The Devolution of Paper Mario Scott's Thoughts

I remember being drawn to the first Paper Mario like a magnet.

It was in a video rental store, and I saw the N64 cartridge sitting on the bottom shelf. I didn’t know why Mario was paper, or why it was turn-based, but I immediately brought it home.

Of course, an RPG like Paper Mario can’t really be explored and beaten during a rental period, so I ended up buying it. I had to! The story, the characters, and the gameplay were so compelling that I had to see the adventure through to the end.

The Thousand Year Door was a beautiful follow-up on GameCube, which I first laid eyes upon at a WalMart. It was one of those demo kiosks where you had to stare up at the ceiling and snap your head backward to see. It continued the wonderful characterizations, thickened the plot, and introduced exciting new transformations for Mario that shook up the gameplay.

Super Paper Mario was memorable. Although stripping out the beloved traditional RPG elements, the game introduced a compelling tale of love and tragedy, alongside an interesting 2D-to-3D mechanic.

And then it all went downhill.

Unique, lovable, captivating characters were replaced with gimmicks of stickers and paint.

This image sums it up well.

The modern entries have their own merit, and bring some amount of charm. But along the way, the franchise lost focus. Paper Mario became more about churning out a quick win for sales and marketing than it was about world-building.

It might have been when the father of Mario gave the Sticker Star team these directions:
There were two main things that Miyamoto-san said from the start of the project—”It’s fine without a story, so do we really need one?” and “As much as possible, complete it with only characters from the Super Mario world.”Iwata Asks

Miyamoto was wrong.

The Copious Console Color Curse Scott’s Thoughts

If you’ve ever bought a Nintendo handheld, this has happened to you: you saved up, bought your system, and seemingly the next day Nintendo releases the hardware in a different color.

This is becoming a problem for Switch owners as well. Early adopters had the choice between grey or Neon Joy-Con, but little did we know that Nintendo would release not one but two console bundles with exclusive controller colors… in just over 6 months!

It’s just common practice for the Big N. They revitalize sales by injecting new collectible colors into the market.

People say that the install-base for 3DS is 60-70 million. It’s not.
That’s how many systems have sold, period, not unique users.

The question becomes, when do you buy the system? When do you wait for a different color or edition? Galaxy, Samus, creamsicle, you name it… it could be on the way; right around the corner, three years from now. Or never.

Lucky for you, I have the perfect answer!
Oh wait—no, I don’t. It’s entirely subjective, but here’s what I personally like to do: as an early adopter, purchase one of the first editions. Skip all the other bundles and plastic dyes until the actual internal hardware is improved.
For example, I bought the original blue 3DS (the one that looked like a tiered cake). I didn’t upgrade until the New 3DS XL was released (and no, they haven’t convinced me to downgrade to any model of 2DS).

In a perfect world, Nintendo would handle this a lot differently. See, releasing the best stuff midway into a platform’s lifecycle is bad for your early adopters. It teaches fans the lesson “always wait to buy—the best is yet to come.”

To combat that: release all the best editions at the start. Make them “limited,” invite the masses onto the platform and let them choose from many different configurations. Once early adopters have been satisfied, narrow down the offering. Make it simple and easy for latecomers to choose a SKU.

The objection here is that console launches are hard, and releasing multiple colors complicates the production and fulfillment side of things.
I acknowledge that, but Nintendo already has production issues, so why not work on those and kill two birds with one stone?
They need to start sitting on inventory until they have enough to appease day-one buyers anyway. A conversation for another day.

I propose a method that will reward Nintendo’s loyal customers, not punish them and teach them to wait and buy.

Being a Nintendo Fan on a Budget

Some of you, the Crew, may have noticed that I am usually a little behind the times when it comes to my hardware library. If you were to ask me what I have been playing recently, you will probably catch me talking about Smash Bros. or about an older handheld title. It is an interesting dynamic, keeping up on current Nintendo news and zeitgeist, while not updating my Nintendo library alongside other Nintendo fans.

But I know it is not just me that has a hard time keeping up with Nintendo’s ever-expanding hardware and software library. I would like to start a discussion here on being a Nintendo fan on a budget. I want to keep it practical and easy, and I will kick it off with a few of my own tips and tricks.

Manage your Expectations

Before we get to practical application, we have to begin with the proper mindset. As I said before, Nintendo never stops making great consoles and games. It is not possible for pretty much any Nintendo fan to acquire everything they put out, much less spend quality time with each game. Not only can the quantity be overwhelming, but, just like it would be with any other hobby, playing video games is expensive. It may be true that gaming now is more affordable than ever, but that does not change the fact that even (most) gamers have bills to pay.

Also, refuse to get caught up in “must-play” mentality. It is fine to set goals of games you want to eventually play, but, as I have gone on record saying, do not let other people dictate the games you play. Just because a game is “10/10” or a “classic” does not mean you have to play it to be a Nintendo fan. Do not feel pressured into playing a game. It is likely you will not enjoy your experience, and the anxiety to acquire and complete that title is not worth it.

Bum Off your Friends

This is one I do a lot. There are some titles that are worth owning, and you and a friend each have your own copies. Often times with fighting games and other competitive games, you will want a copy for yourself to be able to play and improve at your own pace. Many other single-player ventures, however, can be experienced once through to satisfy your need. In these instances, it is handy to have a friend that can lend you the game and/or system. It is how friendships should work.
(Okay, maybe “bum off your friends” is a little over the top, but it gets my point across.)

Scott has lent me games on numerous occasions, and I have lent him some of my own things as well. Reciprocation is a healthy way to build a friendship. Often Scott will be too busy to play for a month, so he will allow me to borrow a game for that period. Currently, my wife and I are enjoying the SNES Classic. Later on, he just might have a problem that I’d understand. We all need somebody to lean on.

Check Pawn Shops

Now, no matter where you go, new equipment and games will probably cost you a few coins. But, if you have managed to manage your expectations properly (see what I did there?), you will not be driven by your need for the new stuff. This is where you have a decision to make: do you save up some money and/or wait for the new stuff to come down in price, or do you go for the bargain old junk at the pawn shop or eBay? Nintendo has so many classics to explore for the systems that you already own, and they can be more than reasonable in price.

Also, with pawn shops, you never know what you will find. Maybe you will run across a rare gem that would be exorbitantly priced elsewhere, or you might find a game that looks cheesy and bad for twenty-five cents, take it home, and make a new memory of the terrible piece of trash you found. You could even find a reasonably-priced old Nintendo console, allowing you to retread the glory days of your childhood, or see what gaming was like when your parents were kids.

Of course, if you want to get really edgy…

Foray into Non-Nintendo Fare

*Gasp!* Say it isn’t so! Am I suggesting you play something on a non-Nintendo console? Of course! If you have never owned a Sega console, pick one up at a local thrift store or pawn shop. I can recommend several titles, if you need any assistance digging for gold. All sorts of retro consoles wind up in second-hand stores, or in your uncle’s closet; grab one and try it out! Games can be cheap, and it exponentially broadens the field of games you can play. If anyone knows the value of playing retro games (even on non-Nintendo consoles), it is the staff here at Two Button Crew.

I hope this article has been an encouragement to you, especially if you are on a tight budget. You are not alone, and you can enjoy new experiences no matter your financial plan.

Goodbye, Stereoscopic 3-Dimensional Gaming Scott’s Thoughts

I’m one of the first people to happily wave goodbye to the 3DS.

It’s low-resolution screen looked behind-the-times the moment I laid eyes on it on launch day.
However, there is one aspect of its visuals which I will miss: glasses-free 3D.

Nintendo pulled something incredible off by releasing the only mass-market device employing the technology.
Personally fine-tunable by a slider, no less!

The company also made a wise move in never requiring 3D visuals to advance in any games, ensuring those too young, who had eye problems, or just preferred flat images, weren’t forced to see in 3D.

But boy was it helpful.

Super Mario 3D Land, for example, is a fantastic title that takes full advantage of the unique screen hardware.
I have a harder time lining up precise jumps on my Switch.

Stereoscopic 3D, I‘ll miss you.

TBC 005: Metroid: Samus Returns

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Samus is making a comeback! After a decade of misfires, the bounty hunter has returned to the starring role. This 3DS exclusive came out of the blue at E3, and a few short months later, was delivered to us along with amiibo figurines and special editions. After all the surprises and fanfare, how does the game hold up? The Two Button Crew hosts are here to discuss the controls, music, challenge, gameplay, and progression.

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“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Do I NEED This?: A Gamer’s Guide to De-Cluttering

Recently I have been looking to downsize my video game collection. I am giving away and selling some old consoles, games, and accessories (blasphemy, I know). The fact is, I am a pack rat, but there are just some games that I do not play anymore, and I need to do some de-cluttering. I have had to think long and hard before I made the really difficult decision to toss some of the games in my closet, but the experience has been a freeing one. Not only do I have less “junk” lying around the house, but I no longer feel bound to my possessions, which is extremely freeing. So, if the thought of getting rid of a single game in your collection has you mumbling incoherently in the fetal position, let a fellow gamer lend you a hand.

These are the questions I ask myself of each game/piece of equipment I come across in my sorting adventures.

Do I even like this game?

I have a hard time getting rid of any game. I see that, as a thing, it has to have some sort of monetary value. I purchased it (or it was a gift to me), and, therefore, somebody spent good money on this! I cannot just throw it out, can I?

Well, it turns out I can. I do not really care for sports games, though my older brother did. I have cut a good portion of my clutter size down by being honest with myself, saying, “He might have liked this, and I might have had a good time or two, but I would rather be playing something else if I had the choice.” Remember the good times, but do not be afraid that your memories will fall out of your head if you get rid of something.

I almost wish I had kept this game it was so bad.

Does it work?

This is a similar question to the one above but is usually in reference to hardware. We either think, “I put money/time into this, even though it is broken.” Sometimes we try to rationalize, “I am going to get this fixed, someday!” even though you have no intention (much less the time or money) to actually fix it. I am not saying that broken equipment never has enough sentimental value to keep it solely “for old times’ sake”, but, like with bad games, if the memory is that important to you, it will not go away because your busted GameCube is in the dumpster.

How long has it been vs. how long have I had it?

This one is extremely practical. I have Wii games that I have had for years but never play anymore. They are going out with my next batch of games to be pawned at a small, but reasonable price.

Some games I have, though, just have not been given the chance to outstay their welcome. On one hand, I have hardly played Super Smash Bros. for 3DS since the release of the Wii U version. On the other hand, the game is only a few years old, and I have not had the chance, necessarily, to go “back” to it yet. Maybe I will want Smash Bros. on the go sometime soon. If I am asking myself that in ten years, however, I might have to take a second look.

There is another side to this, of course. Scott has been in the mood to sell his games soon after purchase because he does not see himself returning to the title. He gets the biggest bang for his buck by reselling right away, as opposed to seeing the game collect dust, and trying to get rid of it after the game is out of date.

Do I have this game in a more convenient form (Virtual Console, collections/anthologies, etc.)?

“But this is the original NES cartridge! Playing it on a modern console, even though it has been perfectly faithfully been ported, is just not the same!” This is one that, as a pack rat, I have had to wrestle with constantly. I am getting rid of many of my NES cartridges because I have them on collection elsewhere. Yes, this even includes some of my original series Mega Man games (but not my world record Mega Man 6 cart. That thing is getting framed or something). Collections are not only a great way to make accessing your games more convenient, but they also pave the way to downsizing, which is a good thing.

Is this an outdated version?

This question does not apply to most genres, as, usually, each version of a game brings something completely unique to the table. Fighting games, on the other hand, are often outdated by the next version. Is Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 REALLY worth keeping when you have the Ultimate version? Sure, there is a UI difference, but balancing patches and new characters have just made the update a better game. Let it go.

Do I have alternative console methods?

Because I have a Retron 3 I will probably be getting rid of my NES and SNES. The only downside to saying goodbye to them would be my inability to use my wireless NES multitap (though, if I got a wired one, my problem would be no more).

Retrons and similar consoles allow for ease of access and space saving. Retrons even allow you to use the original console’s controllers.

Also, you might have access to an emulator, like a Raspberry Pi. Not that I am advocating illegal emulation. Or admitting that I use my Raspberry Pi for emulation. I am not.

… Admitting it, that is.

These are some of the considerations that I used in sorting through my video game collection. Take it from someone who has been there: the process may be difficult, but the rewards are well worth it. Tune in next time as we discuss proper console dusting techniques!

Future of 2D Metroid, Wii Shop, Mega Man?!


In the first-ever installment of Live Show News, we’ve got our crystal balls out to talk about the ~future~ of video games! Wii Shop Channel? Mega Man? 2D Metroid? It’s all here, and discussed by Simeon and Scott!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Metroid: Samus Returns Gameplay + Impressions (PAX 2017)

We got a lengthy hands-on with Samus, but you only have to wait a few days to take a copy home yourself!


#594 – Metroid: Samus Returns is almost upon us! Before you take the game home on Friday, take a look at our footage. Don’t worry – we adjust the camera a few times so you can get a closer look. It actually plays really well, and looks so much better in person. The 3D is great, each area is like a little window into the alien planet. And the animation is top-notch. See for yourself!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Predicting The Final 3DS Games (Before it Dies)

But what we really want is Face Raiders 2, of course.


#592 – 2011 is the year Nintendo 3DS launched, followed quickly by Wii U. Nintendo’s home console floundered and died while their revolutionary portable thrived, building up an amazing catalog of games and huge install base worldwide. Finally, in 2017, it appears that the system is winding down and coming in for a landing. As such, we started to think about what its final games would be, and we’ve made this list for your viewing pleasure!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

What’s Gotta Happen with Mario Party?

Maybe Mario party 15 will finally be good at this pace!


#591 – Mario Party is a floundering series. Numerous sequels hit store shelves in regular intervals, and Nintendo has been experimenting lately with its formula, hoping that the next game would be the one to solve the series’ declining popularity. Unfortunately, Nintendo has yet to strike gold since basically Mario Party 3 on the Nintendo 64. Simeon and Scott are here to diagnose the problems and figure out what Mario needs to do in order to get back to partying in earnest!

Footage credit: NintendoMovies | TheRunawayGuys | SullyPwnz | WiiLikeToPlay

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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TBC 003: Remakes & Remasters

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Our August 2017 podcast lands closeby the release of some key remakes – Metroid: Samus Returns, and Mario & Luigi for 3DS. This is the perfect opportunity to take some time and examine the practice of remastering and rereleasing old games. What do we think of the process? What’s important in a remake? And what are the best ones? We wrap up with some requests specifically for Nintendo to bring back some of our favorites with a fresh coat of paint.
Ready for more TBC Podcast? We are an ad-free show, and you can support us on Patreon: http://patreon.com/twobuttoncrew
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“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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BWAAAAH! (“History of Raving Rabbids”)

Mario + Minions: IP Battle


#585 – Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle hits store shelves (and eShop) today! To celebrate this monumental partnership with Nintendo, we’re looking back on where the Rabbids came from. Their humble origins started with an Ubisoft launch game on Wii, and they’ve skyrocketed to success ever since. Come for a trip down memory lane with us!

Footage credit: Bryce Games

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Nintendo World Championships 2017

Do you want to be… the VERY best?


#579 – Nintendo World Championships are returning – completely out of nowhere! Not during E3, not for the launch of a game (that we know of), just randomly. And the qualifiers begin soon! Simeon is here with his new dog Buttercup to discuss the event’s return and its odd choice of preliminary game, Mario Kart 7. What do you think – are you excited to watch the event? Let us know!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Which Button Am I Pressing? (Blindfolded!)

You’re really pressing my buttons.


Are you so familiar with Nintendo controllers that you could recognize individual buttons without looking?! That’s exactly what Simeon and Scott are attempting today, while blindfoldedly shoving fingers into gaming input devices. Who will win?

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Linkle & The Question of Female Link

Linkle? Female LINK?! FEMALE ZELDA?!?! Wait…


#550 – Out of nowhere, Linkle appeared and paved the way for a female Link. Simeon and Scott sit down today to discuss the issue of Link and gender. Will Linkle ever star in her own game? Should the Hero of Hyrule reincarnate as a woman in a future game? WHY NOT?

Footage credit: Direct-Feed Games

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Why Smash Bros. Is Stupid

If you ever have the chance to talk to Scott, ask him how I feel about Smash Bros. If he happens to recall all of the many times I’ve almost thrown my controller while playing it, he will remember to tell you that I hate those stinking piles of trash, and then probably begin laughing hysterically with memories of my salty tears.

Today, I am going to list reasons I despise the Smash Bros. series. I will not be focusing on one entry, but rather looking at the series as a whole. The list is also not exhaustive. The internet does not contain enough space to list all of this garbage. You may have found some of these same things frustrating, or you may not have. Let me enlighten you to the truth of these monstrosities:

  • The Crotch. I hate the crotch. For those of you who do not know what this means, it is a term I coined some years back referring to the point on the side of a stage (especially noticeable on Brawl’s Final Destination) at which one gets stuck while trying to recover. This was a major problem for Marth before they fixed things in Smash 4, as he would get stuck due to his forward momentum bringing his upward momentum into the crotch. FYI, you can also use crotch as a verb (“Oh, man, I just got crotched!“).
  • The invisible Ceiling, or Y-Cancelling. I’ve seen videos that say that Melee’s invisible ceiling is only noticeable when Luigi is being hit. That is so false. It is also extremely noticeable on Roy’s (and Marth’s) counter moves. That crap was extremely annoying.
  • Teching the sides of walls when you are going straight downward. What is this garbage?
  • Brawl had online. Hahaha! That was a thing! Hahaha! Oh, boy. Remember that funny joke? It was funny.
  • Nerfed Ike in Sm4sh. My favorite character to play in Brawl was Ike. It took a few patches, but Ike is finally at least semi-playable in Sm4sh. They did, however take out the best thing about him, which was that he had no landing lag on N-air, which allowed him to go straight into jab. That moment of landing lag is a killer.
  • Jank. No other competitive fighting game has this much jank, people, especially nowadays. That crap gets patched out. Why Samus’s standing up-B can kill at 0% I will never be able to explain to you.
  • Samus’ Matchups in Sm4sh. Speaking of Samus, she has some ridiculous matchups in the fourth Smash game. Samus may not be the best in the game, but Samus vs. Dorf or Samus vs. Ike is super dumb for the person who is not playing Samus.
  • Sm4sh’s “Voice Acting”. One of the first things I noticed about Sm4sh on release night was that a lot of the characters’ voice clips for the game were the same as Brawl. Now, that in itself is kind of lazy, but I get it. What I do not get is when ONE character has, like, THREE different voices! It’s especially noticeable in Dorf and Fox. You might be trying to recover and hear the sound of a chipmunk squeaking “Fire!”, Then the next moment, after your opponent has two-framed you, you hear the deep guttural bellows of 1,000 manly warriors entering the gates of Hades. What?
  • Playing Brawl on Wii U. It just drops inputs? WHY!? I have never had this problem with ANY other Wii game! Is there a reason? No. It’s just stupid.
  • B-Reversing. The reason I hate B-reversing is probably just a personal thing. I almost never try to do it intentionally, but it always seems to happen at the worst times when I use a grounded up-B. Why?
  • Melee Cultists. The rest of these are more “community” complaints, and for the sake of my own precious time, we all know what this one means. Oh, and if you miss meteor cancelling, just don’t get meteored. Git gud, scrub.
  • EVO making custom moves legal. *Sigh* Why did they have to complicate things so? If you’re not familiar with this fiasco, it goes like this: EVO is the biggest fighting game tournament of the year. All of the important games are there, all of the best fighters are in attendance, so when the EVO people make a rule set, everyone pays attention. In 2015, EVO set the Sm4sh rules to allow for custom moves. We even did one of our first episodes on it. This meant that, until EVO, all of the local tournaments used the new rule set, which meant that each player that was going to bring a set up had to play the stupid extra modes for hours on end trying to unlock all of the custom moves (which, by the way, you could collect multiple of, meaning each time you worked hard for one did not guarantee you would find one you didn’t have) AND set each character’s ten EVO-approved set-ups, which translates to days of work! After all of this local scenes stopped using custom moves after EVO 2015 passed, and the EVO people themselves discontinued this practice.
  • Project M Scene. I understand, if you enjoy a game, have fun with it. But if you want to play a Smash Bros. game that’s more like Melee… play Melee. I see Project M as an abomination. It’s not Melee, and it’s definitely not Brawl any more. Oh, and the fact that the scene pretty much died after it stopped getting updates? I laughed. #sorrynotsorry
  • Project M caught on instead of Balanced Brawl. Balanced Brawl was an attempt to fix the MANY problems that Brawl had, and, do you know what? It was pretty stinking good! It embraced what was good about the game instead of mutating it into an unrecognizable mess.
  • Because, um… uh… Fine. I do not hate Smash Bros. But it does have a bunch of stupid things that make me want to rip my hair out sometimes. Some of those are the same things that make me laugh at how ridiculously zany these games are. So, as much fun as it is to whine about smash Bros., I have to admit, it’s a heck of a lot of fun to rage about.

P.S.: Notice that I was able to write this article without even mentioning tripping. … Darn.

What Makes Metroid So Special?

Sorry, we can’t stop talking about bae-I mean-Samus.


Metroid has a special spot in our hearts, and if you’re watching this, there’s a good chance that you know how we feel. Fans of Samus are feeling good after this year’s E3: Nintendo proved that they still care as much as we do. But why IS it that Nintendo fans have been asking for a new entry in this series for years? What makes us especially passionate about this particular bounty hunter? Simeon and Scott are here to break down the reasons that Metroid stands out from the crowd.

Footage Credit: CGRundertow

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Population Growing: The Wonderful Legacy of Animal Crossing

One of Nintendo’s biggest and most popular franchises is also one of the hardest to explain why it is so beloved. When people find out that I love video games and ask me what my favorite one is, my reply is “Animal Crossing” – and the response is usually one of bemusement and bewilderment. People on the outside looking in don’t see what the big deal is. Why do I love Animal Crossing so much? What is it about this game that sets millions of people into a frenzy when a new installment is announced? Well, get your bells ready and let’s take a closer look…

Humble Beginnings

Animal Crossing debuted in North America on the Nintendo GameCube console in the fall of 2002. Nintendo has always had a reputation of being a “family friendly” (many read as “kiddie”) company – beginning with the controversial censorship of Mortal Kombat on the Super Nintendo, even though the subsequent installments had all the violence and blood that the game came with. The GameCube itself was small like a lunch box and had a handle for crying out loud with little tiny mini-discs. Kiddie? You couldn’t exactly argue against it.

A game like Animal Crossing is hard to market for, and when I saw the game in my local Electronics Boutique, I asked the cashier what it even was. Her reply was “It’s hard to describe. I’d say it’s like a Sims game but with animals.”

I love Sim games, and I love animals, so this sales pitch was a home run. The game came with a bonus memory card that included a “gift” on it for use in-game. After years of over-exposure to Mario and Zelda games, I was all excited to dive into a new Nintendo IP. I was ready to be entertained – but at first, the result was just the opposite.

Booting up the game started what felt like an inane game of Twenty Questions, as you were asked stuff like your name, if you were a boy or a girl, etc. I wanted to play a game, not go through the most basic of setups. After this unwanted pop quiz, the first major character you run into after the setup screens are finished was a raccoon named Tom Nook. Many longtime fans dislike poor old Tom, and with good reason – he is an unfriendly jerk and doesn’t even really do a good job of explaining the game to players (which was his entire function). I did a lot of planting flowers, planting fruit and other mundane tasks, and about 20 minutes into the game, I was wondering where the fun was hiding.

But once you are freed from Tom Nook’s “tutorial”, the world of Animal Crossing begins to open up. The comparisons to the Sims became more evident as you are encouraged to expand and decorate your own house, meet neighbors and become social with them… your interactions with them will have a definite outcome on their lives, too.

Throwback Any Day

Every budding franchise debut needs a hook, and Animal Crossing’s hook was a doozy. The player had the ability to find and play original NES games within your character’s house – games like Pinball, Donkey Kong, Excitebike, and hidden gems The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros (both of which were never officially made available and need a cheat device to unlock). This predated the Virtual Console on the Wii and Wii U (and hopefully the Nintendo Switch), it represented the first time in a major mainstream fashion that old classic games could be played, full-screen, on a then-current console was mind-blowing. Collecting the NES titles became a game within the game. Retro games would not turn up in subsequent entries in the series, unfortunately.

Friendship Is Love

Beyond the retro hook, the one thing that kept me coming back to the game was the emphasis on community and building friendships. Talking with your animal neighbors daily and doing small favors for them allow the player to establish relationships in the game that really feel like friendships. Like in real life, you tend to open up to someone new on a bit-by-bit basis, and that is how it works in Animal Crossing. Using the GameCube’s internal clock, the game is advertised that it “keeps playing even when you aren’t,” and that’s true. Skip a couple days of playing and the game knows it – villagers will say the missed you, dreaded weeds will grow that you’ll need to pluck. The game would also change with the seasons and celebrate major holidays. It is taken for granted now, but this mechanic really was pretty groundbreaking at the time. It pushed me to check in every day and I would actually feel guilty if I didn’t.

I knew at this point that I was experiencing something special, and I became a fan of the subsequent entries in the series.

World Traveler

The game’s sequels – Wild World for the Nintendo DS and City Folk for the Nintendo Wii – introduced online play to the franchise to great results. Wild World also stripped out the NES games you could find and play, as well as the holiday celebrations, which was a very odd and saddening choice. I initially thought having Animal Crossing on a tiny portable system was a really dumb idea – but this is one area I was happy to be wrong in… having a game that is tied to the internal clock makes perfect sense to be on a portable system. I could check in on my town anywhere and not just at home during a dedicated gaming session on the couch.

Hopping online, you could visit a friend’s town, see their house, and talk to their villagers. It may not seem like much, but this addition opened up (pun alert) a whole world of fun, and made me want my house to be at its best for guests. The villagers would even talk to you about people who have visited after they leave.

It’s the little things that make a difference.

The Wii game, City Folk, was very similar to Wild World, all the way down to the hourly music used… but added a small city area you could travel to and shop in.

Saturday Night Fever

Speaking of music, one of the best aspects of the franchise is its use of original music. Each hour has a different theme, as do many holidays and special events. I have an entire playlist of nothing but Animal Crossing music from the various games and it always brings a smile to my face. Of course, I can’t talk about music without mentioning AC’s resident musician, K.K. Slider. He appears every Saturday night in various places depending on the game, and he always delivers the hippest music to the people…or, rather, the animals.

Hail to the Chief

The most recent mainline game in the franchise, Animal Crossing: New Leaf launched on the Nintendo 3DS in 2013 (2012 in Japan) and truly became a major franchise for Nintendo. It is proven to have boosted sales of the handheld and has gone on to sell over 9 million copies worldwide, and counting. New Leaf introduced a few new wrinkles that many fans have embraced: the ability to be Mayor and construct unique designs and extras in your town, thus taking overall customization to a whole new level. But best of all was the introduction of Isabelle – your trusty and loyal secretary who is your town’s biggest cheerleader.

As much as I love the other games, I would have to pick New Leaf as being the best Animal Crossing to date. In fact, it is not only my favorite Animal Crossing game but also my favorite game of all time overall. Yes, I love it that much.

Nintendo seems to realize the popularity of the series as well. 2015 brought an immense amount of marketing to the franchise. amiibo cards (used with the 3DS spin-off Happy Home Designer) that invoke memories of Game Boy Advance eReader cards that were incorporated with Wild World, made its debut… and its own amiibo figure line began to roll out as well. Mario Kart 8 (and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe) has a beautifully designed race track based in the Animal Crossing universe.

Not everything has been a hit, however. The aforementioned spin-offs, Happy Home Designer and (especially) amiibo Festival, were poorly received and had low sales. And speaking of low sales, the amiibo cards were popular at the beginning, but the actual amiibo figure line struggled – partially due to being associated with such a bad game – and many can be had for as low as $2 new on clearance. Animal Crossing ran the risk of overexposure because Nintendo, rather than give us a new game, decided to make the curious move and develop a couple of spin-offs that no one wanted. In an effort to possibly make it up to angry fans, an update to New Leaf was issued in 2016 that added amiibo support and a number of new features.

And even with all of that, I’m still anxiously anticipating the next full entry on the Nintendo Switch with baited breath.

Population: Growing 

Animal Crossing (along with Pikmin) was, up until Splatoon in 2015, the last big original Nintendo IP that took off and became a huge success. I think it is more than worthy to sit alongside legendary franchises like Mario, Zelda and Pokémon. Its fan base continues to grow with each new game. It is often one of the most requested titles for any new Nintendo console launch – as evidenced by the number of disappointed people when an Animal Crossing announcement for the Nintendo Switch was not realized at E3 2017. I have spent more time than I care to admit playing various games the series and I still can’t fully explain what it is to friends when they ask. But I am okay with that… all of its charm, quirks, and addictiveness – it’s part of what makes Animal Crossing so warmly unique.

Are you an Animal Crossing fan? What is it about the series that has made you a fan?


Eric “Flapjack” Ashley has been a Nintendo fan for almost his entire life! While he also has a special place in his heart for Sega, it is Nintendo that gets him worked up and the franchises that capture his imagination and wonder. Eric is hopelessly in love with Animal Crossing. When he is not playing video games, he is a social media guru, assisting numerous organizations with their outreach and promotions, and he is also a big horror movie buff. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @flapjackashley.

How amiibo Technology Works

#iiqualrights, toys-to-lifes-matter


When our parents were our age, they would never have imagine being able to scan their toys into their video games. Well, now we’re living in the future, thanks to amiibo! But how exactly do these figurines, cards, and plushies interact with Nintendo’s systems? Do they really learn and level up? All those answers and more in this episode of NF + TBC. amiibo Footage credit: Gamecite, Game Wire

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Video Game Pricing Through the Ages

No wonder Nintendo has so much money!


#537 – Video games… kind of an expensive hobby, no? Ever wondered if gaming used to cost more back in the day, or if the prices have only gone up? When you take inflation of the US dollar into account, the information is quite interesting!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/