The second batch of downloadable content for Atlus’s Shin Megami Tensei IV went live on the Nintendo eShop this afternoon. You can see all the details about the DLC after the break. Continue reading
Atlus has confirmed some downloadable content that will be available upon the launch of Shin Megami Tensei IV in North America. In case you forgot, that’s in a little over a month – July 16.
There will be three DLC packs; two of which are free of charge at launch. More details after the break. Continue reading
Nintendo announced this week that the global Coin Rush total in New Super Mario Bros. 2 recently exceeded 300 billion coins; as a reward to all the dedicated players of the game, the Big N has released a free pack of Coin Rush maps based on classic Super Mario Bros. stages.
The three new Coin Rush stages in the “Golden Classics Pack” are based on levels from the original Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3.; for more information about downloading the content, visit http://newsupermariobros2.nintendo.com.
If you plan to acquire the content for free, make sure you download it before January 31 – Nintendo will begin charging money for the DLC beginning in February.
In the meantime, check out this “Nintendo Direct Mini”, which includes footage of the Gold Classics Pack.
First of all…
If you didn’t already notice, I’ve taken the liberty of spending most of my morning/afternoon updating the site – not only did I freshen up the Release Dates page, I also added some banner images to make the Reviews page look a little nicer.
I already published a few quick stories related to Bravely Default and an upcoming action game being developed for the 3DS by Treasure (Ikaruga, Guardian Heroes). I put up the “Looking Ahead” article for November 2012, and finally I published two reviews – Liberation Maiden and Code of Princess. Be sure to check those out.
Now, to the point of this quick little blurb: I have a few little pieces of information that I’ve stumbled upon this afternoon, but can’t be bothered to publish in unique posts:
No Paid DLC in Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Satoru Iwata confirmed today that Animal Crossing: New Leaf will not contain “paid DLC”, stating that this would “…[create] a game in which you enjoy yourself more by the power of money,” which would “not be suitable.” Makes sense; Animal Crossing has never been about giving you power with money, only taking away every last trace of the in-game currency that you’ve worked so hard to earn.
Digital Version of Paper Mario: Sticker Star is Massive
If you were planning to download the digital version of Paper Mario: Sticker Star, make sure you’ve got plenty of space on your SD card: the eShop download requires rougly 522 MB, or 4,199 “blocks” of memory. Until Nintendo drops the price of the full download on eShop, I feel more than satisfied with a hard copy.
Check Out This Japan-Only Charizard 3DS XL
Since day one, I have had a problem with the “aqua blue” 3DS that I decided to purchase. I still kick myself every day for not picking up the black one, or waiting for the red one.
Anyway, if I lived in Japan, I’d be kicking even harder right now: check out this absolutely, ridiculously awesome special edition Charizard 3DS XL.
Apparently, getting your hands on one will be difficult enough: you have to win a lottery just to get the chance to buy one. Absurd. For now I’ll leave you with these images to drool over.
I took a trip to visit family over the weekend – lo and behold, I stepped away from the Internet at the wrong time, because I missed all the brand-new 3DS footage that went up shortly after the recent Nintendo Direct video event.
This edition of The Daily 3DS Trailers Report is absolutely loaded, and I’m not using that term lightly – scroll down the page for new details and brand-new gameplay footage for upcoming titles like Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Animal Crossing: New Leaf (formerly Jump Out), Fantasy Life, and Fire Emblem: Awakening.
Fire Emblem: Awakening – Trailer~
Whoa, check it out, there’s finally some English footage of Fire Emblem: Awakening. This one’s looking like one of 2013’s best-looking 3DS games, no doubt. Check out the new trailer from Nintendo Direct below:
Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Trailer~
Nintendo finally changed the subtitle for the North American version of the upcoming Animal Crossing game for the 3DS; instead of “Jump Out” the game will be called “New Leaf”. Hopefully this 3DS installment will indeed turn a ‘new leaf’, check out the footage from Nintendo Direct:
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon 3DS – Nintendo Direct Presentation~
Nintendo announced that the upcoming Pokemon Mystery Dungeon for the 3DS will feature paid DLC, with some sort of free DLC available for a limited time after the game launches. Check out the new footage of the game below:
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon – Video~
Paper Mario: Sticker Star – Trailer~
Fantasy Life – Nintendo Direct Japanese Trailer~
If you’re a fan of Renegade Kid’s eShop title Mutant Mudds, surprise – the bonus levels contained in the PC version are finally available on the eShop.
There’s a catch, however.
If you haven’t full-cleared the game – all the Water Sprites, all the collectible gold diamonds in each stage – you won’t have access to the content. This actually makes sense, considering that the DLC features Grannie, and allows you to use all three of the game’s power-ups simultaneously.
In other words, if you’ve got Mutant Mudds and haven’t finished it to 100% completion, get to it! The 20 free levels can be accessed on the digital download service once this is achieved. Here’s a trailer for the DLC:
General Information – Mighty Switch Force!
- Developed and Published by WayForward Technologies
- Released on December 22, 2011
- Price: $5.99 (via Nintendo eShop)
- Free DLC Pack Available via Nintendo eShop
WayForward Technologies’ Mighty Switch Force! was one of the more critically-acclaimed downloads that came out on the Nintendo eShop last year. Along with the colorful puzzle-platformer Pushmo, this side-scroller was one of the first games on the 3DS’s digital service that was arguably as impressive as anything comparable on the Xbox 360’s XBLA marketplace, or the PlayStation 3’s PSN shop.
Mighty Switch Force! is largely based around traditional side-scrolling elements such as running and jumping through each stage, avoiding obstacles and blasting enemies – but the design gets really clever when you factor in its “switching” mechanic, which is used to activate special platforms that are scattered throughout each of the levels. The level design is particularly clever, especially in the later courses requiring the skillful timing of “switching” platforms in order to navigate the maze-like stages. There is an emphasis on “speedruns”, so it pays to “master” the concept – something that I value quite a bit. I enjoy a decent challenge, and finding all of the scattered hooligans in each stage of Mighty Switch Force! while also trying to pass the “par time” is quite a task.
The 2D sprites are extremely well-animated, the stages are highly detailed, and the artistic style is generally appealing – indeed, Mighty Switch Force! looks as great as it plays. In addition, the catchy chiptune soundtrack really fits the game, though the annoying sound effects made me turn down the 3DS’s audio more often than not.
Mighty Switch Force! looks great with the 3D effects activated – in fact, the special effects and sprites really “pop”, giving the graphics an even more enhanced appearance. Additionally, the game was one of the very first to feature proper “DLC” on the 3DS – there were five stages and some other enhancements added to the original version shortly after its release, available for free on the eShop. That being said, where are the leaderboards? Why bother with “speedruns” if there aren’t any online charts to compare your highest scores against others?
Replay Value: (7/10)
Speaking of the lack of online functionality, if there is one thing that really hurts Mighty Switch Force!, it’s the replay value. There are just over a dozen stages, with a small bump to the number if you count the bonus ones on the eShop. You will certainly need to spend a lot of time re-playing some of the stages, particularly if you want to earn high scores and “star” ratings on each…but beside the thrill of clearing each “par time”, there isn’t a big incentive to continue playing. This game really could have used “Achievements” or some other form of benefit for the time investment.
Mighty Switch Force! would be rated even higher if its MSRP on the eShop was the same as the temporary sale price ($3.99) that convinced me to make the purchase. Unfortunately, sitting at $5.99, the lack of replay value stings just a bit more. Still, the free bonus content adds five levels and visual enhancements to an already stylish and gorgeous-looking side-scroller; one that excels even more with its clever and inventive level design. Roughly a year later, I would still put it on my short list of “Personal Favorite eShop Games”.
Replay Value: (7/10)
Final Score: 8.9/10
Finally, as promised by Nintendo, DLC will be available soon for New Super Mario Bros. 2’s “Coin Rush” mode.
The trio of updates includes the “Survival Panic Pack”, which will be a difficult pack of stages, as its name implies. The second, “Gold Mario Go! Go! Go!”, gives players the task of collecting 30,000 coins throughout three easier levels. Finally, the “Challenge the Record A Pack” is a set of timed stages, where high scores are directly linked to a Nintendo of Japan leaderboard.
The three packs will be available for roughly $2 a piece starting October 2 on the Japanese eShop. There are no details about a western release, but it is likely just a matter of time before we see the new content (or similar stuff) in North America.
[UPDATE: Nintendo of America has Tweeted that new Coin Rush DLC packs will be headed to North America soon, but further details weren’t revealed.]
You may have heard that the PC version of Renegade Kid’s Mutant Mudds was coming with 20 exclusive stages. If you were as big a fan of the platformer as I was, this came as a disappointment.
Lo and behold, Renegade Kid doesn’t disappoint – all 20 stages that were previously exclusive to the PC will soon be available as a free download on the Nintendo eShop…provided that you have downloaded the full game, that is.
There isn’t an official date*, but the developer has officially confirmed that the stages will appear for 3DS owners, so consider me excited.
I have been meaning to publish my review for Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy for quite some time, but the truth is, I’ve spent most of my free time playing this new 3DS spin-off since its release on July 3. If that ruins the “surprise” of my final opinion in this critique, I apologize: as a long-time fan of the Final Fantasy franchise, it’s hard to deny just how powerful the feeling of nostalgia within this spin-off can be.
- Developed by indies0zero
- Published by Square-Enix
- Released on July 3, 2012
- Rhythm/Music, RPG
- Price: $39.99 (MSRP), $34.99 (Pre-Owned @ GameStop.com)
The music of Final Fantasy I-XIII + (Elite Beat Agents + Rock Band) =
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy
Although it is obvious that Theatrhythm is a “fan service” that was released in celebration of the series’ 25th anniversary, casual players can still find a lot to enjoy from the rhythm/music side of Theatrhythm, even if they aren’t familiar with the subtle RPG-like mechanics or the endless Final Fantasy references. It’s a very entertaining, accessible, and addictive title that keeps you tapping along to the beat of each classic Nobuo Uematsu song, spanning the entire 13-game franchise. In all, there are more than 40 songs packaged in the box, with even more confirmed to appear in bundles – the 3DS’s first major paid DLC.
Playing the notes is simple enough; most of the tempo notes can be tapped with the stylus, but you have to quickly swipe in certain directions for some of the “emphasized” notes, or hold and slide on the bottom screen to drag out the longer parts. The songs in the game are categorized into three unique “stages”, with each presenting a completely different interface for playing the notes. For example, the Event Music Stages are dynamic, with a free-flowing interface that is based around the tempo of some of the series’ most epic, moving orchestral pieces. To add some extra flash, the developers designed montages that are compiled of scenes from the best moments of each game in the series (see below).
Moving on, the Field Music Stages are based on the smooth, trance-inducing style of the “overworld themes” featured throughout the series; I felt like they were easiest to play, and appropriately relaxing. On the other hand, the Battle Music Stages (pictured above) speed up the tempo and pump out far more notes, reflecting the intense battles from each installment. In addition to being very challenging, these stages seemed to utilize the game’s RPG-style elements to a larger degree than the Field and Event stages.
Basically, you can choose four heroes for your “party”, and each can be leveled up, equipped with skills and abilities, and even use items that are acquired as you play through the game. These aspects of Theatrhythm aren’t as involving as the actual rhythm/music portion, but they spice it up in a way that Final Fantasy fans will nonetheless appreciate.
The most immediately-noticeable part of Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy is its visual style; as you can see from the screenshots in this article, the game is very colorful and features a “chibi” design for its versions of the series’ characters and enemies. I personally loved the design, and though it probably won’t appeal to all Final Fantasy fans, I thought it made this spin-off stand out among the rest of the games in the franchise.
Of course it’s the music, not the graphics, that are the real star of Theatrhythm: Uematsu’s score from each installment sounds the same as you will remember, from the primitive MIDI tunes in the 8-bit and early 16-bit entries all the way to the complex pieces from the recent games. The sound effects that go along with the note-tapping on the bottom screen really add some emphasis to the unforgettable melodies, particularly the yellow “slide” notes.
Perhaps the only drawback to the beautiful visual design and flashy effects that accompany the gameplay is the distraction that comes from everything on the screen. Keeping in mind that this is a music/rhythm-based game; Theatrhythm generally requires a certain degree of focus just to play the notes well, regardless of your personal familiarity with the music. This makes some of the exciting summon sequences and many of the highly-detailed backgrounds more of a problematic distraction, and not so much a satisfying part of the playing experience. Even the “Critical!” prompts that flash when you hit a perfect note are usually distracting, as the text obscures the playing field (see the image above) and makes it difficult to see the next note in line. I only mention these issues as observations, because ultimately they do not make the game look, sound, or play any worse; they are just factors to remember when playing.
Theatrhythm’s only other minor issues come up when you think about its use of the 3DS’s various capabilities and features. It is a mixed bag, but even with the following comments considered, functions like StreetPass and even the 3D effect have a minor impact on the playing experience.
- The 3D effect actually looks great, and goes a long way to bring out the detail found within the backgrounds. Unfortunately, it also ends up being a distraction a large portion of the time. This is particularly an issue during the Event Music Stages, which include all of the CG scenes and video clips from each FF title. These really add some flash and take you back to some exciting moments in the series, but ultimately the depth effect makes it pretty difficult to see the notes as they appear on the screen.
- There is a multiplayer option, but only for the “Dark Notes” found within the “Chaos Shrine” mode. I’ll discuss those below; for now, I would like to express how disappointed I am that Theatrhythm does not utilize any kind of online play, leaderboards, etc. The only multiplayer is local, and Download Play isn’t supported. Ouch.
- The gameplay is solid all-around, but I had some issues with my hands cramping if I played for longer periods of time. In fact, I was glad I kept the plastic stand that came with my copy of Kid Icarus: Uprising – resting the 3DS on the stand made it much easier to play the game comfortably.
Replay Value: (9.0/10)
There are three modes of play, starting with “Series Mode”. In this mode, you play through each installment of Final Fantasy, unlocking each track for “Challenge Mode” after finishing each game. This mode only takes a few hours to tap through, but it really only begins to scratch the surface of the content offered in Theatrhythm.
As I mentioned before, there is a Challenge Mode that includes the basic version of each song, as well as “Expert” and “Ultimate” tracks. Completing all of the tracks for each game on Expert/Ultimate unlocks the tougher versions in Series Mode, so you can even go back to play through again on harder settings. Finally, the “Chaos Shrine” contains all of your Dark Notes; 99 of these unique song pairings can be found and completed to unlock rare items. The Dark Notes are generally tougher and play differently than the versions found in Challenge and Series mode, and because the songs in each pair can be chosen from any FF title, it is difficult to anticipate the tracks that you will be forced to play.
Theatrhythm is definitely best in “small doses”, but it takes plenty of time to make a dent in its vast amount of extras and unlockable content. For perspective purposes, I spent more than a dozen hours playing the game, and only unlocked roughly a third of the goodies found in the “Museum”. These include video clips from each Final Fantasy title, viewable in the “Theater”; additional music tracks from the series, playable in the “Music Player”; 70+ collectible cards called “Collectacards”, and 64 “Trophies” that act as Achievements, charting your milestones as you play through the game. Finally, you earn stars for total use stats, time played, completion, and countless random factors – Square-Enix ranks and grades you for everything, so perfectionists could possibly spent as much time collecting everything on this 3DS game as a full-fledged Final Fantasy installment.
I only have two final, tiny “notes”:
- Why is the “boss fight” system in the Chaos Shrine so ridiculously complicated? Collecting all of the rare items from each of the three possible bosses found in every Dark Note could take an obscene amount of effort, simply because the process of fighting each boss isn’t explained very clearly.
- The Collectacards are cool, and unlocking Holofoil/Platinum versions of each is even cooler, but the coolest option would have been to use them in a new “Tetra Master” game, similar to the ones found in Final Fantasy VIII & IX. This isn’t really a “flaw”, but having a sweet card game to play against friends could have been a great option for additional multiplayer content.
Recommendation: Buy It
All of these things considered, Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy is ultimately the best way for any dedicated fan of the franchise to celebrate its 25th anniversary. With two and a half decades of Nobuo Uematsu’s fantastic compositions, a vast roster of classic characters and villains, a surprising amount of content, and gameplay that is both addictive and accessible, this one really comes as a surprise – it’s the best Final Fantasy spin-off that I have ever played, and gave me the urge to play one of the classic games on multiple occasions.
Unfortunately, those who normally wouldn’t find themselves gushing over the first sight of a chocobo or moogle in a new Final Fantasy game probably wouldn’t be entirely thrilled about Theatrhythm. Even as a solid rhythm/music title, you may want to skip it – all of the series’ references won’t have an impact if you haven’t experienced a good portion of them before tapping through all the songs.