Posts tagged “Zelda”

Thursday, 18 December 2014

New Article: Mario Kart 8 DLC Numbah Wahn!

Link on a Bike!

That’s not a horse…

Nintendo is doing something super-smart with Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U. They’re releasing DLC (DownLoadable Content) for it. They’ve never really done this before for their Mario Karts, and it is a simple and genius idea. Instead of coming out with a new Mario Kart every few years, just come out with some new tracks and new drivers periodically!

So the first DLC set came out a while back (I wanted to write about it then, but there were… problems), and I thought I’d write some thoughts about the new tracks and drivers. And then you can watch a 1-minute recap video of each of the new tracks! NEAT!

First off, the new drivers!

Tanooki Mario

marios-headIt’s Mario! In his Tanooki Suit from Super Mario Bros 3! That’s right, this is NOT Racoon Mario. This is Tanooki Mario. Tanooki does not equal Racoon. They’re different animals. A very aesthetically pleasing design, but doesn’t seem to play any differently than regular Mario. Or maybe he does? Sometimes the differences between drivers are incredibly subtle.

Cat Peach

peachs-headPeach dressed up in the Cat outfit that everyone got in one of the more recent Mario Games. Honestly, I haven’t tried this driver much because it uncomfortably blurs the line between being an outfit and being a wank destination for furries. *Shudder*

Link

links-headMario Kart’s first foray outside of the Mario franchise! Nintendo has decided to open up Mario Kart to the wider Nintendo world, much like Super Smash Bros. Their first choice is a grown-up link, similar to the classic Link from Ocarina of Time. It’s pretty interesting to see him bumping karts with Donkey Kong and Toad and the like.

There are 8 new tracks in the DLC, divided into 2 new Cups (Egg and Triforce). For the Egg Cup, I chose Link and his motorcycle. For the Triforce Cup, I chose Tanooki Mario and the badass Blue Falcon—Captain Falcon’s hovercar from F-Zero! Wait, why would I do that when the Legend of Zelda track is in the Triforce Cup? You’ll see…

Egg Cup

Yoshi Circuit (Gamecube)

This is one of the tracks from Double Dash, which is still my all-time favorite Mario Kart. Though I have to say, I barely remember it. This is a straight-ahead ground race. There are no hills, no anti-gravity segments, no nothing except turns and turns. In fact, the map of this course is an outline of Yoshi’s silhouette. Hence the name of the track, I suppose. An interesting inclusion, I suppose to contrast the very up-and-down nature of the rest of Mario Kart 8.

Excitebike Arena

THIS is why I chose Link and a motorcycle for the Egg Cup! This is a very simple course with a very cool hook: it’s just a simple, two-turn oval (much like Double Dash’s Baby Park course), but it’s chock-full of ramps and jumps and mud straight from old-school, 8-bit Excitebike! And here’s the hook: every time you play the course, the positioning of the jumps and muds and whatnot is randomized, so it’s a (slightly) different course each time! Plus the music is a great remix of the original Excitebike theme song. This course is a lot of fun, but I wish it would have been 5 laps (like the original Baby Park, which is my all-time favorite course) instead of just three; it’s a bit too short as it is.

Dragon Driftway

A heavily Asian-themed course that is almost 100% anti-gravity. You wind yourself along the body of an enormous Asian dragon (NOT a European-style dragon) over a very old-timey-looking Asian village. The music is very… Asian. Y’know, if it weren’t for the fact that this game was designed by Japan, I would think this course bordered on uncomfortable stereotypes. But it is one of the prettiest courses out there.

Mute City

Incorporating a track from another racing game into Mario Kart? This is a great idea! When this DLC was originally announced they made a big deal about how Mute City was going to be a 100% anti-gravity course. But it comes immediately after Dragon Driftway, which is an almost-100% anti-gravity course, so it seems a little weird. There are some awesome touches in this course, like the way you collect coins by driving over the healing strips from F-Zero. There’s also a really cool shortcut you can take if you have a mushroom.

Triforce Cup

Wario’s Gold Mine (Wii)

For some reason Mario Kart 8 got rid of Mario Kart Wii’s “half-pipe” gameplay mechanic in favor of the anti-gravity mechanic. I’m not sure why they couldn’t do both? So this isn’t a 100%-faithful translation of the Wii’s Wario’s Gold Mine course. But they did bump-up the prettiness factor quite a bit.

Rainbow Road (SNES)

The final boss of the original Mario Kart! The original Rainbow Road was a deadly course with only 90-degree turns and a perilously narrow track. Unfortunately they dumbed it down quite a bit in this version by making the course WAY too wide. It’s actually kinda difficult to fall off, whereas in the original Mario Kart it was kinda difficult to NOT fall off. The Thwomps making the track ripple is an excellent touch, though (especially since you can stunt off of the ripple like they were jumps), and it sure is damnably pretty. It’s just way too easy.

Ice Ice Outpost

I think maybe this is supposed to be an Ice Clibmers themed course? I’m not sure. But the track is divided into two halves that twist and wind themselves around each other. There are a bunch of shortcuts and alternate routes you can take on this track, and one of them you don’t need a mushroom to use…you just have to be willing to drive off the edge of the track at the correct spot! The course has an interesting design, and there’s a bunch of interesting things going on in the background that I never get to look at because I’m too busy driving (is that a Yoshi helicopter flying around in the background?).

Hyrule Circuit

Y’know, maybe it would have made more sense to play as link in this Cup and use the Blue Falcon in the Egg Cup… but OH WELL! This is actually a pretty standard course, with some curves and jumps and such, but it has a couple of cool features. For one, instead of picking up coins you’re picking up Zelda-style Rupees, complete with Rupee-collecting sound effect (in fact, the whole course is filled with Zelda sound effects and music). Also, when you enter the castle there’s a neat little secret—if three crystal switches are activated in the hallway leading up to the Master Sword room, a secret ramp raises itself (complete with the classic Zelda “secret” sound effect) and you can actually jump up and touch the Master Sword! And since you’re in anti-gravity mode, touching something gives you a boost. So not only do you get to bypass an entire curve, but you get a boost out of it.


And there you have it. Eight new courses, bringing the grand total up to a bulging 40 total. That’s pretty badass! And there’s another DLC on the way this spring, that introduces an Animal Crossing Villager into the driver mix. Who is excite? I am excite! If they keep on extending the life of Mario Kart 8 like this, it could be well on its way to becoming my favorite of them all.

Categories: Articles, Video Games.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

“Of the Month” January 2014

Video Game of the Month:
1401videogame The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
A sequel to the incredibly-highly-regarded A Link to the Past, this Link Between Worlds ups the technology with a fully 3D environment (confined usually to the standard 2D overhead view of the classic Zelda games) and silky smooth graphics and sound. It’s a pretty standard Zelda story about the seven sages, with some nice twists including a recurring art theme and the ability that Link gains early to turn into animated, 2D wall art. Seriously! I haven’t yet beaten it, but it is a lot of fun.

Book of the Month:
1401book The Stench of Honolulu: A Tropical Adventure by Jack Handey
Jack Handey is perhaps best known as the creator of the “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey” series of interstitials that aired on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s. This novel is my favorite kind of humor. It is completely surreal, cartoony, and every single paragraph has a joke in it. Such as:

When you have a real treasure map in your hand, all sorts of thoughts go through your head. The first is, Don’t lose the map. The second is, Hey, what happened to the map? The third is, Oh, yeah, I gave it to Don. The fourth is, Hey, where’d Don go? The fifth is, Oh, there he is.

Basically, imagine that all of the “Deep Thoughts” were thought by one person. Now put him into an “adventure” in a jungle. This book isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you love weirdly stylized and unrealistic things like Cabin Boy and Pushing Daisies, then you’re probably going to love this book with all parts of your body.

Tabletop Game of the Month:
1401tabletop Castle Panic
A cooperative board game! Everyone collaborates to defend a castle in the center of the board from hordes of monsters that encroach from the surrounding forest. It seems complicated at first, but at its core is surprisingly simple to learn, and there are enough variants to the happenings that it stays consistently fresh. It’s also unsurprisingly satisfying to work together towards a common victory rather than competing for the win.

It was also featured in one of the early episodes of Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop webseries:

Categories: Of the Month, Videos.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Olympic Gymnast Uses Legend of Zelda Music In Her Floor Routine!

In case you didn’t know, the Olympics are happening RIGHT NOW. I’m not a big sports person, but Carrie & I actually watch a bunch of the Olympics. I like them better than most sports because for the most part it isn’t about people with egos larger than their talents swaggering around and generally being douchebags.

But with some exceptions where pro sports people get to play (basketball, tennis), Olympic athletes are for the most part a different breed. They spend so much time developing their skillz that they don’t really have time to become douchebags. Or if they do their coaches smack them back into their places or just cut them completely.

And periodically something completely awexome happens during the Olympics. Like this, when Mexican gymnast Elsa Garcia Rodriguez Blancas did her qualifying floor routine to a medley of music from The Legend of Zelda:

She didn’t qualify (she was competing with two pretty badly injured hands), but it was quite something nonetheless.

There is much more information on this gamer gymnast over on Kotaku. It’s a good read about her history with both video games and gymnastics, written by her sister Laura.

Categories: Videos.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

“Of the Month” January 2012

Link of the Month:
SomaFM commercial free internet radio SomaFM
My favorite internet radio website, I’m particularly fond of the “Lush” and “Indie Pop Rocks!” stations. SomaFM is different in that each station actually has a programming director-slash-DJ who personally picks all the songs and when they play; it isn’t just some database of songs put on shuffle. And because the focus is on the indie and the unusual, you’re not going to hear very many of the songs that you’ll hear on real FM radio. I started listening to them because of their excellent Christmas station, and I’ve stayed on for the long haul now. Since it’s user-supported there are no commercial breaks (other than the occasional station ID break). It’s a great way to discover new and exciting musics.

DVD & Game of the Month:
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Nintendo has their Zelda formula down. Do you like the other Zelda games? Then you will probably like this one. The addition of the Wii Motion Plus makes it so that the fights require more skill than just button mashing; Link’s sword now mimics the Wiimote in your hand. It has a different feel than many of the other games, with a different set of friendly races you encounter and an overworld that consists of (sadly under-utilized) flying mechanics. Several standard Zelda tropes are given interesting spins. Listen, it’s a Zelda game, okay? Play it; you’ll like it.

TV Show of the Month:
Krazy Times With a “K” — The Complete Series
Okay, so the show is actually called NewsRadio, not Krazy Times With a “K” — but one time (back when the show was on the air) Dave Foley was interviewed by Conan O’Brien and they refused to call it anything but Krazy Times With a “K.” Anyhoo, NewsRadio is one of my very favorite 90s sitcoms, with characters who just get legitimately crazier and crazier as the seasons go on until by the end it’s more like a sneak peek inside an hilarious insane asylum than it is a traditional sitcom. I laugh a lot, at Bill’s increasingly nightmarish childhood (“Good times… good times…”) and Dave’s ever-increasing number of bizarre and unpopular skills he used to practice (like tap dancing, knife throwing, and playing Stargate: Defender), and of course Matthew’s masterful physical comedy. Good times… good times…

Categories: Of the Month.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Super Mario Crossover

I was going to post footage from the Dumbfoundead/Open Mike Eagle/Nocando/Threeni show that I went to last night, but the sound from the footage I recorded was all blown out and it sounded basically like bursts of static. Other people recorded it, but they haven’t posted it online yet, so I can’t post it here for all y’all.

To tide yourselves over, please indulge in Super Mario Crossover, a version of Super Mario Bros. where you can play as Mario, Link, Simon Belmont, Bill (from Contra), Samus Aran, and Mega Man. Yes, it is actually as awesome as it sounds. Just click the image:

supermariocrossover

(via Newgrounds)

Categories: Links, Updates, Video Games.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

“Of the Month” January 2010

Link of the Month:
theSixtyOne.com
EDIT: This site just went through a major re-design that took out all of the functionality that I liked about it and replaced it with, well, nothing but shit. Please do not visit or support them.

DVD & ALBUM of the Month:
They Might Be Giants: Here Comes Science
Not only is this TMBG album full of fun, catchy tunes, but since they’re all science themed, you get some great songs about how you shouldn’t believe anything unless it’s been verified through experimentation. And not only is it a great album, but They went ahead and got animators to make animated music videos for each and every single song on the album, and they put them all together as a DVD!

Game of the Month:
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Another brilliant Zelda game in the Wind Waker chronology. This one takes place after Phantom Hourglass, and has some wonderful innovation, like the central theme of the game: trains. You use a train to get from place to place, and you have to switch from track to track to avoid explosive enemy trains, and you have to haul cargo around without damaging or dropping it, and you have to carry passengers without making them think you’re a completely unsafe train engineer. Also, there are a series of dungeons where you can actually team up with Zelda and control both characters to solve the puzzles. It’s good.

Categories: Music, Of the Month, Video Games, Videos.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

A Shelf of Note

I didn’t get very much sleep last night—only about five hours. So this afternoon after doing some work and delivering it, I decided to relax by playing some Animal Crossing: City Folk.

I very quickly fell asleep. And, since it was what was on my mind when I fell asleep, I had a dream about Animal Crossing. For some reason, though, it was kind of a hybrid between animal crossing and The Legend of Zelda.

For instance: The game had a cartoony, “Minish Cap” style of art instead of the regular Animal Crossing style. Also, in the real Animal Crossing, you will periodically see big bugs clinging to the trunks of trees. In my dream there was a Peahat clinging to the side of a tree. It got startled when I got to near it and started (slowly) fluttering away towards the east side of town, where there’s a big cliff. When it reached the cliff it floated up to the top of it. Luckily, in my dream a mushroom-like dog lived at the top of the cliff and caught the Peahat, dropping it back down into town so I could catch it in my bug net.

My favorite part of the dream, though, was that there were Octoroks running around all over town. They were absolutely harmless, and you could catch them in your bug net if you wanted. They always traveled in groups. There would be a large one in the front and then four or five smaller ones would follow it around in a straight line. Then my dream people got absolutely stumped. What do you call a group of Octoroks?

Y’know how you call a group of geese a “gaggle” of geese, a group of fish a “school” of fish, a group of crows a “murder” of crows, a group of buzzards a “wake” of buzzards, etc.? Well, my dream people wracked their collective brains to try to come up with what to call a group of Octoroks.

What they came up with was a “shelf of note” of Octoroks. “Note” as in the sense of importance or consequence (as in, “Nothing of note happened”). So there were all these shelves of note of Octoroks running around my Animal Crossing town.

I thought that was so absolutely bizarre a choice that I had to wake up and write it down. At first, though, I only dreamed that I woke up and wrote it down. I had to catch myself and say, “Hey, you didn’t actually do that. You’re still asleep.” Then I woke up for real and, like Abraham Lincoln, wrote “Shelves of note of Octoroks” on the back of an envelope.

Categories: Dreams, Video Games.