Project X Zone; A ton more screenshots!

Brace yourselves people, there are a ton of new screenshots here including pictures of the game’s opening movie!  Here goes:

And that’s just the game’s opening!  Now, about 30 screens of the actual gameplay.

So there you have it, about 53 different screenshots of Project X Zone, making the game seem better and better.


New Freakyforms Deluxe Trailer

It’s a new trailer for Freakyforms Deluxe!  It was posted by Nintendo UK’s official Youtube channel just a short while ago and pretty much shows off three quarters of the game including the multiplayer modes.

Game wise, I’m not much of a fan of it.  Freakyforms was an okay eShop download, but I don’t think it really needed a full game sequel.  Why not one for Dillon’s Rolling Western or Pushmo instead, games that will sell to people outside Japan?  Because something about the whole concept makes it seem like a hard one to sell as a retail title.

3DS Firmware Updated

No new features in this one, it just fixes some bugs and improves system stability according to Nintendo’s page on it.  None the less, you’ll probably need the latest update before using any recent 3DS games like New Super Mario Bros 2 (when it comes out in a few weeks), so you might as well install Version 4.3.0-10U anyway.

So yes, you all know the drill now, update your 3DS console to the latest firmware if you want to be able to play newer games.

Fire Emblem comes to 3DS Virtual Console

Exactly as the title says, Nintendo is releasing the original NES Fire Emblem game on the 3DS Virtual Console soon.  It’s not known when it’ll be localised and released for the eShop outside of Japan as of now, but the Japanese release date is the 1st of August 2012.

Here are some screens of Fire Emblem on the Virtual Console:

As you can probably tell from the quite hard to see and dark screenshots above, the Fire Emblem series has certainly moved on a lot since the original NES/Famicom days.  Still, people who like Fire Emblem Awakening when it comes out could theoretically try the original game that it’s a distant sequel too if they wanted to experience how the series has changed over the years.

Does anyone here plan to buy the original Fire Emblem on the 3DS Virtual Console/eShop if it’s ever released outside Japan?

New Super Mario Bros 2 made by new level designers (Iwata Asks)?

Apparently so according to the recent Iwata Asks interview on the Japanese official Nintendo website.  You see, the already professional level designers were apparently call off to work on the Wii U New Super Mario Bros title, so they decided to train other staff from within Nintendo to design Mario games and get them working on New Super Mario Bros 2.


The team that researched course design for this game included participant in what is called “Mario Cram School.” It’s a group of developers from various departments who were shown how to make levels for Super Mario games.

Have to say, that’s a pretty neat gig if you get it.  Imagine working at Nintendo one day and being told that they want to train you how to make levels for Mario games and that you’ll soon be designing stages for New Super Mario Bros 2.  They could have gone further though, imagine how even cooler it’d be if Nintendo allowed people from outside Japan to work on Mario game levels in this way or had a proper audition type process like with reality TV.  I can’t be the only one envisioning something America Idol/Britain’s Got Talent style with a long line of wannabe video game designers queuing up round the back of building for the chance to design levels. Or maybe something akin to The Apprentice, Mario edition.  But continuing on with the Iwata Asks interview.

Mario Cram School was started by Takashi Tezuka to spread the knowledge of how to make Mariogames among more individuals within Nintendo. Toshihiko Nakago, a longtime developer of the series, was also heavily involved.
– Some of the courses made by the Cram School involved double the staff usually used for Mario games. The results were fun and unique.
– Amano feels like he was tricked into being director of New Super Mario Bros. 2 by being subjected to the Cram School courses.

I have to say, I do like the idea that the levels were made by people new to the series and that they seemed more original as a result.  It’s always nice to vary things up a bit when a video game series is getting stale and training newer developers to make levels and letting them include their own original ideas could be just what the New Super Mario Bros series needs to stay interesting and relevant.

Previous New Super Mario Bros. games didn’t have nighttime or evening levels; these have been added in New Super Mario Bros. 2.

Honestly, why was this? Nightime and evening levels have been a fixture of games ever since the days of the NES, it’s kind of depressing how not one person thought to include even one in the New Super Mario Bros series to date.  Are we actually also going to see weather effects this time around, or is it going to be left the realm of Wario Land and Donkey Kong Country again?

– Giant Boo’s name is “Boohemoth.”

Reminds me of Boolossus from Luigi’s Mansion.  Then again, the pun in the name is already bad enough it’d fit quite well with the corny Boo names from that game.

The staff had a strong desire this time to think of tough things that people might even get angry about.

Well, this is interesting.  I hope they realise the difference between real and fake difficulty though, and that there is definitely a thing called ‘too hard’ and ‘unfair’.  Basically, if it’s harder than the special worlds in past Mario games or the Grandmaster Galaxy, reevaluate your level design.  Don’t take too much influence from Artoon or whoever the quack who designed Endless World of Yoshis was.

Above: If this is anything like your level, tone it down please.

It would explain why it seems trailers had Mini Mario jumping on Bullet Bills constantly to cross gaps, climbing nets while dodging spikes and Jet Engines and dodging gauntlets filled with mega spikes underwater.  Looks like the kids who watched too many kaizo games and I Wanna Be the Guy playthroughs might be designing levels this time round.

The cannon levels have you run non stop, and the interview compares them to the mine cart stages in Donkey Kong Country.  It’s pretty neat how the cannons are actually levels this time around.

 The coins idea started when Tezuka and Nakago were talking about how important it was to implement coins in a satisfying way. They decided that it might be fun to make a game that is more involved in terms of coins.

People love getting rich apparently, hence the coin gimmick.

Tezuka actually happened to walk in at this moment, and talked about how smaller numbers like ten thousand or a hundred thousand wouldn’t be as impactful, so they decided to shoot for a million coins.
– It was this that led to the addition of tons of coin-related elements in each level.

This is kind of self explanatory.

hey had to work really hard to convince Miyamoto that the Gold Block was a good idea. He wasn’t convinced that there was any good reason for it to just spit out coins.

Hang on, didn’t he approve the concept back in Mario 3D Land?  Why would Miyamoto need to be swayed this time around as well?  Unless they mean they had trouble getting him to like the idea back then.

 Two-player started off as an experiment, but Tezuka liked it so much, he pressed them to put it in the full game. They didn’t want to, though.

What is it with Nintendo and reluctance to include co-op and multiplayer in more games?  I think their priorities are kind of backwards nowadays in this respect.  Still, interesting to know.

It’s impossible to collect every single coin, but two players can get a lot closer to achieving it.

You want to bet on this?  Nintendo probably intended this to be impossible in Super Mario 64, yet…

I bet you anything someone will figure out how to get all the coins.  They do in every other Mario game and platformer ever made, it’s a common world record to try and attempt.

If your coin record in Coin Rush is higher than someone you StreetPass with, you’ll get a Crown Coin.

Do these do anything?

Additional stages will be added to Coin Rush mode as paid DLC. The idea is similar to what we saw with the e-Reader in Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3. These won’t be part of the main story.

Paid DLC… well, hope it’s not too expensive.  On another note, I definitely remember that e-Reader.  I actually imported one from the US only to realise the UK version of Super Mario Advance 4 had the e-Reader content made inaccessible due to the e-Reader not being released in the region.  Maybe this game will kind of let me relive those days and actually experience the extra levels.

They considered calling the game New Super Mario Bros. Gold. But since there are more levels than in either of its predecessors, and the levels can stand on their own even without focusing on coins, they decided to go with orthodox numbering conventions instead.

Am I the only one who thinks New Super Mario Bros Gold might have been a more interesting title than New Super Mario Bros 2 and dispelled a few worries of it being a mission pack sequel?  Oh well.

We wanted to make a solid, classic Super Mario game, so first we reconstructed the Super Mario stage elements, and then made 80 stages—no, more than that—and added in a bunch of the coin elements mentioned by Tezuka-san, and reconstructed the stages yet again…and I think it turned out to be a game that is fun to play.

In case anyone needs a count to compare, the number of levels in each past level based game (excluding star based ones like the 3D titles for semi obvious reasons):

Super Mario Bros 1: 32 levels

Super Mario Bros 2: 20 levels

Super Mario Bros 3: 90 levels (125 with world e)

Super Mario World: 72 levels

Super Mario Land: 12 levels

Super Mario Land 2: 32 levels

New Super Mario Bros: 80 levels

New Super Mario Bros Wii: 85 (with enemy courses) or 77 (without)

Super Mario 3D Land: 96 levels

I don’t think the 80+ levels claim is quite as impressive as they make it sound, since many a past Mario game has had an equal number of levels or more.

Raccoon Mario shows up this time. We had to show him in 3D, so we had to apply ourselves to all kinds of things like form and animation. I hope people will pay attention to that.

Not sure what this means, but I suspect no one will pay attention to the form or animation.

E]ven if you aren’t that great at video games, if you use White Raccoon Mario, which also appeared in Super Mario 3D Land, you can manage to clear it by yourself.

Because kids, permanent invincibility always works!  I have to say, that’s kind of self explanatory, I’d guess nearly anyone could beat say Doom with God Mode enabled or beat a classic Mario game if they had a permanent Invincibility Star effect.  Of course, if Nintendo’s new Mario devs really were this devious, they could always make it so certain levels are impossible while invincible, like requiring you to use sprite based platforms which die on contact with a star.  And make it impossible to fly past, really screwing over the ‘skip everything’ gamer.

Some final quotes:

Now that we’ve made this game on the heels of Super Mario 3D Land, I feel like the Nintendo 3DS allows a richer Super Mario experience than any handheld ever before.

When Super Mario appeared before for handheld systems, even if they were amazingly polished, it seemed like home consoles were always leading in new innovations, so I believe that many gamers had the impression that home console Super Mario games were the most important.

But in the age of the Nintendo 3DS, and especially with regard to Coin Rush mode, now that you can actually carry the game around with you, I too feel a conviction that many players will realize what it’s like to carry Super Mario around in a portable device.

and the best ending line from Iwata is…

 Iwata: “We’ll have to make the Wii U game even better!”

Depends on what standard you’re using to measure ‘even better’. The people who dislike New Super Mario Bros 2 for whatever reason probably think just about anything is ‘even better’.

All in all, an interesting enough Iwata Asks article.  It’s certainly different having trainee Mario game designers work on a commercially published game like this, and it’s interesting that Nintendo feel they need to train more people within the company on how to make Mario game levels.