Nintendo doesn’t go third party. Internet people lose their minds.

So I was browsing the net today and came across a…Well, I consider it a piece of ‘non-news’ from last week, really.  I read it, nodded and said “Yeah, that makes sense”.  And I was prepared to just close it and go back to playing Persona 4 when…

I glanced down at the comments and was forced to facepalm at the amount of people who missed the point.

What was the article about, you ask?

Talking to someone at CVG, Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata said the following:  “However, I’m really responsible for the long-term future of Nintendo as well, so I would never think about providing our precious resources for other platforms at all.” (emphasis mine)

Basically he was saying:  “No, we’re not going to port our big first party games to other consoles.  Our main games are all going to be exclusive to our own systems”.


Thank you, Magnets99 for summarizing this perfectly.

No one is surprised by this, right?  This isn’t shocking.  This is exactly what we expect from Nintendo.  And yet, when I saw users on TheEscapist talking about it, I saw an overwhelming amount of posts to the effect of:  “This is why Nintendo is doomed”  “But everyone wants Zelda on PS3/PS4/Xbox360/Xbone!”  “They’re being fools!  Think of all the money they’re throwing away by not doing that!”.

So I thought it’d be nice to post my own take on this.  Which is this:  Those people are totally missing what’s going on here.

So I’ll break down a few of the arguments here.

1) “The WiiU is failing”
Most naysayers were going on about how badly the WiiU is doing and how Nintendo is failing because they are selling the console at a loss.  Well I seem to remember another console to come out a while ago that was being sold at a TREMENDOUS loss, didn’t have any good games for a long long time, was regularly mocked for a long while after it’s launch, but somehow overcame all of that and became a very strong competitor.  That console was the PS3.  And you can bet your bionic arms that the Xbox 360 was sold at a loss at launch as well.

And that’s ignoring the DS which launched slowly at first before taking the gaming world by storm.  Not to mention the 3DS, which was a joke at launch and is just now starting to make them a serious profit.  The same thing is likely to happen with the WiiU as more games come out (and if you don’t think the next Smash Bros is gonna sell a ton of systems, you’re crazy).

2)  “They could make a lot of money going third party”
This one is understandable.  We’re used to North American game companies being greedy bastards who wildly chase short term profits to the detriment of all else.  So when a company doesn’t do that, it feels weird.

Well, ask yourself this.  What is the long term benefit for Nintendo to put their main games on other consoles?

There really isn’t any.

So they’ll sell a bunch of Mario PS3 edition NOW, but what about in the future?  Will selling Zelda games on the PS3/4 make people want to buy a WiiU?  I guarantee you that’s not going to be the case.  Making any of their high value IPs multiplatform would be like stabbing themselves in the back, as it would kill people’s desire to get Nintendo consoles since they can just get the good games for their competitors’ console.

Even if they pull some EA levels of ‘Big-Corporate-Meanie’ and release one Mario/Zelda game on other systems just to tease/interest new people and then go back to making the games Nintendo exclusive again, that’s one game that could have drawn support for the WiiU instead.  Not to mention most people who would actually be intrested in playing Zelda/Mario/whatever will have bought a WiiU already.

In the end, it brings few new sales at the expense of screwing over their struggling new console.  While in the short term they’d make some more money, they would kill the WiiU and put their long term future at risk.

3)  Conclusion
Finally, let’s look at the kind of company that Nintendo is.  While their game consoles are innovative to a fault, as a business they’re firmly old-school, traditional, and even archaic at times.  They don’t spazz out about the short term.  They take the long view and adapt extremely slowly and cautiously.

In a time when most gaming companies are doing massive layoffs (EA just axed their Montreal division, putting some of my friends out of work, for example.) to keep posting a profit and keep their stocks high, Nintendo’s upper management instead took a pay cut (a 50% cut in Iwata’s case).  Business people were astonished and some claimed that Nintend’s bucket had been kicked.  That was 2 years ago, and Nintendo is looking pretty lively for a company that was supposed to be on its way to the morgue.

They’re also just now starting to maybe-kinda-hopefully think about of putting some of their digital releases on sale (at least a friend told me there was a sale recently), when a year or two ago they were dead set against it.  They almost didn’t bring Xenoblade or The Last Story to North America because conventional wisdom told them that these kinds of games didn’t “sell” in the West, and we had to drag those games kicking and screaming across the ocean to be able to play them.

Nintendo ALWAYS adapts slowly.  They always weigh every decision carefully.  Often TOO carefully.  So expecting them to make a huge shift like going third party is like expecting the oil establishment to make a sudden and massive shift towards Green Energy and away from fossil fuel.  It CAN potentially happen, but it’ll need something huge and possibly catastrophic to push them over that edge.

And judging by the fact that Nintendo finished their first Quarter with a net profit of $88 million (largely due to the 3DS selling really well), It’s hard to argue that this ‘slow but steady’ strategy isn’t working for them.

You know, I’m reminded of that old story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  And you can call me crazy all you want, but my money’s on the Turtle this time.

Because I’ve seen the Turtle.  He’s over 10 feet tall, has spikes on his shell, can breathe fire, and has his own personal army.  And although he suffers setbacks from time to time, he never goes down for long.

Oh look, here he is!

Edit:  Just to be clear, I don’t think old Ninty’s gonna pull another Wii Miracle and dominate the next console generation.  I DO think that they’re sure as heck going to stick around for a very long time to come, however.

Sources:  CVG, Escapist Magazine

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Diamond Version Nuzlocke Run – Part 11 – Scream

Current Team:
Beat (Grotle)
Ace (Staravia)
Lilli (Shellos)
Malice (Zubat)
Buddy (Budew)
Kazza (Kadabra)

Chapter 11 – Scream

“Buddy.  CUT!”

I kicked the door to Eterna’s Team Galactic hideout wide open, razor sharp shards of spiky tree flying in after me, Beat bringing up the rear.

The grunt nearest the door (he was snoozing at a table) barely batted an eye.  “Yeah yeah, keep it down, we’re happy that you wanna voluntarily donate your pokemon, but no need to-”

<*ROAR*>

The grunts scrambled, and two rushed at me, sending out a Zubat and a Wurmple.

“Oh yeah?  Two on one, eh?”  I grinned.  “KAZZA!  Time for you to shine!”  <KEKEKEKEKEKEKE->  <DAMMIT KAZZA!  STOP MESSING AROUND!>  Then he stopped and looked at me.  <Oh FINE.  I’ll pester someone else for a change.>  It looked at the enemy zubat, which immediately screamed <MAKEITSTOPMAKEITSTOP!> into my Link and flew straight into a wall.  Kazza let out a mental chuckle.  <Oh that WAS more fun than pestering you!>

Ace barely got a hit in.  Everything the grunts sent after us keeled over, drooling with just a mental nudge from Kazza.

The two grunts fell back, looking nervous.”You…You wanted to go up, well, why didn’t you!  Go on!  Have fun!”.  The rest of the Grunts were now openly ignoring me, and I saw one starting to not too subtly pack his bag.  Determined, I marched up the stairs to the next floor.

I came out onto some kind of research floor, filled with Grunts absorbed in their work.  I looked over the shoulder of the first grunt I saw, trying to catch a glimpse of his work and he suddenly turned to grin at me, saying “I have no idea what I’m doing either, but I don’t care!”.

Before I could tell him how stupid this made him look, he spun around and something hard connected with my jaw.  “You son of a-”

<*ROAR!*>  Beat came out of his ball.  The grunt fired out a Wurmple to defend himself.  <I’m going to eat you alive!>  Beat growled and pounced on the Wurmple.  Suddenly, a thought arced through my head.  “BEAT!  DON’T KILL-“.  Too late.  The Wurmple was now a steady drip of goop dripping from Beat’s fangs.  “Beat…You idiot.  These aren’t even their own pokemon.  They STOLE THEM”.  Beat’s eyes went wide and he retched on the dead bug.  The enemy Grunt laughed “Well, yeah.  We’re only allowed to capture one pokemon per zone, right?  There’s nothing in the law about us using pokemon that OTHER people captured from that zone, right?”.  He threw out a zubat.  Beat didn’t wait for an order.  He pounced, swatting aside the zubat with ease and going right for the Grunt.  The Grunt’s eyes went wide.  “Wait, that’s not allo-”

*SMASH*

The grunt hit the wall with a thud and he collapsed, groaning.  Beat’s leafy mane rustled as he prepared a Razor Leaf storm.  “Beat, STOP.  You do that and I lose my trainer license, all of you guys, and our mission is shot.  Not to mention that I’ll go to prison.”  Beat hesitated and then backed down, giving the cursing Grunt a baleful stare before spitting out what was left of the enemy Wurmple.  <Ark, we are going to stop them.>  It wasn’t a suggestion.  It was stated as a fact.  I turned to the other Grunts.  “Anyone else want to stop us?”.  I got a roomful of shaking heads.  Beat growled and refused to be called back.

I asked them what the hell they were planning, but no one seemed to know what they were working on.  All I could get out of them was that they were looking to use pokemon as some kind of energy source.

The next floor was ill prepared for my wrath as well.  No sooner had I stepped off the stairs when a very excited young Galactic member approached me.

“Donate THIS.  LIlli, knock ’em down!”  And knock ’em down she did.  And then she took on a scientist that came skidding around the corner, wondering why the walls had gone all wet.  With a Kadabra at his side.  “Lilli, Water pulse him!”  It connected.  The Kadabra’s psi fields were distorted by the rings and drove it to confusion.  Lilli took it down without much more trouble.  I was getting proud of her.  The incident with Breaker was growing further and further from my mind.

At last, I burst up the stairs to the top floor, to see a bald guy cowering as a sniffling Buneary wailed on him.  A stern looking woman in a ridiculous purple haircut sneered at him.  “I’m warning you.  Give us all free bikes or your Buneary is going to beat them out of you!  And then your Clefairy’s gonna be next!” she said, holding the terrified Clefairy upside down by the tail.

“OY!  Cut that out!”.  The woman turned, annoyed.  “What do you want?  Oh, silly me.  You must be some loser here to free all the pokemon.  Like that’ll happen.  Hand yours over over now, or they’re going to die.”

Beat grumbled and pawed the ground.  <Let me at ’em.  Let me at ’em!   I want a piece of these guys!>.  “No, not against a Zubat.  No risks.  Kazza.  Take it down>.  Not two seconds later, the Zubat dropped.  Kazza chuckled <Keep bringin’ on the poison types!  Keep ’em coming!>.

And then she sent out a Skuntank…”Another poison type.  No, Beat.  Not this time.  I’m sorry.” I recalled him before he could do anything stupid.  “Kazza.  Take it down.”.  <KEKEKEKEKEKE!>  The skuntank blinked, unimpressed and clearly unaffected.  Kazza cocked his head <Eh?>.  I frowned.  “Wha-Why didn’t it affect…”  Then the Skuntank pounced, going right for the eyes.

The resulting scream drove all else from my mind.

I felt a sharp, agonizing pain shoot right through my eyes and into the back of my brain stem.  I nearly blacked out, static filling all of my senses at once.  And then, total silence.  I opened my eyes and realized I was on the floor, flat on my face.  Groaning, I sat back up.  “Kazza?”.

I saw him totter over, and fall flat on his back.  I gagged as I saw the wound on his face. It was nauseating to look at.  There was no way Kazza could have survived that.  Jupiter laughed “I told you, Hand ’em over or they die.”.

Silent fury mixed with horror filled me.  I moved on instinct.  “ACE.  GO.  DO NOT LET THAT THING HIT YOU”.  Ace came out.  He took one look at Kazza’s fallen body, then to the Skuntank.  Silence filled my link.  Ace didn’t say a word.  He didn’t need to.  He just moved.

He began to fly rapidly around the small room, touching the walls and launching off them for more speed, rapidly reaching Double Team State.  Jupiter laughed and with a gesture, the Skuntank filled the room with a poisonous gas.  I covered my mouth.  This wasn’t good for me either.  The Skuntank let out loud screeches as well, shaking Ace’s defenses sharply.  “NOW!” I yelled, trying not to breathe in any more of that gas.  Ace plunged, and the Skuntank took it right in the face, a critical hit.  The Skuntank fell back, munching on a berry to nurse its wounds, a large and nasty cut marring its face.

I gritted my teeth.  “Ace!  Enough!  BACK!”  <Not a chance!  I’m gonna->.  I recalled him before he could even finish his sentence.  I wasn’t taking a chance.  With all those screeches, if that Skuntank got even a single hit on Ace, I wasn’t sure he could take it.  I wasn’t going to lose Ace too.

“BUDDY!  STUN SPORE THAT PIECE OF TRASH!”

“LILLI, TAKE IT DOWN!”.  The skuntank reeled growling in annoyance as it was unable to avoid shot after shot of water pulses, now getting confused as well as paralyzed.  It was at my mercy.

“ACE!  you’re on again!”  Ace popped out and flew right at the Skuntank not even waiting for an order.  The befuddled Skuntank didn’t even see it coming.  Ace rushed out, talons extended.  I knew what he planned to do.  I opened my mouth…And then closed it.

I looked away, and tried to shut my mind.  Although the scream was only on the outside of my head this time, it still made me shudder.  Ace flapped back silently to my side, something red dripping from his claws.  I looked back at the dead Skuntank and shuddered.  Ace had given about as good as Kazza had gotten.  I hoped that one wasn’t someone’s stolen pokemon…

Jupiter laughed.  “There’s more where that came from!  Clefairy, Buneary I order you to-“.  She stopped when she realized that the two stolen pokemon had taken the opportunity to run back to their master’s side cowering behind him, safe.

“No.  This is YOUR last warning” I growled.  “If we ever cross paths again…”.  Jupiter laughed “Oh we WILL meet again.  Next time, we’re taking ALL your pokemon.  Dead or alive.  This loss today wasn’t even a setback!  Our leader will uncover the secrets of the mythical pokemon, and he will rule Sinnoh.  Stay out of our way if you value your life.”  And then she was gone.

I approached Kazza’s body.  I couldn’t tear my eyes away from what what left of his.  It was a terrible way to go.

The bald guy approached me.  “Thank you, Trainer.  Thanks to you, my Clefairy and Buneary are safe!”.  I nodded absently.  I vaguely heard him mention that they wanted his Clefairy since they believed it came from space and that I should come to his bike shop.  Then he was gone, leaving me with my thoughts, and two pokemon bodies.

I felt Beat break out of his ball and come next to me.  <Why didn’t you let me fight?>  “You would have died.  It was a poison type.  You had no moves that would work.”.  <But I wanted to-> “NO, Beat.  That doesn’t matter.  What matters is keeping you alive.”.  Beat snarled at me.  <So you prefer to let others die instead?  That’s really selfi->  That did it.  I spun and violently grabbed the sides of his head and glared pure poison directly into his eyes.  “Stop that.  Not another word.  If you die, we lose one of our best teammates.  I need to keep you all alive or else we can never take on the league.  This isn’t about just you.  It’s about all of us.  It’s about everything we’re on this damn mission for.  You’ll fight when it’s time for you to fight.  I’m not letting you fight a hopeless battle just because you want your own revenge!  You’re the one being selfish, Beat.  Now, can it.”

Beat was silent a moment, then looked at Kazza’s remains.  <Promise me.  That we’ll stop these guys.  Promise me they’re going to pay.>.  I looked at Kazza’s destroyed face, then at the Skuntank that Ace had killed, both seeping red onto the floor.  The world was dangerous enough already.  Too many pokemon were already dying pointlessly.  Throwing this criminal danger into the mix was making everything a million times worse.  I clenched my fists, Kazza’s dying scream still burrowing into my mind like a drill.  “We’re going to stop them, Beat.  One way or another.  I won’t let them get away with any more of this.”

I stepped out of the building and blinked in the sunlight.  Dawn had broken.  Team Galactic was long gone, and the city was safe.  I shouldered my pack and headed for the Center.  I had someone to bury.  I wasn’t even sure I was tired anymore.

Kazza the Kadabra has Died…

—-

Yeah, that’s right.  I had a freaking Kadabra on my team (one of my favourite psychic pokemon), and I LOST IT.  I am very upset.  >: (

Diamond Version Nuzlocke Run – Part 10 – Kicking Grass

Finally got back around to it.  Enjoy.

(Also, apparently learning about who Dialga and Palkia are is part of the storyline, so I’m going to go back and remove any reference to me knowing them.  Sorry about that)

Kicking Grass

I opened the gym doors…And had an idea.  Before the helpful tip guy could say “Grass is weak to fire”, I was gone.  I came back with a grin on my face and a plan in my head.

The Gym Leader, Gardenia, was waiting for me in the lobby.  “Greetings, Challenger.  The rules of engagement are simple.  Once you have defeated all of the trainers hiding in my gym, you may challenge me.  I will see you later.”  And with a flick of her hair, she was off, into the gym proper.

I looked sideways at Beat.  He did his best to shrug.  <Hide and seek, huh?  Fine by me>.  I shook my head “You might not be getting that much action this time around, Beat.  You’ve only got strong grass type moves to rely on.  That might not be the best tactic here…”.  Beat grumbled, upset.  <Then let’s hope Ace and our plan is gonna be enough to carry us.  I don’t think Malice is ready yet.>  I nodded and entered the foresty interior, almost immediately gagging on the pollen in the air.  It looked pretty lifelike in there.

I poked around in the gym for a bit until I found my first opponent hiding behind a tree.  Her long blonde hair gave her away.  “TAG!” I shouted, as the young girl jumped in surprise.  I pulled out a PokeBall.  “You’re it”.

It wasn’t long before I was approaching the Gym Leader’s platform.  The only problem had been a Turtwig.  For the shortest of instants, I hesitated before giving the order to take it down.  This had been a small mistake.  Fortunately, my plan was working.  I would probably be ok against the Gym leader.

I approached cautiously, and Gardenia raised an eyebrow.  “No need to be shy, you know.  I know why you’re here.  You’re here for my badge, aren’t you?  Well, prove to me you want it!  Let’s do this thing!”

I immediately knew I was in for a rough fight.  Her first pokemon was level 19.  A bit higher than most of my party…I took a deep breath…And put my plan into motion.  I hurled a pokeball out and as a fluffy brown creature emerged, I yelled “Nightwing!  You know the plan!  Lights out!”

Nightwing the HootHoot let out a low noise, somewhere between a sigh and a growl and opened it’s red eyes wide.  <hootHOOOOOOOOOOOT>.

Cherubi was out for the count.  “Nightwing, take it down!”. He turned to give me a baleful look that clearly said ‘Why?  What did the poor little radish ever do to hurt you?’ before flapping towards his target.  Unfortunately the Cherubi refused to stay asleep.  I had Nightwing put it under once more, now worried about the Leech seeds sucking at his talons… “Alright, enough.  Ace!  You’re on!  Take it out fast!”.  Ace wasted no time in flicking the little radish monster up into the air with a Quick Wing attack.  It tried to retaliate with more leech seeds, but Ace was too fast for it.  Gardenia was having none of it, though, and before Ace could make another pass for a quick attack, she had already healed it with a potion.  Fortunately, one last clap of Ace’s wings were enough to finish it.

She sent out yet another Turtwig.  This time I didn’t hesitate.  And I knew what weakness to exploit.  “ACE!  Avoid the razor leaves!  Double team!”.  Ace clucked, amused. <My thoughts exactly!>.

Ace and the turtwig played defensively for a while, gaining evasive speed and withdrawing into a shell respectively.  Finally Gardenia gave a quick gesture and the Turtwig fired.  Ace ate the full load of Razor Leaves.  I winced, but let out a sigh of relief when I noticed Ace’s flight pattern had barely changed <Barely grazed me. I’m good!>.  “One more Double Team, then hit it HARD!”.  Ace circled rapidly once more, picking up even more speed, dodging side to side to rapidly that he really did look like he had split into two, then dive bombed.  The enemy Turtwig fired another spray of leaves.  It wiffed past Ace easily.  The Turtwig dug itself in and braced itself for the incoming Wing attack and survived the hit well.  But even the toughest defense would have to buckle eventually.  Finally, the enemy Turtwig could not take anymore, and collapsed, panting, never having landed another shot of leaves.

Gardenia clapped, looking rather happy.  “Oh you ARE good!  Come on, let’s see you take on my best buddy!  Rose Rocker, show ’em our Eterna City pride!”

I focused.  “One more, Ace!  Go for it!”.  Ace crowed and swooped, evading a Grass Knot with ease.  Two quick slams of his wings later, and ‘Rose Rocker’ the Roserade raised its twigs in surrender, barely still standing.  <Alright, alright, you got me, stop it already!> It yelled into my Link.  Ace barely pulled up in time to avoid dealing a needless blow.  <Next time, don’t wait until I’m in the middle of a dive bomb, twiggy!>.  Ace landed on my shoulder, a lot heavier than I was expecting.  <So, how’d I do, Ark?  No wait, don’t tell me, I already know I’m awesome!>.  Gardenia giggled.  “Your Staravia’s got quite the personality!”.  Before I could fully process the fact that she could Link as well, she stepped towards me.

I blinked in surprise.  “Wait, that’s it?  Really?  I thought this was gonna be a lot harder…” “You were nervous, I can tell.  Don’t be.  You and your Pokemon will go very far, Ark.  I’ve got a good feeling about you.  Was it hard to raise your Pokemon to be this strong?”.  I was thrown by her question.  “I….Yes and no.  We’ve had some tough fights, and we’re been working hard, but…I think it’s mostly that my team believes in me.  They know what we’re fighting for and they’re giving it their all.”.  Gardenia chuckled.  “A bond of love, huh?  That’s good to see.  A lot of trainers come through here just see their Pokemon as weapons and don’t even try to care about them.  I guess they just don’t want to think of losing a friend.  I don’t blame them.  It hurts when a Link dies…”.  I nodded hoping I’d never have to feel that. “I agree.  If the rules were different…If we could change them…”.  Gardenia looked surprised for a moment, then grinned wide.  “That’s why you’re taking the Gym Challenge?”

She held out her gym’s Badge.  “If you’re actually gonna do it, I’m gonna wish you luck.  I want the rules to change too.  I’ve lost a few friends, and I’d like to never have to lose one again.  I hope that if we meet again, you’re in the champion’s seat!”

Ark earned the Forest Badge!

Outside the gym, Nightwing cocked his head at me and looked at the sky plaintively.  Even without words, his emotions seeped into my link, and it was making my stomach turn.  “Sorry, Nightwing.  I can’t just yet.  But I’ll try not to make you fight again.  I’ll let you go when I can, alright?”.  Nightwing hooted softly and looked away as I recalled him to his ball.  Questions began to surface in my mind.  I had captured Nightwing just gain a slight advantage, and now I was going to stuff him in a PC box for Arceus knew how long.  Was I just as bad as team Galactic, just taking him and making him fight for my cause like this, not especially concerned for abducting him like that?

Nightwing the HootHoot joins the team

Speaking of which…

I glared at the Team Galactic building up the street, and the little spiky bushes in front.  I glanced down at the Cut TM in my hand…

After a quick trip to the Center, I thought, it’d be time to kick that door down to give that gang of scum what for.

“Beat, Ace.  Let’s go.”!

Link

GoD Factory’s kickstarter is failing…Why?

I’ve been following this kickstarter for a long time.  It honestly looks like the best space-dogfighting game I’ve ever seen.  So why is this failing?

I honestly wish I knew.  It’s got only a couple days left, and it’s nowhere near funded.  :s

Just thought I’d post a link in case anyone is interested in it.  Maybe there’s gonna be a miracle turn-around?

An apology and an update for my RPG.

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted.  I’ve been way too busy.  x_x

Most of my free time has been devoted to making a large scale update for the RPG I shared previously.  And it’s finally done.

Link to my updated RPG.

I’ve added three more optional bosses, lots more NPCs, more story scenes and no more random encounters.  🙂

Now that this is over, I hope I’ll have time to get back to spotlighting games and working on my Nuzlocke run.  Over and out guys!

Game Spotlight – Mark of the Ninja

Picture this.

You’re a mercenary type guy.  Your first big job.  Protecting the outer perimeter of your company’s compound on the graveyard shift.  Boring work.  So you’re there, chatting with a buddy about going to a little bar he knows to pick up some chicks after work when suddenly, one of the streetlights goes out.  You spin around, checking the light out, but  nothing seems to be around it.  You turn back to your buddy and…he’s gone.

You yelp in pain as a wooden dart plonks on your helmet.  Growling angrily, you spin around, looking for the source.  It seems to have come from that streetlight you just checked.  So you shine your flashlight up there again and…”HOLYGEEZWHATTHEHELL!”  Your buddy is strung up by a chain, with a large hole hole where his neck used to be.  You scream, firing wildly, and step backwards, until at last your back is safely against a wall…

Sorry, did I say safely?  A pair of hands grab your legs and pull you swiftly into a vent.  You don’t even have time to scream as a blade gets shoved into your head by something with a blood red tattoo all over his face.

Congratulations.  You’ve just been ninja’d by the hero of Mark of the Ninja.

I’ll put this plainly.  I freaking LOVE this game.

I happen to really like stealth games, and this is one of the best ones I’ve played in years.

If the name hasn’t already clued you in, you play a ninja.  A real ninja.  Not one of those kids in orange pajamas whose definition of tactics involves charging into everything head first to kick its ass.

(No offense meant to any Naruto fans.)
(But you have to admit that 95% of that show’s cast don’t behave like actual ninjas.)

No, I mean one of those “sneak around in the shadows and do your job without being seen unless you want to be seen” kinds of ninjas.

Pictured above:  AN ACTUAL NINJA.

The story is somewhat simple, but they make it feel rather interesting.  You’re one of the best and brightest students of Clan Hisomu, one of the last (if not THE last) ninja clans operating in the modern age.  The secret to their success?  A strange ink that comes from a rare desert plant.  When put into a tattoo, they grant the bearer powers of perception and speed…But at a terrible price.  Your mission?  To take revenge on a private military company that violently raided your hidden sanctuary.  There’s more to it than that, obviously, leading up to a phenomenal ending…….Right up until the last 30 seconds, in which they do something that I feel was quite a bit annoying.  Aside from that, it was really well done.

What really sells it is the aesthetics.  Everything looks either vibrant, or dark and inky (like it should, given that it takes place almost exclusively at night).  The world and characters look stunning, and the little story cutscenes really suck you in.  In gameplay, it also helps that they have easy to identify visual cues for everything, making the stealth a joy to play.

Ah yes.  The stealth.  This game plays like a dream most of the time.  Everything feels smooth and natural.  Aside from one or two very specific locations, you can seamlessly go from wall climb to ceiling climb to hookshotting to a perch to dropping into a hiding spot to stealth kill an enemy in perfectly flowing sequence.  And the little visual cues that show you how much noise you’re making, or where an enemy is looking are really intuitive and keep you up to speed with your situation with just a glance.

As for the stealthing itself, there are a huge variety of scenarios you’ll be faced with, each with many solutions.  Do you want to go through, killing only when convenient, and ducking into vents and dropping spike traps for unwitting prey?  Go for it.  Do you want to sneak through peacefully, leaving confused guards, and total darkness in your wake?  You can do that.  Do you want to be an evil version of batman, terrorizing guards into shooting each other, hanging their buddies’ corpses up from lampposts, drinking in their screams of terror and then finally dropping onto them once they are alone and terrified to grant them the mercy of eternal slumber?  Yeah, me too.  😀

You have a ton of tools, ranging from bamboo darts that can take out lights and distract guards, to smoke bombs, spike traps, a grappling hook, and even unlockable ninja styles (read, ninja suits) that change your abilities.  And each environment is a playground full of vents, grappling perches, and various hiding places.  Oh, and plenty of well armed guards and lights that will expose you to the former’s bullets.

While it’s certainly fun to just go through each level willy-nilly, attempting a pure-stealth pacifist run is a huge challenge, even with the ninja suit that’s designed for pure stealth.  But overall, the most fun I’ve had was abusing the terror mechanic.  Certain actions (like making a guard spot a corpse strung up from a grapple point) will cause guards to enter a panic state.  In this state, their motions become erratic and unpredictable, and they’ll shoot at the slightest noise.  While this might seem like a bad thing, it’s actually very beneficial (and fun!).  By carefully luring them around, and provoking them at just the right times, you can make your foes friendly fire each other which is both amusing and very rewarding, points-wise.

As if that weren’t enough, there’s a lot of optional objectives, collectibles, a leaderboard and a new game plus mode that makes the game a lot harder.  As far as stealth games go, that’s pretty good.

As of this weekend (the 21rst to the 24th of March 2013) It’s on sale.  If you like stealth games you really ought to pick this up while you can.  Highly recommended.

Diamond Version Nuzlocke Run – Part 9 – Nervous respite

I’m sorry it’s been so long.  x_x  I have no excuse.


Current Team:
Beat (Grotle)
Ace (Staravia)
Lilli (Shellos)
Malice (Zubat)
Buddy (Budew)
Kazza (Kadabra)

Nervous respite

I was tired and wanted to hit the sack ASAP that night.

However, someone else had other plans.

Then the Galactic grunt paused to take in my positively venomous glare, and I saw his eyes wander over to Beat, who was at my side pawing the ground and growling.  The grunt gulped, probably regretting having hailed me.  “N-Nevermind…You look really tough..I won’t take…I mean you can keep your pokemon…”

<Should I take him out, master?> Beat let out a long low growl, and the grunt gulped.  I glared at his rapidly whitening face.  “If I so much as hear a whisper of you stealing some poor kid’s pokemon, I will sic Beat on you.  In fact, he’s asking me right now if he can eat the mean old kidnapper man.  Should I let him?”  Beat stomped his foot and made a biting motion just to make sure he got the message.  The grunt ran for his life, and I could swear I smelt that he’d wet his pants.

Shaking my head, I went to explore the town a bit, thinking this was just a one-off problem.  Turns out, it wasn’t.  The place was crawling with Team Galactic bozos  I heard numerous complaints of stolen pokemon, and half the town seemed content to look the other way!

Eventually I pieced together that Team Galactic had set up some kind of outpost here.  I headed in the general direction that the grunt had fled in, knowing that he’d lead me right to the source of the problem.  I caught sight of a strange building that didn’t fit in with the rest, and I could see a pack of grunts walking around past the glass doors.  I would have marched right in and given the whole lot of them hell right there, had they not installed the best anti-trainer security available.   More of those weird prickly bushes.  I couldn’t get in.  That’s when I noticed the sign.

“…….What.  WHAAAAAT?!  I…Wha-They aren’t even being subtle about it!”  <About what?>  Quipped Beat.  “The sign!  Just…READ THE SIGN!”  <I can’t read human, Master!  What’s it say?>

<…Yup, definitely not subtle.>

I glared at the prickly bushes.  There had to be some way past them…  I didn’t notice the trainer until they were a few feet away.

She was a young woman, about my age.  Apparently she was here to look into pokemon mythology.  There was a statue here of a powerful ancient pokemon in this city that intrigued her.  With lack of anything better to do at the time, I followed.

I glanced at her “So no one is sure what this pokemon is?”  Cynthia shook her head.  Beat shrugged <No idea here either.  Been in the professor’s lab ever since I was an egg, and he never showed me anything like that.>.  Ace popped out of his ball, uncalled for, startling both me and Cynthia <I think I know what it is!  When I was just hatched, my mom told me a story about something called the ‘Mother of Time’.  It looks a lot like the pokemon in the story!>.  I relayed this to Cynthia who cocked an eyebrow at me “You’re telling me your pokemon just spoke to you?  I find that hard to believe.  But noted, all the same”.  She turned to leave, then stopped.  “I notice you were staring at those bushes, earlier.  You know there’s an HM that lets you cut those down, right?”.

My ears perked up at that.  “Where do I get one?”.  “You’ll have to find a league-sponsored trainer to give one to you.  We can’t just have everyone allowed to use moves like that outside of direct combat!  People might get hurt!”.  I nodded.  Anything that could shred one of those bushes would be pretty harmful in the wrong hands.  Cynthia looked thoughful for a moment “You’re taking the league challenge, I presume?”  “Yes, I’ve already got a Coal badge.”  “So you’re not a complete novice, then.  The gym challenge is tough.  Nigh unbeatable if you consider the champion and the elite four.  What makes you think you can succeed?”  “I-….Well, I promised Beat that I’d try.  We have a goal.  One that can only be accomplished by taking the champion’s seat.  We want to change the rules to better protect pokemon in battle.  The way the rules are…it’s too dangerous.  Pokemon are dying, and they shouldn’t be.”  Cynthia suddenly looked rather annoyed “So, you want to change the system, yet you partake in it.  That seems rather irresponsible.”  Beat growled angrily at that.

Cynthia shrugged “Well, there are worse reasons to aim for the top.  What’s your name, then, trainer?”  “Ark”  She tossed me a disk.  “Best of luck to you, Ark.  I hope we cross paths again.”  And then she was gone.

Beat and I made a beeline for the Galactic Building.  Unfortunately the HM refused to boot up, demanding proper authorization.  I’d need to get league permission to use the Cut move out of battle to get past those prickly deathtraps.

Well, fortunately, the next gym was right he-…Oh for Mew’s sake.  A GRASS Gym.  <What’s wrong with-Oh.>  “Yeah.  Ace and Kazza are my only star players in here.  And Kazza is…”  <Weird?>  “I was gonna say psychotic.  And lazy.  This isn’t gonna be a picnic”.

I didn’t trust this place enough to sleep here.  Not with pokemon theft running rampant.  I would have to take on the gym as soon as humanly possible.

I picked up some energy roots at a nearby herb store.  Beat took one sniff and reeled away.  <UGH!  You’re not gonna make me eat that are you?!>  “If it’ll save your life, yeah”.  <I’d better not get hurt then.>

And then, I ran into someone unexpected.

He was impressed at how fast I was progressing, and offered me something to speed things along.  He called it an EXP. SHARE.  All caps.  It was some experimental technology designed to allow pokemon that weren’t in battle to learn directly from those that did fight.  He started going into the theory, going on about temporal brainwave duplication, but quickly realized I was lost.  In any case, this would be quite useful.  We parted ways, with him promising to say hi to Dawn for me.

It was late.  Very late.  I could feel my eyelids drooping.  But I had a job to do.  Holding back a yawn, I stepped through the doors of the second gym…