Back in 2017 The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild was coined Video Game of the Year based on the people’s choice. Super Mario Odyssey secured the second spot. The Nintendo Switch had an amazing launch year in 2017 and at the time of writing this the Nintendo Switch sold over ten million consoles world wide. For a video games console that hasn’t one been out for 12 months that figure makes my head spin. 2018 is set to be just as good of a year for the Nintendo Switch with some prominent Nintendo Wii U games launching on the console within the first six months.
Having spent a lot of time with Super Mario Odyssey over the last couple of months I feel I’ve got a lot to say about Mario’s latest adventure. In fact I would go as far to say that Super Mario Odyssey should have taken him the title of Video Game of the year (2017). You might not agree but I urge you to read the remainder of this blog then let me know your final thoughts in the comments. Now before we go any further we have to note the Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece. I am a huge fan of it despite initially feeling sceptical. In fact I was also sceptical about Super Mario Odyssey. Some of the earliest footage I saw was with Mario running around a city approaching business men! “This is not a Super Mario game!” Fast forward to now and I can honestly say that I was wrong to judge. Super Mario Odyssey serves up a beautiful 3D experience of ploughing through bustling kingdoms and moon hunts. Odyssey offers up a tasty menu of new characters too with Cappy being the most notable. Cappy amplifies Super Mario’s abilities within the kingdom’s enabling him to jump higher, morph in to enemies and leap to the highest ledges. Super Mario feels more super than ever before. Again I was apprehensive about Mario’s new top man but Happy really does add a lot of value in to Super Mario Odyssey.
Repetition done well
Super Mario Odyssey adopts the same roots as previous Mario games. It is up to Mario to save Princess Peach from the evil clutches of Bowser. Along the way, there are many dangerous lands our friendly plumber must traverse in order to rectify the wrongful kidnapping. Now usually in video games I always prefer new stories to unfold but in the case of Mario the notion of him rescuing Princess Peach - again - seems to bode well in my gamer brain. Super Mario Odyssey is not really pushing a story but instead Odyssey is a revelation in its own right. Besides it is the first 3D Mario game since Super Mario 3D in 2011.
Super Mario Odyssey has something for everyone. Did you grow up with the NES like me? Did you grow up arguing with siblings over who’s turn it is to try and beat the next level on Super Mario Bros? Well you can expect a slice of retro 8bit Super Mario in Odyssey. The seamless warp through an iconic green pipe will take you right bak in to a Super Mario Bros-esque kind of level; equipped with 8bit sound effects and all. Nintendo we salute you because this was an gorgeous touch of finesse that makes Super Mario Odyssey feel more polished that ever!
Whether you are collecting rings in a Sonic game or coins in an older Mario game; video games have many challenges. In Super Mario Odyssey you can expect hundreds of quirky little challenges. In fact 880 of those challenges involve collecting Power Moons. Power Moons vary in colour depending on which kingdom you are in. They are used to power up the Odyssey and to unlock various other parts of the game. Collecting all 880 Power Moons (additional moons can be purchased) unlocks a painting in the wedding hall…but we won’t spoil that. Now 880 seems like a lot but it’s not. I love the challenge of being able to travel backwards and forwards to different kingdoms and being able to hunt for more moons.
Easy on the approach
You can literally take off in Super Mario Odyssey. Aside from flying from kingdom to kingdom in the Odyssey; Super Mario Odyssey suits players of all abilities. You can jump in without having to learn too many complex moves or controls. Once you have your timing on jumps and learn how to launch Cappy correctly you are pretty much set. My six year old nephew picked it up in no time. Nintendo have always seemed to adopt a knack for creating games where people can adapt really easily. This may seem like a small point to make but when I saw early previews of Super Mario Odyssey I was worried about it being overly clumpy. How wrong was I? Odyssey feels like a breeze to play through. Even the boss battles are setup up with the classic three hit to defeat format! There are no hidden agendas here in Super Mario Odyssey. Thank you Nintendo.
Perhaps you haven’t played a Mario game for years? Does this matter? Super Mario Odyssey feels familiar very early on in the game. Take the Cascade Kingdom for example. When I first met the Chain Chomps a huge smile erupted on my face. Why? The Chain Chomps have been popular in many other Mario games. It was this feeling of nostalgia that made me feel great. I wanted to continue playing Odyssey to find out what other nostalgia trips I could take.
What would a 3D game be without the 3D camera right? Well it’s kind of obvious that it would be a 2D game. At times the camera motions can seem like a minor hinderance. In my play-through there were times (on water levels especially) where the camera would get stuck on a wall mid-rotation. This was my only gripe too. It’s certainly worth noting but I don’t feel the camera rotation will adversely affect your experiences in Super Mario Odyssey overall. I’ve seen a few other reviewers mention this too but how have you found it?
Super Mario Odyssey is a gem of a video game no matter what your age, gaming ability or experience. It is packed with old and new surprises that will make you want to continue on your quest to save Princess Peach over and over. If you chose not to play Super Mario Odyssey then you are missing out on one of Nintendo’s greatest games of all time. Super Mario Odyssey is a masterpiece for many.
So, another year, another Pokemon game. How does this one stack up to previous entries in the series? Given all that was shown off on the run up to the launch, is it all just fan service? I plan on answering these questions and more during the course of this review and I’ll also try to remain as spoiler-free as I can.
Pokéballs at the ready...
The game starts off by first asking which language setting you want and then warning you that you can’t change this after this point. After that you receive a video message from the new professor for this generation who gives you a short introduction to the game. Fans of the series will recognise this sort of intro as what we’ve always had but on a much prettier level this time. The Professor shows you a map of the new Alola region in this sequence, showcasing the islands that you will see on your journey throughout the region. As we all know, Alola is based off of real-world Hawaii and features lots of scenery and other elements that display this inspiration. After the map, you’re introduced to one of the new Pokemon for this region, a Rockruff, who seems to be quite the playful little character. Next you get asked which photo you want to use for your Trainer Passport. This is the part where you get to select the gender of your trainer, as well as skin tone and hair colour, from eight possible options.
After selecting your look and your name, you then see a glimpse of another new Pokemon for the region (a Pikipek) and then the video call ends. You’re then called by your mother to help with some boxes and another cutscene begins. You see a girl escaping from some guards, her bag fires out a large blue blast and then the camera pans up. Here is where you see the first difference between the two games as, in Sun this will show the Pokemon Sun title card and be during the daytime, and, in Moon you will notice that it is nighttime and you’ll see the Pokemon Moon title card.
From here the game follows some of the familiar processes from every previous generation, introducing you to some of the key characters that will follow you through the game, your home and the battle and catching systems. You also get to see that there is a mixture of both new and old Pokemon in this region from the outset and the first of many references to the Kanto region of the Red and Blue games. While showing off some of the new environments in this intro, by panning the camera around your room in particular, it does show that the Nintendo 3DS XL and New 3DS XL systems having larger screens will show more jagged edges to the textures and character models through the game.
The walking animations in this game can take a bit of getting used to too. The standard animation has your arms hang a little far out from your hips but when walking in tall grass, especially when walking slowly, you’ll notice your character moves a lot more deliberately which is a nice touch. Once you’ve been introduced to a couple of key characters and been involved in a sequence reminiscent of the original anime episode you will be able to pick your starter Pokemon. Those of you that have played previous generations may notice this is one of the longest introductions up to the point of getting your starter. As usual, the choices are grass, fire and water or Rowlet, Litten or Popplio respectively.
By Gemma @Juicy Game Reviews
Eurogamer is the UK's largest video game expo. On September 24th through to September 27th (inclusive) I had the pleasure of attending two of those days and got the chance to sample some of the gaming industries finest future AAA titles. To name a few; Star Wars Battlefront, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Starfox Zero were worth well over an hours stand in line. Before we unpick the details of this unbelievable gaming expo let's tap in to the opportunities on offer at EGX.
For the last seven years Eurogamer had been held in the nations capital, London. This year The NEC in Birmingham played host to the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo and not to mention the undeniably passionate indie community. 75,000 people attended the Eurogamer this year which is a testament to the gaming community as a whole. Me personally? I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I couldn't wait to get my hands on that Xbox One controller and start playing the demo of Rise of the Tomb Raider. We'll come back to this one later in the article.
Not only is Eurogamer for the players but Gamesindustry.biz always have a strong presence to help recruit the next budding game designer. I've attended the last three EGX events and I've always found this area to be a real asset to the expo. It says 'we want this industry to continue to grow' and that makes me fill up with pride. Long live the gaming community.
By now we should all know that Hyrule Warriors is not a typical Zelda game in the sense that there is no dungeon crawling. This is a spin off game that mimics the Dynasty Warrior franchise, an awesome, tactical, fast paced action series. The aim is to take over points of the map, thus eliminating enemy lines. Hyrule Warriors adds in all of the familiar characters and scenery that I have loved since discovering Link in the 90s. Hyrule field, Epona and a stack of characters that I love. Hyrule Warriors is a refreshing break for the Wii U. A break that I have longed for since the start of the console.
So what is great about this game? Hyrule Warriors is top heavy with nostalgia from previous Zelda titles. My personal favourites were the Deku Tree and Gohma. When I saw the Deku Tree it reminded me of the first time I saw this mammoth tree in Ocarina Of Time. Oh what a quality moment of my gaming history. The Deku Tree looked just as gorgeous as it did back in Ocarina; mystical, grand and peaceful. The developers did a great job in conveying the nostalgia.
Hyrule Warriors currently has 13 playable characters with a further three confirmed as playable in future free DLC. This breaks down as 10 characters from the Hero category and 3 from the enemies. Naturally, my favourite was Link. I found Link to be posses a better range of weapons and abilities. The magic Fire Rod in particular felt powerful. Other hero characters were active on the battlefield alongside me. I'm usually skeptical of a team approach but I felt indifferent about it in Hyrule Warriors. I was annoyed to learn that if one of your characters died then the game ended and I had to start form the last save. That's a definite pain in the backside aspect of the game that forced me to change my tactics. My team seemed to do the exact same thing if I had to repeat a part of a mission. As soon as I changed my tactic (for example back tracked to an area to help other characters) I was able to proceed. That made me question the point of being part of a team? On the plus side, the other characters proved to be an asset at times. You guys may hold a different view.
Battle mechanics. Oh battle mechanics! I used the game pad to play Hyrule Warriors which is never my preferred choice. I think I would have preferred the standard controller (must purchase one). As soon as I learnt each move I felt more confident. Battles were not as simple as button mashing at first but I felt as though I'd evolved to this after the second mission. Having returned to the game over and over, I found myself having to relearn the controls each time. This may seem trivial to you and I suppose it varies from person to person. However, I'm nit usually as forgetful. I would have preferred a button mashing approach of that in Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls. This was a minor hiccup from my Hyrule experience which has left me wanting to try it with a standard controller.
Other cool aspects of Hyrule Warriors can be found in the mini quests of collecting the gold Skulltula's. Skultula's popped up randomly during play. Again, I liked this slice of nostalgia. The developers did a great job in delivering this.
Hyrule Warriors was a satisfying journey through familiar ground. The best parts are the cross overs to previous Zelda games. Despite this, I am looking forward to dragging my Master Sword back through the dungeons when The Legend of Zelda is released in 2015. I'd rate Hyrule Warriors an 8 out of 10.
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With a 20 year presence in our gaming world Mario Kart now makes it eighth appearance in the series and whilst it holds the eighth crown, the game is the first of its kind to be in full High Definition.
Is this game worth the hype though? The hype soon died for me as my delivery was almost two days late but as soon as the front door rattled, I ran down to greet that courier so quickly that no banana skin could have stopped me in my tracks. Having spent around six hours on the game, I am happy to report a pleasing experience. Naturally, the environments within the tracks are as aesthetically pleasing as one could expect. The vibrancy of the green hills in Moo Moo Meadows, the radiant warmth of the yellow sand in Dry Dry Desert and the boastful coloured blocks donning Donut Plains 3 all helped to provide me a truly warming experience. And what better way to help us glide through these tracks than with a total of 30 playable characters, 14 of which must be unlocked. I noticed that each character has a completely unique feel. I started with Yoshi, as he has always been my favourite in the MK series. He felt somewhat 'average' in his speed, handling, cornering and general fierceness. I soon switched to Ludwig, one of the earlier unlockable characters. Ludwig completely improved my game with a MUCH quicker speed boost from the start line, higher agility and surprised me with his likability from the get go. YES.... that is important. Ludwig had a likability factor that created a more immersive experience as I continued to race through Twisted Mansions and Rainbow Road. My advice is to 'branch out' Branch out with your characters. I have been guilty, on previous Mario Kart Games, of sticking with the same character of which I now recognise as a bad decision if I was going to progress with Mario Kart.
Musical appeal?? Hmmmm.... This is an easy one. The music in Mario Kart 8 is less than tasteful. Allow me to paint a picture. Think back to 80s game show, The Generation Game, The Price is Right and other shit like that. Remember? Now go and play Mario Kart 8 and you may notice that the music almost mirrors these shows. It is dated. It is disappointing. Does this take the edge off from the gameplay? In my opinion, yes it does. There are so many fantastic games that are defined and recongised by a strong soundtrack and this game IS NOT one of those games.
Which brings us on to the tracks. Most now know that there are 16 new tracks and 16 re-made tracks from previous Mario Kart games. I'll be blunt here: I prefer the re-made tracks. I almost screamed when I first started to drift around the cautious corners of the Donut Plains 3 from the Snes. As I continued to tear up the tarmac GBA Mario Circuit and the DS's Cheep Cheep Beach I realised something CRUCIAL. I am not playing Mario Kart 8 for a 'new' experience. I am LOVING and PLAYING Mario Kart 8 for the nostalgic experiences. I may be slammed here but hear me out..... I would love to see a FULL HD re-make of the first Mario Kart.
Multiplayer modes are a fantastic experience whether you are playing locally or against the fast fueled action from gamers worldwide. Typically, I have always found all multiplayer modes to provide a much faster platform in which to showcase your shell shoving accuracy. Jessica and I are safely addicted to Mario Kart Multplayer, not only on our Wii U but on our Nintendo 3DS handhelds too.
Overall, Mario Kart 8 is fun fueled experience and I would highly recommend gamers both old and new to give Mario and his friends a place on their gaming shelf.
Watch my unboxing of Mario Kart 8 on YouTube here.
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We're well in to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One era of gaming. Graphics had never looked so smooth and gameplay had never flowed so fluently. Let's not forget the triumphant last Generation of gaming with the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii; all of which I have a lot of time for.
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