The 64 Showcase: Mario Tennis

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Mario Tennis Aces just came out, so it’s time to celebrate its release with a video that ISN’T about it! The latest 64 Showcase is all about Mario Tennis! And as it turns out, it’s a bit of an intense game!

Be sure to let me know what you think! And why not check out my YouTube for some other gaming related videos as well? It’ll be loads of fun, I promise!

 

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Becoming a Tennis Ace (Mario Tennis Aces First Impressions)

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Since the days of the Nintendo 64, the Mario sports titles have been some of my favorite games. I have a lot of fond memories of playing Mario Golf and Mario Tennis with my family, and Mario Super Sluggers on the Wii is the best baseball game I have ever played. I’m not really into sports in general, but that doesn’t apply when it comes to Mario.

The next entry in the Mario Tennis series, Mario Tennis Aces, is set to launch at the end of June. And to celebrate, Nintendo decided to do a special online demo event, similar to what the did with ARMS and Splatoon 2. The Mario Tennis Aces: Online Tournament Demo (catchy name, right?) gave all the eager fans a chance to play the game together before the release date. And I decided I’d like to talk a bit about it!

Like with my ARMS first impression, this will be divided into a few categories, which will then be divided further into a list of pros and cons. So let’s get started!

  • Graphics and Music

Pro: I love the way this game looks. It’s super pretty and colorful, just like you would expect a Mario game to be! And the new tennis outfits that have been given to some of the characters look super good. After all, playing sports in a plumbers cap and overalls never really did make much sense.

Pro: The music is also really great. There are only so many tracks available in the demo, but they’re all wonderfully put together. I can’t think of a track I haven’t liked!

Con: I don’t have too many negative things to say about this game in regards to its graphics and music. Then again, I’m generally pretty easy to please when it comes to this sort of thing.

I guess one thing I could mention is that while the likes of Mario and Peach now all have appropriate tennis garb, some of the characters still have their normal clothes (or lack of clothes). Toad and Yoshi almost look out of place with their regular designs, and I feel like something could have been done to make them look more in line with the sport. Or would giving Bowser a tennis visor look too silly?

  • Gameplay and Control

Pro: There’s a lot that’s been done to give Mario Tennis Aces a unique feel over its predecessors. Most of the time, the gameplay of a Mario Tennis title would feel basic. You move around and use two buttons to smack a tennis ball back and forth until someone misses, and that’s it. But this time around, the four face buttons on your Nintendo controller are all responsible for using different kinds of swings, giving you more variety and strategy when it comes to how you play your game of tennis.

I’m not sure how this compares to the last couple Mario Tennis titles (Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS and Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash for the Wii U), since I haven’t had a chance to play them. But as far as this game is concerned, it’s a neat and welcome change to otherwise standard gameplay.

Pro: The strategy of your Tennis game goes much deeper than your controller’s face buttons, however. All characters are now equipped with a shiny new energy gauge and all sorts of fancy new skills! These skills are called Zone Shots, Zone Speed, Trick Shots, and Special Shots.

The R Button (or ZR Button) allows you to use your energy gauge to perform Zone Shots and Zone Speed. Zone Shots are performed while standing inside a Star Icon on the floor of the tennis court (which basically indicates where the tennis ball is going to land). Using a Zone Shot pauses time and brings you into a first-person view, allowing you to aim your shot in any direction you want and launch it off at high velocity, almost guaranteeing a point being scored (or losing a point, since it’s pretty easy to send the ball sailing out of bounds as well). Holding down the R Button will let you use Zone Speed, which slows down time and lets you move to a spot where you can precisely counter your opponents moves, including their Zone Shots. Countering Zone Shots comes with a risk however, which we’ll talk about in a moment.

Using the Right Analog Stick (Or double-tapping the X button while holding the Left Stick in a direction) let’s you perform a Trick Shot. Trick Shots let your character move rapidly in the direction you point them, allowing you to catch balls that are sailing by you or are on the other side of the court. Performing a perfect Trick Shot is also a good way to build up your Energy Gauge, but messing up your shot could actually cost you Energy instead.

Lastly, Special Shots are performed by pressing the L Button (Or ZL Button) while your Energy Gauge is full. They are, more or less, a guaranteed Zone Shot that can be performed at any time, as long as the ball is in your side of the court. They also come complete with super fancy animations that are unique to every character, and are just pretty awesome to look at in general.

One final thing to not about Zone Shots and Special Shots is that they can be used to break your opponents racket. Tennis rackets have a 3-Point health bar, and smashing the Tennis Ball right at your opponent and forcing them to counter your shot can drain one of those hit points (or all of them, in the case of a Special Shot). Once their supply of rackets is gone, they can no longer play and you get an automatic victory. But of course, with proper timing, a Zone Shot or a Special Shot can be blocked, and they can be immediately countered with another Special Shot. If your shot is blocked, it basically renders your attempt to break your opponents racket null and void. And your racket is just as easily breakable, so learning the timing for blocking these shots is critical! Using Zone Speed to slow things down helps a lot when it comes to blocking.

Con: With as long as I rambled on about about the new mechanics just now, you can tell there is a lot to learn when it comes to mastering your tennis game this time around. There was always something beneficial and satisfying about the simplicity of the previous Mario Tennis games. While playing the demo, there were moments where I had a difficult time trying to break that mindset of the simple gameplay I was used to, forgetting I had so much more to work with. So I can see where changing up the gameplay as much as it has been could be an issue for old AND new players.

Though at the very least, the devolpers thought of this outcome. You can also play the game with simple rules as well, making it more like the original Mario Tennis style. I’m not sure if simple rules can be applied to all of the full releases content, but having the option for some basic tennis fun is welcome.

  • Online Play

Pro: Of course, the entire point of an online tournament is to play online with people. I had never played an online-compatible Mario Tennis beforehand, so playing the game with people from around the world was a new experience for me.

The tournament feature itself was well thought out. Rather than being placed into a tournament bracket and being forced to play games until you lost one, you were free to play and stop playing whenever you felt like it. Your tournament progress would be saved until the next time you played, where you would be randomly matched up with another player who was at the same point in the tournament as you were. For example, if you were in a semi-finals match, your opponent would also be at the same spot in their tournament, so you were both on even ground. I liked that a lot, as it didn’t tie you down to dedicating your time towards a long gameplay session. I’m not sure if this is how it will work in the full release as well, but it would be nice if they carried this over to the main game.

Con: Unfortunately, that’s where the nice things I have to say about the online play have to stop. I’m usually not super critical if a game has poor online, since I don’t play games online a lot. I much prefer single-player games and local multiplayer. But holy crap, the online play in Tennis Aces is garbage.

Of all the matches I attempted to play, I didn’t end up playing many because of how bad the connections to my opponents were. I did not get a single game in where the lag wasn’t unbearable. I’m talking a full second of time between you pressing a button and your character actually performing the action. There was constant stuttering, and I was essentially unable to properly play because I couldn’t control my character right. It was BAD. Where the ARMS demo provided me with some of the best online play I’ve ever experienced in a Nintendo game, the Mario Tennis Aces Online Tournament was by far the worst.

Granted, I have gone on record before saying that I have terrible internet (a problem that should hopefully be fixed in the upcoming months). My connection problems could have completely been my fault. But I have NEVER had such a consistently awful time trying to play a game online before. I can play Smash Bros and Mario Kart with little to no issue, and I play Team Fortress 2 quite regularly with minimal problems. Also, It could have also just been an issue with the Demo in general. Maybe the full game won’t be quite as bad, and maybe things will improve once Nintendo Switch Online launches later in the year. But overall, I’m probably going to be avoiding playing this game online.

  • Conclusion

Overall, Mario Tennis Aces feels like a natural evolution of the the series’ core gameplay and the Power Shots in Mario Power Tennis. But rather than just smacking a ball back and forth, or mashing a button to perform an Offensive and Defensive Power Shot, there’s a lot of strategy that goes into building a managing your energy gauge and using it to change the course of the game. Will you want to use your Zone Shots or Zone Speed as much as possible? Will you risk using your energy to try and master the timing of Trick Shots? Or will you conserve your energy and save up for a guaranteed Special Shot? And will your strategy revolve around playing the game like normal and scoring as many points as possible, or will you try to shake your opponent up by forcing their hand and attempting to break their racket? The amount of options available to the player is staggering when compared to previous Mario Tennis games, and I loved every second of learning these new mechanics. It’s truly an evolution of the series!

True, the actual online component of the Online Tournament was pretty terrible. But overall, I’m really happy with the way Mario Tennis Aces has turned out, and I’m definitely going to pick up the game once its released! Maybe to fill in the time, I could even play some of the other Mario Tennis games I’ve missed out on as well. I do love me some Mario Tennis, after all!

The quality and updates that have gone into Tennis Aces also has be really hopeful for what else could come from the Mario Sports titles. Could we perhaps get a new Mario Golf of Mario Baseball in the same kind of vein? I’m really excited thinking about the future for the series, and I really hope everyone else is too!

But for now, I think I’ve gone on long enough. What did everyone else think of the demo? Do you like the gameplay changes that have been put in place? And did you have the same terrible time I did trying to play the game online? Let me know through some comments! I really want to hear your thoughts on the whole thing!

Until then, Sparky is signing off. I’m off to play some more tennis!

Smash Bros Character Checklist: The Wario Series

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Wario is quite the character, isn’t he? He has a surprisingly large amount of personality and character development. He’s greedy, he’s gross, he’s nasty, he’s bizarre, he’s a hero, he’s a villain…  I can’t think of a Mario series character that has as much put into them as Wario!

Wario just seems like a character that Nintendo developers can have fun with, and do whatever they want with him. And that goes for his games too: the Wario Land and Warioware series’ are filled with strangely fantastic scenarios and characters. And since there are so many characters, that makes it the perfect game franchise to pick from for a Super Smash Bros roster!

Personally, I was always more of a fan of Wario Land than of Warioware. Wario Land 4 was one of the first Game Boy Advanced games I ever owned, and it still makes me a bit sad that the series has gone quiet since the release of Wario Land: Shake It in 2008. I’d love for the game series to return, and I think including a character from the games in Smash Bros would be the perfect opportunity to renew interest in the Wario Land series.

But what character would I pick? Well, the best choice would be the recurring villain Captain Syrup!

CharacterChecklistCaptainSyrup

Coming up with a moveset for Captain Syrup may seem tricky. She doesn’t do a lot of fighting herself in the Wario Land games, after all. But what if that could tie into her gimmick as a character? She could summon in members of her pirate crew, the Black Sugar Gang, or even just use their tools and weapons for her own.

She could use the spears of a Pirate Goom, the mace of Guragura, the knives of Gaugau,  the harpoons of Goboten, and the boomerangs of DANGEROUS DUCK! Her Up-B special could summon in Bobo to help her fly and recover. And of course she could also use standard pirate gimmicks, like a cutlass and explosives, to fight as well. Having a large amount of tricks and tools at her disposal would be more than fitting for a pirate captain!

Her Final Smash is her most obvious moveset choice: summoning in the Genie from the final boss fight of the first Wario Land. It would be the perfect throwback for fans of the classic Wario games, myself included.

Now, to be fair, I realize including Captain Syrup as a playable character is a long shot. She isn’t exactly one of the classic Nintendo villains, and her relevance to the Wario series is pretty slim now-a-days. Like I said, there hasn’t been a Wario Land game since 2008. So I feel like Captain Syrup’s inclusion will have to remain a dream of mine for now… though it would be awesome to have a playable pirate character in Smash!

A character from the Warioware series is a much more likely inclusion. But what character to choose? Mona and Ashley are really popular choices, and Kat and Ana would make an awesome duo-character. But I don’t think I would go for any of them as my personal pick.

My choice for a Warioware character is the disco-dancing dude, Jimmy T.!

CharacterChecklistJimmyt

Just think about it: a Smash Bros character whose entire moveset is based around dancing! How cool would that be?! It may seem like a stretch to some, I know. But to me, the best part of any Smash Bros game is taking a character you wouldn’t expect to be in a fighting game, and then putting them in a fighting game! Captain Falcon, Mr. Game & Watch, R.O.B., Wii Fit Trainer… the list of unexpected entrants has only grown over the years. And Jimmy T. would fit right in with them!

A character who dances to fight would open up a lot of creative freedom when building a moveset for them. Not to mention Jimmy has shown off a fondness for aerobics and skiing. He’s clearly  fit enough to take place in a physical fight, but admittedly, giving the character some projectile options might be a bit tricky.

His Final Smash would be the best part, though: trapping the competition with the power of music, and forcing them all to dance with him! It could end up working similarly to Peach’s Final Smash, forcing a stage-wide dance off to break out. Or it could trigger a rhythm mini game (or should I say Micro Game?) similar to Donkey Kong’s bongos. Either way, it would be both awesome and hilarious to see, and a perfect fit for the goofyness the Wario series is known for.

And one last note for Jimmy T. is that he should definitely have a costume referencing Jimmy P.! I mean, it’s obvious, isn’t it?

Now, that should wrap up the Wario series… but we’re forgetting about someone, aren’t we? One character that absolutely needs to be in Smash, and has to be discussed. Maybe it’s Dr. Crygor? Or are you expecting me to mention Orbulon? Perhaps 9-Volt or 18-Volt? WELL

CharacterChecklistWaluigi

As I mention at the end of my first entry of the Smash Bros Character Checklist, Waluigi could count as a Smash participant for the Wario franchise. But at the same time, he would be a good fit for the main Mario series as well. The character falls into a strange gray-area of who he could represent in the Smash series. Because even though he’s always paired with Wario in the Mario series, Waluigi has NEVER actually appeared in a Wario game.

But I feel like having him partnered with Wario as usual would be the best course of action. Either way though, Waluigi NEEDS to be in Smash! And I know I’m not the only one who feels the same way. The character has been on my wishlist for years now, and I think it’s finally time Walugi gets his chance to fight, and be promoted from Assist Trophy status.

Waluigi’s lanky build wouldn’t give him a ton of power, but I imagine his long limbs would give him wildly superior melee range, speedy running, and fantastic jumping abilities. Not to mention the character has just as much athletic prowess as any other Mario series character, sporting talents in Tennis, Golf, Baseball, and Soccer, just to name a few examples. In fact, could an arsenal of tools and sports equipment fit Waluigi’s playstyle?

Waluigi comes across as a man who isn’t afraid of pulling off a dirty trick or two. He already runs around with his Tennis racket when he’s summoned in as an Assist Trophy, so having an arsenal of bats, golf clubs, and soccer balls to get some surprise hits in wouldn’t be too unusual. Waluigi also has a fondness for plants, being paired with Piranha Plants and able to use thorny vines to protect himself. And did I mention he throws eggplants at people?

Plus, he can toss bombs, form mini tornadoes around himself, swim through the air, and he’s the main antagonist of Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix! Waluigi is a character of so many bizarre talents that not having him as an equally bizarre Smash Bros fighter should be considered a crime. They could even take the opportunity to give Waluigi a unique Biker outfit in Smash so he matches Wario. WE NEED WALUIGI!

Anyway, I think that wraps things up for now. I didn’t expect to have much to say about the Wario series characters when I started this series, but I ended up picking three characters for it! It goes to show that you can find the most interesting Smash character picks in unexpected places.

But I’ve rambled on a bit long, I think. Thank you for reading! Be sure to let me know what you think of my character picks. Until next time, Sparky is signing off for now!

Smash Bros Character Checklist: The Yoshi Series

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If you were to ask me who my favorite video game character was, it would be Yoshi. Without a doubt in my mind, the green dinosaur who doubles as transportation for small babies and large plumbers would be my number one choice. Ever since the days Yoshi’s Story and picking him as my character in every Mario game imaginable, he has been my favorite.

So naturally, Yoshi has been my main fighter in almost every Smash Bros game (I say “almost” because the original Smash 64 introduced me to Kirby, and I was obsessed with playing as him back then). Sure, I love playing as the likes of Mega Man and Lucas, with the occasional play session with Falco and Dark Pit. But Yoshi is always my first choice, and probably my best character as a result.

Though because of this, it’s always disappointed me that Yoshi has been the only representative for his game series for FIVE Smash Bros games. But I guess that’s for a good reason: who else do you need to represent Yoshi besides Yoshi? Who else COULD you get to represent his side-series of platformers?

My thoughts have occasionally wandered over to the Baby Mario Brothers. Teaming up Baby Mario and Baby Luigi as an Ice Climbers-like duo character is an idea I’ve heard tossed around from time to time. And admittedly, it COULD work. The Baby brothers have shown in the past that they can put up a fight in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. But something about putting a couple babies in a fight against adults and fighters several times their size feels… wrong.

So if not the babies, then who? The Yoshi series doesn’t exactly have a large cast of characters to pick from. Well, how about the series’ main villain? No, not Baby Bowser! We already have a tiny Bowser as a fighter. I mean the REAL main villain!

I’m talking about the Koopa Troop’s number one sorcerer, Kamek!

CharacterChecklistKamek

Yeah, I know, a few of you might be scratching your heads at this pick. Kamek? A Nintendo All-Star deserving of a spot in the Smash Bros roster? Well, he IS the primary antagonist in the Yoshi’s Island series, and a prominent secondary antagonist in several other Super Mario games. He is one of the Nintendo bad guys, and I think he would fit in well alongside the other Smash fighters.

Plus, my desire for Kamek as a playable character stems from another source. In a sea of Smash characters who fight with their fists, swords, and lots of tools and tech, there’s a surprising lack of fighters who use some sort of super natural power as their primary form of combat (not including Pokemon, of course). Sure, most characters have some form of super power in one or two of their moves. But Smash Bros needs a fighter who’s all about using MAGIC! And Kamek would be a perfect fit for that spot.

Magikoopas are capable of using a huge variety of magic spells, after all. They can teleport, shoot fire, create clones of themselves, heal wounds… all sorts of neat things you could draw from for a Smash Bros moveset! And Kamek has proven himself to be stronger than the average Magikoopa on numerous occasions. He can use his magic to power up even basic Mario and Yoshi enemies into giant bosses, and he even has a broom he can fly around on! Isn’t that cool?

I even came up with a neat property for a Neutral-B Special move for him. The standard Magikoopa magic spell (you know, the one that looks like a bunch of shapes?) not only can deal damage to an enemy, but is capable of transforming objects into enemies. So what if it could do the same thing to items and projectiles in Smash Bros? You could transform a bomb, missile, or banana peel flying at you into a Goomba or Koopa that would then get in your opponent’s way! It would make for in interesting way to fend off enemy attacks, other than the standard Down-B Reflector or Counter move.

And his Final Smash would be best part of all: sending his opponents into another arena where they are promptly destroyed by a giant Baby Bowser. It would be amazing and glorious!

Yeah, I know Kamek making a playable appearance in Smash Bros is a long shot. He has a LOT of other more likely character picks to contend with. But maybe the good folks developing Smash Bros for Switch have decided to give the Yoshi series and Magic-wielding characters a bigger part in the next game. Who knows, it could happen!

So what do you think of my pick? Do you think Kamek would make an interesting fighter, or should he remain a side-villain? And if not Kamek, who would make a good Yoshi series representative? I’d love to hear what you want to see in the next Smash!

That’s all for the Smash Bros Character Checklist for the time being, though. I’ll see you in the next post! Sparky is signing off for now.

New Video Series: Luigi’s Mansion “A-Rank Run”

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It’s October, the month of spooks and specters! So why not play a game about them? Here comes Luigi’s Mansion, and my quest to get a whole bunch of sparkly treasure! I’m aiming for an A-Rank at the end of the game!

Be sure to subscribe to my Youtube Channel in order to stay up to date on the project! That’s all I have to say for now, though. Sparky is signing off for now!