Trivia Time- Kung Fu….Turtle?

We all now know Sonic and Mario exist in the same universe. I mean, they compete in the Olympics together. But does Po and the Kung Fu Panda universe also share the same space? The answer…..is no. Of course they don’t. That’s a shame as this article would be better if it did.

I’ll leave my fantasy aside for now and explain the connection. So in the Mario Kart 8 level Ribbon Road, the racetrack takes place in a kids room. As in, Mario and crew are racing on a child’s toy race track in a room that suspiciously looks like Andy’s room from Toy Story. There’s a lot I could write about here, like where are these giant humans who built this? Are they even humans? Calm your brains. Today, none of that matters. What we’re after, is a poster. A poster with a very similar image to a real Kung Fu Panda poster.

Instead of the titular panda demonstrating his moves, we are treated to a Lakitu striking a fighters’ stance. More than likely the design team decided to do a joke poster on a film they like but I prefer a different idea. I like to imagine that in this universe, the Kung Fu Panda series exists and that Lakitu is like the Wayan’s brothers of the film industry and is the star of spoof films. Other classics include The Incredible Lakitu, Lakitu by the Sea and my personal favourite, 12 Angry Lakitus. Lakitu’s one man film, it’s like The Nutty Professor but, you know, good.

My Top 5 Games of 2017

Ignore the date! It is NOT late March and therefore this article is NOT long overdue.

5. Puyo Puyo Tetris

Puyo Puyo logo

I’m actually surprised this is in my top 5, but looking back over all the games I played of 2017, this one I’ve kept coming back to. Puzzle games aren’t even a genre that I have much love for compared to others but Puyo Puyo Tetris is just so easy to love. Tetris is universal, I don’t need to explain that as anyone having an interest in gaming and reading this knows how Tetris works. Puyo Puyo is something I’d never played before and when I got the game I figured I would just play the Tetris modes and that’s it. Puyo Puyo is similar to popular Facebook and mobile phone games. You have colours, you line the colours up and score points and clear space. Setting off a chain reaction of disappearing Puyo’s will grant more points and space as well as obstacles for your opponents.

The game does a great job of explaining the gameplay mechanics of both modes and it’s Frankenstein of a mode where they merge the two. What follows is a simple concept but hard to master package that has a mode for everyone. The chaos that ensues when four people play against each is hilarious especially with modes like Swap, where each player has to play Tetris for a set time and then swap to their own Puyo Puyo game and the pattern continues until a victor remains. A great game with a lot of replay value and perfect game for a Nintendo Switch as the portability is a huge bonus.

4. Stardew Valley

Stardew valley

I own this on 3 platforms. I’ve put over 100 hours across all 3 and yet I still haven’t finished a single playthrough. It’s one of those games that I’m sure everyone has experienced. You start it, you play it for hours a day, you spend dozens of hours getting the result you want and rather than finish your current run, you decide to start again. Not due to boredom or unhappiness with your current run. But due to that simplicity and addictive nature of the beginning of the game. The thing that enraptured you in the first place.

Achieving an ideal farm and a peak routine that yield’s the most profit and productivity is fun. It’s great fun and very therapeutic. On the other hand, a simple basic farm has my pitiful mind brimming with potential. Do I focus on animals? How should I organise my crops? Do I want a cat or dog on my farm? How do I improve on what I did previously? There is so much choice in this game that I think I’ll be playing it for another 5 years before I finish a run. And I am completely okay with that.

For more on how I feel about Stardew Valley and a more in depth look at an average 20 minutes on the game, feel free to check out a feature I wrote a while back. Here is the shill….I mean, link! Shill

3. Mario Odyssey

mario

This is a fun game! It gives me a warm, happy feeling when I play it. I know that sounds all touchy and overly sentimental for a game but it’s the truth. Mario games in the main series have always held that power over me but Mario Odyssey might be one of the prime examples. Everyone and their gran knows what Mario is and how it plays so I’m not going to explain that.

Mario Odyssey has what makes a video game a classic. It’s beautifully colourful, has fluid gameplay, an amazing soundtrack and has many moments that planted the stupidest smile on my face. This game is a stand out in Mario’s long history. From the beginning to the end of this adventure, humour and nostalgia are injected into every corner of this game. Nintendo set out to make the most fun and Mario filled Mario game and I believe they done that spectacularly. Sheer fun on a cartridge.

2. Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath-of-the-Wild

Breath of the Wild has spoilt me. Why can’t I climb all mountains in all other open world games? I’ll be the first to admit that I have an issue with open world games. There is usually too much to do and the world in question is a lot of the time, devoid of personality or enough personality to fill its scale. Breath of the Wild laughs at that problem. I loved exploring this world. There is so much to find and see that I never tired of climbing mountains. Not only is Hyrule a treat to traverse but the actual traversal mechanics are a delight to play.

This Zelda is a tricky one to place. It’s number 2 on my list and I believe it deserves that spot. Saying that though, it’s one of the weakest 3D Zelda games in my eyes. I always loved Zelda’s dungeons and bosses and this game lacks in that area severely. On the other hand though, it still deserves the number 2 spot and is still the best realised open world game I’ve played. I think this is an amazing game and an amazing series. Even when Zelda is at its weakest it is still head and shoulders above most of the video game industry. So even though I just said this is a weak entry in the series, I still recommend buying this game 100%. A superb game.

My game of the year is………..

1. Persona 5

Persona 5

For me this was the clear winner. I loved the others on this list and when I wrote down my preliminary top 10, Persona 5 was placed at number 1 and it stayed there. Others I swapped and ummed and ahhed about but not Persona 5. That speaks volume to me and hopefully to you about how I feel about this game. This was a stellar year in gaming but this quirky high school sim/JRPG/heist game takes the grand prize.

I’m not a stranger to the Persona series or even the Shin Megami Tensei series. I remember buying Persona 4 for £10 for my PS2 back when PS2 games were no longer the key market. The next gen had come along but I saw this strange game with these fantastic reviews and gave it a go. My mind was blown. It is still my high point for JRPG’s, a genre that I’m not the most proficient in besides the odd Final Fantasy game.The Persona series is like no other series I’ve played. It’s tone and weird nature are enveloped by solid characters, unique storyline’s and a combat system that I care for with a passion. It’s essentially Final Fantasy turn based combat with Pokemon chucked in. There are so many aspects of this game that I could write paragraphs about.

In the end though, it’s style that is all over this game that I love immensely and the reason it is my number 1 of 2017. The look, the music, the character and Persona design. Even the menu screen is a joy to view. It has pizzazz all over the place and it’s not a style over substance game. The world and the characters that fill the world are rich in detail and care. Every aspect of this game took time and consideration. If you haven’t played or seen footage of this masterpiece then please go on YouTube and have a look. Just at the menu screen or the end screen of a battle. To me the end screen of a generic battle is a classic. It’s up there with the Final Fantasy victory fanfare (the one that you just sang to yourself). That is only a small detail of this game but that flare and flourish is cascading through this game.

There is nothing else like it at the moment in my opinion besides other iterations. Persona 6 can’t come soon enough but I’ll gladly accept Shin Megami Tensei on the Switch till then.

Keeping Peach In HER Keep

Hi there! Are you tired of over grown lizards stealing your princess? Kicked down too many castle doors and told your princess is in another castle? You need to call us, the MKS (Mushroom Kingdom Security)! Call now on 1800-123-MKS and quote the code ‘Princess’ to get 20% off our Protected Princess package. This package includes all the premium gear you’ll ever need to keep your damsel in distress, just a damsel. The following features will be provided and installed by yours truly:

  1. Warp Pipes: With these green beauties that pesky Bowser won’t get too far with your beloved. We install a hub room in the confines of your castle that is JAM-PACKED with warp pipes to across the land. Now when Bowser and your ravishing maiden are half way to his fiery castle, you just hop in a warp pipe for the end of World 7 and wait for the blundering fool to appear. Quick, efficient, and you and your highness will be back in the throne room before Luigi even notices.
  2. Power Up Pack x 10: You ever been up a creak without a frog suit before? Not any more! With our patented Power Up Pack’s that Super Mushroom is just tap away. In our PP package you don’t just get 1 of these, nor 5 but 10! You read that right, I said, 10! Before you set off for your rescue mission, slap one of these to your plumbers belt. Then, when that annoying red shell as taken away your power up, just slap the  PP pack and BOOM! An explosion of upgrades will burst forth in front of you. Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, Super Star, Tanooki Suit, Penguin Suit, Cat Suit and more. We’ve got them all. Even the ones that weren’t in your World till now, we scoured the Mushroom Kingdom so you don’t have to.
  3. Chomps: The best offence is the best defence. And here at MKS we do offer the very best of both. Now tell me if this rings a bell. You go to rescue your silken haired beloved but before your very eyes, is a raging black ball of teeth that’d tear you up faster than a Wiggler unwrapping Christmas day’s 8 pair pack of socks, from Grandma Wiggler. The only thing keeping this untamed sphere of fury off your face is the chain that secures it. Now what if we flipped the script on that Godzilla wannabe and fight fire with even hotter fire. Buy our pack today and we’ll place a Chain Chomp in each of your strongholds rooms. But we don’t stop there. We place a Chain Chomp to cover every 10 metres of your buildings exterior. We supply you with the biggest deterrent of the Mushroom Kingdom for your own home. Now you may be thinking ‘MKS are you crazy!? Why would I want these vicious atrocities in every room of my stronghold?’. No need to fret, friend. We hand raise these Chain Chomp’s ourselves in a secure location in The Forest of Illusion. These boys don’t bite the hand that feeds them and you’ll be surprised at how loyal they can be. Heck, you can even get rid of the Chain and just have your own personally Chomp rolling around your room. Your own personal guard Chomp.
  4. Toad Camp: Now we’re being too kind. Do you ever wish you could have some help with protecting your Princess. That lanky brother of yours always crying about ghosts and cowering with fear when that repugnant, reptile face shows up. You wish those Toads would step up and stop telling you to go save the Princess. Wish they would do it themselves? Me too, friend. That’s why we offer to take your castle’s Toads for a vigorous, strenuous and absolutely stupendous 2 month training exercise. This 60 day course will push your Toads to the limit. Strength, speed and jumping will be improved like you wouldn’t believe. Turning your Toads from a bunch of Fun-guys to Toad-al beefcakes.
  5. Star Juice Vial x 15: Marioooooooooo! She shouts, as Bowser snatches her away in his ugly, dulled claws. With our PP pack this will be a thing of the past. And if that sneaky reptile does manage to grab your princess on a social outing somehow. Possibly when playing tennis or go-karting. Your royal leader will be fully prepared. Our Star Juice is 100% freshly squeezed and organic. We only use the brightest and shiniest Super Star’s. We condense that energy into a little vial that comes with a necklace that is personally tailored for your fair lady. When Bowser grabs the soon to be queen, she pops the vial from her necklace and drinks the Star Juice. The beat down that Bowser will receive will be like none before. He’ll think twice before trying to turn your princess into a helpless captive. Girl Power!

If this all sounds too good to be true then pinch yourself and see if you’re dreaming. I’ll let in you in on a little secret. You’re not. For just 999 coins this bargain can be yours. Call now on 1800-123-MKS and quote ‘Princess’ for your exclusive saving. Put up and your feet and let us do the rest.

MKS- Securing the Mushroom Kingdom, so you don’t have to.


MKS isn’t liable for any damages to you, your princess or your castle if our packages are used inappropriately. It is not advised to release your Chain Chomps from their chains unless you individually, have received the full Chain Chomp release training provided by the MK Government. MKS is not liable to pay for any injuries sustained at the Toad Camp or Toad misplacement. All our products have been tested and approved by the MK Regulations Act of 1976. MKS is a Mushroom Kingdom sanctioned public trading company and is fully covered by the MK Trading Standard Act of 1984.    

Just A Quick Go: SNES Mini

As a 90’s child, I grew up with the Super Nintendo. One of my first ever memories is sat in front of our old CRT TV playing Donkey Kong Country. An ice level actually, I was struggling on this particular level and played it so much I can still remember the level’s song. When, the NES Mini was announced I didn’t buy one. Not because I didn’t think it was worth it, but because it wasn’t nostalgic for me. The SNES was my first console and possibly my favourite console to date. There may be some bias there as it is my first system but the staggeringly good line up speaks for itself. The SNES had an over-abundance of titles that to this day hold up and was the birth place of many of gaming’s greatest iterations. And so when they announced the SNES Mini, I had to get one.

I’ve only played it for about 4 hours and haven’t touched some of the games yet. This is just my take away from my brief re-introduction to some classics. The SNES Mini itself: cute as. I didn’t realise it is this small. The SNES controller itself is wider than the SNES. The dinky console comes with two controllers, the system, a USB cable and a HDMI cable. It’s deceptively small and comes with 21 games built into the system.  I think, the console looks the part, the resemblance is striking. It even has the fake controller entry points that the SNES had back in the day. Now with this new version, that is a plastic guard which you pull to reveal the real plug sockets. The controllers themselves feel lighter than I remember but that could just be an age thing. An issue I have at the minute are the length of the wires for the controllers. They’re short. Not as short as the NES Mini so I’ve read. But still, wires are dirt cheap these days. Nintendo could have shelled out for another 3 foot, no problem. There are remedies if this is an issue for you. I’ve bought some extensions which basically attach to the controllers wire length and increases that to a more comfortable length. The controllers now reach 10 feet which is couch length with some slack, which suits me more. A simple fix but a fix that shouldn’t need to exist.

On the subject of the controllers. An extra button or two would have gone a long way to increase enjoyment of the system. Nintendo has a newly added rewind feature on the system. A feature which is greatly appreciated. I’ve forgotten how hard and unforgiving some of these games are. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, I can’t even beat the first level any more. The rewind feature goes a long way to help alleviate frustration but the rewind button is on the console itself. There is no way to implement the rewind unless you go over to the console and hit the reset button. This then takes you to the main screen, with all the games to select and the option to use a save slot, to save your progress or rewind to seconds or minutes earlier, depending on the game. I know Nintendo are going for a true to classic look but an extra button on the SNES controller called ‘Rewind’ wouldn’t hurt. The controller isn’t cluttered, it has room for it. The rewind is a great feature that requires too much effort to use. And that might sound like I’m being lazy but I tend to play my games to unwind, so lying on the couch comfortably is my preferred style. I don’t want to have to be sat right next to the console or to get up every time I want to use the save state or rewind. Another issue I have and I might be stupid for not seeing why this couldn’t have happened. Is, I don’t understand why the SNES Mini can’t work on a computer or laptop screen. I tested it out on my laptop and nothing loads up. I’m not too tech savvy, but I’d imagine that would have been quite simple to implement.

And with that, my nit picking is done. I have issues with the system but it plays the games I want it to play and, it’s retro and nostalgic for me. The list of games are fantastic. A lot of these games I haven’t played yet either because I wasn’t aware of the series at the time, or just because I had limited money and had to make choices over other games. Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World, Street Fighter 2, Star Fox and Super Mario Kart are the only games from the list that I actually owned. A few of the others I’ve touched over the years but never at length. I love the Zelda series but only got into Zelda when Ocarina of Time came out. Before that I wasn’t aware of the series and so to have A Link to the Past included is a real treat. Many call it the best Zelda game and I am so looking forward to finding out why people say that. Super Metroid is the same as Zelda, great praise but I never tried it. Fusion and Metroid Prime were my first introductions and I love both those. It comes with 4 RPG’s that I’ve never played more than 3 hours of. Earthbound I’ve never touched and so am excited to try that.

Contra 3 was the first game I played when I switched on the system. The Konami logo popped up and memories came flooding back to me. I rented this game when I was young and don’t think I got very far but definitely further than I got today. This game is tough! I’m amazed at how much persistence I had as a kid. You forget how merciless these games are. After losing all 5 lives on the first level I walked away dishevelled and feeling old. Are my reflexes slower these days? Or is it because when you’re younger, when you get a game, that is your game for ages. I would make games last because I had so few. Super Mario World I cleared several times, Star Road and all. When I loaded it up today, I was killed by the first enemy. I’m embarrassed by that but not ashamed to admit it. Trying to jump that Beach Koopa I completely forgot the physics and momentum of the game and landed right in front of it. And I’m happy about that. I can remember the sound effects, the layouts, the music but the actual feel of the game is rusty in my fingertips.  The thought of playing something loved, familiar but forgotten too is what I wanted when I ordered the SNES Mini. It’s as I remember it, nothings changed except me. Nothing highlights that for me more, than Donkey Kong Country.

Starting this game again after so long is a bit jarring. The intro doesn’t look as good as I remember it I’ll confess. Donkey Kong Country did have a different look to it than other games at the time. But hearing Cranky playing that song again and DK dropping that boom box for some ape free-styling, brought back the 90’s for me. The soundtrack to this game still holds up too. I was humming away during the first water level, that tranquil song as relaxing as ever. All was going well playing this game. I got acclimatised to the rolling then mid air jumping again. Which is needed for later levels as some collectables are way below the land you’re standing on. Then I got to the first mine cart level. Wow, the pressure. My heart was racing. I went from 20 lives to 8 in just a few minutes. The thrill of those sections is still in this game after all these years. After completing that section I had to save and switch off the SNES Mini.

I had great fun with my short time on the SNES Mini and am eagerly looking forward to sinking my teeth into its catalogue of classics.