Review: Super Mario 3D Land

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Super Mario 3D Land is a terrific platformer that mixes moments of insane difficulty with a player-friendly approach and brilliant visuals that perhaps more than any title so far, make a case for 3D visuals as an essential component of gameplay.

How so? Acrophobia, to put it simply. Running and jumping to ridiculous heights has always been at the core of Mario games, and the Nintendo 3DS’ stereoscopic visuals make it easy to imagine what it would be like to ascend – and perhaps fall – hundreds of feet. The handheld’s visual capabilities also make enemies, fireballs and even boomerangs as if appear as if they are capable of flying towards and almost out of the screen itself.

But as nice as the graphics are, Super Mario 3D Land – and any other game – needs to be fun to play to avoid failure. Thankfully, Nintendo delivered a classic Mario experience that relies on the traditional running and jumping exploits of vintage Super Mario Bros. while adding a series of zany and zanier surprises to keep things interesting.

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If you wanted a pink 3DS, Nintendo can sell you one

Nintendo revealed a new pink version of its 3DS handheld today. The pastel-colored hardware comes bundled with one of two different versions of “nintendogs + cats,” and the packaging is predictably adorable.

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Nintendo’s MSRP for the bundle is $169.99, which is the same as the current price for a 3DS all on its own.

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Our story on the Wii U

Here’s the story we ran on Nintendo’s next console in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and The Sun. Stay tuned for more stuff and commentary on E3.

OS ANGELES – Nintendo revealed its forthcoming “Wii U” console Tuesday at E3, the gaming industry’s annual convention.

The new video-game system – set for release in 2012 – features a
touchscreen built into its controller and at first glance, appears to
represent yet another step in the company’s efforts to transform the way
its customers use its products.

“It can change the way you play games and change the way you
interact with family and friends,” Nintendo of America president Reggie
Fils-Aime said during his company’s presentation at Nokia Theater.



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E3: Nintendo’s Press Conference

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Nintendo came on strong in their press conference. Hot on the heels of the 25th Anniversary of the Legend of Zelda, Nintendo also took the time to finally unveil their successor to the Wii. Did they win everything? I felt their conference did really well for them. But calling it the Wii U? Either they’re being zen about the name, or Nintendo is basically telling everyone that no matter what they call it, they’re ready to print money.

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Nintendo cuts Wii price to $149.99

Nintendo, scheduled to unveil its next gaming console in June at the E3 convention in Los Angeles, announced today that it will reduce the price of its Wii console from $199.99 to $149.99.

The console will also be packaged “Mario Kart Wii” and matching “Wii Wheel” peripheral. The Wii’s iteration of Mario Kart will replace “Wii Sports” and “Wii Sports Resort.”

Nintendo also announced four titles, “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess,” “Animal Crossing: City Folk,” “Mario Super Sluggers” and “Wii Sports” will sell at the reduced price of $19.99 as the first four titles in the “Nintendo Selects” line, i.e. popular games that get to be sold at a discount with slightly different packaging, a la the “Greatest Hits” series for PlayStation 3 games or the “Platinum Hits” line for XBox 360 games.

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It’s confirmed: Nintendo has a new console at E3

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A number of news outlets on the ‘net from MCV to VG247 have confirmed that Nintendo’s long rumored successor to the Wii is coming out to play at this year’s E3. MCV’s report, in particular, mentions that the new hardware is slated for a 2012 release.

Now the big question on many players’ minds is if it’s going to cater equally to both casuals and ‘hardcore’ gamers.

The distinctions between the two crowds have often been pointed in what games they prefer – hardcores have generally bemoaned the plethora of titles such as Carnival Games and Wii Play, while a game such as Mad World seemed out of place on the console by so-called casuals. It also doesn’t help that its shelves have been flooded by shovelware – cheap games with equally as cheap gameplay – diluting the overall quality of its library. Everyone wanted a piece of the huge Wii pie and Nintendo apparently had no problems in letting them grab for it all at once.

Of course, it’s way too early to tell. It’ll be years before we can see just what the new system is actually capable of and to whom it will mostly appeal to – the games are what will set it apart and we haven’t heard too much about those yet. Likely guaranteed are a new Zelda and Mario game sometime in its future. After all, this is Nintendo.

E3 will have more of the answers – and probably provide as many questions. Only one thing’s for certain: Nintendo hasn’t stopped surprising us yet.

Rumor: Nintendo to unveil new console at E3

Game Informer reports that Nintendo will debut a new console during or even prior to E3, the industry convention to be held in June in Los Angeles.

From their report:

We have confirmed with multiple sources that this new home system is
capable of running games at HD resolutions. There are conflicting
reports, however, as to whether its graphics will be comparable to those
on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 – meaning it could surpass or fall
short of those systems. Either way it will offer competitive
specifications. Moving to HD should greatly help Nintendo and its new
console in getting more multi-platform triple-A titles like Portal 2 or
Mortal Kombat. This, in turn, will strengthen Nintendo’s historically
poor relationship with third-party publishers/developers.

Interesting stuff. It’s pretty much accepted as a truism among gaming writers that much of the Wii’s success

Nintendo 3DS news: Mario, Netflix and more

Nintendo officially announced today that a new Mario title is in the works for the 3DS, the company’s soon-to-be-released portable 3D system.

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president, made the announcement today during a speech at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. Tech-Out didn’t get to be there, but we did get Nintendo’s bulletin.

In Mario news, Nintendo revealed the same team behind “Super Mario Galaxy” and its sequel are at work on the new game.

The 3DS is scheduled to be released March 27 in the United States at an MSRP of $249.99.

Other Nintendo 3DS news includes the following:

  • Netflix customers will be able to stream content to the 3DS, which is also possible with the Nintenod Wii. This service is expected to be offered by summer.
  • Nintendo has a deal with AT&T owners to provide 3DS owners with free access to more than 100,000 AT&T hotspots nationwide.
  • Customers will be able to download Game Boy, Game Color, TurboGrafx-16 and Game Gear titles to the 3DS. (Anybody out there ever own or play a TurboGrafx -6? This writer never got to see one in action, but remembers the Bonk’s Adventure commercials.)
  • A “3D Classics” line will include select games to be remastered in 3D.

Nintendo announces 3DS release date, price

Nintendo’s next portable, the Nintendo 3DS, is scheduled to be released March 27 at the suggested price of $249.99, the company announced today.

The 3DS’ coming release is not the only sign of rising competition between video game companies within the portable arena. Bloomberg reports that Sony is set to unveil a new PlayStation Portable as early as Jan. 27, with PlayStation smartphone to follow the next month.

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The 3DS is designed as a 3D gaming system that will not require players to wear special glasses to see three-dimensional images. The portable’s controls will include a “3D Depth Slider” to let players control the degree of 3D effects and a new “Circle Pad” controller that Nintendo asserts will allow for 360-degree controls within the 3-D environment.

Parents will be able to turn off the 3D feature altogether, Nintendo reported. Recent media reports have delved into a medical debate over whether 3D may harm young children’s developing eyeballs.

In addition the the 3D screen, the 3DS is also designed with a touch screen and stylus control similar to Nintendo’s current portable, the DS. Features also include motion and tilt controls in the fashion of smartphone gaming.

Other phone-like features are MP3 and AAC music playability, “Street Pass” and “Spot-Pass,” which are intended to let players transfer packets of game information directly to one another as they pass on the street or via Wi-Fi hotspots or home broadband connections.

More than 30 games will be released during a launch window of about three months, Nintendo reported. The most publicized of which seems to be “Kid Icarus: Uprising,” a title that brings back a flagship (?) NES character that has more or less vanished since the Game Boy era.

Other announced titles include “Pilotwings Resort,” “nintendogs + cats,” the underwater themed “Steel Diver,” remakes of Nintendo 64 titles “Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” and “Starfox 64″ and further releases in the Mario Kart and Paper Mario franchises.

Announced third-party titles include “Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition” and releases in the Madden NFL and Resident Evil series.