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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.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Past Retail Games on eShop Nintendo News # 4

Nintendo has announced that you will be able to go on the eShop and purchase downloadable versions of past titles such as Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Star Fox 64 3D, and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. This has already happened in Europe, November 1st in Japan, and October 18th in North America. Nintendo has in the past focus on this form of purchase such as having New Super Mario Brothers 2 available day one available for download. Nintendo has shown that they want to do this day one download availability with future games as well including games released on the upcoming Wii U. All retail games for the 3DS are available for 39.99.

Seattle Mariners Nintendo History # 4

We have talked about the many different businesses that Nintendo has been in in the past. Nintendo is primarily seen as a video game company but in the past they almost seemed to be able to do anything. This seems to have waned in recent years to where they focus on their core business but other then cards and video games there is still one other business that Nintendo is still involved in. Major League Baseball.

Ever since 1992 Nintendo has been the majority owner of the Seattle Mariners. They are only one of three teams that are actually owned under corporate ownership. Hiroshi Yamauchi has been a majority stockholder of Nintendo to this day as well as being the previous president. Despite him then being the owner of the Seattle Mariners, he has never attended a game. Yamauchi has never traveled to North America and is said to hate travel. Even so his attendance record includes games that were played in Japan by the Seattle Mariners, although he did own tickets during one of these trips by the Seattle Mariners to Japan but the games were canceled due to the Iraq war at the time. He is said to be the only owner to have never seen his team play in person. In 1992 the Seattle Times reported that up to this point, Yamauchi had never even been to any baseball game before. He was on hand during signings for famous Japanese baseball players that were signed to the Mariners. This included Ichiro Suzuki who was a favorite in Japan. Suzuki was said to meet with Yamauchi yearly during his time with the Mariners. Yamauchi's purchase in 1992 is said to be the main reason why the Seattle Mariners did not move back then while they were on the verge of moving. Also Major League Baseball was strongly opposed to someone outside the United States owning a club. He was at first only allowed to have 50 percent voting rights which has increased to 55 since then.

Nintendo's presence is not hidden at Safeco field. There are advertisements and even Mario has visited games. In recent years you have been able to use handheld systems all the way back to the Nintendo DS during the games to do a variety of things. These include ordering food  and drinks (you can also see the progress of the order), viewing player stats, looking up the map of the stadium, watching the live tv game, multiplayer baseball trivia against the entire stadium, and more. This is done over the internet at the stadium and the cost is 5 dollars per game or 30 dollars per season. Nintendo also has rental systems available and also systems are available for purchase during the games. It is rumored this system might become available elsewhere but this has not happened yet.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Kid Icarus: Uprising Game Review # 3

Kid Icarus: Uprising is the 3rd game released in the Kid Icarus series. It had been over 20 years since the last game. In these years there have been many fans wanting a new games while other games from that same 8-bit era had multiple more sequels. The main character had made a few appearances as his 8-bit self in other games. In Super Smash Brothers: Melee, Pit received his first appearance non-8-bit appearance. This was as a 3-D trophy with his old look and the tagline, "Will he ever fight again?". In Super Smash Brothers: Brawl players were able to play as Pit and his appearance was updated. The appearances in the Super Smash Brothers series added a lot of wood to the fire that Nintendo was interested in making another Kid Icarus game. There was truth in the rumors and Masahiro Sakurai, who is the director of the Super Smash Brothers series, directed Kid Icarus: Uprising.

Despite being the 3rd game in the series, there is no need to play the first games. A lot of the information from the earlier games are referenced in the game. Very early in the game, the plot of the original will be explained and in more detail then you would get from playing the original. The plot of the second game is not referenced in the slightest. There are several game play elements from the original which is poked fun at but Uprising does a wonderful job being able to give the player information that would allow them to understand these things without having to have played the original.

The story of the game is very well written. There is a large cast of characters with plenty of new characters. The story rarely plays out to what you expect. The story rarely takes itself seriously as almost anything can trigger a joke from the cast of characters. The jokes can be quite cheesy but I feel this is the route they wanted from the characters. If you really hate the jokes after playing through once then they can be turned off. I personally love the silliness that is the character interaction in this game. The world of Kid Icarus didn't have much depth before this game came out. With this one game I felt like the game world has become as deep as most other series.

The gameplay can be difficult to get used to. There are two main modes. One is where you are on a set path through the air as you dodge and attack enemies. The other mode is where you are on land and have complete freedom to get to the objectives. This game is perfect for someone looking for almost any kind of difficulty. At the beginning of a level you can offer hearts (the currency) to make the games difficulty harder or easier then the normal difficulty. With harder difficulties the more you are able to earn if you can survive. Also some paths open up on harder difficulties to offer more risks and rewards. On lower difficulties then average you will be able to go all the way down to where the game is a cake walk. I personally feel that the average difficulty where no hearts are used is just a tiny bit of a challenge for beginners but not enough to where it is too hard. As a seasoned gamer, I rarely played a level without being in the mid range difficulties. The game recommends you a difficulty on levels as you play through the game. With 91 difficulty levels there is a lot to do to make the difficulty just right. The controls have been something that has been called out a lot by gamers. The game comes with a stand and this provided me a lot of comfort while playing. Many complain that it hurts to play. I agree that the way you play this game is rarely seen in a majority of games. I rarely used the stand as I wasn't near a surface to use it on regularly. After playing for a few days this was a non-issue as my hands were used to how I was playing. I imagine I could still not play for hours without wanting to rest but never had this issue as how well the game is broken up.

The sights and sounds were amazing in this game. There is a lot of music and each is unique. The music can be quite epic at times and always matched the settings I was surrounded by. The graphics were very beautiful on my handheld. I always had to keep my 3DS charged as I wanted to keep experiencing it all in 3-D.

The multiplayer is a load of fun. The modes are based on the on foot segments of the main game. You can play with a team or have it be everyone for themselves. Weapons and abilities are randomly given out in multiplayer, received in the main game, and received through Streetpass. The best weapons are typically rewards on higher difficulties in the main mode. You can also build better weapons through fusing two other weapons or buying the better weapons. I feel that the way this is done gives anyone with the ability to get those better weapons in multiple ways. The team mode is perfect for beginners as dying with a lower rated weapon makes a very small dent in the team combined health while higher weapons and dying can take out huge chunks. If you become Pit in this mode you are randomly given a high powered weapon in this mode also.

If you are looking for a fun game for online/local multiplayer or looking for a epic main quest with tons of replay value, this is that game. I recommend it to anyone that has the system and anyone that is looking for a reason to own the system.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mario DLC Nintendo News # 3

The big news this week in the world of Nintendo has been Nintendo revealing information on the upcoming DLC for New Super Mario Bros. 2. This is the first time Nintendo has released paid DLC. The DLC is already available in Europe and Japan. It will be released in North America on October 4th. The prices around the world for each pack is $2.50, 2, and 200 yen. Each pack is playable in the coin rush mode separately from each other and are the same 3 levels each time you play the pack. The Gold Coin pack coins are abundant and players strive to hit the ceiling on the amount of coins they can carry. The Coin Challenge Pack A is standard levels which have players compete all around the world for the record. The Nerve-Wreck Pack is for advanced players and are hard to complete. It was also announced that in North America there will be more packs released at the end of October and November.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Game & Watch Nintendo History # 3

This is the story of Nintendo's first handheld electronic games. Most people think of the Nintendo Game Boy when they think of this but before even Donkey Kong hit arcades in 1981, there was the Game & Watch in 1980. Each Game & Watch came with a game that played on the LCD screen. The name comes from the fact that other then playing games, it had a clock and alarm.

Gunpei Yokoi got the idea after seeing someone bored pressing the buttons on a calculator. The D-pad which is used even in modern controllers was created by Yokoi for the Donkey Kong Game & Watch in 1982. These games were very basic and each system only had one game on each due to the design of the systems. There were 60 different Game & Watch systems created with only 59 being for sale and the last being  only given away as contest prizes. Over 43 million systems were sold with the last being released in 1991. To get an idea for that period of time, the Game Boy was already released worldwide and even the Super Nintendo was getting its start. The clam shell design that came with the multi-screen series looks almost like a Nintendo DS and in fact this design was what inspired those future handheld designs.

The series has lived on in every Nintendo handheld as there has always been either a re-release or compilation available for each one thus far. Also the character, Mr. Game & Watch, was created as a sort of mascot for this series. The character was first seen in the Game & Watch game Ball but it was Super Smash Brothers Melee that made this character into this mascot position he now holds. Since then, Mr. Game & Watch has shown up multiple times in recent years as a background character in addition to being a character in the Smash Brothers series.