2012 – New Super Mario Bros. U

New Super Mario Bros. U

nsmbu

Developer(s) Nintendo EAD Group No. 4
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Masataka Takemoto
Producer(s) Takashi Tezuka, Hiroyuki Kimura
Designer(s) Shigeyuki Asuke, Daiki Iwamoto, Ryutaro Kanno
Artist(s) Masanobu Sato
Composer(s) Shiho Fujii, Mahito Yokota
Series Super Mario
Platform(s) Wii U
Release date(s) November 30, 2012
Genre(s) Platform
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution Wii U Optical Disc, Nintendo eShop

Liam:   So here we have it. 29 hours down and we can get stuck into the last game on the list. By this point I imagine our bodies (especially our thumbs) will be tired and weary and we will be craving natural sunlight and non-sugarcoated foods. Fittingly we end with a game that is not only part of the biggest video game franchise of all time, but also has played a massive part in our lives as gamers.

The thirty years we have covered, encompass the whole span of the Mario lifecycle so far with Mario Bros. the arcade game being released in 1983. Mario did appear in Nintendo’s ‘Donkey Kong’ a few years before as a character nicknamed ‘Jump Man’ but he did not receive his own name until 83. Since then the Mario franchise has spawned over 200 games, several TV shows, a raft of merchandise and a terrible terrible film. (Seriously the film is awful, if you want to watch a video game film go watch Street Fighter with Jean Claude Van Damme, Kylie Minogue and Raul Julia – that’s how it should be done)

NSMBU is a 2d side scrolling platformer. Similar in vein to the Mario Bros. games of old that we both grew up with. The series has received a lick of paint and a HD upgrade for the Wii U – Nintendo’s newest console. In the story, Bowser and the Koopa Troop invade the mushroom kingdom (again) and take Princess Peach hostage (again). It is then up Mario and Luigi, with the help of yellow and blue toadstools, to rescue Princess Peach and bring tranquillity back to the world by eating super powered mushrooms, smashing bricks with their faces and jumping on turtles. I imagine most people are familiar with the concept of a Mario game and this one does not disappoint. Despite the Wii U being less powerful than the next generation consoles due to be released this year it manages fine with the colourful Mario bros game. In fact Mario has never looked so good.

The Wii U allows up to 5 players to play simultaneously. Four players control characters using wiimotes, with 1 player using the Wii U gamepad to block off enemies and lay blocks for the players to jump against. It’s a nice mechanic that allows the whole family to enjoy the game together – a core part of Nintendo’s recent approach to gaming.

In fact it’s worth mentioning that we are borrowing the Wii U from my daughter Paige who has kindly allowed us to use it for the event. By this point in the challenge she will be there along with her brother and sister and my partner to cheer us over the finishing line, and possibly to administer fruit and vegetables.

Joel:  This is it… The final writeup. If I could get Europe’s smash hit out of my head I might be able to write something insightful, but right now, all that’s bouncing round inside my melon is “do-do-do-doooooooooo, do-do-do-do-doooooo, the final write-up!” So anyway, here it is. New Super Mario Bros. U is a great example of the Mario franchise, as well as demonstrating how difficult it is becoming to name new Mario games, presumably because of the number of previous releases in the franchise. This is about the 20th (platform) game in the series, 19th according to Wikipedia, but I can think of at least one release they have not included in their timeline and that doesn’t include non-platformers, such as Mario Kart and the various puzzle games. I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of Mario and consider myself a bit of a buff on the subject. There’s even a vicious rumour that I may have a Mario tattoo somewhere, but that’s a story for another day.

I reckon if you went outside and grabbed the next 50 people who passed and showed them a picture of the red-capped plumber, 48 of them would know who it was. Maybe even 49. He has become a legend in his own (virtual) lifetime and Nintendo’s major cash cow, having a release of some kind on every major platform Nintendo have pushed out in the last 30 years. My first Mario game was Super Mario Land on the (Fat, original) Game Boy, though I had played all the other major previous releases (Mario 1, 2, 3) at friends’ houses. I tell you, I played and played and played that damn game until I completed it – no mean feat for an 8 year-old! I do still have a Game Boy, sadly it’s not an original, but a bright yellow “Game Boy Pocket” and I do still have that Mario game. I was actually playing it a couple of nights ago.

This is one of the games I’m most looking forward to playing as I am yet to use a Wii U and I’m dead keen to see what this latest iteration has in store for our old friend Mario and his slightly under-appreciated chums. You can apparently have up to five players on this, with four on standard controllers and the fifth on the whizzo tablet-controller-thing that comes with the Wii U. That guy apparently is able to place blocks in the playfield and interact with enemies, but not have control of his own character. Some kind of ben/mal-evolent God type role from the sounds of it. I can see me dropping blocks over pits whilst my “friends” try to jump over them, making them fall to their doom. Yes, this is going to be fun for sure.

So, not only is this the last writeup, but, as such, this will be the last game in the marathon and the end of this rollercoaster few months preparing (not that we are ready yet – the game are about the only thing that are actually sorted!!) I don’t imagine that I’m going to be quite myself by the time we’ve finished this thing, but I do honestly think a part of me will be sad that it’s over. When I first signed up for this, I thought it was going to be an absolute nightmare and it times it has been, with the worst yet to come, but still, it’s been great. I don’t think I’ve put so much time, money and effort into anything (aside from child-rearing) for a very long time and I don’t regret a single bit of it.

 

Yet.

 

 

2008 – Mario Kart Wii

Mario Kart Wii

 mario kart wii
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD Group No. 1
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Yasuyuki Oyagi
Producer(s) Hideki Konno
Composer(s) Asuka Ota, Ryo Nagamatsu
Series Mario Kart
Platform(s) Wii
Release date(s) April 11, 2008
Genre(s) Racing
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer

Liam: Mario Kart Wii is apparently the world’s best selling racing game. I can see why, the game is the most charming game in a series renowned for making charming games.

Mario Kart is essentially the racing game equivalent to crazy golf. You and a series of other Mario franchise characters hurtle around a brightly coloured track on go karts. Along the way you avoid various obstacles and enemies while collecting coins and power ups. The power ups are quite easily the best part of the game. Some are fairly explanatory and rather general like invulnerability stars, speed boost mushrooms and banana skins to drop. Some power ups are much more specific, for example if you are in last place and you collect a power up box, chances are you will receive the ‘Bullet Bill’ power up turning you into a massive automatically flying bullet which is usually enough to drag you up from last place. My personal favourite and the bane of every half decent Mario Kart player is the blue shell. The blue shell, when fired, will seek out and blow up the lead kart causing them to lose a great deal of speed and possible the lead. The lead kart can hear it coming but can do nothing about it.

Being the Wii the controls for this game are slightly different to preceding versions. Instead of the typical control pad steering, you ‘steer’ by tilting the wiimote left and right. Many people also have little plastic wheels you clip the wiimote into to make this seem like actual driving. In truth this control system is a little erratic and takes some getting used to. On a game that takes itself seriously this would be a problem, however if anything this seems to add to the charm of Mario Kart in a way that it would with no other game. I’m eagerly awaiting the Wii U version of Mario Kart due out next year, as is the entire Fitzgerald household.

For reasons such as this I think this will be fairly hard to predict. Joel is undoubtedly the better driver and as we go through to some of the harder courses (Rainbow road!) I would expect that will start to tell. On the easier courses though? I have just as much of a chance as anyone else.

Oh and don’t ask why I race as Daisy. I just always have okay. (Daisy rocks!)

Joel: I’ve gotten excited anticipating the release of many games over the years, but I was beside myself in the build-up to this one. I love Mario games, I love racing games, I love the Mariokart series and at the time this came out, I was still pretty enamoured with the Wii’s innovative control system. I’m pretty sure I got it on release day. I was not disappointed.

For the uninitiated, the Mario Kart series has had a release on every Nintendo platform since the SNES. Copies of earlier ones go for an awful lot of money, relatively speaking. The premise is pretty simple if you don’t know – various characters of Mario lore compete in go-karts on tracks styled around the various realms of the Mushroom Kingdom – the home of said characters. There are various lore-consistent weapons and bonuses which can be collected in-race. Each new release came with a number of new tracks and a selection of re-made, re-mastered versions of tracks from previous iterations. That about covers it, but doesn’t really do justice to the amount of fun you can have with a few friends and a copy of this brilliant game.

I’m not sure what else I can tell you about this one really. I could write about the time the boy accidentally over-wrote my ninety-something percent complete save game with a fresh one, but that wouldn’t be very professional of me. I think, really, that if you haven’t played any of the Mario Kart series then you have sorely missed out. If you have any kind of dusty old Nintendo kicking around, it’ll be money well spent to pick up a copy of the relevant version of Mario Kart and give it a bash. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

In terms of predictions, despite my comparatively vast experience of racing games compared to Liam, he is actually uncharacteristically good at Mario Kart. I still think I’ll win, but it will be a lot closer than I’d like to think.