Monday, May 17, 2010

Ultimate All-Stars

I used to play fighting games growing up but me and my friends were what the Internet elite would refer to as button mashers. If the truth be told, I have never really figured out how to play fighting games. So when games come out like Capcom vs SNK EO which promises to have more casual friendly control schemes I am the first one to try them out. Sadly they never really work.

With Super Smash Bros Nintendo reinvented the genre and made it accessible to a wider audience. Finally I could pull off all the moves in a fighting game, yay! But the Smash Bros games created their own sub-genre and never had much influence on the rest of the genre.

Why am I giving you this lengthy recap of my history with fighting games you wonder? Well I have been playing Tatsunoko vs Capcom and for the first time a “traditional” fighting game has successfully adopted Nintendo Smash Bros controls. And they have done it without compromising the traditional gameplay. It works marvelously and I am finally I am able to enjoy a good fighter.

Of course if you want to you can switch out the Wiimote-Nunchuck combo for the classic controller and play it the old school way (some might argue the way it’s supposed to be played). Maybe more importantly this means a more casual fighting gamer like me can battle it out against an old street fighter player and we can both be pulling of combos left and right.

Friday, May 14, 2010

How to make the perfect Mario game

I have an idea for the greatest Mario game ever. Looking at this old concept art from Super Mario Bros 3 I started thinking, what if there was a Mario game that really looked like this. As a kid the simple sprites Nintendo’s amazing entertainment system was generating on screen were given life by my vibrant imagination. They truly looked to me like the colorful images in the game’s manual. With age this lively imagination has all but died. What I now see when booting up SMB3 on the Virtual Console is a bunch of pixels just barely coming together to look like something resembling a fat plumber with a raccoon tail.

Nintendo has tried to update the graphics in their later releases like New Super Mario Bros but the horrible 3D models almost make me miss the 48 colors of the NES color palette. The gameplay is still there but the visuals have evolved in to something so fugly the Spartans would have thrown it right down the Apothetae after it popped its deformed head out of its mothers beef curtains.

Now beautiful 2D games on the Wii like Muramasa and a Boy and his Blob have proven that this need not be the case. They have shown us what lovely two dimensional masterpieces the Wii can spit out. So it shouldn’t be too hard to make a new 2D Mario with graphics resembling this wonderful concept art. They could use the Wii’s more than adequate processing power to recreate what Mario and his friends looked like in my imagination as a kid.

Just look at this art and imagine how freaking fantastic it would be to play a 2D Mario game that actually looked like this.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Knock it off!

It is no understatement to say that Nintendo hasn’t really taken advantage of the Internet to market their products. So I was amazed when I discovered that they were feeding us fans daily updates on Mario Galaxy 2 via Twitter. This wasn’t what I expected from an ultra-conservative Japanese company.

But my amazement soon turned in to anger, since it seems Nintendo’s Twitter feed is run by a 13-year old. Or even worse some PR person trying to act like he is in touch with the kids of today. Like the constant use of “u” instead of writing out “you”. Or just look at this tweet “NYC get ready, we're coming 4 you next!” can’t you write out “for”. It’s a short tweet so it is not like the 140 character limit is forcing you to type like a retard. This is how the kids I used to play Counter strike with communicated; it is not how a respectable company should deliver their message. Please, for God's sake knock it off!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The evolution of air travel in the Mushroom Kingdom

The flying mechanic works very differently in all of the Mario games. The raccoon tail in Super Mario Bros 3, the cape in Super Mario World, the flying cap in Mario 64, the red star in Mario Galaxy and most recently the helicopter suit in New Super Mario Bros.

The SMB3 loving kid in me wants to say that Raccoon Mario is the most awesome thing ever, not only was it the original but also easy to use and super helpful. Since it's so awesome I want it in every Mario game. Or at least until I think about it some more and start to understand why Nintendo constantly changes the flying mechanic. Each new Mario is very different and the ability to fly high in the air can easily break the games finely tuned difficulty.

The way the raccoon tail allows Mario to fly over almost whole levels makes it very overpowered. But it works in SMB3 since that game is all about giving the player a massive amount of short levels. If the player flies over a few of them it's not really a big deal, there are so many of them and the player will soon get to a level where the raccoon tail is all but worthless.

Mario World on the other hand has fewer levels but much larger once. Levels Nintendo seems to have worked on forever until their level design and difficulty reached almost perfection. The cape is hard to control making it much harder to simply fly through half the level. Which is probably why the younger version of myself never liked it much. But as I grew older and wiser I start to realize how the raccoon tail would have broken that game. It needed to be neutered, resulting in the less awesome cape.

Then we have the flying cap in Mario 64. That games was all about exploring 3D environments and giving the player an unprecedented sense of freedom. The flying cap fits in perfectly with this theme, allowing the player to freely fly around and experience these amazing 3D environments.

Mario Galaxy on the other hand was a much more linear experience then Mario 64. It was no longer about exploring 3D space, instead it guided the player through a set path thereby making sure that the game never slowed down and got boring. Constantly serving up new and cool stuff. The flying cap wouldn't have worked in a game like that, instead we were given the red star. It never played a huge part in the game, instead it was just one of the many action packed roller coaster rides the game was filled with.

You might think that the raccoon tail would have worked in New Super Mario Bros. That game more then any other felt like a new SMB3. And it probably would have in single player. But since the game was also made to work just as well in co-op having one player fly forward at full speed wouldn't have worked. Instead the helicopter suit allows for quick vertical movement but very slow horizontal movement, making sure the other player isn't left behind.