Posts Tagged ‘20’

A Decade of Dual Screen Splendour

Turns out I couldn’t do my normal Oscars thing this year because of work commitments, which saddens me. Nevertheless, as pathetic as it might sound, I’ve been waiting for this very day for years now, just so I could put this article up.

The original model – A thing of stunning beauty that made you want to throw up a little with just one look.

It is truly astonishing that a decade has already passed since the release of the Nintendo DS in Australia. On this very day in 2005, almost three months after its American release, the Big N bestowed a truly ugly yet quietly revolutionary portable gaming device on the PAL region for the first time, with a European release to follow a few weeks later. This hefty silver beast came packing not one but two screens, one of them touch-enabled, along with an unassuming microphone for voice input, more buttons than Nintendo had ever put on a handheld before, a built-in instant messenger app and full backwards combatibility with Game Boy Advance games. It was a thoroughly weird hunk of plastic and metal (this was still years before the iPhone, after all) that initially appealed to little more than Nintendo’s faithful.

I was one of said faithful, and my sister and I were there on launch day to pick up our first run versions of the DS, complete with that bundled-in demo cartridge of Metroid Prime: Hunters tantalisingly known as “First Hunt”. Between such a tasty graphical showcase and the joy of Super Mario 64 DS, Nintendo’s fresh console represented a huge step forward in graphical muscle over the GBA, and my teenage eyes lit up at the prospect of what experiences could possibly be on the way for the bizarre clamshell. Many of my friends were bewildered at the very sight of the monstrosity and my attempts to explain its appeal initially sucked, but I didn’t particularly mind if the system wasn’t popular, visually pleasing or particularly comfortable to play for long stretches – I knew it would bring great games to the table.

Well, I was right about that last part at least.

After all, just shy of 18 months later the DS Lite was released. Bringing with it brighter screens, a much smaller form factor, swathes of games with a wider range of appeal than ever before and some deviously clever marketing, the infinitely better version of the DS grew steadily in popularity until it exploded into the mainstream alongside the Wii in the latter half of the decade. The rest is history – the DS became Nintendo’s highest selling console of all time and the success of simple touch screen games paved the way for a smartphone gaming revolution. And unlike with the Wii, the release of so-called “casual” games on the DS did not affect the ongoing creativity and quality of meatier games on the system. All throughout the console’s life cycle, from the original model to the Lite to the camera-enabled DSi to the supersized DSi XL, great games just kept coming out. Some of my favourite videogames ever made their home on the DS, and so without any further rambling, here are my personal favourites. No less than 20 of them, in fact.


20. Trauma Center: Under the Knife

I’m going to start with the entry on this list that I’ve most recently discovered. As good an argument as any for the extraordinary staying power of the DS’ unique library, I started playing this gem only a few months ago after picking it up for dirt cheap on a whim. And it’s awesome. Though typically weird for an Atlus game and just as typically difficult, the first in what is apparently a series of Trauma Center games is engaging and rewarding in a way I’ve not seen in any other videogame. The relatively unique stress of performing surgical tasks while your patient’s vital signs rapidly tick away, all against the backdrop of an insane science fiction story, feels fresh even in today’s wonderful climate of creative indie experiences.

19. Metroid Prime Hunters

Though I have much stronger nostalgic feelings for the aforementioned demo of the game, the full version of Metroid Prime: Hunters was certainly nothing to sneeze at. Arriving over a year after said demo, Hunters built on the experimental foundations of the Gamecube’s Metroid Prime 2: Echoes to deliver a gorgeous competitive multiplayer-centric title where the campaign was just the thing you played when you had no buddies around. With a diverse selection of alien bounty hunters from which to choose, each packing a different transformation for mobility and stealth, Metroid Prime Hunters was crammed with ideas way ahead of its time, and honestly represented a concept too ambitious for the limits of the DS hardware. I’d really like to see a sequel on a console with more than one directional input. People who claim the controls of the 3DS’ Kid Icarus Uprising stopped them from playing probably never owned Hunters.

18. WarioWare Touched!

A quirky launch title for the DS, WarioWare Touched! was my entry point into a Nintendo franchise I now regard as one of my top five of all time. I was positively floored by how much fun could be garnered from a stack of basic-looking microgames lasting mere seconds with only the vaguest of instructions to point the player in the right direction. Touched! was one of the absolute best indications early in the DS’ life of the insane potential of touch screen gaming (it even did Fruit Ninja before Fruit Ninja) and its incredibly bizarre personality shone through every manic twist and turn. There are better WarioWare games out there, but this one is really special to me.

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20 Reasons Why 2015 is a Huge Year for Nintendo

So I normally take a break from blogging around this time of year, and I probably still will, but it doesn’t look like Nintendo of Australia is taking time off at all, kicking into their 2015 right away. So I feel like I have to throw out this post right now.

2015 is going to be a pretty special year for videogames, with an impossibly exciting lineup of titles on all platforms slated for release throughout the whole year. And for the first time in a long while, it looks like Nintendo will be mixing it with the best of them consistently throughout the year on both of their primary game consoles. It has been a really long time since we’ve reached the start of a new year with such a clear picture of what that year will look like for Nintendo, and for the Wii U in particular, this one looks absolutely packed with the good stuff. And so it gives me great pleasure to present no less than twenty reasons why being a Nintendo fan is going to rock in 2015:

time that .

1- Captain Toad Treasure Tracker (Wii U)

With Captain Toad‘s January 3rd release, Nintendo is getting out ahead of every other major game publisher in 2015, and it’s honestly a very strong opener to the year. I’ve only played a small percentage of the budget-priced retail game so far (which, admittedly, came out about a month ago in the US), but it’s absolutely adorable and can get deviously challenging when trying to find all the hidden diamonds and constantly-changing optional objectives in its bite-sized “puzzle box” levels. The game is impeccably well designed and a real joy to play.

When will it come out? It already is! Go enjoy this amazing game right now, you lucky things.

2- Splatoon (Wii U)

I played a few rounds of Nintendo’s first-ever entry into the realm of competitive shooters at the EB Games Expo last year, and I immediately wanted to play more. The choice to emphasise territory gain rather than kills, and then to turn that territory into an actual physical advantage in a firefight (paintfight?) by having it improve your range and speed of movement makes for a deceptively deep competitive experience that is simple to understand but tricky to master. The gameplay flow of Splatoon is hella fresh, and I’m excited to see what its single player component holds to complement it.

When will it come out? It’s slated for the first half of the year in all Western territories, and from what Nintendo has shown it looks mostly done, so my guess is March if not even earlier.

3- Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS)

When I was in Japan in late 2013, the super-popular Monster Hunter 4 had just launched, and it just seemed like everyone was playing it – businessmen, old ladies, children, couples, you name it. I’ve experienced firsthand the highly addictive qualities of its 3DS predecessor Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and have amassed quite a few friends who are ready to dive in to a new monster-slaying, armour-tweaking sinkhole when finally comes west, fairly soon no doubt, in upgraded “Ultimate” form. Brace yourselves.

When will it come out? Something about this one screams “first quarter of the year” to me, but that might just be because the last Monster Hunter game released in March over here.

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Get Spooked: The 20 Most Unexpectedly Scary Moments of Non-Horror Videogames

So I wasn’t planning on writing anything special for Halloween, but it’s really freaking hot in Sydney at the moment and the coolest part of my house happens to be right in front of this computer screen, so let’s do something spooky.

If you’ve ever had a videogame-related discussion with me, or even read some of this blog, you might pick up on the fact that I don’t mix well with deliberately scary games. Horror films are one thing – I can deal with those to some extent, though I don’t actively seek them out – but interactive horror experiences are quite another. I just don’t understand the idea of wanting to be scared by something. This may mean I’ve missed out on some of the most talked-about videogame titles of the last few years, such as Slender, Outlast, the Amnesia games, P.T. and more recently The Evil Within, but hey, there are other things to play.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t ever been scared by a videogame before, of course. There are quite a few games out there that, while not deliberately branded as horror, smuggle in some deviously spooky moments. These are arguably even more affecting because you don’t expect them. Some are jump scares, and some are just thoroughly unnerving. Here are no less than twenty of the most memorable ones in my personal gaming history, in no particular order. Of course, some of these are based on the fact that I was a child when I first played them, which made me more vulnerable to such moments, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are forever imprinted on my mind.

Get Out! – Donkey Kong 64

If you’ve played DK 64 before, you’re probably already hearing that ominously deep, aggressive voice in your head right now. In the game’s second level, raiding a pyramid tomb for a golden banana or two brought up a sudden and inexplicable sniper crosshair, accompanied by a loud shout and some crapped pants. A bit of a cheap shot by developer Rare, but an effective one.

The Basement – The Last of Us

The Last of Us is not a horror game, despite what some people might say – it’s more of a dramatic interpersonal drama. But jeeeeez, don’t ever make me play that basement sequence with the power generator again. It just ain’t happening. Combining low light with any amount of water is already a pretty heavy nope situation for me, so throwing in a rush of bile-spewing fungus zombies that spawn at exactly the wrong time is just… aagghh.

Baby Boss – Luigi’s Mansion

His name is Chauncey, apparently, and he’s one of the ghostly bosses in Luigi’s debut solo adventure on the Nintendo Gamecube. He’s also a one-year old baby whose blood-curdling scream just should not be in a Nintendo game aimed at “all ages”. Fighting him in his room, complete with cot and creepily spinning mobile, is the most genuinely scary moment of an otherwise pretty lighthearted adventure.
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My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: #5-1

5. Paper Mario

Games: Paper Mario (N64), Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GCN), Super Paper Mario (Wii), Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)

Ah, Paper Mario. Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to flatten the world’s most famous videogame mascot, not to mention all his friends and adversaries, and insert him into a world where everything (loosely) follows the physics of papercraft dioramas? Whoever it was, I’m glad that the Paper Mario Series came out of such apparent insanity. I’m even more glad that Intelligent Systems were put in charge of bringing it to life (yes, I am harping on about them quite a bit, but come on, look at all the amazing games they’ve made). Like the quirky Mario & Luigi series, Paper Mario is a humour-laden, turn-based RPG series that owes its action-esque central gameplay mechanic to the Super Nintendo’s Super Mario RPG. What sets the dimensionally challenged series apart from others like it is its endlessly creative use of paper physics in puzzles, battles and storytelling, as well as its apparent lack of fear when it comes to trying new and crazy ideas. The writing across the games is irreverent, self-aware and fun, the secrets are bountiful and the characters are endearing. All Paper Mario games are commendable, engaging RPGs (except for Super Paper Mario, which is a platformer – I know right?) but I’m not going to lie – the reason I rate the series highly enough to lift it into my top five is almost entirely based on the strength of The Thousand Year Door on the Gamecube. It is no exaggeration to say that TTYD is one of my absolute favourite games of all time, and at the very least my favourite RPG ever. I fear its near-perfect storm of meta-battling mechanics, location variety, narrative twists, subtle series in-jokes and rewarding extra content will not be matched for a long time.

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My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: #10-6

10. Animal Crossing

Games: Animal Crossing (GCN), Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS), Animal Crossing: Let’s Go to the City (Wii), Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

No, I can’t explain this. Not fully, anyway. If you haven’t played a game in Nintendo’s ever-quirky Animal Crossing series, you will very likely not understand a word of what I’m about to say. When you pay off a loan to Tom Nook the passive-aggressive raccoon and upgrade your house, the feeling of accomplishment is up there with nearly any gaming achievement you’ve ever reached. And you immediately want more, going further into debt for the sake of just a little bit more space, so you can add just the right touch of balance to the vibe of your room. When you see a bug you haven’t caught before, the cocktail of heart-pounding excitement and self-doubt that floods your veins is overwhelming. And when an animal you like leaves your town… Well, the less said about that the better. In terms of content, the games continue to get more and more expansive as the series continues, but in my opinion the portable entries are by far the best ones. The intimacy of a handheld device perfectly suits the strange, pride-fueled mini-achievement cycle that drives Animal Crossing. There is nothing else quite like it.

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My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: #15-11

15. Donkey Kong Country

Games: Donkey Kong Country (SNES/GBC/GBA), DK Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest (SNES/GBA), DK Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! (SNES/GBA), DK Country Returns/3D (Wii/3DS), DK Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U)

When I was putting together this countdown I was actually rather surprised that the Donkey Kong Country series ended up as high as it did, as I never owned a Super Nintendo and so didn’t get to experience most of its games back in the day. I did play the Game Boy Color port of the first game, which I enjoyed, but the real reason this franchise is here is its more recent offerings, courtesy of Texas-based Nintendo developer Retro Studios. The 2010 return of the series after a long hiatus, aptly named Donkey Kong Country Returns, was of such high quality that it was a pleasant shock for many fans. I took a special liking to it when it destroyed my gaming self esteem over and over for eight long months as I tried and tried again to beat it in co-op mode. Seven different co-op partners later, I did. And then came this year’s Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which provided many more hours of difficult yet oh-so-satisfying play. There’s just something about the world’s most famous ape that prevents the majority of his games from being bad.

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My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: #20-16

20. Mario Party

Games: Mario Party (N64), Mario Party 2 (N64), Mario Party 3 (N64), Mario Party 4 (GCN), Mario Party 5 (GCN), Mario Party 6 (GCN), Mario Party Advance (GBA), Mario Party 7 (GCN), Mario Party 8 (Wii), Mario Party DS (DS), Mario Party 9 (Wii), Mario Party Island Tour (3DS)

Oh, the nostalgia. Words can’t adequately express the feelings that come with reminiscing about the days I spent playing the first two Mario Party games with my friends and siblings as a kid. It was like playing a themed board game where any outcome was possible, and whether that meant you got to come back from the brink of certain loss to win the day thanks to your secret ability to land on special spaces, or you got absolutely shafted by your sister’s coincidental run of extreme luck, the chaotic memories were burned into your brain. The minigame design of the early games was also tight enough to warrant playing them on their own, and while it’s true that the series suffered a drop in quality (not to mention originality) as it moved into the Gamecube era, the last couple of years have seen a couple of fresh ideas making their way back into proceedings. I’m cautiously optimistic about Mario Party’s Bowser-centric Wii U debut.

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My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: #25-21

25. Luigi’s Mansion

Games: Luigi’s Mansion (GCN), Luigi’s Mansion 2 (3DS)

It may be one of Nintendo’s lowest output franchises, boasting only two games in over a decade, but anyone who’s played a Luigi’s Mansion game can attest to the quality it offers. The first full-fledged solo outing for Mario’s slightly less famous younger brother, Luigi’s Mansion hit as a Gamecube launch title 12 years ago and, despite its relatively short length, managed to pack in plenty of atmospheric, slightly unsettling, puzzle-solving goodness. The game rewarded curiosity and exploration in unconventional ways, characterised Luigi in a hilarious new light and featured boss fights as clever as the environmental design around them. Though I regrettably haven’t played the 3DS’ Luigi’s Mansion 2 (known overseas as Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon), I have heard absolutely nothing but praise from everyone who has, and intend to give it a spin when I can find the time between other releases.

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My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: #30-26

30. F-Zero

Games: F-Zero (SNES), F-Zero X (N64), F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (GBA), F-Zero GX (GCN)

Here’s a controversial one to kick things off. I know there are plenty of vocal F-Zero fans who swear by the well-tuned arcade (read: insane) difficulty of the futuristic racing series, and said fans are positively foaming at the mouth for a new sequel. The last console entry in the franchise, F-Zero GX for the Gamecube, is now more than a decade old, so a new one is indeed long overdue. F-Zero’s ridiculous energy, intergalactic character roster and unique aesthetic do arguably set it apart from Nintendo’s higher-profile racing series, and Captain Falcon is an insanely popular character thanks to the Super Smash Bros series, so its a little baffling why it’s taking the Big N so long to get things going again. I’d buy a new F-Zero game, even though I would be terrible at it.

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Mega Ultra Blast Cast Ep.20


The Mega Ultra Blast Cast hits a milestone with its 20th episode, but things go off the rails pretty quickly. My two colleagues and I try a new seating arrangement that gives Delaney far too much power for his own good. We get excited about the newly announced Pokemon games, the insanity of the new Mario Kart, the brilliance of Child of Light, the fresh Star Wars Episode VII casting details, the Justice League movie and much, much more. There’s also an unexpectedly lengthy discussion about Cher, and I cannot remember for the life of me how that came up. 

If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive, jazz up your afternoon commute or just curl up on the couch and play some games while you listen to the opinions of three shuffled Sydneysiders.

You can play the whole episodes right off this page if you like:



Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:

(To download and listen offline, follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends – Until next time!