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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Super Mario Bros. 2 Game Review # 6

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the third iteration in the New Super Mario Bros. series and a direct sequel to the original New Super Mario Bros.. Bowser and his Koopalings have once again captured Peach although this time a touch of Wario has been added in the sense that a large focus is placed on collecting coins. The game was recently released and is currently available everywhere and is also available through the eShop for download.

The gameplay is still the same tried and true formula. The mini and mega mushroom return and for the first time since Super Mario Bros. 3 you are able to fly with the super leaf. As mentioned earlier collecting coins is a large part of the experience as many new power ups and challenges revolve around collecting coins. Whether it be a coin block that can give differing amount of coins when you hit it, a coin block for a head which trips coins with every movement, or making everything turn into coins and gold around you. You might ask why you would want to collect coins. Nintendo is tracking the worldwide number of coins collected and a bonus is added if you collect a million coins. For beginners this game adds the ability to become practically invincible after 5 deaths on a level. Only a few things can kill you and that is mostly falling which jumping is a lot easier when invincible. For veteran gamers, finding the three star coins in each level is still the way to test your skill which these coins later help unlock more advanced levels.

The music and graphics are decent. Unfortunately there were no memorable tracks that I can remember but I also can't think of any complaints about the music other then not being a fan of the "wah wahs" still but that is not going to change and is not a deal breaker at all. I felt the 3D was not as important in this game as other titles. It did not look bad but I did not feel the added depth helped playing this particular game. There was no  added benefit in my opinion apart from it looking nice with 3D on. The graphics themselves are standard. Nothing should blow you away but everything looked just fine.

As far as bonus modes you are able to play 2-player co-op and have a vs. mode called Coin Rush. Unfortunately the 2-player mode requires both people to have a copy of the game which unfortunately for those that have multiple people on the same game then this mode can not be used. Coin Rush can be a lot of fun challenging friends and rivals scores. The stages are random so you are not able to memorize a plan with the packs that come with the game. If wanting to prove yourself against a set pack then there is DLC available where everyone plays the same thing. For veteran players you can also find some advanced packs available to truly test your skills available also.

For beginner players I can not recommend this game enough. The issues in the first New Super Mario Bros. have been fixed with the invincibility power up which can be used if you need it. No worried on getting stuck on one part ever again. For veteran players there is still star coins, secret paths, and even advanced levels, Of course there is also Coin Rush to challenge others or download the DLC and challenge the world or just take on some really hard extra levels. There is definitely something for everyone here and I would recommend it to anyone with a 3DS.

Animal Crossing DLC Nintendo News # 6

DLC has been a large topic in recent news due to paid DLC in New Super Mario Bros. 2. With the upcoming release of Animal Crossing: New Leaf for Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo had been asked whether it too will also have paid DLC. Previous iterations of Animal Crossing has had free DLC which included items that were only available during a short window. Nintendo President, Satoru Iwata, has confirmed that all DLC for New Leaf will be free. Iwata has stated that, "we were concerned that a game in which you enjoy yourself more by the power of money would not be suitable". Iwata went on to state that, "we would like to find the type of add-on content consumers will find enjoyable in each game". This news definitely will be important for future releases also as Nintendo does appear to be more focused on DLC more then ever before.

Donkey Kong Nintendo History # 6

When people think early Mario they usually go with Super Mario Brothers. Saving the Princess with your Brother Luigi against Bowser. But it wasn't long before that that the Brothers were not even super. No saving Princesses or Bowser. Going a tad further there were no Mario Brothers at all. Just Mario although his name was Jumpman back then. Before he was known as a plumber he was originally known as a carpenter. You are tasked with saving your girlfriend who is a damsel in distress who is kidnapped by your mistreated pet Gorilla, Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong is considered to be one of the earliest examples of the platform game. It was the first to feature jumping. Winning meant successfully jumping over pits and obstacles to get to the damsel in distress. Donkey Kong is also considered to be the earliest game with a storyline that was revealed on screen.

The birth of Mario could not be told without talking about Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto had started working at Nintendo in 1979. By 1981 Miyamoto had helped with creating art for Nintendo's first coin-operated arcade video game, Sheriff. He also helped develop Radar Scope, an early cabinet arcade game. Radar Scope did well in Japan but poorly in North America. Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi decided to convert all unsold Radar Scope units into a new arcade game. Miyamoto was tasked with this while Gunpei Yokoi supervised. Nintendo was pursuing a license at this time to create a game based on Popeye. When this fell through Miyomoto decided to model the three characters of Donkey Kong off of the the three main characters in Popeye. Yamauchi wanted to target the North American market with an English title which caused Miyamoto to name the game after the ape. Miyamoto was hoping the name of the ape would convey the sense "stupid ape. The creation of the game came from Miyamoto coming up with concepts. These were very complex. Finally Miyamoto was able to work with the technicians and Yokoi to find a concept that worked.

Most of Nintendo of America had reservations but the first president of Nintendo of America, Minori Arakawa, swore it would be big. The damsel in distress became Pauline, after Polly James who was wife of Nintendo's Redmond warehouse manager. Jumpman became Mario after Mario Segale who was the office landlord. Nintendo's American distributors started with two machines at two different local bars. These machines did so well that all of Nintendo of America began converting 2,000 Radar Scope units into Donkey Kong units. These sold quickly and within about a year Nintendo had sold 60,000 Donley Kong machines. The money from this first year was what bought land for Nintendo of America's headquarters.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Super Mario Bros. Game Review # 5

The New Super Mario Bros. series has been around for a while with games in the series being available on every Nintendo platform available since its first release with an upcoming Wii U entry in the series being available at its launch. By this time the New in New Super Mario Bros. isn't exactly as strong as it was when the first game was released but at that time it was the first side-scrolling game starring Mario in almost 15 years. This review is about that first game and why even today it still belongs in your game collection.

We will get the plot out of the way quickly. Princess Peach has been kidnapped and you must defeat Bowser to rescue her. If you were expecting a great story then the Mario platformers are not where you should be looking.

The gameplay is perfect. If you die you never feel its the games fault which is a sign of great gameplay. Mario has some moves from his 3D platform adventures which are now at his disposal for the first time in 2D. You are able to do a triple jump which allows you to go higher on the second jump and even higher on the third jump when jumping consecutively. You also are able to wall jump. The wall jump in particular has saved me from jumping out of bottomless pits where I would have died in previous 2D Mario platformer games. The mini-mushroom and mega-mushroom are two big additions to the power ups which have been seen again in future games. There is a good challenge in this game for all gamers. Advanced players will find fun in collecting all the star coins in each level of which there are three per level. Beginner players will still find a challenge where a game over means starting over from the last save which could send you back to the previous castle you beat unless you saved after spending star coins on a different route on the main map. For these beginners this will force them to improve on the levels they have till the next save spot until they are able to complete them or collect star coins from previous levels to get more opportunities to save. There are also cannons which can be used to skip levels which can be found which can help these beginners if stuck but the future levels will only get harder. There are also alternate worlds which paths to them can be found which can also be used to get further into the game.

In addition to the main mode there are mini-games which should be noted. If you don't own Super Mario 64 DS then there will be some mini-games that came with that game which are also available for this game. If you do already own that game then none of these will be new. Some are only single player and can be fun to try to get the top score. Others are available for local multiplayer against others where the other players don't even need to own the game themselves to play. Even more then the mini-games there is an extra mode called Mario vs. Luigi which also a local multiplayer game which does not require the other player to own the game. This mode is unique to this game and to me this mode is a huge selling point. When my original copy which was 100 percent completed was stolen I bought this game again just so that I could still play this mode. The point of this mode is to either collect a set limit of stars (which this limit is set before playing) or the other player must run out of lives (unless this is set to unlimited). This mode is perfect for those that want to prove their Mario skills over someone else. I've spent hours playing this mode. As an advanced player it kept me coming back to test out my skills against others. I also have seen beginners have fun with this mode. It may not look as intense but for two beginners having someone at their own skill definitely is a challenge in itself.

When it comes to the graphics they are what you expect from 3D graphics in a 2D platformer. They don't wow but they are definitely not ugly. There are no issues with graphics that would effect the gameplay either which the gamplay is the most important part for a platformer. The music is typical Mario. The main theme is memorable and has become important to the New Super Mario Bros. series. I felt the music was great but I'm not a big fan of the "wah" noises in every song which is a mainstay in this series. It is a nice touch seeing the enemies react to these "wah" noises though.

If you are an advanced player with other advanced player/s living locally that don't own this game then the Mario vs. Luigi mode makes this a must by. You will thank me. For everyone else I would still recommend this game. This series is fantastic but I do feel that the Wii and 3DS game is better for beginners (the upcoming Wii U also appears to be beginner friendly also) but if you don't have the ability to play those games then this entry still does not try to be too hard. For other advanced players without the need for the mode mentioned above then collecting all the star coins can make this game hard and I recommend trying to collect them all instead of just trying to complete the game as the game by itself does not have much challenge to it.

Wii U Online Chat Nintendo News # 5

Some big Nintendo news recently coming out has been about the Wii U. In-game voice chat is not being handled by Nintendo but handled by developers for game-by-game support and we will see this available in Mass Effect 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and Assassin's Creed III. How this in-game voice chat is used is the news. We have learned the microphone built into the GamePad cannot be used for voice chat. The only way to use voice chat is through a headset. The jack for the wired headset is in the GamePad only so those that use the wired headset with the Pro Controller will still need to plug the headset into the GamePad. All headsets will be made by third parties and PDP has elaborated on a wireless headset that they have which can be used with the Wii U. PDP has said this headset will work through the WII U USB port which only games that are designed to use this option will work with the wireless headset.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Virtual Boy Nintendo History # 5

This is article is about the first 3D Nintendo handheld. Not the Nintendo 3DS. The Virtual Boy. The system is also known as the only Nintendo system to fail. This is surrounded by a history of systems by Nintendo that always turned a profit at the very least.

The story of the Virtual Boy begins with Gunpei Yokoi. At the time of the Virtual Boy, Yokoi was the general manager of Nintendo's Research & Development 1 division. During this period Nintendo allowed some of the divisions (including R&D1) to experiment with new ideas for products. Nintendo reportedly wanted focus to be brought to the Nintendo 64 and pre-maturely released the Virtual Boy. Yokoi supposedly did not feel it was ready for retail. Nintendo attempted to make the console with the cheapest options. The reason for the red color was due to red being the cheapest color for LEDs. Color displays supposedly would have caused quality issues. The price of the Virtual Boy was $180 despite these cost saving measures. This was lower then home consoles but considerably more costly then Nintendo's previous handheld, The Nintendo Game Boy. The system was never intended to replace the Nintendo Game Boy. This was in part due to the system not being very mobile as you need a flat surface for it to rest on.

Nintendo spent $25 million on early promotional activities. Nintendo expected to sell 3 million systems within a year. The system had a huge push from Blockbuster to allow the system to be rented for $10 at the time to try the system out which lead to 750,000 rentals of the system. Only 770,000 units were sold before Nintendo discontinued the product without even a press release. The system did not even last one whole year.

The House of the Dead: Overkill Game Review # 4

If you have been to a few arcades then odds are you have seen The House of the Dead series. I have memories playing a few lives in a few of the games throughout my life. I don't remember getting far or beating any but they were fun games to play with a friend. When the Wii first came out it was seen as a great console for the genre of rail shooters which are fairly non-existent out of the arcade scene. The House of the Dead: Overkill might be a few years old but it has been re-released on other consoles fairly recently.

The first thing to note is when this game says its Mature, it is Mature. The game had the Guinness World Record for the most profane video game at the time of its release. Expect to hear swearing pretty constantly with the f-bomb being dropped 189 times during the game. Also expect a lot of sexual themes throughout the entire game. Also gore is to be expected and expected even more then what you would think for a House of the Dead video game.

Although the game is a part of a series of games, you do not need to play the other games. The story is a prequel to the other games but when I play it feels almost like a spin off. Almost like an alternate world. The game is linked to the other games slightly but I don't feel there is much satisfaction knowing those links when you play the game. The story has you going through different settings. Each setting the goal is usually the same. The plot isn't exactly the most brilliant thing ever created but it serves its purpose. The game is meant to feel like a B-Movie. This is very obvious the entire time. What is brilliant is just how random the game can be. If you like cheesy then you will love it. The dialogue can be just as random with tons of one liners.

The music in the game is fairly good. There were several songs that I thought were nice and others that weren't as nice. It was good overall surprisingly. The visually are very gritty and do a good job trying to be B-movie quality. The entire setting does make you feel like you are in a B-movie.

I do have to comment that despite the game trying its best to look un-polished like a B-movie it does have a few-unpolished elements that I feel were not on purpose. Upgrades and new weapons are unlocked with money but you only get money from getting on the leader board  The higher on the scorecard the better the money. The issue is if you are really great and top the scorecard several times then money is slower to gain the more you can't top your own scores until you rarely get money at all. The upgrades and weapons are not carried over to the directors cut version of the game either which means all the work done at the beginning is just to get to the better Directors Cut levels and having to work to unlock everything again. On a rare occasion the game has glitched in various ways such as game breaking glitches. On one boss fight I played the bosses health stopped going down despite me doing everything perfectly.

If you are looking for a good rail shooter then the game is great despite the glitches. I would not recommend to those that are looking for something not so over the top or not as cheesy. The game is fun when playing with a friend and does a great job being unique even unique from the other entries in the same series.