Super Mario Maker with friends

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Super Mario Maker was released Friday. As the release date approached, I really thought I could resist. I know I just don’t care to devote as much time to playing games as I once did, but I cracked pretty quickly on Friday and bought a copy. Even if I barely play it, it’s more than just a game. It’s a celebration of 30 years of Mario and the culture surrounding those games.

Super Mario Maker

I see it primarily as a social tool, so I designed my first level with friends. Here’s Anela, gem, and Antonio working on our level. We each took turns adding to it. The joy of Nintendo is how it brings people together and creates such rich culture around their properties. I knew gem would have fun with Super Mario Maker because we played it at SDCC this year, but what about Anela and Antonio? At least Antonio plays games and owns consoles, but I wasn’t confident Anela would have fun. However, they both did. Anela went crazy adding as many mushrooms as she could to her part of the level and then insisted I get those mushrooms when I played. Antonio and gem both set up traps in attempts to trick the players. There was a lot of laughter, so I think everybody had a great time. We’ve also been playing Super Mario 3D World. Like Super Mario Maker, even those who don’t play games often have had fun with it. Sure, Anela requests that we carry her through some parts, but she has as much fun, if not more, as the rest of us! Nintendo’s amazing at making their games accessible and enjoyable to people who don’t play games often.

Here’s our masterpiece – “Super cool friends Petanegemio.” It’s a majestic level! Okay, maybe not majestic, but I’ve played it a couple times, and I have fun when I do. Better than just enjoying some random Mario level, this one reminds me of my friends – Anela’s mushroom block maze, gem’s Money Zone of coins and trap (in which I totally fall in that video), and Antonio’s journey into the sky and trap (that I managed to avoid). It’s a masterpiece, at least to me.

“Mario Myths with Mr Miyamoto” helped push me into purchasing it. It’s such a simple video, but it helps accentuate the beauty of Nintendo and their games. It made me tear up just a little, especially the idea that it’s been 30 years since Super Mario Bros. Oh, and that hard hat Mario wears for Super Mario Maker. It’s so cute and representative of the game that’s a perfectly designed icon.

Super Mario Maker (and Super Mario 3D World and so many other Nintendo properties) are really works of art, beautifully created to bring people together accompanied by a soundtrack of their own laughter.

Thank you for the fun times Nintendo, Miyamoto, and all my friends who have played Mario with me!

E3 Day 1, Nintendo’s day

It seemed like Nintendo announced new entries in most of their franchises. Many of them looked pretty great. Hopefully it’ll be enough to substantially increase their install base. I suppose I’ll talk about the games for which I’m least excited first. I didn’t put a ton of thought into the order besides wanting to end on high notes.

Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. is still coming out. It’s not one of my favorites, so I don’t have a lot to say. I’m sure I’ll play it and enjoy it, but Smash is usually a game I play a bunch for a day or two and then leave. Creating custom fighters with miis could be interesting.

amiibo

Nintendo has figures called amiibos that work like the Skylanders toys. I’m really not sold on this idea. Okay, they can into my game, but can’t I already bring things into games using, I don’t know, DLC, without having to store a bunch of figures? They mentioned that as an amiibo fights in Smash, it’ll get better, and I could then bring it a friend’s house. Again, I feel like you could just save this to an account. Now, I’m not against figurines. If they’re really cool, that’s great, but it seems needless.

Star Fox, Project Giant Robot, and Project Guard

A new Star Fox is being designed by Miyamoto. I was shocked that the Wii didn’t have a Star Fox or a Pilotwings, so I’m glad to see a new Star Fox coming to the Wii U. I’m not clear on how it controls, but it requires you to watch the TV, which displays what looks to be a familiar view for a Star Fox game, as well as the gamepad, which is used for aiming and shooting. I don’t know. That sounds terrible.

Miyamoto is also designing Project Giant Robot, which also uses the TV and gamepad. The TV gives you a larger view of what’s happening while the gamepad has a first-person perspective. You control a giant, slow-moving robot. The sticks control the arms while tilting the gamepad controls the robot’s balance. It was compared to sumo wrestling. I’m more open to this than the controls of Star Fox.

His third game is Project Guard in which players control security cameras defending a base. The TV displays feeds from all the security cameras while the gamepad shows a map. You use both to see enemies approaching your base and to plan your defense.

Zelda

Link’s going to do some running around on the Wii U in a new Zelda game soon that’s supposedly going to be much more open and focus on exploring. That’s good and bad. I liked going into side dungeons back in A Link to the Past to find better weapons to help. It was nice being able to obtain some at any time. On the other hand, sometimes if I spend too much time playing around in an open game without making progress, I feel demoralized. I’ve also been annoyed at the increasing long tutorials in Zelda games. I hope we get started quickly and that Link gets his sword within the first two minutes. It does look really beautiful! I’m not sold on it yet, but I do really love the Zelda universe.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

A new Kirby game is coming as the successor to Kirby’s Canvas Curse called Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. At first I thought it said “Course” and was excited in the hopes that it was a sequel to Kirby’s Dream Course. Come on, Nintendo! I didn’t play Kirby’s Canvas Curse, so I don’t know what to expect here. Also, there are plenty of other Kirby games I missed that I could play cheaper (or already own) – Dream Land 2, Dream Land 3, 64, The Amazing Mirror, Epic Yarn, Mass Attack, Return to Dream Land, and Triple Deluxe.

Yoshi’s Woolly World

Yoshi’s Woolly World looks like a combination of a Yoshi game with Kirby’s Epic Yarn. It looks like a lot of fun, but it also reminded me that I didn’t play Kirby’s Epic Yawn. And then I realized that there was a recent Yoshi game, Yoshi’s New Island, with which I wasn’t familiar at all!

Splatoon

Splatoon is an interesting third-person shooter that involves squids shooting ink. The goal is to cover the map with your color, and the ink they shoot has consequences in the game. You move faster through your own ink (and refill your ink), and you move slowly through the opposing squids’ ink. It looks like it could be fun.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Last night I was playing Super Mario 3D World, and as I played a toad level, I realized that they’re a lot of fun and wondered if Nintendo would ever release a game based on it. Apparently they would, and it’s going to be called Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. I can only imagine it’ll be fun because I love the puzzles in Super Mario 3D World.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong

Speaking of puzzle games, a new Mario vs. Donkey Kong game was announced for the Wii U. I played and loved the first two, but this announcement did make me realize that I missed the last three titles in this series.

Mario Maker

Mario Maker is the game that makes me giddy. Mario Maker is to Mario levels as Mario Paint is to pictures and music. As far as I could tell, there was no information released on sharing your levels. I really hope I can share them online with my friends. It looks like a blast.

Final thoughts

Before I jump back into Nintendo, I should also mention that a feature-length Sonic the Hedgehog movie was announced blending animation with live-action. I bet it’ll be terrible, and I’ll definitely enjoy watching it!

As for Nintendo, they had a very strong showing, but there’s still a problem. I’m not sure how many of these I’m going to purchase. I hope that they get strong sales, because I want Nintendo to succeed. When I have so many games that I own and haven’t finished, I shouldn’t be buying new games. Some of these games would be ones I’d be super excited to play except for the fact that they reminded me that I’ve already missed entries in their series I could play cheaper. I have Kirby’s Dream Collection and Kirby’s Epic Yarn, for example. There are also similar platformers I missed such as Donkey Kong Country Returns and Tropical Freeze (or non-Nintendo series such as Epic Mickey and its sequel).

I would have been interested in purchasing Star Fox if it wasn’t for that control scheme. It might not be so bad, but I’ll need to wait and see. Considering that Mario Kart is one of my favorite series and I’ve resisted buying Mario Kart 8 in an effort to save money and play what I own, I’m not sure I’ll be buying many of these.

Mario Maker looks amazing, and I’ll probably be picking that up. If Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is cheap enough, I could see getting that. (If it’s a retail release, I’ll likely pass.) That’s not  to say that I’m not interesting in the others. Many of them I’ll likely play in the future, either picking them up cheap, borrowing them from friends, or possibly just caving to my cravings. This is all really a reflection of where I am with gaming and not their announcements, I suppose. I don’t think Nintendo could have had a stronger showing honestly. It’s not enough to simply release good games, because there isn’t enough time to play every good game. They have to be better than whatever else one would do with that free time. Let’s hope these announcements help Nintendo!

Trying a new batch of games

My backlog at Backloggery is now down to 323 unbeat (277 unplayed) from 338 unbeat games from my last post on the subject. That’s a nice bit of progress, but keep in mind that I don’t mind marking games as null, thus removing them from the unbeat count, if I get sick of them and decide they’re not worth more time. I played some games that I thought I’d enjoy like I normally would, but I also played some that I thought I wouldn’t like with the intent to cross them off my list quickly.

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World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

I usually open with WoW mainly because I don’t want to talk about it here. I already talk about WoW much more at Kor’kron 501st. My warlock has reached his 40s and just finished the Hinterlands.

DC Universe Online

I also started playing DC Universe Online. Again, I talk about it at Kor’kron 501st because it’s an MMO, but I’m playing a mentalist hero, and I just beat the Scarecrow.

Super Mario 3D World

I’m enjoying this a lot, but I still liked Super Mario 3D Land a lot more. I’m currently in World 4.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition

While I don’t have much to report, I began playing this again. I put it down a long time ago now, so it’s nice to get back into it.

Rhythm Heaven

I beat one level. Does that count as progress?

Star Wars: Tiny Death Star

I have some terrific news about Tiny Death Star: I stopped playing it. Good bye.

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Chuck’s Challenge 3D

I finished the fifth bundle, Eclair, in Chuck’s Challenge 3D. It was a lot of fun; I really love this game.

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

I picked up the Collector’s Edition of Reaper of Souls when it was released and have been having fun with it. I’m taking my time, so I haven’t finished the new act yet.

Ticket to Ride Europe

Thanks to Collin for letting me know that this was available for free. I never played the board game, but the iOS game is fun. Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy, but I still enjoyed it.

Scotland Yard

Here’s a DS game I wasn’t expecting to like as much as I did. I was looking for a quick game to cross off my list as boring, but I ended up needing to beat it. It’s a board game as well, so I might need to check out the physical game. Scotland Yard involves multiple detectives and one criminal, Mr. X, taking turns moving around a board. Mr. X wants to last until the turns are expired without being caught while the detectives want to land in the same space as him.

Mystery Tales: Time Travel

One…

Hidden Mysteries: Salem Secrets

…two…

Murder in Venice

…and three bad hidden object games I was able to cross off my list quickly.

Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House

Here’s another I thought would be bad. It seems to be a lot like Layton although they don’t explain the goals of the puzzles. That could be a little annoying, but it was fun enough that I’ve decided I’ll return to it later.

Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Mummy

Oh, another Sherlock Holmes game. This is bound to be like the last one, right? No. This one was a terrible first-person exploration game with dismal controls. Next.

Naval Warfare

Naval Warfare is a Steam game that’s basically a “twin-stick shooter” using keyboard and mouse. I can’t say for sure whether I’ll want to play it to completion, but it’s worth keeping in my backlog.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War

I’m not usually a big fan of RTS games, but this was decently fun. I highly doubt I’ll beat it, but here’s another I’ll leave on my list.

Again

Speaking of “again,” I find myself leaving a game on my backlog again. Again is a DS game about the FBI. One agent can see the past and must match the present to look like the past to unlock scenes of what happened. It could be decent!

Video games at San Diego Comic-Con 2013

sdcc 2013

San Diego Comic-Con was this past weekend, and there were plenty of gaming-related things there to discuss. I played some games, took pics with some game cosplayers, saw some interesting booths, and of course took some great photos. I saw things related to Battleblock Theater, Castle Crashers, Alien Hominid, Plants vs. Zombies 2, Pikmin 3, Super Luigi U, The Wonderful 101, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Dual Destinies, Super Mario 3D World, Just Dance 2014, Ico, Adventure Time, and probably more that I’m forgetting.

One of the first things we hit up was the Behemoth booth. I’m a big fan of all of their games, and I actually just attended a Behemoth event last week. (I’ll post about that too; I promise.)

Castle Crashers

They had arcade cabinets of their three games like usual, and they were very cool. Having played all of their games extensively, I didn’t stop to play any.

BattleBlock Theater at the Behemoth Booth

They were using Toshiba TVs, too! Yay!

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I did, however, stop to take a photo with this cat guard statue. He was guarding the booth obviously.

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I also took this photo with Hatty. He put his hands out, and I’m not sure what he intended. I just held hands with him.

Plants vs Zombies 2 Vinyl Toys

Next to the Behemoth booth was a booth for Plants vs. Zombies 2. I’m still optimistic about the game, but honestly, Plants vs. Zombies Adventures on Facebook has downgraded my enthusiasm to “cautiously optimistic.” The Facebook game totally butchered such a great experience. However, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare looks great too. The booth didn’t make any announcements or have any games to play, but it did have the vinyl toys pictured above.

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Also, this zombie tried to eat my brains! Ahh!

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At the Pikmin 3 booth gem and I took this photo. There was also a video playing of Miyamoto discussing Pikmin 3. I’ve never played a Pikmin game, but it did make me mildly interested. I’m probably not going to buy it (because I’m trying to cut back), but I wouldn’t mind trying it. I had seen photos on Instagram of people at other photo-ops, but I couldn’t find them. I asked someone at the Pikmin 3 booth and found out that Nintendo had a large game lounge at a hotel next to the convention center. I headed for it!

Nintendo Game Lounge

The Nintendo Game Lounge was really awesome. They had a huge variety of fun games, and lots of great decorations and personality. They even made it a bit more like an arcade; after playing each game, the attendant would give you a ticket. You could redeem three tickets for a Pikmin 3 t-shirt. In addition, there were other goodies. After playing Super Mario 3D World, you could get either a Mario or Luigi hat. Sure, they were just foam, but it was fun. After playing the Wonderful 101 you earned a mask, and there were other things as well that I didn’t try to obtain.

The Year of Luigi

There was a even a large, blank book celebrating the Year of Luigi.

The Year of Luigi

Fans were encouraged to write notes to Luigi in it!

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Right outside the lounge was a Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD photo-op. Of course, I stopped for a photo. Wind Waker HD will surely look great in HD, and I’m looking forward to it.

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There was a cool Super Mario 3D World photo-op too, and this was the one to which I was most looking forward. It was a lot of fun to take some photos there! I also got to play the game itself quite a bit. We played some four player co-op. I really emjoyed what I played it. We only played some fairly easy levels, and it plays more like the New Super Mario Bros. series than Super Mario 3D Land (unfortunately). It was great for four-player fun; Nintendo really nailed allowing players of differing skill to play together.

While I didn’t get any pictures of The Wonderful 101, I did get to play it. I pre-ordered this title a long time ago, and now I’m glad I did. You control a crowd of superheroes while beating up bad guys and solving puzzles. The woman running the game station was very nice and informative as well. I like it when they’re willing to talk a bit like normal, and she was happy to chat with us. She seemed to have a pretty good idea of how the game worked too, which is pretty cool. (They’re from an agency and not Nintendo employees.) On the other hand, she was stuck watching the first five minutes of the game over and over for days while standing in uncomfortable boots. She did mention that only one other person got as far as I did, so that was pretty cool.

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Despite having never played Bayonetta, I stopped for a photo of Bayonetta 2.

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Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze had a pretty great photo-op too.

The most fun game I played at SDCC was actually Just Dance 2014. I might look silly while playing, but I’m having a great time, so who cares, right? In this video we’re dancing to the Ghostbusters song! I’m not sure why you can’t hear it, but I’m guessing Antonio was covering the microphone. One dancer was the ghost, Slimer (and that was me), and the other three are Ghostbusters. It was really fun. The dance involved Ghostbusters chasing the ghost, the ghost chasing them, and Slimer even sliming them. I’m definitely going to need to purchase this.

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In the Capcom booth, I got to pretend to be Phoenix Wright himself. Take that!

Pac-Man Battle Royale

Adult Swim had a neat arcade featuring new games, old games, and some in-between. The arcade held a Pac-Man Battle Royale cabinet, which is one of my favorite games of all time. I played some four-player with gem and two strangers. I’m used to playing at a cocktail cabinet, but this one was a standing cabinet.

I also played the new Adventure Time game called Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know! It was pretty fun. It was a four-player dungeon crawler with RPG elements. While it seemed fun, it also seemed boring. Some mindlessness is fun sometimes, and mixed with the Adventure Time humor, I’d expect to like the game more. It suffered from two problems. One, because it wasn’t split screen and didn’t feature any warp mechanics, the party would get split and then the screen couldn’t scroll. Two, the whole game just felt too slow. Maybe the kinks will get worked out before it’s released.

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Of course, I can’t forget about this awesome Ico cosplay! I was pretty excited to see him.

Ico leading gem

gem took his hand so he could lead her like he leads Yorda. It was a great idea.

I bet I’m forgetting something, but I think that covers all the major games I played or thought about at SDCC 2013. It was a blast! You can see more photos in my Flickr album if you’re interested. I’ll also be writing another blog post on my personal blog about the non-gaming aspects of the trip. I’ll put a link here after it gets posted.

E3 day 1 was full of Nintendo news

As I mentioned previously, I’m not reading every bit of E3 news, but some stuff sticks out. Here’s what I read yesterday that’s interesting to me.

PS4 hard drive is user-replaceable, Samit Sarkar, Polygon, 6/11/13.

Good news!

The Last Guardian is ‘on hiatus’, Jessica Conditt, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

Absolutely terrible, yet not surprising, news. The Last Guardian was, sadly, a factor in my purchase of the PS3.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze hits Wii U in November, Sinan Kubba, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

Lots of Nintendo games seemed cool to me. A new DKC is always welcome news, although I didn’t even play Donkey Kong Country Returns (besides at E3).

New ‘Yoshi’s Island’ game called ‘Yoshi’s New Island’, Alexander Silwinski, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Yoshi’s Island, so I’ll be happy to try Yoshi’s New Island.

Super Smash Bros. coming to 3DS, Wii U in 2014; Mega Man joins fray, Alexander Silwinski, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

I’ve never been big into Smash multiplayer, but surprisingly, I love the single player. I hope it has a cool adventure mode.

Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD hits Wii U in October, Sinan Kubba, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

When Wind Waker was released, I thought it looked dumb. My tastes in graphics have changed completely, and for a while now I’ve been really interested in going back to Wind Waker. I guess I’ll be trying to HD remake!

Mario Kart 8 races to Wii U Spring 2014, David Hinkle, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

Mario Kart 8 looks awesome and includes anti-gravity segments. Hopefully Nintendo steps up their game in response to Sonic & All-Stars Racing. Transformed was absolutely awesome.

Super Mario 3D World pounces on Wii U Dec. 2013, Bob Mackey, Joystiq, 6/11/13.

Super Mario 3D Land was the greatest 3D Mario game I’ve played in a very long time. It ranked with 64 in my mind, although I’d be hard to pressed to crown one the best over the other. We’ll see how this new one is!

Nintendo has a tendency of releasing a lot of great games in their core franchises early and then tapering off. I don’t know if that’s going to happen with the Wii U, but I don’t care. They’ve announced enough already to make the Wii U more than worth the cost.