Nintendo Articles

Our exclusive editorials about the 3DS and its games, as well as Nintendo as a whole.

Why The 3DS is not doomed by the iPad/Tablets/Social Games

1. Nintendo’s Games are only available on Nintendo

In my opinion, the number one big problem with all arguments about Nintendo being doomed or made obsolete, and the biggest advantage Nintendo has on its competitors is that Nintendo makes both its own hardware and its own software.

Sure, Microsoft and Sony have some first party series, and Microsoft owns Rare (who’s gone downhill recently and been relegated to making avatar starring games for the Kinect).  But by and large, all their best sellers are from third parties.  If Activision says Call of Duty isn’t coming to the Xbox 720 or Rockstar says Grand Theft Auto isn’t coming to the PS4, those consoles are pretty much in trouble.

And that’s the difference which explains why Sony and Microsoft might be in trouble of being disrupted by tablets and cheap downloadable games, but Nintendo aren’t’.  Those big third party titles can very easily be moved to the app store if the publisher for them wants them to be, and neither Microsoft or Sony, short of giving the company millions to get the game as an exclusive, can do nothing about it.  And believe you me it’ll happen eventually, since these cheap games are what the big game publisher’s business minds think are the next big thing, the replacement to video game consoles.

But this won’t affect Nintendo.  Nintendo can simply not release Mario, or Zelda, or Pokemon or whatever else they make on the app store, and people have no choice but to buy their consoles to play them.  Sure they’ll maybe annoy a few investors and be seen as crazy by the business community, but that’s Nintendo’s major advantage.  Look ahead at the 3DS games and all the good titles we’re getting that can be found NOWHERE else:

  • New 2D Mario title
  • Kid Icarus Uprising
  • Super Smash Bros
  • Luigi’s Mansion 2
  • Paper Mario
  • Animal Crossing
  • Fire Emblem
  • Mario Tennis
  • And most likely, Pokemon

You want those games, you’ll need to own a 3DS.  No ifs or buts.  And in a world where every new Mario game sells over 10 million copies and Pokemon breaks video game sales records in two days, that’s one advantage Nintendo won’t be losing any time soon.

2. Some games only work well on proper consoles

Have you ever tried to play a game on a device with only a touch screen?  It’s not an optimal solution for a control scheme, and many, many genres just simply do not work with it.  Here are some genres where this is the case:

Racing Games

Okay, maybe comparing Mario Kart to its pirated equivalent Mole Kart isn’t fair.  But considering the games are pretty much the exact same thing bar a few barely edited graphics and some extremely shoddy physics in the latter, it’s a good illustration of how touch screen controls really don’t work with racing games:

Look at it here:

First thing you’ll notice is that the guy who’s playing has to move his thumb on some kind of impromptu D Pad to the bottom left.  Which for starters, completely blocks out a fair amount of the screen and leaves you open to any opponents or items that might happen to be coming from the bottom left of the track.  There’s a good reason most DS games which used touch controls didn’t make you view the game world on the touch screen, and that’s because it drastically hampers your ability to see what’s going on.

You’ve also got the issue that without buttons, game designers have to add their own home made controls to the touch screen.  Try using them, and that’s just almost unnatural, to have to reach random parts of the screen and tap them to use various abilities in the middle of a race.  Basically, it’s much easier and more much intuitive to press a button.  Sure you can theoretically do a lot of fancy stuff with only a touch screen, but it just seems like to do so is basically trying to use WarioWare style microgame controls for a retail title.

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New Super Mario Bros 3DS; My Predictions

True, there’s already been a post devoted to my wishlist for New Super Mario Bros 3DS.  But as anyone who read it should have figured out, the list was very much a best case scenario, what the game would have if by some miracle Nintendo gave us the perfect 2D Mario game.

Unfortunately, Nintendo isn’t a perfect company, and the New Super Mario Bros games were certainly not perfect games, having shown signs of less effort being invested in them than the 3D ones and with some questionable design decisions (more so in the DS original than the Wii one).

So here’s a realistic list of things I think Nintendo will have in the next 2D Mario game.  And by realistic, I mean that if this list turns out to be completely wrong I will be shocked.

1. It will be a New Super Mario Bros game

Because the last two 2D Mario platformers have been New Super Mario Bros games, and it seems Nintendo is desperate to keep using the brand for everything and anything (note how the visual stylings and general theme of these games is now running through the 3D games, Mario Kart and even Paper Mario).  I assume Nintendo will do the same for the upcoming 2D game.  Maybe they’ll call it New Super Mario World, maybe not, but I fully expect them to keep using the brand simply because of customer confidence and brand recognition.

2. A Super Mario World theme will run throughout and Reznor will return

Look at past history a few minutes, there’s gradually been more and more ‘retro’ elements reintroduced as the series has moved on, whether in the 2D games or the 3D ones.  New Super Mario Bros introduced flagpoles and the general 2D concept, Super Mario Galaxy airships and Magikoopas.  New Super Mario Bros Wii brought back the Koopalings and Yoshi, Super Mario Galaxy 2 Hammer Bros and Super Mario 3D Land Boom Boom.

The general pattern is that near enough every single 2D Mario platformer element that fans have wanted have made a return, so by process of elimination only Reznor, Chargin’ Chuck and Fishin’ Boo are really left as far as enemies go.

Not that these are the only things they could bring back.  The Hammer Suit, the Cape and the P Balloon are also left, and given the general pattern of bringing back one classic power up per Mario game, I think one of those seems likely to be in this game as well.  Probably either the Cape or Hammer Suit really, they’re much better things to use to advertise than the P Balloon with its memories of the dreaded Tubular.

Although… is this a good thing?  I’m not sure.  Reznor would make a nice boss for a few fortresses or maybe a single castle, but given Nintendo’s tendencies of cramming the new ‘boss character’ of the moment in nigh on every single level with a boss in it, do we really want to fight Reznor seven times?

The Super Mario World theme in general seems to be another given, since they’ve practically beaten the Super Mario Bros 3 horse to death by now, and it’ll be a cold day in hell before Nintendo ever thinks to revisit Super Mario Bros 2 or the Lost Levels.

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How to Improve Mario Kart’s Battle Mode

Based on a fairly old video I uploaded to our Youtube channel, here are my thoughts on how Mario Kart’s battle mode could be salvaged and made better to the point people would play it about as much as they do vs mode.

Because unfortunately, battle mode has been woefully neglected over the last few installments.  The arenas have become smaller and generally less interesting, the amount of battle mode arenas in total has been reduced significantly and long time fan favourite elements like balloon battle have practically been phased out entirely.  While Mario Kart DS, Wii and 7 seem to have moved the rest of the series in the 21st century, it’s clear battle mode has languished and been ignored ever since Mario Kart 64.  So with that said, here are what I think could improve battle mode in the next Mario Kart game.

1. Have more arenas

Just look at how few arenas Mario Kart 7 has, it’s absolutely pathetic.  You have what, six arenas total?  And just three of them are actually new to the game?  Even Mario Kart 64 and Super Circuit had more levels to choose from than this, and that was over ten years ago!

Instead, Mario Kart needs to up the total to about 12, with six new ones and six retro ones to keep the mode varied and fun.  Maybe even split them into cups like the tracks are, with the first set of four arenas being the easy/basic ones, the next ones being harder and the final ones being for experts.

2. Have more interesting arenas

But with that said, it still doesn’t get you interesting battle arenas.  Why bother if they’re going to all be as boring as much of the arenas from Double Dash, or Wii or Mario Kart 7?  Instead, here are some ideas which I think could be interesting:

Luigi’s Mansion

A large arena based loosely around the location from the Gamecube game, which would allow about 20 players to be involved in the same battle.  It’d have a few different areas, such as the graveyard and front/back gardens of the mansion, the first, second and third floors and various obstacles to avoid like ghosts.

Of course, it wouldn’t be as large as the eponymous mansion from the original game, just about 10 rooms and a fairly decent sized exterior where you got to explore some of the grounds and race across the balcony and rooftop.  There would also be various glider pads, ramps and updrafts, and you could enter or exit the mansion through things like broken windows.

Ricco Harbour

That harbour with multiple levels of girders and metal beams from Super Mario Sunshine.  It’s nowhere near as big as in game, so everything would be much closer together and you could literally jump via ramps from one bit of walkway to any other. But the interesting part of this arena isn’t ‘floor area’, it’s height. While the area itself would be about the size of Delfino Pier:

Height wise it’s much bigger, with about six floors. Namely underwater/sea level, to show off underwater mechanics…

Dockside/ground level, which is pretty open and flat. Also, has some boats you can drive on.

Rooftop/girder level 1, which includes some metal beams and platforms as well as building rooftops.

Girder level 2, more beams and platforms above the other levels

Girder level 3, even more beams and platforms above the other four levels of floor.

Another level, some metal platforms from fruit adventure, giant cage and glider ramps.

Bob-omb Battlefield

You know the place, the first level from Super Mario 64. However, it’s a bit different, because:

It’s now about half the size, with the areas of the level much closer together, making for a more interesting battle (still has a lot of open space though). All enemies bar the Chain Chomp, rolling cannonballs and maybe another type have been removed, as have all the cannons and breakable boxes.

There’s also a glider ramp on the floating island.

Bowser’s Castle

Based on Bowser’s Castle from Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World, it’s a pretty large (although not large enough for 12 or 16 players) castle level with lots of lava, traps and other Bowser like things.

You only ever explore the interior of the castle, so there’s none of this silly ‘lava filled wasteland’ stuff than all Mario Kart games from 64 onwards seem to have in Bowser’s Castle.

Layout wise, it’s as follows:

Foyer: Front part of the castle, not that big. Has three paths, one leads upstairs and around to the top of the main room, one just leads around the outside of the main room to another entrance to it. There are Bowser statues above the floor which shoot down lasers at people who approach, flipping them over like a shell and vapourising their items.

Main Room: Three story lava room, with each level getting more dangerous as you go up. Ground floor is a bunch of stone bridges and platforms over lava, medium sized but very boring. Some Podoboos to dodge. Floor 1 however is made up of narrower paths and Donut Blocks (which fall down, dropping you to the ground floor). More item boxes though, as well as good places to wait or lay traps. Finally, the top of the room has glider pads and very narrow platforms, one having a ‘Super Item Box’ (always gives a star or triple red shells). However, the Podoboos DO reach the ceiling, so you can easily get hit in mid flight and send straight down to a floor below. More risk; better reward.

Ground Floor Passage: Simple passageway like the entrance room of Bowser’s Castle from Double Dash. Thwomps line it, so you have to dodge between them when they smash down. Leads from foyer to main room/vice versa, going around the right side of the building.

Stairway Room: Absolutely lethal, dangerous room. Why? Two reasons. One, it’s like Mario Kart Wii’s main Bowser Castle room, with giant Bowser statue shooting fire down the hallway. That’s bad, because the item boxes are in the centre. It’s also more narrow. The other issue? Giant metal spikes like in Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros Wii slam into the floor in timed intervals, also near the centre and item boxes.

Honeyhive Galaxy

Part of the first planet, except fairly redesigned, without enemies bar some of those Mario 3D Land like bees and much smaller.

Imagine something a bit like that, except:

No slide, the area with the flowers is moved behind the tunnel and directly links the tunnel, the bit near the fountain and a bit near the left of the level together. No wooden building or tree top access, and with ramps and jumps leading to higher ground. Extremely peaceful, easy to play on battle arena.

SMB 1

A medium sized arena based on the NES Super Mario Bros 1, it’s about the size of a standard Mario Kart 7 arena, except with three ‘levels’, a small area underneath based on the cave levels and a small area above based on the mushroom and bridge levels.

Goombas are in this arena to make it a bit more Super Mario Bros 1 like, and the graphics style is eight bit (although the characters are normal styled)

Igloo

That place from Snowman’s Land in Super Mario 64. It’s a tiny arena, but has plenty of transparent ice walls that you can see opponents through, yet cannot pass through.

Item boxes are scattered around in the small, more open areas.

Mushroom Plains/Battle Arena Standard

Just like the battle arenas from Mario Kart Super Circuit and Super Mario Kart, a flat field with various walls to hide behind. However, it’s much smaller, so it doesn’t usually support a high number of players.

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Will future eShop games also be edited like Kid Icarus?

As you may have noticed from the trailers and screenshots, Nintendo have added in all new detailed backgrounds to the 3DS version of Kid Icarus (the NES version) that’s now available on the eShop.  But what’s more interesting about this isn’t just about this one game, but the questions it raises about the classic games Nintendo is rereleasing.  Will they too be edited?

And while it’s not exactly a big change to add these backgrounds, since none of the sprite or foreground graphics themselves seem to have been changed, it could open up the possibility of lots more minor changes being made to rereleased games.  Indeed, I’d say to some degree a lot of NES and Game Boy games would be vastly improved by this kind of thing.

Take early Game Boy Color games for instance.  If they could just edit the palettes for them to make them less eye searing it’d be a real improvement, don’t you think?  Wario Land II was one of the worst games hit here, since it decided to make one whole world bright pink and purple to the point some people’s eyes likely bled after looking at the screen too long.  It wouldn’t take much effort, but if they could just tastefully tone down Syrup Castle’s colour scheme, as seen in the video, I’d definitely thank them for it:

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Has Mario Kart 7 died down already?

Because only about three months after the game is out, it seems barely online on any internet forums I visit even plays the game any more. True, this kind of thing has also occurred to Super Mario 3D Land popularity wise as well as Ocarina of Time 3D before it, but both of those are single player games and by definition will get old once 100% completed.  Mario Kart 7 isn’t.

But why is this?  I’ve seen a ton of people recently say they’ve stopped playing it or get bored with the game, and heck, even the odd person comment how they’ve actually sold the game.  Well, here are my thoughts on perhaps why Mario Kart 7’s online is getting a bit quiet and why it seems the hype for the game has died down:

1. Christmas is over.  Maybe with everyone going back to work/school/university a significant amount of people have found less time to devote to playing online.  Then again, they seem to devote a decent amount of time to forums, including the one for this website, so maybe that excuse isn’t too accurate.

2. There’s a current feeling of too much randomness, maybe no metagame.  In Mario Kart DS there was ‘snaking’, in Mario Kart Wii bikes and wheelies, but there seems to nothing to keep a good player doing better than random chance to dictates here.  Maybe that’s what might have affected it.  Certainly seems time trials have lost a lot due to it.

3. Various glitches like the Wuhu Mountain Loop glitch. Perhaps people just got too fed up of the glitch abuse and moved on to something else.  But even with that, surely there have to be some new players either unaware of it or happy to keep using it, right?

Still, why do you think Mario Kart 7 seems have died off a bit recently?  Are there any reasons I missed?  And heck, since I’m a bit bored about now, if you want to race me my friend code is below:

4983-5165-4189