Monday, July 10, 2017

Mario Spin-Offs: My Ideal Roster

Disclaimer: I originally started this article months ago and have struggled to finish it until recently.  Since then, a lot has changed, and new information has come to light.  I've tried to change what I've written accordingly, but if some spots sound weird or outdated here and there, well, there's your reason.  Apologizes in advance if any of this is confusing.

So I'm playing Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64 on my Wii U's Virtual Console, and I thought to myself, "There's a nice selection of characters in this game, for its time anyway...  Why can't all Mario spin-offs have rosters like this?" See, it feels like lately Nintendo's been throwing in random "new" characters to their spin-offs while neglecting old favorites; Mario Kart 8 and even it's Deluxe Switch counterpart are the most recent and notorious example. It makes me wonder who decides these things and why they thought people would want to play as Baby Rosalina or Pink Gold Peach of all things... And it's a good thing Link was originally bundled with Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach as DLC for the former, otherwise I would seriously question who at Nintendo thought people would pay extra money for such uninspired characters...

So with that in mind, if I was working at Nintendo, and I was head of whatever group decides what characters should be in a Mario spin-off, who would I pick? Now, obviously, there are some factors that affect who gets chosen or not; some characters are not adequately build for certain spin-off, such as being too big or too small.  Of course, the Mario series has always been fickle when it comes to that sort of thing, but that doesn't mean there are still some unspoken rules for some spin-offs.  Mario Party, for example, is a series where Bowser will never be one of the main playable characters, given that his whole thing in those games is to mess things up for the actual players.  If he IS playable in Mario Party, it's through a special mode or mini-game like in Mario Party 10.  There's also the size of the roster, you can only have so many characters before things start to get overwhelming.  The exception is Mario Baseball games which are build around having lots of characters to build 9-player teams out of (incidentally, I REALLY hope we get a dedicated Mario Baseball game for the Switch, the one on the 3DS game Mario Sports Superstars just feels REALLY lackluster).

So that being said, the characters and roster ideas I mention are going to be games like Mario Kart, Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, that kind of thing.  This will be broken down into 5 sections: "Gold Standard", "Other Favorites", "Playable Generics",
"Potential Newcomers", and "Pipe Dreams", and I'll explain what they mean as I go.  Also, this will only pertain to Mario characters, no other Nintendo characters or third/fourth party characters allowed on this list, otherwise this could go on forever.  With all that out of the way, click the break to see what characters I'd have in my ideal Mario spin-off!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Yooka-Laylee - Initial Impressions

So I played Yooka-Laylee for about 2 hours, according to Steam anyway, and I gotta say, I feel pretty overwhelmed... For me, that is. If something's too big or too daunting, I sometimes have difficulty getting motivated to do it all, especially now since my time to play games is so limited. Plus, even though the game emphasizes the whole "explore or expand" thing (which really should be called explore or expand THEN explore, because that's what you're doing regardless), I'm the kind of guy who tries to go for 100% completion, which can be tiring when each world has so many collectables in it. This more than ever makes me miss the Banjo-Kazooie mode; decently sized worlds with just the right amount of collectables and challenges in each of them. Again, this isn't a criticism against the game, it's just how I feel.

Also, yeah, the camera's a bit wonky but not as bad as I was expecting. There ARE some forced perspectives at certain places and my gosh, does it get caught on objects like crazy, it's like I'm bumping around whenever I try to maneuver the camera to how I want it to.

Other than that and some REALLY minor nitpicks, this game isn't bad at all. In fact, I love it! The story had me intrigued, and there's already a mystery element with the book, the Pagies, and Yooka and Laylee's shipwrecked home. The characters are all great, yes, even the minor, incidental ones! I really do feel like each character has their own personality, and each one of them could be on their own personal adventure (though that's not to say I'd want a game focused on each one of them), and the humor is typical Rareware dry, British humor, the kind of humor that would make many people groan but dang it, I just love it! I also want to say, I am LOVING Yooka and Laylee's design, how they're textured, hwo they move, how expressive they can be; already I feel a personal connection with them akin to Banjo and Kazooie! Even characters I didn't think I'd warm up to right away like Trowzer I find myself adoring! Also, some people may take issue with the voice grunting, I didn't mind in the slightest. It's what I've wanted since Banjo-Tooie and I'm glad it's back in full force!

Even though exploring all this space and agonizing to get every single collectable with be tough, I want to pull through just because I love the world this game set up! Thank you, Playtonic Games, for giving me a joy I haven't felt in ages!

OH, I almost forgot, I didn't know you could switch to a first-person perspective until I accidentally pressted the left control stick once. I had SUCH a difficult time aiming projectiles until that point.  There are other times I performed something I didn't realize I could do, though I can't remember exactly which moves they were.  It's weird, considering the tutorial at the beginning, they'd leave out some extra stuff that could have been helpful to know...