Monthly Archives: December 2012

Look at that.

I wish I could still buy controllers for that price!

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Tuesday Top Ten…err Eleven: Best Nintendo Games on Each System

This Tuesday Top Ten will be a bit different.  Because each of these ten games are all number one.

It’s hard to believe, but Nintendo has released more than 10 different gaming platforms over the years.  Kinda makes me realize how old I’m getting.  Nevertheless, here’s my favorite game on each of ten Nintendo Consoles.

EDIT:  Okay, I had originally intended to combine the Gameboy/Gameboy Color games as one console… but then as I was writing this, I apparently forgot to do that.  Rather than take a great game off the list… I’m just leaving it a Top 11 list.  Enjoy!

smb3

1. NES – Super Mario Bros. 3: It’s rare these days that a game feels fresh, new and exciting. Especially when it comes to a sequel. But that is precisely how Super Mario Bros. 3 felt when it came out. Graphically, it has pushed the NES where it had never been before. New ideas like the World Map and item stash are still in use today over 20 years later. I may be wrong, but I believe that Super Mario Bros. 3 was the first game I ever bought and paid for with my own money. What a great investment.

linksawakening

1. Gameboy – The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening: This is pretty close to being the best Gameboy game AND Gameboy Color game. Link’s Awakening set the tone for numerous Gameboy Zelda games to follow. The story was quite weird… but when it comes to playing Zelda anywhere, any time. This game is possibly the best. Carrying around a game of this magnitude anywhere you go back in the day was pretty darn impressive, when most handheld games were 5 card draw poker games and bad segmented LCD games.

DK Country

1. Super Nintendo – Donkey Kong Country: This list could easily turn into the Mario & Zelda list. But my SNES exposure is severely limited compared to the other consoles. I never had one growing up so I was limited to playing what my friends had at their house. There may be better SNES games but I have probably spent the most time playing this one. It was such a fantastic platformer. The graphics were truly impressive, and it was more than just your standard run and jump game. The levels had a definite rhythm to them. You bounce a long and hit combo’s of enemies or tires to just kind of bound though a level, just like a monkey hopping from tree to tree. I recently acquired this game and have been loving it all over again!

Oracle of Seasons

1. Gameboy Color – The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons: Okay, I have to do it. The second Zelda game makes its apperance. This is literally one of my favorite Zelda games. The seasons mechanic offered a fun and sometime confounding twist to the world. Certian seasons allowed you to reach different areas. For instance you could walk across a frozen lake in winter, or climb up a vine covered cliff in summer. The catch was you could only change the seasons while standing atop a stump. So solving the season puzzles could often be a challenge. There was also a companion game to this one called Oracle of Ages. A game I never played but hope to snatch up some day. Maybe it’s even better than this one?

Mario Kart 64

1. Nintendo 64 – Mario Kart 64: When this game came out, something about it immediately resonated with me.  Mario Kart 64 was my first experience in the Mario Kart series and since then it’s undoubtedly taken up more hours of my life than any other single game.  I still like sitting down and cranking out some Time Trials and seeing if I can even get close to my old times.  But what I miss about Mario Kart 64 is the awesome battles we used to have with my friends.  So much fun nailing somebody with a green shell on Block Fort.  Ahh, the memories.

Super Circuit

1. Gameboy Advance – Mario Kart Super Circuit: Oh hey. What do you know, two Mario Kart games back to back. That’s nice… But it’s true! Mario Kart Super Circuit on the GBA was a fantastic game that often gets overlooked. The GBA was finally cranking out portable games that you didn’t have to sacrifice much to get the whole game experience. Super Circuit was anything but a stripped down version of Super Mario Kart on the SNES. It had more tracks, more items, better visuals, and better sound. In all honestly, I bought a GBA just to play this one game.

Eternal Darkness

1. Gamecube – Eternal Darkness: I don’t like scary movies, and I don’t even care much for Survival Horror games either. But Eternal Darkness is something a little different. Yes, the plot is grim and morbid, the scenes are often gruesome, but at its heart, there is a compelling story that keeps you wondering what’s next, and some absolutely fantastic gameplay. Best played in a dark room with surround sound cranked to the max.

Animal Crossing Wild World

1. DS – Animal Crossing: Wild World: Animal Crossing on Gamecube was a fantastic game, but it had two obvious shortcomings. It was cumbersome to travel to other people’s towns, and you couldn’t take it with you! Animal Crossing is the perfect game to have on the go, because you really should play it every day, and that can be hard to do! But if you have it on you, it’s easy to pop it out for 10 minutes, do your dailies, and get back to the real world! If you had to pick one version of the game to play, I would recommend this one!

Skyward Sword

1. Wii – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword:  For me, this one isn’t even close. There were some great games on Wii, but there’s a wide margin between Skyward Sword and everything before it. It’s one of the most artistically beautiful games in the series striking a style balance somewhere between Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. But the most fun part about this game is… playing it. I never did completely fall in love with motion control, but Skward Sword changed that. If every motion control game was this fun to play and this natural, well, I wouldn’t have much of a bank account left. Take my money!

SMB 3D Land

1. 3DS – Super Mario 3D Land: You don’t know how close I was to putting Mario Kart 7 here. I mean, it’s still on my notes right now, but I audibled at the last moment. I just got to thinking, which game is more 3DS-ey? Mario Kart 7 is a fantastic game, and I mean to imply no shortcomings. But Super Mario 3D Land is the defacto 3DS game. It just is. It’s probably the single best use of 3D on the system. It’s got it’s own unique quirkiness and level design that kind of set it apart from your traditional Mario release.  Super tight controls, and tons of throwbacks to games gone by.  It’s the game the 3DS should have launched with.

Nintendoland

1. Wii U – Nintendoland: It’s “just” a mini-game collection. It’s no Wii Sports. It’s not a “complete” game. All things I heard, and for a large part bought into before the Wii U came out. I wasn’t looking forward to Nintendoland all that much myself. But after playing it, and most importantly, playing it with a group, it’s the most pure flippin fun I’ve had playing video games since the N64. And for me, that’s saying something! There’s plenty of stuff to do solo in the game, but playing with friends is where Nintendoland, and truthfully, the Wii U itself shine brightest.

Wii U Impressions

Well I’ve finally been able to spend enough time with the Wii U that I feel like I can actually share some meaningful observations and opinions.

To give a brief overview of the system, I’ll highlight what has changed since the Wii.  The Wii U is an all new system and not in any way an “add on”.  The most obvious difference is the Gamepad controller.  It’s pretty much a standard controller except with a big touchscreen in the middle.  The Wii U in a lot of ways is a living room sized DS.  You can use all your old Wii remotes with the new system, though many of the games will require the use of Wiimotion Plus, so check your games to see if its required.

With some improved hardware in the new console, you’ll get better graphics, and also HD for the first time on a Nintendo console.  The Wii U also earns a small footnote in history by being the first home console to come packaged with an HDMI cable.  Unfortunately this means for guys like me, if you want to run your audio through a receiver  you’ll either need a receiver that supports HDMI switching, or you’ll have to use the old school component cables, which means no HD.  Guys like me with older audio equipment are forced to choose between high quality picture, or high quality sound.

My initial impressions were lackluster at best.  I have owned every Nintendo console to date and several others from the “other guys”.  I say that not to boast, but to illustrate the fact that in the first 20 minutes of using the Wii U, the system felt very “not ready” for launch.  The menus were slow and clunky.  Many of the apps that were pre-loaded on the home screen weren’t functional yet.  And the system itself completely froze on me three times in two days.

wii u system update

However, since then, there’s been a system update or two that seems like its fixed almost all those gripes.  Menus are a bit faster.  Not instantaneous or as fast as they should be for brand new hardware in 2012, but they are tolerable now.  I haven’t experienced any freezes. Most of the apps are working now, even if they feel like they were put together just to get them done.  The only lingering problem I have is a browser issue that apparently I’m literally the only person in the world to be experiencing.

But let me talk about what is right with the system, and what Nintendo nailed right out of the box.  The games.  The two titles I got on launch day are New Super Mario Bros. U, and Nintendoland.  The latter of which was packed in with the deluxe bundle.  Nintendo has always said they’re in the business of making games, and if that’s the case, they’re going to be in business for a long time.

Let me start with New Super Mario Bros. U.  This is actually the first Nintendo system to launch with a Mario game available at launch since 1996 and the Nintendo 64.  If you played any of the NSMB series on the Wii or DS, this new one will be instantly familiar.  Most of the music and sounds are the same, but the picture is crystal clear in HD.  What I always wished the Wii would have looked like.  Usage of the new Gamepad controller is limited to “Boost Mode” where you can add blocks onto the screen to help the other players or stun enemies making it easier to defeat them.  I might say it’s just as easy to screw your friends over as it is to help them in Boost Mode.  It’s up to you whether you want to be a good guy, or a bad guy!

One thing you can’t do however is have one person playing NSMB:U on the Wiimote and one person playing on the gamepad.  The Gamepad can only be used in one of two ways.  Either Boost Mode during multi-player with other players using Wiimotes, or single player you can drop the entire game down to the gamepad and play NSMB:U while sitting on your toilet.  It’s not a huge deal, but if you only have one Wiimote, you’ll be stuck with a single player experience, even though you have a capable Gamepad sitting there.

Nintendoland, for me has been the defining game for the Wii U.  It’s a game that is certianly experience better the more people you have.  We had 4 Wiimotes and one person on the Gamepad playing in our basement the other night, and it’s the most fun I’ve had playing videogames in a long time.  The minigames are designed to take advantage of the “asynchronous” gameplay the Wii U can provide.  All 5 people are playing the same game at the same time, but the person with the gamepad is getting a completely different perspective and usually an opposing objective than the group has.   One level has the person playing the gamepad play as Mario trying to run away from all the other players.  And another has the gamepad player as an invisible ghost trying to sneak up and catch the other players.  It’s a lot of fun!

Wii U Family

In some ways, the Wii U hasn’t yet lived up to all it’s promises.  But since it is Nintendo, you can be sure that the games you get are still going to be a blast to play.  Like the Wii was, it’s a system that you’re likely not to “get it” until you play it for yourself.  Even watching someone else play it doesn’t convey what the console is all about.  If you get the chance, try it out.  Not in a store kiosk, but in a friend’s living room.  It’s all about what games should be.  Bringing people together and having fun!

Tuesday Top Ten: Beers

I like beer.  And I love trying new beer.  Whenever I go on a trip, I like to try the regional brews.  I’m not a beer connoisseur by any stretch.  And certainly  no elitist, as you will be able to tell by my list to follow.

10. Wood Chuck Hard Apple Cider: What better way to start off a beer list than with something that isn't even beer?  Nevertheless, when "beer drinking time" arises, Woodchuck can blend in like a foreign exchange student who speaks passable English.  It's a sweet drink, but not a "fruity" drink   It's light and easy to drink a lot of.  Certainly its most dangerous quality.

10. Wood Chuck Hard Apple Cider: What better way to start off a beer list than with something that isn’t even beer? Nevertheless, when “beer drinking time” arises, Woodchuck can blend in like a foreign exchange student who speaks passable English. It’s a sweet drink, but not a “fruity” drink It’s light and easy to drink a lot of. Certainly its most dangerous quality.

Bud Light Lime

9. Bud Light Lime: Two sweet beverages in and you think you know me. You’re already passing judgment on me. Probably using terms like “girly man” and “beer noob”. Well I don’t give a crap what you think. This stuff tastes like beer and Fruit Loops. I like beer. I like Fruit Loops. Do the math.

Dos Equis

8. Dos Equis: I don’t always drink beer… but.. awe hell. Who am I kidding. I always drink beer. And everytime I think about how I probably shouldn’t drink the local tap water, I get a strange craving for Dos Equis. It’s smooth, tasty, and won’t give you an intestinal sickness. That’s good enough for number eight.

Blue-Moon-Pumpkin-Ale

7. Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale: Brewers will literally turn anything into beer. One of my favorite oddities and seasonal brews is this one. Don’t go into this thinking “pumpkin pie”. Wrong. Think more.. just pumpkin. It’s odd, but satisfying at the same time. I always like to crack one of these open in the fall. Or drink one in June to remind me of fall.

Red Stripe

6. Red Stripe: When I eat at an ethnic restaurant, I like to have one of the regional beers. There was a great restaurant in Manhattan, that I’m not sure whether it still exists or not, called The Little Grill. (Make sure your friends don’t think you said ‘The Little Girl’) They served up some awesome jerk chicken. And nothing washes it down better than a light and tasty Red Stripe. It’s easy to drink, but a bit too pricey for me to drink often.

Guiness

5. Guiness: Before I tried Guiness, I was afraid of Guiness. You may have heard “So thick you can chew it”, or maybe it was just me that heard that. But once I tried it, I loved it! Sure it’s a tad thicker than your average beer, but it’s not like you’re drinking motor oil. It’s full. It has flavor. It’s the kind of beer that you don’t casually drink while you’re hanging out. Because it’s the kind of beer that demands your attention every time you take a drink. It’s good to look at. It’s even better to drink. If you’ve never tried it, try it.

Black+Tan

4. Black & Tan: There’s nothing that’s not fun about a Black & Tan. It’s fun to order at the bar. It’s fun to drink. It’s fun to make. And if you have a couple it can even make boring people fun. Like me.

Miller High Life

3. Miller High Life: I’m pretty sure I’m the only person left that still drinks High Life. Because I’ve never once seen any one buy it, anyone stock it in their fridge, or anyone bring it to a get together. What I suspect is that the High Life brand is just a huge tax write-off for Miller and all the the beer is worth more to them when unsold than it is when people actually buy it. It’s the only way I can explain how they keep making it when I am the only one buying it. But it’s definitely my cheap beer of choice. Sure beats a Keystone any day.

Coors-Original

2. Coors Original: I wasn’t always a beer drinker. But Coors Original was the beer that made me think that not all beer was bitter, watery foam. I love the grain flavor you get with this beer. It’s kinda like drinking a tasty loaf of home made bread. There’s so much more flavor in a “heavy” beer than you find in your average light beer. But as the nickname would imply, this beer, when enjoyed regularly WILL make you fat. But so will bacon. And any beer that has something in common with bacon, is a beer I can get behind.

Boulevard Wheat

1. Boulevard Wheat: This is a somewhat local beer. Brewed in Kansas City and readily available in pretty much every drinking establishment within a tank of gas or two. It’s one of the first beers I tried when I started to venture out and start trying all sorts of varieties. As the name suggests, it has a distinct wheaty flavor to it and kind of a sharp bite. And I like it with a lemon wedge. There’s a few things that no matter what kind of day you’ve had, they can start to turn it around. Puppies, rollercoasters, and an ice cold tall frosty glass of Boulevard Wheat. Any day you have a glass of this, you know that it can’t possibly be the worst day of your life. And I guess that depressing quality makes it number one?

Super Mario Beads – A Stop Motion Movie

This had to have taken some work!  Watch this fun little video.  Very clever!