February 28, 2014

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Great great great great great.

So I picked up Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on launch day, because I had been looking forward to it for months. Donkey Kong Country Returns was a ton of fun, and I knew Retro would continue putting in 101% effort. I was not disappointed.


Firstly, the game is rather difficult (if you've played Returns, it's expected). Do not let that deter you, because it's difficult in the best possible way. It's not difficult because the controls are wonky or the hitboxes are off. It's difficult because the intention and design was to make it so. So much craftsmanship went into every aspect of every level, and it just radiates throughout the entire game. When you clear a particularly hard stage, the satisfaction you feel is immense, and it just drives you to keep going. The game never "screws you," but it isn't very forgiving either. If you die, you know exactly which mistake you made. Thankfully, extra lives are plentiful. And believe me, you're going to need them.

Level Design

Man oh man, where do I begin? The variety of levels is huge. This keeps things from becoming stale while at the same time providing new and challenging experiences to the player. Even the standard platforming levels one would expect are brilliantly crafted. And once you start running for Gold Medals in Time Trials,  you will see firsthand how every single piece of a stage is made to compliment the rest. Every enemy placement, every platform, obstacle, and the like are meticulously placed. It's great, and really makes the levels feel very cohesive. And if a particularly brilliant concept is used, it's often only used once. This makes it stand out even more, and prevents Retro from recycling like a lazy developer.

A large part of what separates this game from Returns is the use of what the developers referred to as "3D." It's not actual 3D, but rather looking at stages from many different perspectives and viewpoints. Lots of camera rotation and such. It's hard to convey without actually seeing it in motion, but it's really inventive and effective.

There are quite a few "frantic" levels, where you're running away from something, or speeding through the level at a forced pace. You're unable to turn back because of instant death. This adds a lot of replay value to the levels if you're going to collect everything, because you're always on the lookout for hidden areas, items, and the like while at the same time just trying to stay alive (which is easier said than done).

Underwater levels also make their return, and thankfully feel just as well-developed as the rest of the game. Different partner characters have different abilities underwater, just as they do on land.

Specialty Levels

The perennial favorite mine cart levels return, but this time there's several twists. An example would be the above-mentioned "3D" effect. At one point, you might be looking at the cart from a 45° angle, which allows you to jump back and forth between multiple rails before they dead end. It's a great revelation to an already cemented concept. The rocket barrel levels are also present, and have the same types of innovation as the mine cart ones.


DK is your main single player character. Only this time, in addition to adding Diddy to your team, you have the option of adding Dixie and Cranky as well. Each character has their own abilities and strengths.

Diddy has his rocket backpack, which allows you to hover in mid-air for a second longer than normal, which can be very helpful for making those tricky jumps and landings. While underwater, he can use his backpack to propel DK forward quickly for a short burst.

Dixie uses her ponytail to lift DK just a little bit higher than his normal jumping distance. It can also be used to get that extra hovering power like Diddy, which is why I prefer Dixie over him when I have the choice. While underwater, she can continuously propel DK forward to fight strong currents.

Cranky uses his cane to implement a DuckTales-esque bouncing attack. He can bounce off otherwise invulnerable enemies, as well as ground spikes/thorns. If you execute a roll jump, you can continually use Cranky's cane bounce to launch yourself forward without losing momentum (which is critical during certain Time Trials). While underwater, he can use his cane as a weapon against certain enemies.

Having a partner on your back also allows you to continue your basic roll attack indefinitely, as well as gain two extra hearts. Losing those two hearts means that DK is back on his own until another character barrel is discovered.

Funky returns to aid you in your quest, providing items at his shop that will assist you when you're in need. In addition to the items Cranky would sell you in Returns, Funky also offers things like a select partner at the beginning of a level and several life-saving items. I usually chose to pass up on most of these items, because they feel like a crutch, but I can see their appeal.

He also has a gashapon machine that gives you different figurines at random. Needless to say, getting full completion of the entire game is going to involve a lot of coins spent on this pretty trivial activity.

Animal Buddies

Sadly, Rambi is the only returning active animal buddy (Squawks is around, but only used to find puzzle pieces). Levels with Rambi in them feel haphazardly thrown in. It's really too bad, especially with the return of water levels. I would have loved Enguarde to make a re-appearance.


[UPDATE: Somebody informed me that the control scheme issue has since been rectified by Nintendo in a post-release patch. Nice.]

One of my only gripes about Tropical Freeze is the certain control layout options. You are able to use the Wii Remote + Nunchuk, GamePad, or Pro Controller. The GamePad has no real function other than as a basic controller (the screen goes dark when playing a level), so I opted to use my Pro Controller instead.

The game has four major buttons: The directional control, the jump button, the attack button (used for basic ground pound, rolling, etc.), and the "pull" button (used for pulling handles, etc. out of the ground).

You can change between two controller layouts: Left stick directional control, or D-Pad directional control. I like old school, so I initially opted for D-Pad directional control. However, the game then automatically switches the attack and "pull" buttons. Why?

Utter nonsense.

There should really be four control schemes. Default roll/attack and "pull" buttons for both Left Stick and D-Pad controls, and swapped roll/attack and "pull" buttons for both Left Stick and D-Pad controls. There was no way I could play using the ZR button as my roll attack. It's so awkward to try and use that and the "B" button in tandem together. Therefore, I was forced to use the Left Stick for control. It wasn't the end of the world, I just would have preferred to use the D-Pad.

It's also worth mentioning that there isn't a "running" speed and a "walking" speed. It's just a default "forward movement." Holding down the roll button after a roll will not increase your movement speed. You can still hold the button down anyway (and I do out of habit), it just won't do anything differently than if you didn't.


David Wise returned to score this game, and he did a brilliant job. Every track has that classic DKC feeling, despite it being 2014. I like how instead of deciding to try and do something totally new and radical, he realized why he was hired to compose for this game and took his composition mindset from the mid-1990s and created new pieces. That's not easy to do, and I applaud him for it. If they wanted something totally new, they would have hired somebody else. But they were specifically aiming to capture that old-time DKC essence, so they went to the source. Wise manages to find that mid-to-late 90's spark of feel-good, atmospheric but melodically strong composition that he's most well known for and uses it to its full potential. Hell, the music in the level Mountain Mania sounds like it came straight out of Diddy Kong Racing. I love it. There are also small melodic and harmonic cues that immediately bring old-school tracks to mind. It just really feels like these tracks are totally interchangeable with the SNES-era ones.

As a side note, I am absolutely appalled that neither David Wise, Eveline Fischer, nor Robin Beanland received any credit whatsoever for Donkey Kong Country Returns. While I think Kenji Yamamoto is the bee's knees and love his work, he did not compose most of the music for Returns. He arranged it, sure, but the source material for many tracks is not his. The fact that only he and four other Japanese composers are credited for the game's music is an outrage. It's an even more blatant fact since many of the track titles are things like:

DK Island Swing Returns
Bonus Room Blitz Returns
Aquatic Ambience Returns
Voices of the Temple Returns
Forest Frenzy Returns
Treetop Rock Returns
Fear Factory Returns

Notice any patterns? They're just arrangements (often sounding lazily similar to their source material) of the SNES era's tracks. There is a tiny bit of original music, but it seems like filler more than anything else. Nearly all the tracks are arrangements of Wise and team's Donkey Kong Country work. Maybe they couldn't give them actual credit because of Rare being owned by Microsoft and all that, but you could still put their names in the "Thanks" or "Special Thanks" category. Don't have to pay money for that. Put their name freaking somewhere! I'm just really disappointed with Nintendo about that whole thing. They're better than that.

Some classic DKC tracks that weren't hijacked for Returns make their re-debut in Tropical Freeze. But Wise doesn't make a huge deal out of it. Returns' music was all about having the player reminisce about earlier times, but it imitated the magic rather than create it. It felt like a crutch. Tropical Freeze re-uses some classic DKC series tracks, but only for one/two levels (e.g. the Lockjaw's Locker music). It really works better this way, because it makes it feel more special, rather than trying to cram it down your throat at every turn. It also makes it easier to focus on the new, original, awesome tracks.


The enemies are from up North and have invaded the DK Islands, so naturally they're things like penguins and walruses. They felt more like classic enemies than the Tiki Tak Tribe from Returns, but didn't quite convince me all the way.

I would say it's because it's really, really hard to match the unrepeatable performance of the Kremlings and krew. Those characters are an iconic part of the series, and while I understand Retro's want to push things forward and be new, it contradicts what they're trying to do with this particular series. The entire point is to continue the Donkey Kong Country mentality, and the Kremlings are just as much a part of that as DK and friends.

But it is not simply because "they're Kremlings" that makes them so effective as enemies. I cannot emphasize that enough. Simply replacing the Tiki Tak Tribe or Snowmads with Kremlings would not solve the problem by a long shot.

What really made the Kremlings work so well as enemies was the variety. It wasn't the enemies themselves, it was the creative ability by that era's team. Holy crap. I'm talking about things like the enemies' actions. There were very few baddies that just walked towards you. Hell, entire levels would be built around one enemy's behavior. Here's some examples (and I've been playing DKC3 lately, so examples are from that):

Skidda's Row
Barrel Shield Bust-Up
Squeals on Wheels
Kreeping Klasps
Fish Food Frenzy
Blazing Bazukas
Krack Shot Kroc
Lemguin Lunge
Buzzer Barrage
Floodlit Fish
Koindozer Klamber
Tyrant Twin Tussle
Swoopy Salvo

Unfortunately, Tropical Freeze has nowhere near the amount of variety in enemies. Even if they didn't use the Kremlings, but still got the enemy behavior variety down, I'd be over the moon. Sure, Tropical Freeze's baddies look the part, but they're basically all boring walking hitboxes you have to jump on. The game makes up for it with level design (often making the stage itself the greatest enemy), but having baddies act the part as well would have been icing on the cake. Retro just hasn't gotten Rare's enemy formulas yet. Oh well, practice makes perfect.

Remember us?


The bosses in Tropical Freeze were harder than I expected. There's a lot of phases and varieties of attacks utilized by each of them, and it really made the battles seem unique and well thought-out. They require skill, no doubt about it. No way you'll survive by trying to run into the boss with a "run his health out before mine" mentality. It was a dramatic improvement from Returns.


This game looks absolutely gorgeous. So much effort went into every aspect of every level. Utilizing the "3D" also allows levels to be seen from different perspectives, as well as launch through levels at a very rapid pace. The scenery is the best I've seen in a long time. I am incredibly impressed. Each World takes its theme to the maximum potential. It's more than just, "well, the water area has underwater rocks and stuff." The Bright Savannah was my favorite area to go through, while the Juicy Jungle impressed me the most with level innovation and variety.

Time Trials

Arguably the most challenging part of this game, the Time Trials require:

1. Practice
2. Practice
3. Practice

Near-flawless execution of the level is needed for that elusive Gold Medal. As stated above, you can really see how Retro designed each and every level to complement speed-running. I would run through a level a couple of times, testing out where exactly I needed to jump/roll/etc. for unhindered speed. Then I would start trying to do it as fast as possible. Often I would have what I thought was a damn good run, only to barely make a Silver. Then I would sit and analyze how the hell I was going to shave nearly thirty seconds off of my completion time. It was rough, and I'm still working on it.

Online Features

If you have a great run in Time Trials, you can choose to upload it to Miiverse for all to see. This is great for both parties, because it lets you show off while showcasing ways for others to grab the gold as well. I really like this feature, and praise Nintendo and Retro for including it.


The standard unlockables return from Returns, such as music, concept art, 3D dioramas, and the like. They aren't particularly challenging to unlock, which is good. Because if you're knowingly including behind-the-scenes stuff, then you obviously want people to see them, and they should be able to do so relatively easily.

Replay Value

There's a lot of replay value here. Let's say you complete a level. Great! You can move on, but know that you can't unlock all parts of the game without obtaining all collectibles inside levels. Aside from the aforementioned puzzle pieces and KONG letters, the Time Trials really test your skill. Some of the harder, hidden levels can also bring you to your knees fairly easily, and will take quite a chunk of time away from you. Each level has a lot of exploration involved to collect everything, and more often than not you'll be frantically moving through a level and spot a lone puzzle piece but be unable to turn back. So you'll have to remember where it was and come back later.

"Hard Mode" also returns, but takes quite a bit to unlock in the first place. In this mode, you have one heart, there are no buddies to team up with, and there are no checkpoints. You don't have to reacquire puzzle pieces, but you do have to pick up the KONG letters. As a small condolence, you're allowed to choose which Kong member you'll play as. I breathed a sigh of relief upon figuring this out, because DK is definitely the toughest to use solo. I don't know if I'll have the patience to make it through the game again in Hard Mode, but we'll see. I imagine I'll move to other games for a while, then come back to Tropical Freeze just to do Hard Mode.


My only complaints are the nonsensical controls, lack of enemy variety, and lack of animal buddies (and seeming afterthought of Rambi's inclusion). Aside from those minor things, this game is an absolute blast. Easily 9 out of 10. The only recent 2D platformer that I've played recently that matches Tropical Freeze in terms of execution would be Rayman Legends. If you want a great challenge while at the same time seeing how perfectly a game can mesh together, then pick up Tropical Freeze. You won't be disappointed.

February 16, 2014

Pluto, Volume 2

Act 8: Atom

In Japan, Superintendent Tawashi (Metropolitan Police Department) arrives at the murder scene of Junichiro Tasaki, the man who came up with the International Robot Laws. He's been strung up high, with large horn-like protrusions sticking out of his head. Tawashi remembers hearing about similar cases in other parts of the world, and decides to contact Gesicht.

Meanwhile, Gesicht and Atom are having lunch in a café. Gesicht is fascinated by Atom's seemingly genuine emotions. He also warns Atom that they're both in danger, and exchanges memory chips so they're both up to speed on everything that's happened so far.

However, upon gaining Gesicht's information, Atom excuses himself to go to the bathroom. He ends up crying over what he's learned from Gesicht's mind, but what he learned is kept hidden from the reader.

Atom tells Gesicht that he should vacation back to Japan with his wife, which Gesicht confirms he will.

Act 9: Professor Ochanomizu

At the Tokyo Police Station, Superintendent Tawashi and Inspector Nakamura are looking through a holographic recreation of the crime scene to see what else they can find out. Atom joins them (much to Tawashi's displeasure), and discovers several pieces of evidence.

Putting the pieces together, Atom discovers that Tasaki was attempting to reach Professor Ochanomizu right before his death. Atom travels to the Ministry of Science to inform Ochanomizu of his findings, and also to get some answers.

It turns out that Ochanomizu was part of an investigatory group (titled the Bora Survey Group) back around the time of the 39th Central Asian War. During that time, the Persian Kingdom was ruled by an oppressive dictator who used massive robot military strength to conquer much of the surrounding countries. The President of the United States of Thracia called for an international treaty banning the production and use of robots of mass destruction. After the treaty passed, the President accused the Kingdom of Persia of hiding robots of mass destruction.

Act 10: Hercules

Ochanomizu explains that the Bora Survey Group was sent in to investigate the President's claims, but were unable to find anything. The only supposed proof was an almost-myth of a super scientist known only by the moniker "Dr. Goji." The only thing the Bora Group did find was a mass grave of thousands of robot corpses, which was extremely odd, but didn't confirm anything. Soon after, however, the war started.

Cut to Greece and Hercules, a robot wrestler much like Brando, and every bit as skilled. After an electrifying match against a local opponent, Hercules meets up with Gesicht. They talk about the war and how it changed both of them. Hercules wonders if robots might be evolving, since it seems like he almost feels actual emotion at times.

Back at the Ministry of Science, Atom inquires about Brau 1589's AI, and why he was able to kill a human. Ochanomizu states that there was no defect, that Brau 1589 was perfect. Atom wonders if Brau 1589 was perfect, and was able to kill a human, then is that was being human is?

Ochanomizu doesn't have an answer.

Act 11: Patching In

In a flashback to the War, Mont Blanc meets up with Brando and Hercules after a large battle. Thousands of robots are dead, and Mont Blanc asks what they're really doing in Persia. They were sent to fight for justice, but all they're doing is killing. All three ponder on the emotion humans call "hate."

Jump to present day Istanbul. Brando senses something ominous in the distance, and makes up an excuse to go investigate. He sneaks out his Pankration Suit (the giant mech used for his wrestling matches) to go check out the threat. He's knows that it's what's been killing the robots and humans.

Brando patches in Gesicht, Hercules, and Atom, so they all know what's transpiring in Istanbul. It's unclear exactly what Brando is seeing, there's only explosions and chaos, but all three of them know it's bad.

Act 12: Family Portrait

It's a tense battle, and the three outsiders can't be sure of what's happening, but they know Brando is in serious danger and needs their help. Suddenly, there's a massive explosion followed by silence.

Brando states that he beat the threat, but he won't be coming back himself. As he's dying, he attempts to transmit the data from the battle. However, something is preventing him from doing so. He guesses it's because his circuits are messed up from the brutal fighting. The only thing he's able to transmit are images of his happy family. It's extremely depressing.

Atom detects something else hidden in the transmission. It appears to just be more interference, and he can't give a definitive reading on it, but chalks it up to an overwhelming suffering.

Act 13: False Memory

Gesicht is still having nightmares, and awakens to watch Brando's funeral on television. Since Brando eliminated the threat, he and his wife decide to take their vacation to Japan. Upon contacting the travel agency, he finds out that not only are he and his wife already registered, but they previously cancelled a trip to Japan.

Obviously, this is a red flag since they're both robots and are unable to forget memories unless they delete them (which they haven't). During the time they supposedly made and cancelled the trip, they were in Spain. They check all of the photos they took during that time and find that there's way more than they would have normally taken. It's almost like someone is purposely trying to cover something up...

Gesicht plans a diagnostic check with Professor Hoffman, who informs him that everything checks out just fine. Gesicht asks him if it's possible to insert false memories, to which Hoffman states that Robot Laws and rights would prevent that. Gesicht speculates that the reason he's been having nightmares is because someone erased his memories and put false ones in their place.

Hoffman is intrigued by Gesicht's theory, so he schedules a meeting with the head of the German Europol Division. He asks if anything was done to Gesicht's memory. The "answers" he's given are dodgy as hell, and hint at some kind of massive coverup. The main point is that the seven robots that ended the 39th Central Asian War basically hold the balance of world power in their hands, and Gesicht is one of them. They've made a huge investment with Gesicht, and just need to make sure he's maintained.

So shady.

Act 14: Dr. Roosevelt

A lone teddy bear is sitting in a simple chair, talking to a man in the shadows. They review the deaths of the three advanced robots so far, and state everything has gone well up to this point, but the tough part still lies ahead.

The bear asks the shadowy figure if he thinks "this is it, if it will all finally be over?" The figure smiles and states that he has to be going, and bids adieu to "Dr. Roosevelt." It's then revealed that behind the teddy bear in the chair lies a gargantuan, menacing-looking computer.

Meanwhile, Gesicht is checking out another murder scene with horns, which he deems to be a copycat murder covering up a simple robbery. He is also continuing to investigate what happened to his lost memories. He ends up heading back to the Artificial Intelligence Correctional Facility to pay a visit to Brau 1589.

As he's heading down the corridor, the President is giving his newest inaugural address, in which he asks when will the world rid itself of all its weapons and finally establish a true and lasting peace? He states that now is the time for every citizen to take a stand, and together they will create a true utopia on Earth. A teddy bear is seen sitting on a chair behind him...

Gesicht informs Brau 1589 that he wants to exchange memory chips. The resulting experience is overwhelming for Gesicht, and he removes it as soon as he's able. He says he couldn't read the data, however. Brau 1589 says he founds Gesicht's memory chip very interesting (alluding that he knows what's Gesicht's nightmares mean), and states that the President has an Artificial Intelligence behind him, many thousands of times more powerful than any robot brain, but that it's rooted to one spot. What must a brain like that spend all its time thinking about (heh heh heh)?

Gesicht says it was a waste of time to come to the facility, and starts to walk away. Brau 1589 suddenly shouts out a vivid recurring statement from Gesicht's nightmares, before chuckling disturbingly.

Act 15: Enemy Parts

Back in Istanbul, Hercules has all but given up wrestling, instead opting to search for Brando and his attacker's body. Oddly, the crews have only found pieces of Brando. Suddenly, a few crew members state they found Brando's arms, but it's not what they expected. Hercules rushes out to investigate, and finds Brando's memory chip, as well as the arms. They've been plunged into a rock. Their shape doesn't bode well.

Back in Tokyo, a "localized tornado" smashes into a cargo truck. The truck was carrying ten large cats (lions, tigers, etc.), and they've all escaped. Five of them have cornered a small boy. The police are debating what to do when a small girl walks through the police line and somehow manages to get all the cats to come to her.

She turns around and yells that the police guns are scaring the cats. Don't they know anything?


Again, such a brilliant read. The level of sentiment Urasawa brings to all his characters and situations resonates very well. Evoking an emotional response from the reader is no easy task. But at times I feel downright despair. I want it to know what's really happening, and I want it to resolve happily. But everything that's happened so far leaves such a foreboding tension in the air, I can't stand it. Once I start a volume, I can't put it down. The mystery keeps on deepening, and now there's a huge conspiracy going on too. Great.

The writing is top-notch. I am always searching out new manga from the billions available, and things like Pluto only encourage the continuing search. It really shows how manga can truly be an art form. Certain things like Thracia's accusation of Persia's robots of mass destruction are obvious remarks on what real-world events were playing out at the time, but that's always been a part of writing. Using what's around you in your work.

The artwork is still wonderful. It's not alway about being as complex as possible. Sometimes it's about using the simple things to their full potential. Urasawa gets that, and Atom is a prime example. So much emotion in so few strokes. I really liked how his innocence and squeaky clean personality were captured perfectly, but without an ounce of cartoonishness. Not to say that complex drawing is bad. Most of the settings are very cool, perspective-wise and imagination-wise. It's all good.

But down at the nitty gritty, it's really good storytelling. And that's what it's all about. On to Volume 3!

February 15, 2014

Nintendo Direct Thoughts

After seeing the most recent Nintendo Direct, I decided to post about the presentations in general. Enjoy.

I enjoy the presentations immensely for a number of reasons:

1. It's information about Nintendo from Nintendo itself.

There's no guesswork. There's no, "do you really think they were telling the truth?" They're super credible, because it's their own stuff. They know what they want to say and how they want to say it. It's purely a marketing thing, but it has the extra benefit of being friendly and welcoming to the consumer. It also allows Nintendo to make unexpected surprise announcements (à la NES Remix), which only boosts anticipation for the next presentation. You know basically what to expect, but that next surprise is always just around the corner. They're good about keeping a tight lid on things.

Oh, hey.

2. It replaces the few "big reveal" periods throughout the year.

This is great from a supporter standpoint, because we're not left out in the cold for half of the year. We're not speculating what's going to happen, because we're constantly kept in the loop. There's no question as to whether or not you're going to hold out to see what's in store. You can make that decision at really any point. Plus, if they waited solely for something like E3 and it bombed, then they wasted so much time and effort, and it's going to take practically half the year to recuperate (not to mention everybody laughs at you for months on end).

That doesn't mean that Nintendo's E3 booth can't still be awesome.

3. Nintendo is really the only company that can do it.

It's kind of a middle finger to Sony and Microsoft, but deservedly earned. Nintendo is the only company with consistently good in-house staff in every single area. That's a big reason why they're still thriving today. They can do everything in-house if need be. They have the ability and power to control every single step of the process, from brainstorming to sale dictation. And they have the best people to do it. That's not a luck-based thing. They think and re-think every single aspect and repercussion of the decisions they make, down to every employee. There's a great post I read the other day about Nintendo's (NCL) hiring process, and how intense it is even by Japan's standards. They really care about what they're doing, and putting out the best possible product.

But back to the point. Sony and Microsoft heavily rely on third parties for game development. They have some good people in-house, but nowhere near enough to be able to self-propel. There's a crap-ton of crossed wires, red tape, and contracts between a horde of companies (and that's for pretty much every game). There's really no way either company could have anything like a Nintendo Direct, because too much of what's happening is out of their hands. The convoluted bureaucracy muddles everything up. So even though Howard Lincoln has moved on, Nintendo can still shove it in their opponents' faces.

"Remember what I taught you."

4. It's a marketing tool that in turn excites consumers.

How can they lose? They're permeating the entire group of people that play games (which they helped boost and introduce through the Wii and DS) while raising awareness and gaining instant feedback. It's a win on our end too, because we see what's coming up and are instantly informed. Can't beat a win-win. It's sort of an evolution from the days of calling the Game Counselors, which in itself was an immeasurably effective way to do marketing research (and was willingly powered by millions of consumers at no cost to the company!).

5. It's a window into Nintendo.

Granted, it's a tiny, heavily regulated window, but it's a window nonetheless. For a company notorious for being secretive, it's great to have the opportunity to take a peek inside at the action. Coupled with the insanely awesome Iwata Asks, it really allows you to take a look inside what Nintendo is doing. It's like a commentary/making of/behind the scenes for a film. Too cool.

Overall, Nintendo Direct is one of the best ways for Nintendo to stay current and in the public eye, and they know it. They have all the right tools and abilities, and know that they're the only ones that do. So they take advantage of it. And it's presented in a fun way, too. So smart.

As a side note, I would highly recommend watching the Nintendo of Europe and Nintendo of Japan presentations if you don't already. Even though you might not understand all of Japan's presentation, it's very interesting to see the individualized content for each region. And that includes interviews and presenters as well. Definitely worth checking out.

Thank you, Nintendo of Europe.

I would also recommend searching out the smaller presentations. An example would be the Pikmin 3 Direct (Japan exclusive). The whole thing had a much more casual attitude, with crew members heard laughing offscreen at jokes, multiple cameras, dialogue over gameplay, and just an overall more conversational atmosphere. It was like Miyamoto had his own talk show.

Bottom line? Nintendo knows what they're doing. And even though every presentation might not have the most breaking news ever for you, you're still informed to what's happening by the primary source. It is very much appreciated on this end.