Monday, April 22, 2013

Injustice Gods Among Us DLC Character Predictions

My local GameStop has a great manager who talked me into purchasing Injustice Gods Among Us for Nintendo Wii U this past weekend.  Originally I had just planned to trade a few things in after doing some cleaning in my office and potentially purchasing Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon for Nintendo 3DS, which was sold out.  I had heard great things about the game and love DC Comics, so it was not a hard sell (especially with 30% extra trade-in value when buying the game netted me an additional $6 or $7 in-store credit).  I am glad I was talked into it because it is a superb fighting game with an excellent story mode.

I do not want to spoil anything, and I have not completed enough of the game to write a full review.  Taking that into consideration, I started to think about other ways I could talk about the game.  With the announcement that interstellar gun-for-hire Lobo would be the first character available as DLC, I got a little inspiration considering the characters I want to see from the game that were not included in the first batch on disc.  Without further ado, here is my spoiler free wishlist of DLC characters for Injustice.

DC Comics' Lobo as he will be seen in Injustice.
Starfire is an easy first choice for me.  Her character has been rebranded several times over the years, but her current incarnation in Red Hood and the Outlaws is much more mature than in the past.  Starfire, a.k.a. Koriand'r, is an alien from the planet Tamaran gifted with flight, super strength, endurance, and durability, so she already fits the fighting build.  She also has optic beam and energy burst projection to flesh out her Super Moves.  Additionally most casual fans recognize her from Teen Titans the animated series.  Considering Cyborg, Raven, and Nightwing are already in the game, this all bodes well for her.  Cyborg even retains his voice actor from the animated series.  Fans will love hearing him scream his patented catchphrase from the show in game.

Likelihood of DLC appearance: Very High considering her powers, look, and relevance

Starfire behind Arsenal and Red Hood on the cover of Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 from DC Comics' "The New 52" relaunch
Another character made famous by inclusion in the popular Teen Titans animated series, Beast Boy is a much less likely DLC character, but he is certainly not less interesting.  Beast Boy is a changeling, meaning he can swap forms with animals that he recalls from memory.  This would be difficult to implement in a game, but potentially the developers could give him basic fighting moves and pick several easier to code animal forms for significant attacks like Super Moves.

Likelihood of DLC appearance: Slim due to difficult implementation

Beast Boy as depicted in the Teen Titans animated series from Cartoon Network

Both of these characters are hyper-intelligent primates with super strength and physical attributes.  Either would fit beatifully with oversized brawlers already in the game (Bane and Solomon Grundy).  Mallah has ties to both Beast Boy and the Titans, but Grodd typically is seen battling the more prevalent Justice League.  Grodd can even be seen in the background of one of the stages.  I am not sure if the background featured characters are excluded as DLC since they already appear in game or not.  I have also spotted Martian Manhunter, Mister Terrific, Hugo Strange, Metallo, and Parasite in the background on several stages, so I hope all of those wonderful characters are not excluded.  It would be hard to justify using a character while also seeing them in the background though.

Likelihood of DLC appearance: Middle of the road, could be yes based on abilities and relative ease of implementation, could be no based on Grodd appearing already as a background character

Gorilla Grodd in battle armor highlighted by the Injustice Wikia page in the background of a fight between Catwoman and Solomon Grundy

I have a special place in my comic loving heart for the outcast team of The Doom Patrol.  Most readers do not know about them even though they appearred in cameo roles in both the Teen Titans series due to their connection with Beast Boy as well as the wonderful animated Batman the Brave and the Bold.  I list the team generically because I would love seeing any of them in the game.  If I had to narrow it down I would say Elasti-Woman, Negative Man, Robotman, or Ambush Bug.  I would love to see Negative Man or Ambush Bug more than anyone else.  I could additionally see Bumblebee in the game, but that is due to another Teen Titans animated connection.

Likelihood of DLC appearance: Slim due to higher profile characters being ahead of them

Cover to DC Comics' Doom Patrol 121 from the original series run

I almost did not even put the Metal Men.  They did appear in Batman the Brave and the Bold, but they are on the fringe of recognizability in the grand scheme of things.  Their backstory consists of Dr. Will Magnus creating humanoid robots out of several metallic elements of the periodic table.  There are Gold, Iron, Lead, Mercury, Platinum, and Tin robots on the team.  I think the Metal Men may even be behind the Doom Patrol in terms of marketability, but they are loveable characters.  The biggest problem here aside from low popularity is determining which of the elements to pick.  The team might make more sense as background characters if Magnus Labs was chosen as a DLC map.  I am not sure that any DLC maps are planned though.

Likelihood of DLC appearance:  As playable almost zero chance, higher chance as background characters in a DLC stage

The Metal Men standing with Dr. Magnus, Platinum is the female character

These characters are substantially more recognizable than most of the ones I mentioned previously.  Captain Cold is from the Flash's rogues gallery (and the Flash enemies will most likely take at least one DLC slot, since they are second only to Batman's enemies in terms of uniqueness and recognizability), while Mr. Freeze of course is known for giving Batman a hard time in Gotham.  I could see either character getting some DLC attention, but I would put my money on Captain Cold simply because Harley Quinn, Bane, and the Joker already represent Gotham's villains in the game.  If Captain Cold does not get added, then look for either Mirror Master or Captain Boomerang to be added to give the Flash fits.  They could also add Reverse Flash, but I suspect a costume for the real Flash accomplishes the same thing.  I did read that Ed Boon, who directed Injustice, asked fans to vote for either Martian Manhunter or Reverse Flash for DLC, so we may see a lot of interesting twists and variations on items covered in this list in the future DLC releases for the game.

Likelihood of DLC appearance: High considering their powers and notoriety, second only to Starfire on this list

Captain Cold from DC Comics
That is my list for DLC predictions with Injustice.  I suspect we may see more conventional characters like Vandal Savage (most recognizable from his role in the animated DVD/Blu-Ray release of Justice League: Doom) in the future, but this list was meant to capture characters I personally hope to see in the game some day.  I have been a DC Comics fan for a long time, so all of the details above were pulled from memory.  I only ventured onto the web to pull source links and images as well as check spelling.  

Everyone should play this game, especially if you have ever enjoyed a fighting game before or if you are a DC Comics fan.  The mechanics are sound (think Mortal Kombat as a reference point more so than Street Fighter), the story is engaging, and the game looks great.  

Hopefully some of my predictions prove to be true as more DLC characters are revealed.  Feel free to leave your DLC wishlist in the comments!

- Scott

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Analysis: The Wii U Launch Part 2 Turning on the System

So you bought a Wii U, now what?  Well if you bought a launch Wii U, then your first boot is greeted by one of the most daunting day 1 software updates in history.  Initially the press was unable to complete their reviews of the hardware because this patch, which enabled core system components like MiiVerse and the digital store front Nintendo eShop, was not available until hours before retail released the console into the wild (Engadget story the day the patch went live:  The patch was bulky and slow to download, and confusion and/or bad luck during the install caused some gamers to accidentally brick their consoles, which means render them inoperable (source:  Truth be told I tried to find an article stating when the day 1 patch was included in the retail shipments of Wii U.  I want to believe that anyone who buys the console moving forward no longer has to do this, but unfortunately I do not have anything supporting that.  The software should be a more recent version in retail now than what early adopters dealt with.

Getting past the patch issues, what happens next?  Unlike former Nintendo systems, on the Wii U users get to create an online account that allows them to access MiiVerse and the Nintendo eShop.  There are some quirky things about how Nintendo implemented user accounts.  For starters there are no system level achievements (something gamers who have experience with Steam, Xbox, or PlayStation have gotten used to seeing).  Also your accounts are tied to your console, which means unless you contact Nintendo for assistance with a legitimately busted system, your purchases, save data, etc. are stuck on the hardware you created your account on.  This also differs from some system, such as Xbox, where you can look-up your account on a friend's system and move your ID over for multiplayer sessions.  Doing a Google search for this topic brings up a myriad of articles focused on what happens if your console breaks as well as what happens if you buy a used console (search results:

The good news is that most of the scary stuff is out of the way.  The good stuff is more fun to talk about.  For starters, taking a step back and looking at the hardware, the Wii U is much sleeker and entertainment center friendly than previous Nintendo machines.  The GamePad itself is sturdy.  The buttons feel good, and the device is not too heavy.  You can check the system out at demo kiosks in most major electronic stores and GameStop locations, so I will not belabor the design here nor will I deep dive into the tech, which is pretty interesting in and of itself (check the Iwata asks hardware edition for some cool details or check out iFixit's teardown  One additional note though, all Wii peripherals are meant to be compatible with the system.  I honestly have only used my Wii-mote during the system transfer process and while playing Nintendoland, but Wii-motes, the motion sensor, the Wii Balance Board, etc. should all be compatible with your Wii U system.  The system does play Wii discs, albeit through a built in emulator.  I kind of lied before about being done with the scary stuff, but this part is optional.  If you owned a Wii and opt to move your content to a Wii U, there is a system transfer process that is honestly more trouble than it is worth.  Not all games are transferrable (Lost Winds refused to transfer from my system, and the content that does transfer as well as your ability to play Wii discs are all driven by an emulator as I mentioned before.  You basically have to switch your console into Wii compatibility mode via an application on the home menu.  The process takes quite a while, and it may not be entirely worth it.  The Wii U cannot play GameCube games, so some people may prefer to just keep the Wii connected if they still use it for an extensive library of Virtual Console games, any WiiWare titles that do not transfer, or to play GameCube discs.  The only other note on hardware I have is that you may also want to purchase a separate hard drive.  The Wii U comes in two SKUs, Deluxe and Basic.  Even the Deluxe only has less than 30 GBs of storage available for game data, which is not much for digital game buyers (storage details:, external hard drive guidelines:

As far as applications go, there are some decent ones baked into the system as well as some cool stuff available on the Nintendo eShop.  As usual Nintendo charm is apparent in everything.  The music is relaxing on almost every menu you navigate to, and the interface is intuitive.  One thing you will notice right away is the Wara-Wara plaza.  This is the main screen where Miis congregate across systems.  You will be treated to the most popular MiiVerse posts here, and you can set what type of games you want displayed in the plaza via parental controls (I had to swap to child friendly titles after the ZombiU stuff kept popping up).  There is a great article with Nintendo developers and executives explaining the motivation for this type of social platform on a gaming console or as they call it "an empathy network" (  It goes into more detail than I will, but some of the features include posting screenshots from games you are in, liking posts from other uses (called "Yeah" in MiiVerse), and more recently filtering content based on who actually owns the game or who you are friends with.  The features are actually very similar to communities in Steam for PC gamers.  It can be a lot of fun aside from the excessive "should I get this game?" posts and the small percentage of users begging for "Yeah" responses.  They are constantly updating and improving the social aspects based on feedback as well.

Finally before wrapping up this installment, I want to heap some praise on Nintendo for dramatically improving its digital store.  The Nintendo eShop (same name as the 3DS Nintendo eShop; however, they are not currently connected nor do they share accounts or currency, stay tuned for news from Nintendo on that front) contains a lot of first day digital games, some great Indie titles, and soon a full Virtual Console.  They are releasing Virtual Console games one per month for 30 cents leading up to the full Virtual Console launch later this year.  I believe Kirby's Adventure is the current 30 cent title as of this writing.  You can also connect your eShop account to Club Nintendo for great rewards including games and physical products.  Nintendo has run Club Nintendo for a long time, and it is a hidden gem.  The rewards are often times rare merchandise or full games, and it is easier now than ever to get credit for hardware and game purchases (you can also take surveys on the games you buy for additional points).  This is separate from Nintendo's "Digital Deluxe" promotion for early purchasers of the Deluxe Wii U SKU (for details on that promotion go here:  Club Nintendo has been around for a while and hopefully will continue on for a while.  Nintendo posts "How To" videos on their YouTube channel on some of these services, and I linked one related to Club Nintendo for reference.  How to connect a Club Nintendo account to your Nintendo eShop data:  Nintendo has significantly bridged the divide with Indie developers with this console, which will be a great content generation source moving forward (source:

The future is bright for the system software.  The eShop continues to get content, MiiVerse is coming to smartphones and tablets (source:, loading times will be improved with a couple of planned system updates (loading times to be discussed in a future installment), and the full Virtual Console will launch later this year.  I got a little long winded on this installment of the Wii U launch analysis, but if you have questions about the system not covered above, feel free to sound off in the comments.

- Scott

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Analysis: The Wii U Launch Part 1 Media and Consumer Criticism

In November of 2012, Nintendo launched the Wii U, its first high definition home video game console.  The primary message of Nintendo's marketing campaigns and expo presentations focused on the asymmetric gameplay capabilities permitted by the new tablet controller, the Wii U GamePad.  Despite the excitement surrounding Nintendo's famous franchises making the leap into HD, the console launch has been somewhat marred by customer confusion, cumbersome system software, and a lack of exciting games.  Originally Nintendo stated that the console "launch window" would run from November of 2012 through March of 2013, and now that March 2013 has come and gone, this series of articles is being written as one Nintendo fan's thoughts on what went right with the launch and what went wrong.

Nintendo originally announced the Wii U in 2011.  The console had to be re-introduced at E3 2012 due to widespread confusion over what the system actually was.  The naming convention ("Wii U" versus "Wii 2" or a different name altogether) as well as Nintendo's focus on the GamePad peripheral made consumers and media alike claim the new system was not a new system at all but instead an add-on for the original Wii.  Most recently at the 2013 PAX East expo, Nintendo handed out what have been deemed as "absurd" and "embarrassing" flyers promoting its latest console over its previous one (source Kotaku:  This just further proves the identity crisis Nintendo has caused for itself.  Focusing more on the hardware and not just the controller or branding the system a little differently could have helped this substantially before it happened, but it is what it is.

Getting past the identity issues leads many people to a frequent complaint against Nintendo from non-fans of their products.  Nintendo is often accused of focusing on gimmick controllers and not bleeding edge hardware.  I have never had an issue with this (though I heartily dislike motion controlled Zelda), but people are frequently confused by new input devices.  Nintendo's GamePad (pictured) is actually very close to what Nintendo has done with the DS/3DS hardware in terms of gameplay concepts.  They provide asymmetric ways to interact with game worlds.  Many developers have yet to fully capitalize on what is available, but flashes of brilliance can be found in games like ZombiU and Lego City Undercover (to be further addressed in future installments of this series).  Nintendo's famous game designer Shigeru Miyamoto has spoken at length about two screen capabilities, and the company has pushed for this ever since they provided capabilities to connect Game Boy systems to the Nintendo GameCube years ago (Miyamoto interviews with Wired and CNN respectively:,  I tend to agree with the legend, let's give developers time to make the tablet sing.

From a sales perspective, the numbers match the criticism detailed above.  The system is constantly selling lower than the 3DS, Sony Playstation Vita, and Playstation 3 in Japan, while in Europe and the United States Microsoft's XBOX 360 is dominating it.  European retailers tried a price cut to stimulate sales to no avail (source My Nintendo News:  Quite frankly the price is not terrible, but the software needs to be better.  Several games have missed the launch window, and a large portion of the games that made launch are lackluster ports missing DLC or games that have been available on other consoles for months.  The software will be there eventually, but it is not there yet.

Over the next several installments of this series I will be digging into the hardware itself, the system software, and the current game library (both digital and retail).  Feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree with the analysis in the comments.

- Scott