Tag Archives: Wii U

What I Did on My Summer Vacation (Part 2 – Console)

(Editor’s Note: A�Anyone else want to share? A�Oh, Noob, you’re not finished yet? A�Well, aren’t you the little chatterbox. A�Please, continue.)

I have played slightly more of a variety on console. A�Chris picked up a PS4 a couple of months ago and we played some MK and call of Duty on that. A�I enjoyed the latest MK and even had fun shooting at Chris and his stupid bot teammates. A�It actually made me consider getting one for myself, but then I remembered that it is summer and I only make enough to pay bills and go on five vacations. A�I know, I know. A�Feel sorry for me. A�If you feel badly A�enough, I can open a Kickstarter.

I have played a lot on the Wii U. A�While the boys and I haven’t continued our adventures in New Super Mario Bros. U, we did finally get a chance to rent Pokken Tournament. A�Unlike Pokemon Go, which feels like an extremely polished beta and fell slightly short of expectations, Pokken Tournament is everything I had hoped it woudl be and maybe even more.

That’s saying something. Pokken Tournament was one of my most anticipated games of the year. Under normal circumstances, a Pokemon fighting game would not excite me so much. A�I’ve seen too many of these offshoot type games come and go to know that the only reason they get any attention at all is because of the brand name. A�Nintendo, especially, is famous for green lighting extremely questionable games for their properties.

Remember Pokemon Dash? Of course you don---oh, you do? Well, then, I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry.
Remember Pokemon Dash? Of course you don—oh, you do? Well, then, I’m sorry. I’m very, very sorry.

This is not one of those games by any stretch of the imagination. A�Instead of keeping the development of the game in house, they partnered with the makers of Tekken. A�Granted, the aforementioned Pokemon Dash was the result of collaboration with an outside company. A�However, there is a big difference between Namco and whatever out of business company produced that abortion of a game.

Oh, and before you accuse me of a love in with Namco and Tekken, I need to assert that Tekken is not even my favorite game in the technical fighting genre(?) A�Is that even a thing? A�Or, did I just make it up? A�I don’t know. A�It sounds like a thing. A�Let’s treat it like a thing because it makes the next paragraph that much easier to write and I don’t have to go into a long back story. A�Even though we all know that’s what I love and I pretend that you all love it, too, in an attempt to convince myself that it’s all worth it.

So, in what may be a first, a short explanation. A�Once upon a time, there were two polygonal fighters that revolved more around actual fighting strategy than throwing balls of fire at the opponent. A�One, of course, was Tekken. A�The other was Virtua Fighter. I don’t know if the games were meant to be direct competition to one another. A�But, that’s what we do as gamers. A�We bring competition where there should be none. A�After all, look at the Hearthstone phenomenon. Bazinga!

Oh, you've spent the entire game playing strategically and following a carefully crafted gameplan? Here, let me cast a bunch of completely random spells that invalidates all of that and reduces the game to a series of dice rolls and coin flips. Hmm, well played.
Oh, you’ve spent the entire game playing strategically and following a carefully crafted gameplan? Here, let me cast a bunch of completely random spells that invalidates all of that and reduces the game to a series of dice rolls and coin flips. Hmm, well played.

Well, in the great technical fighting game battles of the 1990s, I was firmly in the corner of Virtua Fighter. A�In fact, Virtua Fighter 2 is probably one of my top 10 games of all time. A�I say probably, because I haven’t actually ever extended my list officially to 10, but off the top of my head I can’t think of 5 other games that I like better. A�Hopefully that establishes my credentials as a non fanboy of Tekken. A�With all of that being said, Namco does make a decent fighting game and they did a heck of a job with Pokken.

They could have just made all of the Pokemon play the exact same and just give them different voices and one or two attacks that fans would recognize. A�They didn’t. A�All of the Pokemon play as different fighters with different strategies. A�This adds a variety and replayability because you want to try to master all of the different styles. A�The game also makes use of the buddy feature common to many fighting games where you pick a companion Pokemon to fight alongside your main character. A�Overall, a great game and I can’t wait to play it more and have a more detailed review in November when the boys and I cover the game for Pokemon month.

Pikachu, I choose you! ...to beat the crap out of other Pokemon!

Pikachu, I choose you! …to beat the crap out of other Pokemon!

Aside from my introduction to Pokken, I have actually been catching up (slowly but surely) on my XBox 360 list. A�I have advanced quite far in the story on both Fallout 3 and Skyrim. A�I haven’t even been using a walkthrough for Skyrim. A�Those who know me and have read my articles know that is quite the achievement for such an open world game. A�I still get distracted by the carrot on a stick side quests, but I’m moving right along. A�At this pace, I should be done with the main questline right about the time that they release the remake on the XBox One 360 Redux Master edition in 10 years.

Finally, of course, I played some Portal 2. A�The play through was nothing short of amazing and the game is still special to me. A�This time was more special, though, because they boys joined me for the journey. A�Both Liam and Aiden were able to get a kick out of the humor and Quinn was blown away by the sometimes twisted physics of the portal gun. A�I started an article about why I’m so attached to this game that I will play it time after time over other games that I haven’t yet finished. A�Maybe I will post it when I’m suffering one of my legendary bouts of writer’s block.

Well, that’s about it for my console summer. A�I still have two other articles to write about mobile games (where I’ve spent most of my time in the Digital Playground) and tabletop escapades. A�I haven’t done as much On the Tabletop, but I have gotten back into Magic and started to put together my Hordes armies, so there will be plenty of pictures. A�Until then, keep on gaming!

Noob’s History with Mario

(Editor’s Note: A�A�The boys and I are trying to get on a regular recording schedule for the podcast. A�Chris also came up with the idea of going to a quarterly schedule for the main show, so I’m inspired and ready to tackle this thing full force again. )

Relaunching our brand over the holidays proved to be a bit of a mistake, but we are nothing if not ambitious here. A�One of the topics for January’s episode, which will now become an early February episode, is Mario. A�Last time, the boys and I talked about Luigi, so this time we’ll discuss his slightly more famous brother. A�A month or two ago, I wrote an article about my history with Pokemon to coincide with that episode that hasn’t been released, but may later in the month. A�It was a fun article to write, so I had the idea to do the same with Mario to coincide with this one that will be recorded this weekend to be released next week.

My history with Mario is much longer and much more consistent than Pokemon. A�I’d say that it is the game franchise that I have played the longest without any extended breaks. A�I often make the half-joke that all Nintendo has to do is release a Mario, Zelda, and Metroid game and I will buy the console. A�The truth is that Mario always hooks me back in and then I play the other games once they’ve reached my price point. A�You may be asking two questions right now. A�Even if you aren’t, there are two main points that I want to make with this article. A�What is this lengthy history with a video game that is longer than any personal relationship other than family? A�What keeps a person so dedicated to one franchise for so long?

It's a me, Mario!  I'd like to play a game with you, Shawn.  You may notice that your hands and feet are bound together with cuffs and chains.  The key is hidden somewhere in that room.  You have 2 hours until the vents open and release a poisonous gas.  Good luck.
It’s a me, Mario! I’d like to play a game with you, Shawn. You may notice that your hands and feet are bound together with cuffs and chains. The key is hidden somewhere in that room. You have 2 hours until the vents open and release a poisonous gas. Good luck.

First, the actual history. A�I’ve been playing Mario themed games since Donkey Kong. A�Back then, though, he was known as Jumpman and I didn’t know–nor really care–about his rich history as a plumber. A�I never asked, “Why does this guy jump?” A�Does he have a, as of now unfound and unnamed, brother from whom he is trying to steal the attention of gamers similar to how I and my own brothers vie for the attention of our parents? A�Clearly, no. A�Jumpman’s troubles start, as they often do, with a woman. A�I didn’t actually play that much Donkey Kong. A�I preferred Donkey Kong, Jr. and the greater variety in gameplay from level to level.

So, while you could consider Donkey Kong as the start of my Mario history, I don’t. A�I actually started playing Mario when I would sit at the Super Mario Brothers vs. machine when neither Mortal Kombat nor Street Fighter were available. A�Between the arcade version of the game not being very forgiving and having to plug a quarter in every time I wanted to lay, I don’t think that I ever beat even level 1-2. A�Don’t laugh. A�Unless your name was Steve Wiebe or Billy Mitchell, you know you were in the same boat.

There's a lot that can be said for not being Billy Mitchell.  Saving a fortune in hair care product and American flag ties, for example.
There’s a lot that can be said for not being Billy Mitchell. Saving a fortune in hair care product and American flag neck ties, as two examples.

Eventually, our parents bought us an NES. A�The place where my mother worked sold their rental games at a cheap price, so we also got a ton of games with it. A�One of the games was the NES version of Super Mario Bros. A�Either much less difficult or I was able to practice more without the restriction of 25 cents per play or both, I got much father in the home version of the game than the arcade. A�I still did not beat the game until I learned of the warp zones much later, but I made it to world 4, no small accomplishment for me at the time. A�Later, came the Game Boy version (the first Mario game that I beat), and after a brief flirtation with the Genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog, I bought an SNES. A�That system has two of my favorite Mario games ever, the remake of Super Mario Bros 3. and Super Mario World. A�I bought both of them again on the Wii Virtual Console. A�There aren’t many games that I will buy more than once for the exact same game. A�Heck, I don’t even buy game series in which the sequels don’t stray too far from the formula. A�I’m looking at you, Call of Duty.

The game that solidified my fandom and proved to me that the series can do no wrong was Super Mario 64. A�Like many others, I bought a Nintendo 64 for that game and happened to get a few other games that I played a few times and ultimately pushed to the side for the gloss and glamour of my newly purchased Playstation (that’s one for you youngins). A�That gloss wore off very quickly once that Playstation dripped in price a week or two after I bought it.

There it is.  The last video game product that I ever paid full price.  Not that I'm bitter.  Nope, not at all.  If Donald Trump can do all that he's done with just a small loan of one million dollars, imagine what I could have done with the $100 I'd have saved by waiting just a week.  I could be running for President of the condo board of Del Boca Vista right now.
There it is. The last video game product that I ever paid full price. Not that I’m bitter. Nope, not at all. If Donald Trump can do all that he’s done with just a small loan of one million dollars, imagine what I could have done with the $100 I’d have saved by waiting just a week. I could be running for President of the condo board of Del Boca Vista right now.

Sony kept me hooked through a variety of great games, but I did still load up the N64 every day until I beat SM64 to 100% complete. A�It’s the first game that I ever did so, though I had to cheat a few times for some of the trickier stars. A�In between the N64 and Wii days, I played a ton of GBA. A�Thankfully, that system had a ton of Mario titles. A�From SNES remakes to new titles in the platforming series, to entirely different genres, the GBA is one of my favorite consoles ever and it is due in no small part to Mario.

I also owned a Gamecube, exclusively for the three games mentioned earlier in the article. A�Nintendo trie something different with Super Mario Sunshine. A�As with most fan bases, people reacted negatively to the change. A�Remember New Coke? A�Generally, I don’t mind change and, more often than not, embrace that companies are willing to try new and different things.

Except for New Coke.  Seriously, eff New Coke.
Except for New Coke. Seriously, eff New Coke.

Clearly, I’m in the minority and when Mario debuted on the Wii, he did so with some new gameplay mechanics, but mostly just as SM64 with a shiny new coat of paint. A�Look, I’m not complaining. A�It continues to be a fun game enjoyed by my kids today. A�Liam had to buy a new copy because our old copy got scuffed. A�However, the game didn’t exactly push Mario forward.

The most recent Mario game that we’ve played shows that Nintendo is joining many other pop culture franchises and trying to capture the magic of the past with 2D platform games meant to remind us of where it all started. A�Not content with merely releasing those first games again (though they’ve done that plenty, too, through the virtual console), they have added new levels, enemies, power ups and, perhaps best of all, support for up to 4 players. A�Now, similar to Star Wars, I can share all of the Mario fun with my kids by playing these games. A�Sure, the more cynical part of my brain understands that it is about hooking that next generation to ensure sales into the future, but I ignore that part as I’m eating Aiden’s Toad character with my Yoshi and throwing him gleefully off of a cliff.

Mario has spanned the transition from 2 dimensional side scrolling zero (not really, but it works for literary purposes) to 3 dimensional galaxy exploring hero. A�He has survived a countless imitators, complete shifts in video game philosophy, and a terrible movie. A�He’s crossed generations from my father to me to my children and hopefully their children. A�Not bad for an Italian guy with a shady past that may or may not have been altered to protect his identity.

I could make a mob joke, but it would probably be considered insensitive.  Plus, I have Italian friends and you never know who might be connected.
I could make a mob joke, but it would probably be considered insensitive. Plus, I have Italian friends and you never know who might be connected.

All I want for Christmas

(Editor’s Note: The Noob of All Trades goes back to the future of two years ago to finally maybe join the present of video games.)

Regular visitors to the page (shout out to the both of you!) know that Chris and I are traditionalists–grumpy old men–when it comes to games, especially video games. A�We have Magic as our go to table A�top game, but we have branched out to others like Herclix and Dicemasters. A�Rarely do we ever branch out into new video game territory. A�Hell, neither of us even owns a PS4, XBox One or Wii U and those are soon to be last gen.

It’s not that I think new video games are bad. A�I will be the first to admit that I don’t understand the appeal of all of the Call of Duty games. A�Most new games, however, impress me with their graphics and story. A�I guess that I just haven’t been impressed enough to spend the money on one of the systems. A�If you know anything about building drama, you know that this is the point where I write, “Until now…”

Then again, games are tough to enjoy when you spend most of your time waiting for the respawn timer to expire.
Then again, games are tough to enjoy when you spend most of your time waiting for the respawn timer to expire.

Until now, none of the next generation systems from the last couple ofA�years have not dropped in price to the point that i’m a comfortable paying yet, but I am considering a purchase of two of them if Santa doesn’t bring them. A�Which two? A�You may be asking. A�If so, thanks for asking and let me explain.

The first one should be obvious if you’ve followed my articles over the past few weeks. A�Actually, both of them should be obvious, but one is maybe slightly more obvious, so I will start there. A�I grew up with video games. A�We owned an Atari 2600 and even a 7800. A�I played (and beat) the game considered by some to be the worst of all time, E.T. A�I received Jungle Hunt as a gift after receiving 14 stitches in my head. A�I can still play Pitfall to a stand still in the timed mode.

Doesn't look so bad does it?  Certainly not deserving of its reputation as a barren Hellscape of a game.  There are plenty of games I'd put below E.T.  Call of Duty among them.
Doesn’t look so bad does it? Certainly not deserving of its reputation as a barren Hellscape of a game. There are plenty of games I’d put below E.T. Call of Duty among them.

Our parents bought us an NES one year for Christmas. A�Upon playing Mario for the first time, I immediately switched allegiance from Atari to Nintendo. A�I had a brief fling with Sega during the Genesis days and overpaid for a Playstation, but Nintendo remains my favorite system and game maker. A�Even now, during a time when other gamers flock away from the “casual” nature of Wiimotes and Amibos, I remain firmly in the corner of Big N.

Two games, especially finally have me excited about the prospects of owning a Wii U. A�The first is Super Mario Maker. A�I know nothing about this game, but the name alone makes my heart flutter. When I mentioned it to him, he seemed less than enthusiastic about it. A�I started to wonder if maybe my own enthusiasm might be misplaced. A�Nintendo is capable of making bad games, after all. A�However,A�A�Liam has since filled me in on some of the details and I’m even more jazzed about the game.

top5_1_20081208
Nintendo can make bad games. After all, remember this turd? Yeah, me neither.

He said to me the other day, “I thought you could just make levels, Dad. A�But, now I realize that you can share them with people, too. A�That’s really cool.” A�See, I was under the impression from the beginning that was the appeal of the game. A�I’m glad that I was not wrong. A�I’d have been very disappointed otherwise. A�I mean, how many times have you played a Mario game and thought, This level would be so much cooler if they did this. A�If you anything like me, you’ve lost count. A�I can’t wait to unleash those ideas on unsuspecting gamers.

The other game for Wii U–the one that pushed me over the edge–is Smash Bros. A�I played the first one many years ago. A�I’m a fan of fighting games and a fighting game with all of the Nintendo characters sounded great. A�Unlike MK and SF, games that both have a robust one player mode, Smash Bros is a fighting game for people with friends. A�Now that Liam and Aiden are both old enough and taking an interest in games, I want to try Smash Bros as intended. A�Other games interest me, too, but those are the two games that make me most want Santa to bring a Wii U.

Come on, Fat Man!  Don't let us down!
Come on, Fat Man! Don’t let us down!

My second system of choice on the list is also obvious, though maybe less so. A�I went with Microsoft during the 360/PS3 generation mainly for the Kinect that now lies buried in my big box of dead electronics. A�I thought about continuing with the XBox One because I figured that both machines were the same and I wanted to stay consistent. A�That attitude persisted until recently.

I mentioned to Kevin (he of Episode 2 infamy) that I wanted one of the systems and that I was leaning in the direction of XBox One. A�He stated flatly that the PS4 is better. A�I trust his advice and now I’m definitely going to get a PS4 at some point when I have the spare cash. A�I don’t have to explain two of the reasons for my interest, as I went into it in an early article.

i will write, briefly, on another game that recently got my attention again. A�I loaded up DOOM on my Steam account the other day. A�I’ve been thinking of doing some playthrough videos of the game to show secrets. A�While playing, it triggered in my brain that a new one is in development for the PS4 and XBox One. It is also coming out on PC, but I need another reason to convince my skeptical wife that I must ahve another video game machine. A�None of it, of course, will change her mind, but a new DOOM game has left no doubt that I’m soon going to own a PS4. A�Maybe I’ll buy myself one for my birthday next month.

Posted this to the Instagram account with the caption, "Still one of the best feelings in gaming."  I hope that your character gets that same grin in the new game.
Posted this to the Instagram account with the caption, “Still one of the best feelings in gaming.” I hope that your character gets that same grin in the new game.