Nintendo Announces 3DS XL!

No, it doesn’t have most of the improvements people wanted in a 3DS hardware revision, why do you ask?

None the less, Nintendo announced it at Nintendo Direct earlier today.  It’s obviously a bigger version of the 3DS, but also a fairly different look too, one which some people online have considered a change for the worse.  Here’s a comparison between the standard 3DS and the XL version, as well as a bunch of other electronic devices:

As you can see, it’s about as big as the DSi XL was, although bigger than the 3DS and Vita and a fair amount smaller than either an iPad or a Wii U Game Pad.

It has a slightly longer battery life (3.5 to 6 hours for playing 3DS games rather 3 to 5 hours on the original) and the screens are about 90% larger than those of a standard 3DS.  Doesn’t seem like much of a difference really (certainly not enough to buy the system if you already own a normal 3DS), but it’s a bit better anyway.

There’s one change however that few people will agree on… in Europe and Japan, they’re now selling the AC Adapator seperately.  You know, the thing that lets you charge the device from the mains rather than the cradle like thing?  Gone, unless you’re in the US.  Here’s the box art for it, for the people who are likely to feel right ripped off:

^This has the word ‘sucker’ written all over it.

And the design is a matter of taste at best.  Still, here’s some photos of the different models of 3DS XL, as well as the box art in both the US and Europe and various other pictures related to it:

Here’s the box art (top one is the different box arts provided in the US, bottom one is the console box art for Europe).

So that’s the 3DS XL then.  Is it worth buying instead of a 3DS or to replace it?  Not sure, I’d personally advise that if you don’t have a 3DS already and want a larger screen to go for it, but to hold out if you already own the console since it doesn’t provide too much of value.  It’s not like a 3DS Lite or 3DSi to say the least…

June 22nd Nintendo Direct; Lots of New Super Mario Bros 2 Info and Footage!

Yes, three whole trailers/videos were released showing levels and content from New Super Mario Bros 2 complete, with a whole lot more interesting information about the game.  Here’s the general trailer first of all:

First of all, it seems Mushroom levels are definitely confirmed, as are gold rings.  The Mushrooms also seem to be swinging side to side in time with the music, just like in the DS New Super Mario Bros game.  The most interesting element though is actually the gold ring, which turns all nearby enemies in gold when Mario passes through it.  This explains the snow level scene provided with the first initial screenshots of the game where all the enemies were gold coloured.

The Gold Block ‘power up’ is also detailed, and works like the wearable ? block from Super Mario 3D Land.  Nothing more needs to be said here.

Also, it looks like the art style of this game will also be taking inspiration from Super Mario World too.  Look at that nifty looking mountain background found in the slide level, which looks just like it came straight from Super Mario World!

The same level also has a nifty looking effect with the transparent bricks and the various holes in the ground, making it look almost like the kind of level found in Super Mario World game mods and hacks more than anything.

There’s also some footage showing the main menu of the game, shown before the Coin Rush mode:

As you can see, the options for solo and co-op play are present and accounted for, along with the new Coin Rush mode.  Looks a little like the kind of menu used in the Super Mario Advance series.

It’s explained that the courses in this mode are random too.

It also seems like the traditional NSMB cave tileset and level archtype will be present here too:

Also returning is the beach world, presumably as either world 3 or 4.  It seems like it’ll have those moving barrels found in the original New Super Mario Bros, although there’s no sign of the water skeeter like creatures that drop bombs yet.

Banzai Bills are also confirmed, although I’m a little worried about how common the nearby ‘snake blocks’ seem to be in this game, they seem like they’re littered about normal levels even more than in the last few Mario games, and I damn hated that in those.

I think the below screen might show a level with a new tileset and background too, which is kind of appreciated given how samey and generic much of New Super Mario Bros 2 looks.  Reminds me a bit of some of the graphics used in Wario Master of Disguise and Shake It, although I’m not sure why.

There’s also a pretty cool like Dry Bones coaster platform you can ride in lava levels, which reminds me an awful lot of both the Bonecoasters in New Super Mario Bros Wii and the raft riding in Super Mario 3D Land’s final level.

Next up, we have some videos showing the coin rush mode, starring two Japanese actors I don’t know the names or give a toss about.

The first level seems boring enough, although the trap found here (see below screenshot) looks quite interesting.  You see, this block has coins in it, but doesn’t become a used block once it runs out… the guy makes Mario ground pounding it too much, and BANG!  Falls to another area!  You can see some pretty nice tricks coming from this addition to the game.

Don’t pound the block for too long Mario!

We also get the first footage of the desert world, which looks fairly typical.  All your standard Mario desert themed elements are there like quicksands, pyramid, a drab beige colour scheme that makes me think video game companies assume Egypt and the pyramids always looked the way they do now…

One guess what the gimmicks are in this level.

The music seems to identical to in a past Mario game.  Give me a moment…

That’s it I think.

Something I do find quite interesting in this part of the video is how much of the game world seems to be ‘sheltered’. As in, has a ceiling and a back wall despite not being in the middle of a castle or underground level, as if the designers at Nintendo have only just figured out the effect where you can see the level background through holes in a back wall.

This special effect was amazing back in the NES days…

Next video!

Next up is the tower level.  You may recognise it from a video someone recorded back at E3, since the levels these guys are playing through are some of the same stages.  It’s got more moving block snakes for whatever reason (these damn things are becoming as much of a theme in New Super Mario Bros 2 as the gold is), as well as some very interesting enemies…

Such as this pretty damn creepy zombie/skeleton looking Goomba.  Well, they sure are going with the undead themes in these castles and fortresses now.

What the hell is that thing?

There’s also a zombie like Piranha Plant.  Undead plants?  How the hell is that supposed to work?

I guess this is what happens if you lose in Plants vs Zombies…

In another supposedly funny bit of the video, Mario runs out of time.  But hey, they timed it just right that it looks like the unfortunate plumber was killed by the falling sign.

Reznor is apparently the boss in this fortress, except these are the idiots versions which don’t seem to breathe fire and come in pairs rather than fours.  Well, it is the first tower, but it’s still kind of pathetic.  Also, I think I’ve just figured out what their ‘attack’ is, they pound the ground and the bridge shakes slightly.  No idea what happens if you’re standing there.

Wow, most dangerous attack ever!

Still, that’s all the New Super Mario Bros 2 footage analysed, next up will be the 3DS XL, possibly the most pointless console revision in video game history.



There’s another Nintendo Direct tomorrow!

No really, Nintendo’s next Nintendo Direct conference or whatever it’s called is scheduled for the 22nd June 2012, aka tomorrow.  Kind of quick really, considering E3 was less than a month ago, but perhaps Nintendo have decided they need some time to cover the upcoming 3DS games they didn’t give enough information about like Fire Emblem Awakening and Animal Crossing 3DS.

Or maybe it’s just an excuse for more trailers showing of Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon, Paper Mario Sticker Star and New Super Mario Bros 2,  or even more coverage of the Wii U and its various launch games.

Still, it’s tomorrow, so we won’t have too much longer to find out what Nintendo have planned for us this time.


Should Mario Kart take after Super Smash Bros in future?

Mario Kart has always been a pretty fun series, but I can’t be the only person thinking that it really does seem rather primitive and dated compared to Super Smash Bros, right?  No, this isn’t about how we should have non Mario characters in the games and turn it in Nintendo Kart for whatever reason, but how Mario Kart could be so much better if it copied many of the features and set ups used in Super Smash Bros Melee and Brawl.

For one thing, Mario Kart needs the amount of options given in Super Smash Bros for multiplayer.  Look at them, you have about ten or twenty types of ‘special match options’ you can mix and match between, a way to set how many KOs are needed, how long the timer is, etc.  Wouldn’t this level of customisation really improve Mario Kart?  Imagine if you could not only set the number of laps and what types of vehicles were allowed, but even set up your own Mario Kart special matches where players were permanently tiny/mega sized or always invincible.  It’d certainly add to the game’s replay value, as would having the option to choose how many balloons the players start out with in Battle Mode.

Because admit it, Super Sudden Death Last Man Standing would be one hell of a fun way to play battle mode, right? Especially if the only items were Bob-ombs…

The second obvious thing that should be carried over is the item select. Communities in Mario Kart 7 gave us some basic form of this (albeit more ‘shells, bananas or bob-ombs’ rather than in depth options), but I think it’d be much better if in multiplayer you could choose the exact items to enable or disable for every race.

And for everyone who likes Mario Kart, that means no more Blue Shells ever again!

Yet another element that should be incorporated into Mario Kart is multiple unlocking methods for characters and karts.  You see, that’s something I always really liked about Super Smash Bros, you always had multiple ways to do something and weren’t forced into a mode you didn’t enjoy to get all the unlockables.  Liked adventures? You could unlock characters in the Subspace Emissary.  Liked general single player?  You could unlock them in Classic mode. You could even unlock them by playing hundreds of vs matches if you were one of those people who preferred to go straight online and start facing off against random people.

And I’m pretty sure Mario Kart Wii even allowed this.  Unfortunately, no other game in the series has done the same, Mario Kart 7 included.  Oh yes, you can unlock Gold Parts using coins.  Pity there’s no alternative way to get all the characters…

Other interesting things that could be carried over include the music selection options (it’d be much better if you had the choice between about five possible background tracks when choosing what track to play, that way they could even bring back music from past games without the respective level being included).  Maybe even an Excite Truck style option to play music off the SD card instead of the background music used by default would be an good idea.

A sound test would be nice too.

Tournaments should be included too.  True, they weren’t used by that many people in Super Smash Bros (how often do you have enough people in the room that a full blown elimination tournament is even remotely practical?), but they would be rather useful in Mario Kart 7 for the inevitable online tournaments people are designing, especially if you could make them playable online (perhaps even with the option to let random people join).

And finally, alternate costumes could be useful too, like in Mario Tennis Open. This way, we wouldn’t need to waste pointless character slots on Metal Mario or Dry Bowser, just have them as costume options for Mario and Bowser respectively.  Plus, being able to choose between Wario Land or WarioWare style Wario would be pretty nifty, as would being able to choose what colour of Shy Guy, Koopa or Yoshi to play as.

With those features mentioned above, I think Mario Kart could really become more viable as a proper ‘competitive’ game in this day and age, or even just as a more fulfilling experience than just something to play at parties.

Maybe it would have helped Mario Kart 7 stay popular too, who knows?

Six Interesting Nintendo Game Elements that are Older Than you Think!

6. Rocket Barrel (Donkey Kong Country)

Easy one this, the original Rocket Barrel appeared in Donkey Kong Country 3, where it somehow managed the near impossible and controlled even worse than in Returns.  There’s a reason everyone absolutely hates Rocket Rush:

It’s just like the rocket level before Tiki Tong in Returns, except you’ve got to worry about running out of fuel and losing immediately, the controls are reversed so left controls the left thruster and makes you go right and vice versa, and Rareware forgot to put the final Kong letter in it.

It’s only sixth on the list due to being something a fair amount of people know, but hey, reviewers and writers for some gaming sites seemingly don’t know this, and neither did some of the people at Nintendo Iwata interviewed in Iwata Asks.

5. ‘Snaking’ (General)

So, here’s a nice question to gauge how much someone knows about Nintendo racing games.  What was the first game ‘snaking’ appeared?  Has to be Mario Kart DS, right?

No?  Is it F-Zero GX?

Is it Mario Kart Double Dash?

Not quite.  No, the origins of the whole gimmick is actually in Mario Kart 64 back on the Nintendo 64.  Sure it was much harder and it wasn’t called that then, but people were first trying to use mini turbos/power slides on straight roads in the days before most people had ever bothered with internet forums.  It’s just that Mario Kart DS brought the internet to Mario Kart, people played with people outside their town/university/family/local area for once and didn’t particularly like the idea of better people beating them up.  Ah the perils of bringing online play to a series which has previously never had it…

4. Mega/Mini Mushroom (Mario series)

Surely this is an addition brought about by the New Super Mario Bros series right? I mean, the advertising for the DS game was based all around the concept of Mega Mario smashing levels to pieces in an unstoppable rage.  And the Mini Mushroom must date from around the same time, because there were no tiny pipes or bonus rooms in Super Mario World!

That’s correct.  It’s also inaccurate, because neither item originated in the Mario platformers.  Behold, the original Mega Mushroom!

Yes, the items dated from a bonus mode in Mario Party 4, where they had roughly the same effects and were used purely to open up different routes.  The Mega version actually had a pretty nifty thing you could do with it too, you know how in the DS game you can walk into a boss arena, activate one and beat them up in one hit?  That happened here too, sort of:

Bowser Wrestling; most ridiculous thing ever invented?

Even the effect wasn’t too original, the whole becoming giant and smashing apart the scenery as you went concept was done twice before New Super Mario Bros was even considered. First of all was the obvious, giant Bowser levels in Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door:

Then a similar but lesser effect was in Super Mario 64 DS, where you could get a Mushroom to become absolutely massive and start smashing up the environment.  It wasn’t quite as powerful as in New Super Mario Bros, but it destroyed things like Bullet Bill cannons, blocks and posts on contact and led to a pretty neat way to battle Goomboss:

That’s one ‘new’ concept that turned out to be far older than even Nintendo probably suspected.

3. Luigi’s cowardice (Mario series)

It’s from Luigi’s Mansion, right?  That’s the earliest portrayal of Luigi being a coward most people know about…

But again, it’s wrong.  No, his first signs of being a ghost scared coward come from a comic book adaptation called Super Mario Adventures, and he supposedly had signs of being one even in the classic Super Mario Bros Super Show!

Luigi’s Mansion was merely the first time this was shown in game, and it got taken further and further in all later games to the point Luigi was a scaredy cat broken to your standard mental breakdown.

2. Dumbed Down Games (General)

Remember how many people complained the Wii was too ‘casual’ and making games too accessible to people because they could now use the Super Guide or beat levels more easily or not have to worry about advanced strategies?

Yeah, it’s dated back a long, long time.  There are newsgroup postings by people claiming the SNES and Sega Genesis was too casual because games now generally had save features and weren’t filled so much with fake difficulty.  People probably complained it was too easy to play games and too dumbed down the minute games actually came on discs and you didn’t have to copy down and compile code from the pages of magazines and books…

But one of the best examples was back in the Gamecube era with Mario Kart Double Dash.  Gone were advanced techniques, gone were most shortcuts, the power slide system became easy to use and you couldn’t even drag items behind you.  Heck, even this thing made it’s first appearance in its present form!

No, these weren’t just observations about the game either, Nintendo employees actually came out and said they toned the game down and deliberately removed expert strategies to make it so newbies could beat better players.

 we have carefully selected the items or features so that the gap between the novice players and veteran players can be narrowed down.


but we wanted to narrow down the gap so that even when the novice players and veteran players are playing and fighting against each other, we really wanted both of them to enjoy themselves.

Sounds very much like Mario Kart Wii, doesn’t it?  Fortunately for them people weren’t whining so much on internet forums, if the stuff from that interview was posted about say, Mario Kart 7 people would be ranting the series is ruined forever and Nintendo is evil for appealing to the mainstream…

1. Motion/Gyro Controls (General)

Especially Gyro Controls.  They’ve been boasted about as a big thing in today’s game consoles as if they’re something that’s only been around a few years.

But does no one remember this?

Back in the day, where gyro controls meant the required tech was crammed in the game cartridge rather than console.  It wasn’t even the most famous example, an absolute ton of people know of that one:

Motion controls even predate Nintendo.  Something similar existed with the ‘pantomation’, which was created in about 1977.

Or the Smartland SL 6401, an old golf simulator device which came out in some unknown time about 20 years before the Wii:

Motion goes back a long way in video games, it’s hardly something invented by the Wii or 3DS, merely popularised by them.

And an honourary mention to the obvious, asymmetric gameplay.  People think it’s some new fad brought about by the Wii U and something that’s going to massively change the way we play games… but one Nintendo series kind of beat everyone to it.

Mario Party.

What else were the 1 vs 3 mini games people!  Not all of them mind you, Tug O War wasn’t so much asymmetric as much as flat out ‘unfair’ and ‘biased’, kind of like being in a fight with an angry mob without any backup, the gameplay and strategies required didn’t differ either way.  But the rest pretty much are, that’s the very definition of the crane game:

Not particularly elegant or deep gameplay, but I’d say it’d probably count as asymmetric none the less, both the single player and team have to use different strategies to win, their controls are entirely different and both sides are basically playing a different game on the same screen.

Then again, asymmetric seems to be used a lot as just a buzz word now, I’ve even seen people refer to any game where characters have different abilities as asymmetric.  So apparently to some people, they’d count every fighting game on the planet, Pokemon, Mario Kart and various others as such.  Either way, not as new as Nintendo wants us to believe it is.

So many a well known gaming element or gimmick actually predates the game or console it’s known for.  Who’d have knew?  Guess it shows you exactly how little creativity your average developer or video game company has, when they’re only willing to try something once it sells 20 million a few months prior. It’s depressing really, someone could have made the likes of the Wii back in the Nintendo 64 days…