Gaming Life Technology

Apple Music Gains Soundtracks for Every Main Entry in the Final Fantasy Series

Apple Music Gains Soundtracks for Every Main Entry in the Final Fantasy Series by Mitchel Broussard

Alright Nintendo, the ball is now in your court. Work on licensing your huge backlog of soundtracks to various streaming services and get it done yesterday.

At least I know what I will have on in the background while I am working at home for a good long time.


The Legend of Zelda 2015

I’m sorry if you missed it, but Nintendo announced the next installment in the Legend of Zelda series for the Wii U yesterday during its digital keynote for E3 (link to Polygon’s article on Zelda 2015).

We don’t have a title, nor a story, but we do have the following from the producer himself (and you can hear it all at the link above):

  • First installment made specifically for the Wii U
  • Supposedly will harken back to a more open-world feel of the original Legend of Zelda

That is about all we know.

Zelda 2015 2

Needless to say, I’m more than a little excited about this game. The style seems to be a good mixture of Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess. It will be fun to see what Nintendo can do in HD with this franchise.

While I don’t know what an open-world Zelda is going to be or play like, I am interested to see what a Japanese development studio will do with what has become a decidedly American style.


Review | The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

A Link Between Worlds

I don’t have a lot of time to play video games anymore. I’m giving that as an excuse for the fact that it has taken me so long to complete the game (it sat in its plastic wrap for months before I broke it out).

Please do not let it deter you from picking it up and completing it if you have no already done so. Quite simple, A Link Between Worlds is a joy to play and harkens back to a much simpler time for both video games and the entire Zelda series. It’s hard to describe how fun the game was the play, but I’ll do my best.

Also, you can listen to the second part of This One Podcast Episode 103 where Phil and I talk about A Link Between Worlds in a larger context.

I will also try to keep spoilers to a minimum and focus more on the overall gameplay and game since that is the important part.

Comfortable to Play

The first thing anyone who has ever played The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past will notice is how comfortable this game is. It is immediately familiar, but not dull or boring as it would have been had it been a remake of the original. It is set in the same world, but it is still a new game.

I would liken it more to the difference between Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. They are obviously tied together, but they are entirely separate games.

In the TOP episode I linked to above, Phil and I discuss our own personal preference for simpler games (which is a terrible way to describe them). For me it boils down to needing to make fewer decisions at a given time. When you only have four buttons and two dimensions … your mind can focus on and enjoy other things.

The game flows much like A Link to the Past and that is to its benefit. There are no obscenely long tutorials here, just encouragement to get going and start saving the world. The cut scenes are sparse and tasteful which means there are few minutes-long forays into story telling. I think I counted three in total.

A Link Between Worlds is a game you can easily settle into a groove with. You’ll flow from area to area, instinctively knowing what it is that you need to try to accomplish and then going forth and doing so. The game also, quite quickly, eliminates the tedium of moving from place to place as well so that you don’t feel like you need to backtrack over terrain over, and over, and over, and over again …

Button-Mashing Goodness

There are obviously times when you will need to be careful and take steps to make sure every swing of your sword is going to count … but when you only have a single button dedicated to the sword it enables button-mashing to come back into full effect.

It is haphazard in any way, but it is the viable defense and offense. It is a simple way to clear yourself of obstacles … and it is enabled because the game designers were limited in what they could do with a single button and two dimensions.

I say: good.

This speeds things up considerably. Need to get from A to B and enemies are in the way … start swinging and don’t let up until they are gone. It allows the game to flow from place to place quickly.

Again, I say: good.

Music for the Mood

This is a short review, but I do want to comment on the music. Obviously A Link to the Past has many iconic tunes that are still with us and the soundtrack for A Link Between Worlds is not going to reach that stage. It is not because it shouldn’t, but because it is more derivative than A Link to the Past. Because it is a direct sequel, the music is instantly familiar.

However, the arrangements done are excellent and of an extremely high caliper. Especially near the end of the game, we get to see them pull out the stops and fit the music to the mood extremely well. Just a splendid melding of tone.

There isn’t much more to say besides the fact that I still smile every time I hear any arrangement of the Overworld theme.

The End

This game is good, excellent, and well worth any amount of time or effort you can put into it. It not only puts aside any fear I had about Nintendo coming into it, but it also emphatically states that there is a lot of life left in 2D games.

A Link Between Worlds definitely calls back to a time when games needed to be simpler because they had less to work with, and I think that is a good thing. Tacking on decisions and extra fluff just because you can is a poor reason to do so.

End Screen


Purchase a 2DS or 3DS and play this game TODAY!


A Nintendo Followup

My friends and I talked, at length, about Nintendo and video games on Monday evening during our recording of This One Podcast. I happen to think it is one of our better episodes (we have now completed 80 of them … crazy).

If you want some followup to Bringing Nintendo Back, that is where you can find it.


Bringing Nintendo Back

Super Smash Bros

First off, take this with a huge grain of salt because I own, as far as dedicated gaming devices are concerned, one Wii U and one Game Boy Micro. Here is also a list of all of the gaming consoles I have owned in my life:

  • Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Sega Genesis
  • Nintendo 64
  • GameCube
  • Xbox 360
  • Wii
  • Wii U
  • Game Boy
  • Game Boy Pocket
  • Game Boy Advance
  • Game Boy Advance SP
  • Game Boy Micro
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo DS Lite

So, yeah, that’s a lot of Nintendo consoles including every home console except for the Super Nintendo. I went through all of that to point out that I really, REALLY want Nintendo to continue to function as Nintendo. I don’t want Nintendo to create iOS games, I don’t want Nintendo to exit the hardware business.

What I want is for a thriving Nintendo to continue to create awesome hardware and games. The question then shifts to this:

How does Nintendo position itself to continue to be able to crate awesome hardware and games into the future?

That’s a better question.

So what is the answer? Is there an answer? Is Nintendo just completely, totally, and irreparably doomed?

Is Nintendo Completely, Totally, and Irreparably Doomed?

I don’t think so. In order for that to happen I think that Nintendo would probably need to star creating games for other platforms. At that point, Nintendo is done and they might as well sell off their franchises for as much money as possible and get out because the Nintendo of the past is dead and they might as well choose a different name.

However, even though they are not doomed right now, there is still a ton of work to do to get the ship pointed in a better direction.

Is There an Answer?

An answer, as in one single answer to fix everything? Of course not. There are too many variables at play to focus on only a single answer to something as far-ranging as fixing Nintendo. That, again, is the wrong question. Here’s a better one:

What Can Nintendo Do?

Let’s start with the easy one: create really great games. I’m talking about shooting for the stars, multiple AAA, Ocarina of Time-esque, Mario Galaxy-caliper games for the Wii U and 3DS lines. I’m positive they are already doing this and we will see the fruits of this work in probably 2014 and beyond. That’s the easy one. If you create really excellent and compelling games the people will (probably) play them.

What are some smaller things they can do? Well, let’s break it down into areas of focus.

Online Stuff

They don’t need an iOS App Store-like hit as far as online services go, but there are things they can do to make it all just a little bit better.

First, just shore up the speed of the online services. Make everything faster. When that is done, then you can start creating a unifying account around a single person and their games and purchases are tied to that single account … not the system or anything silly like that. Have a person’s Nintendo Account be their window into all of Nintendo’s properties. Their 2/3DS games, Wii U games, scores, progress … everything will be tied to this account. When you have that, make it fast. You can start selling more things than just games then (like soundtracks … please) and milk your franchises even more.

I can’t help but think that would make some more money.

Relaxing some of the restrictions on indie game makers might bring a few more indie games to the platform and give the Nintendo eShop some more for people to buy.

This doesn’t need to be Xbox Live, but Nintendo has some work to do for certain.

Handheld Hardware

I, for one, like the move they’ve made with the 2DS. Cheaper, no hinge, plays DS and 3DS games. I’ve always had a fondness for Nintendo’s fixed-screen handhelds (Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Micro), and the price definitely makes it more likely to be purchased by me.

Console Hardware

Sadly, the Wii U seems to be DOA in many ways … probably ending up being a GameCube-like system for Nintendo. In some ways I hope that is true because the GameCube had some amazing games.

However, this also means that they should be back at the drawing board looking to accelerate the development of the next NIntendo home console. First, the Wii U hardware is actually pretty nice. It looks good, it is a big step up from the Wii, it brings HD gaming to Nintendo franchises, and the GamePad is a huge, untapped resource for many games.

Here is where I think they need to go:

  • Keep the same architecture, but “turn it up to 11”. There is something extremely elegant about the Wii/Wii U architecture so bump it up. More RAM, faster processor, more storage, etc. This one is a no-brainer. It doesn’t need to blow away or even beat the Xbox One/PS4 … but it needs to push the Wii much closer.
  • Go with a single SKU. I know that the entire industry has definitely moved into that camp, but go back to a single SKU and make it the best SKU you can possibly make it.
  • Continue with discs. I love those things (especially the rounded edges on the Wii U discs … so nice).
  • Multiple-GamePad gaming needs to come out and the more you can hook up, the better.
  • Focus ont he fluidity of the console GUI. Things should be instantaneous, menus should render quickly, eliminate all wait times, etc.

I don’t feel like they need to add anything else, really. The Wii added motion controls, the Wii U adds the GamePad … take a breather and use that hardware knowledge to refine what you have.


Keep making awesome games. Beef up the software development houses and encourage them to create the best games they can. This is probably the easiest one.


Looking back, the real detriment that Nintendo has right now really doesn’t even revolve around their hardware but around their online services and some of the intangibles (the GUI interface is still slow). The software is going to come, but they need to focus better next time on getting a huge AAA title ready for the launch day.

Nintendo could ride out the Wii U for the next two years and then release a Wii U 2 (oh geez …), but they need to shore up some other things first. They are far from dead, but they also have a lot of work to do.