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)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Luigi’s Balloon World – Lost Kingdom Hunting


Luigi’s Balloon World is here, and it’s Nintendo’s gift to YouTubers! It was seriously a ton of fun to have viewers submit codes so we could try and hunt down your balloons! Some Crew members had extremely clever hiding spots. We’ll have to do this again sometime soon!

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Luigi’s Balloon World – Super Glitchfest!


What do you think about cheaters? How about people who take advantage of exploits in Super Mario Odyssey’s new balloon mode to hide things out of bounds? We’ll discuss all that, and more, in this week’s Nintendo News segment by Two Button Crew.

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

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)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

*Nintendo* Game of the Year Awards 2017!


For 2016, our game of the year awards were complete sarcasm. All we could come up with were jokes. 2017 is a way different story, however, thanks to the Nintendo Switch and its excellent line-up of year one support from Nintendo, indies, and 3rd parties alike. Buckle up as we dish out 2018 individual awards to a wide variety of well-deserving games!

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

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)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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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.

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.

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.

Nintendo Fans are Running the Company Scott's Thoughts

For a few years now, Nintendo execs have been talking about passing the torch. Younger developers are starting to take the reigns on new intellectual property like Splatoon and ARMS, as well as helping more seasoned devs shake up existing franchises that have stagnated.

These youthful employees are of a new generation, cut from a different cloth than Nintendo management has typically been made up of.

They’re Nintendo fans.

Kids who grew up a couple decades ago have been playing the company’s games their whole life, learned how to design and code, then landed a job at the Big N itself.

There’s a lot of respect for Nintendo’s stable of franchises, yet, the new employees aren’t as emotionally attached. That distinction allows for more change, experimentation, and advancement than we have previously seen.

When Nintendo fans run the company, you start seeing decisions that make more sense (to us fellow Nintendo fans). Things that we would actually come up with! Like naming a two-dimensional 3DS the 2DS. Like bringing back Star Fox 2 on a Classic Edition. Like reproducing the excellent GameCube controller for Super Smash Bros. 4.

We’re in good hands!

Super Mario Cereal – Worth the Hype?


Super Mario Cereal is a real deal! Initially leaked on the Internet, Nintendo has now come out and officially confirmed the partnership with Kellogg’s that’s going to bring us our new favorite bowl of flavor. Oh, and it’s an amiibo!

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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TBC 006: Super Mario Odyssey A Spoiler-Safe Discussion on the latest Mario Adventure

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Super Mario Odyssey is Nintendo’s second HUGE sequel installment on Switch. They’ve been knocking it out of the park this year with Switch software support, and we’re here to talk about what Nintendo did correctly, and what they can learn for the future. Join Scott, Ryan, and Glen for their impressions of Mario & Cappy’s cross-kingdom adventure!
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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What this Nintendo Fan is Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Here at the Crew, we’re a thankful bunch, and this is the perfect time of year to count our blessings and reflect on the many things we have to be grateful for.

Thankful for Switch

Nintendo’s latest and greatest console has been welcomed with open arms by the faithful few and, seemingly, the masses as well. The R&D team crafted a unique piece of kit that’s exactly what we wanted, and the launch was amazing. In the months following, software support has been both steady and spectacular. With Switch, Nintendo ushered in a new Golden Age of gaming, and it’s really special to have a platform that brings pure pleasure.

Thankful for the Crew

Two Button Crew affectionately refers to our viewers and subscribers as the greater “Crew,” and greater is the perfect word to describe you folks. The Internet can be a nasty and hate-filled place, but none of that comes with the viewers we attract. It’s been magical to see the sincerity and kindness demonstrated by people who tag along with our content. Every few days, we receive a nice note from a Patron or long-time subscriber, telling us how our entertainment has helped them and wishing us to keep going. The encouragement means the world.

Thankful for Podcasts

Nintendo podcasts are becoming more and more prevalent, with long-running ones still pumping out episodes and a number of new ones that popped up with the release of the Switch. Content creators are more eager than ever to discuss news, impressions, as well as an increase in meaningful topics being lobbied. If you aren’t a podcast listener, you’re missing out on some excellent sound-bites from insightful industry reporters and analysts. For hosts, podcasts are a chance to sit back and talk freely about what’s on their mind in the gaming spectrum. For listeners, it’s like having a group of friends (just as dedicated to Nintendo fandom as you are) that meet together weekly to celebrate all things Mario, Metroid, Zelda, and the rest. The podcast we started this year has been a lot of fun.

Thankful for Unforgettable Games

2017 will truly be a year to remember. We now have our modern version of Ocarina of Time vs. Super Mario 64, with the brand new installments Breath of the Wild and Odyssey. The debates between greater game will live on for decades, hopefully not overshadowing the outstanding Splatoon 2, ARMS, Mario + Rabbids, and swaths of indie games flooding the eShop each week. Switch is quickly becoming a home for masterpieces, whether they are brand new experiences, definitive editions, ports, or remakes.

Thankful for a Bright Future

This year was laser-focused on software quality and quantity. I picture Nintendo’s offices being “all hands on deck” to make this new hardware a success. However, there are other ventures that Nintendo is preparing to embark on; namely a theme park, an animated Mario film, more mobile titles, and more. Development on great software will continue as we are promised new entries in the Metroid Prime series (!) and Pokemon, which will sell systems like absolute bananas. The install base is shaping up to be so huge, no developers will be able to ignore it!

When Nintendo bounced back from the Wii U, they bounced back hard. They’re back in the spotlight, which is a huge payoff for people like us who have followed the brand through thick and thin. I’m thankful we’re currently in the thick of the action!

Have a wonderful Holiday, hug your family, and drag them to your room to play some Switch!

Super Mario Odyssey – Co-op Exploration!


It’s Simeon’s first time going hands-on with Super Mario Odyssey, and Scott’s beaten the game! In an effort to not be too spoilery, we’re just hunting for moons in an early world (the Cascade Kingdom) and not wearing any costumes that are TOO amazing! We have a blast and we get rich on purple coins and moons!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Will Odyssey Deliver on the Mario Formula?

It’s hard to believe, but this month marks another monumental game release from Nintendo! Joining the ranks of games discussed for decades like Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, and Super Mario 64 is the newest game we won’t stop talking about for generations: Super Mario Odyssey. Link did a fantastic job carrying Nintendo’s new console through its infancy, but the torch is being passed to the plumber himself. Buckle up folks, this is gonna be big.

There’s no doubt Odyssey will sell millions, even a few tens of millions, or that it will be a hot topic for the entire Switch lifespan and beyond. But that’s not to say it’s a guaranteed hit. What we don’t know yet is: will it be good? Will it be truly great?

The potential is there. The track-record is evident in the series’ preceding entries. All Mario needs to do is avoid a few pitfalls, stick to what has worked, and wow us from time to time. A combination of tried-and-true best practices and fresh experiences will create a masterpiece.

Half of the puzzle has already been completed. The fresh ingredients: totally accounted for. We won’t be left wanting for any wow-factor, as already evidenced by numerous surprising trailer moments: Mario jumping out of a realistic city street’s manhole, Mario’s hat being alive, the game has T-Rexes… just to name a few.

Today, what I’m concerned with is this: Did the developers keep what worked from previous entries in the series? From the short time I’ve played Mario’s new adventure, and from what I’ve seen of others’ gameplay, I’m not so sure. I keep looking for those non-negotiable Super Mario elements, and unfortunately, some of them aren’t evident. Take a look for yourself.

Tight Controls

If we choose to ignore the Arcade Mario Bros. title, we can safely say that the Mario series has always featured tight controls. Whether you were making pixel-perfect adjustments with a D-Pad, or performing aerial cartwheels with an analog stick, the player always had complete and finite control over the mustachioed hero’s movements. However, Nintendo is pushing a control scheme on this game that will prove to be unideal. They say that disconnected Joy-Con with motion controls is the best way to experience Odyssey. However, that leaves us with the Switch’s signature small sticks (or S.S.S.S. for short). The analogue sticks on Switch aren’t very tall, and thus have a reduced range of motion. That’s fine for games like Breath of the Wild, where your character is often traversing in the same direction for long periods. But for intricate platforming, more range is needed.

I would recommend the Pro Controller as an alternative, but we run into further complications with that scheme, just like we do in Handheld mode: motion controls disappear (good), and are replaced with complicated combinations (bad). You would think with all the face- and shoulder-buttons at the Switch’s disposal, simple assignments would suffice, but unfortunately, performing the spinning-Cappy-throw (for example) requires you to physically spin Mario in a circle before hitting the Cappy button.

Another area you will notice the absence of tight controls is in 2D segments—you know—the really cool-looking 8-bit graffiti art portions? As attractive as those look in trailers, it’s really weird and off-putting to play with a modern controller. Imagine trying to navigate the original Super Mario Bros. with an analogue stick, and you’ll get an idea of the sensation. Furthermore, 3D “rules” of Mario still apply during these retro levels, which means running into a Goomba doesn’t make you shrink down, but you lose part of your life meter instead, resulting in a feeling of disconnect.

Level Design

If there’s one thing Super Mario Maker proved, it’s that we all have a long way to go in becoming level designers. The community generated courses simply caused me to appreciate Nintendo’s internal team more, who have proved time and time again that they can carefully craft experiences that will pull newcomers and veterans through to the end. Each level in a Mario game has clear goals, features, and themes. In Super Mario Odyssey, this clear-cut level design might be ditched in favor of an overly-open, sprawling collection of miniature attractions. Places to earn Moons are abundant, which could be a detriment to more meaningful challenges.

Progression Structure

To be perfectly honest, I’m most concerned about this one. We just discussed the plethora of Moons that this game contains, and it doesn’t excite me. 120 Power Stars was a lot to collect in Mario 64, but it was manageable thanks to a cohesive overworld that guides you to specific worlds, and specific tasks within those worlds. The developers of this new Switch title tout the fact that gameplay is returning to a sandbox nature, but that implementation can be taken too far.

In past Mario games, you know if you’re missing something. You know if a world is incomplete, and if a level was too difficult to clear for the time being.

In Odyssey you are provided with a list of Moons collected (with dates), but how will you know where new ones are? How will you know if you got all the Moons in a certain area, except one that you’re missing one in the corner? How much backtracking will be involved, and how many Moons will I pass up simply because I didn’t think to ground-pound a certain summit, or break an inconspicuous box?

You see, I’m a Shrine kind of guy. I love counting down from 120, hearing my Sheikah Slate alert me to a Shrine’s proximity as I enter a new area of the map… but you’ll never catch me trying to collect all the Korok Seeds. And I’m afraid that Moons are more akin to Seeds than Shrines. I hope I’m wrong.

Power-Ups

Gotta love Mario’s power-ups, right? Fire Flowers, Capes, Penguin Suits, Boo Mushrooms, and more! Well, they’re gone, folks. At least, that’s what this quote from the game’s producer heavily implies:
So when we wanted to create Mario games this time around we wanted to focus on the actions Mario can do and in previous Mario games he was able to get power-ups and new abilities. But this time around when we were making many different prototypes and changed our approach that found capturing or “possessing” enemies worked well so we stuck with that. -Mr. Koizumi

It’s unfortunate, to see such a mechanic go. In 2D Mario games, getting a Super Mushroom and earning that feeling of added security and power is iconic. In 3D titles, power-ups haven’t ever been as strongly implemented, but as a result, getting a Fire or Ice Flower felt like a treat. These elements have been discarded in favor of Cappy.

Gimmicks

Speaking of Cappy, he’s the new gimmick! New entries often feature a defining “gimmick,” be it Yoshi, Fludd, or over-the-top new power-ups like the Cat Suit. These open up whole new gameplay opportunities and dictate much of the level design. Odyssey’s most prominent and promising mechanic is Capture, which satisfies this aspect of the Mario formula nicely.
Let’s just hope Cappy doesn’t turn out to be the new Navi, eh?

Music

Mario music typically accomplishes two things. One: it’s catchy, and it gets stuck in your head. Two: it provides strong location associations. You can close your eyes and know exactly when Mario is underwater, in a dessert, or in Bowser’s castle. Did you just hear each of those themes in your head? I haven’t seen enough to know if Odyssey will deliver on this front, but there’s a good chance it will.

Enemies & Bosses

Baddies in the Mushroom Kingdom are always fun to stomp, and they don’t usually get repetitive or bothersome like the creatures in Metroid: Samus Returns. Hopefully, this game’s design will still lend itself to some combat, rather than just Capturing the majority of enemies in sight.

Bosses, while providing a spectacle, are typically an easy three-hit affair. This is an area where the new Switch title could easily improve upon tradition, and make boss encounters more intricate and memorable.

Charm

What would a Mario game be without charm? Character design, animations, music, and polish all create a compound for charm. Mario may be formidable when facing the forces of evil, but he’s equally adorable.

So… what’s this about real tyrannosaurus rexes roaming around? And realistic, proportionate humans walking alongside Mario in New Donk City?

I’m really questioning these design choices, and have been ever since the game was revealed.

Conclusion

Overall, Super Mario Odyssey appears to be a hodge-podge.
That’s the word for it. Just a big stew of locations, art-styles, new and old Mario sensibilities, and certainly a gigantic mix of objectives and tasks.

Will such a recipe, with that many ingredients, actually turn out well? I sure hope so, because I’m a day-one customer and lifetime Mario fan. I do trust Nintendo, but I’m not fully sold on this new direction, and I know I won’t be unless I take the game home and it proves me wrong. If that happens, I’ll update you! Fortunately, I’m entering the experience with low expectations, and that’s the safest posture to take. We’ll find out on October 27th!

Mario Odyssey Gameplay + Impressions (PAX 2017)

Yes, it is great.


#596 – Super Mario Odyssey is Nintendo’s next big hit game coming to Switch. We went hands-on and explored the Sand Kingdom. Included in this demo are a few different 8-bit challenge sections, purple coin locations, and an interesting Capture mechanic that involves a big Tiki Head and sunglasses. Enjoy this sneak-peak at Super Mario Odyssey!

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

What’s the History of Mario’s Design?

Heh. Tom Selleck. Heh heh.


#581 – The man, the myth, the mustache… Mario himself. Did you know that Miyamoto originally wanted to use Popeye as a mascot? Do you know who Mario is named after? Prepare for your mind to be blown – we’ve got all the details!

Footage credit: Kotaku

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

Why I Love Nintendo

Contrary to popular opinion from the outside, being a Nintendo fan is not always mushrooms and sunshine. It can be unforgiving, inviting ridicule from fellow gamers, the gaming community, message board commenters, and even friends and family. But being a Nintendo fan is always worth it for me, which leads to the question I get a lot: Why Do You Like Nintendo?

From Sega to Nintendo

My gaming history stretches back to the glorious 16-bit Console Wars between the Nintendo and Sega. I owned both, but I got more use out of my Sega Genesis because kids at school would make fun of me if they knew I liked Nintendo. Sega was cool. Sega was hip. Sonic was fast with attitude and Mario was slow and boring. Secretly, I liked Nintendo as well, but my heart was with Sega. I also owned a Nintendo 64, but I had a Sega Saturn as well and that was my priority. This lasted all the way until the Dreamcast was discontinued, and my gaming tastes defaulted back to Big N.

The current console at that time was the GameCube, which ended up being Nintendo’s second lowest selling home console in history. Sony’s PlayStation brand and Microsoft’s Xbox were the new hip kids on the block, and Nintendo was accused of being a kiddie machine. Outside of a few games that were geared towards a mature gamer – like the then-GCN exclusive Resident Evil 4, Geist and a few others… the GameCube got most of its milage out of family friendly games. If you didn’t like twenty Mario Party games, the GameCube was not for you.

But it was during this era something was rekindled inside me. While Sony and Microsoft began to push online gaming, Nintendo doubled down and continued to focus on the fun of couch multiplayer – games you can play with friends in person and have a blast.

During the very successful Wii era, Nintendo’s dedication to multiplayer games was at its peak. Wii Sports, perhaps the best pack-in game ever, was a prime example of the kind of fun video games could represent. Despite how much it can be ridiculed now, I defy anyone to say that their first few times playing Wii Sports was not fun. It was a lot of fun. That’s what propelled the Wii to sales of over 100 million worldwide.

The Wii U somewhat faltered in this aspect, but the new Switch console has put a heavy emphasis on it again, with games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, ARMS and Splatoon 2 all out within the first few months of the system’s debut. Gaming is fun again.

Soooo, Why Do I Love Nintendo?

All that being said, I love Nintendo because, to me, it just represents a good time. When I think of the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One, I think of shooters like Call of Duty or games like Grand Theft Auto. I’m not saying those games have no worth, or that they aren’t entertaining or even visually astounding… but when I want to just have a fun time with friends, or a game I can just pick up and play at any given moment without an investment of 40 hours a week I choose Nintendo. Gaming shouldn’t always feel like a chore where I am punching a time clock to advance.

Certainly, Nintendo does have games that fall into that category. The recent and highly-reviewed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild does for sure as it is an adventure game much in the style of Skyrim, but where I feel Nintendo separates itself from its competitors is how that genre of games isn’t all they have. There are more than just adventure and sports games on the Switch this year. There is also fun.

Take a very simple game like Snipperclips, a co-op puzzle game in which you play as pieces of paper and you have to snip each other in order to match certain shapes or get objects from one side of the screen to the other. It sounds simple enough, but its magic is in the gameplay. I haven’t had so much fun in a co-op game in a long time… it was fun, funny, and charming – and challenging as well, as the game progressed. It’s a game that you and your significant other can play, or your younger sibling or cousin. It is the epitome of what beloved Nintendo President Satoru Iwata always believed video games should be – It’s fun for everyone.

Nintendo’s roster of happy characters and cute enemies just bring a smile to my face. I’ve used this word before, but looking at the E3 trailer for the upcoming Super Mario Odyssey is just pure magic. It is what I call “Nintendo Magic.” Playing their games can make anyone forget their troubles for an amount of time and make everyone feel like a kid again. Personally speaking, I struggle with depression and anxiety, so my choice to play games of this nature is not only a preference but a very meaningful choice as well. Nintendo makes me smile.

Their first-party games are consistently of very high quality. Sometimes their franchises don’t progress enough, but then they hit you with a Breath of the Wild or a Super Mario Odyssey, which completely changes your expectations and takes you by surprise. And I will never get tired of them.

Standing Strong

It isn’t easy being a Nintendo fan. When the two other major consoles are blowing the doors off the building with the latest Call of Duty, Metro or Assassin’s Creed games, Nintendo creates buzz with Mario or cartoonish characters like in ARMS. This comes with a price, because Nintendo and their fans are easy targets. Buying some Nintendo content can result in a mocking comment from a cashier – a friend recently told of a McDonald’s cashier laughing when he went to order a Mario Happy Meal toy to complete his collection. Playing Nintendo games can mean ridicule from people who like to point out that Nintendo’s consoles dating back to the Wii have not been in the same league as competing systems as far as power and graphics.

All of this, though, can make fans even more dedicated. There is a reason that small groups popped up around the world in major cities for 3DS gamers to swap streetpasses and puzzle pieces and play Mario Kart 7 with each other. There is a reason why holding a meet-up for the newest Animal Crossing game attracted more than dozens of people at every stop during a Nintendo Mall Tour. There is a reason why VANS made a very successful line of Nintendo themed shoes last summer. There is a reason why people love their franchises so much that just a simple title card for Metroid Prime 4 at E3 made the internet meltdown in a frenzy of wild, screaming excitement. There is a reason why people love the company so much that even PR reps (like Bill Trinen or Kit and Krysta from Nintendo Minute) are elevated to near-celebrity status. There is a reason that Nintendo can get away with having one single retail store in New York City and fans will travel from all over to visit it as if they were going to Disney World. The ridicule and snubbing we tend to get from other gamers and game publishers who skip developing games for Nintendo systems just makes me feel like connecting with other Nintendo fans is a major event. We are a community of fans who feel slighted in one way or another, and it makes us feel like we are all in this together. It is so much fun to get in a group of fellow fans and just talk about anything and everything. Attending a Nintendo Switch Preview Event in Chicago this past February was fun in part because of trying out the then-yet-to-be-released system, but largely because of being surrounded by fans, talking about games, seeing people dressed up in Nintendo cosplay, and just being one with the excited community. It was not unlike the feeling you get going to a Comic-Con – it just felt right.

Nintendon’t Sometimes, and That’s Okay

This is not to say that competing systems don’t have dedicated communities or “fun” games, nor does it mean that Nintendo is perfect and doesn’t have any faults. But Nintendo doesn’t play by anyone’s rules but their own. Sometimes that can be a bad thing, but I feel it is mostly a positive. They focus on fun, they focus on being together, and they focus on gaming together. There is a level of fun that online playing just can’t compete in comparison to couch multiplayer. Hitting someone with a red shell in Mario Kart, or stealing all of their stars in Mario Party may be the source of “ruined friendship” memes, but the competition of playing right next to a friend is just a level of satisfaction that can’t be matched. Even though I enjoy a fair share of “mature” games, I will almost always choose the fun of Super Mario Odyssey over the carnage of a Grand Theft Auto. And I will definitely choose a company that will always continue to offer those games to me even when they offer the M-rated stuff.

The Nintendo Magic is why I fell in love with Nintendo. It’s why I put up with some of their occasionally questionable decisions. Their games, characters, and universe just never cease to make me smile and it makes me happy… and isn’t that what gaming is supposed to be about?


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. Flapjack 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.

Top 6 Things we Want in Super Mario Odyssey

Cappy Cappy Cappy Cappy Cappy and Cappy. Done.


#551 – The next big 3D Mario game is about to hit stores and Switches in a few short months. QUICK! Two Button Crew needs to get in their wish lists to the developers at Nintendo so that they can design the game to our exact specifications. Agree with our wish list? Let us know below!

Footage credit: Outside Xtra

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

Debate: Mario Odyssey Vs. BotW in Sales

Best way to win a debate: Pick a side and give your opponent the other one to argue for.


It’s amazing how many heavy-hitters the Nintendo Switch is getting in its first year. Some of Nintendo’s biggest franchises are being represented with all new entries featuring innovation and a high level of polish. That said, which game deserves the #1 sales spot when all is said and done? Will Breath of the Wild maintain its momentum from launch and stay king of the hill, or will Super Mario Odyssey become a runaway hit this holiday and dethrone the competition? We want your thoughts – vote in the poll by clicking the “i” icon!

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