Mighty the Armadillo finally shows up to save Ray the Flying Squirrel—just in the nick of time—as he’s ambushed by Metal Sonic in this fourth episode in the Sonic Mania Adventures mini-series.
Mighty and Ray are two characters that have been missing since the early 90s and have not shown up in a game since. There’s even a running joke that has Missing posters of them posted throughout the City Escape level of Sonic Generations—alluding that Sega was well aware of not having used the characters in a while.
The good news is that they are no longer missing as this new episode for Sonic Mania Adventures has Mighty and Ray battling Metal Sonic. This episode also serves as an introduction to the characters prior to their debut in Sonic Mania Plus, which will finally feature them as playable characters.
Might the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel will be available as free downloadable content for people who already own Sonic Mania, and will be included with Sonic Mania Plus when the game releases—both physically and digitally—on the 17th of July.
When creating Sonic Mania Plus, the game started out as a digital-only title, but requests from both inside and outside the company made Sonic Team release it physically as well. Because it would be difficult to sell the physical version with the same price as the digital, however, the producers added extra elements to compensate the price hike, like new characters and Encore Mode. When it came to deciding the additional features, Sonic Team followed Sonic Mania‘s way of giving a stimulus to fans’ curiosities and expectations by adding Ray and Mighty, two highly requested characters, to the game, despite the two characters being considered “sealed characters” by Takashi Iizuka. When the team had to decide on Mighty and Ray’s special actions, Mighty received his “Hammer Drop” after the team reflected on his “strong guy” setting and hard shell, while Ray received his “Air Glide” as a callback to his species
After more than a year and a half of speculation, we finally know what Nintendo’s NX project is: the Nintendo Switch. The company revealed the first details today via a three-minute video posted to its website. You can watch it above, and read our breakdown of the trailer here.
The Switch isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s been following rumors surrounding the system. It is, as has been reported, a hybrid device — the console itself is essentially a tablet, yet it’s designed to be hooked up to a TV for home use. The tablet has two controller modules that attach onto the side for regular portable play, and they can be detached for on-the-go multiplayer or attached together to form something that resembles a regular controller.
It is simultaneously low-key and extraordinarily ambitious. Here are a few quick thoughts based on the trailer.
The name is good! It’s catchy, it conveys the core concept, and it’s altogether new. That’s three points over the Wii U, at least.
The hardware is… complex. Nintendo has its work cut out explaining how on earth these controllers are going to be used in practice. The video’s scenario of two Switch systems with four split controllers being used to play an NBA game beside an actual basketball court late at night seems impractical, to say the least. And attaching the controllers to the tablet had better be as effortless as the video makes it seem.
The system isn’t aimed at kids. At least, that’s not how Nintendo wants to position it right now. The trailer is all about how the Switch’s versatility helps it slot into the lives of the types of busy, young, mostly male adults you’d find in a typical tech company’s ads.
We still know almost nothing about the Switch’s power. The tablet base unit has actual vents, which is unusual for a mobile device and possibly puts the custom Nvidia chip in the ballpark of the Shield Android TV. As for the screen’s resolution or overall quality — or even if it’s touch-sensitive — we’ll have to wait for further announcements. But moving to mobile hardware is probably a smart decision, because Nintendo has been technically outgunned for the past two console generations without having many advantages to show for the low-power approach.
All in all, the Switch looks like a unique product that will no doubt serve as an effective canvas for Nintendo’s frequently dazzling software output over the next few years. It’s a smarter, more flexible realization of the Wii U concept, and I’m going to buy one.
But then I always was, and it’s reasonable to wonder who else will. The Wii U, which was largely a disaster for Nintendo, traded on a similar but less practical hybrid approach where the tablet-style controller only worked inside the home and was used differently across various games. It was mishandled at every level, causing Nintendo to squander the dominant position it attained with the Wii.
Nintendo’s genius with the Wii was to identify and define an untapped userbase, resulting in what was to all intents and purposes a market of one — tens of millions of people bought Wiis that would never have considered an Xbox. But by the time the Wii U launched, that userbase had moved on; the rise of mobile gaming appeared to have captured the same type of customer that would have been interested in a casual console. Or there was the possibility that the Nintendo Wii’s success was more like a novel toy than a game console.
The Wii U was a feeble effort to keep up with the shift of non-traditional gamers to touchscreen gaming, seeing Nintendo losing its nerve and chasing the puck rather than skating to where it was going to be. The system was slow, the tablet hardware was laughable, and the platform was archaic. As a vector for excellent software for Nintendo fans, it was well worth buying; for almost anyone else, it wasn’t. Since its late 2012 launch it’s sold just 13 million units, the lowest figure for any Nintendo home console by some distance.
I don’t know if the Switch can sell any fewer than 13 million units — my suspicion is that that figure isn’t a great deal larger than the absolute baseline of Nintendo fans who will buy every system no matter what. But how many more can it sell?