Game Design Philosophy: Party Games

So even though I am a strong believer in video games being able to be enjoyed through the single player alone (mostly because everyone doesn't have friends or siblings) I do really enjoy multiplayer. I think video games themselves can serve as a way to bring people together and what aspect of video games does it better than multiplayer. My focus today will be on video games that you would play at a party or a get together with friends. Please bear in my mind I won't be going into the deep intricacies of multiplayer just basic concepts that make party games more enjoyable.

So one of the most important aspects of a party game is that it needs to be easy to play. Since this is a game you will invite people over to play many of them won't be familiar with it. If the game is easy to play new players can enjoy playing even though they may be losing to the more experienced players because they know why they're losing. I'm not only talking about controls here either. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 has simple controls but, when I play with my friends I die in ways I can't even explain. Sure I know how to play Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 but, it seems there are some complicated aspects that cannot be learned without investing countless hours in the game. Now don't get me wrong good party games are not a novelty that you play once and never play again they are games that don't have a big barrier to entry but, you can get better at.

Another aspect of party games that is essential to include is a random factor. The random factor is to ensure that every time you play something different will happen. This prevents the less skilled players from giving up since they always have a chance for things to go their way and conversely the better players may lose due to forces beyond their control making it still a challenge to win. However, the difference between winning and losing should not be completely random as that would eliminate any desire to get better at the game.

Party games should have some depth. When I say depth I am referring to the strategies and techniques that a player develops the more they play. If a party game has no depth it becomes boring quickly because you already know all the game has to offer once you start playing it. On the other hand a party game with too much depth cannot be called a party game because it will have too high a learning curve for a novice to compete with some of the more skilled players. For example Smash Bros is a game that is simple enough for a new player to start playing but, to excel at the game you need to learn some of the more advanced strategies.

I also believe party games are best when they have aspects of both cooperative and competitive play. Even if the game doesn't have a structured team mode a competitive game can attain some form of cooperative gameplay if they give the players a choice to work together. For example, in Gauntlet Legends all the players compete for gold but, they can also work together to defeat the various enemies in the game. In Bomberman 64 all the players fight to see who can be the last one standing but, after death the player can become a ghost and harass the players that are still alive. This can effectively create alliances between some players to prevent the player in the lead from winning.

If you're interested in the kind of party game I would make I would have to say it would be a multiplayer Kingdom Hearts like game. It would function much like Secret of Mana but, the winner of each match would be decided by which player performed the best based on various aspects such as deaths and kills. If you're interested in party games I would recommend Mario Kart Double Dash, Power Stone 2, Bomberman 64, Snowboard Kids, Super Smash Bros Brawl, Conkers Bad Fur Day, Super Monkey Ball, Custom Robo, Pokemon Stadium 2, Metroid Prime 2 Echoes, Gauntlet Legends, Viewtiful Joe Red Hot Rumble, and Sonic Adventure 2 Battle.

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Mortal Kombat II vs Super Street Fighter II

The argument between whether Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter were the king of 2D fighters has raged since 1992 and now it is time for me to put it to rest. Even though I did not grow up during the time both these games were hot in the arcades the argument over which is better has continued into my generation. The games I will be covering are Mortal Kombat II and Super Street Fighter II because they were released the same year (1993) and I have personal experience playing both games.

Characters:

If you are a huge fighting game buff like me you know that the characters are one of the most important parts of the game. In fact alot of the appeal of the very popular Marvel vs Capcom series is the fact you get to play your favorite Marvel characters. When it come to characters I have to say I like the cast of character sin both games. Every character in each game are excellent designs and none fall into the category of never picked because of their looks. Of course when it comes to the moves of these characters it is a different story. Super Street Fighter II outclasses Mortal Kombat II because every character has more unique moves. In Mortal Kombat II characters share the same body types and all non-special moves are the same for each character. In Super Street Fighter II none of the non-special moves are shared between characters giving every character truly exclusive move sets. Super Street Fighter II also has a larger roster of characters which helps it earn the win in this category.

Presentation:

These video games both use very different visual styles. Super Street Fighter II goes with a traditional animated cartoon graphics while Mortal Kombat II goes with digitized sprites based on actors. I must say both visual styles are appealing to the eye as Super Street Fighter II is the vibrant visual style you expect from a Capcom fighting game while Mortal Kombat II is completely original and depicts very realistic animations. One of the many appeals of the Mortal Kombat series is the large amounts of blood that would shower out of your opponent when you hit them which was absent from other fighters during this time. Ordinarily this would give the win to Mortal Kombat II but, since the music in Super Street Fighter II is way more catchy I will call this category a tie.

Game System:

Both games have the basic premise you would expect from a 2-D fighter, fight your opponent in a one on one fight and deplete their health bar. However, both games have something that distinguishes them from each other. Both games have very strong attacks that a character can use that serve different functions. In Mortal Kombat II we have Fatalities, Babalities, and Friendships which act as finishing moves after you have defeated your opponent. In Super Street Fighter II we get Supers which are strong attacks that can be used during the fight in a way to gain the upper hand. I have to give the win to Mortal Kombat II as the Fatalites, Babalities, and Friendships show alot more originality than the Supers in Super Street Fighter II. Most of the Supers in Super Street Fighter II were either bigger forms of special moves or they were just an extended combo.

Verdict:

My allegiance in this case goes to Super Street Fighter II. While Mortal Kombat II is bursting with personality when it comes to which is better for me the winner is obviously Super Street Fighter II.

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How important are marketing and reviews to video game sales?

Ever play a really great game and wonder why everyone you ask has never heard of it? Ever to your dismay have you found out one of your favorite games was a commercial failure? Well so have I and this discovery has brought me to the realization that quality of content does not equal sales. In fact I now believe that getting a game positive exposure is just as important of how good the game actually is.

So when you think about what first gets you interested in buying a game you can see how big marketing is in determining how a successful a game is. From previews, trailers, website ads, interviews, and commercials the marketing of games is very much about selling the concept of the game to consumers. Games with little to no marketing are already risking becoming a commercial failure because when hardcore gamers that check gaming websites daily don't know about it more casual gamers will definitely not know about it. To me it's so obvious that I can't believe companies would release games without lots of marketing especially when your target audience is rather small. Though marketing can get expensive when advertising on websites and paying for commercials youtube is a free tool that can be used for marketing that I think is under appreciated by companies. So yes marketing is good for sales and I think most of us knew that however, there is a unfortunate flip-side to marketing.

There is of course marketing that actually has been badly handled leading to actually lowering the interest of consumers. Bad marketing usually can be linked to the advertisement not being able to convey the concept of the game effectively. In fact I think any game can be made to look good or bad based on how it is conveyed to someone. For example when The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker was first shown at E3 2002 there was an outcry from Zelda fans that did not like how cartoony and childish it looked but, this backlash could have been avoided if the trailer showed more of a badass side that is present in Wind Waker. I'm sure all of us are aware of the abomination that was the Super Mario Sunshine commercial that was trying to do the "so bad its funny" thing but, mishandled it and later had a different commercial. There is also deceptive marketing that is not bad for the developer but, more for the consumer that buys games they believe to be as good as the advertisements look.

Though reviews should be able to combat bad marketing and deceptive marketing because they are opinions from people that have actually played the game. Well not quite. Since reviews are opinions from individuals just like us they cannot be taken as fact or definitive proof that you will enjoy or dislike a game. The problem with this is with games that don't have great marketing that are met with not even bad reviews but, lukewarm reviews which often gets them overlooked. Even video games that receive 8s that are not advertised heavily can often be overshadowed by more popular games that receive the same scores. Video games that are unpopular also often don't get front page reviews which means even if the game gets a favorable review it can end up buried. Good reviews today are displayed on game boxes to attract potential customers further showing how important reviews are for video game sales.

So how important do you think marketing and reviews are for video game sales.

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Pokemon Yellow vs Dragon Warrior Monsters

I must say this is quite a match-up. These 2 games are probably my favorite games for the Game Boy. Yes I know Dragon Warrior Monsters was actually released as a Game Boy Color game but, it was actually released before the Game Boy Color even was released in Japan so it is more of a Game Boy game with added color. I think it is also the only Game Boy Color game to be backwards compatible with the original Game Boy supporting my theory. Both these games even came out the same year and month in Japan so I feel they are pretty comparable.

Presentation:

Both of these games look and sound great! The cartoon pixel art style is very close to my heart and the art styles they're based off of (Ken Sugimori and Akira Toriyama) make every monster in the game look great. Pokemon Yellow has cool looking attacks but, they are totally outclassed compared to those in Dragon Warrior Monsters. Dragon Warrior Monsters has cool sound effects in battle but, they are rehashed from other Dragon Warrior games and there is less variety. While Pokemon Yellow on the other hand had great sound effects that made every move sound so iconic (dat Rockslide).

I was also a little disappointed to find out that Dragon Warrior Monsters did not a have a boss theme which would have given us a break from the normal battle theme. The sprites in battle unfortunately do not work to Pokemon Yellow's favor. While Dragon Warrior Monsters does not show the monster you are fighting with in battle it saved itself from the poor representation that Pokemon Yellow give us. Pokemon Yellow definitely trumps Dragon Warrior Monsters in music while Dragon Warrior Monsters wins in the looks department so this category ends in a tie.

Story:

The story of Pokemon Yellow is very similar to the story of the original Pokemon games. A trainer is taxed with filling out a Pokedex by catching Pokemon and trying to be the best Pokemon trainer. Pokemon Yellow did have new story elements that were taken from the Pokemon anime like the implementation of Jesse and James or the ability to receive all three starter Pokemon. Of course the obvious gimmick for Pokemon Yeelow was the ability to start the game with a Pikachu just like Ash Ketchum in the anime. The story of Pokemon Yellow is not too deep but, the story was appropriate for what the game was trying to convey to the player. Since the game didn't try to relay a detailed story to the player there was more room for the player’s self-expression.

Dragon Warrior Monsters also had a bit of self-expression but, because everything you did in the game was mostly mission based there was not much room to deviate from the path. Dragon Warrior Monsters does have a much deeper story with our protagonist Terry (yes the same one from Dragon Quest VI just younger) and his sister being sucked into a fantasy world Narnia style and Terry losing his sister when he arrives. Terry is then taxed with doing missions from the King of the world he arrived in with hope of finding his sister during his journey. There are loads of surprises and funny dialogue along the way so it is a very enjoyable quest. The win for this category goes to Dragon Warrior Monsters.

Game System:

While Dragon Warrior Monsters and Pokemon Yellow are both monster RPGs they couldn't have more different game systems. Pokemon battles are one on one battles between Pokemon and most battles are between other Pokemon trainers while in Dragon Warrior Monsters you would most likely have 3 on 3 monster battles. While in Dragon Warrior Monsters you can fight other monster tamers they are rare in areas and randomly generated just like the dungeons. This brings me to the next point, the areas. While Pokemon you travel to towns, caves, forests, etc. in Dragon Warrior Monsters from the main hubworld you go to warp zones that take you to different randomly generated dungeons.

The bosses in Pokemon Yellow were expert Pokemon trainers that specified in one type that you needed to beat in order to gain entry into the Pokemon League but, in Dragon Warrior Monsters most bosses were wild monsters that were committing crimes the king needed you to prevent. Though Dragon Warrior Monsters did have a tournament hall where you could battle other monster tamers regularly and were probably the hardest fights in the whole game.

Speaking of fights both Pokemon Yellow and Dragon Warrior Monsters had a unique battle system. In Pokemon Yellow you were limited to four moves per Pokemon in Dragon Warrior Monsters you could have more. In Pokemon Yellow you controlled your Pokemon directly with orders while in Dragon Warrior Monsters you gave your monsters battle commands to determine how they should act in certain situations. Depending on how high the knowledge stat of the monster was how well they would follow these orders.

While these games are both different they did have some things that were similar in both games. In Pokemon Yellow you catch wild Pokemon by weakening them and then capturing them in Pokeballs while in Dragon Warrior Monsters you give monsters meat, and then defeat them to sometimes get a monster to join your party. Though unlike Pokemon Yellow in Dragon Warrior Monsters you can "capture" monsters from other monster tamers with meat but, this is not allowed in tournament matches. Pokemon evolve in Pokemon Yellow when they reach a certain level or a special requirement is met while in Dragon Warrior Monsters if you wanted new and stronger monsters you would have to breed the ones you had to get them. This category is also a tie as both games have game systems that are both fun and unique.

Monsters:

The monster designs in both games are excellent as you would expect from both Ken Sugimori and Akira Toriyama. Pokemon Yellow does take the win here however. While Dragon Warrior Monsters creatures are mostly awesome there are some that are not much (ArmyAnt) and alot of the other monsters lack the iconic nature of the monsters in Pokemon Yellow. There are also more monsters in Pokemon Yellow than there are in Dragon Warrior Monsters.

Verdict:

This is really hard as I really love both games. My allegiance goes to Dragon Warrior Monsters though. It may not have all the cool monsters that Pokemon Yellow has but, I can honestly say I have had more fun playing Dragon Warrior Monsters. The journey was not completely personal like in Pokemon Yellow but, Dragon Warrior Monsters did give me the substantial story.

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The Indie, the AAA, and the In-between

So an argument I have noticed recently is whether indie games or AAA games are better (not based on sales). Now while I am a bigger fan of AAA games than indie games I think there is a place for both in the gaming industry. However, I do believe some of the best games can be created by combining some of the best traits from each. The budgets of AAA games with the creativity of indie games I think can spawn some great games. The cool thing is I'm not speaking hypothetically as some games have already become what I have called "in-between" games. Games like Journey that are funded by an outside company and allow the developers free reign to make what they want I believe are destined for critical success. In-between games are not limited to only games that are funded by outside companies though.

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon I believe to also be an in-between game because it may use the Far Cry 3 engine but, in explores other ideas with it while also being a stand-alone game. In-between games are great because other than them incorporating traits of both AAA and indie games they also come with a cheaper price at least in the case of the two games I mentioned. Sony already has a head-start in funding smaller game companies so they can create more ambitious projects and I think Microsoft should do the same rather than just paying indie developers to put their games on Xbox Live Arcade. Far Cry Blood Dragon is a shining example that the same engine can be used to create a different stand-alone game and I think other companies should also try this rather than discarding an engine or waiting years before producing a sequel. While both of these games were short in length both were as long as they should be and didn't at all feel insubstantial. So what do you think? Should there be more In-between games?

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Mario Kart 64 vs Diddy Kong Racing

Similar to the first vs. article this is going to be a battle of a Nintendo game and a Rare game. I am a huge fan of both Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing so I thought it was fitting that they be pitted against each other in my vs series. Just like last time I will list what I liked in each game and what I didn't like as well as what was better in the other game.

Racing Courses:

The courses or tracks in Diddy Kong Racing and Mario Kart 64 are both great. They both exhibit vibrant visuals and both have a sense of progression within the course which I feel is very important in a racing game. However, Mario Kart 64 has more unique courses because Diddy Kong Racing had specific settings for each course in its trophy cups. For example the Mushroom Cup in Mario Kart 64 includes a beach, desert, and grassland while Snowflake Mountain in Diddy Kong Racing is all snow stages, though Diddy Kong Racing has more courses. Diddy Kong Racing still has unique courses but, Mario Kart 64 just simply has more unique courses. Diddy Kong Racing does have a trump card up its sleeve though. The fact that in most of the courses you can race with up to 3 vehicles (car, hover, and plane) makes the courses more interesting because each vehicle changes the way you approach each course. For the courses I can't really determine a winner as both games have such great courses.

Battle Courses:

Both Diddy Kong Racing and Mario Kart 64 had battle courses that served as a distraction from the races. Mario Kart 64 wins here and I'll explain why. While Diddy Kong Racing had 3 different battle course types and Mario Kart 64 only had one Mario Kart 64's battle courses were infinitely more fun. Diddy Kong Racing's battle courses that were similar to Mario Kart 64's (Darkwater Beach and Icicle Pyramid) only allowed the player to use few items, on the other hand Mario Kart 64 let a player use most of the items in the game in the battle mode. The other battle course types Diddy Kong Racing had (Fire Mountain and Smokey Castle) were also not as enjoyable as the battle courses in Mario Kart 64 and even worse than Icicle Pyramid.

Items:

What made Diddy Kong Racing and Mario Kart 64 both so great was unlike other racing games they had lots of items that you could use to obstruct your opponent from reaching the finish line. Diddy Kong Racing had less items than Mario Kart 64 but, exhibited an upgrade mechanic where if you got 2 or more of the same item it would upgrade to a better version. Mario Kart unlike Diddy Kong Racing had lots of items that had many different functions so it was always interesting to find out what item you were going to get. In Mario Kart 64 the quality of the item you got was determined a little by what place you were currently in (The worse your place the better the item) so the the player in first place would not get items that would help them boost there lead significantly. In Mario Kart 64 when you got an item you did not know what you were going to get but, in Diddy Kong Racing you did. Since the items in Mario Kart 64 were random anything could happen to change the tide of the race. In fact some of the items are so powerful in Mario Kart 64 that you could go from dead last to first place. Diddy Kong Racing had more strategy with its items because you could plan whether or not to upgrade an item or get a new one depending on what the situation was and that is why it wins this category.

Single Player:

Mario Kart 64 single player included racing the cpu in the 4 trophy cups at 3 difficulty levels while Diddy Kong Racing's single player mode was a whole adventure mode. Now I know its a racing game and multiplayer is more important blah blah blah blah but, here's the thing can you really say you don't enjoy Diddy Kong Racing's single player mode better? In addition to challenging the trophy cup Diddy Kong Racing's single player mode had great bosses and silver coin challenges. An adventure mode in a racing game was such a cool feature Nintendo even managed to put one in Mario Kart DS. Oh and if you hadn't picked up on it Diddy Kong Racing wins this category.

Verdict:

Ultimately my allegiance goes to Diddy Kong Racing. While Mario Kart has more unique items and courses Diddy Kong Racing has many new things in addition to what you would normally expect of a racing game. This I feel puts Diddy Kong Racing just ahead of Mario Kart 64.

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Do Fighting Games Need Better Single Player?

One common argument I come across when I defend fighting games is that they do not offer enough single player content. As an advocate of single player experiences and fighting game I found myself reluctantly agreeing. Even games that rely on their multiplayer like Call of Duty or Anarchy Reigns still offer some kind of single player campaign. So why do fighting games stay away from expansive single player experiences?

I do understand that fighting games like to add multiple gameplay modes but, I have found most of them to be either insubstantial or just more of the same. Fighting games have even made advancements in their story with BlazBlue and Skullgirls but, it still boils down to 1 v 1 fights. These gameplay modes usually include arcade, story, survival, online, and training modes. While fighting games have been trying to make advances in their story modes of late they still boil down to the same 1 v 1 fights in the arcade modes without any variation. So how do we fix this? While there are some games that have made strides towards a fighting game that can appeal to those that like single player experiences such as the world tour mode in Street Fighter Alpha 3 and the mission mode in Soulcalibur whereas you would complete different tasks in a 1 v 1 fight. These modes did add more variation to the game but, they did get repetitive after a while as they were still fights against the same characters you would fight in arcade mode. Super Smash Bros. Brawl actually took things in the right direction with its Subspace Emissary mode which tuned Super Smash Bros. into an action platformer complete with bosses and an expansive storyline.

Now while I did not enjoy Subspace Emissary for various reasons it did show a single player experience can work in a fighting game if it still maintains its same overall feel. Since the Super Smash Bros series even in its multiplayer mode has attributes that can be found in an action platformer the transition in Subspace Emissary wasn't too drastic and the developer did not have to create a whole new game. However, most fighting games are not structured like Super Smash Bros. and don't include platforming elements so what can we do for those games? Well most fighting games do share attributes with the beat 'em up genre. Yes fighting game developers could make the single player mode for their fighting games a beat 'em up adventure much like those we used to play at the arcade like Streets of Rage and Battle Circuit. The fighting game wouldn't have to sacrifice their gameplay mechanics either because they fit easily into the beat 'em up genre.

Well most fighting games do share attributes with the beat 'em up genre. Yes fighting game developers could make the single player mode for their fighting games a beat 'em up adventure much like those we used to play at the arcade like Streets of Rage and Battle Circuit. The fighting game wouldn't have to sacrifice their gameplay mechanics either because they fit easily into the beat 'em up genre. So what do you think about fighting games? Are they fine the way the are or should they try to add more single player experiences? Let me know in the comment section below.

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Paper Mario vs Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga

Both these Mario themed RPGs are some of my favorite RPGs of all time but, one shall stand and one shall fall. I have heard gamers often argue about which one is the true successor to Super Mario RPG and which is better. While I think both of these games are better than Super Mario RPG (I know many of you will disagree with that) I did find it harder to say one is better than the other. Nevertheless I have critiqued each game and have come to a decision.

Story:

Now both Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga don't have a really deep story with strong emotional moments but, the story of each is a spin on the Mario universe which is most appreciated by fans. Both games start with business as usual as Bowser is attempting to capture Princess Peach. However, Bowser was actually able to defeat Mario with the stolen Star Rod while in Mario & Luigi Bowser loses to Mario while trying to kidnap a Princess Peach that has had her voice stolen by the true villain in this game Cacaletta. I think these are both great starts to a story because each of them is unexpected. In Paper Mario you must rescue all the Star Spirits from the clutches of Bowser's henchmen in order to defeat Bowser. In Mario & Luigi you pursue Cacaletta to the Beanbean Kingdom in order to recover Princess Peach's voice. This category is a tie as both games might not have a deep story but, they both have a sense of humor and charm that makes the story very enjoyable.

Presentation:

Paper Mario has very unique visuals with all the characters being flat like paper while the backgrounds are 3D. The visuals of Paper make you feel like your playing a pop-up book. Mario & Luigi on the other hand has very charming 2D sprites. Nothing too original like Paper Mario but, very good looking sprites nonetheless. Both soundtracks for these games are awesome and very catchy. The attacks in both games look cool and are rewarding to pull off. I really like how the enemy types in each game are new or homages of enemies from other Mario games. All in all this category is also a tie as both games are very good aesthetically and I feel one doesn't trump the other completely.

Game System:

Inside battle: Both these exhibit active turn based battles where you cannot just wait your turn and press A. In both games every move requires specific button combinations and precise timing. However, they do differ in a couple of ways. In Paper Mario you can have up to 8 partners but, you can only use one at a time. In Mario & Luigi your only partner is Luigi. In Paper Mario there is a badge system where Mario can't equip different powers depending on how much badge power he has. In Mario & Luigi there are also badges but, there is a one badge limit and they function more as armor like in more traditional RPGs. In Paper Mario you make your moves stronger by getting super blocks that power up your partners while in Mario & Luigi you can learn advances on your existing special moves. In Mario & Luigi you are always allowed to do actions during an enemies turn while in Paper Mario you can only block. In Paper Mario you also have Star Power that allow you to use some special moves courtesy of the Star Spirits you have to rescue during your journey.

Outside battle: You solve puzzles in each game by using Mario and his partners special abilities. Mario & Luigi also had mini-games throughout the game that broke up the action every now and then. In both games there are no random battles and enemies are visible in the overworld and depending on how you encounter an enemy you could either gain an advantage or disadvantage in battle.

I give the win here to Paper Mario as I feel the battle system is deeper in this game. While playing Mario & Luigi I never felt that I could change my play style while in Paper Mario you could use new badges or a different partner.

Verdict:

Victory belongs to Paper Mario as its very original visual style and deep battle system propel it ahead of Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga.

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Pokemon X & Y Wishlist

So this is just going to be a list of ideas I would like implemented in Pokemon X & Y.

1) Balancing

Now some Pokemon fans like to tell me why fix what is not broken. But, I would like to say just like when Ghost and Psychic type was broken in Red and Blue and Dark and Steel type was made to counter them a new type needs to be made to counter Dragon. Dragon types used to be to few in number to make that much of an impact but with all the Dragons out there a new type needs to be made to deal with them. And I know what your thinking what about Dragon and Ice Pokemon? I always felt you shouldn't have to put a Dragon on your team to defeat a Dragon. As for Ice most Dragon Pokemon can best an Ice Pokemon easily. I would propose a Space type Pokemon that can best Dragon Pokemon. I think Space would work best because there are already Pokemon that are from space so you could change them so they have Space in their type like how Magneton got Steel type in Pokemon Silver. Maybe bug type will beat Space type so Bug types will be more useful.

2) Make it more like an RPG

By this I'm talking about the story. In every Pokemon the story was never the strong point but there was usually a plot that was about an organization using Pokemon for their own selfish desires. If I made a story for Pokemon I wouldn't change this however I would add more twists and events in the story like the Pokemon Adventures Comics. Pokemon is an RPG and I always thought its narrative should be more like other RPGs that have very expansive storylines. There should also be events that mix up the adventure like bumping into your rival and switching Pokemon with them or joining a side of a gang and battling with them. Events that would not be a part of the main story but, would make the game feel more like an adventure and less like a series of mundane battles.

3) Other Regions

In Pokemon Silver we first saw the ability to cross over from one Pokemon region to another. Now that we have 5 regions it would be very easy to make a very big world and long game. This feature was absent from Pokemon Black and it should be included in Pokemon games in the future. Not only the regions should change but where you catch Pokemon. We keep getting the same forests but, what about catching Pokemon in space or in the sky?

4) Pokemon League

Ever since I saw the Pokemon League in the Pokemon tv show I always thought the Pokemon League should be a tournament with crowds rather than an isolated room with a trainer. Since the Gym Leaders are still the isolated room rite of passage than the Pokemon League could be a tournament and you wouldn't lose anything. Also the number of badges in the new region should be around 16 but, you should only need 8 to qualify for the Pokemon League Tournament. The reason for this is so players have a choice of what badges they want to get. Of course 4 or 5 of the badges are recommended to do in order because some Gym Leaders would be to strong for you.

5) Something really new

In Pokemon Silver the game added Pokemon Breeding, New Types, and a Day/ Night Cycle. In Pokemon Ruby Double Battles and Pokemon Effects were added. It just seems to me that before the Pokemon team used to innovate on their already innovative game and now we get variations of what they have already done. New starters would be a good start for example, Flying, Fighting, and Rock or maybe no starters at all. Replace HMs with new ones instead of adding on to the existing ones and make HMs moves independent of your move list. Maybe adding actions to battles like Paper Mario. Catching Pokemon could also be changed so it would be less random like a targeting system that would be more accurate depending on the ball used.

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Yggdra Union vs Fire Emblem

So this vs. series will be different from all the other vs blogs I have wrote up to this point because making the choice was easy. I think many of you will have no problem choosing your favorite either. Bear in mind this is a battle between Yggdra Union and Fire Emblem on the Game Boy Advance.

Story:

So the story of Fire Emblem actually has two starting points where in the first act you follow Lyn is heir to the throne of Caelin on her adventure to stop Lundgren from assuming the throne and in the second act you follow the story of Eliwood the son of the Marquess of Pherae as he searches for his father. Both storylines and characters eventually intertwine which makes it even more interesting. The antagonist of the first act is Lundgren but, the main antagonist of the whole game is Nergal leader of the Black Fang. The story gets even cooler if you realize this whole game is a prequel to the events of Fire Emblem 6.

Yggdra Union starts with the princess of Fantasia fleeing her kingdom with the family heirloom Holy Sword Gran Centurio after it is attacked by the Empire. Yggdra teams up with the Theif King Milanor soon after promising him her castle to replace his hideout that was destroyed by the Empire. Yggdra meets many different people on the her journey and learns more about the state of the world and discrimination of other species around her. Yggdra constantly struggles with the idea of justice and to what extent people must be slaughtered for peace. This is shown whenever she references that justice lies with the Holy Sword and your actions during the game determine the how the events unfold at the end. The main villain of Yggdra Union is Gulcasa ruler of the Empire and is actually the protagonist of the prequel to this game Blaze Union.

Ultimately I give the win here to Yggdra Union because the story deals with more deep issues than Fire Emblem.

Presentation:

Both these games look great. Both use awesome 2D sprites with well done battle animations. The music in each game is great especially when it comes to the battle music. The character designs from each game are lovingly inspired by anime. I do however, give the win to Fire Emblem as the battle animations are just way more stylish than Yggdra Union even though they both look great.

Game System:

Now this is a toughie. Both games use the idea of permadeath but, in Yggdra Union some characters can return after losing on the battle field while in Fire Emblem anyone is fair game except for the main characters that lead to a Game Over. Fire Emblem and Yggdra Union both give characters job classes they cannot change but, in Fire Emblem you can upgrade your job class into a stronger version. Both games have a leveling system. The main difference really comes to combat where in Fire Emblem you can sit back and watch in Yggdra Union you must tell your army what to do in real-time while they fight the opposing army.

In Fire Emblem every unit has their own movement stats but, in Yggdra Union every unit shares the amount of movement based on the card you chose to use that turn. The cards in Yggdra Union function as the tool used for movement and as special moves you can use during combat. In Fire Emblem every unit can attack once a turn but, in Yggdra Union only one unit can attack a turn unless you use the union system which is the main gimmick of the game. Depending on the position of your units during a turn they can fight together during that turn.

The win here goes to Yggdra Union because the depth of the combat. While it may seem confusing but, since the game gives you every new element in small chunks over the course of the adventure it never becomes too overwhelming.

Verdict:

The winner is Yggdra Union and the real shame here is many of you have never even heard of this game. I also want all of you to know I actually think this game is better and did not pick it as the winner just because it is more obscure. I really hope this entry of the vs. series does not only inspire debate over which is better but, also makes some of you want to try the game out!

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