What a surprise! According to this press release, Nintendo is officially apologizing for failing to include same-sex relationships in the upcoming Sims-esque 3DS game "Tomodachi Life". They say that technical limitations prevent them from making the change this late in the development cycle.
The surprising part? In order to advance their "longtime company values of fun and entertainment for everyone", Nintendo is pledging that if a sequel is ever made, the developers "will strive to design a game-play experience from the ground up that is more inclusive, and better represents all players"!
Clearly Nintendo sees the value in maintaining good consumer relations, but I think this goes above and beyond in terms of openness and dedication, and might even be a bit risky in terms of potentially alienating the more hardcore conservative consumers. I wonder if this ties in in any way to CEO Satoru Iwata's "quality of life" drive? It seems like promoting social justice would certainly be a way to improve quality of life...
What do you think, g1s? Is this a step forward for Nintendo, a simple attempt to save face, or a sign that society's going to hell in a handbasket?
So it always seemed kind of silly how you could beat Solar Man in Mega Man 10 with the Water Shield. What, is the water somehow not only protecting you from the blazing heat but also extinguishing it, too? How is that supposed to work? It's a freaking MINIATURE SUN! How are you supposed to put THAT out with water! The water would just evaporate!
Oh, right. Water contains hydrogen, which is (surprise surprise) FUEL FOR THE SUN. It's like throwing gasoline on a fire! So why does the Water Shield even work against Solar Man? Well, clearly it's overloading the reaction, causing him to go into emergency cooling mode to bring things back under control. But doing so causes so much stress that he takes major damage.
As for the actual sun, though, as the article states, while adding more fuel to the sun does make it hotter, it also makes it burn out quicker. So with enough water, yes, you could even destroy the actual sun! FOR SCIIIIIENCE!
This morning I was playing the excellent indie platformer Rogue Legacy, and something occurred to me - there's one way in that Rogue Legacy is like one of my favorite series, Mega Man. It's that both have steep difficulty curves early on, which level off as you progress, with occasional spikes throughout the game.
See, in Mega Man, you start off with pretty much nothing. All you have is your wimpy (except in Mega Man 5) mega buster, and maybe a few special moves like a slide or a Rush Coil. You have to claw your way to the top of the robot pack, defeating robot master after robot master, growing stronger all the while, until you're finally ready to take on Dr. Wily. It can be insanely difficult early on, especially for someone new to the series, and I'd have to say that the game actually gets easier as you progress - at least until the final stages when you confront Wily!
In Rogue Legacy, you again start off with pretty much nothing. 100 HP, 100 mana, only a few classes to play as, and no special equipment. Throughout the game, you can find and buy upgrades, which you get to keep even after your character dies and you start a new one (hence the "Legacy" in the title). The game, like Mega Man, is brutally difficult at first, but once you get used to the controls, and upgrade your HP, mana, classes, and equipment, it becomes... well, only moderately difficult. (There's actually an item you can equip that depowers enemies at the cost of reduced gold drops!)
So why do I enjoy these games so much? Is it because I'm a masochist? Well, no, I'm not a masochist. (At least, I don't think I am!) I think it's actually because there's a sense of accomplishment that comes from pressing on and finally defeating the initial challenge of the game, making my character powerful enough to tackle the rest of the game. Then when I get to the grand finale, and the difficulty ramps up again, I can really appreciate how much I've progressed.
To take an example from one of Jirard "The Completionist" Khalil's favorite games (and one of mine as well), in Mega Man X (which he does an excellent review of in his first episode of his YouTube series), at the beginning you as X are pretty wimpy, and have no hope to defeat Vile (though to be fair, he was riding in a mech...); you're saved by Zero, who says that someday you may be as strong as him. Well, sure enough, at the end of the game, Zero gives you his weapon (which lets you charge up any weapon you have captured from a boss, which is totally awesome)... but then Zero gets into another fight with Vile, and blows himself up to destroy Vile's mech so you can take out Vile himself. And sure enough, the fight with Vile is challenging, but not impossible. It's awesome to be able to fight for Zero, just like he fought for X in the beginning of the game, using all the new powers you've acquired throughout the course of the game!
Another series which has this sort of inverted difficulty curve is the Zelda series. In some of the games (such as the original Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time, and Wind Waker), you don't even start with a sword! Of course, there's not much actual danger at that point (except in the original Zelda), so that doesn't really count. But once you start exploring, you'll find yourself confronted with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, such as those annoying centaurs that shoot deadly sword beams at you and take way too many hits to kill in the original game. Eventually, though, you'll find some item that makes you start to wonder if you've somehow become God incarnate, because it makes dealing with the lesser challenges a complete cakewalk. Master sword that does 4x normal damage? Check. Blue ring that halves all damage taken? Check. Double hookshot that lets you zip around the sky level like Spider-Man? Check. Once you have these items in hand, you realize that maybe it's time to take on some of those obstacles that previously seemed impossible - and what do you know, they're not so hard after all!
And then there's Metroid. You start with 99 max health, a wimpy blaster that (in the original at least) doesn't even shoot all the way across the screen, and no advanced weaponry like missiles or bombs. But when you get to the end of the game, you can have over 1000 health, a wave spazer plasma ice beam that freezes and/or obliterates multiple enemies at once, 100 missiles, bombs, a dozen or so each of super missiles and super bombs, and the screw attack. Yeah, the screw attack. Seriously the most overpowered item in all of gaming. (Except in Metroid Prime 3; there it kinda sucked.) It lets you literally jump through enemies to kill them, as if they were balloons waiting to be popped. And you still get health and missile pickups! Oh, and did I mention you can use it repeatedly in midair, allowing you to kill lots of enemies at once, or just air-climb up to high platforms? And yet still, all these weapons aren't quite enough to defeat Mother Brain (at least in Super Metroid) - you still need the hyper beam!
Come to think of it, the inverted difficulty curve isn't all that uncommon. It's especially prevalent in roguelikes such as Angband, where progress is measured not just in terms of character stats and equipment, but also in terms of player skill, as characters are expected (as in Rogue Legacy, which draws inspiration from roguelikes) to die like Chicagoans vote - early and often! Permadeath games in general, such as The Binding of Isaac and FTL, don't necessarily qualify, though, as they usually get much harder as the player progresses to compensate for the lack of length. I included Rogue Legacy because your accomplishments carry over from one game to the next, making future playthroughs easier, and Angband because the difficulty curve, while sloping upward, does so gently, what with the game's ridiculously long length; the real difficulty comes from mastering the game's mechanics and strategies. Not that games with upward-sloping difficulty curves are less enjoyable than games with downward-sloping curves with the occasional spike; each style has its own unique charm!
So apparently I remember the names of the worlds of Super Mario Bros. 3 a bit differently than other folks. Everyone else seems to remember names that sound like zones from Sonic the Hedgehog games, such as "Seaside Boulevard" or whatever the heck they come up with for world 3. Now I'll admit that later Mario games went with such descriptive names, but what I remember from my childhood is something much more generic:
That's right, every single world in my copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 was named Something Land, and while most of the names made sense, a few of them made me go "Huh?"
So here's a trip through memory lane... starting with World 1!
World 1 I remember as "Grass Land". Yeah, about the most generic name ever, even more than the infamous Green Hill Zone from Sonic 1. The funny thing is, it didn't even have all that much grass in it! Mostly just pavement or whatever those funny looking floors in 1-1 and 1-3 were, and then there were the aerial levels like 1-4, and the fort... about all the grass I can think of is in world 1-2!
World 2 was "Desert Land", though for some reason I always wanted to call it "Egypt Land". Probably because of the pyramids. And maybe also the music. And the rocks that always looked like people bowing down with their heads to the ground in worship. That's right, every time you use a hammer, Mario kills a Muslim!
World 3 was "Water Land". As an OCD kid, this always struck me as an oxymoron. (Which I used to think was pronounced "ock-ZIMMER-on", by the way.) Is it water or is it land? If Mario falls in, does he get wet? Or does the water get him in debt? Nobody knows! Particle Man!
World 4 was "Giant Land". This one made sense. A land where everything is giant. Not just the goombas and koopas and piranha plants, but even the land itself! This was my favorite world in Mario 3, just for the sheer novelty of it.
World 5 was "Sky Land". Here we go again with the oxymorons! Is it sky or is it land? Thankfully, the game answers this question, and says it's both, since it's actually a massive world with a part on land and a part in the sky. (So are the people of this kingdom called Skylanders?)
World 6 was "Ice Land". What, should World 1 have been called "Green Land" instead? Unlike the actual country of Iceland, this land is indeed covered in ice. I remember Ice Land as a really hard level, but one that was also really fun, since you got to melt ice blocks containing coins with the fire flower. (I would of course melt ALL of them.) Then there was that one cave level where you had to fly with the "leafy" power while carrying a white block up to the top of the level to kill some otherwise invincible chomper plants so you could get to the pipe to exit the level... whew! Makes me want to play Mario 3 again! (And why did they take out the ability to carry shells and other items through pipes in the New Super Mario Bros. games? That was really cool to do in SMB3 and Super Mario World!)
World 7 was "Pipe Land". Wait, Mario's a plumber; shouldn't Pipe Land be, like, world 0 or something? Oh well... This was a fun level too, and it would be even more fun if it weren't for all the darned piranha plants everywhere!
And finally, world 8 was "Dark Land". Like Giant Land, this one made sense. It was dark - on some of the map screens you could only see a little bit away from Mario, and on the rest, there were bonfires everywhere. It was also hard, especially that one really fast autoscrolling level with the dozens of mini-airships and NO FREAKING FLOOR! If I had a P-wing, I usually used it there...
Well, there you have it, a quick retrospective on the worlds of Super Mario Bros. 3 as I remember them from my childhood! Hope you enjoyed this; if not, please deposit your flaming spam in the nearest trash receptacle!
Remember D&D? No, not the seemingly infinite number of PC adaptations. I mean D&D, the tabletop game. Yeah, that D&D.
Did you know that D&D didn't originally award the vast majority of XP for killing monsters, but instead for collecting treasure? And that DM's were encouraged to award bonus XP for exceptionally clever solutions to problems faced by the characters in-game?
A far cry from more recent roleplaying games, sadly. These days it's all about "kill monster, get loot, level up, become gods". No creativity at all.
Perhaps it's due to the computer adaptations. You can't very well program a sentient DM into the computer, so that led roleplaying games to be redefined according to the limited palette of the early computer games.
Then you have the games that try to piggyback on the RPG trend with "roleplaying elements". Really? What does grinding have to do with roleplaying again? At least "games" like Progress Quest and Statbuilder (remember those?) were up-front about being parodies. "You are slaying lots and lots of evil monsters! Keep Clicking!"
Thankfully, not all hope is lost for the Real Roleplayer. Thanks to advances in computing power, we can now simulate vastly more combinations of scenarios than the early CRPG's (heh, crappages) could. Thus we have games like Skyrim, Mass Effect, and The Sims. And of course there's the tried-and-true tabletop games like D&D!
So what does the future hold for roleplaying games? I really don't know, but I speculate that AR (augmented reality) games like Ingress will becomes more and more popular. (Go Resistance! For humanity!)
I was talking with my sister the other day, and she was playing some sort of "Virtual Families" game on my mom's iPad. Basically a "Sims" knockoff, but whatever. She mentioned that she liked games that resemble real life, and I thought that was kind of interesting, because that's the exact kind of game that I hate! I want my games to be nothing at all like real life, because who would want a game that's just like real life? That would be boring!
But apparently some people do like that sort of thing. Go figure. I guess my caveman male brain can't wrap my head around why you'd want to kill virtual mastodons when they don't provide you any actual meat. Or something like that.
So I got to thinking, maybe this is what really defines the "girl gamer"? Not that the only people who play Mario games are male or anything, just that males and females take different attitudes toward gaming. So here's my theory.
Male gamers prefer games that are not like real life, because we think: "Life is boring and mundane. All I do is eat, sleep, and work. Gaming should be an escape from reality, a safety valve to let off steam when I'm stressed out." So we play games like Halo, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Team Fortress 2 to escape to a fantasy world where all we care about is beating the bad guys and bringing justice to the world.
Female gamers, on the other hand, prefer games that emulate real life, because they think: "Life is great! I can talk with my friends, and read books, and go to parties, and do all sorts of other awesome things! Gaming should be an extension of my life where I can express myself and interact socially with other people." So they play games like The Sims, Words With Friends, and Draw Something to... well, just be themselves! (In a way, I actually sort of envy female gamers, if my theory holds true...)
Not that all male gamers play the one type of game exclusively or all female gamers play the other exclusively, of course. (I personally enjoy Draw Something, and I've only played a bit of Halo!) And there are games that transcend the gender barrier, appealing to both males and females on their own terms. Take World of Warcraft, for example. It's got the fantasy world with brave heroes for the guys, and the social interactions in clans (or whatever they're called, I've never played WoW) for the girls. No wonder it's so popular!
So, anyone out there care to back up or refute my theory?
I've been getting a lot of spam lately advertising something called "Vigara". It's pretty obvious what it's supposed to be, but part of me wonders... did they choose that particular misspelling for spamming me with because I'm a gamer? It sure as heck sounds an awful lot like some sort of spell Cloud would cast in Final Fantasy VII to increase his Vigor stat... perhaps by enlarging his sword? :)
Hey everyone, it's ekolis, spammer of stupid blogs and memes! I thought I'd start an actual series now on the Mario Kart games - my top 5 courses from each game!
I'll be going in order from most recent (that's Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS, of course) back to the original (that's Super Mario Kart on the SNES, but you probably knew that already if you're over 10 years old). I may or may not cover Mario Kart Advance, though - I've never actually played it! Though I did get it for free as a 3DS Ambassador... maybe I should give it a whirl sometime!
Oh, and just so you all know, I'll mostly be covering race courses, not battle courses. The battle courses in my opinion are usually really generic, with boring layouts that just vary in the scenery, and most of the games have the same music for all the battle courses! A few do stand out, though, so I will cover those...
Anyway, without further ado...
#5: Toad Circuit
Now I know you'll all hate me for starting off with a "starter" course, but let me set the record straight: Toad Circuit is no ordinary starter course! Unlike Mario starter courses such as Mario Kart 64's Luigi Raceway, this course actually has some depth to it. There's the flying part (which only opens up on the second lap), the jump right afterward where you need a mushroom (or off-road wheels) to use it, and the shortcut through the pipes (which you'll miss if you take the jump). And the music... first time I fired this thing up, I was like, "Whoa! Is this a Final Fantasy boss battle or something?" for the first few seconds, until it calmed down into a more normal Mario Kart theme!
#4: Music Park
OK, this course isn't all that out of the ordinary when it comes to layout or even music or anything, but it makes up for it in original style. A course made out of keyboards you ride on, blaring trumpets in the grandstands, and drums you bounce off of? Genius!
Not to mention that the course immediately following it is Rock Rock Mountain - after I played Music Park, my mind was on music, so I wondered if Rock Rock Mountain had, you know, ROCK music, and I wasn't disappointed!
#3: Bowser's Castle
Bowser usually has some pretty good race courses in his castle, and this one's no exception. (I guess he doesn't hide ALL his gold coins away in the question mark blocks where Mario can find them, and saves some for renovating his castle every time Mario destroys it!) This one, while not quite on par with the classic MK64 one, is still high on the list - it's got your classic Thwomps, lava, and Bowser statues, as well as some new elements, like an underwater segment with pillars of lava to dodge, and a flying segment at the end of each lap where you can go straight ahead to save time, or to the side to gather coins. The music is awesome as ever, too!
#2: Wuhu Loop / Maka Wuhu
These two courses are actually pretty similar, so I'll cheat and list them both here, but they're both awesome. One takes place during the day, while the other takes place at night. I dunno what "maka" means, but it's probably the Japanese word for "night", or it's some sort of double entendre about "making whoopee"! Or maybe both, who knows?
Maka Wuhu is well-known for its glitch, thankfully fixed (at least for multiplayer), in which you could fall in a pit at the end of the first segment (more on segments later) and come out at the end of the second, shaving a good 30 seconds off your time. But that's not what defines these courses - no, they are just plain awesome courses! Calming music, multiple paths, familiar scenery (if you've played any of the Resort games), a bit of challenging driving (but not too much), fun flying segments... oh, and these are the only two courses in the history of Mario Kart which have regular cars driving around that are NOT annoying! (Mostly due to the fact that there are only a handful of them, though...)
And finally, it's time for my #1 course from Mario Kart 7...
#1: Rainbow Road
Yup, it's Rainbow Road - the road you go on when you die to meet Mario and Toad! (Well, OK, maybe not THAT one!) Out of all the MK7 courses (as well as out of all the Rainbow Roads), this one takes the cake! (Which is a lie because it was incinerated with the companion cube after GLaDOS kidnapped Peach back in Super Portal 64, of course...)
Why does this one take the cake? Well, basically, it's got everything you can love in a Rainbow Road, and nothing you can hate! Space? (We're in space? Finally? YAAAAY! SPAAAAAAACE!) Check! Harrowing racing challenges? Check! Awesome music? Check! Interminable dullness (MK64)? Nope! Magic cannons that don't let you do anything for a few seconds while they display das blinkenlights (MKWii)? Nope! Electric Thwomps (SMK)? Nope!
But wait, there's more! (What, is it a floor wax too?) This Rainbow Road adds a low-gravity segment on the moon! (Which is kind of fridge-logicky since you're already in space... why is there more gravity in space than on the moon?) And a few flying bits including one reminiscent of Star Fox where you go through rings while dodging asteroids! (And again, we're in space... why do gliders work? Maybe they got upgraded to G-Diffusers? Better ask Slippy - erm, Toad - about that one!)
Well, this concludes the first of (hopefully) seven blogs in the Mario Kart Top 5 Courses Retrospective series! Leave your comments/flames/spam below, and I'll try and get back to you! (Well, unless it's spam; then I'll just delete it!)