My first Super Mario World experience was in second grade, when I was about seven years old. My family had moved into a small two bedroom apartment in Layton, Utah, while we waited for a space in military housing to open up. It’s weird, the things our minds choose to remember from that age.
I remember playing checkers with the Hispanic mother that lived below us. Her kids were too young to play with me, and other games were too complicated for me to understand. I remember an older guy, Ron, that lived in the next block of apartments over. He worked with my dad and had some medical condition I never noticed or understood. He also had a dartboard and a car so small that I could move it just by leaning on it while it sat in its parking space. I put more than a few holes in his wall. Sorry about your security deposit, Ron. That’s what happens when you let second graders play darts in your apartment. Continue reading
[Update: I added a few more things to the end of the list that I thought about after this was originally posted. This thing has a lot of quirks.]
When I first got my 3DS, my lack of research into some of its finer points left me occasionally dumbfounded at some of the decisions Nintendo had made regarding its design. Well now I have a Wii U. And guess what??? Nintendo has done it again. There are some things about the Wii U which, design-wise, I will never understand.
Did you know…? Continue reading
Paper Mario: Sticker Star is a very good game. The sticker battle mechanics take a minute to wrap your head around but then are great, requiring a lot of rhythmic skill to master. The story, characters, and world contain a level of charm and tongue-in-cheek humor simply not found in 99% of all other games. And the shiny stuff, secrets, and collectibles pushed every one of my magic buttons that keeps me playing a game. In fact, I haven’t been this completely into a game since Skyrim. And on a handheld with PaRappa-style graphics? That’s incredible.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star also has its flaws. Continue reading
I’m about ten hours into Paper Mario: Sticker Star. For the most part, I really like it. It brings back the turn-based RPG battles of the first two games and leaves out the failed jokes and forced third dimension of the Wii’s Super Paper Mario which, frankly, felt unplayable to me, for a variety of not-quite-tangible reasons. This is lucky; given the name of the platform it’s appearing on, it would have been all too easy to rehash the 3D mechanic in this latest entry.
The level-up system is a bit strange to me, though, in that there is none. You find new one-time-use stickers mostly by random spattered throughout the world, and the only thing that ever increases throughout your dozens of battles is the number of gold coins in your pocket. And, since you can only buy too-weak or too-strong stickers (making the bosses either too hard or too easy), you end up not buying anything, instead relying on the weaponry you find in the field almost exclusively. With no levels to increase, and not enough things to spend your money on, Nintendo has given us no reason to fight any battles. This is less than ideal. And it’s all in the name of simplicity. Continue reading
I’ve written before about my love affair with physical media. The look, the feel, the smell, the touch. But Paper Mario: Sticker Star comes out today, and instead of driving allllll the way over there to pick up a copy, I’ll be downloading it from the 3DS eShop for $39.99, while I sleep. I will receive no physical manual. I will have no spot for it on my shelf. I won’t even be able to re-sell it if it sucks.
Never fear: I haven’t given up on the good ol’ hard plastic cases. I thought too long and too hard about this, and I made an exciting list of the reasons why – at least in the case of Sticker Star – I’ll be eschewing the tangible for the digital. This is the first full retail game I’ll have ever paid for and not held the physical game in my hand afterwards. Sure, there’ve been lots of full free PS+ games, but this is a big deal for me! Continue reading
I saw a deal on the internet a few days ago: 40+ SEGA Genesis games on Steam for $10. You’ve probably seen these kinds of deals before, too. Between Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, the SEGA Genesis Collection, SEGA Genesis Classic Collection: Gold Edition, and The Super-Duper Please Forget That We Haven’t Been Relevant for a Decade Dreamcast 4-Pack, I’m not sure if a current console exists that doesn’t feature some sort of bargain-priced retro SEGA collection – usually focused on the Genesis.
Then on the other side of the spectrum, we have Nintendo. Say what you will about the Wii (it’s been a ghost town for years), but the Virtual Console is a retro game geek’s dream come true. Perfectly emulate hundreds of your favorite and not-so-favorite classic games, on your big TV instead of a tiny computer screen, and for only a few bucks each? What a steal! “Oh man, they put the Game Boy Color Mario Golf on the 3DS eShop? That’s the best version! $4.99? SOLD!” But then we see 45 Genesis games for $10 and we balk. Continue reading
For me, the hardest part about motivating myself to start a new game is actually the process of starting a new game. There’s a whole new set of mechanics to learn and a new set of controls to master. That’s probably one of the reason sequels do so well, honestly – there’s far less of a learning curve. It’s less scary.
Games nowadays – what with all those buttons! – can be daunting. And that’s coming from me; I’ve been playing games since around the time I first learned how to walk. I can only imagine how bad it is for a newcomer. Now that the traditional instruction manual is a relic of the past (if you get more than a black-and-white controller diagram in your game box, you’re doing pretty well for yourself in 2012), tutorials combine with the “How to Play” section of the Options menu to teach us exactly how to get started with our new purchase. But some developers just don’t do tutorials well. I’m looking at you, Nintendo.
I’ve never had a gaming experience like Super Mario 3D Land before. I’ve never before been so disappointed in a game, for hours upon hours, only to then have it perform a complete 180, destroy every negative feeling I was having before, and deliver a second act so wildly superior, so vastly, incredibly better in every conceivable way, that it was like it was made by a completely different studio. That’s Super Mario 3D Land in a nutshell: a first half of just complete, utter dredge, and a second half that reminds us all why Mario is the single most recognizable character in the world. Continue reading
Coworker: “I need to get rid of my old 3DS since I bought the XL. Want it? How about $50?”
Me: “YES. Yes I do.”
And that is the story of how I finally, finally joined the 3DS Owners Club.
It’s pretty cool. It does almost as much as my iPhone, and with graphics that are almost as good. Also: buttons! Screens! But there are a few little unforeseen quirks, possibly because Nintendo is one of those rare companies that has lived in its own little world, it’s own little bubble separated from the rest of time, space, and society, for the last hundred-or-so years. It is arguably the best (if you go by quantity and quality of games) – and definitely the most important – handheld system on the market today. What has my first day been like in 3DS Land? Well, it might have been a lot like yours. And if you don’t have a 3DS yet, well… there are a few things you should know first. Continue reading