Coming Soon! 12/5/2011

Oh the lovely December lull, that magical one month in a year where I get to sleep in on Sunday nights. But what’s this? A well known franchise coming out AFTER Black Friday? Must be a Nintendo game.

Remember. Release dates are quite literally made at the whims of the publisher.  The following are subject to change without any warning.


Releases To Watch For This Week Yesterday

Mario Kart 7 (3DS)

Tuesday December 4, 2011
Sorry about the late heads up on this game. Sunday releases have a tendency to sneak past my Coming Soon net. So, what’s new in this sixth iteration of Mario Kart? As always you can expect a couple of new racers and new tracks, I hear you get to race around Wuhu Island from Wii Sports Resort. We’ve got new power-ups like the Raccoon Leaf, A Nintendo favorite recently, straight out of Super Mario Bros. 3 giving you a nifty tail to swing at other racers and the I-can’t-believe-it-wasn’t-a-Mario-Kart-power-up-before power-up, Fire Flower, which lets you shoot a limited number of fireballs. Admittedly, shooting fireballs in Mario Kart has been done before on Mario Kart Double Dash, but only Mario and Luigi had access to it, and Petey Piranha and King Boo for the nitpickers out there. This time around anyone can get it. Mario Kart 7 also introduces a hang glider that pops out of the back whenever you find yourself airborne giving you more control of where and when you land. Some of the tracks also have underwater areas, although they feel like regular areas with a visual blue tint to make it feel like you’re underwater. Coins played a pivotal role back in the first Mario Kart and the Game Boy Advance iteration of Mario Kart, and Mario Kart 7 wisely brings them back adding a much needed layer of strategy to the series if Mario Kart Wii was anything to go by. How much coins you’ve collected in a race determines your maximum speed, and getting hit by your fellow racers causes you to lose precious coins.

By now all that previous stuff has become expected out of every Mario Kart iteration, but in a sign that Nintendo may finally be getting wiser when it comes to online, Mario Kart 7’s online features look fairly impressive. In addition to being able to race against up to eight other strangers, friends, and racers you’ve met before, in 60 frames per second by the way, Mario Kart 7 gives you the ability to customize your racing experience by creating Communities. A Community consists of a set of rules that everyone in the Community abides by. For example, one Community will only have light karts with only Mushroom power ups (Speed boost) available during races while another will only have the Mario Circuit track available for racing. In classic Nintendo fashion, creating a Community generates a 14-digit code that all participating players must enter. In a slightly un-Nintendo fashion, these codes can be given out to strangers fairly easily.

Mario Kart 7 fully utilizes the 3DS social features. The Street Pass function, once activated, lets you exchange your Player Cards. These cards have your racing stats, your Community info, ghost data, and your Mii racers. Even the Spot Pass function (Basically the ability to receive updates while the 3DS is in sleep mode) gets to stretch its legs too. Nintendo will regularly push new Communities and up to 20 ghost data for players to beat through Spot Pass.

Mario Kart’s quality has always been like a rollercoaster. Sometimes Nintendo nails racing itself but misses when it comes to track design. Sometimes the opposite happens. But through it all, the series remain consistently fun regardless of what it is they didn’t get right. That might just explain its enduring popularity with just about everyone that picks it up.


Coming This Week

Tuesday November 29, 2011

Wow! They don’t make slingshots like they used to anymore don’t they?

The Adventures of Tintin: The Game (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS)

Don’t ask me why, but the movie trailers totally remind me of Uncharted 3. A lot of the set pieces in the trailer almost feel like they copied it straight out of Uncharted 3: The ship, the desert, the desert city locale, and hell not to mention the fact that the whole plot revolves around treasure hunting. And even Snowy feels Sully’s counterpart what with the white hair and all that. Kinda makes me wonder if the 2D platformer game will play anything like Uncharted 3.

4-in-1 Action Pack (PS3)

What do you do when you got 4 disparate games like a Real Time Strategy game, a wakeboarding game, an RC toy car racing game, and a remake of an old PC game? Release them individually digitally, perhaps? That would’ve been the sane thing to do. A step below that involves mushing them all into one retail disc and giving it the most generic title of all time. I wonder what a step below that involves?

Drawsome Tablet (Wii)

Some game companies just can’t wait for the Wii U to come out. That’s the only explanation I can think off that explains away why 1) a publisher decides to make their own version of the Wii U controller for the Wii and 2) a publisher figures that the market is big enough for two slightly different Wii U wannabe Wii controller. On the bright side, at least this one comes with two different games, Drawsome Artist (Paint program) and Drawsome Sketch Quest (Max and the Magic Marker clone with multiplayer). Game companies seriously need to learn to be patient.

Fortune Street (Wii)

I bet you anything that you’d never figure out that this is actually a Mario Party game just by looking at the title. Literally. Look at the box cover. Yes, this does have Dragon Quest crossover characters in addition to Mario and his usual suspects. But don’t write this off as just a Mario Party game though. The board game in this case plays far more like Monopoly, and early previews suggest a very deep game involving property investments. Great. Now even Mario is joining the 1%.

7 Wonders: Treasures of Seven (DS)

What kind of innovation can one bring to the Match 3 sub-genre of puzzle games? How about the ability to rotate the board so the gems will come from the side instead of the top? That’s nice, I suppose.


Late to the Party


Good ol’ reliable Mario Kart. How can one go wrong with you, o inventor of a genre? Come to think of it, how many genres have Mario invented?

PlayStation E3 Press Conference Live Updates

It’s been a long and incredible day, but we’re not even close to calling it a night! More E3 because, frankly, when can you ever get enough? It’s Sony’s turn in the spotlight, let’s see what they’ve got to show us.

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