Nintendo’s “Nindies” Sure Look Promising (or, If I Only Had a Switch)

When it comes to the Nintendo Switch, I’ve been in the “don’t need, don’t want” camp since day one. Or, at least, that’s where I thought I had firmly planted myself until a couple months back when Nintendo released its “Nindies” Summer Showcase. Seeing it made me, for the first time, question my decision, which I wrote about here on Virtual Bastion. After all, Mario and Zelda aside, it’s hard to ignore such a fun line-up of games. And…and I’m only human goshdarnit!

VIRTUAL BASTION

PAX West wrapped up earlier this week, and from it came a slew of game announcements. High among the highlights that caught my attention was Nintendo’s Summer Nindies Showcase, which featured several independent game titles that will be coming to the Nintendo Switch. In a mere twenty minutes, Nintendo packed in a dazzling array of familiar names and new faces. Check out the full showcase below.

Now the only problem is that I don’t have a Nintendo Switch! So the question I have to ask is: does this sway me towards getting one? I have to admit that I’ve so far been in the “pass” camp when it comes to the Switch. Not only do I not need another game console right now, but Nintendo and I have been on the outs lately. I don’t have much need to play games on the Wii U these days, and any desire…

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Tricks, Treats, and Feats: Super Mario 64’s 120 Stars

Over on Virtual Bastion, our month-long “Tricks, Treats, and Feats” celebration continues! In this post, I waxed nostalgic on one of my most important gaming feats (if, perhaps, my ONLY gaming feat), obtaining all 120 stars in Super Mario 64. Twas a very special feat!

VIRTUAL BASTION

When The Duck, Hatm0nster, and I were knocking around ideas for our “Tricks, Treats, and Feats” series, a big, personal question stuck in my mind.

“What are my gaming feats?”

Ye olde dictionary describes a “feat” as “an achievement that requires great courage, skill, or strength.”

Inasmuch as strength isn’t really a part of gaming, unless we’re talking mental acuity or physically holding a controller for hours on end, I overlooked that part of the definition. The same went with courage. (Although, with that in mind, perhaps my greatest gaming feat will someday be beating DOOM 3…I just…can’t…) So that left me with “skill,” rightfully a regular aspect of gaming. One needs to develops one’s skills in and with a game in order to beat it. And with the development of skills comes mastery. Have I ever harbored mastery over a game?

After thinking on that for a while…

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Truth, Justice, and the Kurain Village Way in Ace Attorney 2

I’ve alluded to the Ace Attorney series here quite a lot recently, but you’ll find something concrete over on Virtual Bastion: my take on the second game in the series: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Justice For All. I this game!

VIRTUAL BASTION

After what seems like f-o-r-e-v-e-r, I’ve finally completed Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All. Much like with the first game, I find myself in awe of the experience. I know that “awe” probably isn’t a word applied to many visual novel games, but there’s something pretty special about Ace Attorney, and I think it revolves around storytelling and character. As ridiculous as the games’ cases are, and as illogical as the case logic is at points, the game succeeds in crafting elegant stories despite the madness. And the same can be said of the games’ characters. As wacky as they can be, each of them is imbued with plenty of charm and heart, even the bad guys.

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Launching into Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

HOLD IT!

Why Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney? And why now? Considering how far gone my gaming preferences generally are, those are good questions. Here I make a roundabout attempt to answer them, and no others, on United We Game.

VIRTUAL BASTION

Image captured by cary Image captured by cary, from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney © Nintendo

Do you know where I was when Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was first released in 2001? I sure don’t recall. Even if I could remember, it probably wouldn’t matter much anyway because I never had the system it was on, the Gameboy Advance.  And if that wasn’t on my radar then, then Phoenix Wright and his ace attorney-ing wasn’t either. Over the next several years, the name “Phoenix Wright” would flit in and out of my ears. Once I got a Nintendo DS, I do remember someone asking me if I was going to get “that new Phoenix Wright game.” Well, my man of the hour was, if not Mario, then Professor Layton.  His puzzle-y stylings were enough for me. I didn’t need some “law and order” game gumming up the works. Truth be told, it would be a…

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Play or Pass: Banjo-Kazooie and Chrono Trigger

Welcome to the next post in my year-long series “Play or Pass” that takes on the proverbial “must before death” theme with video games. Every other week I will be covering one or two games from “32 Video Games You Have To Play Before You Die,” a list compiled by BuzzFeed based on a reader poll. I will not be critiquing the list itself, but rather I’ll be discussing each game or games in whatever manner feels fitting and will attempt to answer a couple simple questions: Have I played [insert game name here]? If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why? If no, do I want to play the game before I die? I’ll be going through the games in the order in which they appear on the BuzzFeed list. Good? Good. Let’s get on with the games!


Week twenty-four: (30) Banjo-Kazooie and (31) Chrono Trigger

Banjo-Kazooie cover art © Rare, Nintendo
Banjo-Kazooie cover art © Rare, Nintendo

Well, here we are in the top three. Yup, only three more games and this “Play or Pass” series is over. (sad face)

So…yep…

…uh…

Continue reading “Play or Pass: Banjo-Kazooie and Chrono Trigger”

UWG on YT: Yoshi’s Woolly World

It’s been awhile since I tooted my own video horn, mainly because I haven’t had much to toot about. But now…

…TOOT TOOT!

Okay, enough with the toots.

I’m playing Yoshi’s Woolly World for United We Game! After a grand row with retro games and fighting games, I decided it was time to take a breather and enjoy a little sweet and cozy platforming fun. And nothing says “sweet” and “cozy” like the happy bundle of joy that its Yoshi’s Woolly World. So from last week, and for the next…(*counting*) bunch of weeks, I’ll be posting my Let’s Play Yoshi Woolly World videos every Tuesday. You can find them on UWG’s YouTube channel, and I’ll also be sharing them on my Gaming Videos page. I’d love for you folks to follow along, leave comments, and give all the “likes” you can muster! Sure, it’s no Battlefield 1 or Final Fantasy XV, but it’s cute. Like super-duper cute! Like, like KINKA-MAYA-MAYA CUUUUTE!

And we all need a little infusion of cute every now and again.

 

Play or Pass: Super Mario 64

Welcome to the next post in my year-long series “Play or Pass” that takes on the proverbial “must before death” theme with video games. Every other week I will be covering one or two games from “32 Video Games You Have To Play Before You Die,” a list compiled by BuzzFeed based on a reader poll. I will not be critiquing the list itself, but rather I’ll be discussing each game or games in whatever manner feels fitting and will attempt to answer a couple simple questions: Have I played [insert game name here]? If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why? If no, do I want to play the game before I die? I’ll be going through the games in the order in which they appear on the BuzzFeed list. Good? Good. Let’s get on with the games!


Week twenty-three: (29) Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 cover art © Nintendo

Everyone. Should. Play. This. Game.

Have I played Super Mario 64?
Yes.

If yes, then do I consider it a “must?”
Yes.

If no, then do I want to play the game before I die?
N/A

The end.

… … …

Oh, did you think there was going to be more? Well, joke’s on you buddy, because there isn’t. There’s no point in continuing on any further because…how is this not a must-play game? It simply is. It’s Super Mario 64 for chrissakes! It’s the game-changing title that annihilated the gaming field of the time and solidified Nintendo’s reign among consoles in the 1990s. It’s the game that normalized 3D graphics. It’s the game that gave players a new ways of and freedom to explore. It’s the game that showed us a whole new dimension of the Mario-verse, and one to which future games would be perennially compared. It’s a magical, brilliant, varied, and complex game that works on all levels, from mechanics to controls to gameplay.

It’s that game.  It’s THE game. It’s fucking Super Mario 64.

… … …

Alright, so I’m biased. A LOT biased. So how about I take a step back for a moment and look at Super Mario 64 from another point of view. Because as rosy as I might paint the game today, it had, and still has…issues. Or…maybe I have issues. Either way, Super Mario 64 isn’t flawless. And in this case I can’t help but bring my own biases in because, well…they affect every game I play, the great ones and the awful ones.

But before getting into those, I think I can safely say that if one general gripe about the game remains true to this day, is it the game’s camera. Problems with camera mechanics can plague games even to this day. And though Super Mario 64’s camera was a step in a decent direction (using the c-pad on the N64 controller to move it in, out, left, and right), it only helped so much. And sometimes, it was no help at all as you attempted to maneuver Mario in his brand new 3D world. I remember getting stuck multiple times (particularly on Tiny-Huge Island) in spots where I just couldn’t position the camera correctly. In most cases, I ended up with Mario leaping to his death because I couldn’t judge distances properly. In those moments, Super Mario 64 was anything but enjoyable.

Now, moving onto those more personal issues, the most extreme ones that I harbor against games are flying and racing. I dislike both immensely. Mind you, racing in games and racing games are two completely separate beasts. Racing games make me feel powerful even when I’m a terrible driver. Racing in games makes me feel like shit…always. As for flying, I’m simply awful at navigating flight in games, from sorta actual flying, like in the Banjo-Kazooie games, to gliding, like in the Batman: Arkham games, and, yes, in Super Mario 64.

So first off, racing in games. Is it just me or do racing minigames seem like they are always set up for the player to fail? And not just fail once, but fail over and over and over again until one feels like throwing one’s controller out the window and onto a few unsuspecting yet annoying squirrels? Super Mario 64 contains three races (that I know of), with the most notably difficult one being the Big Penguin Race of Cool, Cool Mountain. I hate that one the most, but I also hate them all. Any racing minigame that can’t be avoided automatically triggers my anger button. and not even the spritely, bouncy, and happy world of Super Mario 64 could quell it. Not then, not today. Oh, I have beaten that goddamn Big Penguin and his stupid penguin face several times, but each time has always been a rage-fraught affair, and that’s despite the fact that I could practically draw the track in my sleep.

As for flying…okay, look, I get it. I get why the Wing Cap is in the game. And I get that the gliding mechanic in the game is actually better than it is in many modern games, but…I still hate it. And I especially hate it when hitting targets or gathering items has to be involved. And there are several times in Super Mario 64 where one must collect a Wing Cap and go soaring into the skies to fly through hoops or gather things and such. I guess I should mention that me and flying don’t get along in 3D games. I have issues with “flight” in 2D games, sure, but they aren’t as heightened as the maddening feelings that overcome my psyche when dealing with flight in 3D environments.

And while we’re on the topic of crappy shit in Super Mario 64, how about that quicksand in Shifting Sand Land? Like, that shit didn’t even give you a millisecond to escape should you accidentally take a wrong step…or, ahem, glide. And, omfg, what about timing the search for coins in the underwater chests/shells in the Dire, Dire Docks level?! I mean, between balance you had to achieve between waiting for them to open and your air supply was nearly fucking unobtainable! And lest we forget that shitty elevated platform thing you had to use in the Hazy Maze Cave to get all eight coins! Goddamn if that wasn’t just the worst. And…oh, oh, OH! Anything in Snowman’s Land. I hate snow and ice in Mario games. Just fucking HATE IT.

And…and…AND!

… … …

Why the hell would anyone want to play Super Mario 64? It’s the worst!

Except…it isn’t. It really isn’t. Yes, the game makes you work for Every. Single. One. of it’s beautiful 120 stars, but the reward for success feels so good. The fact that I hate Big Penguin with every fiber of my being only makes beating him feel even better. And no, that might not be the most mentally proper way with which to deal with such a thing in a game, but it worked (and still works) for me. The game truly challenged everyone, from long-time Mario fans to new players, and it did so with some big hurdles to overcome, the first and foremost being creating a fun 3D environment that players wanted to be in. A Mario game is nothing without its levels, and Super Mario 64 offered some of the most creatively designed ones around. Sure, I might hate flying and racing and quicksand and swimming and all sorts of other things in games, but those things aren’t the point of the experience. The point is, can a game include all those things and still make players come to meet the challenge multiple times over many years? With Super Mario 64, that answer is undoubtedly yes.

So my answers stand; it’s a “must.”


Still…since I started up the hate train, why not continue on…in the name of fun, of course. What are some of your biggest dislikes/complaints about Super Mario 64?

Play or Pass: Mario Party 2

Welcome to the next post in my year-long series “Play or Pass” that takes on the proverbial “must before death” theme with video games. Every other week I will be covering one or two games from “32 Video Games You Have To Play Before You Die,” a list compiled by BuzzFeed based on a reader poll. I will not be critiquing the list itself, but rather I’ll be discussing each game or games in whatever manner feels fitting and will attempt to answer a couple simple questions: Have I played [insert game name here]? If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why? If no, do I want to play the game before I die? I’ll be going through the games in the order in which they appear on the BuzzFeed list. Good? Good. Let’s get on with the games!


Week twenty-two: (28) Mario Party 2

Mario Party 2 cover art © Nintendo

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you may have noticed that I tend to be a little down on multiplayer. That’s just me. And only me. At this stage in life, I’m simply in a place where I prefer single-player games. But, as I’ve likely alluded to before, my gaming life wasn’t always like that. In fact, I grew up playing games with others — siblings, friends, second cousins first removed — and I enjoyed gaming that way. When a game called for two or more people, I found two or more people to play with. When the game didn’t, but we still had a group of players, we did the ol’ “pass the controller” routine. That’s how it was. It really wasn’t until I was introduced to Super Metroid, and around the same time, PC gaming, that I became interested in a more solitary style of play.

Continue reading “Play or Pass: Mario Party 2”