Posts Tagged ‘Mario’

As it’s legions of fan know well, Doctor Who is a long standing science fiction television series from “across the pond”, thanks to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).  In it, “The Doctor” travels through time in a 1960’s era blue “police box” (phone box) called the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space).  The show began in the 1960’s and still continues today, with the premiere of the seventh season of the reboot – which began in 2005 – just a few weeks off.

In one of the more well-known episodes of the reboot, an episode called Blink, The Doctor is trapped in the year 1969 and unable to extradite himself because he doesn’t have access to the TARDIS.  Meanwhile, in 2007, a young woman named Sally Sparrow encounters a message from The Doctor scrawled out on the inner walls of an old house foretelling future events involving her.  It is in this house that Sally and her friend Kathy encounter “The Weeping Angels” – an alien race of beings that look like crying stone angels – who, if you look at them, won’t kill you but send you back into some point in the past.  This happens to Kathy and she is transported back to 1923, where to marries, lives out her life, dies, and has her grandson promise to deliver a letter to Sally at that house on the day she would be there.  This leads her to a video store run by Kathy’s brother, who is obsessed with a series of, what appear to be, one sided conversations that the doctor recorded back in 1969.  These messages try and explain the nature of time as the Doctor sees it and warns of the Weeping Angels, their desire to posses the TARDIS,  and how they also move closer to you when you turn your back on them; they are the Boo Ghosts – from Super Mario – of the Doctor Who universe.  In the video message he utters the immortal words, “The Angels Have The Phone Box…don’t turn your back, don’t look away, and whatever you do, Don’t Blink”

A few days ago I got a strange knock at my door, and standing before me was a man I had never seen before.  He looked at me and kindly asked if I could move my blue scooter away from the telecommunications closet I generally park it in front of, which is located next to my apartment, a closest he affectionately called “The Phone Box”.  Certainly willing to comply, I moved the scooter a bit further down the hall.  As I walked back inside my apartment a knowing smile crept over my face and I began to chuckle as I realized “The Scooter has blocked The Phone Box”.

Who knew?  Maybe the Doctor did… *cue credits*

Summer is always a important time for video game culture and industry because that’s when the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) happens and the best time to see what next generation gaming systems will be released by Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft.  This year at E3, Nintendo demoed their new Nintendo Wii U as the kick-off of a special promotional tour for the new gaming system; this weekend that tour came to Washington, DC.  It’s not everyday that I get invite-only access to gaming hardware before it hits the market – it happened once with Microsoft Kinect – and it never happens twice in a weekend, but last night and today it did  as I attended Nintendo’s Wii U experience in Washington DC.

To see a hotel ballroom transformed into something that reminds you of the starship Enterprise in the J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek is rather impressive; it also helps to know one of the guys running the event who spent two days helping lead the crew who executed the transformation.  The event is Nintedo Wii marketing through and through, as everything is white with neon blue mood lighting for accent.  The room explodes out from a central pillar sporting three  flat screens and Nentendo Wii U consoles, while additional screens and consoles line the perimeter of one wall  leading to a few VIP rooms featuring more popular games.  The setup was impressive and looked as if a lot of design and thought went into the presentation.     Add to that a supply of Berry Lemonade Jones Soda – as it is the “Wii Blue” shade – and you’ve got a party going on.

Saturday night I brought a few friends along to share in the fun; it’s just better that way.  The Saturday event featured games such as Super Mario Bros Wii U, Nintendoland, Warioware, Zombie U, Ninja Gaiden, Batman Arkham City:  Armored Edition, Pikman 3, and Rayman Legends.  I can’t say I played all of these but I enjoyed a fair amount of them.

Before I dive into the games though, I need to talk about the feature of the Nintendo Wii U that is causing the most waves:  The Wii U Gamepad.  This is the piece that has folks scratching their heads, and understandably because a gaming console hasn’t gone this route before.  I’ll admit I was skeptical before using it, but having done so I am less so now and see that there’s great potential here.  Thankfully, the new Wii often still utilizes the Wiimote from the previous version of the Wii.  The Gamepad features a touch screen, classic D-pad, dual analog control sticks, L and R shoulder buttons, and LZ/RZ Trigger buttons (a first for Nintendo)  among other things.  It’s lighter than I expected and the weight and form factor don’t feel bulky in hand; it’s a rather natural feel.  Most games utilize the Gamepad in a unique way.  The only caution I would have is that the Gamepad element makes it feel like almost too much is going on at once in a given game, but for the most part it works.  On to the games:

Batman Arkham City:  Armored Edition – This is a port of the XBOX/PS3 Batman title, but with a Nintendo Wii twist, you play it with the Gamepad as the controller and aspects of  the game has been re-engineered to allow for more interactivity with the game.  The touch screen serves as the map and the gadget select mechanism and the Gamepad is used to solve many of the security related puzzles in the game.  It’s a refreshed look at a great game, but if someone owns it for another system there is much less pull to embrace this version, although this version does come with all the DLC content integrated into the game and new combat techniques.

Super Mario Bros. Wii U: A new version of the classic title released on the previous Wii, this version features new puzzles, power-ups, and levels while the basic game mechanics are the same.  However, this newer version allows for a fifth player to tag along and assist/hinder the other four players using the Wii U Gamepad to place blocks and distract enemies.  I enjoyed playing this with Drew and Ian and learned to never doubt the platforming skills of a nine-year-old; he out-played all of us, it was like that movie The Wizard with Fred Savage.

Nintendoland: This is a “party-game” title through and through that features mini-games based around classic Nintendo franchises such as Mario and Luigi, Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, and Animal Crossing.  While I played most of them, Legend of Zelda:  Battle Quest was the undisputed favorite.  In it, three players function as two swordsman and one archer as they work together to battle the evil minions of Hyrule.  The swordsman utilize the Wiimotes to hack and slash enemies and the archer uses the Gamepad to fire arrows of light at enemies from long range or enemies the swordsman cannot reach.  A lot of teamwork goes into the game to battle enemies and solve puzzles.

WarioWare:  Another “party” game that features mini-games.  The skiing mini-game requires the Gamepad to be used vertically instead of horizontally, and the player focuses on the Gamepad screen and not the larger flatscreen; it’s an amalgam of Mario Kart Wii and that ski game for Windows 95.  The archery mini-game however, was rather engrossing.  It’s a tower defense game wherein the player uses the Gamepad as a crossbow and points it at the screen to target and eliminate wave after wave of enemies to defend a small patch of four strawberries.

Pikman 3:  Apparently this is a long standing Nintendo franchise, about which I knew nothing expect that Pikman is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii.  It’s a strategy/adventure game involving catching fruit and defeating baddies using these little creatures known as Pikman.  Kinda fun, but I needed more time with it.

Project P-100: A game where you create your own superhero team to fight evil robots; what else do I need to tell you?  That’s just awesome.  It utilizes the full functions of the Gamepad to execute special moves and feels a bit like a Final Fantasy RPG as your team grows and brings the beat down on the evil metal minions.

ZombieU:  I didn’t play this, but a few friends did and it was clearly their favorite.  Apparently one person directs the zombies  using the  Gamepad and the others hunt the zombies.  Pretty basic, but sounds like a lot of fun.

All in all, two sessions at a well done gaming event wherein I got to enjoy being a 10-year old again for a few hours.  The Mushroom and Koopa Shell cakepops were great too.  As soon as Nintedo releases a Legend of Zelda and/or a Metroid title for Wii U, I’ll be all over it like Mario on mushrooms; until then, I’ve got a handful of Zelda and Metroid titles to still finish.

From Nintendoland,

Aaron