Super Smash Bros. Ultimate launches in just over two weeks. As the release of the biggest entry to date looms, we had a chance to ask series co-creator and director Masahiro Sakurai about the creation of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and how he views the franchise nearly two decades after the first game launched on Nintendo 64.

For our recent hands-on impressions of every new character and mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, head here.


Game Informer: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate includes substantially more fighters and stages than any other game in the series. Why did you decide to include so much content in this game in particular?

Masahiro Sakurai: This time, I worked with the same company and same team that worked on Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS titles. And in those titles, we were able to include quite a few fighters. So I thought, if we work a bit harder, we can make the dream of including all fighters come true, so we went for it.

There will be people who might feel disappointed if fighters that appeared in a previous title are not included. I didn’t want any players to feel that way, so we worked really hard to make this happen.

But what I learned is that regardless of doing our utmost, no matter how hard we try, and no matter how many fighters we include, there will always be people who feel that way.

Because this entry delivers so much history in one title, does it carry special significance for you and your team?

For myself, Smash is always special, and I always put my all into it. So the series is definitely special to me, but it’s not that this specific title is more special than the rest.

While every character in Super Smash Bros. history is in this game, several new characters have also been added. What is the process of deciding new characters to add to the roster?

It is a project after all, so we take into consideration things like labor, man-hours, the time in which the title will be sold. We decide on the fighters from the very early planning stage, and from there, we calculate and begin production. We don’t add or remove any characters during the project.

We do things like base our consideration on the results of the Smash ballot, and also balance things out so that there’s a difference in the types of fighters.

By the way, as for Incineroar, during our planning stage we knew that a new Pokémon game was coming, so we intentionally kept one spot open for that, and we decided which character to create once we received more info on the title.

What special development methods or tricks have you learned from creating earlier Super Smash Bros. games that have aided you in the development of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?

Everything is connected, and so I definitely leverage all the know-how from past development. By developing the game with the same company this time, we did not need to start from scratch, which was good.

This is something that is commonplace for other makers, but Melee was with HAL Laboratories, Brawl was with a freelance team, and Wii U & 3DS were with Bandai Namco Studios, so we had to build everything from scratch, like the development environment and the staff.

Director Masahiro Sakurai

The Super Smash Bros. series is renowned for its attention to detail. How do you ensure you pay such great attention to detail for so many characters and stages?

You might not expect it, but just reproducing the original work does not come out like it should. By emphasizing exaggerations, we are able to create elements in a way where having something realistic and comical does not look awkward.

And being knowledgeable to an extent about each character is a must. There are also times where the staff go deep into the original work, and add even better elements.

The character reveal trailers have all been so creative, were you as involved in the storyboarding of these trailers as you were for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS?

I create all the plot, including that of “World of Light.” I make dense adjustment requests to the CG staff, and I also review things like the audio. I of course take a look at the gameplay portions as well.

Thinking in terms of game development, I should probably entrust this all to someone, but I haven’t really found that someone yet…

Have you enjoyed the fan reception to each new piece of information released for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?

I did plan to create something satisfying for fans, but actual user reactions were a lot more than what I initially expected. Smash Bros. itself is like a big crossover festival, but I’m speechless to see this game being accepted by the fans so much.

The Super Smash Bros. series has always spawned much fan speculation for characters that will be included, but with Piranha Plant, you have given players one of the most unpredictable inclusions. How does it feel to be able to still surprise fans even so many years later? What that one of the intents of the inclusion of this character?

I’m actually not paying too much focus on the surprise element when we introduce a new fighter. The surprise element quickly fades once the announcement has been made.

Rather, I believe it’s important to have a good balance as a game. In the past titles in the series, Mr. Game & Watch, R.O.B. and Duck Hunt Dog were some of the examples we offered outside of people’s typical expectations. However, if we don’t have these types of fighters, and we only had typical “hero/heroine” type fighters in the lineup, there’s not much difference. It’s probably not very interesting. Correct? 

Also, unlike some main characters from some (not widely known) franchises, Piranha Plant is a character everyone knows well. And, I want to make sure to remind everyone that it is a limited-time offer fighter everyone can get for free as an early-purchase bonus.

What was the initial idea behind Spirits and why did you decide to implement them the way that you did?

We wanted to provide a solid single-player experience, but at the same time, we didn’t have enough development resources especially for creating character models. That’s where the idea came from. We needed to come up with a system that is fun and not a repetitive experience even when you battle against [computer players] repeatedly.

Cons for this system are:

  • Because there are so many fighters, we can’t tell stories for each individual fighter in detail.
  • We can’t support creating exclusive stages/terrains (i.e. side-scroll action game terrain, etc.) for it.
  • We can’t add new rules, etc.

On the other hand, pros are:

  • We can utilize a variety of characters (But not featuring figures anymore)
  • We have a large pool of music, stages and fighters.

With all that in mind as a whole, we concluded that we should create something themed after this large library of characters outside of fighters, and let players enjoy simulating fights using them. Everything else expanded from that base idea.  

You’ve been creating Super Smash Bros. titles for two decades now. As the release of Ultimate looms, how do you look back at your time with the series to this point? Do you have any highlights or favorite memories?

You may not sense that, but it is actually a miracle every time we’re able to create a Smash Bros. game. It’s a bit different from any other game series that regularly comes out with new installments. Unless we get approval from all of the I.P. holders who are involved in this game, we can’t make this game. And every time, we are walking a fine line. 

Especially after I left HAL Laboratories, normally, games continued to be developed by the remaining company. But instead, Mr. Iwata created a development team centered on the director who became freelance. That was his call.

Without that decision, I can easily imagine that we could not release this Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in the best possible shape at this point.

Click to see full resolution

In Western markets, the game is called Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which carries two potential meanings. On one hand, “Ultimate” can mean “the best version of something,” which could apply to the idea that everything is in this game. However, “Ultimate” can also mean “final” or “end of a process.” Do you think this game is the end of a chapter in any regard?

With the background I just explained here, every time I work on this game, I’ve devoted myself to making it under the assumption, “this is the last one.” That said, I have no idea what future holds, so I can’t deny that there’s no next one either.

If someone told you in 1998 that your creation for Nintendo 64 would one day grow into something as ambitious and massive as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 20 years later, what would have gone through your mind then?

I would have probably said, “You must be kidding!” But at the same time, I probably was thinking in back of my mind, “that’s not entirely impossible…”  Games were quickly evolving, and even back then, I did believe everything was possible in the future for sure.

For more on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, head here.

It seems like there’s a new image off the set of the Monster Hunter movie every few days, but this one is special. The first few images showed soldiers in Humvees holding guns as they traversed the desert, raising red flags for fans concerned about the adaptation of the game. Perhaps as a response, another image has shown up, which you can see above, courtesy of Sony’s Twitter.

The image shows Tony Jaa wielding a Giant Jawblade, which is a bone weapon, and a crossbow. Milla Jovovich is carrying a pair of dual blades on her back. The movie’s story follows a group of modern military soldiers discovering that monsters have invaded their world and can only be defeated by weapons made using the parts of monsters. Thus, they have to learn how to fight from actual monster hunters from another world, like Tony Jaa here.

“Behind our world, there is another,” says the official studio description, “a world of dangerous and powerful monsters that rule their domain with deadly ferocity. When Lt. Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and her loyal soldiers are transported from our world to the new world, the unflappable lieutenant receives the shock of her life. In her desperate battle for survival against enormous enemies with incredible powers and unstoppable, revolting attacks, Artemis will team up with a mysterious man who has found a way to fight back.”

Monster Hunter is not yet scheduled for release but is currently filming.

Resident Evil and Street Fighter universes have a lot in common, if you think about it. Both basically have things that are not called magic but are imperceptible from magic. Neither one likes to ever age their characters with rare exceptions of children who become capable adults. Both have zombi–okay I guess there’s some differences, zombie costumes aside. You can minimize those differences, however, with Capcom’s newly-announced Resident Evil costumes for Street Fighter V.

The new costumes are for Cammy, Kolin, and Urien. Kolin dresses up in Ada’s Resident Evil 6 outfit, which seems like a missed opportunity to not use her red dress from Resident Evil 2 and especially 4. Urien completes the global saturation by dressing as Wesker, who has bad plans that inexplicably work out until Chris shows up. Cammy takes on the clothes of Jill Valentine, which gives her pants, so maybe she’ll be less cold now.

You can check out the video for these costumes below.

The costumes go on sale on November 27. Street Fighter V, which is fully known as Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, is available on PlayStation 4 and PC.


October was always expected to be one of the most contentious months of the year for video game sales. While many publishers simply got out of the way of Red Dead Redemption II, Rockstar’s first game since the mammoth Grand Theft Auto V broke every sales record, the month was still fairly packed. This month’s report from the  National Purchase Diary, or NPD, paints a picture of a pretty booming game industry even separate from its biggest players.

In terms of software, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 rules the roost, edging out Take Two and Rockstar’s old west adventure, though it isn’t clear by how much. Before the oddsmakers take too much of a beating, however, it is important to note that Black Ops released on October 12 while Red Dead Redemption II released on October 26. This gave Black Ops 4 two more weeks of sales to count and positioned Red Dead Redemption much closer to the cutoff date for sales. It seems likely that a significant percentage of Red Dead Redemption II’s sales will show up in the November NPD.

However, this takes nothing away from Call of Duty, which instantly rocketed to the top selling game of the year just solely based on its October performance. It seems, then, that Activision now has hard data to point to whenever anyone asks if Call of Duty games need a single-player campaign.

Soulcalibur VI also appeared in the top ten this time, a surprising debut for a fighting series that was explicitly on the bubble, with Bandai Namco suggesting the series might be over if the sixth entry failed to sell. Surprisingly, My Hero One’s Justice, a 3D arena fighter using the My Hero Academia license, also found its way to the 13th spot, a good result for Bandai Namco who has traditionally found success with anime fighters in the west.

Diablo III debuted at spot 18, though the first Blizzard game on Switch released two days before the tracking period ended. It also does not count digital sales on Switch, but does count them on Sony and Microsoft consoles in the same listing. Super Mario Party also moved up from the 9th place rankings in September to a comfortable fifth place here, making it the only Switch exclusive in the top ten.

You can see the entire top 20 software chart below.

Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII   1
Red Dead Redemption II   2
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey   3
NBA 2K19   4
Super Mario Party   5
Soulcalibur VI   6
FIFA 19   7
Marvel’s Spider-Man   8
Madden NFL 19   9
WWE 2K19   10
Forza Horizon 4   11
Lego DC Super Villains   12
My Hero One’s Justice   13
Shadow Of The Tomb Raider   14
Mario Kart 8   15
Grand Theft Auto V   16
Super Mario Odyssey   17
Diablo III   18
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild   19
NHL 19   20

One notable software omission is Starlink, Ubisoft’s Toys-to-Life game released on all platforms but with Star Fox content on the Switch. While it ended up in the back half of the Switch-exclusive top ten, it seemingly underperformed elsewhere, and is a surprisingly rare miss for Ubisoft’s library this year. Dark Souls Remastered also released on Switch, months after other versions, and failed to make much of a dent in the larger chart.

The PlayStation 4 walked away with the hardware title this month, setting the record for the best October for the brand since the PlayStation 2 in 2002. The combination of Red Dead Redemption II, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and Spider-Man likely rocketed the PS4 to new heights this month. In the case of the first two games, at least, October makes a strong argument that marketing deals for third party games are a wise investment and do in fact sell consoles.

Despite the horse race that most of us, and this post, definitely focus on, it was overall a stunningly good month for video game sales in the U.S. Similar to the PS4’s accolades, this is the best October for the industry since the NPD began tracking in 1995, hitting $1.55 billion in total revenue. The previous best October was in 2008, hitting $1.33 billion. 

Next month’s NPD will include more days for Red Dead Redemption II, Fallout 76, Pokemon Let’s Go, and a lot more.

Bandai Namco has revealed the newest character for Jump Force, the Shonen Jump-based arena fighter bringing in characters from the magazine’s long history. This time, both Himura Kenshin and Makoto Shishio from the 1994 manga Ruroni Kenshin are joining in for the crossover fighting game.

In Rurouni Kenshin, protagonist Kenshin was a former soldier/assassin renown for his swordsmanship, but was used by the military primarily to kill. As a consequence, a more adult Kenshin created a special blade with a blunt side facing forward so that he could defeat opponents without murdering them. Shishio is the primary villain from the manga’s Kyoto arc, covered head-to-toe in bandages after being burned by the government.

While there is no video yet, presumably both characters will play with sword styles hewing close to their anime adaptations.

The manga Rurouni Kenshin is actually still running in a different form, as creator Nobuhiro Watsuki approached Shonen Jump in the mid-2000s with the intention to remake Kenshin with a modern modern sensibility. In 2017, Watsuki was arrested for possession of child pornography with a number of underage DVDs so large that prosecutors assumed he had an intent to distribute, but eventually ruled that he was collecting it for himself. Watsuki himself admitted an attraction to elementary school girls in a deposition. He was fined the equivalent of $1900 and continues to work on Rurouni Kenshin at Shonen Jump today.

Way back in 2015, Valve announced a multi-pronged initiative to make it easier to get PC games on a user’s TV or in another room in the house. One way to do this was through the Steam Link, a streaming box that uses a Steam account to take inputs and stream back video of a game so players who didn’t like sitting at a computer could still engage with their Steam library. Now, after several years on the market, Valve is quietly discontinuing the product and depleting its remaining stock.

The news comes from a concise post on the Steam forums by senior software engineer Sam Lantinga, stating that the hardware is almost completely gone from Europe and North America and not explicitly announcing intentions to replenish it. He finishes the three-sentence post by talking about the company’s intention to support the Steam Link app, a software-based alternative to the Steam Link that is not supported on Apple mobile devices.

If you have been waffling on whether to get a Steam Link, you better make a final decision quickly, as it does not seem like there will be any way to get a brand new one after this. Valve has had the hardware on firesale fairly often, occasionally selling it for a single dollar and shipping when bought with other games that were also not particularly expensive. Those that have a Steam Link can still expect Valve to support it in the future, but who knows for how long that will remain true.

 

I ordered one during a dollar sale and I believe someone took it from my apartment building’s mailroom. I wasn’t overly broken up about it.

Insomniac’s Spider-Man is being talked about as game of the year for many, so any excuse to play more is a good one. Fortunately, Insomniac has given us plenty of reasons to keep playing, with a series of DLC packs spaced only a month apart.

The second set of DLC, Turf Wars, picks up right where The Heist left off. When Hammerhead – an old fashioned gangster with a metal head – makes a play to become the city’s new crime boss, Spider-Man swings into action to save the day.

Fortunately, this DLC is full of good moments and interesting twists. The dialogue and the narrative maintain the level of quality on par with the base game, and I like how Insomniac plays with the power dynamics between Spider-Man and police captain Yuri Watanabe, as Yuri wrestled with how far she’s willing to go to take down New York’s dastardly villains. Oddly enough, much of the story feels standalone, so you don’t need to play The Heist (or even finish the main game) to play this, but I’d still recommend doing so.

Spider-Man’s action will also be familiar to anyone who’s already played the base game. While Insomniac added a few new suits to unlock, there are no new powers or equipment to mess around with. One new enemy type is thrown into the mix – a shield grunt who dashes forward leaving behind a trail of fire. This new enemy is incredibly deadly, but I liked how he kept me on my toes and added something new to the mix.

Much like The Heist, Turf Wars features a high level of polish and a good mix of mission objectives. I loved using Spider-Man’s spiderbot to sneak through a bar and eavesdrop on conversations just as much as I enjoyed the high-flying aerial battles and breakneck car chases. The only thing missing from this DLC pack is the explosive set-piece action sequences that made the main game so bombastic. In their place, Insomniac seems to have ratcheted up the difficulty, so every gang battle has a white-knuckled sense of danger. Fortunately, I love the combat system so much that I didn’t mind the extra challenge, but it does seem unnecessary.

In addition to the story missions, Turf Wars adds more random crimes and Screwball challenges, which no one was really asking for. Sadly, the new crimes aren’t much different from the standard street fights we’ve had a million times already. The Screwball challenges are another mix of races and stealth sequences (similar to the Taskmaster challenges from the base game), but they were the weakest part of the original game, so I was a little disappointed to see more of them.

Overall, Turf Wars maintains the level of quality that we come to expect from Insomniac, and provides Spider-Nuts with a good excuse to play more Spider-Man. I look forward to seeing how Insomniac finishes off this trilogy of DLC packs almost as much as I look forward to a proper sequel.

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm is the next expansion in the long-running turn-based series about world domination. It offers nine new leaders, eight new civilizations, seven new world wonders, as well as a variety of new units, districts, buildings, and improvements.

The expansion also unleashes mother nature’s wrath with new environmental effects and an ecosystem that responds to your choices. Your decisions could trigger world-ravaging natural disasters like floods, storms, and volcanoes. These aren’t all bad though; once the devastation has past, these events allow the earth to flourish. Fans can expect extensions for the Technology and Civics trees with a future era, as well as two novel scenarios: Black Death and War Machine. 

Black Death features the titular plague which decimated European populations during the Middle Ages. Gathering Storm will task you with leading the effected countries, limiting the casualty count, and keeping the economy from collapsing. 

In the multiplayer scenario War Machine, you must defend Paris from Germany’s blitzkrieg assault, or ensure it’s success depending on which side you choose. Replay the battles of World War II as time marches on. 

 

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm launches February 14 on PC. Get a sense of the game and check out our review for Civilization VI. If you’re already have the base game, you might want to check out what we had to say about the last expansion Civilization VI: Rise and Fall

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is coming to theaters in February, but Warner Bros. Picture released a trailer today that gives us a glimpse of what to expect. The fasted-paced trailer proves that there are plenty of laughs to be had in a post-apocalyptic Lego world.

Chris Pratt, reprising his role as Emmet Brickowski, jets off to recover Lucy after she is kidnapped by aliens. In one of the best moments in the trailer, Emmet meets Rex Dangervest, a galaxy-defending archaeologist cowboy who trains raptors. Check out Chris Pratt as the hilarious amalgamation of all of his best roles, with some Indiana Jones and Master Chief thrown in for good measure, in the trailer below.

Alongside Chris Pratt as Emmet, Elizabeth Banks as Lucy (aka Wyldstyle), Will Arnett as LEGO Batman, Nick Offerman as Metal Beard, and Alison Brie as Unikitty are all coming back for the sequel. New characters Queen Watevra Wa-Nabi, Sweet Mayhem, and Ice Cream Cone will be played by Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, and Arturo Castro, respectively.

Catch The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part in theaters Feb 8, 2019.

[Source: Youtube]

Warframe Now Available On Switch

The co-op online sci-fi shooter that has you playing as an ancient space ninja has just received its Nintendo Switch port. Players can can now download the free-to-play Warframe on Switch, and if you’re a first-time player, from now until December 4, you’ll receive a free starter pack of in-game items. To receive the bundle, players only need to download the game and complete the first quest, Vor’s Prize.

https://twitter.com/PlayWarframe/status/1064921739518504966

Released in 2013, Warframe has you playing as the Tenno, a race of mystical alien ninjas who battle hordes of other evil species throughout the galaxy. A third-person mission-based shooter, the gameplay consists of slicing and blasting your way through enemies in order to upgrade your character and armor/weapon systems, the eponymous warframes. Cosmetic options are monetized, but everything else is unlockable in-game.

If you want to know more about the game before downloading, check out our review where we discuss whether or not the Tenno’s mission is worth your time.