Minecraft, Nintendo and their Indie Problems

As of earlier today, Mojang has confirmed that they want Minecraft to be available on all systems.

Which explicitly includes the 3DS and Wii U.  Indeed, when asked about the possibility of Minecraft on the Wii U or 3DS, they said:

I’ve never heard a reason why we haven’t ended up on Wii U or 3DS. It just hasn’t happened yet.

But while it’s nice to see the Minecraft developers themselves keen to work with Nintendo and promote their work on Nintendo systems, it raises an issue that very few people seem to be discussing about the company. Namely that Nintendo has a huge issue figuring out which new games are going to be successful and which aren’t, or trying to get said times on their systems.

Because it’s true, isn’t it? The best time to get Minecraft on Nintendo systems isn’t now or a few years in the future.

Above: Something like this (fake trailer used for illustration purposes) should have been a reality years ago.

It’s already gone.  The best time to release Minecraft on those systems was back in about 2010 or 2011, when the game was brand new.  A decently run business should have figured this out; after all, that’s how business works.  Spot what’s going to work (smell what sells/is about to sell) and then try and be the one to promote or sell that product.  Kind of like how on The Apprentice the candidates have to find out what the public will buy and then stock more of it to meet demand.  If you’re selling say, coats and hats, and only the latter sells, you buy more hats knowing that people are willing to buy them.

Nintendo on the other hand, seems to have completely missed this class in business school.  Instead, they’ll completely ignore the high selling product and simply push whatever the hell they feel like pushing regardless of whether anyone actually wants to buy it.  In a world where hats are flying off shelves, Nintendo are the company that ends up doubling down on coats and trying to force them to sell, demand be damned.

And that’s been their biggest issue throughout their history, at least in terms of third party games on their platforms.  They don’t spot the obvious breakout hits and instead keep trying to push franchises that no one outside of Japan is even buying.

Oh, and trust me, there have been plenty of examples here.  Take the RPGs from the 8/16 bit era.  Dragon Quest was popular in Japan, but not so much internationally.  Final Fantasy was popular internationally but less so in Japan.  A sane company would probably try and get both on their systems, or if that didn’t work, go for the one with more international appeal.  After all, the rest of the world kind of outnumbers Japan in terms of population by a significant margin.

But no, Nintendo stuck with Dragon Quest even outside of Japan, despite the fact their attempts at trying to make it a success weren’t really working that well.  Meanwhile, Sony ended up luring Square over to its platforms, and Final Fantasy 7 ended up being a success on par with the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time (and a significant reason why the Playstation outsold the Nintendo 64 in its era).


Above: Then we got this, and Nintendo’s E3 was overshadowed even more…

And it goes on and on.  They completely overlooked Rare’s successes, before selling them off to Microsoft and losing the best second party partnership they ever had.  They completely ignored that the likes of the Five Nights at Freddy’s series was selling out on services like Steam and that half of Youtube was seemingly uploading videos of it.  And despite the sales clearly proving that a more realistic Zelda art style was the better choice (Twilight Princess sold around double what the likes of the Wind Waker did), they kept trying to push cel shaded and ‘experimental’ art styles regardless of whether anyone would actually care for it or not.

Continue Reading…

Eight Awesome Nintendo Music Covers You Need to Listen To

When it comes to great covers of Nintendo songs, there are plenty to choose from.  Indeed, with such projects as Zelda Reorchestrated, OC Remix and Pokemon Reorchestrated out there making covers of entire soundtracks, you could probably find a ton to listen to from those sources alone.

But here are some… slightly more obscure (but still fantastic) Nintendo music covers.  The kind on Youtube that don’t ever seem to get enough views for their quality and that arguably deserve the attention more than the big names ever will.  Here are eight awesome Nintendo music covers that any of you fans just have to listen to!

8. Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story Final Boss; Orchestral Remix

Now, there have been many, many covers of the fantastic final boss theme from this game.  Like, 8 bit ones, 16 bit ones, rock ones, techno ones… you name a music style and someone has probably redone this theme in that style.

But here is possibly the best of them.  Behold, the epic orchestral remix of Bowser’s Inside Story’s final boss theme:

Yes, it’s loud as hell.  Your ears could well be blasted clean off the side of your head if you play this at maximum volume.  But either way, it is epic.  Just the perfect thing for a grandiose final boss showdown, regardless of the game.

7. Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga Soundtrack; Orchestrated

Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga is already a game with a phenomenal soundtrack.  But do you know what would make it even better?

If the whole thing was redone in an orchestral style using decent instruments.  And what do you know, there’s actually someone on Youtube who’s doing just that!  Behold Bryan Hermus’ fantastic covers of the Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga soundtrack.  Including Stardust Fields:

The main battle theme (as you’d expect):

And the main boss theme, which sounds even better with updated instruments:

You can keep track on his progress on his Youtube channel, as linked here:

Bryan Hermus (Purple 1222119)’s Youtube Channel

He’s only done four tracks so far, but hey, he’s only started this project in June 2015, so give him some slack.  Maybe if we’re lucky we’ll get to hear some fantastic covers of songs like Cackletta’s theme and Bowser’s Castle too!  Or even something that makes Joke’s End actually sound cool rather than repetitive!

6. The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past; Metal Dark World Cover

Enough said to be honest:

It’s already a great song, and this metal cover of it just makes it even better than it already was.  Very well done to CSGuitar89 on Youtube for this cover!

5. Donkey Kong 64; Mad Jack Theme

The original song was already menacing as all hell.  This?

Is at least ten times more so than even that.  Seriously, if hell had a soundtrack (in the good sense), this would be it.  It’s arguably the best Donkey Kong 64 music cover ever made.

4. The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening; Ballad of the Wind Fish Remake

It’s rare that any Nintendo song (or remix) could actually drive us to tears, but this one seems to actually come close to doing so.  Remixing the original ending song from the Game Boy classic in a way that makes it sound like a current gen title (or better), Fox Amoore’s amazing Ballad of the Wind Fish remake is one of the best Zelda music covers out there.  Brings back the sadness of seeing Koholint Island disappear like the dream it ever was.

Continue Reading…

Why You Can’t Play as a Female Character in The Legend of Zelda Triforce Heroes

In The Legend of Zelda Triforce Heroes, the players control three different paletted versions of Link rather than different characters with their own designs and personalities. Either way, given that the internet is what it is, some people have questioned why a female Link wasn’t an option.


Above: The playable characters of Triforce Heroes

And in an IGN interview with Triforce Heroes developer Hiromasa Shikata, he explains why this isn’t the case. In his own words:

I’m going to tell you a little bit about the story quickly and we’ll circle around, here. There’s this kingdom, an event happens, and the king needs heroes. So, he puts out a call for heroes to gather and one of those is this guy Link. He sees this audition, basically, ‘Heroes needed; apply here.’ And, that’s the start of his adventure.

The story calls for this sort of legend/prophecy where heroes will come together to help solve a problem. And in that, they are male characters. So, because the game is set with that as the story background, you cannot choose a gender; you are a male character.

I understand what you’re saying (being disappointed), and just as general information, we do have a lot of female staff members who are playing this game and enjoying it. It doesn’t seem to be a big issue to them. They still are getting emotional investment in this game. And to be honest, Link isn’t the most masculine of guys in the world, depending on how you want to project yourself into the character.

In other words? It’s supposedly story related. The prophecy says you need three heroes, so you get three male characters.

We predict that this answer will not please certain gaming critics and Zelda fans. But hey, the game is what it is, and it’s likely that the true reason simply comes down to three identical core character models being easier to make than three separate ones.

Are you happy with the reasoning behind none of the playable characters in Triforce Heroes being female?


Triforce Heroes Developer Explains why There will be no female playable character – Zelda Informer

Super Mario 3D Land; A Good Game, but not Galaxy Caliber

Super Mario 3D Land is an unusual game. On the one hand, it’s technically a 3D game made by the same people behind Super Mario Galaxy, and hence has all of the tricks and game mechanics found in those titles, while on the other it’s about as close to classic 2D Mario as you can get, with one hundred percent of the levels revolving around platforming rather than cheap gimmicks. No, it has as little to do with Super Mario Land the Game Boy series as Wario Land 1 did.

As far as the core gameplay goes, this game is great. Ignore the morons complaining about ‘bad’ controls or what not, the controls work perfectly fine. Indeed, if you’ve ever played Super Mario 64 DS in any capacity, you should find the control scheme here about the same, and as much as some big media sites like to complain, it’s not a bad control scheme to use. So how does it work? Well, controls wise, much like Super Mario Galaxy with exactly two exceptions:

1. You have a run button which you must hold to make Mario dash.

2. Underwater controls work like the 2D games (press A/B to make you go up, let go to make Mario sink down). It’s a different experience, but it’s fairly easy to get used to and is arguably a tad more precise than the awkward swimming mechanics found in the Super Mario Galaxy titles.

The gameplay in general is much like Super Mario Galaxy 2, with fairly linear courses that you have to traverse towards a goal flag. It’s always fun, each level introduces a new mechanic of some kind, and none of these take away from the gameplay. For example, one level will introduce swimming mechanics, another a new kind of enemy or two and another platforms that change/flip when Mario jumps. I kind of like this, it’s how a 3D Mario game should be designed, with a bunch of interesting levels (take note New Super Mario Bros series) that don’t stray too far from the core platforming gameplay (see, Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2’s pointless gimmicks).

Mario 3D Land 1

Above: All levels in the game all platforming based, hence there’s no infuriating gimmicks or mini games.

What’s more, I like how this game actually brings some classic Mario level archtypes and does them properly in 3D for once. For example, there are now actual ghost houses with puzzles, mazes and well, ghosts. These feel much more like the Super Mario World/New Super Mario Bros school of design rather than the 64/Sunshine/Galaxy one, and are much better for it. Similarly, actual castle levels are in this (see above screenshot), which is rather refreshing considering how they got rarer and rarer ever since the series went 3D.

The game also comes with a bunch of power ups you can achieve, and thankfully, they work well. For one thing, they’re not timed this time around (and you can carry them between levels, which is a huge relief), and they work pretty well. The Tanooki Suit is the main new addition, allowing Mario to whip enemies with his tail, float down slowly to cross large gaps and… oh wait, it doesn’t have flying abilities. Bit lacking in that sense, but it’s understandable regardless, just being able to ‘glide’ breaks about half the game’s levels and actual flight would probably let you reach the end in well under half a minute. There’s also a Boomerang Suit, letting Mario throw boomerangs at enemies, but it’s not quite as useful due to the one boomerang on screen limit. Does let you pick up star medals and collectibles though, which is good.

Boomerang Mario

Above: The Boomerang Flower/Suit is a nice power when you have it, but a bit limited and less useful in platforming heavy stages.

The best power up however is none of those, but the special Tanooki Suit you get in the bonus levels. Why? Statue Mario. Damn that’s the most useful power in the game, seeing as becoming a statue literally turns you into a stone wall. Anything that could normally harm you ignores you or does nothing (even the giant spike pillars in the later airships get stopped dead by this power!), and if any poor creature happens to be underneath you at the time, it gets smashed to pulp. Traps become scrap metal, Thwomps turned to gravel and even giant creatures like the eels die instantly. It’s a very useful power, and you should easily guess why the game never gives you it for the first eight worlds.

That’s the other new thing in this game, you now have far more than the boring eight world ‘standard’ Super Mario Bros 3 introduced. Instead, when you beat Bowser in the final castle for the first time, you unlock another eight worlds on top of that, with new power ups, a new boss (Dry Bowser), new levels and new enemies and obstacles (such as Cosmic Clones). It’s a very nice addition, seeing as so many recent Mario games just stick with the standard eight.

dry bowser

Above: Changing Bowser to Dry Bowser for the special worlds was a nice touch. Said worlds double the games length.

However, there’s a bit of a problem here. The secret levels, while good, are often just rehashed versions of the normal ones. Sometimes this is barely noticeable, or a significant portion has been edited (the elevator clock tower and the green platform levels are entirely new), but other times it’s literally just adding a timer or Cosmic Clones to an already short and easy level. Notable poor examples include the level with timed blocks (the same layout is reused twice, just with different enemies), and the underground levels. However, keep in mind this is a whole new eight worlds you’re getting, and well, that’s a lot better than the poor job Galaxy 2 did with the secret levels (just about ten, more than half of which are reused content from past games)

Technically, the game is decent. It won’t quite blow you away like the Super Mario Galaxy games did (the graphics are fairly standard for a Mario game, and there’s rarely cases of beautiful scenery or the like), but it’s just good all round. Music? Excellent as usual, and always fits the theme perfectly. Could possibly be a bit louder in some cases though, the castle themes seem a bit subdued for the kinds of levels you’re ignoring. If it was more like this:

Or this:

Either would fit perfectly in the castles where you’re chased by Cosmic Clones or on a constant twenty second timer, and the New Super Mario Bros one would do great in the final level if I say so myself. The current castle theme is great in itself, just would work better in the slower paced castles. Other level themes work fine in all instances, the airship music is still great, the haunted house music generally fits the mood of the levels it’s in and the main theme is as upbeat as it needs to be, and extremely catchy to boot.

Continue Reading…

Yoshi’s Island DS; A Kaizo Game Made Official

Not in a satanic or literal sense mind you, but more in a ‘this game is actively trying to sabotage your attempts at winning’ one. Yes, Yoshi’s Island DS is pretty much the nearest thing Nintendo have ever made to a kaizo style ROM hack, and seems to be designed by someone who thinks the best measure of game quality is how much it can predict its players behaviour and make their experience a living hell.

That said, it isn’t a bad game in itself, just an annoying one. The graphics are very well done and mostly match the style of the original (while still updating it to look good on modern systems). And while the music is often rather poor compared to the amazing soundtrack of the original title, it’s most bad in a bland and inoffensive rather than ‘ow my ears are burning in agonising pain’ way.

But it does start to falter a bit in the level and game design in general. For one thing, the difficulty curve is basically non existant. It starts out easy for a world or two, then hits about halfway through world 3 and ends up at roughly Yoshi’s Island 1 endgame level. And past world 5-1? God help any player who even attempts it.

You can see this best in how many insta kill elements get chucked in your face as you progress through the adventure. Whereas in the first game the levels generally went light on the ‘kill Yoshi in one hit’ traps and made somewhat logical looking levels that could still challenge the player, Yoshi’s Island DS just chucks them all over the place. Hell, some levels like Moltz the Very Goonie’s Castle:

Above: How many spikes did they shove in there?

And Bowser’s Castle itself feel like they’re made of nothing but spikes as a crutch to cover poor level design. That only gets worse in the secret and extra levels where any pretense of the game being legitimately fair go flying out the window.

Take A Light in the Dark for instance. Interesting secret level, but it’s just too long and too difficult to be even remotely fair. You’ve got a huge maze filled with darkness and spikes, then a blind skiing section with lots of precision jumps to make and then even more platforming before the level’s over. Let there be Light? You have to jump off a switch over a spike pit, something which requires literally frame specific precision. And when you see things like the lava trap in another secret level (of the ‘mess up and go back three rooms and try again) kind or the damn near impossible to predict with any accuracy egg platform in Yoshi’s Island Easter Eggs, you realise that the game was blatantly made by someone who didn’t really know what they were doing.


Above: I don’t think anyone even knows how to beat this room without dying at least once. Heck, I don’t think the likes of Professor Layton could figure out the ‘legit’ strategy…

Indeed, that whole room shown above is just so ‘random’ there’s no real way of even judging it. You fire eggs at the platform wheel, it moves. Fire quicker and it moves/accelerates quicker. Hit the wheels above the spike barriers and they move up. But the control scheme is so imprecise and the ways to mess up so easy that nearly every attempt ends in certain failure. Go too slow and you run out of eggs. Go too fast and the platform shoots straight past the barrier and leaves you stuck in an unwinnable situation. It’s not well thought out or designed at all.

And honestly, much of the game is kind of like that. You’ve got areas and bosses like the first few which are too easy to the point they probably weren’t tested well, you’ve got parts of levels where traps you can’t see or predict in advance get sprung on you at random and a general zero acceptance for minor mishaps (no items here, if you run out of points or eggs, you’re literally incapable of getting a good score or sometimes beating the level).

But despite what I said about poor level design, the game is still pretty fun. The platforming is fun, the basic game mechanics work about as well as they did in the original and there are brilliantly unique ideas in here (like the boss fought in freefall), it’s just that the game is just a little too frustrating for most people.

Above: Probably one of the most interesting bosses I’ve seen in a 2D platformer. Maybe Super Mario Galaxy 3 should use a similar concept except in 3D...

The extra modes are pretty good as well. Time Trial is neat to have, although the whole ‘get items to lower your time’ kind of kills the point of it all, the mini games are fairly decent if you like that kind of thing and the enemy museum is actually pretty cool if you want to see how the monsters act without getting hurt in the process.

And there’s one more important piece of advice for you. So listen up! Time keeps on ticking even as you are reading this message!
Above: The Time Trial messages are… funny too.

And while the transformations and things are fairly rare this time around, some of the new stuff involving them is pretty cool. A rocket that takes you up into the stratosphere and has you avoid planets on the way to the next part of the level? That’s pretty unique for a Yoshi game. As is the kangaroo riding and mine cart related gameplay.

All in all, Yoshi’s Island DS is a fairly decent game if you like difficulty and has some pretty fun concepts. It’s got some good boss battles and levels, some fairly nice music and some clever new ideas in general, so it’s definitely had some effort put into it. Just keep in mind that the difficulty does severely ramp up during the later stages and that it’s not a game for the faint hearted.

If you don’t like difficulty? Just seriously play something else, because this isn’t the game for you.

Note: This review was originally posted on Talk Nintendo before it’s closure, and the opinions of the author may have changed since that time.