Nintendo Articles

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

One Concern with Kid Icarus Uprising; How is the game going to be balanced?

Because let’s face it, Nintendo’s never been a company that’s been very good at balance in competitive games, and Mario Kart, Smash Bros and Pokemon have ended up so broken as to be nearly ridiculous. And with Kid Icarus Uprising seemingly aiming to be a Super Smash Bros level free for all fighting/shooting/online multiplayer focused game, I have to wonder how it’s going to avoid these two problems:

1. One weapon/item/character being so overpowered as to be near enough impossible to counter

With the hundreds of the possible weapon combinations due to being able to unlock different types, plus the many ways you can fuse them, I have to wonder how Nintendo plans to make sure no one combination is overpowered to the point of making all others redundant.

Pokemon fell straight into this problem (see Garchomp in Diamond and Peal, Wobbuffet in earlier gens and dream world abilities in Black and White), and Super Smash Bros Brawl’s tier list is well known (and what do you know, Meta Knight turned out to be so good he ended up in his own tier and banned from some tournaments).

I just really worry that we’ll see someone find some ‘best’ combination of weapons to fuse together and end up with everyone using the same stuff, limiting the variety of the game.  Like how in Mario Kart Wii, it ended up being more like ‘Funky Bowser Bike Wii’ given how little variety there was online.

2. The game falling prey to tons of glitches due to all the weird things the items can do

Anyone who’s played Mario Kart online or ever checked out Metroid Prime Hunters should know exactly what I mean by this.  Complicated games with a ton of content and game mechanics are practically impossible to thoroughly playtest prior to the game’s release, and all the titles mentioned have near enough been rendered unplayable due to glitch abuse.

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Seems like an awkward way to distribute Kid Icarus Uprising AR Cards Nintendo

Remember how a lot of hype has made about the AR cards you can get for Kid Icarus Uprising to have the game’s characters battle each other on your desk through augumented reality?  Or how supposedly, you’re supposed to get these cards through purchases or events?

Well, Nintendo has come up with a rather novel way of distributing them in Europe.  And by novel, I mean a way that’s pretty much annoying as hell.

You get 6 free with the game.  If you pre order it, you get another 24.  But if you want more?

You’ll also be able to get hold of exclusive Kid Icarus AR Cards through Club Nintendo. For 250 Stars you’ll be able to get 2 packs containing 6 AR cards each. Some packs will also include extremely rare cards.

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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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