Tag Archives: Super Mario

Mario Kart 8: Games We Love

Introduction

I think I mentioned last week that we might take this week off. Then, I got an idea to talk about the games that we received for Christmas. Little did I know that this was the year that we only got Mario Kart 8 for Christmas. Oh, I did find Mario and Rabbids while I was organizing my closet, but I don’t think that one is going to be worthy of a post.

It’s only been three days and I already have a rivalry with this mofo. So, yeah, Mario Kart 8 is going to be heavily played.

Not so with Mario Kart 8. We’ve played several rounds every day since Christmas. Heck, Christine who barely plays games (I mean, she’ll bug me about a round of Mortal Kombat 11 now and then but that’s it.), jumped in for a couple of circuits with the boys last night. Then, she talked about playing again today after dinner.

Okay, now that I’ve started this article, I’m not sure how I’m going to structure it. Generally, I do a “Great, Good, Decent” review. However, I have branched off more into other formats like top 5 lists. I don’t know if I actually have 5 reasons that I love the Mario Kart series so much. But, let’s find out.

5 – Trash Talk

Before this version, the last time I played Mario Kart was at a faculty party in the basement of one of the staff at the time. This was probably 10-12 years ago, so the statute of limitations has run out. If that sounds sketchy, you’re not alone. As a 45 year old father of three, I’d definitely give younger me a smack bottom for that decision. So, what’s the point of this particular story?

If you are patient, I’m getting there.

As often happens with this game, I sucked the first few circuits that we played. It always takes me a bit of time to adjust to the strategies. Then, I start winning. That’s what happened here. And, I let everyone know it. Trash talk is just a part of that winning strategy in Mario Kart. Last night, for instance, I shouted, “Whoever just hit me, your mom’s a hoe.” Mind you, this is while I was playing against two of my sons. Luckily, the shell came from a computer player. Otherwise, that could have been more awkward than just my 9 year old laughing and repeating the line.

4 – Easy to Play (Hooks Non Gamers)

Actually, the easy to play line is a lie. The game is difficult and complex for new players. However, twice during this vacation, we got non gamers to play the game with us. The familiar characters and cartooony graphics fool people into thinking that it’s an easy game. Then, once they play, they have fun and eventually adapt their own strategy.

Hit them sick tricks, Noob, and pwn the competition.

My wife, for instance, who never plays video games (other than the aforementioned occasional round of Mortal Komat), actually asked to play this game again. Sure, some of that is because we have two teenagers and a preteen and family time together is precious. But, still, any game enjoyed by the whole family is a winner. We came close with Minecraft. And, I think she might have asked the other day for someone to teach her how to play that. So, who knows.

3 – Familiarity

I keep insisting that I feel no effects of nostalgia. And, yet, I keep listing nostalgia as a reason that I enjoy these games. Hey, you don’t come here for consistency in analysis? If so, I’m afraid you will be sorely disappointed. Just look at my various articles on Hearthstone for evidence of that.

I mean, the Reno game where he transformed sure lethal into random murlocs is just the latest of my salty rants that ended with, “This game is BS. I’m uninstalling.” That, of course never happened. And, actually, I think the tantrum that ended with my busted phone came more recently.

I don’t have burning nostalgia for having played Mario Kart as a kid with my brothers like I do with some games. I don’t even have fond memories playing in high school with friends like I do with other games. But, I do have my “frat party” memory. Plus, the characters are all familiar faces from my childhood. That’s where the nostalgia really kicks in for me.

2 – Supreme Memes

My kids figured out early that I don’t care much for the strategy of this game. I mean, I don’t care much for any game theory. That’s especially true in this game. I understand that different characters, vehicles, wheels, and parachutes have different abilities. I just don’t care.

Thanks to YoshiMan for the image

Instead, I try to look for the most ridiculous looking builds. That’s how I’ve landed on Dry Bowser on the standard bike with the roller wheels and Peach parasol. Last night I tried another meme with the teddy bear car and wooden wheels, but that turned out poorly for me. Back to the old stand by. It is truly the Supreme Meme build for me.

1 – Playing with Kids

I already eluded to this in my introduction. Since the entire family has been playing, this is one of those games that I’ve been able to play with the kids. Regular readers of the page know that’s my number one reason for enjoying games. Any time the kids show an interest, I will go crazy investing in that game.

When Aiden and Quinn were into YuGiOh, I spent a stupid amount of money on cards for them that they really wanted. As often happens, that phase didn’t last long enough to warrant the money spent. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Also, who knows. Their interests recycle, so there might be another YuGiOh phase in our future.

The Verdict

When texting Chris, I said, “I’m sure we’ll play Mario Kart 8 non stop during this break.” Sometimes I say those things and they don’t come to pass. So far, this one has. We’ve played at least 3 circuits once a day. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Sure, we might slow down next week when school starts, but I have a feeling there will still be weekly Mario Kart nights to go with our board game nights.

High Score Episode 2

Introduction

A word of warning about High Score episode 2. I didn’t find it as entertaining or engaging as episode 1. In fact, the episode was so uninteresting to me that I’m reconsidering my effusive praise after the first episode. I appreciate that they’re trying to mix lesser known stories with the history that we probably all know. However, something was missing from that mix in episode 2.

I’m not entirely sure what went wrong. I can say for certain that one big name was missing from the episode. As far as I saw, there was no mention of Sega. I assume that’s because they are waiting to give Sega their own episode. I thought they might start with the Sega/Nintendo rivalry. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

I mean, how do you have one without the other?

Jeff Hansen – “I’ve Seen This Story Before, But Better”

High Score episode 2 follows the same formula as episode 1 in at least one way. They chronicle Jeff Hansen through his experience as a competitor in the first Nintendo World Championships just like they did Rebecca Heineman in her pursuit of Space Invaders glory. But, here’s where the theme of the episode comes into play again.

His story just wasn’t as interesting as hers. They tried to play him out as an underdog. He didn’t advance in his first attempt and then he had to travel to Tampa Bay for one “last chance”. But, he just wasn’t as much of a personality as she was. It was just weird overall to follow up with almost the exact same storyline only not as interesting.

Also, the guy struggled with Tetris, which is just a cardinal sin as far as I’m concerned.

Gail Tilden – “Dragon Lady”

I had a feeling that I might not enjoy this episode as much when they first introduced Gail Tilden. She worked in some department or another for Nintendo. Advertising, maybe? Who the hell knows. She was titer testing wine in her first scene. Yeah…

But, they pulled off the seemingly impossible. Even after I rolled my eyes so hard, I thought they might get stuck there at her introduction, they made me sympathize for her. Granted, it is probably just my personal bias against even casual misogyny. However, one of the guys called her the “Dragon Lady” and then they showed her as overbearing and intimidating. *sigh*

I mean, she helped launch Nintendo Power and that magazine ran for 20? 25? Years. Clearly, she knew what she was doing, but that kind of talk is just so frustrating.

Shaun Bloom – “Nintendude”

Speaking of Nintendo Power, before the magazine, there were the Nintendudes. That wasn’t their actual name, but that’s a missed opportunity for sure. In my opinion, the most entertaining part of the episode was the story of Shaun Bloom. Shaun is just an entertaining guy.

I mean, he lived during a time before streaming and YouTube influencers. It was a time of, “Dude, I can get paid to play video games!” I mean, there’s still some of that, but it was truly a time where such a career path was enough to blow your mind. And, Mr. Bloom played that part perfectly. Even if you don’t watch the rest of the episode, definitely fast forward for his part.

Apparently there’s a guy who plays Smash that is called “Nintendude”. Maybe he will sue the page and we can get famous that way. This strategy hasn’t worked so far, but it has to eventually, right?

Super Mario is everywhere (But where is Miyamoto?)

One of the major complaints that I have about episode 2 is that Shigeru Miyamoto plays only a minor role. I get that they are trying to focus more on some of the lesser known stories in video games. However, if you are going to use Mario to sell the episode, you have to give his creator more than just a passing mention.

Look, I get that you are probably still “Yeah, but”ing me. And, that’s fine. Everyone has a big but. We can talk about your big but. My big but is “But, having Miyamoto in the episode more would have made it infinitely more entertaining.”

The Verdict – High Score episode 2 makes me less excited to watch the rest of the series

I was very high on this series after the first episode. It was just the right amount of information and entertainment. Episode 2 fell off a bit for the reasons I listed. I’m still going to give it a second, third, and however many more episodes there are, chance. It’s just too tempting to not watch. I especially want to see if they do an episode on Sega since they missed the opportunity to talk about the great console wars of that time. Join me in a couple of days for episode 3!

What I did on my Summer Vacation (Part 1 – PC)

(Editor’s Note: A�Welcome back, class. A�Today, we will share what we did over the summer. A�Oh, Noob has his hand up, so we will start with him.)

Well, it’s September. A�Summer is winding down. A�My wife and kids all started back to school last week. A�I started back today. A�What better time than now to reminisce back and write one of those lame essays about “what I did this summer” that were always the first assignments in elementary and middle school. A�I’m actually writing four of these. A�This one will focus on PC gaming. A�Two others will talk about console and mobile games and the final will deal with my tabletop exploits.

I am starting with PC because it allows me to open with a long and meandering story that may more may not have anything to do with the overall point of the article. A�It is one of my favorite things about writing for the page.

I am currently restricted to my ancient Acer laptop after yet another electronics disaster. A�I have had computers get stepped on, tripped over, fall off of the couch and chairs, and one even fell down a flight of stairs. A�I sat on my tablet. A�I also dropped it out of my bag onto the parking lot after repairing the screen. A�That happened even though I got smart and started putting it into a case. A�Oh, but it wasn’t in the case because I took it out to clean the case and then didn’t have time to put it back in. A�What could go wrong? A�In that same parking lot, I watched as my month old phone got run over by a car. A�The point is that I have bad luck with electronics. A�I have bad luck with vehicles, too, but that is a different story.

If I was ever stupid enough to do this, I'm positive that this is how I would die.
If I was ever stupid enough to do this, I’m positive that this is how I would die.

This last laptop lasted me longer than any other one had by several months. A�I had no reason to believe that it would not continue to perform for months, if not years. A�Sure, I had to replace the screen and two hard drives, but the thing kept going. A�And then, one day, it didn’t.

That’s how it happened. A�It was working fine as I watched some stupid Hearthstone streamer as another. A�It was shaping up to be a fine day of relaxation. A�But, wait, what’s this? A�The computer does not appear to be charging. A�That’s okay. A�Maybe there’s a loose connection in the cord. A�No. A�Okay, well, I’ve had this problem before and it was just a quick solder job. A�I’ll pop on Youtube just to see how to disassemble–

Oh, my. A�Oh, well, that’s complicated. A�Okay, that’s fine. A�It won’t be a quick fix. A�Just take my time and it will be no problem. A�Well, to make a long story short (I know, too late!), you know that the story ends with the computer being non-operational. A�More specifically, I severed one of the ribbon cables. A�that might have been an easy and cheap fix, too, but by that point, the computer was in so many pieces that I just gave up. A�I’ve also learned my lesson. My next computer will be a desktop.

Just so we're clear, Twitch, I blame you.
Just so we’re clear, Twitch, I blame you.

So, as a result, I’m restricted to my old laptop that has somehow survived the five plus year purge of electronics. A�The thing is a tank. A�t overheads and is only really good for web browsing and word processing, but it works decent for those two things. A�That brings us, finally, to the reason for this lengthy explanation.

The laptop may not be able to run many of the Steam games I own. A�So far, it has been unable to download the card images for xMage with any reliability. A�Heck, it sometimes has trouble playing Twitch streams. A�One thing it can play, though, is Hearthstone.

Hello, Darkness (no, Hearthstone, that's it), my old frenemy.
Hello, Darkness (no, Hearthstone, that’s it), my old frenemy.

Chris will give me crap about this because the number of times that I’ve texted him to tell him that I uninstalled Hearthstone only to come crawling back. A�Heck, one of my articles just before the summer hiatus talked about my hate/slightly less intense version of hate relationship with the game. A�So, I deserve the abuse. A�All of that notwithstanding, the only PC gaming I’ve done all summer is Hearthstone. A�I can therefore report that, even though they’ve recently released a new adventure since the last time I covered the game, not much has changed.

In fact, the game has become even more face-centric and control decks exist only in legend, whispered by Mt players as proof that their game is superior. As a dyed in the wool blue mage, I consider myself among that group. A�The interaction of different archetypes and the ability to win games through different strategy on a consistent basis is what makes MtG a vastly better game. A�still, when I’m feeling SMOrcish and I just want to point that arrow at the opponent’s face, Hearthstone is there for me.