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GoNintendo Thought: Nintendo, it's time to give Virtual Boy Wario Land a second chance

This port is long overdue, Nintendo

While I love Nintendo, a lot of things about the company confuse me. This is one of those things, and it only confuses me more as time rolls on. I had to write about it to get things out, as the topic has been driving me nuts! As always, thanks for reading.

When you look back on Nintendo's history, there are a ton of major hits and a small amount of misses. When it comes to those misses, there might not be one greater than the Virtual Boy. Nintendo's black-and-red, pseudo-3D device seemed to stall right out of the gate, and never got anywhere close to recovering. The system saw just 22 games released for it, and only 14 of those made it to North America. While the Wii U might stick out in the minds of Nintendo fans for failing to find a market, the Virtual Boy was a far bigger disaster.

While the Virtual Boy's library was absolutely minuscule, there were still some fun titles in the mix. 3D Tetris proves once again that any version of Tetris offers up some fun, Teleroboxer gave us a new perspective on Punch-Out!!-style games, Red Alarm impressed with its virtual landscapes and shmup action, and so on. All that said, there's undeniably one title that stands head and shoulders above all the others. That would be the oddly-named Virtual Boy Wario Land.

When Virtual Boy Wario Land came around, the Wario Land series was actually quite new. We got introduced to Wario in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Gold Coins, and saw Wario take the lead in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3. Outside of that, that was it for the Wario Land series. It was clear Wario was gaining in popularity with fans, thanks to the completely different take on Mario in terms of character design, as well as the new gameplay mechanics Wario offered. That's why giving Wario another outing made perfect sense at the time. That early wave of Wario momentum led us to Virtual Boy Wario Land.

Sadly for the Virtual Boy, Virtual Boy Wario Land wasn't ready for the platform's launch. It would show up November in North America and December in Japan, which put it 3+ months out from launch in the states, and nearly half a year after the Virtual Boy's release in Japan. Not having a heavy-hitting, more traditional platformer at the Virtual Boy's launch certainly hurt the system and its appeal. Would the Virtual Boy have been a success with Virtual Boy Wario Land alongside launch? Most likely not, but there's no doubt it would have gotten quite a few more eyes on the hardware.

Virtual Boy Wario Land never had a shot at finding fans on the Virtual Boy. The system just didn't penetrate the market, and was dead before it even got started. By the time Nintendo pulled the plug on the Virtual Boy, the system failed to hit a million units sold, moving just 770k since launch. That failure left us a small, but interesting library of titles that the vast majority of Nintendo fans never got to experience. Virtual Boy Wario Land is no doubt the gem of that collection, and it absolutely deserves a second lease on life. Truth be told, the fact that Virtual Boy Wario Land never saw a remake or re-release on another platform is one of the greatest Nintendo mysteries in my eyes.

When you strip away the 3D visuals of Virtual Boy Wario Land, you are left with another fantastic 2D Wario game. A line of titles that Nintendo seems to have forgotten in recent years, mind you. Wario sets out on yet another adventure to hunt down as much treasure as he can, unearthing hidden rooms filled with collectible items and more. Along the way you'll take advantage of unique Wario abilities that he gains through hats. Wario can get an Eagle hat for a mid-air dash, Bull hat for a super-charge, and a Dragon hat that lets him breath fire. Wario has to make use of these power-ups to hunt down a key in each stage, which unlocks an elevator that provides access to the next level.

Of course, Nintendo set out to make use of the Virtual Boy's 3D capabilities with Virtual Boy Wario Land. Levels are filled with special blocks that let Wario jump from the foreground to the background and back. This lets you access new platforming challenges hidden in the background, visit new areas of a level, and even find secret treasures. The 3D effect was also used during boss battles, which were combined with some pretty impressive sprite scaling. You would deal with baddies that were far off in the distance, including a fight across a flooded cavern, a creature that leaps between sand dunes, and more. Throw in some mini-games between stages that make use of 3D as well, and you had a real tour de force for the platform.

Now do those features make it impossible for Virtual Boy Wario Land to exist outside of the Virtual Boy? They definitely don't, as they're little more than visual trickery to show off what the system can do. It might be a tad easier to judge distance on attacks during boss battles, but it's nothing that couldn't be easily handled in traditional 2D as well. The same goes for the background/foreground jumping mechanic. It definitely gave us a new gameplay mechanic that games hadn't used at the time, but it's not something where you need 3D to enjoy it. You can still see what's going on in 2D perfectly fine.

It's that tidbit that brings us to a rather interesting part of this whole discussion. There's another developer out there who felt that Virtual Boy Wario Land deserved to exist outside of the Virtual Boy. Jools Watsham, the head honcho at Atooi (formerly Renegade Kid), had a desire to see Virtual Boy Wario Land get another shot at finding an audience. Watsham was the perfect dev to handle such a project, as his own Mutant Mudds series enjoyed the exact same mechanic as Virtual Boy Wario Land. Mutant Mudds lets you jump back and forth using special blocks as well. Watsham new how to work with the mechanic, understood the intricacies, and even made the feature work on non-3D platform like the Wii U.

Obviously, there's another reason why bringing back Virtual Boy Wario Land made perfect sense. Many years after the Virtual Boy, Nintendo returned to the idea of 3D gaming with the 3DS. A portable platform that let you end 3D stereoscopic visuals without the need for glasses. Even better, it did away with the Virtual Boy's red-and-black visuals in exchange for full color. The 3DS eliminated all the struggles the Virtual Boy presented in order to bring 3D visuals to the masses. Whether you played with 3D or not, or even liked the feature, there was no denying that it worked.

It was the 3DS' existence that convinced Watsham it was the time for Virtual Boy Wario Land to return. Rather than just pining for a release, Watsham took on the project himself, working up the above revamped version of Virtual Boy Wario Land. According to Watsham, he pitched the idea of remaking Virtual Boy Wario Land for the 3DS to Nintendo, giving the game a color makeover in the process. Unfortunately, Nintendo had turned down the pitch and that was that. No reason was ever given for Nintendo shooting down the idea, which only makes the entire situation that much more frustrating.

Nintendo not giving Virtual Boy Wario Land another chance to shine on other platforms is one thing. Nintendo not doing a re-release of Virtual Boy Wario Land for the 3DS is an absolute travesty. How on earth do you create a new platform capable of glasses-free 3D and not bring over the true gem of your software library from the Virtual Boy? It seems like a no-brainer decision, yet Nintendo never bothered to make it happen. They didn't tackle the project on their own, nor were they willing to work with a third party to make it happen. It's an absolutely baffling choice that only gets more frustrating the more you think about it.

Some might say that Nintendo was probably eager to move on from the Virtual Boy, and they didn't want to revisit the failure in their new efforts. That would be a good excuse, if not for Nintendo referencing the Virtual Boy in numerous titles going forward. The Virtual Boy has famously become part of the WarioWare series, popping up in numerous titles throughout the years. It's not the only place you see nods to the Virtual Boy. You can find the device tucked away inside Tomodachi Life, the Virtual Boy is directly referenced/used in Luigi's Mansion 3, and so on. Even Nintendo of America's former President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime was spotted with the Virtual Boy in an official video released by Nintendo. While Nintendo may not be happy with how the Virtual Boy was received, there's little doubt they've since embraced that part of their history.

So what is it that keeps Virtual Boy Wario Land from getting another shot? I have zero clue, which is what makes the situation so anger-inducing. It stars a character that is important to Nintendo, it has only grown in praise since it originally released, and it never had a chance to find any sizable audience. Virtual Boy Wario Land turned out to be wasted effort on Nintendo's part, which obviously wasn't the plan. We saw that Nintendo wasn't willing to let that happen with their Wii U software, which is why they've brought over so many of their Wii U titles to the Switch. That decision lead to increased sales for almost every single title that got ported. Why hasn't Virtual Boy Wario Land ever gotten the same treatment?

Could you imagine if Nintendo announced a Virtual Boy Wario Land remake for the Switch? If Nintendo went with an eShop-exclusive launch for the title, I could only imagine how big it would be. For many, this would be a brand-new Wario game in a traditional style. I can't fathom it requiring a ton of work to bring over to Switch, and it seems like the title would be a surefire hit. Fans would absolutely jump at the chance to play this part of history they never had the chance to enjoy. No matter how many different ways I look at the situation, I see that all the pieces of the puzzle are there. Fans would be shocked and excited to see it, the digital distribution would cut down on expense, and the game's design is still solid rock-solid 25 years later.

Nintendo, it's time to do Virtual Boy Wario Land some justice. The game is a part of your history that so many never had the chance to play, and there's no doubt they'd love to give it a go. It's crazy to think that something like the never-released StarFox 2 actually saw launch so many years later, yet a game like Virtual Boy Wario Land can't get another shot. The fans deserve it, the character deserves it, and perhaps most importantly, your hard work deserves it! Virtual Boy Wario Land is a fantastic game that stands the test of time design-wise. Give players the opportunity to go hands-on with your diamond in the rough.

GoNintendo Thought: Remembering the phenomenon of Pokemon GO's launch on its 4th anniversary

What a magical Summer it was

Ah, the Summer of 2016. A magical time that I don't think we'll ever be able to recapture, but we can still look back on it fondly! That's exactly what we're doing today, to celebrate Pokemon GO's 4th anniversary. As always, thanks for reading.

Believe it or not, Pokemon GO has been around for four years as of today. It's crazy to think that much time has passed since the augmented reality game hit mobile markets, but here we are. Four long years later and the game is still going ridiculously strong. It defied expectations, constantly reinvents itself, and woos trainers back every single month. To see the game continue to grow as time rolls on has been nothing short of amazing.

All that praise said, there's one piece of Pokemon GO history that will always stand out in my mind above all others. That moment comes from the game's initial launch in Summer of 2016. There was an insane amount of hype leading into the game's launch, and pretty much all parties involved knew it was going to be a hit. The thing is, I don't think anyone, be it players or developers alike, knew the game would become nothing short of a worldwide phenomenon.

I honestly can't think of anything else in pop culture during my lifetime that measures up to the launch of Pokemon GO. There have been big moments like the release of Avengers: Endgame, where millions of Marvel fans came together to enjoy the culmination of a cinematic universe. There were other crazy popular trends like Pogs and Beanie Babies, which dominated the market and moved ungodly amounts of units. All those moments in pop culture history are important, but I feel they pale in comparison to what Pokemon GO managed to do.

Pokemon GO releasing became a hallmark moment for the Pokemon franchise. The hype behind this game was absolutely humongous. Fans who had stayed with the franchise since day one were chomping at the bit to give it a go. Lapsed players couldn't resist the pull of what Pokemon GO was offering either. A chance to take Pokemon outside of the confines of traditional gaming hardware and move into the real world seemed surreal. It was something that was just too good to pass up.

Those fans, from longtime to lapsed, are what gave Pokemon GO its initial boost right out of the gate. They were the first wave of players to give the game notoriety. Millions of fans put a stranglehold on the game from day one, bringing servers to their knees, causing login issues, and making the game pretty much unplayable. You might think that would be the death knell for a game, but it was this attention that put even more eyes on the experience. When something starts off as hot as Pokemon GO did, and then others are interested in trying things out only to find they can't get in, it just makes the hype build up.

The way in which Pokemon GO is played also helped it ride to a new wave of popularity as the Summer months rolled on. Pokemon GO was a game that promoted itself. It put players out in the real world, walking the streets with their phone in hand, interacting with the environment. Anyone else around Pokemon GO players couldn't help but notice what they were doing. You saw groups of people wandering around, making lots of noise and laughing, and you were automatically intrigued. You wanted to know what those people were doing, and you wanted a piece of the action.

That early buzz just continued to grow and grow. In just a matter of weeks, it seemed impossible to avoid Pokemon GO if you went outside. Every corner you turned, every store you visited, you were going to see people playing. Everyone already had a cell phone, and now they were all using them to hunt down Pokemon for their collection. The game reached more and more people through word of mouth, and people poured in at a ridiculous rate. It was an absolute explosion in popularity unlike anything else.

I will never, ever forget that first Summer with Pokemon GO. I happened to be on vacation in North Carolina's Outer Banks at the time. I was in a house with roughly 20 family members, and almost all of them were playing Pokemon GO. We'd hit the beaches to wander around and collect Pokemon, track them down while we were shopping at the outlets, and wander the strip late at night to see if we could snag one of the more elusive catches. It was such a bonding experience, and it was truly lovely to see everyone coming together to enjoy the same thing.

That idea of a shared experience only grew when we went into more highly-populated areas. Going out to dinner would connect you with hundreds of other people playing. You'd talk with people in line who were sharing tips on where the hot areas were. You'd try your best to take over a gym, only to have your Pokemon defeated just minutes after your success. You could hear the quiet hum of the Pokemon GO theme everywhere you went. It's not an exaggeration to say that for that Summer, Pokemon GO was almost everywhere.

Seeing so many people out in the world sharing the same fun...it was honestly beautiful. Everyone was getting joy from the same thing. Everyone was coming together and connecting in a way that doesn't usually happen. People were hitting the streets and parks, neighborhoods and cities to get some exercise and go on a hunt. Pokemon GO was THE thing to do that Summer. It was almost inescapable, and became a part of daily life for many months to come.

TV news programs were sharing stories about Pokemon GO popularity. Political candidates were discussing it in their speeches. Live-streamers were taking their shows on the road to capture Pokemon. Newspapers had massive features on the game's success. Every facet of pop culture was talking about Pokemon GO, and hundreds of millions were taking part in the sensation. It will forever be a moment in not just video game history, but entertainment history.

Looking back on that Summer launch now almost brings a tear to my eyes. I have such vivid memories of walking down streets with my fiance with a gobsmacked look on my face. I couldn't get over the fact that people everywhere were playing. I can't accurately express how it made me feel, or write about it eloquently. Something about seeing everyone join together for a bit of fun, forgetting their worries for a Summer...it really was something else.

While Pokemon GO isn't going to hit that same level of phenomenon ever again, I'm so happy to see that it remains extremely popular. There are still millions of people playing, and they're helping the game reach new heights in terms of revenue and success. The way Pokemon GO has reworked itself time and time again since launch, adding new features and tweaking elements, has been extremely impressive. It's helped to not only retain original players, but foster a new group of trainers as well. Niantic in particular has done a fantastic job adjusting the game to players' needs, especially in today's unique circumstances. While there have been some bumps along the way, I think overall they've done a job well worth some praise.

There have been a lot of great moments in gaming history, but Pokemon GO's rise to success could very well be my favorite. It was a moment in time that will most likely never be repeated. I'm just happy I got to be a part of that moment, and will have the memories for the rest of my life.

GoNintendo Video - Ancestors Legacy review by Any Austin!

Any Austin is back with his second review for us. This time he takes a look at the RTS Ancestors Legacy.

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GoNintendo Thought: Jump Rope Challenge is everything I love about Nintendo

Leap of faith

Been meaning to put together a write-up about this for a few days now, and I finally had the chance to. Just something short and sweet about Nintendo's latest quirky release. As always, thanks for reading.

Back on June 15th, 2020, Nintendo released a brand-new game out of nowhere. No one knew the game existed prior to launch, as Nintendo hadn't made a peep about it. The game just randomly showed up on the Switch eShop, followed by a press release that explained what the game was all about. That game was Jump Rope Challenge, a free download that's all about jumping a virtual rope.

It's not often a game comes out nowadays that you can explain in just one sentence, but that's what Jump Rope Challenge is. All you do is jump a virtual rope while holding your Joy-Con. There isn't a nuanced story or deeper mechanics to engage with. It's you, an avatar that looks like a bunny, and a jump counter. It's ridiculously simple, completely odd, and the perfect example of why I love Nintendo.

One of my favorite things about Nintendo has always been their willingness to do whatever they please when it comes to software. Sure, they make big-budget show-stoppers like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but they also love to make oddball experiments like Nintendo Labo. Nintendo never lets the market dictate what software they create next. It's all about starting from an idea that's both fun and unique, and then fleshing it out into something consumers can enjoy.

Jump Rope Challenge is a great example of Nintendo doing their own thing. It's not a game anyone was clamoring for, yet here it is. While fans wait for news on Metroid Prime 4 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, Nintendo gives us a game about jumping in place. Software like this makes some fans scratch their heads in confusion and grumble online about 'casual' games. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, and that includes the gang at Nintendo. In their eyes, this was something worth bringing to the Switch.

The way Jump Rope Challenge came about is just as unique as the game itself. According to Nintendo, Jump Rope Challenge "was created by a small group of Nintendo developers while working from home as a simple game to add some quick and fun movement into their daily lives." Many of us have been spending a lot more time at home due to the pandemic, and that includes Nintendo's developers. This uncommon situation was the starting point for some of Nintendo's devs to create something that would have otherwise not existed.

Nintendo fans know that Nintendo loves to go above and beyond when it comes to player health. Countless Nintendo games take a moment to remind you that you should probably take a break from playing a game by resting your eyes, getting up to stretch, and so on. Nintendo also dabbles with exer-gaming on a somewhat frequent basis, most recently showcased with Ring Fit Adventure. While the bottom line of any company is to make money, I think it's fair to argue that Nintendo as a whole does seem to care about the well-being of players when creating content.

Jump Rope Challenge is the perfect example of that care. Just as Nintendo stated, the purpose of the game is to get players up and moving. The big difference here is that Jump Rope Challenge is absolutely free. Nintendo isn't making a dime off of any downloads for the game. That could change in the future, as Nintendo says the game is "free as a limited-time release until the end of September," but for now things are free. Obviously Nintendo always wants people interacting with their hardware, but when the content provided is free and the benefit is a healthier lifestyle, you have to applaud Nintendo at least a tiny bit.

Everything else about Jump Rope Challenge screams Nintendo as well. The presentation is extremely cute and colorful. The presentation, which features a hopping bunny that jumps along with your jumps, is simplistic in the best way. The one-note mechanic comes off as something only Nintendo would be willing to pursue. It's a completely weird and wonderful experiment that Nintendo saw value in, so they let it loose on the world. That's the kind of content that I love from Nintendo...the kind of content I feel you only get from Nintendo.

Jump Rope Challenge isn't going to be for everyone, and that's totally fine. The mere fact that Jump Rope Challenge exists will make some gamers mad, and that's okay too. They don't have to like the game, understand why it exists, or appreciate that it's around. While I wish gamers could let each other enjoy the titles they want without blasting them for it, that's a discussion for another feature. I'm just happy that Nintendo took yet another random chance with some completely off-the-wall software. It's what Nintendo does best, and with nearly 600 million jumps logged so far, it seems that plenty of people out there appreciate that weird, wacky side of Nintendo.

GoNintendo Feature: Taking a closer look at Hand-Drawn Game Guides' Legend of Zelda booklet

Ridiculously gorgeous stuff

So happy to share today's feature with you. I talked about it a bit on the podcast, but now you can get a much better look at what this guide has to offer. You'll have a chance to buy your own tomorrow! As always, thanks for reading.

Longtime fans of GoNintendo might recognize the name of Philip Summers, better known to us as Shamazool. Back in the day, GoNintendo teamed up with Shamoozal for a series of animated shorts that both paid tribute to and spoofed classic NES games. The series, known as Read Only Memory, is still one of things I've been most proud of to feature on GoNintendo. If you weren't around back in those days, you can catch up on the entire series here.

Phil's amazing talent with art and animation was instantly recognizable back then, and he's only been getting better since. One of the more recent ventures Phil has had success with is the Hand-Drawn Game Guides series. This series of guides aims to reproduce instruction booklets from the NES days, but with far more detail, both in artwork and information. The series has stunned fans so far with Ninja Gaiden and Contra entries, but Phil has really topped himself with the latest installment; The Legend of Zelda.

Hand-Drawn Game Guides' Legend of Zelda booklet includes 64 pages featuring everything you need to know about the original Legend of Zelda. First up, you'll get all the button prompts, enemy info, item details, and more that the original instruction booklet released. More importantly, the booklet embellishes things with absolutely gorgeous artwork showing Link on his journey, which is accompanied by a new narrative to tie the whole experience together. You can tell it's a real labor of love, and the end result is something to be truly proud of.

Not surprisingly, interest in this guide has been extremely high. The initial plan was to sell 100 physical copies for $25, and those were gobbled up roughly 2 minutes after sales went live. You can still buy the digital version for just a dollar, but there's even better news. Following the huge success so far, Hand-Drawn Game Guides is doing another physical run of 200 units. Those will go up for sale on July 1st, 2020 at 12 PM ET. They're definitely going to go just as quickly, so make sure you're ready to snag yours!

I want to share a special thanks with Phil for sending an early copy of his Legend of Zelda guide with me. It's been absolutely amazing to thumb through, and even more impressive to see just how successful the series has been. Every copy sold, and every bit of support the series sees is well deserved. Phil has been a longtime supporter of GoNintendo, and hugely talented faaaaaar longer than that. It's my honor to share his latest work with you, and I can only hope you find it as interesting as I do.

GoNintendo Thought: How long do you give a game to 'click'?

Time is precious

Happy Monday, gang! Hope you all had a great weekend. Here's to a quick work week so we can get back to the R&R! As always, thanks for reading.

Everyone's time is precious and we all have important things to do on any given day. There's our jobs, school, work around the house, family necessities, and so on. The older you get, the less free time you have. That makes every little moment you can steal away for yourself that much more meaningful.

If you decide to use that free time playing games, the choice of what to play can be almost crippling. There's so many titles out there, and there's no doubt plenty of people have a massive backlog of games they never got around to playing. Throw in the new releases every week, and the mountain of content to dig into can seem insurmountable.

Obviously when you do pick a game, you're hoping it provides you with a great experience. You can turn to reviews, previews, and impressions from all corners of the internet to help guide you, but you'll never really know if a game is for you until you fire it up and give it a go. That's what brings us to today's question. When you do make your pick and start a game up, how long do you give it to sink its claws into you?

I have a bit of weird approach when I'm playing a game. If I hop in and find myself not having a fun time, I tend to think the problem is on my end, rather than the game itself. Instead of being turned off by the game and shelving it, I am interested in finding out why it is I don't like it. I want to play more and figure out where my disinterest is coming from. I can't help but think I'm doing something wrong or I'm not understanding something, and that's what's leading to my lack of fun with the game.

Believe it or not, it actually took me a number of years to get into Gears of War. I was hyped beyond belief when the game was coming out, and was happy to see all the great reviews that flooded the internet a few days before launch. When I finally got the game for myself and jumped in, I found myself not having fun at all. I just couldn't find any sort of redeeming interactions from the experience. I found myself bored and frustrated almost the entire time I was playing. This lead to me putting the game aside after a few hours.

I came back to Gears of War a few months later to give it another go. I decided I would start fresh and see how things panned out the second time around. Unfortunately, the second attempt at the game lead me to the same conclusion. This would happen for a third time just a few months later, which lead to over a year of giving the game a break before I tried to tackle it again.

After nearly two years of not having the game click for me, I decided to take a different approach. I was going to try the game without any expectations of how things should play. I wasn't going to force my own opinions on how things should work, and instead take the game as it came at me. I was also going to alter how I played, moving from a conservative approach in gunfights and offense, to a head-on, balls-out tactic. It was the combination of these elements that lead to me really, really enjoying the game. I had my moment where things clicked, and Gears of War went from being a bore to a blast.

That experience taught me that sometimes games take not just time to click, but a whole new way of thinking as well. It was a pretty eye-opening thing to have happen. I've tackled every game since with the same approach, and it really has worked wonders. Ditching pre-conceived notions and opening myself up to play-styles that aren't normally in line with how I play has lead me to have fun with games I would have never even considered in the past.

I'm actually going through this process right now with Ninjala. I'm having trouble digging into the game and getting it to click for me. I went in with an open-mind, but I'm still having a few problems with the experience. There's just certain base gameplay mechanics that really don't entice me in any way, shape, or form. On the flip side, there is something about the game that's keeping me coming back. There's something going on there that I really enjoy, but I can't put my finger on it. I plan on continuing to dig down into the game to see what I unearth.

Numerous developers have said that a game has to catch players within the first 10 minutes in order to keep them coming back for more. Be that through gameplay, story, or some other mechanic, those opening moments can be make or break for a game. I know plenty of friends who have bowed out of a game when the opening act didn't do it for them, and they never returned. Again, with free time being so limited, I can't get mad at anyone for moving on when things don't work out for them.

How long do you give a game to click for you? Do you give it a shot over and over until things come together, or are you in and out at the first instance of content you don't enjoy? What was the last game that didn't click for you, and when did you decide to call it quits?

GoNintendo Video - DICE's long-lost SEGA Genesis game ULTRACORE hits Switch!

A cancelled game lives on

DICE, the company known nowadays for Battlefield, had an action-platformer in the works for the Genesis back in the 90s called Hardcore. The game ended up getting cancelled when it was 99% complete, and was left to collect dust. That is, until the the Switch came along and the game's been resurrected as ULTRACORE!

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GoNintendo Thought: What are you playing this weekend?

We've made it through another week, my friends. Time to spend a couple days enjoying a bit of rest and relaxation...and gaming! I know I'm going to cram in as much game time as possible. Here's what I'm planning to spend some time with this weekend.

The Last of Us: Part 2

Like many other gamers out there, I've been spending a good amount of time playing The Last of Us: Part 2. I'm doing my best to savor every moment, as I don't want to rush through the experience. It took 7 years for this game to come out, so I want to take my time and enjoy it! I've been worried about the game drawing to a close for a couple days now, which I guess goes to show that I'm having a good time. I don't want it to end!

Ninjala

I've played a decent amount of rounds in Ninjala since it launched, and I'm honestly still not sure how I feel about it. I can't even say if I like it or not. There are things I definitely don't like, yet I still feel the urge to go back and play more. Perhaps I want a better understanding, or maybe the entire experience is growing on me. I still don't feel like I have a real grasp on everything so far, and I'm committed to figuring those intricacies out.

Pac-Man Championship Edition Demake

You've heard me gush about it on the podcast, read my review, and watched me play in a video. Pac-Man Championship Edition Demake is my current gaming obsession. This is the game I'm pouring a lot of time into, and I have an absolute blast everytime I hop into it. I really can't get enough of this one!

Pokemon Cafe Mix

I grabbed Pokemon Cafe Mix on my phone the other day to give it a shot. I'm a sucker for mobile puzzlers, so I thought I'd check this one out. It's pretty standard for a puzzler in most regards, but the linking/swirling feature definitely leads to a different type of gameplay. I'm having my fun with it, but it's nothing mind-blowing. Just something nice to pass the time with.

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That's what I'll be playing, now how about you? Let us know what you're going to sit down with this weekend! You can leave a comment here or hit us up via this story's tweet on Twitter.

GoNintendo Thought: 4 small quality of life improvements to make the Switch experience that much better

Small changes, big impact

I'm always nervous writing features like this. I don't want to seem whiny or like I'm complaining. I just mean the pieces as a little food for thought. Hopefully that's how they come across! As always, thanks for reading.

Nintendo clearly doesn't need any help with the Switch. The system has been a major success since day one, and it's as hot as ever 3+ years later. Coming off the rough days of the Wii U, Nintendo managed to create a system that offered up a unique experience that resonated with gamers the world over. While Nintendo lost a bit of their hardware mojo there for a bit, it's fantastic to see them back at the top of their game.

While the Switch is beloved by many, that doesn't mean the platform is perfect. Just like any other consoles out there, the Switch has room for improvement. There are obviously some major sweeping changes that could be tackled, but that's not what we're talking about here. Instead, we're taking a look at some minor tweaks and changes that could lead to a more satisfying experience overall. Nothing that's 100% necessary, but would be very welcome nonetheless.

Will Nintendo ever get to these changes? Your guess is as good as ours. That said, let's hope they've already made note of some of these suggestions, and are hard at work adding them as part of a future firmware update.

JINGLES

In my opinion, part of Nintendo's magic comes from the little touches they cram into their experiences. Tiny features and elements you don't often see implemented in games from other companies. Stuff that makes you wonder how Nintendo even considered adding them in the first place. Subtle animations, musical flourishes, nods to a franchise's legacy, and so on. These are the things that make Nintendo something special.

One of those special aspects on a hardware-level has to be Nintendo's little jingles. Tunes that play in the background when you're navigating a system's OS, or a song that kicks off when you visit a virtual shop. Nintendo has used these tracks numerous times in the past, creating some insanely memorable tunes like the Wii Shop Channel song. These songs not only provide a bit of welcome background music, they also become part of a platform's legacy. A little something extra that helps you remember your time with the system.

While the Switch's UI is snappy and straightforward, it lacks some charm of Nintendo's previous hardware. While there's a couple clicky noises on the eShop and Switch menu, it's mostly a silent affair. The silence fuels my thoughts of why on earth Nintendo decided to move away from songs this time around. Those ditties bring so much personality to the experience, and they're sorely missed here. Bring back the tunes, Nintendo!

THEMES

This has been a point of contention for Switch owners pretty much from day one. When it comes to the Switch and customization, all users really have to choose from is a dark or light theme. You're either going to have a black or white Switch background and that's it. Not exactly the most exciting of choices, and you have to wonder how Nintendo hasn't allowed for more options yet.

The most bare-bones approach would be to add in colors. If black and white are possible, why can't the whole rainbow be included? Letting people pick from red, blue, yellow, green, and so on as their background might not be the most extravagant customization option, but it would certainly be a welcome change from what we have now. People like to have a little say in how their UI experience looks, and the option for different colors would be quite nice indeed.

Obviously you could go a step further as well. Why not allow users to have different pictures as their background? They could be snapshots taken in-game, or official 'themes' made available by developers and publishers. If themes are a thing on the 3DS, surely they could be possible on the Switch! Make them free or make them paid, it doesn't really matter. Having a little something to show off our personality a bit more would make for a vast improvement.

ICONS

When the Switch first came out, players didn't have to worry about too many game icons. The menu was manageable, and we could slide around to pick the titles we wanted to play. Obviously that changed very quickly, and now there are over 2,500 games available on the Switch. For anyone who plays the Switch even somewhat frequently, the menu situation has become quite bothersome. There are a ton of games, and no other options for how to display them on the main menu.

With so many games out there, it's a damn shame the Switch menu doesn't give you more options to show them off. Why can't we shrink the icons to half their size and allow for double the amount on the main screen? Why can't we have a scrollable main menu to sift through all of our titles, rather than having to click over to a separate page? Why can't we have a rotating carousel of all the icons on the main menu, which we could order by the date we last played, game name, publisher, genre, and so on?

Taking yet another cue from the 3DS, where is the option for folders? I'm sure countless Switch owners would love to organize their games in different folders. Folders automatically give the user a way to organize their games in any way they seem fit. A folder for arcade titles, a folder for platformers, and so on. Whatever the player deems appropriate is the way it goes, and that seems like an easy fix that would please many.

DOWNLOADS

As things stand right now, there are two ways to see what's going on with the games or updates you're download on Switch. You can look at the icon on the main menu and see the status bar, or you can click on the icon and get a more specific rundown of progress. Those are both nice features, but that makes things a little difficult for users who are downloading multiple titles/updates.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a dedicated download manager on the Switch? The Wii U had one, and it was extremely helpful to keep track of what you were downloading, how much time was left, and when you downloaded the content. With so many games on Switch and updates coming out every week, it would be nice to click just one button and see everything that's gobbling up my internet.

______________________________

Four small changes that could make for a big difference. They don't seem like things that would be hard to implement, or take up too much processing power. Then again, who am I to speculate? I don't make game hardware, and I don't develop software. For all I know, these could completely throw the Switch out of whack and lead to a slower experience overall. In some situations it seems like that outcome would be highly unlikely, but you never know. Even if it did slow things down a bit, I'm willing to bet a decent amount of Switch owners would be more than happy to sacrifice in the name of some customization.

GoNintendo Thought: Remembering the N64's multiplayer legacy on its 24th anniversary

4 scores and 24 years ago

How are we already 24 years past the launch of the N64?! That seems absolutely insane to me. Man, I really am getting old. I better share some memories about the system before I forget them due to old age! As always, thanks for reading.

The N64 is now 24 years old, believe it or not. Hard to think that so much time has passed since the system launched. I have vivid memories of an N64 print ad that I had hanging on my bedroom door back before the system launched. As a matter of fact, it was this very ad.

That ad, with a tiny picture of the N64 and just a few quite notes about upcoming games, was all I needed to have my hype boosted through the roof. Nintendo was heading into the 3D realm, and their biggest franchises were never going to be the same again. It was almost too much for my 14-year-old mind to comprehend at the time. It was such a monumental shift to look forward to. A whole new way to experience Nintendo titles, a completely different way to control them, and brand-new dimension to explore in.

Looking back on the N64 now is an interesting experience. As with any system there are pluses and minuses, but some of them are extremely high while others are quite low. The N64 gave us games like Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. These are genre-defining titles that became some of the most influential titles that game industry would ever see. Titles that developers still look to and analyze to this day. The N64 also saw a rather lackluster third party offering, due to cartridge costs, platform adoption, and success of the Playstation. It was a fun, weird, and interesting time to be a Nintendo fan, and signaled some of the challenges ahead for the Big N.

While a huge part of the N64's legacy rests in games like Super Mario 64 and Zelda: Ocarina of Time, there's another aspect of the system that probably means more to fans of the platform. The N64 was the first console to make 4-player gaming a standard. You didn't need a special adapter to bring in more friends to play. You had four controller ports on the system itself, which paved the way for bigger and better multiplayer experiences. Developers were reluctant to program games that supported more than 2 players on previous platforms due to the need for an added accessory, but the 4-controller port standard on the N64 let developers run wild with their multiplayer ideas.

To this very day, even with all the online interactivity we have, my fondest memories of multiplayer gaming come from the N64. It was definitely a simpler time for multiplayer games, but there was a beauty in that simplicity. Having to get your friends together to crowd around the TV for split-screen gaming might seem cumbersome by today's standard, but it was part of the whole experience back then. Your friends had to actually get together and hang out in order to play games together, and it made for memories I'll never forget.

I can't even begin to tally up the amount of time I spent playing multiplayer games on the N64. There wasn't just one game that got all the love, either. There were so many titles that we poured hundreds of hours into, without a doubt. A quick tally of what sticks out in my mind includes Mario Kart 64, GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, Super Smash Bros, Mario Party, StarFox 64, Mario Golf, Worms Armageddon, countless wrestling games, and so much more. These were games we kept coming back to time and time again. They never got old, and we were always down for just one more round.

All these years later, there are very few games that manage to capture the multiplayer magic of the N64 days. Local multiplayer means so much to me, and that was the only way to play on the N64. Those multiplayer titles helped facilitate so many good times with friends and family. I can remember my living room with countless wires strewn across the carpet, game cartridges all over the place, and friends arguing who got stuck with the Mad Catz controller. It's so hard for any console today to capture that magic, as the industry moved on technology-wise since those days. Playing online just makes a lot more sense, and allows you to connect in ways like never before. Online gaming is definitely a wonderful feature, but it's hard to top that in-person connection.

I still have most of the same friends today, and we play games online quite often. It's wonderful to keep that tradition going, facilitated by advances in technology. That said, we still keep going back to the N64. Within the last year alone, I've sat down with friends to play some of the classics. We put in time with Mario Kart 64, dabbled with Worms Armageddon, and even got right back into Super Smash Bros.. It had been a long time since any of us played, but it all came back to us instantly. No joke, it all felt just as good as it did back in the day. It's a true testament to just how strong the N64 was when it came to multiplayer fun.

Thankfully Nintendo has continued on with their local multiplayer legacy. Every console since the N64 has allowed for four players as a base, and allowed for more as well. Some might say that Nintendo's focus on local multiplayer comes at a detriment to their online multiplayer, and I do understand the sentiment. Nintendo does lag behind the others when it comes to online interactions, but they're very slowly evolving. I'm just glad Nintendo hasn't left behind that local multiplayer experience, as that kind of gameplay seems to be an afterthought on other platforms. That in-person multiplayer action, while hard to put together nowadays, creates a magic that online just can't match.

24 years later and my time with the N64 is still as fresh as ever in my mind. I definitely have memories of playing the NES/SNES/GameCube and so on with friends, but nothing sticks out like the N64. It was the first time we really got to experience a console that catered to 4-player, and it gave us experiences we had never had before. It was a beautiful thing to experience, and a moment in gaming history that I'll never, ever forget.

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