. Still others (such as the Cespedes BBQ duo) wisely go with the Secret Weapon himself, Pablo Sanchez. But for sheer variety, none can defeat Mario, the most versatile athlete in video game history, who, by coincidence, celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of Super Mario Brothers today!

And today, to honor National Video Games Day, which I just found out exists like ten minutes ago on Twitter, I’m running down every single sport Mario has ever played.

(Go below the jump for more)

Continue reading

Off-Topic (Not on a Tuesday or Thursday): Super Smash Brothers 3DS Demo Impressions/Observations

Going on a completely-unrelated tangent here, here are my thoughts on the demo for Super Smash Brothers for the Nintendo 3DS. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Super Smash Brothers is a video game series in which the most famous video game characters in Nintendo’s pantheon (Mario, PIkachu, etc.) and occasionally characters from other companies (Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man, etc.) beat the snot out of each other for fun and glory.

First off, it works, for the most part. I was worried about how the SSB franchise would translate into the handheld realm after being on home consoles up until now, but so far it seems pretty good. The controls take a bit to get used to and it certainly isn’t perfect, but it works well enough and the full version of the game will allow users to customize the controls.

Also, the screen is fine, even if you have a smaller 3DS. I have had few problems following the action in the demo, even with the smaller-screened 3DS I have. I still might want to eventually get the larger 3DS when it’s “new” incarnation comes out either late this year or sometime next year, but that’s more because of the fact it’ll have better battery life and be slightly more powerful.

The new characters playable in the demo (Mega Man and the Animal Crossing Villager) are a nice change of pace from the usual. The two new additions that are in the demo are Mega Man‘s titular character and the Villager from the Animal Crossing series. Both are a neat change from the usual. Mega Man, for example, lacks a physical “a-button” attack, instead merely shooting weak laser-pellets out of his handcannon, while the Villager has a bunch of unusual special attacks. One has him pocketing projectiles and then later throwing them back, another is launching a rocket that he can also ride, and still another has him plant a tree, water it, and then cut it down so that it falls on an opponent’s head. An interesting character to play as, and it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes to truly get a hang of him.

However, I feel like the 3DS version will just be an appetizer.  Oh, sure, it’ll be fun to play, but I think that once the Wii U version comes around, most people will focus on that, only playing the 3DS version when they are stuck waiting at an airport or otherwise on the go. The reason for this is because Smash has always been a home console game, played with the speakers blaring out some Nintendo classic hit as you see the action on a large screen, and with hands firmly around a true controller- in fact, Nintendo is even going to be releasing an adapter so that the old controllers still will be able to work. The fact that the Wii U version will be the first Smash in true HD is also a big plus that it has over the 3DS version.

 

More off-topic stuff on Super Smash Brothers as it is released.

Random Video of the Undetermined Amount of Time: Game 6 of the 1986 World Series… in RBI Baseball

RBI Baseball was one of the great baseball video games of all time. A few years back, somebody used the game to recreate the final inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, complete with Vin Scully commentary.