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).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G57vtB6NU-Y

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.

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LEGO Dimensions; Doctor Who Trailer

Everyone loves Lego, and everyone loves Doctor Who, right?  So what better crossover idea than to put the two together in the one game! Behold the newest Lego Dimensions trailer, featuring Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor teaming up with the likes of Batman and Homer Simpson:

Yep, it sure is something to behold isn’t it?  Indeed, it’s got the feel of Doctor Who down perfectly, along with all the comedy value we’ve come to expect from the Lego adaptation games.

And did we mention how they included his regeneration mechanic?  No?  Well they did!  If you die as the Twelfth Doctor, you respawn as the First one. And so it continues through all his different incarnations from over the years, including the Day of the Doctor specific War Doctor.

So yes, what do you think of the newest Lego Dimensions trailer?  Are you excited about the possibility of playing as the Doctor in a Lego crossover game?  And for that matter, about what is arguably the first good Doctor Who game ever made?

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.

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Yoshi’s Woolly World; All Boss Battles

With all the E3 hype around games like Star Fox for Wii U, Final Fantasy 7’s remake and Rare Replay, Yoshi’s Woolly World has kind of fallen off the radar.  But while this cute platformer is not the crowd winning triple A title that will sell millions of Wii U systems, it does seem to have some very nice boss battles.

So here they are.  Here are all the bosses in Yoshi’s Woolly World, as posted by Youtuber NintenU.  Just be warned, there are obviously going to be spoilers…

What do you think about the boss battles in Yoshi’s Woolly World?  Are they pretty cool boss concepts for a 2D platformer, and perhaps even the best bosses in a Yoshi game to date?

Super Mario 64; A Classic that Defined 3D Platforming

With how 3D platformers and games in general have improved in the past few years, it’s very easy to think Super Mario 64 has gotten a bit dated. Heck, after the likes of the Banjo Kazooie series and Super Mario 64’s very own sequels, the original must really seem a bit archaic to gamers who didn’t grow up with it.

But Super Mario 64 is still a classic. It may not have aged quite as well as the 2D games did (3D games tend to age poorly due to how 3D graphics work), but there is something amazing about this one game that no sequel or imitator has ever quite recaptured. And that’s what this review is going to discover or explain.

Graphically, Super Mario 64 is a bit dated. The levels and objects look blocky, Mario looks less like Mario and more like a Lego equivalent (there’s a reason Super Mario Sunshine was seen as such a massive leap forward technically) and some things just look primitive to say the least.

But there are still a lot of reasons to like this game’s style. For one thing, the amount of charm in the whole thing is immense, you can tell Nintendo has lovingly crafted each and every corner of every level to make it interesting and unique. The levels looked amazing back in the 90s and they still look pretty nice today, despite their somewhat blocky appearance. It’s hard to explain, but there’s just something so amazing when you first step out into Bob-omb Battlefield and see the whole level in front of you, a land filled with possibiities of all varieties.

Above: This is probably giving Nintendo 64 era kids a lot of nostalgic flashbacks about now…

Stylistically, there’s also a more ‘industrial’ look to Mario 64 as a game that stands out. It’s still very Mario inspired, but the levels often don’t tend to look overly cartoony like the ones in Mario 3D Land and other such games, they have an appearance which makes them feel almost like real places.

Sound wise, the game is very different from any game since. The music just feels more ambient, almost like background sound rather than the striking, stand out style used in Mario Galaxy 1 and 2. This means while the music is often not quite as memorable and will come across as a bit ‘plain’ when you’re merely listening to it on Youtube or other sites, it just fits the level so well. Just listening to the music from the water levels is so soothing, while the haunted house and cave music always has you on edge and the standard grass theme suits the feel of the levels its played in equally well. Just listen for a bit:

It’s also quite clever how Nintendo only used a very limited soundtrack, yet managed to make the music fit every level so perfectly. You never feel the music is inappropriate, despite the fact the EXACT same theme is used for a desert and a fiery hellscape:

Gameplay however is where it shines. Indeed, this was for its time the ‘sand box’ game of the moment. Go anywhere in any levels you unlocked, complete any missions in any order. Play around in levels for the fun of it. That’s so unfortunately lacking in recent Mario platformers.

It’s actually depressing to look back on the game now, since it’s almost an artifact of a forgotten time where 3D was used to make games fun rather than just send players from cut scene to cut scene. The times where developers would make the levels huge open style worlds where you could do whatever at any time. Some current games still sort of feature this, but I’d say the biggest mistake in gaming was when platformers stopped giving you choices and started being all about being ‘cinematic’ or like some movie.

fpsdesign

Above: Sadly not limited to First Person Shooters

Adding to the enjoyment of exploring the different worlds and being able to do anything are the power ups. Now, they’re timed rather than being permanent like in 3D Land or the classic 2D games, but all in all they do make the game much more fun. The Wing Cap lets you fly around at will for a while, the Metal Cap lets you be mostly invincible and walk underwater and the Vanish Cap lets you turn translucent and go right through wire fences and enemies. Oh, and the awesome Koopa Shell you can ride across lava, quicksand and water. That’s always been a fun addition that has sadly never returned since.

But really, there’s nothing more amazing than flying around Bob-omb Battlefield for the very first time, having the freedom to take to the skies at any time and to go wherever you wanted. It’s the type of freedom so sorely missing in Mario games since, what with Sunshine, 3D Land and Galaxy 2 lacking such powerful flight options and Galaxy 1 limiting the red star to the two most boring areas of the game.

Super Mario 64 introduced a lot of great gameplay innovations to the series too. Like the ability to go to any level you unlocked and take on any mission you felt like trying. The whole plot point of collecting stars to unlock levels and reach the final boss. Heck, it was basically the start of the 3D collectathon genre that Banjo Kazooie and others like it perfected, and it always has a place in my heart because of this.

This is also the Mario game where that structure works best. Don’t like a mission? Skip it and do something else. Much better than in Sunshine where you had to at least play the first SEVEN levels in each area, or Galaxy 1 and 2 where you near enough had to play most of the levels just to move on. Or Mario 3D Land where you near enough had to play every level, even the ones you found annoying as hell.

It does also help that the level design is amazing and that each area is filled with charm and bursting with secrets to find. Not just the six stars either, there’s also the inevitable 100 coin star, various passages to secret levels, 1-up Mushrooms hidden in numerous devious locations and random teleports with no explanation for their existance. Of all the games in the series, there are so many little random touches and secrets that you really get to feel like Nintendo’s staff had a lot of fun making the game. You feel like each of the levels is a unique world with its own atmosphere and numerous minor elements that just make it feel right.

Why do butterflies turn into bombs and chase you down when you punch them?

Why does Dire Dire Docks lead to the castle pond if you exit past the metal barrier which had Bowser’s face on it?

Why can you teleport between flowerbeds in Bob-omb Battlefield?

None of this stuff is in the manual. It’s like the game’s designers intended you to just mess around and see what you could find. And that’s something so many later games completely missed out on.

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