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…

Even More New Super Mario Bros 2 Artwork!

Not quite sure where this was originally from, best guess would be some official site or some press release that was just made available recently.  But you can now see some high quality pieces of artwork showing the Koopalings, a general level scene and all the items below:

A 50 coin block.  Not sure why Nintendo has decided it was worth making official art of, but oh well.

A Gold Brick Block.  Why this needs art I have no idea, looks like a quickly/cheaply done recolour of the standard brick.

The block that gives you the invincible form is back.  This time however, you’re not Tanooki Mario but invincible Raccoon Mario, which makes a bit of sense.  Guess they didn’t want to put both the Tanooki Suit and Raccoon Leaf in this game.

The Gold Flower. You know what this does by now.  But there’s something more interesting next…

A Gold Mushroom?  Hang on, if the Gold Flower makes you Gold Mario, what the hell does this thing do?  Another new form of sorts?

Just the regular items from this game.  Not sure why these needed new artwork, but I guess I’ll let Nintendo be the judge of that.

However, something else caught my eye here…

It’s the Mini Mushroom and Mega Mushroom from New Super Mario Bros!  Haven’t seen the latter in a while, but damn it’ll be sweet to smash Koopaling heads in as Mega Mario or beat up Reznor as an invincible giant!

Some nice screenshots.  I do like the sunset effect in the second one, anyone else agree?

Unfortunately, it seems world 2’s a desert again.  Freaking hell Nintendo, how unimaginative can you get?

Finally, the most awesome new pieces of artwork.  Click them to view the full versions, although watch out, they’re about 5+ MB in size each, and will take forever to load.



Freaking awesome pictures aren’t they?

Still, that’s all the latest screenshots of New Super Mario Bros 2, which is looking more and more interesting by the day (I’m actually moderately excited for it now!). What do you think of the artwork?  Do you plan to buy New Super Mario Bros 2?

It’s All About the Gold; New Super Mario Bros 2 Artwork inside!

Did you immediately guess that most of it had to with the gold theme running throughout the game?  If so, you win a prize for figuring out the extremely obvious, since Nintendo’s now released artwork of a whole bunch of gold Mario enemies!

So now there’s apparently Gold Goombas, Gold Koopas, Gold Bullet Bills and Gold Lakitus? Is this gold thing becoming as blatant a gimmick as the Tanooki tails were in Super Mario 3D Land?  Heck, will the new gold enemies have any interesting new abilities other than dropping more money when killed?  Here’s hoping.

Also, did you notice how even the main villains seem to be all obsessed with money now?  The Koopalings can be seen holding coins in a recent magazine picture:

Roy’s in the money!

Or how Reznor is now standing on top of freaking coin blocks rather than their standard platforms?

What next, is Bowser going to be made out of sold gold and breathe money at Mario or something?  Does anyone think Nintendo might be taking the theme of the game just a little too seriously here?

Still, if you thought it was just enemies…

Even Mario gets in on the act with a wearable gold brick block that fires coins out behind him!   It’s not new, the concept originated in Super Mario 3D Land (with a ? block instead of a brick block), but I guess this game has to shove the ‘gold’ aspect in your face at every possible opportunity.

There is one unfortunate returning element though.  Well I think this is a reference to the Super Guide, but it could just as easily be some fancy new Mario suit that acts as an upgrade to the Racoon form.  Still, looks a lot like the cop out option is still in this, designed for the people with the brain power of your average rock.

There’s also some perfectly innocent artwork of standard Mario elements.  How many different pieces of art do they really need of Spinies and Koopas anyway?

At least Raccoon Mario is back…

This Koopa’s expression is priceless though, he looks like he’s something bad enough to give him shell shock for the rest of his existance.  No, that’s not intended to be a pun.

Also, Mario and Luigi go around looking like Wario and holding huge piles of gold coins:

Anyone else get reminded a little of Wario Land Shake It from all this?  Not the level design (since Wario Land games generally don’t have bottomless pits or precision platforming), but the whole blatant money theme running throughout?  Wario looked a bit happier with his stash though:

Still, I guess the artwork for this game looks okay, if rather generic and a bit bland.  What do you think of New Super Mario Bros 2?  Does the game interest you as is?  Does Nintendo take the gold theme a bit too far?  Heck, think Wario will show up?

Is this even the best or most appropriate ‘gimmick’ to have in a recession?