Tag Archives: Mario

2014-2015 Game Trailer Compilation

I decided it would be totally rad to take several of my favorite game trailers from E3 and mix them all together into one video, like a giant, delicious, Jason’s Deli salad. The kind that has more bacon than lettuce. Enjoy!

 

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Mario Kart 8 Review

The latest installment in the world’s #1 karting series is finally here. After decades of great racing experiences, Mario Kart 8 aims to be the culmination and perfection of all that came before it, and it surpasses that goal with ease. The core gameplay of Mario Kart 8 is as brilliantly fun as ever, and this eighth entry feels like the crowning achievement of the series.

Continue reading Mario Kart 8 Review

How Nintendo (might have) Just Revolutionized In-App Purchases

Last week during a new Nintendo Direct live stream, Nintendo announced a bunch of new games as well as more info on previously-announced titles. Most people are talking about the biggest news, like the confirmed release date for Mario Kart 8 (May 30th woo!) or the latest addition to the Super Smash Bros. roster. But something completely different caught my eye. It’s something I never really saw coming, but it has real game-changing potential in the realm of IAPs (In-App Purchases).

Before we go any further, let’s talk about IAPs briefly. In case you’ve been living under a rock, IAP is a rather brilliant idea that Apple started (or at least made famous) with the App Store. It actually started as a good thing. You download an app and it’s yours, but you can spend additional money within the app to unlock more features. It was all well and good until people figured out a way to warp it, so now there are two “types” of IAPs:

Type A) You spend real money to buy a permanent component of the game that becomes yours forever (level packs, bonus items, upgrades, etc.)

Type B) You spend real money to get fake money, and when you have spent all that fake money in-game, you have to go back and buy more fake money using more real money. And down, down, down the spiral you go.

In case you were wondering, Type B is total garbage and a dirty way to get people to spend their cash. Logan covers this very well in his most recent article. I wanted to stop and make this clarification because I believe Nintendo will never stoop as low as “Type B” IAPs. What they have done is revolutionized “Type A,” which was already a perfectly fair method.

“To be fair, it actually looked kind of fun and seemed to be a quality game, but it was what followed the initial explanation that really caught my attention.”

So enough about IAPs. The 3DS game that was announced is called “Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball.” When I heard that title, I started tuning out at first. Most sports-based video games just don’t interest me in the slightest. In Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, you play as some kid who goes around playing baseball-themed minigames. Rustys-Real-Deal-Baseball-HittingEach minigame has a very simple premise (hence the name “minigame” I suppose). You can pitch, catch, bat, ump, play outfield, etc. To be fair, it actually looked kind of fun and seemed to be a quality game, but it was what followed the initial explanation that really caught my attention. When you aren’t playing these little games, you go to a shop run by a seasoned old baseball player named Rusty Slugger. He will give you tips and hints as well as training. But you can also buy additional game types from him with real-world money. Boom, IAPs. But what’s so different about IAPs in this game?

Bargaining.

“… Rusty will initially charge you $4.00. However, you then have the ability to haggle with him.”

Yup. Bargaining. In Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, when you try to buy a new minigame, Rusty will initially charge you $4.00. However, you then have the ability to haggle with him. You can basically tell him, “I’m not paying that much! Here, how would you like this [insert item] that I collected earlier in the game?” Rusty will then take that thing from you and lower the price. The actual, real-world price. There may be other ways to haggle with him that I don’t know about, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can negotiate at all. It’s a brilliant idea. It gives the player the feeling that they have power over how much money they spend, and at the same time, Nintendo probably only planned for that thing to cost $1-2 anyway. They just started it at $4.00 so you feel good about it once you fight it down to a lower price. It also adds a bit of fun to the fact that you are spending your hard-earned cash. It turns the process into a minigame of its own, rather than just having a cold popup that says, “Are you sure you want to spend all that hard-earned cash? Click OK to confirm!”

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I understand that this could just turn into nothing and we all forget about it in a month. But nevertheless, it is a fantastic idea. If nothing else, it’s a sign that Nintendo continues to aggressively think outside the box. Could you imagine this concept extrapolated out to other games? How about Call of Duty DLC? “This latest map pack cost $15.00… unless you can convince us to drop it to $10.00 by killing 100 zombies in 5 minutes.” Suddenly, the dreaded prospect of having to spend more money has been alleviated by turning it into a game of sorts. A game where I can win back some of my money.

I believe this method is simultaneously beneficial to developers and fair to gamers. But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

8BHP Episode 14 “Nintempto” Show Notes

Listen to this episode here: http://8bitheropodcast.libsyn.com/8bit-heroes-episode-14-nintempto

News

Main Discussion centers around Nintendo, the Wii U as a console, future games and what Nintendo can do, if anything, to improve.

Check out J-Steele’s “Top 5 Most Anticipated Wii U Games” post for a first-look at upcoming Wii U titles discussed in this episode!

Nintendo is Weird

Old_Nintendo_Logo

Written by Jonathan Steele

A few months ago, my wife invited a good friend of hers to visit for dinner. We shall call her Melissa for the sake of the story. Melissa lives out-of-state and was in our area for a few weeks, so my wife thought it would be great to see her. We had a good time eating and talking and just relaxing in general. Later into the evening as we were sitting in our living room, Melissa pointed to my shiny black Wii U GamePad that was sitting prominently on our coffee table and asked, “Is that one of those new video game thingies?” Feeling rather like a nerd, I nonchalantly replied, “Oh yeah that’s the latest Nintendo console. It’s pretty cool. I play it every now and then.” She nodded politely and told me she’d never really been into that stuff, but that it looked cool. The conversation moved on.

Fast forward about a week.

We have Melissa over for dinner again, along with a few other friends of ours that live in the area. After good food and conversation, one of my friends said, “Hey! That’s that new Wii thing isn’t it? Do you think we could give it a try? I’ve never really played one.”

I was a little timid because I knew full-well that the Wii U is most definitely NOT the cool-kid console of today. The Wii U is for the weirdos that don’t play “real” video games for some odd reason, and are “stuck in the past” playing Mario games. I just happen to be one of those weirdos, but I never really cared to make a big deal out of it.

A little nervous, I said, “Well… sure if you guys really want to! Uh… We have this game called ‘Nintendo Land.’ It’s pretty cool. It’s like a series of Nintendo-themed mini-games.”

Dang it. Why oh why did I just suggest that?? I had played Nintendo Land a little bit by myself when I first got the console, and I thought it was so terrible that I wanted to sell it back. The games seemed childish and simple to me, and not much fun at all. But as I expected, they agreed to give it a try. It’s not like they could say “no” at this point. I was beginning to get a little terrified.  These people are going to wonder why a grown man like me even has this stupid game.

“So how does it work?”

“Well… there’s this one game where you… well it’s basically like tag… the person with the GamePad is being chased by everyone else. And there’s another game that’s in a ghost mansion and the person with the GamePad is the ghost and has to scare all the other people while they try to burn him with a flashlight… There’s some other games too.”

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I was feeling pretty dumb at this point. Video games these days are supposed to have big explosions and cool graphics and intense story lines. I was offering virtual tag. My friends were very nice about it though, and said they wanted to play. I could just hear them in five minutes, “Uh that was pretty cool I guess… Do you have any board games?”

Never in a million years could I have predicted what happened next.

It was mass hysteria. There was jumping, screaming, finger-pointing, and tons of laughter. I was in shock. They LOVED it. And keep in mind that the age range here is 22-27. After multiple rounds, Melissa said, ” NOW I understand why my brothers play video games all the time! This is amazing! How much does this thing cost?? I want one!” She had gone from non-gamer to completely enthralled in less than an hour. My other friend told me that next time I visit him, I had better bring this thing with me so he could show his girlfriend. He told me he couldn’t remember the last time he’d had that much fun playing video games.

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Since that day, there have been many other similar stories. I gained confidence in my Wii U and started suggesting it to other groups of visiting friends. They all loved it. One good friend of mine who is an avid Xbox gamer told me that he is seriously considering getting a Wii U based on his Nintendo Land experience alone. Yet another hardcore gamer friend got a taste of Super Mario 3D World and insisted that he continue visiting once a week until we beat the campaign cooperatively. And so he did.

It was in those moments that I realized something about Nintendo: they don’t seem to fully grasp what is “cool” at times, they don’t have the latest graphics, and they don’t really seem to be keeping up with the other major players that well. Nintendo is a little weird. But there is one thing they get right every time: fun. Simple, clean fun. The kind of fun that brings out the kid in you again. This is especially evident in their games that feature local multiplayer. In the age of online gaming, people have all but forgotten what it feels like to sit in the same room with friends and battle it out in a video game. There is something about trash-talking back and forth with your buddy who is actually physically there, or jumping up for a high-five when your team has won. Nintendo Land (which is just one example of many great Wii U games) is as simple and silly as they come. But I double-dog-dare you to play it with your friends without having way more fun than your last Call of Duty match. And Nintendo hasn’t even released Mario Kart 8 yet.

Opinion: The Mario Game I Want

Written by Jonathan Steele

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has never heard the name “Super Mario.” Mario is many things to many people. He’s certainly responsible for many happy childhood moments and superb gaming experiences. Everyone has their own favorite Mario game as well as their own least-favorite. But what is Mario, exactly? Or more specifically, what is a Mario game supposed to be? Is it even “supposed” to be a certain kind of game at all? Many people might think that all Mario games follow pretty much the same formula, but this is actually not the case (with the possible exception of the plot. That never changes. But who plays Mario for the plot anyway?). Allow me to explain.

There are actually two types of Mario games in my opinion (excluding spin-offs): Type A and Type B.

Mario Game Type A Definition

There are multiple worlds, each with their own set of linear levels. Each level places you at a starting point, and your ultimate goal is to reach the end of the level before the time runs out, conquering enemies and overcoming obstacles along the way. When you get to the end of each world there is a final boss, and beating him opens up the next world. Rinse and repeat until you complete the game. The Mario games that fall into this category are:

– Super Mario Bros
– Super Mario Bros 2
– Super Mario Bros 3
– Super Mario World
– New Super Mario Bros
– New Super Mario Bros Wii
– New Super Mario Bros 2
– New Super Mario Bros U
– Super Mario 3D Land
– Super Mario 3D World


Mario Game Type B Definition

There is a single overworld, or “hub,” in which you start the game. From this overworld, multiple levels are accessible. Each of these levels are filled with collectible items and tasks to complete. When you enter a level you are placed at a starting point, and you’re free to roam the entire level with no time limit. For the most part, you can explore any part of a given level and collect items in any way you choose. There are sensible limitations to this freedom based power-up acquisition, item collection, or task completion. The Mario games that fall into this category are:

– Super Mario 64
– Super Mario Sunshine


Now that the stage is set, let’s get down to the main reason I am writing this article: the recently-released Super Mario 3D World was not the Mario game I wanted. At all.

“What!? But didn’t you just give it a very positive review??” Yup. And I still think that SM3DW is a fantastic game. You should play it. But it falls squarely into Mario game Type A, and there are already plenty of those. Conversely, there are only two Type B Mario games.

“Hold on a second. You completely forgot to include Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 in your lists. Those games were awesome.” Yes they were, attentive reader. And I almost included them in the Type B list. After all, they’re pretty much the same, right? There is an overworld that you start in, and the goal is to explore each 3D level with no time limit, collecting items and completing tasks. So what’s the difference?

Freedom. Freedom is the difference.

You see, Super Mario Galaxy started a very subtle change from the 64/Sunshine formula. It was able to create an illusion that you were exploring a huge area because you were in space. Unfortunately that was hardly the case. The Galaxy games forced you down a pretty narrow path, rarely letting you branch out and explore freely. At the end of that path was a star, but it may as well have been a flag pole. You could see great distances, yes. But the area you could actually explore was much smaller. The Galaxy games do give you a few rare glimpses of freedom by allowing you to collect certain stars out of order, or by letting you choose which worlds you entered to some degree, but once you entered the level, it was all about getting to the other end.

But for all of its virtues, freedom does force out one key gameplay mechanic: platforming.

Up until 1996, Mario was defined as a platformer. But in Super Mario 64, platforming was almost nowhere to be seen. Try to think of the levels within Mario 64 that really had lots of freedom and spaces to roam, like Level 1, Bob-omb Battlefield. You know what that place lacks? Platforming challenge. Conversely, what Mario 64 levels do have more platforming challenge? A top example is one of the Bowser stages. But do you know what every Bowser stage in Mario 64 had in common? That’s right. They were all linear.

See, you pretty much can’t have both at the same time. You are either free to explore big open areas, or you are crammed into a predetermined path full of platforming gold. With the Galaxy games, and especially the Super Mario 3D Land/World games, Nintendo has tried desperately to include both. It just isn’t working. Those games are a blast, but I felt claustrophobic in every last one. They leaned heavily on platforming, and they did it very well, but I think I’ve had enough platforming now.

So what do I want? I want a Super Mario game that sends me on an adventure across multiple massive three-dimensional worlds, all filled with enemies, collectibles, secrets, and power ups. I want it to let me explore and run around for hours with few limitations. It doesn’t even have to stick with the star-collecting idea. Maybe there could be a whole new set of goals to achieve. And maybe it could even have what Super Mario Sunshine had: a handful of small stages here and there throughout the game that offer a linear platforming challenge. But once you finish each one, it’s back to the big open world.

In an era of games that are becoming impressively huge, a Mario game of similar scope would be welcome. It might even pull some jaded Nintendo fans back into the Mario universe they once loved so much. Nintendo has been banking heavily on the familiar and the nostalgic lately, and they’ve made some great games, but I believe it’s time for them to venture out and make the Super Mario game that defines a new generation clearly and brazenly. A game that has freedom, enormity, and hours upon hours of adventure. That is the Mario game I want.

What do you think? Would you like to take Mario on a huge, free-roaming escapade as well? Or should he stick to the linear “Type A” platforming that made him famous? Let us know in the comments.

Super Mario 3D World Review

Reviewed by Jonathan Steele

Melting Pot.

That is perhaps the most effective way to describe the latest entry in the 28-year-old Super Mario franchise. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It was as if the developers said, “Let’s take everything that has ever been in any Mario game and throw it together.” That’s an idea that could easily become a disaster, so I commend Nintendo EAD Tokyo for turning it into an amazing and very enjoyable adventure. But after a few-too-many predictable and formulaic Mario games (e.g., later entries in the NSMB series), is Super Mario 3D World the Mario game that will push the franchise forward?

Gameplay Pros

It should be no surprise by now that Mario continues to write the book on stellar gameplay mechanics. SM3DW is no exception. Each level is crafted with insane detail, and it’s extremely impressive how many fresh platforming ideas are presented throughout the game. I simply could not stop playing. As soon as I finished a level, I just HAD to know what the next level offered because I was sure it wouldn’t be more of the same. There were multiple times when playing through a level where I just smiled and thought, “Whoa, that was really clever.” The game’s sheer variety may be its most impressive feature. Wanna defeat Bowser by kicking explosive soccer balls into his rad purple Bowsermobile? Can do. Wanna wear a hat that shoots giant explosive cannonballs at unfortunate goombas? This game is for you. And speaking of cannonball hats, there are more powerups in SM3DW than I could keep track of. Aside from a handful of brand-new ones, there are some interesting re-inventions as well. You can steal a shell from a koopa, then actually jump inside it and become that dreaded shell-on-the-loose. It felt pretty cool.

Controlling Mario feels incredibly precise as well. Most of his signature moves have all made their return (though I do miss the triple-jump terribly) and they are fine-tuned to perfection. If you fall off of a ledge, it’s your own dang fault. I never felt like I told the game to do one thing and it did another. But in this entry, it’s not just about controlling Mario. Every character has their own unique traits, and it’s nice to be able to choose what suits your style best: all-round control (Mario), high jump (Luigi), floating jump (Peach), or sheer speed (Toad). This simple choice adds a variety to the franchise that it hasn’t seen in years.

But it’s not all fun and games and cool powerups. The later worlds also offer substantial challenge. And I mean substantial. The last few stages will be draining your once-impressive 1up stash dry before you can blink. SM3DW may start out as a family-friendly jump-around game with cute cats and lush green fields, but it ends as a harrowing gauntlet of carpal-tunnel-inducing level designs. It took me around 150 tries to complete the final challenge. I think that qualifies as harrowing.

Gameplay Cons

If I had to complain about something, it would be that SM3DW seems quite skittish about letting you play with the same toy for too long. As soon as it gets you excited about a cool idea, the level ends and you never see that idea again. The one exception that comes to mind is the use of Plessie, Yoshi’s much larger water-faring cousin. Plessie kept showing up again and again, each time with a fantastic new level that brought a fresh idea. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the Plessie levels, and I wish that Nintendo would have been so liberal with more of its ideas. The Super Mario Galaxy games (also developed by Nintendo EAD Tokyo) had a much better grasp on this. They would give you multiple scenarios in which to use a single idea before taking it away and presenting the next one. It felt more balanced.

Graphics

Super Mario 3D World will melt your eyeballs right out of their sockets with its brilliant, glowing color. When I first fired the game up, my wife exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! It hurts my eyes!” It truly is a beautiful game to look at, though. Every last block is polished down to the tiniest detail. The textures are gorgeous. The lighting engine is simply astounding, especially in levels that have a sunset or moonlight shining through a thick forest. Yet the game runs at full frame rate without breaking a sweat. Never once did I see it jump or slow down. Well done indeed, Nintendo.

Replay Value

I initially began writing this review a few days ago. I had completed the eight main worlds, defeated the final boss, and unlocked the typical “secret” ninth world (spoiler alert!). I was originally going to write about how Nintendo needs to change it up a little. Eight main worlds plus one extra is just expected now. But then I beat the ninth world, and opened up another. Then another. I stopped writing because I was beginning to wonder if the game was ever going to end. So if you were worried that SM3DW doesn’t have enough content to keep you coming back, you can set your heart at ease. This game has it all: secret paths, an abundance of well-hidden collectibles, intensely challenging worlds, more unlockable levels than you can shake a stick at, and yes, even a secret playable character.

Verdict

We can talk all day about pros and cons, graphics, level design, franchise direction, etc. etc., but there is one thing that cannot be denied about Super Mario 3D World: it is FUN. Very, very fun. You’ll have such a blast playing it, you’ll pretty much forget what it should or shouldn’t be. I believe that is much of what defines Nintendo and what they’re about. While the rest of the world is going on about next-gen and realistic graphics and hardcore war-torn shoot-em-ups, Nintendo is just over in a corner having a lot of fun, and sharing it with those who want to join in. Super Mario 3D World is a prime example. Grab a copy, or find a friend who has one. You’ll be glad you did.

I give Super Mario 3D World a 9.5 out of 10.