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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My, How You've Grown, 3DS

Ah, the Nintendo 3DS, successor to the original Nintendo DS. It really has come a long way in over two year's time. The 3DS and DS are different yet, similar in many ways. The overall design is the 3DS is the same as the 3DS (not counting the soon to be released 2DS) but the 3DS is vastly more powerful than the 3DS. But the most intriguing aspect of how similar the 3DS and DS are to each other is how both handhelds started out.

The original DS was Nintendo's first foray into 3D handheld gaming. But where as the PlayStation Portable was like a portable version of the PlayStation 2, the DS lacked the graphical punch of the GameCube. In fact many DS games that used polygons look like Nintendo 64 games. Sony's portable was clearly the more powerful of the two. For a while, everyone was championing the PSP as the new handheld hotness even before it released. Sony worked wonders with the first two PlayStations so they'd surely be able to repeat that same success in the handheld market. That's what we all thought, anyway. The DS  launched a few months ahead of the PSP, but it wasn't really a launch to write home about. Sure, an enhanced port of Super Mario 64 was great but after dropping $150 for the DS, gamers were hungry for a little more than just that. Then something amazing happened. Games, fresh, good games started coming out by the dozens. The robust library of DS titles, innovative touch screen along with it's low price point (the PSP was a staggering $250 in comparison) made it Nintendo's most profitable handheld gaming device.

The launch of the 3DS was strikingly similar to the original DS with one major difference. An abysmal launch game line up certainly didn't help but the killing blow was that $250 price tag. Nintendo's hardware has always been affordable but they were asking far too much for the 3DS. Perhaps the overwhelming success of the DS made them arrogant to the point that they thought they could price the 3DS so high. Not even a year after launch, the 3DS saw a $70 price cut, which greatly helped improve sales but it was also around this time that the 3DS starting getting a slew of great games. Much to my surprise, both Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 released on the dates that Nintendo scheduled them and the 3DS has been rocking hard ever since.

I love my 3DS. This isn't just some portable that I game on when I'm not home, although that is a great benefit of handhelds. But really, I spend a lot of time at home with my 3DS up and running. As of this writing, I have 19 games for my 3DS. Animal Crossing: New Leaf gets a lot of play time but before that I was hopeless addicted to Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy. The strength of the 3Ds lies not it in's 3D capabilities, but it's games. There are a wealth of titles to choose from. The aforementioned Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Fire Emblem: Awakening. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. And that's just Nintendo's first party games. Third party support is just as strong on the 3DS as it was the DS. Shinobi, Shin Megami Tensai IV, Code of Princess, Project X Zone, Etrian Odyssey IV, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward and so on. If you can't find anything to play on the 3DS, you're either incredible picky or hate Nintendo.

There's also the eShop, which hosts a variety of NES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Gear, 3DS Ware and even digital versions of 3DS games. Some 3DS games can only be obtained digitally, like HarmoKnight and Kokuga. And contrary to popular belief, there are original Game Boy games that are worth the few bucks it takes to download them like Gargoyle's Quest, Wario Land 3, Donkey Kong and Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge. 3DS Ware offers some great titles as well like Pushmo, Crashmo, Mighty Switch Force!, Might Switch Force! 2, and VVVVVV to name a few. The eShop interface certainly isn't perfect. Some titles you have to use the search engine just to find and the navigation leaves a lot to be desired. Still, the eShop is a step up from the Wii's Virtual Console, offering sales on games.

One could get all of their gaming fixes on the 3DS. It's been getting the most love from me out of all of my systems as of late. Weather I'm hunting down titles to download on the eShop, catching ghosts in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, the 3DS does not disappoint. It's come  along way from it's rock start over two years ago, but the way things are going, it's looking like lightning has struck twice for Nintendo.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Favorite Tunes #70: The Year of Luigi

Nintendo has a done a bang up job celebrating Luigi's 30th anniversary. Not one, not two, but three games staring everyone's favorite man in green and blue. In honor of the Year of Luigi, I'm giving my favorite player two the spotlight in this edition of Favorite Tunes.

Professor E. Gadd - Luigi's Mansion (GCN)

The GameCube marked the first time in history that a Nintendo console launched without a Mario title alongside it. While on the short side, Luigi's Mansion proved that Mario's younger brother could carry a title all on his own. Professor E. Gadd's theme is a much more mellow version of the Luigi's Mansion main theme.

The Last Cackletta - Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA)

The first entry in the delightful Mario & Luigi series. Luigi is reluctantly dragged along for the ride that takes him and his older brother all across the land. Like the Paper Mario games, enemies can be seen on the field so you can pick and choose your battles. The battle system utilizes timed hits so combat is anything but dull.

Main Title - Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (DS)

Probably the least popular game in the series, Partners in Time has you controlling Mario and Luigi as well as their baby counterparts. Being the first game on the DS hardware, the game utilized both screens. It isn't a bad game by any means but most fans prefer Superstar Saga and Bowser's Inside Story over this one.

Raceways - Mario Kart 64 (N64)

Released nearly five years after the original Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart 64 was the series first foray into the third dimension. New racers and new power-ups were introduced such as Wario, tripple red shells and the dreaded spiny blue shell. Oh, and we also got a fantastic soundtrack by Kenta Nagata.

Luigi's Mansion - Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

Luigi's Mansion sure did a lot of Mario's brother. It established his cowardly persona, gave him his own solo series and it gave him his very own huge house. It crumbles when it takes too much damage in Brawl, but I'm guessing Luigi has some killer insurance because it's rebuilt time and again on the quick.

Brobot L-Type Battle - Super Paper Mario (Wii)

Luigi may accompany Mario in the Mario & Luigi RPG games, but in the Paper Mario titles, he's often someone that Mario must fight against, though this isn't of his choosing. Brainwashed and taking on the persona of Mr. L, Luigi faces Mario on a number of occasions. One fight in particular has Luigi fighting with the Brobot L-Type, complete with his own unique battle theme.

The Wind is Blowing at Cavi Cape - Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (DS)

What many are calling the best of the series, the third Mario & Luigi game has the plumbers teaming up with Bowser, fighting inside his body as Bowser fights on the outside. It's a crazy turn of events, filled with the trademark humor the series is known for and of course, Fawful.

Title Theme - Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)

The Dark Moon has been shattered and the once friendly ghosts living with Professor E. Gadd become hostile. Rather, than place himself in danger, the old man calls upon Luigi. Armored with a more tricked out Poltergust vacuum that can be upgrade, multiple mansions to explore as opposed to one and you have yet another reason to get involved in Luigi's ghost busting exploits.

Level Clear Theme - Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)

Clearing a mission in Dark Moon is always satisfying  even if you don't get the highest rank possible. You can't ask for a bigger reward than Luigi's joys "I did it!" and this incredibly upbeat piece of music.

Adventure's End - Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (3DS)

The fourth game in the Mario & Luigi RPG series. You go adventuring inside Luigi's crazy dreams and messing with Luigi from the outside world via touch screen has different affects in the dream world. From the songs I've heard, this could be Yoko Shimomura's best effort in creating music for this series.

Favorite Tunes Database

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Life and Times in Gamerock Entry 5

This entry should have been posted eons ago but I got preoccupied with other things so it got delayed. So I'm just going to let the photos speak for themselves.

New Leaf Custom Designs #3

I'm back from scouring the web with some more custom designs created by the loving fans. This was originally going to be a mixture of designs from different gaming series, but I found so much stuff on Mega Man that I decided to give the Blue Bomber the spotlight for this one.