Friday, January 15, 2021

What A Future Mario Kart Could Take from Mario Kart Tour

SuperPhillip Central continues this impromptu week featuring Mario by pondering about what could be in the works for the next Mario Kart. It seems that a theoretical Mario Kart 9 won't happen for a while--at least not until the Switch's successor, as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe continues to burn rubber up the sales charts in utterly impressive fashion. After all, why cut off the legs (or in this case, slash the tires) of an evergreen title like Deluxe with a new entry while the old game is still selling immense amounts? Well, other than to satiate the thirst of players like myself who yearn for a new console-based entry in the series, of course!

While Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the most recent console release for Nintendo venerable kart racing franchise, it's certainly not the latest in the series. No, that title goes to Mario Kart Tour, which despite my criticisms with the game as seen in my review, has improved substantially since launch. In fact, there are a fair number of things that I think a possible Mario Kart 9--or whatever the next entry is named--could borrow from Mario Kart Tour. And, no, I'm not talking about the horrid, aggressive and disgusting Gacha mechanics or micro-transactions like $40 for one character, kart, and glider. 

For one, Mario Kart Tour's roster of characters is the most fully featured yet. Now, obtaining all of the characters in the game is truly a challenging task unless you're a whale, but the size and scope of the roster are certainly amazing. For one, new characters that have never before appeared in the Mario Kart series are featured in Tour. These characters include Hammer Bros, Dixie Kong, Captain Toad, Monty Mole, Nabbit and King Bob-Omb, for starters. Just as notably though, from Mario Kart Tour is that several characters have alternate costumes. While they're listed as separate drivers entirely in Mario Kart Tour, in Mario Kart 9 they could function like the Mii racer costumes as seen in Mario Kart 8 and its Deluxe version on the Switch. Imagine Nintendo trotting out unlockable costumes for Mario and friends, such as Builder Mario, Penguin Luigi, Festive Yoshi, among many others. 

Moving on from characters to tracks, Mario Kart Tour possesses the most racetracks and circuits out of any other Mario Kart game, although in MKT these are rotated in and out with each biweekly tour. Regardless, my desire for the next Mario Kart game isn't so much for the game to have the most tracks of any Mario Kart game. Instead, I'd like the next game to utilize Mario Kart Tour's track variants. Plenty of tracks in Mario Kart Tour have four variants to them: the normal version of the track, the reverse version of the track where drivers race the track in the opposite direction, a trick version with multiple ramps and different paths to take off the normal version, and a combination of the reverse and trick variants. This adds a lot of variety in the tracks of Mario Kart Tour, and it would add the same to a future Mario Kart game. 

Another addition that Mario Kart Tour introduced to the series is an arcade-like points system for races. Upon performing tricks, collecting coins on the track, successfully hitting other players, and completing other actions, drivers gain points, and for each action they complete within a certain time frame, they achieve a combo multiplier. The multiplier increases for each action they perform. Grand Prix cups in traditional Mario Kart games usually don't have much replay value, other than aiming for three stars on each cup by winning first place in each and every race (and up until Mario Kart 8, doing so in a dominant fashion). 

Using this formula and foundation from Mario Kart Tour, a future Mario Kart could lift this points system and use it to not only serve as a means of replay value--to increase your high scores on each racetrack and each cup--but also perhaps serve as a method to unlock new content like kart parts from reaching certain point thresholds. Furthermore, high scores could be compared and contrasted with others in a competition-like setting, much like Mario Kart Tour has already, where weekly leaderboards show which players have the top scores for a given cup among friends and worldwide. 

Finally, speaking of modes like the Grand Prix, Mario Kart Tour reintroduced mission-like challenges as seen with Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii. Mario Kart 9 (or again, whatever the newest game would be called) needs to have a Mission Mode with clever challenges as seen in not only Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii, but also as seen in Mario Kart Tour. Such missions/challenges include keeping a combo going for as long as possible, steering clear of all enemies and obstacles, gliding as far as you can possibly glide, or running over as many small enemies as you can during one lap of a race, to name just a handful of ideas lifted from Tour. 

It's obvious what Mario Kart fans wouldn't and don't want from Mario Kart Tour, but hopefully we can all agree that these aforementioned additions to future Mario Kart games would be most welcome ones. What would you like to see in a future Mario Kart game? Is there anything from Mario Kart Tour that you would like a possible Mario Kart 9 to directly lift? Let the SPC community know in the comments section below!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

New Pokémon Snap (NSW) Release Date Trailer

An unexpected but much welcomed early morning announcement, New Pokémon Snap was previously revealed last year, but all of a sudden, and almost unceremoniously, the game now has a new trailer and an April 30th release date! Check out the beautiful trailer below, and then tell the SPC community what you think below in the comments section!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury (NSW) Overview Trailer

Not content with just publishing one trailer yesterday for Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury, today Nintendo has published an overview trailer for the game. Revealing more details about the Bowser's Fury mode, as well as introducing a new Snapshot mode and further detailing online play with friends, this trailer is quite the exciting one for a known quality in Super Mario 3D World! One of my most anticipated games of 2021, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury releases February 12th.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Top Ten Nintendo Switch Games Featuring Mario

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury, an enhanced port for the Nintendo Switch of the original Wii U 3D World, launches in exactly one month on February 12th. Ahead of the release, Nintendo published a new trailer for the game featuring its all-new Bowser's Fury mode--you can see it as published on SPC. With a new Mario launching in a month's time, it seems like a grand opportunity as any to look back at Mario's past Nintendo Switch exploits and see which games come in at the top with this countdown of the ten best Switch games featuring the Big N's mascot, the portly plumber Mario, in a playable capacity. After you've scoped out the top ten, which games would you put on your list of faves?

10) Mario Tennis Aces

We begin this countdown with a game that was much maligned in the SPC review. However, with various free updates, Mario Tennis Aces turned a match that it was down two sets by and managed to eke out a victory in the end. With a grand assortment of playable characters releasing each month up until about a year or so ago--making the count at a nice and even 30--and adding an abundance of new modes and content, Mario Tennis Aces became a vastly improved game than what was offered at launch. It made for a tennis game that was just as sound content-wise as it was mechanically and structurally, creating an overall thrilling game of tennis that allowed me to finally fully enjoy the game.

9) Super Mario Bros. 35

Available for a limited time (up until March 31st, 2021), Super Mario Bros. 35 is a battle royale-style romp that sees 35 players taking on one another simultaneously as they each play through one of 32 levels in the original Super Mario Bros. As enemies are defeated on your screen, they drop in on another player's screen. However, the exact opposite can and DOES happen quite a lot, resulting in some incredible insane and hectic moment-to-moment gameplay where a well-timed cash-in of coins for power-ups is the difference between victory and an early defeat. It's an absolute shame that Super Mario Bros. 35 is only going to be available for a short while longer, as it is one definitely clever and ultra-addicting take on an old classic.

8) Paper Mario: The Origami King

Listed on SPC's Games of 2020 list, Paper Mario: The Origami King surprised me with just how much I enjoyed it. While some might stick up their nose at the game not fully returning to the turn-based, experience point-earning battles of the original two Paper Mario games, Origami King managed to amaze regardless with a clever battle system that utilized a puzzle-based ring system to organize enemies into rows and batches to take them out. Boss battles involved further innovation, as well, delivering more puzzle-solving and the occasional trial and error to take down. Between the marvelous exploration, locales, characters, story, writing, humor, and music, Paper Mario: The Origami King is an absolute delight to play.

7) Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Ubisoft Milan's colorful Mushroom Kingdom take on the XCOM series, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle brought with it much mockery and skepticism when it was originally leaked. However, once the game was revealed in an official capacity, a lot of crow was had--as the game looked positively remarkable, creative and fun. Fortunately, the end result for when the game finally launched was a successful one, being greeted with great reviews and high sales alike. The strategic grid-based battles in Mario + Rabbids were a mix of melee and ranged attacks, having Mario, Luigi, and the gang use gun-like weaponry of all things to battle Bowser's forces. It's a concept that under less cautious and more reckless hands would have been a disaster, but Ubisoft Milan certainly pulled it off.

6) New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

Arguably--and I will argue this to the day I lose my last 1-Up--two of the greatest 2D Mario adventures, able to be compared favorably design-wise to greats like Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros. U and its much more difficult New Super Luigi U DLC were combined into one nice and tidy package on the Nintendo Switch. That package was none other than New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, offering more than 100 combined levels of 2D platforming greatness. Whether it's the more relaxed (though it does get quite hard in later worlds) pace of New Super Mario Bros. U, or the bite-sized, highly challenging levels of New Super Luigi U, this pair placed in this platforming package is more than worth playing, no matter if it's alone or locally with up to four friends. 

5) Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Speaking of platforming packages, we turn our attention to Super Mario 3D All-Stars, a collection of three 3D Mario games put in one collection. The games included go from good (Super Mario Sunshine) to masterful (Super Mario Galaxy), and players can revisit--or explore them for the very first time--the games that solidified Mario as a force to be reckoned with in not only the 2D space but also the 3D one. Starting with Super Mario 64, making the leap to Super Mario Sunshine, and then reaching for the stars with Super Mario Galaxy, these three remastered games never looked or played better. Yes, the collection itself is relatively bare-bones feature-wise, but overall, when you have games this good in one package, it's hard to resist recommending Super Mario 3D All-Stars regardless.

4) Super Mario Maker 2

Childhood me adored making maps and level designs on the back of blueprint paper that my mom brought home from her work. I'd doodle for hours on end, making levels and maps for games like Mega Man, The Legend of Zelda, and yes, even Mario. So, when Nintendo initially announced the original Super Mario Maker on the Wii U, you can bet I jumped at the chance to play the released game and make a metric ton of levels in it. With Super Mario Maker 2, not only did Nintendo listen to fans on adding new features and content, such as the often desired slopes, but eventually with the game's final update, a world maker was available. This mode allows creators to make their own games, essentially. Throw in highly accessible creation tools and controls, a helpful Story Mode that serves as a tutorial in creating competent levels in the Maker Mode, and online multiplayer that was beefed up since release to make for an overall better playing experience, and you have one of my favorite Mario games on the Nintendo Switch.

3) Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

The Nintendo Switch is of course no stranger to getting content from the much less successful Wii U. Essentially an entirely sizable new audience is getting a chance to play a smorgasbord of new software because Nintendo is porting much of its Wii U catalog to the Switch. The earliest game on the hardware that raced in from the Wii U was Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Not just a simple port, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe featured all of the DLC tracks from the original game--for an impressive 48 track total--as well new characters, an updated and enhanced Battle Mode that had more traditional arenas, and lots of quality of life additions. Speaking of the latter, racers could utilize steer assist to keep them on the track, and auto acceleration so one less button would need to be held down during races. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe remains one of the best multiplayer games on the Switch to date, and it continues to be one of the best kart racing games ever made. Some might even say it leaves the rest of the competition in the dust.

2) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Though Mario may not act as the actual star of this penultimate game on this top ten countdown, he is a major part of the all-star ensemble of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. What a game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is, with battles being fierce and frenetic, with the game possessing a bounty of content, characters, stages, and modes (many of which return from past Smash Bros. games), and so much TLC poured into the game by Masahiro Sakurai and his unwavering team. The game continues to see updates, as it's knee-deep in the second Fighters Pass, which just saw Sephiroth of Final Fantasy VII fame, of all characters, swoop onto the roster, and the support for the game keeps impressing! Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is truly a celebration of all things gaming, wrapped neatly together by expansive content and magnificent fighting mechanics. 

1) Super Mario Odyssey

It certainly isn't the first time this game has arrived at number one on a SuperPhillip Central countdown, and by golly, it probably won't be the last either. Super Mario Odyssey is just that good of a 3D platforming adventure, inviting Mario and players to explore its robust and wide open platforming playgrounds, hunting high and low for Power Moons. Each kingdom that players arrive in is brimming and utterly bursting with creativity and genius design, whether it's running and jumping through a realistic city or taking on a giant cockatiel bird in a blazing hot, gargantuan-sized roasting pot. Cappy adds to Mario's already impressive move set, offering more freedom in the portly plumber's platforming abilities than ever before. Furthermore, the ability to capture enemies and objects, temporarily possessing them opens up some insanely creative scenarios, interesting platforming and environmental challenges, and new ways to get around the expansive levels, as well. Super Mario Odyssey isn't a perfect Mario adventure, but I'd be absolutely lying if I said it wasn't close!

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury (NSW) "A Bigger Badder Bowser" Trailer

A new trailer showing the premiere footage of the added Bowser's Fury mode in Super Mario 3D World's enhanced port on the Nintendo Switch is here, and it looks absolutely crazy in all the most awesome ways. Teaming up with Bowser Jr., exploring a wide open playground with Mario, facing off against a gargantuan heavy metal Bowser as an equally gargantuan Cat Mario? Yes, please! My words alone don't do this trailer justice, though, so be sure to check it out below! Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury pounces onto the Nintendo Switch in exactly one month of February 12th, 2021.