Super Mario Bros. 3, the Pinnacle of Mario?


The game that MANY would consider the best title on NES is here: Super Mario Bros. 3, the greatest platforming threequel.

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Mario & Wario (via Super Nt!)


Thanks to one of our Patrons, Enrique, we have a Super Nt to try out! What does that mean? We can play Super Famicom games from Japan, with an SNES mouse, and plug it in… TO HDMI! Can you believe it? Oh this is going to be a great time. Enjoy!

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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The Super Mario Bros. Movie We Never Got in America

As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, Nintendo has partnered with Illumination Entertainment to produce an animated movie staring everybody’s favorite Italian-American-who-looks-like-a-Mexican plumber, Mario. Of course, given how well the Big N’s last film deal turned out, many fans are understandably anxious about Mario’s return to the big screen. Personally, I don’t think we have to worry about it turning out like 1993’s live-action bomb: that film was plagued with a very troubled production and an obscene number of rewrites that ultimately eroded the quality of the end product. I even wrote an article about the original—and much more faithful—screen play over a year ago.

Hmm…Why do I suddenly feel like I’m forgetting something…? Read more The Super Mario Bros. Movie We Never Got in America

TBC 010: Three is the Unlikeliest Number

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Every day, a new video game is made. Every other day, a sequel is created. But far less often does a THIRD entry see the light of day. That’s the topic of this month’s podcast! Join our panel of four (not three) hosts as we discuss the threequels we’ve missed out on for Nintendo platforms. We also delve into the WHY: why does this happen? What makes the gaming industry such a risky place for a sequel to a sequel? Enjoy the discussion, and give us your thoughts as well!
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“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Nintendo Quietly Updating Mario Odyssey?


Maybe you are still working through Super Mario Odyssey’s 999 moons! Perhaps you’ve managed to 100% the game… or have you? Who knows! When Nintendo can silently post new Hint Art online without fanfare, all bets are off!

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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TBC 009: Nintendo at the Movies

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Video game related movies are historically… well, just plain awful. But Nintendo has partnered with Illumination Entertainment to bring Mario to the big screen once again. Should we be excited? Scared? Is Mario going to talk? We’ll address all of those questions, as well as talk at length about which video game movies we actually enjoy!
Ready for more TBC Podcast? We are an ad-free show, and you can support us on Patreon: http://patreon.com/twobuttoncrew
Get Your Daily Nintendose of Fandom on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/TwoButtonCrew
“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island


The “sequel” to Super Mario World on SNES, Yoshi’s Island, is a very different kind of platformer! With MANY things to collect, crying babies to carry, and plenty of eggs to toss, this is an oddball entry in the Super Mario series. But we love it.

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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This is What a GOOD Mario RPG Looks Like


Super Mario RPG is one of Simeon’s favorite games! Modern-day Mario RPGs have since lost their way, but it’s always a good time when you throw it back to this Nintendo/Square partnership. Simeon will even show us a few impressive secrets along the way!

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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The 2018 Super Mario Cereal OLYMPICS!


We drove 6 hours and got 2 boxes of Super Mario Cereal, so what did we decide to do? A boring taste-test? No! We went full on “Olympics” with this new crunchy, marshmallowy goodness. Watch as Simeon and Scott compete in 5 different feats of strength, agility, accuracy, and endurance to win the gold medal.

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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TBC 007: Switch, Nintendo, and the New Year

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With 2017 coming to a close, it’s time to remember the year fondly. We’ll quickly set our sights on 2018 as well, theorizing what Nintendo’s next moves will be as well as discussing what needs to change about the current Switch situation. Happy New Year everyone, and thanks for being a part of the Podcast Crew!
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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“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Mario, Sonic, and the Economy of Motion

Super Mario Odyssey is out and—surprise, surprise—it’s good. As expected, Mario’s as athletic as ever, with a myriad of moves and abilities that not only elevate his already impressive jumping skills but greatly extend his lateral movement options, as well. One of my personal favorites is Mario’s new ability that allows him to curl up into a ball and roll along the ground like some sort of armadillo or hedgehog or something. It’s like some sort of…spinning dash!

After putting so many points in jumping, it only makes sense he'd take advantage of the tumbling synnergy bonus.
Mario doing his best tumbleweed impression.

Wait a second…Great Gunpei’s Ghost! Super Mario Odyssey is the best 3D Sonic game ever!

Between the rolling technique and how Mario can preserve his speed through precise platforming, there are portions of Super Mario Odyssey that feel like the classic, momentum-based 2D Sonic gameplay in three dimensions. This is especially noticeable in timed segments such as the Koopa free-running missions where obtaining and maintaining Mario’s forward momentum by achieving fluidity of motion is essential. Much like classic Sonic, Super Mario Odyssey has a great sense of flow, which is something most 3D Mario titles can’t really boast.

There are portions of Super Mario Odyssey that feel like the classic, momentum-based 2D Sonic gameplay in three dimensions.

What is Momentum?

Okay, so before we can understand how Super Mario Odyssey achieves such an excellent sense of flow, we need to know what momentum is. In physics, momentum is the product of an object’s velocity and mass. In terms of video games, this means games that feature momentum-based mechanics have a few elements:

  • The protagonist has mass.
  • Mass implies the character has inertia.
  • Inertia implies the character does not instantly accelerate and the character does not instantly decelerate. Moreover, the greater an object’s momentum, the more difficult it is to alter its course.

Some games that exhibit these traits:

  • Asteroids: One of the earliest examples of momentum-based mechanics. The player’s ship does not accelerate instantly, but gradually, and continues to move even after the player has stopped using the ship’s thrusters. Moreover, altering the path of the ship requires substantial effort at high speeds.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Mario accelerates quickly, but not instantaneously. He either jogs to a stop if he is running too fast or skids to a halt when trying to change direction.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic carries a lot of inertia. He accelerates slowly and must either skid to a halt or let his momentum slowly peter out.

Momentum as a Resource

In platformers like Mario and Sonic, the majority of the game’s challenge comes from executing precise acrobatics to navigate through the game’s various stages and their respective perils. Not only does the inclusion of momentum-based mechanics give the characters a satisfying sense of weight, but it adds an extra element of challenge. Because the character doesn’t move at top speed right away, building enough momentum to cross large gaps, find secrets, and ultimately complete the stage is an integral part of the game’s challenge.

So basically, in games that utilize momentum and inertia as mechanics, momentum is not only useful, but also—to some extent—scarce. This essentially makes it another kind of resource to be managed, much like health, ammo, or money. If you don’t mind the forced metaphor (all for the sake of a really cool, if not somewhat pretentious sounding, title), momentum is the currency of movement in Mario, Sonic, and similar games.

Essentially, momentum is another kind of resource to be managed.

Running with the fiscal metaphor, the value of this currency is different depending on the game: in Mario games, for instance, momentum is less critical in most situations than it is in Sonic games. That’s not to mention Sonic’s slightly slower acceleration and worse traction means manipulating his momentum takes more effort without the aid of outside forces or Sonic’s signature spin-dash—producing a greater scarcity of the desired momentum. This means that the plumber’s economy of motion has a higher saturation of momentum that has less demand than the hedgehog’s momentum, thus Mario’s momentum is generally less valuable by comparison.

Flow

With all of that out of the way, I can start unpacking what I meant by Mario Odyssey’s sense of flow. Flow—for the sake of this discussion, at least—means the smooth transition from one state of motion to another. Flow is important to games, even those that don’t heavily utilize momentum-based mechanics, though not in the way you’d think. People typically like flow, so when the player character takes damage, their flow is interrupted. This brief moment in which the player loses control and their character’s momentum suddenly shifts subconsciously communicates to the player that they’ve made a mistake.

Flow is the smooth transition from one state of motion to another.

This is why it’s typically not advisable to interrupt the game’s flow for something positive. Mario is a bit odd about this as many games do pause momentarily when the player snags a power-up, but the fact that the player’s momentum isn’t lost and instead continues a half second later may have something to do with why it’s not typically seen as an issue. But that’s really a minor nit-pick compared to the plumber’s more egregious violation of these principles: most notably the star-spin from Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel. Mario’s momentum completely stops as he lifts a short distance upward, leaving him with little ability to steer himself. This is awkward when combined with normal jumps, but it completely breaks any sort of flow when Mario is using a technique like the long jump. Mario goes from flying forward to barely having any lateral movement what-so-ever; it feels like running head-first into a wall, to be honest.

An attack enabled by a cute mascot character who rides around on Mario's head? It's a new spin on an old idea.
At first glance, these two moves seem similar, but they’re very different in practice.

Super Mario Odyssey does away with this in two ways. First of all, Mario doesn’t lose much—if any—forward momentum when throwing Cappy. Secondly, Mario can immediately launch himself forward with his jumping dive maneuver. Between these two factors, it’s possible for a skilled player to utilize Cappy as jump-assistance without losing his forward momentum. As mentioned in this article’s introduction, this is used to great effect in the game’s timed missions and Koopa races, where Mario has to build up speed using the rolling maneuver and then hold onto to it through precise platforming and clever use of his aerial repertoire.


While Mario Odyssey is by no means a perfect game, the controls and Mario’s own acrobatic aptitude are spot on. In true Mario fashion, the mere act of moving is fun, especially when you get into a good rhythm and can bound across the game’s colorful locales uninterrupted. It’s also interesting to see Mario take a page from Sonic’s playbook and adopt a rolling maneuver that allows him to travel faster than he can on foot at the cost of control. Hopefully someone at Sega is paying attention, because that’s an idea worth stealing back!

P.S. In case you’re wondering, this is the actual greatest 3D Sonic game ever.

Kickin it 8-bit: Super Mario Bros. (NES)


We’re throwing it all the way back to Super Mario Bros. on NES! The Nintendo Entertainment System: Classic Edition is getting busted out for some “not-so-speedy” speedrunning of this original 8-bit platformer that started it all.

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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How Many is too Many? WARNING! Super Mario Odyssey Endgame SPOILERS

Most platformer games usually have one common goal in place: collecting. Whether it be jinjos, jiggies, stars, or moons, these games are usually referred to as “collectathons”. In order to bulk up the experience, or add more to the game, is it safe to simply add more things to collect? How do developers keep the experience fresh? If you missed the spoiler warning for Super Mario Odyssey in the title and don’t want anything to be spoiled, now is the time to stop reading.

There are 999 moons to collect in Super Mario Odyssey (not counting all the additional moons that you can buy, but those don’t count toward the maxed out 999 moons that can power your Odyssey). It’s true that every moon is a little different, but when you boil it down, there are some recurring ways to get most of the moons, with little uniqueness. Some moons are collected by ground-pounding a certain area, dressing up in a specific costume, walking in a perfect circle, stacking Goombas, finding paintings, racing, etc. Despite this repetition, and the vast number of moons spread across the world, I never got sick of the experience. In my 45 hours spent, I collected everything I could, and the experience never felt stale or like I was crawling my way through.

For me, this game ended at the perfect time. Anything more, and the experience likely would have started to decline. Nintendo found the sweet spot, and I think that is largely in part due to the differences in the levels. No two areas were similar in any way, and I appreciate that Nintendo didn’t play it safe with their usual grass, desert, snow/ice, mountain, and lava worlds. Starting out in the Cap Kingdom is so different than anywhere that Mario started his adventure in the past, and the sense of adventure really sparked as soon as I entered the Cascade Kingdom for the first time. The Dia de los Muertos tie-in to the Sand Kingdom was also a nice touch. The Metro Kingdom is something that I was skeptical about, as it gave me vibes of Sonic ’06, but it was done so well. Sometimes I still just go back and run around that giant playground. Even Bowser’s Kingdom looks like it never has, with a Japanese Dojo style theme. Simply wanting to experience every meticulously crafted level is what kept me going to the pursuit of 999 moons. The reason this didn’t feel like a collectathon to me is that I wasn’t motivated by the desire to collect more moons, but rather exploring and being immersed in the environment.

A game shouldn’t be driven by collecting, but exploring.

I realized that these games don’t get their longevity from the number of things to collect, but from the quality of their worlds. In Odyssey, Nintendo found the perfect balance. After I inserted that 999th moon into the Odyssey and saw the cap resting on Peach’s castle, I felt a great sense of accomplishment, and at that time, I was ready to be done. Not done exploring and playing around in the worlds, but done collecting moons. To answer my initial question: is 999 moons too many? In this game, no. In any other game, it probably would be. It all depends on the quality and creativity of the world. Not to mention that throughout my entire 45 hour completion play through, I had a pretty dumb smile on my face (except during a few moons – looking at you, Dark Side).

Nice photobomb, Captain Toad.

I just want to conclude with a more personal note: thank you as always for your time to read these blogs. I know your time is valuable, and when I write these blogs I try to approach with a fresh or new perspective, as there is already so much circulating the internet about games. So thank you, and I wish you safe and happy Holidays. Hopefully it’s not only spent with Mario on his incredible odyssey, but with family.

Which Nintendo Character Am I? Scott's Thoughts

Today, I endeavor to discover which Nintendo character I identify with. I hope to find the perfect match, one that resonates and rings true. Without further ado…

Mario

I don’t think so. Mario is more like a father figure than an equal. He’s very sporty and multi-talented, which is in contrast to my narrow set of specialized skills. He wears loud clothing (especially in Super Mario Odyssey) and is a brave hero that throws himself into danger without a plan. All around: no. Not at all.

Link

Hyrule’s silent protagonist is a more likely match. He doesn’t waste any breath, which I appreciate, and he is guided by a strong sense of loyalty. Link always tries to do the right thing, and once he has found a noble cause, he applies himself and sees it through. These are all personality traits that I admire and (at least attempt to) share. However, Link is also quite the outdoorsy fellow, and can often be found traversing planes on horseback or scaling imposing mountains. He’s probably too adventurous to be considered my analog.

Donkey Kong

This big brown brute is way too strong to resemble me. He’s bigger, faster, and stronger, too, after all. I am none of those things.
DK is also easily pleased. All he needs is a pile of bananas to be content. First of all, I hate bananas because they make my mouth itchy. Second, I’m not in touch with the “simple pleasures” of life. I require technology, innovation, and the cutting edge. I wouldn’t no what to do with a stack of fruit in the jungle. Donkey kong can keep his lifestyle and I’ll keep mine, thank you very much!

Samus

Another strong contender, because like Link, Samus doesn’t say a whole lot. This is pleasing to my introverted tendencies. We’re both completely happy with alone time; in fact, this bounty hunter pretty much blasts anything alive until it stops moving. She doesn’t spend a lot of time outdoors, and she’s on top of the latest tech. I think we’d get along well.
There’s a pretty big difference that separates us, though. Samus is compassionate, and when push comes to shove, she lets even the most vicious creatures live when it means that their race will be spared. I don’t share that same level of empathy, unfortunately. But she’s currently leading the pack!

Captain Falcon

Captain Falcon enjoys everything I don’t; cars, speeding, rivalries, working out, yelling loudly, taunting people, wearing skin-tight unitards, and I could go on. Suffice it to say: FALCON NO!

Kirby

While I do enjoy eating a lot of food, the similarities end there. I am not round, cute, smiley, or cuddly, and I don’t look like a girl.

Tom Nook

Okay, this is a possibility. I do have an affinity for money, and I enjoy some aspects of business and entrepreneurship. But I hope I don’t match this raccoon’s level of greed, because he’s gone so far as to break child labor laws and employ underage animals at his store. He’s also after your real life $ bills now in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Please tell me that I am not like Tom Nook.

Captain Olimar

He traverses alien planets and commands little living plants around all day (until the annoying timer runs out). I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like this.

Fox McCloud

I’m running out of options here, but Fox is promising. He also likes technology, leads a team, accepts missions and gets them done, etc. He’s got this huge amount of self-confidence and determination though, that I’m not sure I measure up to. Fox also spent a long leg of his life outside the cockpit, galavanting around Dinosaur Planet and acting like a low-rent hero of Hyrule.

However, there was one man (bird) that refused to leave the cockpit…
This guy knows what up. He prefers the air, and that’s where he stays (when he’s not shooting people up in Assault or smacking them silly in Smash Bros.). He has a narrow but deep skillset and can always be relied upon for bombs. He has a quick wit and isn’t afraid to crack a joke even in the face of danger. He appears cold on the outside, but deep down he cares for his friends and is always bummed when they get shot out of the sky. Falco is a loyal, skilled, sarcastic and cool wingman. I am Falco Lombardi!

What a Wonderful (Super Mario) World


Super Mario Odyssey might be all the rage right now, but Super Mario World was also released this year! On the SNES Classic Edition, of course. Simeon and Scott are taking a trip down memory lane to a game that many still consider the best of its class. Super Mario World changed things dramatically for the Mario series, and introduced many beloved mainstays.

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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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.

Innovation vs. Iteration Scott's Thoughts

Innovation: to revolutionize, change, transform, or evolve.

Iteration: to repeat, improve, patch, or expand.

Historically, Nintendo is a very iterative company. Most of their characters and concepts came from the mid-80s, when the company created its first batch of games for NES.

For many subsequent generations, they’ve followed the formulae, making a Mario game. A Zelda game. A Metroid game. Sequels got marginally better, improving upon past issues.

They’ve been honing their craft. Perfecting.

The only problem with this tradition is that it’s not very exciting. People start saying things like “if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all,” and “they keep recycling the same story over and over again.”

Nintendo Wii was the company’s first major hardware innovation in a long time—and they knew it, naming it codename “Revolution.” We were starting to see a brand that was ready to transform the gaming industry. Funny enough, the console’s success caused the console-maker to follow up with a safe “half-step” successor, but the masses weren’t listening anymore.

The good news is: innovative Nintendo is back, and that culture is seeping into their most beloved franchises. Breath of the Wild and Odyssey took a big leap in evolving the gameplay front. Next, we’ll see bigger shifts in story and presentation.

Buckle up! Your responsibility is being open to the change.

NEW Mario + Rabbids Vs. Mode!


Ubisoft just dropped a brand new Mario + Rabbids mode on us, their unsuspecting fans. Vs. mode?! Yes please! Simeon and Scott will showdown and see who is the better strategist. Oh, and one more thing… BWAAAAAAAAAH!

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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