This week brought us another update from the Pokémon universe, the sort of news we tend to tiptoe into with crossed fingers, hoping that The Pokémon Company and Gamefreak have the courage to bring the franchise into the 21st century.
There were updates on the re-releases of Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl (now Brilliant and Shining respectively) as well as the brand new installment – Pokémon Legends: Arceus. A few things stood out for us, but what was your highlight? Let us know in the comments.
Very Breath of Wild.
Liam | Dangerous Pokémon
Arceus already looked good, thanks to it’s old-timey setting, but the latest trailer has me even more intrigued due to the reveal of dangerous Pokémon.
We’re so used to seeing ‘mon and humans coexisting and working together peacefully, that it’s easy to forget they’re big, powerful creatures that can easily do a lot of damage to a puny human trainer if they wanted to (although I do remember Pikachu electrocuting Jessie and James quite often in the original TV series).
Arceus looks like it’ll hammer this point home via the encounters with the, glowing, red-eyed Pokémon shown off in the trailer – the Ursaring chasing the trainer is particularly intimidating; that’s one bear hug you want to avoid!
The idea that Arceus’ wild Pokémon can be a threat to your safety introduces a completely new sense of jeopardy that’s often been missing in the series and helps add to the whole frontier-lifestyle theme the game looks to be going for.
The villager mentioning how “Pokémon are terrifying creatures!” in the trailer could also suggest that not everyone is a fan of them, which could make for interesting narrative conflicts with humans and Pokémon potentially clashing occasionally, or between those who seek out Pokémon and those who avoid them.
Not so cute when you know they can attack back.
Sam | Arceus’ ambitious alterations
Pokémon Legends: Arceus was the clear highlight of the August Pokémon Direct. The mainline Pokémon series has been in need of a spruce up for a while, and, for the most part, Legends: Arceus looks to fit the bill.
This Gamefreak spinoff is akin to a modern action RPG, rather than relying on the rigid old format that the franchise has been leaning on. For all its success and acclaim, Pokémon hasn’t changed all that much in nearly two decades now. There being multiple versions of every game, each with minimal differences, further contributes to the problem.
Replacing the cursory Wild Area of Sword and Shield with a true open world; implementing seamless battles and (seemingly) eliminating random encounters; making wild Pokémon hazardous to players’ health - all are long overdue changes. In one fell swoop, these tweaks will simultaneously make the world of Arceus more immersive and the gameplay more engaging.
While it’s a step in the right direction, the question of whether it’s enough remains. Ultimately, most of the changes are minor when the series is in need of a Breath of the Wild-style overhaul. Pokémon is the highest grossing entertainment property in the world, yet its games still look (and often feel) like AA productions.
It looks like battles with wild Pokémon might be more organic encounters.
What was your highlight from Pokémon Presents? Let us know.
We've been waiting a few years for Turtle Rock Studios to resurface after the middling performance of Evolve. That game promised to make the asymmetrical multiplayer shooter a force to be reckoned with, but quickly got bogged down by monetisation and balance issues that saw player numbers dwindle. In the end, even making it a free-to-play game wasn't enough to right the ship.
Arguably the best card, and one which may well be nerfed in the final release, is particularly useful for Holly. A melee expert, Holly has access to a perk for 25% boosted damage with hand-to-hand weapons, but her killer skill is a card which grants two health regen for every kill, allowing her to mindlessly swing away and survive almost indefinitely.
In addition to melee weapons, there are tons of ranged firearms as well. Guns in general are a mixed bag. There are the usual archetypes – shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols and light machine guns – but on top of that is a series of attachments which don't seem to make a huge change by themselves, plus there’s no way to remove them. The lack of explosive launchers in the standard weapon set is a shame, but throwables and stationary turrets are also thrown into the mix.
B4B’s levels follow a similar structure to L4D, though a single campaign run probably takes a little longer. Levels are split into two groups of four chapters with a midpoint climax, as well as a challenging culminating chapter. In the beta, the ending didn't wow us as much as the midpoint (as Liam noted in Team Talk), where the freedom to split up the team made the mission particularly memorable.
We'll need more time with these characters to see if they make a similar impact to the ones in Left 4 Dead, though in the beta, it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.
In order to leave a lasting impression, Back 4 Blood’s campaigns need to have players asking questions. Currently it’s all very surface level, though simply providing reason to scour graffiti for clues as to what prompted the Ridden apocalypse could elevate it to the next level.
On a similar note, we need to care about the characters. The likes of Bill and Zoe in L4D weren’t capable of doing anything special, rather the conversations and camaraderie between them is what made them so likeable. We'll need more time with this group to see if they make a similar impact, though in the beta, it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.
In all, after only a few hours spread over a few days, Back 4 Blood has established itself as a shooter which delivers on its premise. There's plenty more still to be revealed, but so far it feels as though the team has played it safe in a few areas, which could end up negatively impacting replayability. Xbox Game Pass could be the boost it needs to really take hold, though with similar titles like Redfall and The Anacrusis also coming on day one it’s staying power will be put to the test.
We were lucky enough to join in with the Back 4 Blood open beta this weekend (thanks, WB Games) and thought we’d share a few first impressions of Left 4 Dead and Evolve creators Turtle Rock Studios’ latest title.
Did you jump into the not-quite-zombie-killing action? Let us know what you thought of the game in the comments.
The boss-like enemies seen above stood out from the crowd (literally) but didn't appear very often.
My initial thoughts regarding Back 4 Blood's visuals were a bit mixed. There were times it could look quite decent, such as the way the flames of a Molotov reflected off a dummy target in the practice range, but other times it looked a bit ropey, like the dodgy jeep animation we were treated to upon completing the last available campaign mission.
The levels themselves could be really entertaining, but I thought the finale of the last mission – which saw you loading and firing an artillery gun while ridden attacked you - was a bit of a let-down, especially when compared to the much more exciting bridge showdown earlier in the campaign.
The gunplay was decent enough, though I couldn’t get on with the SMGs and assault rifles on offer, all of which felt a bit lightweight. I had a much more enjoyable time with shotguns which felt a lot more dangerous. I also thought the card system, which lets you activate more perks the further you progress into a level, was a very cool idea.
With friends, I can see B4B being a decent enough party game, but I’m not sure I would have rushed out to buy it day one after trying the beta. Thanks to Game Pass, however, I won’t have to.
The guy on the right gets it.
Back 4 Blood mostly captures what made Left 4 Dead great, though some of its all-new elements fall flat. The card system takes a lot of managing, but most of the upgrades aren’t anything to write home about. It’s impossible to get excited about a small max health or ammo capacity boost, amongst similarly dull examples.
Weapon attachments are a nice addition, yet no restrictions on which guns they work with makes it possible to spoil the fun. B4B might signpost a scope as a significant upgrade, but after picking it up, the assault shotgun now has a massively mismatched sniper scope.
If attachments were detachable there wouldn’t be a problem - but they aren’t. Additionally, it isn’t possible to transfer attachments between guns. This discourages experimentation and properly gearing up for the situation at hand. Transitioning between levels can change up the distance of encounters, better suited to a shotgun or a sniper, for example, though nobody wants to swap their upgraded assault rifle for something more bog standard.
The core gameplay loop is excellent, however, considering that's been in place for over a decade, any new twists on the old formula could use work. There’s still time between now and the final release in October, so here’s hoping that Turtle Rock really hears the beta feedback.
You can find weapons and attachments outside of saferooms, but it's difficult to determine their viability while battling ridden.
What did you think of the Back 4 Blood beta? Let us know below.
While most publishers stuck with E3 to put out their biggest annual updates, Electronic Arts pushed its EA Play event back to late July to avoid the competition. With four spotlights building hype towards the final showcase, we’ve heard about all sorts of games - but what stood out?
What was your personal highlight, from this or any of the EA events this year? Let us know in the comments.
Sam | Lost in Random
Electronic Arts does a pretty stellar job of selecting which independent titles to publish under its EA Originals label. Lost in Random looks to continue that tradition, blending real-time platforming and combat with card-based upgrades and attacks.
It’s a dark, Tim Burton-esque fantasy in which everybody decides their future with a single roll of the dice. Not content to live a future dictated by random chance, protagonist Even and her companion Dicey (a literal dice) set out to dethrone the wicked monarchy.
Lost in Random is the kind of creative oddity we used to see in the mainstream just a few console generations ago. Now that the big players are more interested in converging on the same ideas to maximise profit, the game is a breath of fresh air and at the same time somewhat nostalgic.
On another nostalgic note, EA Play ended with the reveal of Dead Space - a remake of the 2008 original. Having replayed it last Halloween, I can’t help but think that a reboot or a sequel would’ve been better. It still holds up well, and, thanks to EA’s subscription service, it’s still widely available. Accounting for all that, it honestly seems a bit redundant.
Liam | Battlefield Portal
Like James, I’ve fond memories of the Battlefield franchise, so Battlefield Portal was an obvious highlight seeing as it mashes up some of the series’ best bits into one big playground. While the scope and potential of such a mode is certainly impressive, it would’ve been good to hear more about the game’s other modes, including the rumoured Escape from Tarkov-style match type.
I was already on board when it was just a straight up shooter, but Portal should add plenty of longevity and variety to what’s sure to be a superb game. Communities usually come up with some novel ideas whenever they're given the opportunity to do so by developers, and considering DICE and Ripple Effect have basically given players carte blanche (not to mention the size of the playerbase the game will attract), I’m expecting big things from this mode.
Elsewhere, I thought GRID Legends looked quite interesting. I enjoyed the 2019 GRID reboot, but it did feel like it was lacking some personality, even with its excellent nemesis system - the live action story mode this time around could potentially remedy that.
What was your EA Play highlight?
Barely a week since our last discussion of new handheld hardware, Valve surprised us with the reveal of its Steam Deck. Not to be confused with Elgato’s Stream Deck, Valve’s handheld is a powerhouse designed to give gamers AAA gaming experiences on the go.
While Valve has toyed with hardware in the past, they’re best known as the company behind the Steam PC gaming storefront and a handful of games, most notably the Half-Life series.
The Deck itself comes in three increasingly pricey setups, each boasting more storage than the last. These range from 64GB at £349 through to 512GB at a hefty £569, though they all have microSD card support to accommodate further storage expansion.
With launch set for this December, should the Steam Deck be on your Christmas list? We have our own thoughts, but let us know yours in the comments.
Considering these three titles are also available on Switch in some form, perhaps they were highlighted to showcase the difference in performance.
Steam Deck is a really impressive bit of kit. The base model doesn’t cost much more than the Nintendo Switch (OLED model), yet is far more powerful and compatible.
As an open PC system, users are free to ditch its Steam OS and install Windows - this allows access to the Epic Games Store (including its tasty suite of free games) and the Xbox app, accommodating Game Pass compatibility. Steam already has a bigger library than Nintendo Switch, but these three powers combined arguably trounce it.
Steam sales will make building a library far cheaper than paying the infamous “Switch tax” on games, though that’s assuming most people don’t already have one. Arguably, the Steam Deck will feature the biggest and best launch line-up ever. With the integrated track pads and full control remapping via Valve’s Steam Input software, it doesn’t even matter if they don’t feature controller support.
Lots of people are excited about emulation, too. There are (questionable, depending who’s asked) means to emulate console games on a PC. Everyone seems keen for the Nintendo Switch to get classic N64 and GameCube titles, but there’s a very real chance that Steam Deck will first.
Never mind the emulation possibilities, just look at those ergonomic grips, Sam!
There’s certainly a desirability about the Steam Deck, not least because of its relatively low price point, but also the ability to play top tier games on the go or away from a TV or monitor.
That being said, I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy one. I’ve seen the Steam Deck being compared to a mid-range gaming laptop or an Xbox One or PS4 in terms of performance, which doesn’t make it sound very future proof.
My mid-range 2017 gaming laptop could just about run AAA games when I bought it, but the scope and requirements of later titles soon outstripped its capabilities, and I can see the same thing happening with the Steam Deck.
Yes, there’s a deluge of current and older titles that it will always be able to play, but how long before newer games start becoming incompatible? The Switch, while massively underpowered, at least has a guaranteed stream of top tier first-party releases to prop it up.
If I didn’t have my eye on a Series X I’d probably still get one, because they do look like very cool pieces of kit. But would I still be playing it five years from now as I do the Switch? Hard to say.
It also has proper control sticks, which the Switch sorely lacks.
What do you think of the Steam Deck? Will you be picking one up? Let us know below.
Gamers across the world thought that the long-rumoured “Switch Pro” was finally here with the recent Nintendo Switch OLED reveal. Instead, the new console brings just a few small improvements instead of a boost to horsepower and 4K image output.
But, what specs would’ve made for a hardware revision worthy of its rumoured “Pro” moniker? What games would make the most of some added power? We’ve answered those very questions, so be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments.
The Nintendo Switch OLED model is rather underwhelming. It gets rid of those ugly screen bezels, but other than that, there isn’t much to write home about. Existing owners don’t need to rush out and upgrade, though it could’ve been a different story with a few tweaks.
Firstly, the remodel would benefit greatly from an improved graphics chip. Nintendo Switch is weaker than even the last-generation PlayStation and Xbox machines; it needs to close the gap sooner rather than later to keep receiving strong third-party support.
More ergonomic Joy-Con would’ve been nice to see, too. The current Nintendo Switch controllers aren’t all that comfortable, due to the lack of any form-fitting ergonomics. A true “Pro” model should be comfortable as standard, rather than requiring an add-on grip.
Bafflingly, the Nintendo Switch OLED also features the same old internal battery. Giving players more game time per charge would be an obvious win, plus help to offset the increased power consumption accompanying any notable hardware upgrades.
What game would benefit most? Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which debuted at E3 last month. It’s coming to Nintendo Switch as a streaming title, but that tech isn’t quite there yet, so being able to play natively would be a huge benefit.
I’m actually a bit relieved the Switch OLED is an underwhelming upgrade, as it means I can continue to use my 2017 Switch without feeling like I’m missing out. A brighter, bezel-less screen (sort of) would be nice to have, but without any extra power lurking within I don’t really see the point, particularly as I mostly use my Switch docked these days.
Sam’s covered my main gripe with the Switch – the uncomfortable Joy-Cons – but there’s another aspect of the detachable controllers that I was disappointed not to see addressed in the revamp, the control sticks. I’m not talking about the well-documented drift issues, but rather how cheap and inaccurate they feel when playing games such as Splatoon 2, or any other shooter or platformer that requires precision aiming, for that matter.
The tiny sticks just don’t feel up to scratch most of the time, and though I understand their size and functionality is probably limited by the console’s need to be portable, I still think there’s room for a more premium stick without requiring bulkier Joy-Con housing and compromising the handheld nature of the Switch.
Hopefully it’s something Nintendo addresses in any future Switch revisions or their next hybrid console.
What 'pro' feature would you like to have seen added to the Switch OLED?
Here we are, the (pixelated) dust has settled and we have lots of new games to look forward to. You might have seen our biggest E3 2021 takeaways, but now it’s time for our personal top picks.
Do you agree? Is there something else which took your personal top spot? Let us know in the comments.
Sam | WarioWare: Get it Together
While it was great to see Game Pass get more support during the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, plus Elden Ring appear during Summer Games Fest, I thought both events were ultimately underwhelming.
Square Enix wasn’t the best either, though I am excited about the upcoming Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. I’ve been hoping for a dedicated GotG game for a while now, and, at the very least, this looks set to right the wrongs perpetrated by Marvel’s Avengers.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin received an embarrassing debut trailer, though the playable PS5 demo went a long way towards setting minds at ease. It’s a nice mix of Nioh and Final Fantasy VII Remake (no surprise, considering the talent behind it), with gameplay that’s already rewarding ahead of its 2022 release.
Thus, it fell to Nintendo to save E3 2021. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, Metroid Dread, and WarioWare: Get it Together were my personal highlights. The latter, in particular, will be right at home on Switch. Adding simultaneous cooperative play is a no-brainer, especially with the ease of access owning to the system’s detachable Joy-Con controllers.
Chris | Rainbow Six Extraction
I'd say my real highlight was the surprise trailer for The Outer Worlds 2, though, as said trailer made abundantly clear, it's still a long way off. Let's just celebrate me being right for the first time ever.
Of course, Rainbow Six Extraction will be here much sooner and Ubisoft already had my interest before showing off a fairly sizable chunk of gameplay. Rather than a highly-choreographed slice of a mission, the footage was presented as more of a beginner’s guide, also serving as a further reminder that this is a different beast to Rainbow Six Siege. A very different beast. Even if it's not too dissimilar to Back 4 Blood, or even Gears 5's Escape mode, it remains distinctly Rainbow Six.
Yes, the possibility of losing all of your progress with an Operator (if they get captured) could feel like a series of rapid kicks should one experience a streak of bad luck, though, done correctly, it could add to the tension. Operators will need to be extracted before they can be used again and all of your progress will be lost. Ubisoft completely ditching the PvP element is unexpected, but welcome.
Another small highlight was Halo Infinite. Halo peaked with Reach, as anyone who is Liam will tell you, but what little was revealed about Infinite's story is certainly intriguing.
Liam | Battlefield 2042
Unlike Chris, none of my pre-E3 predictions came through - even the Super New Nintendo Switch Pro, which I thought was a certainty. Still, this year’s event was an exciting one for me as a fan of multiplayer shooters.
Whilst I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t hear anything regarding Star Wars Battlefront 3 or Titanfall 3 (though there’s still EA Play next month, so fingers crossed) a Battlefield 2042 gameplay reveal was enough to keep me satisfied.
The promise of 128 players, huge maps that have multiple zones and destructible environments and two all-new mystery modes (one that’s believed by many to be a Battlefield take on Escape from Tarkov) sounds absolutely excellent and has me scouring the internet in search of an Xbox Series X to be ready once the October release rolls around.
Elsewhere, Elden Ring caught my eye despite me not being a huge fan of FromSoftware’s back catalogue. I am, however, a big fan of George R. R. Martin’s work, including his fantasy stuff outside of A Song of Ice and Fire. Hopefully the game itself isn’t too difficult, as I really like the look of the world/lore and it would be good to be able to explore the entirety of it without wanting to lob my controller at the TV.
What was your E3 highlight?
Now all the announcements are done and the ray-tracing-enhanced cats are out of the proverbial bag, it’s time to look back at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3, for you youngsters).
We’ll share our own top picks in next week’s Team Talk, but in the meantime, here’s a few themes we noticed from Microsoft, Square Enix, Ubisoft and other talented developers.
Re-releases are big business (and not just Switch ports)
From Death Stranding: Director’s Cut to the welcome return of those playful primates in Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, there were plenty of ports and franchise revivals this year.
One unexpected return was Advance Wars, which is having its first and second games bundled together for a Switch release in December. We last heard from the series way back in 2008 on the Nintendo DS, so a return to the cult classic is long overdue.
We also saw more from Diablo 2: Resurrected, a remaster of the beloved base game and its Lord of Destruction expansion coming 23 September. Continuing the hellish theme, the acclaimed roguelike Hades is also coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X|S soon.
Squad-based survival is so hot right now
We met a lot of new co-op survival action games at E3, some of which look rather intriguing. Apparently, the urge to fend off waves of varying enemy types still holds strong.
Probably the most exciting of these was Redfall, a vampire-hunting shooter from Arkane Studios which closed the Microsoft and Bethesda showcase. The Anacrusis and Contraband also made brief appearances at the Xbox event, with the latter described as “a co-op smuggler’s paradise”.
Back 4 Blood also debuted a new trailer there, though later got its own platform courtesy of the Warner Bros. showcase. Put together by Turtle Rock, who were responsible for the original Left 4 Dead, it looks familiar with a few fresh ideas thrown into the mix.
Then there’s Rainbow Six Extraction for a more considered approach. Whether or not Ubisoft’s latest will alienate fans of the competitive tactical shooter series remains to be seen.
Game Pass is everywhere
Xbox has been banging the Game Pass drum for a while, but this year really saw that bet start to pay off. 27 of the 30 games shown at the Microsoft showcase are joining the subscription service, many of them on launch day.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon immediately joined the back catalogue and there’s even more Game Pass love to come in the future. Titles like artisan indie Sable and horror game Scorn, which draws inspiration from H.R. Giger, are just a couple of notable upcoming inclusions.
Most impressively, the likes of Xbox console exclusive Starfield (from the Skyrim and Fallout devs) and the Halo Infinite campaign are also coming day one. As for Halo Infinite’s multiplayer, that will be free to everyone as standard.
Indies get their time to shine
Wholesome Direct, Devolver Digital, Summer Game Fest and yet more events gave plenty of opportunities to indie developers this year.
Games like Soultstice, Far: Changing Tides, Immortality and many more might not have made as large a splash if PlayStation and EA had decided to show up. ID@Xbox was full to the brim with offerings as well, highlighting titles such as Tunic and Somerville.
The future looks bright for these underdogs, which now more than ever are fighting for attention amongst the big boys and girls.
What was your main takeaway from E3 this year? Let us know in the comments.
The gaming world’s seasonal hype fest is almost upon us, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3.
There’s no in-person events once again, but a slew of digital get-togethers have been announced from the likes of Ubisoft, Square Enix and Microsoft, with the latter now also including the gaming juggernaut, Bethesda.
The show is more of a collection of smaller showcases than ever before, with Koch Media, among others, kicking things off with their Primetime presentation on 11 June at 8pm.
All of this means there will definitely be announcements over the next week or so, and we have a few ideas of what we can expect – first realistically and then our wildest hopes and dreams. Leave your own rampant speculation in the comments.
The cat’s already out of the bag where Elden Ring is concerned. Many people, myself included, have seen the leaked gameplay footage. It looks great, though FromSoftware and Bandai Namco claim it isn’t representative of quality. What better way to prove that than with an official first look at E3?
Based on the blurry and reportedly outdated leak, Elden Ring looks to be channelling FromSoftware’s past work heavily. Considering that the Japanese developer is responsible for several of my all-time favorites, that’s quite alright with me. Throw in lore from Game of Thrones’ George R. R. Martin and it could easily prove to be a showstopper!
Dragon Age Legendary Edition
I’m still working my way through Mass Effect Legendary Edition at the moment. It’s a good time, though more than anything it’s making me nostalgic for another BioWare classic - Dragon Age: Origins.
DA: Origins trades blows with Dark Souls as my favourite RPG, and with the former having launched first, it doesn’t seem fitting that only the latter has a remaster. Since the Mass Effect remasters are performing well, here’s hoping that Dragon Age will step up to the plate next. It’d certainly be a step in the right direction where winning gamers’ favour back is concerned, for both BioWare and EA.
Rumours of an upgraded Switch have been intensifying over the last few months, but it’s looking increasingly likely that the hype could be justified. Lots of industry insiders are pointing to a Switch Pro or Super Switch (personally, I like the moniker ‘New’ Nintendo Switch) getting a reveal either during or just before E3, and I’m leaning towards agreeing with them.
As much as I adore my 2017 Switch, I think I would be tempted to upgrade should a new and improved model become available, but it has to be a significant improvement: I’m talking a framerate boost and improved visual fidelity for all games, not just a bezel-less OLED screen and even better battery.
Titanfall 3 & Battlefront 3
We already know Battlefield 2042 has received a new reveal trailer this week, but I’d like to see EA show some love to some of their other FPS series. It would be great to hear something about Titanfall 3, even if it’s just an announcement, and the same goes for Star Wars Battlefront 3.
While this will of course be Battlefield’s year in the spotlight, I think there’s still room to show Battlefront and Titanfall fans something, even if it’s just a teaser, without stealing any thunder.
Since the game was originally due to shop with the new Xbox Series X|S, there’s little doubt we’ll see more of Master Chief’s return at Microsoft’s showcase. Surely it will be a “Holiday 2021” release window, but what might we see beyond a date in the diary?
Perhaps developers 343 Industries will give us an in-depth look at a level of the campaign, or, in a break from convention, maybe there’ll be a glimpse at the free-to-play multiplayer element, which no doubt MS hopes will be their next big money-spinner. How will it show off the Series X’s power?
While one strategy reveal has already been leaked, in the form of a Marvel-themed XCOM from Firaxis, the upcoming return of Age of Empires has got me keen to return to more new real-time strategy.
The Red Alert series may have ended on an odd note, with its camp presentation and unmissable live-action cutscenes slightly getting the better of it, the core of the game is solid – Allied and Soviet armies destroying each other with opposing armies filled with bombastic characters.
While it might not be best-placed for the console crowd (though with keyboard and mouse support, who knows?), this is a series ripe for resurrection.
What are your E3 predictions? Let us know.
Everybody’s favourite plumber has tried an awful lot of sports over the years – kart racing easily being the most popular – and although he’s heading back to the fairway for Mario Golf: Super Rush, we say why stop there?
We’ve had main games encompassing the likes of tennis, baseball and even football (well, they call it soccer). Then there’s Mario Sports Mix and the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series that give players access to a wide range of sports and events. But still, there are plenty more sports which Mario and co. could yet turn their hands to.
What would you go for? Maybe something obscure that hasn’t been done justice before? Perhaps something totally off-the-wall (like squash)?! Let us know in the comments.
You know it's not a proper Mario sports game when they can't be bothered to wear the appropriate attire.
Pro Wrestling | Sam
Mario sports titles are all about taking a sport and dialling it up to eleven by injecting an over-the-top, arcadey presentation. Professional wrestling in its base form fits that description already, so the Mario cast could get really crazy on this occasion.
Although not a “real” sport in many peoples’ eyes, the game could settle beef in hilarious fashion. Mario and Luigi battle Wario and Waluigi in a volatile tag team match, observed by a baying crowd of Mushroom People. Picture the titular plumber’s nipples returning to screens as he and his brother head to the ring in colourful speedos, then Wario emerges in a leotard flanked by Waluigi rocking a mankini.
Characters could pull power-ups out from under the ring, in place of weapons, emerging in new costumes to inflict extra damage on opponents for a limited time. Settings from throughout the entire franchise could appear as nostalgic arenas, each with crowds befitting the location. Bonkers finishing maneuvers, slow motion replays and all manner of overly indulgent pomp would add to the experience instead of annoying.
Nintendo would also have the perfect means to justify this more “violent” take on the Mario property - it’s just simulated violence. The roster of rasslers collaborate to put on a show without hurting one another, though, disclaimer, kiddies shouldn’t try it at home. Problem solved!
We didn't fancy googling 'Waluigi + mankini' so this will have to do.
Skateboarding | Liam
There’s a skateboarding event in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, but it looks rather simple and I think a full-fledged Mario skateboarding game could be a lot more exciting, especially if it took some inspiration from the Mario Kart series.
For example, while a Mario skateboarding game would of course have a free roam mode with levels based on some of the Mario games’ most iconic locations (Peach’s Castle, Donut Plains, New Donk City, etc.) it could also have its very own race mode, complete with skateboard-based obstacles, such as ramps and stair sets.
Imagine weaving through traffic in the classic Mario Kart 64 track Toad’s Turnpike, but instead of simply dodging the trucks and cars in a race to the finish line, you could grind along them, chaining tricks together as you hop from one vehicle to the next to boost your score and ranking. The verticality and competitiveness of Mario Kart’s Balloon Battle mode would also lend itself well to a skateboard game.
To keep things interesting, it wouldn’t have to be an entirely 3D affair, either – you could easily have 2D levels inspired by classic Super Mario Bros. titles, complete with a grindable flagpole at the end of each level.
All the character assets already exist, they just need their own proper game.
What sport would you like to see Mario take on next?