Tag Archive for ‘Super Mario Maker’

Super Mario Maker 2 Announced for Nintendo Switch ➝

It’s old news at this point, but I couldn’t be happier that Mario Maker is coming to the Switch. I bought a Wii U specifically to play the original and I expect I’ll get plenty of hours out of the sequel as well. There’s a ton of new items — slopes, parachutes, the angry sun, and more. I can’t wait to build levels with these new tools and see what others come up with.

The Amiibo Resistance

Last year, when I was gifted a Wii U from my wife, she bought me the Super Mario Maker bundle. Not only did it include the console and the game, but it also came with one of Nintendo’s little NFC figurines. It was the modern color 30th Anniversary Mario Amiibo and could be used to unlock the Big Mushroom power-up in Super Mario Maker.

After unlocking the power up in Mario Maker, I set the figurine on a bookshelf and haven’t touched it since. I have been aware of Nintendo’s lineup of Amiibo since before we had the console, but I’ve done my best to avoid it. The figurines can be used to unlock new features in certain games and are generally pretty neat looking.

The main reason I’ve resisted the urge to purchase a second Amiibo — or even browse the lineup — is because I’m quite susceptible to the collector’s mentality. It’s a slippery slope for me. My history with Pokémon cards and Magic: the Gathering has taught me that I can’t just own a few. As soon as I buy another Amiibo, I’ll find three or four more that I just need to have.

But a few of weeks ago I bought Splatoon on Nintendo’s eShop. I quickly fell in love with the game and have been playing it steadily ever since. Here’s what I wrote after just a week of play:

It’s essentially a cartoony paintball game in which you and your three teammates try to cover as much of the level in your color paint as possible. Along the way you can disrupt the other team by “splatting” their players and forcing them to respawn at their starting point.

There’s new weapons and clothing accessories that feature special abilities and increased power that you can unlock by leveling up. There’s other game modes to play as well, but I’ve been having too much fun with the normal “Turf Mode” to explore the other options.

Since then I’ve unlocked nearly every weapon in the game, beaten the single-player campaign, and played my fair share of “ranked” matches — Tower Control and Rainmaker being my favorite modes. But there’s one area of the game that has alluded me — the Amiibo challenges.

Nintendo has released a series of Amiibo specifically for Splatoon. It features the Inkling Boy, Inkling Girl, and Inkling Squid, which unlock weapons and accessories that aren’t available through any other means. They’ve also recently released Callie and Marie figures that can be used to change the appearance and music of the game’s main hub area.

Last week, I did a little research to find out what each of the Amiibo unlocks and I ended up buying just the Inkling Boy from Amazon. It gives me access to the weapon and accessories I’m most interested in without tripling or quadrupling the size of my Amiibo collection — as the multi-packs would.

I’m still a little afraid that this is going to get out of control. I haven’t even received delivery of my second Amiibo and I already have a handful of them in mind that I want to purchase — like Waluigi, obviously. I’ll do my best to stay strong and resist the urge to continue adding to my collection. But don’t be surprised to find me with dozens of these things, strewn about various shelves throughout my apartment, in only a few months.

Spending Apple Store Gift Cards

This Christmas was more hectic than most. Between the house fire at my fiancée’s parents’ and my busy work schedule, there wasn’t as much time for friends and family as there usually is. We did manage to get together a few times for food, games, and a bit of gift giving — I just wish we could have played a few more rounds of Puke (my new favorite card game).

My fiancée and I always enjoy exchanging presents with one another for the holidays, but we’re often able to figure out what each gift is before we even open it — our wishlists are fairly short. This year was no different. I bought her a Coach bag and a pair of Hunter rain boots, she bought me the Super Mario Maker Wii U bundle and Yoshi’s Woolly World.

She’s already moved all of her carry-along items to the new purse and absolutely loves it. And  I have spent several hours playing through 100 Mario Challenge and trying to beat a few of Dan Ryckert’s insanely difficult levels in Mario Maker. Seriously, this game is incredible. It’s no wonder Giant Bomb named it game of the year.

But there was a couple of other gifts I received this year that have me thinking. Two Apple Store gift cards, one from my future sister-in-law and another from my future mother-in-law, totaling $75. I currently plan on using it toward one of three options, but I’m having a bit of difficulty deciding which.

My first option is to use it toward the purchase of a new Apple TV. This would catch me up with the rest of the cool kids who’ve been using it for the past few months. It would allow me to transition my media server setup from iTunes to Plex — which seems to be what everyone else is using these days — and would let me experience the tvOS platform.

But the biggest downside to jumping on the Apple TV this early is that there just doesn’t seem to be a killer app for it. There’s plenty of entertainment apps and games, but nothing I feel like I need to have. I currently have a third-generation Apple TV in my living room and it works just fine. It already supports all of the streaming services I want and I can take or leave the gaming features.

I’ve already gone several years without my streaming box having the ability to play games and I’ve been able to get by just fine without it. And now that I have a Wii U, any desire to play games can be solved by switching my TV’s input to HDMI 2 and playing some Mario Maker. The new Apple TV is neat and I definitely want to purchase one at some point, but there just isn’t enough right now to justify purchasing one.

The second option is to expand my collection of Apple Watch bands. I wear a white sport band everyday and plan on purchasing a midnight blue leather loop in the next few months for more formal events (like my wedding), but I wouldn’t mind having a couple more sport bands in different colors.

Buying another sport band was my immediate thought when I was given the first Apple Store gift card, though it seems a little lackluster when compared to buying a new Apple TV. I’m sure I’ll purchase a few more watch bands at some point, but probably not from this set of gift cards.

The final option, and most sensible of the batch, is to purchase a new Time Capsule for my home network. The one I’m currently using is a first-generation model and was has recently added to Apple’s list of obsolete products. It still gets the job done and I’m not seeking faster speeds on my Wi-Fi network — the primary bottleneck is still my broadband connection. But I am worried about how much longer the backups I’m making to its hard drive will continue to be reliable. The drive’s about seven years old at this point and I don’t want to chance it much longer.

The nice thing is that Apple currently has refurbished Time Capsules with 2TB of storage for $179. That’s a pretty great deal when you take into account the cost of 2TB hard drives and nice routers these days. It was originally released in 2013, so it’s entirely possible that Apple is working on a updated version to be released sometime this year. And of course, it is refurbished, which means it could have a shorter lifespan than a brand new product. But nearly everything I’ve read about Apple’s refurbished store has been positive.

I’m clearly leaning towards using my Apple Store gift cards to purchase a refurbished Time Capsule. But there’s still the possibility that some clever developer could come up with the tvOS app or Apple could release new Watch bands that I just need to have. I don’t plan on pulling the trigger for another few weeks — there’s still plenty of time for me to be swayed in a different direction.

I’ve Decided on the Mario Maker Bundle ➝

After thinking about it for a couple more weeks, I’ve decided to ask my fiancée for the Super Mario Maker bundle for Christmas this year. That’s not entirely in-line with the thought process I outlined in On Console Gaming, but I think it’s the right call. We decided on a budget of $300 for gifts this year, which means if I wanted a new system (not refurbished or used) I was only going to have the bundled games for the first few weeks. Given that, I just had to go with the bundle which included the game that spurred my interest in the system to begin with.

I won’t have the casual games that I wanted right away, but I can always acquire those over time. I also won’t have a physical disc for Mario Maker, but that’s something I can purchase down the road if I continue to feel strongly about it. No big deal.

The upside, though, is that I’ll be able to play the game I’m most excited for, right out of the box (after downloading it, naturally) and I’ll have a nifty 30th Anniversary Mario Amiibo, to boot.

On Console Gaming

My interest in console gaming has waxed and waned throughout my life. I grew up playing Super Mario Bros. 3 with my sisters, Mega Man X2 at my friend’s house, and Crash Bandicoot 2 on my aunt and uncle’s Playstation. There was a bit of a dry spell after I graduated from high school, though — I owned a Playstation 2 and a few retro consoles, but I just wasn’t interested in purchasing any new games. And I was a lot worse at managing my free time, spending far too much of it on writing (trust me, it’s possible).

Around 2011 I decided to dip my toes back in the water and purchase a Nintendo Wii. I thought it would be the perfect console for the job because I perceived its focus to be more on casual gaming. At the time, all I wanted to do was play Wii Sports Resort with my girlfriend (now fiancée) and her parents on our semi-regular board game night. A few short months later we had purchased New Super Mario Bros. and had spent dozens of hours on the game — it was ridiculously fun.

My fiancée’s never been much of a gamer, but she spent some time in her childhood with a hand-me-down NES and Super Mario Bros.

In conversations with her before we bought New Super Mario Bros. she had mentioned to me that the biggest annoyance she had playing Mario games was that her older sister would often play-through multiple levels before she had a turn. And she’d inevitably die in 30 seconds and be left watching her sister play for another 10-15 minutes. This is a fairly common complaint — at least in my circle of friends — about the original Super Mario Bros. that has, thankfully, been left by the wayside.

New Super Mario Bros. features simultaneous multiplayer, allowing the more experienced player to help the other make their way through harder levels — there was plenty of times when Mario picked up Luigi to make it past a tricky jump. This rexulted in a great experience for two players with varying degrees of skill.

Though, even with the interesting new multiplayer mechanics, our Wii eventually began gathering dust. We purchased a couple other games for the system — Animal Crossing City Folk and Skate It — but it didn’t stop the console from sitting dormant under our television. That was until several months ago when I decided to try my hand at hacking my Wii with the simple LetterBomb hack. About 30 minutes later I was playing Mega Man X3 and loving it. I beat it a few days later, but I couldn’t manage to find another game to emulate which would satisfy my interests. Rocket Knight Adventures was the only game that came close — I loved that game as a kid — but I couldn’t help but want something a little more modern.

Then I was browsing around in my local Target and came across a small collection of Wii games. One of them was Mario Kart — a franchise I had heard good things about for most of my life, but never actually played myself. On a whim, I made the purchase. Since then my fiancée and I have played Mario Kart about 3-4 times a week. The game’s really good, but I couldn’t help but be curious of what Nintendo had been up to lately. The Wii is essentially dead at this point and if I’m going to dive into this head first, I might as well take a look at the current generation of consoles.

It didn’t take me long before I found out about Super Mario Maker — a game that, even without playing, I consider to be the epitome of the platforming genre. This is the game I’m most interested in right now. Sure, the Wii U is likely in its final days with the NX looming, but I don’t care. Super Mario Maker looks like it was built for me — I’ve spent most of my gaming-life playing platformers, why wouldn’t I be interested in this game? You can take your Destiny and your Star Wars Battlefront, enjoy them. In a couple of months I’ll be knee deep in outrageously difficult Mario levels with hundreds of hours of entertainment in front of me.

But, Where Should I Start?

It’s been four years since I last purchased a game console. The choice was easy back then, there was only one mainstream Wii Bundle available, which came with Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, but today things are a bit more tricky. Especially considering that I won’t be making the actual purchase. My fiancée plans on buying this as a gift for me this Christmas, but needs me to point her in the right direction. From what I can tell, there’s currently four Wii U bundles available:

I’m immediately drawn to the Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario Maker bundles because they’re two games I know I want to own, but my biggest problem with the Wii U bundles is that (as far as I can tell) all of them come with the games pre-installed (which most likely means a download code) instead of actual game discs. This is a red flag for me — which is saying something coming from someone who’s incredibly excited about gaming on the upcoming Apple TV. I still prefer game discs and will continue to do so until they’re no longer available. As someone who’s bought and sold used games and consoles in the past, I would much rather maintain as much flexibility as possible in case I ever decide to sell any part of my collection in the future — something that isn’t possible with digital versions.

So if I’m forced to get a Wii U bundle that omits game discs, it would make sense that I’d rather buy a bundle with a game I know I’m going to love and am least likely to want to sell in the future. But that isn’t the case. I also want to future-proof myself if my Wii U ever goes belly up. And if Nintendo doesn’t allow me to redownload games at that point, I’ll be left with a dead console and a ton of games that I’ll never be able to play again unless I purchase discs. At this point, I’m leaning toward the Super Mario 3D World and Nintendo Land bundle. This will get me two games I’m interested in playing and are not likely to want to sell, but that I also don’t expect to be my favorites long term.

That is, of course, if I don’t end up suggesting she go the used or refurbished route. I hesitate to do so because I’ve had mixed experiences with this option in the past. But if I’m bound and determined to get a console for as little money as possible, it might be the best way to go. Nintendo’s online store usually has refurbished consoles with Nintendo Land for $200 — which is much cheaper than anywhere else I’ve found.

And seeing as how I’m interested in local multiplayer, I’m also curious as to whether I should consider getting the Nintendo Pro Controller. I already have two Wii Motion Plus controllers, two nunchucks, and two Classic Pro Controllers, so any game that supports (or requires) those are covered. But I don’t know if I’ll want the newer Pro Controller for any reason. I suppose some more research is in order in the accessory department.

The last thing I want to mention is the list of games I have my eye on. My focus has been on well-designed platformers with multiplayer options and casual games that I can play with my future in-laws. I had a chat with my younger sister — a major video game enthusiast — who suggested the following to me:

I think this is all of the games I should be paying attention to, but if there’s any glaring omissions or if you have any suggestions on the hardware side of things, please let me know.

WSJ: ‘Nintendo Begins Distributing Software Kit for New NX Platform’ ➝

I’ve been vocal on Twitter about how interested I am in buying a Wii U. And even though it’s looking very likely that they’ll release the NX next year, this hasn’t deterred me from my interest in Nintendo’s current console. All I want to do is try and beat ridiculously difficult levels in Super Mario Maker and play through New Super Mario Bros. U with my fiancée.