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United Kingdom

Thu 13th Aug 2009

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JamieO commented on Review: Star Fox (Super Nintendo):

Today is the 20th September 2014, so it is exactly five years since my first Nintendo Life review of SNES Star Fox was published here. Consequently, this review marks my 5th anniversary of being part of the Nintendo Life team.

I remember the sense of pride that I felt when this retro review went live, and I still feel honoured to be able to write for this fine site. Big-cheers to Nintendo Life for giving me this opportunity, because I am just as appreciative now as I was five years ago.

Please excuse my self-indulgence, but wishing a 'Happy 5th NLife Anniversary' to me.



JamieO commented on Super Mario Kart SNES World Championships Race...:

Wishing the best of luck to @SamiCetinSMK and to any other gamers taking part in the Super Mario Kart World Championships this week. Tonight's Time Trial sounds like a real test of your nerves, especially since the opening event is a one try competition.

I have been lucky enough to see Sami's Super Mario Kart driving skills in person, and I think that it is amazing how consistent expert racers are at hurtling around courses in the SNES classic.

Have lots of fun in France this week, Sami!



JamieO commented on Mario Kart Month: A History of the Mario Kart ...:

@C-Olimar There are two separate tracks called Sherbet Land in the series, just as there are a number of Mario Circuit courses, and they can be found in Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.

Both versions of Sherbet Land feature an ice tunnel, but they are completely different from one another, although I enjoy them equally. The two distinct tunes for both of these tracks are brilliant, I have nostalgia for the music that graced these ice circuits.

Apologies to the readers that I don't discuss more about the music and audio of the Mario Kart series in this feature, I actually love the different melodies of Mario Kart, but I focussed more on the gameplay mechanics for this article.

I discuss the GCN version of Sherbet Land, with reference to Mario Kart 8, in part two of this feature.



JamieO commented on Ninterview: Sami Cetin On His Journey To Super...:

I’m really pleased with this interview, because it not only conveys @SamiCetinSMK’s passion towards Super Mario Kart, and his abundance of skill at playing it, but it also demonstrates his enthusiasm for engaging with the retro community and in sharing his knowledge of this classic game.

@FX102A I hope you got the chance to meet Sami yesterday, I had a number of quality chats with him on the Saturday of Play Blackpool, and he’s a really friendly gamer with lots of Super Mario Kart expertise to share. I was not only amazed by the extent of his driving skills, but at how incredibly consistent he is at demonstrating a number of advanced driving techniques. I definitely recommend that people take the time to meet him at future expos, like at EGX London in September, or Play Expo in October of this year.

@Kobeskillz If you get the chance, it’s worth having a read of the comments in the recent Wii U eShop Super Mario Kart review, as there’s quite a detailed discussion about how the PAL vs. NTSC comparisons are not as clear cut in this game (see comments 35, 65, 86, 87, 90, 92 and 94).

My name is credited at the top of this feature, but, as is often the case, this interview is a result of the combined effort of Nintendo Life as a team. Therefore, I want to say thank you to @Dazza for organising this one, and to @ThomasBW84 for his editorial work, and to the team for their correspondence with Sami.

Of course, I reiterate our gratitude to Sami for the zeal he has in discussing this game. Cheers to him, it was fun to hang out at his tournament stand on Saturday at Play Blackpool, and Sami has really opened my eyes to many subtle intricacies hidden within this game. Nice one!



JamieO commented on Site News: Tom Has Evolved Into A New Form: Ed...:

Most excellent news, very well done Tom, I’m really pleased for you. This new position is massively deserved, clearly for your work, passion towards gaming and talent, but also because you’re such a proper gent.

For example, you were one of the first gamers to share my introduction hands-on time with Wii U, and although I lost most of the lives during our early play of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze at Eurogamer Expo 2013, you were too humble to mention that you didn’t suffer a single hit.

Nice one and big-time congratulations, Mr Whitehead!



JamieO commented on Review: Super Mario Kart (Wii U eShop / Super ...:

@SamiCetinSMK Cheers for such a detailed response, I feel that I have a decent enough knowledge regarding the depths of Super Mario Kart, but your understanding of the complexities of this game goes to another level.

Your description also provides another perspective to the age-old PAL vs. NTSC debate. For example, from the changes that you’ve indicated in the feel of the turn angles and longboosting, to the way in which you approach shortcuts, hairpins, or avoid red shells, you’ve verified that it’s not always clear cut to just compare speed issues or different border sizes.

I guess over the years it has become tempting for retro gamers to overly simplify this topic with a ‘PAL is worst and NTSC is best’ attitude, I include myself in this at times, but it’s worth keeping our minds open that a PAL version can have added rewards, too.

It’s fascinating to me that you have delved so deeply into the intricacies of the PAL game, so it feels a bit like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole to learn of so many extra game mechanics, after I’ve been playing Super Mario Kart for more than two decades. Then again, perhaps I should say it feels like a moustachioed plumber driving his kart head first into Monty Mole’s underground burrow, under the circumstances.

Thank you for sharing your expertise with us here. Nice one!



JamieO commented on Review: Super Mario Kart (Wii U eShop / Super ...:

@remivir The picture is full screen in the European release of the 60Hz US Super Mario Kart on Wii U, which is most evident from the title screen, although the main gameplay area still has small borders during gameplay. Check that the Super Mario Kart title screen does not have any top or bottom borders, but don’t worry if there are slight borders during split-screen gameplay. This means that the characters do not appear as squished and chubby, as they did with the more squashed together top and bottom borders in the PAL version.

As @Andyliini explained it runs in 4:3 ratio, as a retro game built in 1992 should, because the side borders are a result of modern 16:9 widescreen TV sets. If you change your TV settings to 16:9 widescreen you will stretch out the graphics and characters.
Edit: Even if I change my TV aspect settings to 16:9, the game still runs as it is supposed to in 4:3 aspect ratio. I can use a zoom option on my TV to remove the side borders, but that is counterproductive, because the visuals in this game were drawn for a 4:3 display.

I feel that it looks clear and vibrant in 1080p on my plasma TV. Considering it’s the US version on the European Wii U Virtual Console, it’s also running at 60Hz, although this isn’t quite as relevant as it was in many other PAL SNES games. In the 1990s we often talked about a speed difference based upon a magic figure of NTSC games running at 17.5% faster, but the 50Hz PAL release of Super Mario Kart had its clock and speed modified to bring it slightly closer to the NTSC version.

My understanding is that the PAL version is still slower, but not as sluggish as PAL games that didn’t include alterations, although I have no idea of how close PAL Super Mario Kart ran in comparison to the NTSC version. I think that the clock on the PAL game may have been adjusted, so that sixty seconds in-game still translated to one minute, but I can’t confirm that. Over the past 22 years, I’ve only owned the US and Japanese Super Famicom cartridges of this game. However, my understanding is that gamers who chase track records on Super Mario Kart will understandably keep the Time Trial competitions separate between the PAL and NTSC versions. Please note, I’m not claiming to be an authority on this, I’m sure an expert like @SamiCetinSMK could explain the differences between PAL and NTSC Super Mario Kart more eloquently than I have.

Still, it’s often preferable, and a welcome inclusion, to receive the US 60Hz and full-screen NTSC version of SNES games on the European Wii U Virtual Console. Good job, Nintendo.

If anyone is interested in this topic, have a read of Talking Point: The Virtual Console's PAL Problem, which is a 2010 Nintendo Life feature that discusses these issues in regard to the Wii Virtual Console. It was a PAL problem that is repeatedly being rectified on the Wii U’s EU Virtual Console.



JamieO commented on Review: Super Mario Kart (Wii U eShop / Super ...:

@unrandomsam You’re right, Super Play did not shy away from changing scores, even Super Mario Kart’s score was upgraded from Issue 1 where it scored 93%, to the PAL review in Issue 4 where it received 94%. They included different scores for each reviewer too at first, a bit like how US magazines like Electronic Gaming Monthly would have four separate scores, one for each reviewer. Their import coverage and presentation style was excellent. There have been lots of great kart racers, just like you mentioned. I’m a fan of Naughty Dog’s Crash Team Racing on PSone, and you’re spot on about Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, I think that Sumo Digital’s title was successful at including a sense of SEGA’s flamboyant arcade history to spice up that game. I only played it on Wii U and PS Vita, so I’d be interested in seeing the improvements on a PC.

@retro_player_22 That’s a good comparison, because it’s unwise of a developer to presume that Super Smash Bros. as a series is a straightforward formula to recreate, because its gameplay balance is far more complicated than it may appear. You can’t just make a colourful party fighter with lots of characters and expect a recipe of success. I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, though.

@SparkOfSpirit Thank you, and I hope you guys receive the Wii U version of Super Mario Kart soon.



JamieO commented on Review: Super Mario Kart (Wii U eShop / Super ...:

I’m a fan of retro gaming magazines, as much as I love the actual classic games, so I studied lots of old magazines from my collection to prepare for this review. I’ve already mentioned Super Play, and I flicked through the first five issues of that gem, but I also read reviews in Nintendo Magazine System, as well as Computer and Video Games (CVG). The interesting thing about CVG was that I read their review first, and they were clearly impressed as they scored it 96/100. The Super Mario Kart review was in CVG Issue 133, from December 1992, and it had a stunning piece of Super Star Wars X-wing artwork on its cover.

However, I was reading a much later CVG, Issue 211 from June 1999, just because that’s what I do for fun, and I found a Mario Kart reference that highlighted the impact of this series, all those years ago. There was a review of PSone Bomberman Fantasy Race, which scored a paltry 1/5, and Ed Lomas opened it by stating that “Thanks to Super Mario Kart, overused game licenses always have the option of coming back as cartoony racers”.

It struck me that the legacy of Super Mario Kart was not just that it laid the groundwork for quality game mechanics in its own series, but it created a sub-genre that other developers wanted to mimic. The trouble was that the idea of simply sticking a few reasonably well liked third-party characters into a go-kart was never enough. Nintendo created a kingdom as a setting, and mascots that were some of the most famous icons in the industry. However, the gameplay was still tight, well crafted, and you could rely on it to be fun.

I guess that many developers have been taught over time that it’s not as easy as it seems to churn out a kart racer.



JamieO commented on Review: Super Mario Kart (Wii U eShop / Super ...:

@Nintenjoe64 and @fluggy My understanding of the term ‘rubber banding’ is of an invisible rubber band between the leaders in a racing game, and those who are struggling at the back. When a rubber band system is in place, the AI players actually become faster when you are in front. Yet, you can lap CPU characters repeatedly in Super Mario Kart, so in my eyes it does not have a rubber band difficulty balancing system.

I agree that the AI racers in Super Mario Kart are frustratingly aggressive, especially in 150cc Special Cup. In a single-player GP, all seven CPU opponents will deliberately try to knock you off the bridge in Donut Plains 3, or bump you off the sides of Ghost Valley 3 and Rainbow Road. I also agree that the AI characters are cheap too, as they have special individual abilities with unlimited effect that the player does not have access to, like Bowser’s fireball and Yoshi’s eggs.

Yet, if you speed boost past the CPU at the start line, you can have a perfect run, and lap the AI racers, even in 150cc. You can also learn their set route and aim attacks at them from the front of the pack. For example, if you know exactly where to leave a banana before the speed jump in Mario Circuit 2, from first position you can send the second place CPU AI to the back of the pack, because they won’t make the jump.

@placidcasual and @James1993 Cheers for your kind comments.



JamieO commented on Review: Super Mario Kart (Wii U eShop / Super ...:

@TimCredible Ha ha, well done for discovering this, I just booted Super Mario Kart while holding button 2 down on my Wii Remote, and it brings up the message "As there are not enough buttons, you may have to change the button links in Controller Setttings".

The default Wii Remote controls are for button 1 to accelerate and button 2 to select and fire weapons/ items. You can then go to Controller Settings, and set up the B button to hop. You just need to set the B button up to take the place of an L or R shoulder button. It's not ideal, but you can hop and drift using the Wii Remote in Wii U Super Mario Kart. The D-pad is small, but functional, plus the acceleration and items buttons work just fine.

Thanks again! It never actually occurred to me to play SNES Super Mario Kart using a Wii Remote before. It means that gamers who don't have a spare Wii U Pro Controller or Classic Controller Pro can still play a two-player game. Just make sure the most skilled player has the disadvantage of hopping using the B button on the Wii Remote. The more the merrier!



JamieO commented on Review: Super Mario Kart (Wii U eShop / Super ...:

@TimCredible Apologies, I never even tried to test Super Mario Kart with a Wii Remote for this review, I played with a GamePad and Wii U Pro Controller. I based my answer to the question above on the eShop’s description page for Super Mario Kart, where it lists the Wii Remote as an optional controller. However, I think that this list must refer more to a general criterion for Wii U Virtual Console games, although I noted it down from the Super Mario Kart eShop section. I just tried to play with the Wii Remote and I got the same message of "This game cannot be played with a Wii Remote", which makes sense under the circumstances due to a lack of shoulder buttons. Sorry about that, I'll add an edit to my comment above to avoid confusion.



JamieO commented on Feature: A Look At the Super Mario Kart (SNES)...:

@SamiCetinSMK Thank you, but the time I posted on the Wii U review comments board was after a very long session where I beat every GP from 50cc to 150cc in succession to test the Wii U release. That's a very long warm-up period before I went to Time Trial, plus I was just chilling with my girlfriend, with no pressure. I was still inconsistent and all over the road, repeatedly hitting the retry option, and the time was still far away from a record. I don't think I'd enjoy being a contender in something like this, as much as I’d like to watch the real masters as an observer. I'd play just for fun, of course!

I enjoy Mario Kart Super Circuit on GameBoy Advance, too. I had no idea that the blue spark technique was in SNES Super Mario Kart. It's incredible that I'm still learning new things about the SNES game 22 years later. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!



JamieO commented on Feature: A Look At the Super Mario Kart (SNES)...:

This feature is brilliant, everything from the skill on display, with a sense of community, to the artwork and font used in the poster is fantastic.

@SamiCetinSMK I've also been watching the video of your amazing 0'57"90 Mario Circuit 1 time from the PAL version during Christmas time. The way in which you hop as Donkey Kong Jr and just skim across the dirt is stunning. I can't drive like that, I need to stay on the smooth tarmac, because if I hit the rough surface I miscalculate my control and lose speed. It reminds me a little bit of skipping around the edges of the water in Vanilla Lake 2, but even when I do that, I don't take many risks. You seem to time each hop so you leave the tarmac just late enough to only glance against the gravel.

Fair play, this is definitely the sort of thing I'd enjoy watching and observing as an audience member. I'm not that competitive as a gamer in general, but I practise enough Super Mario Kart to appreciate the skill that goes into driving like this.



JamieO commented on Review: Super Mario Kart (Wii U eShop / Super ...:

@Dreamcaster-X Good point, I really should try and get hold of a classic Super Famicom controller for using on my Wii U. I bought a Hori pad that was a similar shape, but with the GameCube's layout of buttons, many years ago. I used it on my GameCube for retro compilations, but it wasn't ideal.



JamieO commented on Review: Super Mario Kart (Wii U eShop / Super ...:

@YoshiTails Yes, two-player works with Wii U Super Mario Kart. Two people can race in a GP against six CPU controlled characters, or in a one-on-one Match Race. There is also a two-player Battle Mode, where you use items like red or green shells, and an invincibility star to burst three balloons, which rotate around your friend’s kart. Battle Mode is the only part of the SNES game where you can collect a ghost item, to steal your friend’s weapons.

I played two-player with my girlfriend using the Wii U GamePad as player one, and a Wii U Pro Controller as player two. I had to set up a Wii Remote as my first controller, even though I wasn't using it, because this is the easiest way for the Wii U to recognise the Wii U Pro Controller as player two. It’s also possible to use a Classic Controller Pro, but I did not test this.

The eShop lists the Wii Remote as an optional controller, where it lists the Wii Remote and Classic Controller Pro together. Presumably you have to plug your Classic Controller Pro into your Wii Remote.

The GamePad, Wii U Pro Controller and Classic Controller Pro all have a button layout and shoulder buttons that are relatively similar to a SNES pad, in comparison to a Wii Remote, at least. I hope that helps!

**** Final Edit: Please see comment 50: You can use the Wii Remote to control player two in Wii U Super Mario Kart. First of all hold down button 2 on the Wii Remote when you're first selecting Super Mario Kart on the Wii U home screen. The default Wii Remote controls are for button 1 to accelerate and button 2 to select and fire weapons/ items. You can then go to Controller Settings, and set up the B button to be able to hop, which is harder due to a lack of shoulder buttons, but it just about works.****



JamieO commented on Review: Super Mario Kart (Wii U eShop / Super ...:

@antonvaltaz Thank you for that, what a completely sound thing to say!

As an example of how the tracks in Super Mario Kart have been re-explored as retro courses in subsequent Mario Kart games, here’s a list of classic tracks from the original that featured in its sequels:

  • Mario Kart DS: Mario Circuit 1, Donut Plains 1, Koopa Beach 2 and Choco Island 2.
  • Mario Kart Wii: Ghost Valley 2 and Mario Circuit 3, but also Battle Course 4 from the SNES game’s Battle Mode.
  • Mario Kart 7: Mario Circuit 2 and Rainbow Road.

The GameBoy Advance game Mario Kart: Super Circuit had extra cups that could be unlocked, which included all twenty of the SNES tracks as a bonus. The only trouble is that many of these courses don’t feel as satisfying in games that didn’t have the feather item to take advantage of their clever shortcuts. The SNES tracks are also shorter, so their flow can feel unusual in the context of later games, and sometimes the placement of speed boost arrows has been altered or removed.

In some videos for Mario Kart 8 there is also a track that resembles Mario Circuit, but it has been flipped around and broken into segments to allow for the new game’s anti-gravity mechanics. It’s not necessarily from a SNES version of Mario Circuit, but it looks purely ace to me.



JamieO commented on Review: Super Mario Kart (Wii U eShop / Super ...:

I found the GamePad to be great for Time Trial mode, because I was able to settle down with Off-TV Play Super Mario Kart, and still keep the telly free, so my girlfriend could watch The Great Gatsby on Blu-ray. Also, the option of reloading my Ghost using the ‘Create Restore Point’ on Wii U was useful for following my best route around the track, so I could return to beat my times, even if my top initial Donkey Kong Jr meander of 1’03”77 on Mario Circuit 1 is not going to break any records (my first play’s best Mario Circuit 1 lap was 0’12”56).

Like @NImH mentioned, the SNES pad felt very natural for Super Mario Kart, because it was so comfortable towards building a flow in a race, especially when using the shoulder buttons to bounce around corners.

However, I was completely happy hopping into and out-of a power slide using the bulkier Wii U GamePad. I played an abundance of two-player GP and Battle Mode against my girlfriend for this review too, and the Wii U Pro Controller felt nice, as an alternative for gamers who find the GamePad a bit chunky. You can even control your kart with the analogue stick, but the D-pad is far more accurate in this game.



JamieO commented on Review: Super Mario Kart (Wii U eShop / Super ...:

To put it simply, SNES Super Mario Kart is one of my favourite games of all time. I agree with @BigBluePanda, it has a definite spot in my top five games list, and it’s a prime contender for the number one slot. My friends and I played it huge amounts during its first release, starting with when I imported the NTSC US cartridge during Christmas 1992, which means over the last 22 years it may be the game that I have put the greatest amount of hours into.

The friendly competition was superb, not just in two-player GP races, but also Battle Mode and with rivalry over our fastest track times. I remember when I was studying during the summer of 1993, I borrowed my American SNES to my best friend, and he wiped the floor with my Time Trial records for Mario Circuit 1 and Ghost Valley 1. His times were awesome for the day, I wish I could see them again, but sadly my US cartridge has gone astray.

I still own my Super Famicom version, which I bought much later on, because I like the colourful red and yellow Japanese manual/ box art. As far as I’m concerned, replaying Super Mario Kart on Wii U epitomises how the gameplay in a retro video game can remain relevant, and age gracefully over time.



JamieO commented on Ninterview: The NES Club and an Epic Collector...:

Wow, The NES Club sounds like a speed-run of an NES collect-a-thon, but without taking any short cuts. For Jay Bartlett and Rob McCallum to embark on this quest, with a tenet to only travel to shops and auctions, without any online purchases, makes their achievement even more impressive.

It makes sense for them to not include contest or unofficial games, the 678 licensed game target within 30 days is challenging enough. I like the approach that Jay advised of preserving boxes, looking for mint manuals and wherever possible cleaning-up the condition of a purchase, too. Good luck with the final chapter of this journey.

I also think the point Rob makes about the NES being a universal system in North America, which by skipping brand allegiance kept its focus on the games, is an engaging line of thought. We didn’t have that perspective with the NES in the UK, because the popularity of home computers meant that competition in the late 1980s era was prevalent with brand devotion towards Commodore Amiga and Atari ST here, before you even factor in the console gamers playing a SEGA Master System or NES. The NES was popular, but I recall that its staggered European release meant that Mattel didn’t deliver it to UK gamers until 1987, and this later entry meant that it was not nearly as supreme in the UK.

I look forward to watching The NES Club documentary, so I hope the physical version of this film becomes available in the UK. Fair play to collectors like this, it’s amazing what people can achieve when they set a target and think outside the box. Even if Jay didn’t manage to buy all 678 NTSC licensed games, driving 10,000 miles for 30 days straight on a mission to collect retro games is still an insane accomplishment. Insanely awesome!



JamieO commented on Ninterview: Aaron "NintendoTwizer" Norton and ...:

One of the things that I take away from reading a feature like this, apart from the massive number of games, is the way in which a collection can feel more valued and appreciated when it's neatly organised and presented. Space is always an issue for me, and while @NintendoTwizer says the same thing, the photographs show that the presentation of Aaron’s collection is immaculate.

It looks like a perfect room to chill out in, especially with the bright hardware hues of systems like N64 and Game Boy Color displayed together. In comparison my retro games and classic magazines are scattered in separate rooms, or gathered away in boxes. Some are stored like clutter, so they're not given a chance to shine.

I mainly aim for boxed games, with instructions, and for this reason I also like the Neo Geo Pocket Color. Alongside the Mega Drive and SEGA Master System, the Neo Geo Pocket Color is a practical system, because its games are protected by plastic clamshell cases. I can definitely appreciate the idea of buying loose cartridges, though. They save space, and provide the core gameplay experience, which is the fundamental purpose of a retro game.

The numbers that Aaron is talking about here are stunning in any case, 5,200 total games is a jaw-dropping figure, and he also has a large number of boxed games. I'm satisfied if I reach a total of 100 games for a console, sometimes I only aim for 50 titles as a target for certain systems.

If I ever find time, I'd love to keep a spreadsheet with all of the specific details of my collection. One day I'll have more space to re-organise my hoard, and take inspiration from retro gamers like Aaron, by giving more care and thought to how I display everything together.

I really enjoy these articles on different collections, January's Stepping Into The Nintendo Arcade Ninterview was fascinating, too. Top job, @Dazza.



JamieO commented on Feature: A Weekend With Pikmin 3:

@C-Olimar Like any lad growing up in the 1980s I often read the Beano, more than the Dandy, although I must admit that I don't have a massive amount of knowledge regarding the exact contents of my old comics today. The reason I mentioned the Dandy was as a direct nod to my childhood, I was deliberately recalling an annual called 'The Dandy Book 1984', because I remember how pleased I was to receive it as a present. It had a red cover, which showed Bully Beef aiming a water pistol at Korky the Cat, who had his foot on a football.

At this point my memories could have become mixed up, especially as I no longer have the annual to hand, but I have a recollection of The Numskulls appearing in that specific book. Is it possible that The Numskulls appeared in my 1984 Dandy annual as a guest comic strip, as a group of little visitors from the Beezer? Sorry if I have confused two sets of memories, I may have merged my nostalgia of 1980s comics with one particular Dandy book.

The point I intended to make is that there is a sense of innocence in Pikmin 3, which is most obviously displayed in the actions of the Pikmin, and this trait is expanded through the conversations between the game's space explorers. Therefore, the depiction of characters in the game, as well as the way it unravels a world that is larger than life, viewed through a camera that places the tiny heroes in the thick of nature's majesty, all combined to remind me of being a kid.

I was also taking into account that there have been reports in the past about how Shigeru Miyamoto has been influenced by his childhood experiences, as well as his enjoyment of gardening, so this may reflect upon some aspects of Miyamoto's game development, especially as he worked as producer on Pikmin 3.



JamieO commented on Review: Pikmin 3 (Wii U):

Welcome Pikmin 3, and many thanks to the li'l alien guys and gals from PNF-404 for watering the Wii U's garden, meaning that the Wii U retail game drought is finally over.

Bring on boxed versions of New Super Luigi U (Fri.26 July 2013, UK), The Wonderful 101 (Fri.23 Aug 2013, UK), and Rayman Legends (Fri.30 Aug 2013, UK) next!

I've ordered this now, so it'll be arriving at some time close to Friday 26th July, we're lucky in the UK to get a number of these Wii U games slightly earlier than the US.

I'm going to juggle Pikmin 3 with Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. and EarthBound over the next few weeks, which is unusual for me, because I'm a bit more of an arcadey, fast racer, speedy platformer, run-and-gun and beat-'em-up kind of gamer.

After reading this review, I will focus on Pikmin 3's relaxed pacing through the story mode first. I'm sticking with Wii Remote pointer controls too, plus it's great to read high praise about the visuals here. I am definitely a fan of the game's depiction of natural environments and rural landscapes.

A rockin' review, @MegaWatts. Rock-on, Rock Pikmin!



JamieO commented on Soapbox: The 8-Bit Era Laid the Groundwork, bu...:

I settled down to read this feature, I often find that a Sunday evening is a great time to catch-up on Nintendo Life articles that have caught my eye, which I did not get chance to read during the weekend.

I definitely wasn't expecting to find a personal compliment about my attitude towards enjoying a mixture of retro and modern games, though. @ThomasBW84, you are such a gent! It was lots of fun sharing time between both the retro section and the Wii U booth at Eurogamer expo 2012

This feature is completely spot-on, it doesn't matter if you are familiar with a game from playing it on the day of its original release, or twenty years later as a digital download, it is your individual experience and enjoyment of it that matters. It is the joy, laughter and happiness the game brings to you that are important, wonderful nostalgia can be created from playing a game, but these memories are not confined to a narrow window of a title's first launch.

I find my appreciation of great games is widespread, I hold Super Mario Galaxy 2 in the same high esteem as Super Mario World, I admire Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Skies as much as Space Harrier, and I'm sure I will sing the praises of Mario Kart 8 as much as I do with Super Mario Kart.

An awesome game is an awesome game regardless of when it was released. I embrace nostalgia and I often wear rose tinted glasses, but I am not blinkered or negatively presumptuous that the golden era of gaming has passed and it's all downhill from here.

2013 is a most excellent time to be a gamer, I'm massively excited for the future of both 3DS and Wii U, plus I'm confident that gaming will constantly deliver new gameplay gems and treasures to revere.

I also welcome the idea that it's worth considering retro and contemporary games as having a different style to each other, with respect given to the technology available at the time. In that sense we celebrate the games that are stylish, not just in an audio/ visual context, but in their flair for creativity and imagination.

Thanks loads Tom, a perceptive and thought-provoking piece, I really appreciate the complimentary nod in my direction. Sorry for getting mushy, but your comment actually just made my day. Big cheers!



JamieO commented on Review: Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (3DS):

I really like the sentence "Dream Team brings the crazy, which is a relief", as it sums up the promotional videos I have seen for this title perfectly. Tilt controlled special attacks that work brilliantly too, does the marvellous madness in this game never end?

In regard to the 40 odd hours of gameplay length, my only slight apprehension is that I might buy this and then struggle to find the time to complete it, as I already have a sizeable backlog of games. Finding spare gaming time for longer titles is a bit of an unforeseeable luxury for me at the moment.

You have definitely piqued my interest in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team though, @ThomasBW84. As your introduction examines, I hope this game gets the attention it deserves, the 2013 3DS release calendar is already packed with finery and splendour. Cheers!



JamieO commented on Site News: Nintendo Life - AKA Mario & Luigi -...:

Fair play Tom and Ant, I get shattered after running 5KM non-stop, so 10KM through cobbled streets of Edinburgh is a decent length, especially in Mario and Luigi suits.

I hope that there are plenty of Coin Blocks between now and 14th July, perhaps even the Gold Blocks from New Super Mario Bros. 2, spitting out donations for GamesAid.

Wishing you the very best of luck!



JamieO commented on Feature: Hands-On With 16-bit RPG Pier Solar:

I am not just lucky to get the chance to write for Nintendo Life, but I have also been visiting the site as reader for years and it is retro coverage like this that made me buzz off this site in the first place.

This feature is as charming as the idea of having a brand new game on an old, 'put out to pasture' console. Reading this reminds me of how I get excited when NG:DEV.TEAM release a new game on Dreamcast, it is magical that developers like WaterMelon breathe fresh life into our favourite antique consoles.

I love the paragraph about how WaterMelon were able to take advantage of advancements in the megabit storage capacity of a 16-bit game cartridge, which as retro gamers know so well, should not be confused with a megabyte. I was never good at maths, but gaming taught me to always remember that there are eight megabits in every one megabyte.

@Damo and @MakeMyBiscuit are spot-on when they highlight how an elegantly presented CIB (Cartridge, Instructions, Box) physical release adds to the enjoyment of investing in a game like Pier Solar.

The photographs are the icing on the cake, a delightful feature by Nlife’s retro gaming connoisseur, Mr McFerran.



JamieO commented on Feature: Nintendo Life's Top 20 Wii Games:

@Cranky Like any gamer, I’m sure that Nintendo Life’s staff members have their radar tuned into top-scoring games, 10/10 games certainly grab my attention. One thing to consider regarding Rayman Origins is that a number of staff members for Nintendo Life also write for Push Square and own a variety of different current generation systems. I personally chose to focus on voting for Wii exclusives, for example @NintendoLand noticed this trend in comment 126. I know that many staff members of Nintendo Life are huge fans of Rayman Origins, I have spoken to them about it, but they may have actually completed it on PS3 or PS Vita. It does look particularly sumptuous on more powerful systems, which have greater graphical grunt than the Wii.

@Sfzorzando I can respond to your question 'How much does Nintendo pay you guys to suck up to them?', but from my own personal experience, if it helps:

@ThomasBW84 gathered the team together and set us off to select our own individual and personal Top 20 choices of favoured Wii games. The main stipulation was that Virtual Console games were not to be included in this list. We responded diversely and some staff members placed third-party games in high places. As I am a fan of retro gaming, I personally included third-party retro arcade compilations like SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1, Metal Slug Anthology and Data East Arcade Classics. He then added up the results and worked out the points, which highlighted how our choices were repeated, accumulating the total points for fair placement of each game’s position in the Top 20.

Tom explains this clearly in the feature, but I can assure you that there is no conspiracy here. Were you really surprised that exclusive Nintendo developed Wii games featured so consistently in our independent votes? It’s not really a secret that Nintendo’s first-party output is such a strong part of the Wii’s overall library. Sorry if the truth is a more mundane explanation of how this Top 20 was organised and compiled.



JamieO commented on Feature: Nintendo Life's Top 20 Wii Games:

I think that one thing I can take from reading the comments on this feature, is that we all feel passionately about our personal favourite games and the Wii has built a quality library of much-loved titles.

There was no way that all of the classic Wii games could be included in a list of twenty games, below are the games that I compiled as my choice of personal Wii favourites for this list, which did not make the top twenty:

Just because these games did not make the final list, it does not stop them from being excellent Wii games and it doesn't detract from the quality of the titles in the final list.



JamieO commented on Feature: Nintendo Life's Top 20 Wii Games:

In regard to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess featuring above Skyward Sword, I hold my hands up as one of the Nlife staff members who voted for Twilight Princess and I actually did not include Skyward Sword in my list.

My reasoning was logical enough, I have an abundance of nostalgia for Twilight Princess, because it was one of the very first games I played on Wii during the launch window, I played it for a good portion of Christmas Day 2006 and over the Christmas holidays and I do not underestimate the power of each individual gamer's nostalgia for a particular title.

Secondly, I have amassed in the region of fifty Wii games, not a huge number compared to my collection of games for retro systems, you may even think that a writer for Nintendo Life should own more than fifty games for a current Nintendo system.

My point is that I have not even had the chance to buy or play Skyward Sword yet, my personal list could only be based on the titles I own, games which I have played extensively. @ThomasBW84 did a superb job of organising the strong individual opinions and preferences of the Nlife team, into a fair and representative list of twenty titles.

In the meantime, my Wii collection continues to grow, I have not been able to purchase every high-scoring Wii game released, but I will own and catch up on Skyward Sword one day. Until then, I can't comment on a game I haven't played.

Therefore, my vote is partially responsible for Twilight Princess beating Skyward Sword, after all I was 1/17th of the staff members taking part in this list. Ultimately, I stand by Twilight Princess as being a great game in it's own right, it is a quality Wii adventure as shown by the 8/10 Nlife review describing it as "a deep action/rpg experience with beautiful graphics and rewarding game play."

I am really happy with Nlife's finished list of twenty games, if you were to buy each and every one of the twenty titles mentioned, you would own a class collection of Wii games.



JamieO commented on Events: Play Expo - A Day of Bitmaps, Digital ...:

@fullyilly Thank you kindly, it is always brilliant to hang out with you, Mike. Cheers for taking photos on my camera too, so that I had some pictures of myself at the expo. It was an awesome day indeed, mate. Nice one! See you at the next event.

In fact, I am up for meeting as many gamers as I can when I attend an expo. I would definitely be up for saying "hello" to more gamers at next year's Play Expo.

I am JamieOretro on Twitter, so tweet me if I am attending the same event as you and you need another player to make up the numbers, for a bit of 4-player co-op or competitive gaming.



JamieO commented on Events: Play Expo - A Day of Bitmaps, Digital ...:

@RupeeClock I know, the huge Gunstar Heroes poster was such a brilliant memento for those guys. We were wondering how they were going to get it home, I think they had to at least take it on the bus, back to Manchester city centre.

I also saw massive screenshot posters, using the same style, of SEGA Saturn Guardian Heroes and Commodore 64 International Karate + (IK+)

@Dazza You hit the nail on the head, Daz. I actually said to Mike as we were talking at the end of the expo that I did not know where the time went. It was as though I looked at my watch at 10am and I was having so much fun, that by the time 6pm rolled around it felt like only a few hours had passed.

Put it this way, I could have spent the entire day just with the free arcade machines and candy cabs. I miss the golden days in the UK of the late '80s/ early '90s coin-op era.

Thanks muchly to the hard working guys at Replay Events.



JamieO commented on Feature: Nintendo Life's Favourite Eurogamer E...:

My face was beaming from ear-to-ear playing Rayman Legends co-op with @Dazza (I had the GamePad) and it was such a laugh to play through The Wonderful 101 and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate demos with @ThomasBW84 beside me, giving me helpful tips.

@paul6891 It was superb talking to you about retro gaming, from the C64, through to Konami's 1990 Aliens coin-op. Cheers to you for the retro chat.
(edit: I hope I have the right person, I talked to a retro gamer called Paul for ages while I was waiting for a play of Wonderful 101, it was one of many examples of how chatting to other gamers gave the expo such a fantastic atmosphere).

The five-player Nintendo Land session that @Mason refers to in this feature was so much fun, the Nintendo Life crew were chuckling their heads off and the banter was brilliant.

Eurogamer Expo 2012 was simply magical, it is completely charming to read Mike's reflection on it here.

Wonderful Nintendo Life Legends of Fate 101! Thank you muchly, Eurogamer!



JamieO commented on Play: Mario Kart 7 with Nintendo Life - Today!:

Unfortunately, my Internet connection was not up to the task.

I persisted for over an hour, but only got to race on two retro courses (SNES Rainbow Road and GCN Daisy Cruiser). Even then I only managed one lap on each course before getting the message "A communication error has occurred."

The rest of the time was spent hoping for a decent connection, followed by repeated errors.

It looks like I will have to wait until I meet up with the Nlife staff again for a decent sized group race, through a bit of local multiplayer.

Enjoy your racing time and "good luck" to all of you who are taking part in Nintendo Life's mass Mario Kart 7 race-athon.



JamieO commented on Play: Mario Kart 7 with Nintendo Life - Today!:

I will be there at 9pm, I have played local multiplayer Mario Kart 7, but this will be the first time that I have raced online.

If you see me online my name is JamieO (surprisingly enough). If you pass me on the race track, my Mii has brown spiky hair and a light green shirt. I will be driving a 'Soda Jet' kart, normal wheels and flying with a 'Swoop' glider.

Have fun everyone!



JamieO commented on Ninterview: Super Famicom Guy:

The idea behind this Ninterview is excellent; I think it is great to draw attention to Nintendo gamers who are passionate and active in the community. I am particularly pleased to see the very first Ninterview be dedicated to a retro gamer and picking SuperFamicomGuy to start this off was a spot-on choice, great work @antdickens.

I have followed @SuperFamicomGuy on Twitter for a while now, I enjoy reading his tweets, because he discusses subjects that I have an affinity for, including the more niche areas of retro. This is also demonstrated from the photos of his Super Famicom collection, from titles like SETA’s Nosferatu to Human’s The Firemen.

I also agree 100% with Stu when he says that he would take Super Mario Kart as his one game to a desert island.

The only thing that makes me feel sad when reading this and looking at the pictures, is that I try to collect as many Super Famicom games as I can, so I watch that specific topic on eBay, but it seems like prices have skyrocketed recently and even common games are listed as ‘rare’ or ‘very rare’.

It is also becoming harder to buy a mint Super Famicom game, compared to collecting sturdy plastic box Japanese Mega Drive titles, because the Super Famicom cardboard boxes get battered and torn so easily.

Anyway enough of the negativity, congratulations to Stu, what a cracking interview and collection, I recommend that anyone interested in retro gaming should follow him on Twitter.

Roll on the next Nintendo Life Ninterview.



JamieO commented on Feature: In Defence of Super Mario Sunshine:

@siconlolz No worries at all, this was my mistake, I apologise to you for the misunderstanding.

I deliberately wrote each heading beneath the images in the words of the naysayers, to potentially draw the reader in. It is the first time I have written in the first person for a feature, with the intention of putting the complaints in the voice of a gamer that is unimpressed by the game. However, I had slight concerns that a reader may misconstrue my headings as my own personal grumbling. Hopefully it is clear that I consider Super Mario Sunshine well worth celebrating on its 10th anniversary.

I am overjoyed with the response to this feature, I think that a diverse and thoughtful set of opinions have been discussed. I am really pleased with the knowledge and passion evident in these comments. The analysis by readers in regard to the implementation of collecting blue coins to ‘buy’ Shine Sprites, which superficially extends lastabilty, is excellent. I wish I had covered that angle in the feature.

I love the comments from gamers like @TheSolarKnight that mention how the main areas in the game are visually connected, because you can see them in the distance in the background. This was a charming detail, I actually made that observation in my research notes, alongside the game’s other lovely little quirks, like how there is a musician playing a separate jaunty tune when you stand beside the spring ready for Chain Chomp’s Bath.

I feel that the comments and response to this article are another great example of how brilliant Nintendo Life’s community are at examining the intricacies of a Nintendo game. I am very proud of this feature, because of the debate and discussion that followed it.

Thank you to all of you Nlifers.



JamieO commented on Feature: 20 Years of Mario Kart:

Tom's introduction reminds me, I got the chance to play Namco's Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 (2007) for the first time earlier this year. I was chuffed, it was fun to race around a few courses in that game.

I don't know the specifics of licensing issues, but I would love it if Nintendo and Namco Bandai could somehow find a way of releasing its two Triforce arcade board Mario Kart games. They could bring them out as downloadable games on Wii U, in a similar vein to Virtual Console Arcade games. I would buy them if they were a retail release too, as a two game collection. I know that this is unlikely, but there is no harm in dreaming.

Here is a picture of my arcade visit, which also includes a photo of Mario Kart Arcade GP 2.



JamieO commented on Feature: 20 Years of Mario Kart:

@ThomasBW84 I would seriously love that to happen. I agree with @antdickens, not only do the seven Mario Kart games combine to make my favourite series of video games, but SNES Super Mario Kart may very well be my number one video game of all time.

A grand and dramatic statement on my part indeed, but everyone has a series of games that they simply adore. That is Mario Kart to me.

I would feather jump for joy at the possibility of a Mario Kart marathon, at a future Nintendo Life staff meet.



JamieO commented on Feature: 20 Years of Mario Kart:

@ThomasBW84 Brilliant stuff! I love each and every game in the Mario Kart series, I could play every title and read about them all day.

Reading this feature makes me want to have a Mario Kart marathon. Just imagine getting a group of gamers together and racing multiplayer tournaments through all seven games in succession. That would be a dream gaming day to me!

Nice one, Tom!

"Happy 20 Year Japanese Anniversary, to Super Famicom Super Mario Kart!"



JamieO commented on Feature: In Defence of Super Mario Sunshine:

@siconlolz The headings beneath each picture are other gamer’s niggles regarding the game, they are not the main focus of this feature. The core body of the article defends Super Mario Sunshine. I have summarised specific points below that are detailed in this feature, which I believe celebrate Super Mario Sunshine as a brilliant video game:

  • FLUDD’s innovation is achieved by vertically opening up the environments, particularly with the hover and rocket nozzle, so that stages have a refreshing sense of height, for perpendicular platforming.
  • The difficulty is fair if you master the intricacies of the controls (side-somersaults, wall-kicks, analogue R Trigger running squirt etc). As you become more proficient controlling Mario to conquer episodes, you get a great sense of accomplishment from tackling the challenge, whether for the “…Secret” old-school 3D platforming sections, or the main FLUDD controlled adventure.
  • Isle Delfino is a unique setting for a Mario game. It is attractive and inviting as a video game playground and succeeds at merging much-loved personalities from the Mario universe, while introducing new characters to present a distinctive tropical holiday atmosphere.
  • Super Mario Sunshine is a fantastic Mario game in its own right, it has its own style and sense of identity, regardless of how it compares to other titles in the Super Mario series.
  • It was very well received by video game critics on its American release in August 2002, as exemplified by excellent retro magazine scores and a brilliant 92 Metascore.

Have another read of the feature, it is a celebration of the 10 year anniversary of Super Mario Sunshine.



JamieO commented on Feature: In Defence of Super Mario Sunshine:

Just as a side note, although I have listed other gamer’s complaints below each image to structure this feature, they are not my personal opinion of Super Mario Sunshine. In a sense I have been playing devil's advocate to spark a discussion as part of this game’s 10 year anniversary.

Personally, I have played a hefty amount of Super Mario Sunshine, so I am used to quickly manipulating its camera with the C-Stick and using the Y button to scan upward for far-up platforms and elasticated high wires. I finished it in 2002 with 83 Shine Sprites and then recently I used a spare save slot to complete the main story again, replaying it from scratch this week.

I relish and enjoy the stages that present a challenge, particularly the old-school classic levels, based around the player’s skillful use of the controls. I still get frustrated if I take time to reach a high-up area, but miss a narrow ledge, so plunge all the way down and have to start again, but it is not a huge deal. I can happily and repeatedly work my way through most levels in the game, the general difficulty is not insurmountable to me, it is a fun title.

I think Isle Delfino’s bright visuals, sun-draped setting and quirky islander characters are wonderful. I have heaps of nostalgia for Super Mario Sunshine, it is very worthy in my eyes and I honestly love the holiday vibe of this game.

The idea was to address other gamer’s complaints about the game and their negative perceptions of it. If the feature was written completely from my personal perspective it would be overly nostalgic, with a list of my favourite levels, but it would not acknowledge that gamer opinion is divided on this title.

@Chrono_Cross You are spot on, I made three separate sets of notes for this feature. First of all I compiled a list of all of my favourite stages and memorable set-pieces, based upon my memories of when I completed it in 2002. I then gathered a large amount of research notes to understand other gamer’s opinions and their complaints about the game; these were taken from Internet reviews and forums, but also from my collection of retro magazines, which reviewed Super Mario Sunshine in 2002. Finally, I finished the game for the second time this week and made notes of interest from this replay, based upon all of the episodes that I completed. I then based this feature on key points from these three sets of notes.



JamieO commented on Introducing: Damien McFerran:

Good luck @Damo, I hope you have lots of fun in your new full-time role as editor of Nintendo Life.

I also like Ant's description of how Nlife have "taken him out of his protective packaging", alongside the discussion about Damien's early gaming memories and how he first started writing about games.

A chuckle-worthy bunch of photos are included with this feature, too. Great stuff.



JamieO commented on Site News: James Finds a Warp Zone:

I am glad that I had the chance to wish both James and Damien congratulations and good luck in person, but it is definitely worth reiterating my best wishes here too:

@James Tons of luck for your new job in Frankfurt, working for Nintendo Europe is a superb opportunity and the passion for gaming that you have demonstrated at Nlife/ Push Square/ KINECTaku will sparkle like a Shine Sprite in Germany. I will obviously miss your writing and coverage on Nintendo Life, but I know that you will make an awesome contribution to the work at Nintendo Europe. Very well done and huge congratulations!

@Damo Big-time congratulations to Damien too, for his new full-time position as editor of Nintendo Life. All of your stellar work in the past means that you are perfectly placed to embark upon this new job role. You know that I have enjoyed your writing, since I first realised you were responsible for so many incredibly detailed features in Retro Gamer magazine, and I wish you the very best of luck for the Nlife editor's gig.



JamieO commented on Talking Point: What Games Are You Playing This...:

@FluffyNinja I was talking with @JonWahlgren the other day about Jet Force Gemini and he raised similar points to you. Hopefully I will have a review of it ready for Nlife next week, I want to make sure that I play through the entire game again first, so that I can be thorough when I re-analyse its content. Perhaps we can chat about it further when the review is live, I just need to find the time to complete the full game.

Meanwhile, I managed to earn the 'All Red Star Rings Found!' trophy in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II. I really enjoyed the replay value of exploring each level and the way in which searching for the Red Star Rings adds to the longevity of the game. I especially like the areas like Through the Sandstorm, where you can see the Red Star Ring, but there is a risk in using Tails to hover and fly to reach it. Admittedly, I had to check the Internet to work out the placement of the Red Star Ring on Sonic Coaster Rails. Tut tut!

I think that Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II is such a fun game, I hope that it is released on a Nintendo system one day.



JamieO commented on E3 2012: Our View of Nintendo's E3:

@Slapshot No worries at all Chris, I know that we are on the same page, I have read enough of your reviews and chatted with you enough times to realise that.

Perhaps I am less burnt out by the God of War franchise, because I have not bought God of War Collection, yet. I will purchase it one day, though.

On a side note, Ubisoft's Wii U Rayman Legends was the best game showcased at E3 2012, for a Nintendo platform.



JamieO commented on E3 2012: Our View of Nintendo's E3:

@Slapshot Fair play Chris and apologies for the misunderstanding, I see the care and attention that is invested into violent games like God of War III, or the animation of slicing a Helghast enemies neck in Killzone 3, plus I know that they play brilliantly. I completed those games and thoroughly enjoyed them, squishy blood visuals were irrelevant, but not unnecessary.

I just feel that gamers should not judge games based upon visuals, they could be as cutesy as the Care Bears, or as gory as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but it is always the gameplay that counts.

I definitely didn't mean to come across as a critic of violence in video games, I would be a hypocrite, because I hotly anticipate The Last of Us and God of War: Ascension. I also consider Ubisoft's ZombiU as one of the most potentially impressive Wii U games and I truly hope that its tone is as dark and adult as a TV show/ comic book like The Walking Dead, as I am a huge fan of what has been achieved in both The Walking Dead comic and the TV series that it is based upon.

I am with you completely, gameplay rules the roost, fella.