Also Not Sure Whether or Not to Get Skylanders SuperChargers

We’re big Skylanders fans. We’ve played them all from day one. We even have week one footage of the original Skylanders launch on Youtube. The fanboy force is strong over here. We normally receive a review copy of Skylanders from Activision, but so far we haven’t received any SuperChargers. It got mailed late, right? It’s just lost in the mail and will be here any minute, right? Right? ::lower lip quivers sadly::

I posted last night about my dilemma over LEGO Dimensions. It’s expensive, it might just be another LEGO game, yada yada, but it’s LEGO and it has Gandalf and Doctor Who and who am I kidding I want it.  The same dilemma exists over Skylanders SuperChargers.

Skylanders Superchargers Action Pack Skylanders Starter Pack = $75.00

Vehicles: $15 each (I’d want a couple)

Skylanders: $13 each  (I’d want a couple)

Sea Racing Action Pack: $35 (New tracks like a Mario Kart circuit, a vehicle, and a Skylander)

There are also “Dual Packs” with a character and a vehicle coming in around MSRP $25 but those have a release date in October. As always, Skylanders are releasing in waves. Wave 1 will have like 4-6 characters and vehicles, wave 2 adds more, etc.

Predicament: Skylanders Wii U vs. PS4 (or Xbox One)

SuperChargers Wii U

SuperChargers on Wii U allows you to play Bowser and Donkey Kong Skylanders which are ALSO Amiibo! Are you freaking kidding me. Genius and insidious in all the right ways. The Wii U version of the Skylanders SuperChargers Starter Pack comes with Donkey Kong, and the 3DS version comes with Bowers. The Hybrid Amiibo/Skylanders do not work on PS4 or Xbox One, so that’s a huge swing to the Wii U side of the fence.

There’s this question as to whether or not the Wii U version looks inferior, but from all of the videos I’ve watched I can’t tell a difference. Anyone out there have a comparison video or own a Wii U copy and see a huge difference?

SuperChargers Has Online Co-op and Racing

Here’s where this gets even harder for me. Skylanders SuperChargers introduces a new mode for racing vehicles that is very similar to Mario Kart; Oh, it’s also online competitive play. Awesome. They also have online (and couch) adventure mode co-op (play the story with friends) which is … yeah, that’s awesome too. Graev and I could play together which is always a HUGE plus for us.

To Skylanders or Not to Skylanders

When all is said and done, I’m probably sitting at (including tax) $180 of Skylanders Superchargers stuff that I want. Whew… But it has multiplayer co-op for the story and competitive racing.  The struggle is real on this one. Have any of our readers out there already bought Skylanders Superchargers? I know some of you have “kids” who like to play. Wink. wink.

More Thoughts On Super Mario Maker

I wrote my Super Mario Maker review last week, and after seeing the public’s thoughts on the game, as well as a comment I received, I think it’s necessary to continue the dialogue.


Click to enlarge

Super Mario Maker truly is the first of its kind. Does it have its problems? Actually, very few of what I would consider actual problems. The ‘issues’ are all in what Super Mario Maker does not include. I found the image to the right (I do not know who gets credit for it) that nicely illustrates what’s missing.

Yeah, having those things would be nice. I spoke about that in my review. I want different biomes. I want slopes. The missing suits and even items which introduce major mechanics would be great too. Those things can be added in a patch/dlc.

There are bigger issues here with which I do agree.

No Map Maker in Super Mario Maker

No World or Map Maker

Here’s where most people get hung up: You can’t actually make a full Mario game in Super Mario Maker. You can’t make a world. You can’t make a map. Super Mario Maker is about making levels or courses. It’s about sharing those courses with people online and with friends. You download courses and rate them, discuss them, etc. People have taken to themes whether they be levels that are zany and play themselves, or creating the most ridiculously impossible course ever.

Yeah, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could make our own map and set up a series of levels? I’d love to theme a world and connect everything together. Lives right now don’t matter unless you play 100 Mario Mode. Fighting a boss is silly because it’s not really a boss of anything. There’s not progression. But again, that’s not Super Mario Maker’s fault.

However, the framework is already there for this to be a feature. When saving a level you can choose to save it to a world. Right now those worlds serve no purpose. Could this be a feature coming soon?

Lack of Purpose

This was alluded to a moment ago when I talked about lives not mattering and bosses serving no purpose. There is a distinct lack of “I should be checking these ?-blocks!” If you die it doesn’t matter. Coins don’t matter. Storing items doesn’t matter. If you die you just start over.

This is Not the Game You’re Looking For…

While I agree completely with all of the above, technically that’s not the fault of the game or its developers. They made a fantastic game within a tool, and a rather innovative new one at that. Super Mario Maker is a course maker using the items available. The point is sharing what you make with others in bite-sized pieces. With what we have been given, this is revolutionary.

I personally want the tools to make a Mario 64 or even a Super Mario 3D World level. How amazing would that be?!

It’s hard to ding a game for being completely new but not going the extra mile that we can only see now that we have this new thing in our hands. That’s why I think Super Mario Maker deserves the near-perfect score I gave it.  Now, if Nintendo launches Super Mario Maker 2 and adds nothing upon this model… then we have a lot to complain about.

I think this is only the beginning for this model. I predict Nintendo will run with this idea and create a Mario Kart variation, as well as a version to introduce Mario 64 / the 3D model. This has generated an enormous amount of buzz for them around something that has been out for 30 years… it’s incredible.

Super Mario Maker Review

Super Mario Maker Building Tools

Spoilers: Super Mario Maker is so much fun! Super Mario Maker takes all of the things (well, almost all) we know and love from Mario over the last 30 years and packages it all up into what is by far the biggest and potentially never-ending Mario game ever made.

Super Mario Maker allows players to create their very own Mario levels using graphic styles, doodads, enemies, bosses, and gameplay mechanics from all of the 2D side-scrolling Mario games. In addition to making and playing your own levels, players can go to the Course World and download levels made by other players all over the world.

Course Maker Mode

The creation tools are phenomenal. I can’t imagine them working much better than this in terms of functionality. The experience is so seamless and smooth that you can literally place something, click play, and test it out on the spot. There aren’t load times or transitions — it’s instantaneous. The developers wanted this experience to be smooth, and they nailed it.

Here’s where the gamepad shines and no other consoles can compete. Being able to use the stylus to drag/drop and manipulate two screens is a must.

My biggest criticism of the make mode has nothing to do with what’s in the game. Everything in the game is fantastic. I’m more bummed about what wasn’t included, and hope that we’ll see it patched in soon. Here are a few things I’ve noticed that are missing:

  • Scenery: Desert, Beach, Forest, Snow
  • Tanooki Suit Mario
  • Ice Flower
  • Colored Yoshi
  • Wind

The list is actually extensive and growing, which leads me to believe we’re either going to see DLC, or if Nintendo treats this like they did Splatoon we may see this added for free. Fingers crossed. [Read more…]

Nintendo’s New President Brings Big Change to the Company

New Nintendo President

Tatsumi Kimishima

Tatsumi Kimishima is the new President of Nintendo, and with his new position comes a great deal of change and restructuring. Although Kimishima says to Nikkei (Japanese publication) that Nintendo will be staying the course laid out for the company by the late Mr. Iwata, it’s hard not to see the massive impact this restructuring will have on the company and the products.

Kimishima has organized the company into three main divisions:

Platform Technology Development Division – Harware, Operating Systems, techy stuff.

Entertainment Planning and Development Division – Combines two previous game development divisions into one to focus on making games.

Business Development Division – Oversees the management of gaming systems, smartphones, and IP licensing.

You may be wondering what is happening to Miyamoto and Takaeda. Miyamoto will be a “Creative Fellow” and Takaeda a “Technology Fellow.” Nintendo classifies a Fellow as, “An individual selected from among the Representative Directors who has advanced knowledge and extensive experience, and holds the role of providing advice and guidance regarding organizational operations in a specialized area.” 

While it’s a little uncomfortable to see Miyamoto stepping into more of a consulting role, it’s probably best for the company as a whole to see this shakeup. Miyamoto really shouldn’t have been in charge of the systems. He needs to focus on bringing us the games we didn’t know we wanted.

Looking at Kimishima it’s hard not to think he looks a little grumpy compared to Iwata. I’m pretty sure we won’t see Kimishima stepping out on the stage (or I guess the Nintendo Directs these days) with a big smile on his face. He looks like he’s all business. As much as I want to think of the core team at Nintendo as being all fuzzy and huggable and fun, they do need a healthy dose of change and to get back on track with making the company more, as Kimishima says, Nintendo-like again.

I hope this means we see less gimmicky weirdness from Nintendo and a return to serious core IPs that this company was founded upon. I want to see a major emphasis on system development that doesn’t lag behind the competition. I’d love to see their online play move beyond the 90’s lobby system. I want the see Mario, Zelda, and the other big franchises take major steps forward rather than fun and innovative changes to the already established norms. I think it’s possible that Kimishima could be the best thing to happen to Nintendo. Here’s hoping. Good luck, Mr. Kimishima!

Remembering Satoru Iwata

Mario mourns Satoru Iwata

We were deeply saddened to hear the news that Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, passed away yesterday. It is only fitting that we remember him by sharing what we loved about his contributions to the gaming industry.

“In our minds, the Nintendo difference has always made up our foundations. The first is innovation. Our goal is always to do something different, something no one has thought of before. In truth, some of our inventions aren’t better than others, but we never stop trying to innovate. Mr. Yamauchi always tells me we should achieve something that brings fresh, surprise, and joy…I like that.”
-Iwata, E3 2001 (Before becoming President)

“Video games are meant to be just one thing. Fun. Fun for everyone!”

iwata-sanSatoru Iwata was responsible for more gaming memories, specifically in our younger years, than any other single individual or even group of individuals combined. Under his leadership, Nintendo released the GameCube, DS, Wii, 3DS, and Wii U. The DS was a huge and monumental release for Nintendo, cementing its place probably forever with enough cash reserves to make mistakes and pick itself back up again.

The first quote above foreshadows inevitable failure. No one is perfect, and when you strive to create something new and fresh all the time you will eventually land yourself with a flop, or in the case of Nintendo a struggling system or two. When systems in the past (and present) struggled for Nintendo, Iwata cut his own salary in half rather than see the company’s employees be let go. He took responsibility for “failure” and did not let executive decisions fall upon the shoulders of the company’s workforce.  Iwata didn’t bow to the pressures for Nintendo to join the ranks of free-to-play or to change its practices or abandon its principles to simply align with common times.

“I do not like to use the term ‘Free-to-play.’ I have come to realize that there is a degree of insincerity to consumers with this terminology, since so-called ‘Free-to-play’ should be referred to more accurately as ‘Free-to-start.'”
-Iwata, Time Magazine 2015

Iwata-san was the mind behind the regularly-released Nintendo Direct “live”-streaming events where Nintendo would regularly discuss what was happening and coming up in the near future. These Nintendo Direct mini-conferences replaced Nintendo’s larger conference showings at E3, proving that a major company or publisher needn’t bring a huge production value show to a stage in order to reach its fans.

Mr. Iwata was also largely responsible for Nintendo’s push toward first-party titles. In a sea of awful and truly lacking (in quality and number) third-party releases, Nintendo developed and innovated more on first-party titles than any of its competitors to ensure that not only their brands were kept alive but the players had something to enjoy.

We sincerely hope that the next President of Nintendo will hold true to Satoru Iwata’s principles and philosophies. They were not always a guaranteed success, but they meant fun, fresh, innovative ideas for a consumer-first company.

“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.”