Category Archives: Opinions

Not to be confused with reviews. These are simply my opinions on certain aspects of games, not necessarily the entire game.

What Breath of the Wild 2 Needs To Fix

Breath of the Wild. Great game. Why do I feel like I’m the only one not excited over the idea of a sequel? Breath of the Wild was released in 2017 and is one of, if not the best-selling Zelda games of all time. It’s also one of the Switch’s bestsellers. It received amazing reviews from critics, almost all of them giving the game a 10/10 review. But that doesn’t mean the game has its flaws. Most of the game’s flaws can be overlooked by how well the rest of the game is, but they still tend to bug me. They were so close to getting this game perfect! What went wrong? 

Items

One of the things that peeve me about this game is the items. Or lack thereof. Items such as the bow and boomerang have become generic weapons you can find from defeating enemies. Anything else has been replaced by runes. What are runes? Well, they serve as special items or abilities that you can’t get elsewhere, such as magnesis, stasis, crynosis, and… bombs. Should’ve gone with bombsis. 

Magnesis was kind of a pain to use, having to move your switch around every which way to get the exact angle needed. Crynosis was also annoying to deal with, but that’s probably just a me thing. Stasis is fun for glitches but ended up creating a bunch of momentum-based puzzles that got repetitive. Bombs are bombs, what else do you want me to say? 

One of the biggest problems I have is that you get runes at the beginning of the game. Like, ALL of the runes. Sure, it’s this way so that the rest of the world can open up, and you can tackle things in any order you want without fear of not having the right items. But couldn’t they add more optional content requiring items that could be attained later in the game? That way you’re not locked out of the story, but it feels more rewarding obtaining an item that allows you to do so many cool things, instead of having it handed to you at the beginning of the game.

Speaking of story…

The Story

Obviously, the story in Breath of the Wild 2 is going to be much more different than the original. And while the original’s story worked, I don’t want to see anything like it again in the future. The story felt very dead to me, which I guess is how it’s supposed to feel. Everyone you knew died decades ago. Except for a few points, it never felt like the story was really progressing. It was like you were stuck in a never-ending history lesson. I think it “worked” but it’s not something I’m a fan of. Not to mention the characters have been done to death with all of the DLC and spinoffs. Please, just let Breath of the Wild die in peace. 

The Dungeons

THIS. This is by far the biggest problem in the game. Something that has bugged me since first playing. 

Why are all the dungeons exactly the same?

Hyrule Castle is the ONLY dungeon that looks different. The other four look exactly the same. They have the same dull beige interior with the same mechanic of altering the rooms and the same boss at the end. Why. Why is it like this? Why couldn’t each dungeon have its own thing? Its own mechanic? Its own color!

Vah Rudania, courtesy of IGN.

Vah Ruta, courtesy of Zelda Dungeon.

And you know what’s even worse? After you beat these dungeons, you can’t reenter! Without the DLC it will tell you it’s too dangerous to approach any closer. With the DLC you can only reenter to face the boss, and nothing else. Seriously, who designed these dungeons?

Like I mentioned at the beginning of the game, I was not excited when the sequel was first announced. In fact, I was filled with a little dread. Breath of the Wild was great on its own. It doesn’t need a sequel, especially after all of the milking Nintendo has done. I was hoping we could move away from this cow onto an entirely new Zelda game (maybe one with a different artstyle). Despite this, I do have high hopes for the sequel, and hopefully it will fix problems from the original.

Why Did Final Fantasy XV Fail? The Unfortunate Truth of Versus XIII

Final Fantasy XV. The game that was in development for 10 years and went through three directors. How could it be anything short of success? While this game wasn’t a complete failure, it most certainly did not live up to its hype for most, and the series’ fanbase is split on whether this was a good game or not. Many people try to blame certain aspects of the game for its… less than favorable reviews, but I believe there is no one answer for why this game failed at what it was trying to achieve. Rather, it comes down to many not-so-small reasons that spelled a recipe for disaster.

THE OPEN-WORLD ENVIRONMENT

This seems to be one of the smaller reasons why this game failed. …At least compared to the other reasonings. The overworld is very, very, vast. Not quite as vast as Breath of the Wild, but vast nonetheless. When you have an overworld this expansive, it’s important to fill it. Which the developers did not. You have your main towns, some dungeons, a few outposts… But most of it is empty wastelands with the occasional mob or boss walking around. Most of the time you find yourself driving for a good five to ten minutes before hitting anything remotely interesting. Quite frankly, there’s not much to do…

RELEASING THE GAME BEFORE IT WAS FINISHED

This is another minor reason. Plenty of story scenes and even an entire story PATH were added in a future update. But the biggest update was the addition of playable characters. With this update, you could now play as Gladius, Ignis, and Prompto, something that had been teased years before the game’s release. While I recently made a post about games milking DLC as a way to “finish” their games, I do not believe that was the case here. I believe that this functionality simply wasn’t ready at the time of release. This game was delayed to oblivion, it didn’t make sense to delay it again. But it did feel rather odd that this wasn’t included in the base game.

THE STORY

The story is often the aspect that gets slammed the most. Most players will agree that the story feels rushed. After ten years of developing this game, THIS is what they come up with? Final Fantasy XV’s story is by no means a bad story. It’s just not necessarily what you would think of when you think of the next main series game. Or a game that you’ve been waiting 10 years for. When the game starts out, it sounds like it’s going to be this big adventure. That gets squashed within the first couple of hours. The first half of the story is shallow, focusing on Noctis’ relationships with his three friends Gladius, Ignis, and Prompto, as well as their journey to Altissia for Noctis’ wedding. It’s a very lighthearted journey despite the fact that Noctis is essentially a wanted man. There’s no sense of dread, no sense of urgency… The only sense of dread is in the music.

That all changes when you get to the second half of the game. All of the lighthearted feelings are gone. Suddenly everyone’s world is turned upside down, and there’s not much time left. Oh yeah, and the open-world overworld is gone! Yep, the empty overworld is replaced with linear passageways designed to take you from story point to story point. Without spoiling too much, the only way to get back to the open world is by this gimmick of talking to someone who will take you back in time to before this… dreadful event happened.

Then there’s the matter of Luna. Noctis’ betrothed. Throughout trailers, she looked like she would be an integral part of the story. I mean, come on! She’s Noctis’ betrothed! Some had even theorized she might be a party member.

Nope. Couldn’t be further from the truth. She shows up in short cutscenes throughout your journey to Altissia. Cutscenes that add nothing to her character other than she’s a kind person seeking to help others. When you meet her in Altissia, she’s not much different. This is the most barebones main characters in the Final Fantasy series. Even in the movie where she has a central role, her dialogue is incredibly bland. Speaking of…

THE MOVIE

In my opinion, this is one of the biggest things that hurt the game. Square Enix invested SO much money and time on this movie. The movie took three years to produce, and only the best actors were chosen to voice the three main characters. The movie itself was mixed.

But WHY did this movie hurt the game? Well, up until the movie was announced, Insomnia was to be a playable area. I mean before the end of the game. There was even talk that halfway through the game you would meet up with Luna in Insomnia where she would become one of your party members as you played through her story. This was from articles well before the game was released, and are now lost.

The point is: The movie is drawn out WAY longer than necessary. Obviously, it had to be done in order to give the movie length, otherwise it would have been a very short film. But that’s the point! This could have been included in the main game and could have fleshed out characters such as Luna, Ravus, and even Noctis.

It feels like they spent more time creating as much media as possible to advertise this game. Movies, anime, food promotions, collaborations, real-life cars… All of this time could have been dedicated to making Final Fantasy XV the best game it could be. Not milking a game that wasn’t even out at the time.

VERSUS XIII

This is by far the biggest reason Final Fantasy XV failed. Because Square Enix somehow managed to piss off their existing fans.

Okay, this wasn’t really Square Enix’s fault. They just have a really bad habit of showcasing games WAY before they’re ready to be released. Ten years, to be exact. I’m looking at you, Kingdom Hearts 3.

Final Fantasy XV was originally announced as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, a game set in the same universe as Final Fantasy XIII. It was supposed to be a sort of side game to go along with XIII, and even Type 0. While Type 0 retained a lot of its connections to XIII’s world, XV did not.

The game was first shown in 2006 at E3, as a PlayStation 3 exclusive. You know, exclusive for a console that hadn’t even been released at the time. Another trailer was shown in 2008, then the game went relatively silent for a couple of years. Then we got this impressive trailer in 2011.

I think we can all agree that Square Enix was a little in over their heads when it came to Versus XIII. The game was originally going to be developed under the same engine as Final Fantasy XIII, Crystal Tools. Yeah, no. Around 2011 they realized that engine wasn’t going to be powerful enough and created another engine, which is what we presumably see here.

In 2012, there were many rumors that the game had been canceled. ….We literally just saw it the year before. What the heck? Anyway, in 2013 the game resurfaced at E3 and was revealed to be Final Fantasy XV.

As you can see, this game was supposedly much darker than the Final Fantasy XV we got. It also replaced Luna with a girl known as Stella.

Stella is just Luna with a different hairstyle and name. No idea why they decided to make that change.

The developers have stated time and time again that most of what we see in Versus XIII is what we got in XV. The story only had minor differences, such as the removal of the Goddess Etro. Because… That was a XIII thing and this game is no longer connected to that universe. Though that story point was quite interesting. Those who had near-death experiences were granted the power to see Etro’s life when another person dies. While they did keep the fact that Noctis had a near-death experience, they oddly removed this bit entirely. Originally it was going to be the reason why Noctis was able to teleport and use certain weapons, but this eventually got changed to just being a quirk of Lucian royalty.

Fans often make the complaint that Stella was so much more interesting than Luna. We got a five-minute trailer of her explaining to Noctis who Etro is, and that’s it. How can you argue she’s more interesting than Luna? How? The developers have also assured fans that Luna and Stella are essentially no different from each other. Though I do prefer Stella’s design…

Many fans shrugged off the developers’ responses, insisting that there was more to Versus XIII that was scrapped as if Versus XIII had an entirely different story than what we got. However, after doing some digging, I’m inclined to believe the developers.

Versus XIII was a game VERY early in development that was shown off to the public way too soon. There was nothing concrete about this game. Just ideas floating around in the developers’ minds, given form through trailers. Even the gameplay might not be real gameplay, but something that was created to assure fans that this game was in development. Everything about this game seemed to be a lie, something constructed to keep fans interested until they could find a way to make this ridiculous project work.

However, if this game wasn’t shown when it was, I’m almost certain that we never would have gotten Final Fantasy XV. They NEEDED the pressure from fans to keep them working on the game. If that pressure wasn’t there, I’m sure they would have scrapped the project before anything concrete came of it.

It’s unfortunate that so many fans point to Versus XIII and say “We want that! Where did that go? Why didn’t we get that?” When that never truly existed, to begin with. What we got was Square Enix’s best attempt at making that happen. It might not be as dark as the original trailer portrayed it to be, but the story we got isn’t a bad one. It might be dragging at times, rushed at times, but it should be judged for what it is. Not what it never was.

I’ll see you guys when Kingdom Hearts 4 releases and inevitably fails for not being Versus XIII.

Does DLC Ruin Games?

I’ve previously mentioned how New Horizons felt like an unfinished game that relied on DLC to truly feel finished. Or half-finished according to some. Mario Kart 8 recently got a DLC update that added (and will be adding) 48 tracks. But would it have been better to just release Mario Kart 9?

Does DLC ruin games? 

DLC has been around for quite a while now. There were several games on PS3 and Xbox 360 that utilized DLC. Most of the time it was free, but there were a few exceptions. Around 2014, Nintendo jumped on the DLC bandwagon and has proceeded to release DLC for almost every game since then.

Splatoon was released as a relatively barebones game. A lot of the weapons you see now only arrived as DLC. The Ranked modes weren’t even added until several players got to level 10. Then it was added in the form of Splat Zones. The game would update regularly, adding weapons, modes, Splat Fests, and of course general bug fixes and balancing. The thing is… These updates never felt like DLC. It just felt like regular updates dishing out new content.

The same thing occurred with Splatoon 2, except this time, paid DLC was announced. The paid DLC added the Octo Expansion, featuring a lengthy single-player campaign, as well as the ability to play as an Octoling. Even though it was paid, it never felt intrusive. The amount of content included made the DLC well worth the price. I must have poured 20 hours into the DLC campaign, and I still have yet to 100% it. On top of cosmetic glory? Heck yeah!

Taken from Nintendo’s website.

I know nobody talks about this game, but Fantasy Life had amazing DLC! Never mind the fact that players without DLC couldn’t play with players with DLC. The paid DLC included an entirely new story, along with an entirely new area, and a raised level cap. More hairstyles were included, more items, more abilities, and so on and so forth. It essentially added another 50+ hours to the game. That is good DLC.

The original Mario Kart 8 DLC on the Wii U didn’t even feel out of place. It was the first time DLC had been added to a Mario Kart game, but it was so well handled that it was a complete success. Something I still find weird to this day is that you can play these DLC courses online, even if you don’t own them. This includes the new DLC for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. If you’re someone who primarily plays online (like me) is it even worth buying the DLC?

Then we have DLC that’s so out there it may as well be its own game. I’m talking about the Xenoblade 2 DLC: Torna The Golden Country, of course. This… DLC game has so much content that you can’t help but feel like you’re playing a stand-alone game. As a prequel to Xenoblade 2, new players can dive straight into it without even playing Xenoblade 2. In fact, it was released as a stand-alone… game because of this. But it’s still considered DLC.

Then there’s the more intrusive DLC that it’s practically just a sales pitch at this point. Hyrule Warriors, Fire Emblem, and even Breath of the Wild to an extent. “If you pay this small fee of one kidney, you get all of these characters, weapons, and more! Maybe we’ll give you an additional story too!” It just feels like overkill at this point. Sure, the Breath of the Wild DLC was a nice bonus, but was it really necessary? Especially when we ended up getting Age of Calamity a couple of years later. Hyrule Warriors got remade TWICE, with each new edition including all of the past editions’ DLC, on top of new DLC. Can you tell they’re really trying to milk this game? 

Then there’s Fire Emblem. Fates added an entirely new path through DLC. This path mostly reused old assets from the other two routes, but included a new story and allowed you to play as BOTH the Nohrians and Hoshidans. All three routes were originally going to release on one cartridge much like Three Houses, but Nintendo got greedy and decided to release each path for its own separate fee. Speaking of Three Houses, an additional house was added as paid DLC. There’s a small side story, but they don’t even get their own paths! It’s just the characters that you can bring with you to any path you choose to play. What was even the point?

There’s the Final Fantasy 7 Remake. That got DLC. Never mind that they chose to have an episodic release for this game, and we STILL haven’t gotten the second part. Here! Have this paid DLC to tide you over for the next two years! No thanks. I already invested 40 hours into this. I don’t want DLC, let alone PAID DLC. I want the second part. I want a completed game.

And that brings us to my last point. Games that don’t feel complete without DLC. You can argue that no game feels complete without DLC. Why bother playing a game unless you have the full experience? But then there are games where without the DLC, it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I’ve already gone over New Horizons, so I won’t restate my point again. But another game that does this is Kingdom Hearts 3. 

Fans waited TEN years for Kingdom Hearts 3. I much preferred the Disney worlds included this time, but they all felt like filler… In the past two (numbered) games, there were always important plot points included in these worlds. Maybe to a less extent 2, but even the not numbered games did a good job of carrying the plot along through these Disney worlds. Kingdom Hearts 3 just has the same boring loop. Go to a world. Beat that world. Get 5-10 minutes of new story information. Go to the next world. Beat that world. Get another tidbit of story information. So on and so forth. This continues all the way until the very last Disney world. What was even the POINT of these Disney worlds? Were they just there to add content to the game? Filler? 

The story itself is played VERY safe. Square Enix gave the fans exactly what they wanted, and nothing more. The game feels like fanservice. It’s understandable, 10 years is a lot of pressure. But I can’t help feeling disappointed. Kingdom Hearts is known for its crazy contrived storylines. Kingdom Hearts 3 doesn’t do that.

Until almost the very end.

And in DLC.

The end of Kingdom Hearts 3 teases the next game. ALL of the suspense is at the end. It’s just dumped on you. It wasn’t ever built up, except for in the games that were released before 3. Kingdom Hearts 3 feels like this giant obstacle we had to hurdle over, to continue the overarching story. This is weird when you consider this was the ending to one story arc. The DLC however, fixes much of this. It adds new story content, it explains everything that the base game should have explained. It doesn’t feature filler Disney worlds. It moves the plot forward, something the game should have been doing this whole time.

And then you remember that it’s paid DLC. What the heck? 

In conclusion, DLC can be done right. There are plenty of instances of this. The problem is, most of the time companies are too focused on milking their games for more money or releasing half-finished games with the promise of more in the form of DLC. Sometimes paid. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like this sort of trend is going to be ending any time soon. And we as consumers are buying into it.

Splatoon 3 or Mario Kart 9? Did the Wii U Ever Happen?

Mario Kart has been around for a while now. We’ve seen it ever since the SNES games. A new Mario Kart game releases each generation without fail. Super Mario Kart for the SNES, Mario Kart 64 for the N64, Mario Kart Super Circuit for the GBA, Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS. and finally, Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U. No, Mario Kart Tour doesn’t count. There was even some speculation that Mario Kart 9 would also release for the Wii U. …Yeah, I don’t know where people got that idea from.

Mario Kart released in 2014 for the Wii U. Later in 2014, the first DLC pack released, featuring three new racers and eight new courses. In 2015, the next DLC pack released with another three racers and eight courses. This was the first time Mario Kart had ever received DLC, let alone paid DLC. But it wasn’t surprising. This was around the time DLC really started taking off.

In 2017, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe released for the Nintendo Switch, a month after the Switch itself released. This was a direct port of Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U, with all of its DLC included. Okay, understandable. Mario Kart 8 was a HUGE success on the Wii U, it makes sense to bring it over to the Switch, especially this early in its lifetime. Little strange that they didn’t release 9 instead of porting it over, but I guess it makes sense from a business stand point. They’re just releasing this to hold us over until Mario Kart 9 releases, right?

Five years later in 2022 when Mario Kart 8 may as well be dead, it was announced that 48 retro tracks would be released as paid DLC that you could by standalone, or included in the online membership program.

Seriously???

So they decided to rerelease 48 tracks that are basically a port of Mario Kart Tour’s tracks, from the mobile game, with only slight revisions to make the art style fit the rest of the game? Why? Is Nintendo just that lazy that they’re choosing to milk Mario Kart 8 with lazy ports of old courses and charge money for them instead of creating an entirely new game? Like they’ve done for literally every system?

Toad Circuit looks especially lazy this time around. I’d argue that it was more impressive on the 3DS during its time.

Don’t get me wrong, there are tracks from this new DLC that I love,. Especially the Mario Kart Tour tracks Paris Promenade and Ninja Hideout. I’m glad we get to experience these courses on a console. But at the same time, why not bring these courses back in a new Mario Kart game? That’s the thing about this DLC pack. They’re all retro courses. Some of them are retro courses we’ve seen brought back before such as Choco Mountain and Coconut mall. Why not include these 48 new retro tracks in Mario Kart 9? You have half of a game right there. Sure, it’s more work creating entirely new tracks when you can lazily port tracks over and call it DLC. But with a little extra work, you can charge 30 more dollars and sell it as a new game. This is just laziness at its finest.

Paris Promenade actually looks really nice in this game. Most of the original Tour tracks do, with a few exceptions.

The sad thing is, this DLC pack pretty much seals the fate of Mario Kart 9. It most likely won’t release until the next system.

Now we have Splatoon. A fairly new IP that Nintendo released in 2014 for the Wii U. I like to think of 2014-2016 as Nintendo’s experimental years, where they kept pushing new IPs or using existing IPs in new ways such as Splatoon, Code Name Steam, Amiibo Festival, Chibi Robo, Mario Maker, Triforce Heroes, etc. While most of these ideas were… failures, to say the least, Splatoon was a phenomenal success. In fact, Splatoon was such a big success that they decided to release a sequel for the Switch in 2017.

Splatoon 2 was also a phenomenal success, selling twice as much as the original. It was very similar to its predecessor, but now featured more weapons, new subs and specials, more ranked modes, the addition of Salmon Run, and of course, paid DLC. The paid DLC added playable octolings as well as a new solo campaign.

Both games featured events known as Splatfests. Splatfests would have a theme, such as Ketchup vs Mayo, Unicorn vs Narwhal, Pineapple vs no Pineapple, etc. Each player would pick the side they agreed with (or didn’t agree with, their choice) and would fight for that side. The winning team was determined by popularity and clout. The final Splatfest for the original game came two years after its initial release. Many fans thought Splatoon 2’s Splatfests would go on for longer considering the growing popularity and the fact that it released at the beginning of the Switch’s life, but Splatfests also ended two years later. After Splatfests ended, that more or less marked the end of updates to the game. It still gets updated from time to time to fix bugs, but weapons and stages are no longer being added to the game. The same was true for both the original and the sequel. Oddly enough, a year after Splatoon 2’s Splatfests ended, a rematch of Ketchup vs Mayo was announced. Three more Splatfests were held after that, two of which were entirely new.

Splatoon was a game that was predicted to release much like Mario Kart: One game per console. However, in 2021 it was announced that Splatoon 3 would be releasing for the Switch sometime the following year.

What? Did Nintendo just prioritize Splatoon over Mario Kart? Don’t get me wrong, Splatoon is a well loved game that many fans want to see more of. But it has literally been 8 years since a new Mario Kart game has released. Deluxe doesn’t count. They chose to make an entirely new Splatoon game and release ported retro tracks as DLC for Mario Kart 8? What even was the thought process for this???

This of course could just be Nintendo being lazy and going for the quick buck instead of investing time into a new game, which is what I’m more inclined to believe. However, at times it almost seems like they’re trying to make everyone forget that the Wii U ever existed. Games like Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors, Fire Emblem Warriors, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, New Super Mario Bros U, Super Mario 3D World were all ported to the Switch. Games like Splatoon, Yoshi’s Woolly World and Mario Maker received sequels almost immediately after the Switch launched. Almost all of the Wii U’s successful titles (Xenoblade X where are youuuu) were either ported or otherwise received sequels on the Switch, giving you little to no reason to ever buy a Wii U. Could it be that Nintendo wants us to forget their Wii U mistake? Is this why Mario Kart 8 is on the Switch and not 9?

No, that’s a little too much conspiracy theory. But it is fun to speculate, and makes me slightly less angry that Mario Kart 9 still isn’t out.

Is New Horizons Really Better Than New Leaf?

Animal Crossing New Horizons launched on Nintendo Switch March 20, 2020. It launched roughly seven years after New Leaf launched for 3DS in Japan. New Leaf introduced so many concepts never before seen in the Animal Crossing series, such as public works projects, the dream suite, bushes, diving, more clothing options, etc. And New Horizons took things a step further introducing terraforming, the ability to place furniture outside, and deciding where neighbors move. With these new features, some features from New Leaf have been lost, even features that have been a staple throughout the Animal Crossing series. Something I have come to ask myself is, is New Horizons really better than New Leaf?

New Leaf launched with hundreds, if not thousands of hours of gameplay (depending who you are, of course). I myself have well over a thousand hours invested. This was the first (and only) time you were the mayor of your town! Shops were now placed in an area called Main Street, with the exception of the new Retail store. Similar to the City in City Folk, but much less annoying to get to. Granted, City Folk’s City had a lot of more minor stores (and Shampoodle, the hair salon run by Harriet) in the City, while New Leaf’s main facilities reside there in Main Street.

The new Retail store was similar to past games’ flea markets, run by alpaca Reese and her husband Cyrus. Cyrus would allow you to customize furniture, a series first. Reese would offer more bells for items you sold than the Nookling Shop in Main Street – Tom Nook’s store now run by his nephews. Speaking of Tom Nook, he now runs a real estate store. He’ll upgrade your house and also redesign your exterior, another series first. On top of these facilities, there are facilities for clothing, changing your hair and eyes, a shoe store, a place to have your fortunes told, and a club with mostly unfunny jokes. Run by the Able Sisters, Harriet, Kicks, Katrina, and Dr. Shrunk respectively. Also for the first time, the post office is separated from the Town Hall. I would have preferred if they stayed connected because it would be much easier to run to the Town Hall instead of having to run to a whole new screen just to send a letter. Or heavens forbid, store letters.

New Leaf also introduced bushes and swimming/diving. Bushes are small shrubs that can be planted next to each other, but no more than 12 can be touching each other at a time. They can also be planted next to trees. Swimming allows you to swim in the ocean (not lakes sadly) and pressing Y would allow you to dive can catch sea creatures. You need a diving suit in order to swim now, but previously a glitch allowed you to swim without one.

Public Works Projects was another big feature. You could place landmarks and other objects around your town, such as benches, a lighthouse, windmills, fountains, the campsite… Even The Roost, a cafe could be placed later in the game! Bridges could also be moved or removed entirely (though you have to have at least one bridge in your town) through this system. Sadly, you can only have 30 Publics Works Projects at a time, and some projects could not be demolished.

The Dream Suite is another Publics Works Project that takes the form of a building on Main Street. The Dream Suite allows you to visit what you could call “copies” of another player’s town. This allows you to visit any player who put their town up in the Dream Suite at any time, without ever interacting with them or affecting their town. Run through those flowers all you like! Sweet freedom at last! You can even take custom designs home with you. Unfortunately, you cant take anything else with you. Club LOL (which up until now I thought I was misreading this whole time) is another project on Main Street. Visiting during the day you can give Dr. Shrunk a piece of fruit and he will teach you a new emotion, the series’ version of emotes, by performing a short skit. At night, the club opens formally as a typical club. On Saturday nights K.K. Slider will perform.

But one of the BIGGEST additions to the game was Tortimer Island. The island becomes accessible after paying off your first home loan, and can be accessed by riding Kapp’n’s boat. It’s always summer on the island, so it’s a great way to get a tan. But an even better way of making money. Most players would go to the island at night and catch bugs and fish to sell off for hundreds of thousands of bells. But this wasn’t the main purpose of the island, oh no. On top of the standard five types of fruit your town could have (and the two you can either find or purchase on your island). there were an additional five: Bananas, lychees, mangoes, durians and lemons. You could take these fruits home and plant them on your island to grow the fruits’ respective trees. Not only was the island a great way to find fruits you couldn’t obtain otherwise, but there was a little something called Tours.

Tours essentially functioned as minigames. There would be games such as hide and seek, bashing a bomb with a hammer, fishing minigames, slingshot games, fossil games, ore games, you name it, it was a game. …Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. But to make this even better, you could bring friends on the island with you! You and your friends could compete in these “Tours” with the winner earning the most amount of medals. Medals could be exchanged for exclusive furniture like the Mermaid series, or clothing items such as a beach shirt or hat. They could even be exchanged for equipment such as special variants of the diving suits or a silver axe! Tours are what I remember best about hanging out with friends in New Leaf.

I could go on and on about all of the little changes New Leaf brought to the series. The implementation of StreetPass, QR codes for custom designs, owning personal exhibits at the museum, perfect fruit, ordinances… I could go on. Despite this game releasing, packed with hundreds of hours of content…

New Leaf received an update containing dozens of new features in 2016. The main reason for the update was to implement the use of amiibo. By scanning an amiibo card of a villager, you could invite that villager to move into your town. It was a great way to get that dream villager to move in right away, instead of waiting weeks or even months to find them, or asking another player for that villager. It was also a great way for Nintendo to make money, because these cards were released in packs. Six cards would come in a pack, and those six would be random. You can bet many people made money off of these on eBay, selling popular villagers for over $60, when a pack of cards went for $6.

Not only could you scan in amiibo cards, but the game was compatible with certain amiibo figures. Figures from the Splatoon and Legend of Zelda series could be scanned for new villagers based or otherwise inspired by those series. They came with exclusive items, and you could also invite the villagers to move in to your town. Animal Crossing series figures would invite characters such as Reese and Tom Nook to come visit your town in the new Campground area. While these characters couldn’t move to your island, they would give you special items that could not be obtained otherwise. Such as Celeste’s bow, or Lottie’s wig. There were a few Japanese exclusive villagers, two of which weren’t connected to amiibo, so other countries had no chance of getting them. However, Felyne from Monster Hunter appeared as a villager. The Monster Hunter amiibos only released in Japan, but could be imported, and would work fine in any region. So I now have a $200 figure that I paid less than $25 for. I’m happy! Sanrio characters and items were added later, with amiibo cards releasing in Japan and Europe. Yay for more importing!

Exclusive furniture could also be bought at the Campground. The furniture wasn’t anything super special, but you couldn’t get it anywhere else. The furniture required a new currency known as MEOW coupons, that you could get from completing tasks or scanning amiibo daily. 3DS and Wii U figures were added to the game as well, each system came with a minigame. The Wii U came with a minigame previously included in Amiibo Festival, while the 3DS came with a game called Puzzle League, based on a Japanese exclusive game of the same name. Completing levels from both of these games would give you exclusive items.

On top of this, there were several other quality of life improvements such as a storage expansion, a new decorating mode when decorating your house based on Happy Home Designer, the ability to stack fruit, and the removal of sickness. An option to sell your town to rebuild it was even added! This expansive update in 2016 added to an already packed game, giving it that much more replayability.

So you can imagine my disappointment when New Horizons launched.

All right, all right. Let’s talk first about what New Horizons did right.

New Horizons takes place on an island for the first time in the series, rather than a town. You’re not the mayor, rather, the island representative. You start the game off with two villagers, one smug and one sisterly (uchi) type, which were first introduced in New Leaf. One of the main features of this game is that you’re able to craft things, such as furniture and equipment. The other main feature, which you don’t unlock for a couple weeks, is terraforming. Terraforming allows you to build or remove cliffs, as well as reroute or entirely remove water. It gives you (almost) complete control of your island, allowing you to make it look however you want it to.

Another big feature in this game is the ability to place furniture outside, for the first time in the series. A lot of New Leaf’s Public Works Projects came back in the form of furniture. Choosing where villagers move is another big feature. Previously in New Leaf, villagers would move wheresoever they pleased, and players would have to take advantage of an exploit that narrowed down where villagers could move. Another much needed change is that villagers will now ask to move out first, and won’t move out without getting your permission. This is what every player wanted – no longer having to write down the last day they played and change the date to “time travel” back to when they last played, and slowly move the day forward until they had caught up. Finally! Autosave is another feature included, which I have a love-hate relationship with. I wish it could be toggled on and off because sometimes I like to test things out with terraforming, and if it doesn’t work out, I’d like to be able to reload to before I had started.

Other quality of life improvements include much bigger pocket space, skin tone customization, ladders to climb up cliffs no matter where you are, vaulting poles to cross over rivers, again, no matter where you are. Bushes can now be placed next to each other and along cliffs, with no restrictions. Flowers will no longer wilt, and won’t die when trampled. Custom designs can be searched for through the internet directly in game now. Purses and backpacks have also been added.

A new feature where you can travel to mini islands, gathering resources or inviting villagers to join your island was also added. You can use Nook Miles Tickets, a new… I’d hate to say currency, but that’s sure how the Animal Crossing community sees it, which can be bought with Nook Miles. You know, the ACTUAL currency. You get Nook Miles for completing tasks, similar to the MEOW coupons in New Leaf. You can exchange these Nook Miles for exclusive items, emotes, hairstyles, and what have yous.

As for facilities, we have the Town Hall, the Nooklings’ shop, Able Sisters, Museum and- Oh right. That’s it.

That’s. It.

Even City Folk had more than that with its City. You could argue this is the same amount of facilities Wild World and the original Animal Crossing had. But why are we going back to that? Why aren’t we taking advantage of what City Folk and New Leaf gave us? Why are we regressing?

To top it off, the Nookling shop only has one upgrade. One. Historically, Nook’s Cranny (both the Nookling version and Tom Nook version) has had three upgrades, taking in game months to unlock. You can get this final version of the store within a month. Actually, you can unlock every major facility within a month. I understand wanting to have players unlock basic necessities early on, but part of the fun of the Animal Crossing series is eagerly waiting to unlock more and more stuff. New Horizons practically hands you these facilities on a silver platter.

Though oddly enough, you have to unlock the Museum. Which has never happened in an Animal Crossing game.

Gracie Grace, a fashionable giraffe that sells expensive clothing and furniture sets included in City Folk and New Horizons is also missing from the game. In fact, New Horizons seems to include staggeringly few furniture sets. At least there’s an abundance of clothes.

Amiibo still work in this game similar to the last, but figures no longer give special items. Nor are the figure exclusive characters present.

This is more of a personal opinion, and some others might agree, but to me, the dialogue of villagers has been going down each installment of the series. You have the original Animal Crossing where villagers are rude and sassy, but have so much personality. Wild World tons it down a bit, but you can definitely still feel that rudeness. City Folk removes the rudeness almost entirely, but the sass still remains. New Leaf removed the sass, but villagers still felt like they had personality. Though after a while, it did get tiring hearing the same dialogue over and over. New Horizons’ villagers all feel the same. I can barely tell the difference between peppy and normal, and smug and jock. I know they probably wanted to lighten things up since this is a kids game after all, but can you at least give them some sort of personality?! I dread having to interact with my neighbors now. And that’s not okay.

When it comes to housing, housing exteriors still remains a feature. You can actually relocate your house, which is a series’ first. You can relocate any building in the game, except for the Town Hall. However… I was very disappointed with the housing expansions. It adds the side rooms and back rooms like New Leaf did, but these rooms are pathetically small, and there’s no way to expand them like in New Leaf.

But one of my biggest complaints are the tools. Previously in the series, only the axe would break. This time, EVERY tool breaks. EVEN THE GOLDEN ONES. What’s the point of having golden tools if they’re still going to break? Novelty? You can craft tools and it’s fun at first, it feeds into the whole desert island theme. But after a while it’s just plain annoying, which is why the golden tools would have made more sense if they were unbreakable. Not to mention crafting these tools is a two step process. First you have to craft a wooden version, then an iron version. You have to track down all of these materials, or run to your house to grab the materials you stored, go to a crafting bench, and then craft them. At this point, I’d rather pay the 2,000 bells. Crafting in general is annoying. It would have been much more tolerable if it was just another menu you could open, and you can use materials that are in your storage without having to actually go get them.

The barrenness of the game did get a little better with the updates. In the first couple updates, we got bushes and diving. You know, things that were available at the beginning of New Leaf. Someone please tell me why that had to be an update. Dreaming was also added, basically functioning the same as the Dream Suite. Without the Dream Suite. This time you just lay down in your bed and you’re given the option to dream. Honestly not a bad substitute. Originally you couldn’t search for dreams (which sucked). but a later update fixed this.

Redd and Leif also had to be added in an update to the game – Redd, a character who has been in the series since the beginning, and Leif who was included since the start of New Leaf. Mario items were later added in the game to be purchased, and Sanrio villagers were added to the game. Previously, you could only obtain their posters from scanning their amiibo cards.

Finally, the 2.0 update released, a year and a half after the game’s initial launch. It added The Roost Cafe gyroids, and everyone’s beloved froggy chair, all things that have been in the series since the beginning. Kapp’n also returns, but not to bring you to Tortimer Island. This time, he brings you to mystery islands, similar to the ones you can already visit with  Nook Miles Tickets. These islands are the only way to get moss, vines, and gyroids. Housing storage was also expanded upon. More vegetables could be grown, on top of the pumpkins that had been added in an earlier update. Cooking however was added. Sixteen new villagers were also added, and ordinances were brought back from New Leaf. More furniture was added to the game (thank goodness) either through the Nookling shop or the paid DLC that released alongside the update.

Harv’s Island, an island previously used to take pictures of amiibos and an event involving planning Reese and Cyrus’ wedding was also expanded. It included tiny little shops for characters such as Reese and Cyrus, Katrina, Harriet, Saharah, Redd, Kicks, and Leif. No. None of these characters had shops prior to this. Saharah, Redd, Kicks, and Leif would occasionally visit your island to sell you some of their wares, and Harriet was replaced by a mirror. Yes, a mirror. You deserved better, Harriet. In the cases of Saharah, Redd, Kicks and Leif, their stock changes on a weekly rotation, and they offer slightly more than they usually do when visiting your town, save for Redd. You can also visit whenever you want instead of having to rely on them spawning on your island. Harriet gives you a few unlockable hairstyles, but is pretty useless once you get them all. It’s nice that Katrina came back and all, but Reese and Cyrus are the big addition. They allow you to customize your furniture much like in New Leaf. And you don’t have to wait around! While it’s nice that these characters have their own shops now, I feel like I’m going through some sort of menu hub instead of an actual shopping center. It all just feels… very bland.

This information was all shown in an almost twelve minute long video, also showing off the paid DLC. All of the information looked very promising until this awful… This awful, awful, text appeared on screen.

Note how it says this is the LAST major free content update.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t THAT awful. But it was awful to me. This was it? THIS was IT? I wasn’t keen about the game launching with… Well, what some could call barebones content. But I chose to believe in it. Even though I don’t like when games spread their content across updates that could have EASILY been included in the original game, I went along with it. We would eventually get more and more content, right? And it would eventually catch up to New Leaf if not surpass it, right?

Wrong.

There is SO much they could have done with this game! They could have brought back Tortimer Island! Give friends something to do while playing the game besides shopping and exploring an island they’ve already explored dozens of times. They could have created new facilities, brought back Dr. Shrunk or the theater from City Folk! The Auction House was a pretty cool idea from City Folk. Put things up for sale and have players from other towns bid on it. A fun way to make money, and could have been enhanced to also be an effective trading system. They could have added new facilities too, things we’ve never seen before! Even after all of the updates, it feels like crafting is almost pointless. There are a few pieces of furniture worth making sure, and I do like the seasonal items. But there’s not enough. And when it comes to equipment, I’m just going to run to the store to buy more instead of running to my house, grabbing all of the materials, navigating menus, and making it myself. Where are all of the cute Nintendo items from previous games? Where is Gracie Grace? Why is her series still missing? Why did gyroids take so long to come back? Why were bushes DLC? Why are there only 10 villagers when islands could easily fit 15?

Why are they stopping here?

Don’t get me wrong, New Horizons is still a fantastic game, one I would even recommend. Customizing has never been this easy or enjoyable before in an Animal Crossing game. Does it have problems? Yes. But so does every game. And for most people, the good this game does bring outweighs those problems. But getting back to the original topic at hand. Is New Horizons a better game than New Leaf? That’s up to you to decide. But to me, I can’t help but think maybe New Leaf managed to get more right than New Horizons did.

A capture of my own island from New Horizons.