Mario Kart Tour multiplayer finally goes live

When it released last September, Mario Kart Tour quickly became one of the best mobile games on the market. It was everything fans loved about Mario Kart tucked away into their phones. Well, almost everything. Unfortunately, at release the game had no support for multiplayer.

That will no longer be the case going forward. In an update released yesterday, Nintendo officially greenlit the racing game’s online play. As with the core platform titles, players will be able to play against their friends or compete worldwide. All online races support up to eight different players.

Mario Kart tour race

Mario Kart Tour

There are a few steps to take before you can jump online. You’ll need a Nintendo Account set up and be connected to the internet. Alternatively, mobile data is fine but be cautious as Mario Kart Tour can use up data quickly. Once your Nintendo account is linked, all your friends added on Switch will appear automatically.

The Global Multiplayer uses constantly rotating cups to determine an active track list. Every 15 minutes the active cup will change, meaning learning all the tracks is crucial for winning. As with single player, winning will net you tons of position points. You’ll also earn various base points and bonus points based on what you do during races.

mario kart tour drift

Despite this update, there are still concerns over Mario Kart Tour’s monetization. Many complaints have focused on Nintendo’s $4.99 a month Gold Pass service. For $60 a year you get a watered-down battle pass, access to Gold Races, some in-game badges, and the 200CC category.

Even worse, Mario Kart Tour has many of its karts and racers locked behind a greedy gacha system. This means that you throw money at the game for a chance at landing the racer you want. Given how bad your odds are, it’s far more likely you just end up short on cash. Hopefully, the addition of multiplayer means that Nintendo are taking Tour more seriously, and improvements to its business model will be made in the future.

Two New Mario Games Could Be In The Works

New Mario Games

New Mario Games

Video game publishers try their hardest to hide future projects. For the most part, they’re very good at it. All staff has to sign nondisclosure agreements and the media are kept tight on a leash. However, there’s one thing no company can hide. Something that has given us an insight into some potential new Mario games. Staff hiring.

Nintendo has posted two job opportunities on their official website. The first is a Level Designer for a new 3D action game. Similarly, the second is also a Level Designer but for a 2D action game instead. Both positions are described as focusing on level creation, play checking, and bug checking. Successful employees can get a three-month trial period with a potential contract renew afterward.

What Could These Allude to?

Mario GamesThe most likely idea is Super Mario Odyssey 2. Nintendo has already shown a willingness to make main series sequels with the Wii’s Super Mario Galaxy 2. Also, given the short development time since the first Odyssey, a sequel makes more sense than a new game. A lot of the core work is already done with Odyssey possessing a plethora of reusable high-quality models, ideas and audio.

I’d say the second most likely outcome is a new Super Mario 3D World. Despite being critically acclaimed, 3D World was limited by its console’s failures. So not many players got to enjoy it as the Wii U didn’t sell too well. Therefore, it’s odd that Super Mario 3D World isn’t already on Switch. Nintendo has made a conscientious effort to port a lot of the Wii U’s library across.

Both Mario Kart 8 and Pokkén Tournament were re-released a while back. Other popular titles like New Super Mario Bros. U, Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE, and Xenoblade Chronicles X are all out on Switch too. So why wouldn’t they have released Mario 3D World? It’s very possible we could just be getting a new 3D World entirely instead.

What about the 2D Level Designer posting? Well New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is already on its way so that’s out of the question. Equally, Super Mario Maker 2 only released a few months ago. Due to this, I find it unlikely they are already working on the level design aspect of a sequel. A decent shout could be a new Paper Mario game. Even though it’s traditionally a turn-based RPG, another action game like Super Paper Mario isn’t impossible.

Let us know what you think Nintendo is developing. Will they play it safe with another sequel or could this point to something brand new? For now, we’ll have to wait and see.

More Benefits That Will Make You Play More Video Games

More Benefits of Playing More Video Games

Video Games – just like any other medium of entertainment, the first years of our beloved video games weren’t a walk in the park; and, our childhoods were full of “stop playing and get to your room!”, “time to go to bed!”, “playing won’t do you any good!”, and a lot more. But now, as video games (and the industry, itself) continue to grow, we see a lot of people who has a video game with them, in one form or another. Be it a simple one-tap game or a mobile MOBA like Mobile Legends, people are playing video games, both male and female, young and old. Here’s another list of the benefits that video games can give us. Enjoy!

Improved Coordination

Just an example, Assassin's Creed
Just an example, Assassin’s Creed

Game: Action Games and Music/Rhythm Games

This must be the most noticeable improvement that gamers experience. If you’ve been playing video games, action and music/rhythm games, specifically, then I have a challenge for you. Have your friend throw a pillow or anything at you randomly and notice that your reaction will be quicker. Just. Like. Spiderman. Or, have your friend drop your phone near you and watch just how you instinctively reach out and catch it. How did you do this? Well, video games.

Since video games greatly help improve one’s hand-eye coordination, researchers are using video games in order to train surgeons. Their study shows that surgeons who’ve played video games for more than 3 hours a week have performed with 37 percent less error and 27 percent faster. Oh, they were performing laparoscopic surgery. Feel free to search about that procedure. I’m not really an expert in that field.

“The data is compelling — playing video games can make surgeons better. That’s not to say that reading and schoolwork are not important too.”, said Dr. Dan Jones, Chief of Minimally Invasive Surgery and Director of the Weight Loss Surgery Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Meaning, not because you’re a good gamer you’re good to become a surgeon. But, then again, who am I to stop you, go chase your dream if that what your heart desires.

Memory Booster

Oh yes, our friend plumber, Mario will help you...uhm...what was I saying again?
Oh yes, our friend plumber, Mario will help you…uhm…what was I saying again?

Game: 3D Games, apparently

Wait, what was I writing about? Yes, I am one of those people who easily forget what he was doing just a couple of minutes ago. And a research back in 2015 was conducted in order to show that videogames can improve one’s memory.

Craig Stark and Dane Clemenson of University of California, Irvine’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory recruited college students who didn’t play video games that much and split them into two groups. One group is tasked to play two-dimensional games (Angry Birds) and three-dimensional games (Super Mario 3D World). And get this, the memory performance of those who played Super Mario 3D World increased by about 12 percent. Looks like playing before an exam helps, well, it did to me back then.

Reduce Stress and Depression

We Happy Few
We Happy Few

Game: Every game we’ve ever played and will play

It will all boil down to one – playing video games eases us, relieves us of the stress of the world we live on. A research was conducted by Patricia Areán, a UW Medicine researcher in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and the study showed that 80 percent of the participants cope up with depression.

If you come to think of it, that’s the real point of video games – a means for us to have fun. Yes, games in the recent years were more emotional and more narrative but, in the end, we still have fun. The immersion that we engage ourselves in, the experience of living someone else’s life, and the people we interact with along the way – both virtual and real – show us that video games can be more than what they are, more than a means of entertainment.

Are there more to video games? Do you think video games can provide more benefits? Do you have any personal experience about the benefits of video games? Tell us in the comments section down below and let’s have a chat.

Super Mario RPG: The Mario Game Nintendo Forgot

Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG

When Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars came out in March of 1996, I was nine years old. Back then, I went to the video store with my parents and literally judged games by their cover. This game had Mario on the box. I was in.

I didn’t know this particular game was very different from the usual platforming, hop-and-bop gameplay you might expect. For one, it was an isometric game. Yet when I loaded up the save file of whoever played the video store cartridge last, the first thing I did was jump on a goomba. When the game screen wiped into a completely different area that had Mario on one side and the goomba on the other, I knew what kind of game this was.

It was like EarthBound.

Mario at Bowser's Castle
Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7279025226/

It was another turn-based game with lots of text (even though Mario never spoke a word) and memorable characters. Developed by Squaresoft (before they merged with Enix and became Square-Enix), it had classic Final Fantasy gameplay with a Mario twist. The game had timed hits and timed blocks. Both Princess Toadstool and Bowser could join your team.

As a kid whose first video game ever was Donkey Kong, and first console game ever was the original Super Mario Bros., this game was insane. The graphics were amazing (for their time), and the world of Mario became so much more than just floating platforms and turtle dragons. There were towns. There were regular people, with regular jobs.

This was a Super Mario World I wanted to live in.

I fell in love with characters like Mallow the cloud prince, and Geno the battle-puppet. I still hum the game’s soundtrack to this day. And the timed hits system was so ahead of its time, when games like Legend of Dragoon came out, it was old hat to me.

So how come very few people seem to remember this game?

Mario RPG World
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/10594718535/

Easy answer? Squaresoft broke away from Nintendo to join the Sony squad. The PlayStation was simply the best console for Final Fantasy VII. So while Nintendo may own Mario and his friends, characters like Geno and Mallow belonged to Square.

In short, these characters would never come back in a Nintendo game. Even after Square-Enix patched things up with Nintendo and started doing the Crystal Chronicles thing, Mario RPG was old news. And we all know how much Nintendo hates their old beloved SNES RPGs.

While we might see it on virtual consoles for Nintendo systems, the franchise has effectively been replaced by Paper Mario and the Mario and Luigi Superstar games. Which, if you ask me, are vastly inferior.

I will not stop clamoring for Geno and Mallow to become Nintendo regulars. Why can’t I punch Mallow’s fluffy face in Smash Bros? Why can’t I blast tennis balls from Geno’s arm rockets? I want my beloved childhood back. In closing, life is unfair. And so is Nintendo.

Predicting the NX Launch Title Line Up

All signs are starting to point to 2016 being the year the NX comes out. This is a really exciting time for Nintendo fans because it’s the time for one of the most fun parts of a console pre-launch: speculation!

At this point in time, NX can be just about anything, but when looking at Nintendo’s latest initiatives  and projects, it is not too difficult to see a trajectory of what NX might be. Odds are, it is finally going to be the console that combines the home and mobile consoles. With that being said, it’s time to take a crack at guessing the launch titles, whether that means on the actual launch day or the launch window, for this system! All of this, of course, is an educated guess and we most likely won’t know what will really be launching with the console until E3 2016.

Until then, though: ONWARD WITH THE SPECULATION!

Dragon Quest X and XI

This has already been confirmed by Square Enix, though no release date has been announced. Moving on.

Super Mario 64 HD

Next year marks the 10th anniversary of this very dated, but very important, video game. To celebrate the anniversary, I can see Nintendo making this as a launch game, mainly because all Nintendo home consoles launch with some form of game from the Mario franchise. The textures, game models, and the camera would be upgraded to that of a modern game, but other than that it would be virtually the same with the inclusion of the extra characters and levels from the DS version. Maybe this time, Waluigi will be in the game. A man can dream.

New Retro Studio Project

Retro has been working on something since the release of the last Donkey Kong Country game. No one knows exactly what it is unless they work for Retro, but it’s definitely in development. Maybe it’s a new DKC or Metroid game, but most likely it will be something completely different. Whatever it is, it’s been in development for a while so there’s a good shot it’ll release on the NX relatively close to launch.

Pikmin 4

Shigeru Miyamoto has confirmed this game is in production and almost finished. You can’t get much more clear than that. This will most certainly be a day one game.

Legend of Zelda Wii U/NX

People have been speculating since it was announced that this game was going to pull a “Twilight Princess”. The more we hear about NX, the more that theory seems like it’s going to be a reality. Expect to see it on the Wii U and NX on the day NX is released.

Yooka-Laylee

This game is coming out next fall, and so far it looks amazing. Being that the game is a spiritual successor to an original N64 series, Banjo-Kazooie, I can see Nintendo giving the developers some extra funding to port it to the NX.

Guitar Hero Live/Rock Band 4

To me, this seems obvious. The goal of both of these games is to be a platform, so it would make sense for them to release on the new Nintendo console. Not much more to say about it.

Some Dancing and Sports Games that I won’t Play

Its seems that most consoles are released with some dancing game I never play along with the current game in the major sports franchises. The Just Dance series, I believe, has been a launch title on all major consoles for awhile now. Also, every time a console launches, the current Madden, FIFA, etc. is also available day one. This one seems like a shoo-in.

Mario Maker 2

I am loving Super Mario Maker. I don’t really make levels, but I’m having a blast playing other people’s levels. Due to the popularity and sales of the game, an updated version will probably release for NX that includes more features *cough cough*checkpoints*cough cough*. The only thing that really pokes holes in this prediction is that the NX will most likely be backwards compatible for Wii U and 3DS, which would make a Super Mario Maker successor useless.

Final Fantasy XV

Ok, so the next two on my list are a bit weird and quite a long-shot. So anyone else remember that this franchise was once a Nintendo exclusive? If you don’t, I can’t blame you as it hasn’t been the case for nearly 20 years, not the mainline games anyway. Now, I don’t think FFXV will be an NX exclusive by any means, the game is clearly multi-platform and associating a lot of its marketing with PS4. However, back when FFXIII came out, the franchise finally jumped to Xbox and it is totally plausible for the franchise to now jump back to Nintendo. If the NX does indeed have equal or better internal hardware as the PS4 and Xbox One, it would make sense for the game to also come to Nintendo.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Remember, the third game in this franchise launched with the Wii U. That’s pretty much my only reasoning to be honest.

Lego Dimensions/Disney Infinity/Skylanders

Whatever the year’s version of these games will be, they will probably come to the NX because all of them are selling well. The NX probably needs these franchises more than these franchises need the NX.

The Amiibo Game

So, all of the other video games with toys actually have games attached to them. This is the one thing that makes the amiibo differ from Skylanders. That being considered, since Nintendo is also restocking many of the more rare amiibo. All of these things considered, I can see the Nintendoland/Wii Sports sucessor that will be bundled will be one based on amiibo. That would make the NX also come bundled with somewhere between 1 and 3 amiibo to get players started in the game. Most likely the bundled amiibo will be a new Mario, Link, and Pikachu.

New Metroid Game

I don’t think this game will be done by the team behind the Prime series, but I do believe a new Metroid Prime-styled game will be released on NX relatively early. I don’t mean a spin-off like Federation Force either (although I do not think Federation Force will be bad) it will be a mainline Metroid game. Since Retro Studios will most likely not be behind this game, I believe a developer like Next Level Games, the people behind Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon,  will be the the ones to take over.

Well, those are all the games I can think of that will be released within the launch window of the NX. Of course, there are other games that are almost guaranteed to be made, like a new 3D Mario and a Splatoon sequel, but I doubt they will release within the launch window. Either way, I can’t wait for more NX info from Nintendo in 2016!

This Cat Mario Statue Looks Meow

Meow. This statue does look purr-dy. Now that we have the obligatory cat puns out of the way,high-end makers of quality statues First4Figures have revealed their latest creation. Here we have Cat Mario straight out of 2013’s Super Mario 3D World. When Mario grabs one of the super bell power-ups, he instantly gains the power of a cute, agile cat. With these new skills he can run at a quick speed on all fours whilst also be able to scamper up any walls in his way.

Standing at 15 inches tall, the figure comes in three different versions. Firstly you have the “Lucky Cat Mario Exclusive” ($399.99) which comes with an empty question block with a lucky bell power-up on top. This extremely limited version is made from quality polystone resin then combined with an eye-catching gold finish that represents what happens when he turns into Golden Statue Mario. The much sought-after feline is limited to 125 pieces worldwide and, at the time of writing, this is sadly sold out. However, there is a waiting list that you can sign up for.

Image 1

 

Other versions of the statue can still be bought that include exclusive and standard. The “Cat Mario Exclusive” ($259.99) limited to 750 pieces again comes with the empty question block and the lucky bell above. However, it lacks the golden finish. The “Cat Mario” standard ($209.99) on the other hand is a bit more forgiving with 2000 pieces available, however, the statue comes alone. This is the second figure in the Super Mario Series so if you managed to pick up “Tanooki Mario” you are entitled to the same model number.

Image 2

 

Lucky Cat Mariohere

Exclusive Cat Mariohere

Cat Mariohere

What do you think of this latest figure? Will you be purr-chasing one? Leave us a comment below to tell us your thoughts?

Remembering Satoru Iwata

On July 11th, 2015, Satoru Iwata, the president and CEO of Nintendo, passed away due to a bile duct growth.  His passing is a great loss not only for Nintendo, but for the gaming industry at large.  Iwata was a rare breed in this industry where most executives are placed based on their general business prowess rather than their knowledge of game development itself.  Iwata was, first and foremost, a game developer and a gamer who just so happened to also be a clever business man.

Iwata’s work in game development began with an unpaid internship for Commodore Japan and doing freelance work for HAL Laboratories.  After graduating from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, he began working full-time at HAL to develop games for Nintendo systems.  Along with working internally at HAL on games like Vegas Stakes and the Kirby series, he also worked with several of Nintendo’s research and development departments as a programmer for games like NES Open Tournament Golf and Balloon Fight.  It was all a controversial move for him personally as his family didn’t approve of video games as a career path.  In an interview with Game Center CX, Iwata discussed how his father refused to speak to him for half a year because of his decision to work at HAL.  However, Iwata would prove himself in time to be both a talented programmer and a vigilant leader.

Iwata helped found Creatures Inc., the studio most famous for their cult-classic RPG Earthbound, and acted as both the programming director and co-producer for their landmark title.  Iwata also shared his skills with the people at Game Freak for some of the Pokemon games.  For Pokemon Stadium, he was responsible for recreating the battle code simply by studying the source code of the original Gameboy games in roughly a week.  With Pokemon Gold and Silver, he developed the compression tools that made it possible to include the entire world map from Pokemon Red and Blue as an end-game bonus for these new installments.  Iwata knew game development inside and out, and that experience served him well once he became the president of Nintendo.

On May 31st, 2002, Iwata took up the role as Nintendo’s president following the retirement of Hiroshi Yamauchi.  Iwata was the company’s fourth president and the first not to be related to the company’s founding Yamauchi family.  Nintendo was at a low point when Iwata took the reigns, currently in the midst of a lukewarm reception to the Gamecube following the similarly poor sales of the Nintendo 64.  However, Iwata had already brought HAL back from the brink of bankruptcy once before and he was determined to put Nintendo back on top.  His method was to venture into bold new directions for consoles and handhelds alike.  First came the DS, which broke new grounds with two separate screens and opened the door for innovative games that would have been impossible otherwise.  Reception was cold at first, but sales quickly escalated and it has since become the second highest-selling video game system to date with over 154 million units sold worldwide.  The success of the next system, the Wii, was much more immediate.  While its weaker processing power turned off many core fans, the introduction of motion controls drew the attention of millions of new casual gamers.  The Wii easily outsold the competition with over 101 million units, while the Xbox 360 and Playstation 4 each sold 80+ million units.

Unfortunately, lightning didn’t strike twice as the Wii U has continuously struggled to excite hardcore and casual gamers alike.  Despite being the first of the current generation of home consoles to hit market, it is currently locked in third place.  When the time came to make cutbacks, Nintendo’s executives opted to cut their own pay rather than cut entire jobs at the lower levels.  Iwata took the hardest hit of them all by cutting his own salary in half.  That kind of dignity and selflessness is such a rare thing to see in the business world.  He strived to keep Nintendo at full strength in its darkest time, even at great personal cost.  For him, game development was never a matter of profit alone; he saw games as a way to create joy.

IwataContemplatesBananas

In his public appearances, Iwata always maintained a welcoming demeanor that would only grow more playful with time.  He ran a series of developer interviews called Iwata Asks that brought attention to the ins and outs of various games and systems.  When Nintendo introduced their series of Nintendo Direct video presentations, he would regularly take center stage and give his own charming spin on the announcements.  Perhaps his most infamous joke came in the Nintendo Direct held in preparation for E3 2012 where he intently stared at a bunch of bananas without any context.  There was no setup, no punchline, and not even a Donkey Kong announcement to tie in with the gag, but the awkwardness of it all and the seriousness it was presented with gave it a surprising amount of appeal.  Not only did the joke spread across the internet, it became a running gag within Nintendo Directs themselves.  Iwata’s jokes would rarely be that simple again as E3 2014 brought the reveal of the Mii Fighters for Super Smash Bros in the form of an over-the-top fight scene between Iwata and Nintendo of America COO Reggie Fils-Aimé.  Most recently, at E3 2015, Iwata and his colleagues had themselves represented as Muppets that transformed into the cast of Starfox with Iwata himself taking the form of the wise yet jovial Peppy Hare.  It’s a surprisingly fitting send-off for a man like Satoru Iwata; someone filled with experience and knowledge, someone who makes for a noble and capable leader, but, at his core, is really all about bringing happiness to people.

“My first creation was a baseball game.  I don’t think anyone can say it had bad graphics because it had no graphics.  Gameplay was represented only by numbers.  But when I saw my friend playing that game and having fun, it made me feel proud.  To me, this was a source of energy and passion, and that passion for games began to blossom.  I think my life course was set.”

-Satoru Iwata, GDC Keynote 2005

Super Mario Sunshine Needs a Remake

Super Mario

Super Mario

It bothers me that everyone wants an HD remake of Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2. We just had those, what’s the rush? You slide those games into either your Wii or Wii U and they still look great! They don’t even run in native 1080p but they look like they do! If there must be an HD remake of any Mario game, may I allow myself to lay down money on it being Super Mario Sunshine?

Let me explain, I have a theory that every other Nintendo console is really the fruit of the labor of the previous console. NES had a few greats, but a lot of them were so bad that no one would dare pick them up today. Then the SNES came out, and took everything from the NES and made it better. Because of that, the SNES became arguably the best console ever. After SNES, the N64 came about, and just about every game was a technology test, making a lot of games rough around the edges. Think back to the N64 and think about how much of them really hold up well. Not much, right? The only ones I can think of are Banjo-Kazooie, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and Pokemon Snap. Every other game that was good at the time was remade into a better version on a different console. Honestly the N64 controller is one of the worst controllers known to man, so being updated to any current console with a modern controller already makes the games better. Starfox 64, Ocarina of Time, Mario 64, and Majora’s Mask, all of these have superior remakes on a different console. Even Conker got remade, and while I never played the updated version, it’s a safe assumption that the controls were better.

So, after the awkward era that was the N64, came the Gamecube. This is when Nintendo really knew how to properly make fantastic 3D games, but everyone seemed to hate them at the time. That’s because Nintendo dared to try something new with their franchises. Zelda got a visual overhaul that made it look like a cartoon. Star Fox became an adventure game with dinosaurs. Metroid became a third person shooter. Kirby became a racing game. And Mario? He got a water powered jet pack. These drastic changes really put off a lot of people, even though all of them are arguably great games. Even Star Fox Adventures I think people would love if it didn’t have “Star Fox” in the title.

So, what does this all have to do with an HD remake of Sunshine? Just about everything. I am fully willing to admit that Sunshine was one of my first 3D games, so I inherently have nostalgia goggles on it. However, even with those goggles, I still have fun every time I play it. Every year, I pop in Sunshine at one point or another because it’s a fun game. Recently I even played through the entirety of the game and it still holds up. It’s a beautiful game with challenging, precise, platforming. It holds up surprisingly well, way better than Mario 64 and on par with both Galaxy games. However, the reason why Sunshine deserves a remake over the other games is because not many people got the chance to play it.

Gamecube was one of the least successful Nintendo consoles that still managed to make profit. Compared to the Wii, the Gamecube was a huge flop. Because of that, not many people got to play Gamecube games. To get more people to play this wonderful game, Sunshine needs to get the Wind Waker HD treatment. A slight graphical upgrade and maybe evening out levels  so the difficulty spike isn’t as noticeable (I’m looking at you, pachinko machine level!)

With those minor tweaks and a release on either 3DS, Wii U, or even the upcoming NX, this game would almost be a guaranteed hit.

7 Nintendo Attractions that Universal Studios Needs Most

Nintendo

Nintendo and Universal have announced that they are working together to create attractions at Universal Studios theme parks based on Nintendo games and there is plenty of speculation to be had on what could come out of this.  Sadly, I have accepted the fact that the King Kong/Donkey Kong grudge match of my dreams isn’t going to be made a reality.  However, I do have seven more practical attractions that we’ll likely see manifest out of this partnership.

Rob

7) R.O.B.’s Arcade

Obviously, there has to be at least one arcade involved in a collection of Nintendo attractions and there would be no better figurehead than the Robotic Operating Buddy that helped sell the NES.  The entire arcade could have a unifying theme of old-school technology tying all of the cabinets together, possibly with a large, animatronic R.O.B. in the center of it all.  Granted, an arcade doesn’t really need to be made into an attraction in and of itself, but do you really think Universal Studios is going to cut corners on this?  The only question, ironically enough, is what specific games they would host at any Nintendo arcades.  There are plenty of classics like Donkey Kong and Balloon Fight, but Nintendo has been out of the arcade market for a long time and there are only so many old arcade machines they can drudge up.  Then again, if they bring a few cabinets of Pokken Tournament to the park, that alone would draw in customers.

animalcrossing

6) Animal Crossing Village

Won’t anyone think of the children?  Any theme park has to have an area or two dedicated to small children and Animal Crossing would be a perfect addition for the Nintendo section.  There’s no need to worry about any grander attractions, but plenty of possibilities for colorful and diverse play-areas that would be perfect for kids.  Sure, most gamers won’t care much for it unless they have kids of their own, but Universal does have a wider audience to consider than just you and me.

F-Zero

5) F-Zero Roller Coaster

There is going to be at least one roller coaster involved.  This is a fact of life.  What better choice for a high-speed thrill ride than the series all about high-speed thrills?  Imagine blazing through three rounds of a twisting course of dives and turns while the theme to Mute City booms over the speakers.  I rest my case.

luigi-Mansion

4)Luigi’s Mansion

I’ll get to more straightforward Mario attractions later, but a haunted mansion based on Luigi’s Mansion is too perfect to pass up.  Along with all of the usual trappings, there’s also room for goofy elements to the attraction given the more jovial tone of the games.  Humorous props and even an interactive ghost hunt could quickly make it into a unforgettable experience.  At the very least, it would have to pop up once a year for the Halloween Horror Nights.

Milk_Bar_(Majora's_Mask)

3) Lon Lon Milk Bar

Apparently, one of the new features at a lot of Universal attractions is themed drinks.  Well, Nintendo certainly has no shortage of options for just that and a Legend of Zelda-styled cafe could be the nexus for it all.  The Zelda series has enough potions to base actual drinks off of that it’s already a long-running joke on the internet that Link is secretly an alcoholic.  On top of various colorful potions that brewers would have plenty of creative freedom to work with, there’s also the Lon Lon Milk and Chateau Romani for kids and adults respectively.  Beyond that, there are plenty of in-game items from other games that could easily be made into real drinks.  Celadon City Lemonade, Brewster’s Choice Coffee, Super Star Soda, Palutena’s Divine Wine, Yoshi’s Fruit Punch, Pikmin’s Cream Soda; the possibilities are endless.

metroid

2) Metroid Adventure

Universal Studios is well-known for their immersive and exciting rides like their ones based on Jaws, Spider-man, and Harry Potter.  Mario and Zelda are the obvious picks for such an attraction, but Metroid could have the greatest potential of them all.  Combine the dark, claustrophobic corridors with the horrific, colossal monsters that the series is known for and the ride practically builds itself.  They could make it an interactive shooting gallery or opt to keep the tone serious and frightening.  Even if most of it ends up being CGI, it wouldn’t be that distracting for anyone used to playing the games.

MushroomKingdom

1) The Mushroom Kingdom

There absolutely has to be a Mario attraction, but what kind should they settle on with all of the possibilities available.  Should it be a tour ride similar to the Metroid one I suggested above?  Should they build a real-life Mario Kart race track?  A recreation of Peach’s castle?  The answer is all of the above.  Several of the major attractions at Universal parks have sprawling areas that go above and beyond the attractions themselves and recreate a slice of the worlds that their bringing to life.  The Harry Potter and Simpsons attractions are prime examples of just how in-depth they will go with shops, restaurants, and other props that make you feel like you’ve stepped into another world.  Of course, I don’t expect a complete recreation of the Mushroom Kingdom given the limited space that they’ll be able to allow it, but putting together just the right elements will be all they need.  If there’s one attraction that needs to come out of this deal, this is it.

What do you think of the suggested attractions listed above?  What kinds of attractions would you like to see take form out of the partnership between Nintendo and Universal?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

“Cinematic Story Telling” Pros and Cons

Cinematic

Gaming has come a long way since the 1980’s, a time when every game consisted of aliens invading earth without any real rhyme or reason. Nowadays when aliens invade earth, they are not just aliens, they are trans-dimensional semi-deity machines who not only invade earth, but an entire galaxy with the aim to wipe 90% of all life to prevent a continuous cycle of self-destructive behavior. That plot is probably more engaging, and better scripted than the vast majority of theatrical releases nowadays, so gaming has evolved and partially assimilated cinema full on Borg style. This trend of cinematic experiences that we can interact with has taken the industry by storm, and we bask in its magnificence, but is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

Like with any good argument, there are two sides to this story. When you look at cinematic games, or even games with great stories and engaging narratives we are spoiled for choice. Games like the Mass Effect trilogy, Metal Gear Solid, Bioshock and Final Fantasy are all series that are renowned for cinematic story telling, and interesting storylines, and we are only scratching the surface. A strong plot gives you a tangible connection to the world you are temporarily inhabiting. You build, and feel the bonds to the characters you encounter, you experience the weight of your decisions, sometimes literally, and for those brief moments of gameplay you become one with the world, and you are the main character.  Developers have become so adept at creating these cinematic experiences that Metal Gear Solid 4: Sons of the Patriots actually has so many cutscenes, that their combined length dwarfs that of all other conventional media. If you type in your favorite game in youtube, you can literally watch hours of cutscenes mashed together into a somewhat coherent movie.

Mass Effect 3

But this level of detail, this fascination with providing a “movie-like experience” is equally as detrimental. For every Silent Hill, you have a handful of games that flat out fail to evoke the connections they are desperately trying to construct. The Order 1886 is a prime example of cinematic gaming gone horribly, horribly wrong. It sets us up with a familiar, yet different scenario: What if characters from Arthurian legend lived for hundreds of years and fought werewolves? On the basis that that is a pretty awesome idea, you would be forgiven if you expected the game to live up to that initial intrigue. The plot is hamfistedly forced upon you, literally basking in its own magnificence. It repeatedly hints at a grander, hidden plot that you just have to find out when in reality the characters, and the story is, at best, tedious and at worst, boring. Then to top it all off you have generic sequel bait thrown in.

This would not have been so bad if the game had actually been fun to play. But, like so many others, The Order is just your run of the mill generic shooter with all the gimmicks and tricks you expect from these games. They even have instant fail state stealth sections, with a false sense of choice thrown in to fool you into thinking you decide what path you take, when ultimately there is only one that leads to victory. The fact the game is flat out boring to play emphasizes the taxing narrative and vice versa. It is blatantly obvious they wanted to design a cinematic experience then slap a minigame as filler between cutscenes, and frankly such design is backwards.

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Of course The Order is not the first game to mess up in such a spectacular way. Assassins Creed has a long history of being only slightly above average to everyone but the most die-hard of paint watchers. Whilst the plot of Assassins Creed is serviceable in some places, and does have some interesting characters, the whole concept of the animus slows down an already sluggish game. The plot literally holds back the core experience, which could have been interesting had Desmond died in a fire. This combined with repetitive game play, relatively empty open worlds and hours of padding through tedious side missions and you are left with a pretty…ish…game that never quite reaches the heights a lot of people want it too. As a final cherry on the cake however, “Cinematic” was used as an excuse to neuter the most recent addition to the series. Cutting your games frame rate to 30FPS and claiming it is more cinematic is not only ludicrously false on every conceivable level, but it also hampers the games overall performance. There are reasons that games like Super Smash Brothers run at a lightning fast locked 60FPS, and why PC gamers constantly whine about locked 30FPS: It makes a difference.

Games with little to no plots however are not exactly a bad thing. I have always stood by Mario as having one of the greatest stories of all time. Not for its hidden meanings or character development, but for its ability to tell you everything you need to know in about 10 seconds and opening the pearly white gameplay gates and actually letting you experience the game. Mario doesn’t need the same level of detail as Mass Effect, if it did, it would hinder what we are actually here for, and that is to play the game. Save the princess. Bim, bam, bosh, done. Simple, elegant and perfect. Super Meat Boy, The Legend of Zelda and many many others use this same formula. They set the scene and then get out of the way. And it works.

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And this is where we bump into that festering, bloated hunk of road kill known as Sonic. We all know Sonic has been in videogame hell for pretty much all of his 3D life, and whilst the actual concept of Sonic as a game is ludicrous in 3D and needs to be overhauled or given to Nintendo/someone who knows what we are doing, we can still link some of his failure to his story. Once upon a time, Sonic was a hedgehog who saved woodland critters from a fatguy. Typical “Mario Formula”. And like so many games before, and after it, it worked. Nowadays Sonic has an ever increasing cast of side kicks, an equally expanding list of villains, a strangely diverse set of anthropomorphic relationships, multiple time lines and of course, several world destroying Deities all waiting to be released. Heck, he somehow turned into a werehog (which makes no sense when you  consider that Were means Man…) but he also has a strange Arthurian side story…which somehow links nicely with The Order.

In the end, a strong narrative is a wonderful thing, but ultimately we are a part of a unique medium. We alone have the power to interact with what we see on our TV screens and watching a plot unfold will never be as enthralling as playing through it, and many developers understand this and create masterpieces. On the flip side buying The Order is like buying a £60 movie that you can occasionally play a dull minigame on during the ad-break. Whilst the argument is far from being simple, and there is no sure-fire rule that guides developers, it is clear to see that “Cinematic” experiences are not all they are cracked up to be.