Luigi’s Mansion 3 – final thoughts

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Luigi’s Mansion 3.

Time flies very quickly, doesn’t it? I think that might be the single spookiest thing about my playthrough of Luigi’s Mansion 3! I started playing last October, with a view to putting out a full “Let’s Play” series of articles in the run-up to Halloween, but once Halloween had passed by I put the game on the back burner for a while.

I like Luigi’s Mansion 3. It’s a fun game with some clever mechanics involved, there aren’t any bugs or random spikes in difficulty, and overall it’s the kind of sweet, lightly scary fun that I like to see at this time of year. From my perspective, though, it just didn’t make for a great game to write about in-depth for a full series of articles.

Let’s wrap up Luigi’s Mansion 3.

The reason for that is simple: Luigi’s Mansion 3 has some fantastic gameplay but is relatively light on story. You know the premise: the spooky Hellen Gravely and King Boo have kidnapped Luigi’s friends, and over the course of a dozen or so levels – represented by the floors of the Last Resort hotel – Luigi has to fight various ghosts and spirits to get them back.

In short, the fact that I can summarise the game’s entire story in a couple of sentences encapsulates what made it a struggle to write about in such depth. I could easily write a review of the game – but to give a blow-by-blow account of every interaction on every level, which I tried to do at first, quickly became repetitive. I didn’t think the articles I was putting together were all that interesting to read, let alone entertaining, so I really didn’t know what to do with Luigi’s Mansion 3 for a while.

The game’s title screen.

I kept promising myself that I’d get back to the series once I had a better idea for making the write-ups interesting. But the only thing I could really think of was condensing the articles into fewer instalments, and even then I still didn’t like what I’d produced.

This website has involved a degree of experimentation on my part. Some things developed organically – like the weekly Star Trek theories I write when a new season is running. Others have been attempted, but for various reasons didn’t work as I initially hoped. The Luigi’s Mansion 3 series of articles has been one such disappointment.

Figuring out how to write about Luigi’s Mansion 3 was a challenge.

However, I like to think I’ve learned something worthwhile from the experience! The biggest takeaway for me is that I have more to say and more to talk about when a game has a strong narrative. Once I’d got the prologue out of the way and settled into the Luigi’s Mansion 3 gameplay loop, I found myself running out of things to say. That says something about the way I write as much as it does about games like Luigi’s Mansion 3, and I know that a lot of people have published playthroughs focusing on this game – and many other titles with a comparable style. But this is my website, and I have my own way of writing and of approaching this format!

I would definitely like to do more playthroughs – but as I approach the subject again, I need to consider the choice of games carefully. I chose Luigi’s Mansion 3 last October specifically because it had a spooky theme, but I didn’t really stop to think about how the game works and what I’d be able to write about at the end of each play session. Having learned a thing or two as a result of this experience, I’d like to think any future playthrough series will be a much more interesting read from your point of view – and a much more enjoyable writing experience from mine!

The titular Luigi.

With all of that out of the way, what did I think of Luigi’s Mansion 3? Having never played the first two games in the series, I was coming at the game from a newbie’s point of view. There were a couple of points where having a bit more knowledge of either the greater Mario franchise as a whole or the prior Luigi’s Mansion titles might’ve provided a player with a little more – but this was mostly in the form of “easter eggs” and references; nothing story-wise or gameplay-wise relied on knowledge of other games.

And that’s the way it should be! Luigi’s Mansion 2 came out for the 3DS in 2013, and the original game was a launch title for the GameCube back in 2001, so expecting Switch players in 2019 – when the game was released – to remember everything from the previous two titles would’ve been an impossible ask! I felt Luigi’s Mansion 3 was approachable and newbie-friendly.

The first title in the series was released in 2001 on the GameCube.

Nintendo’s first-party titles are almost always high quality. I didn’t encounter any bugs or glitches, and only a couple of very minor graphical issues. Luigi’s Mansion 3 looked decent even on my 4K television screen, and the Switch’s graphics in general are fantastic considering the console’s size and portability. With a file size of only a little over 6GB, Luigi’s Mansion 3 packs a lot into a small package – making it quick to download and easy to store even on the Switch’s limited internal storage.

Gameplay was fun, and offered several completely unique elements that I’ve never experienced in other titles. Luigi’s main weapon is his vacuum – the Poltergust G-00 – which makes a return from the two older titles, albeit in an updated form. This fun and unique weapon allows Luigi to tackle ghosts in a variety of ways, including slamming them into the ground, bashing them against each other, and firing a shockwave.

Gameplay was great fun.

The Poltergust can also be used to fire a plunger which can be used to interact with the environment. Though it does have applications in combat, the plunger shot was largely useful for navigating previously-blocked areas of the hotel as well as uncovering secrets and hidden items spread throughout the game world.

The addition of Gooigi – Luigi’s gooey doppelganger – made navigating levels much more interesting. Areas that Luigi couldn’t access on his own were easy for Gooigi to reach, and this had functionality both to advance the main story and for idle exploration and retrieving hidden gems. Having two playable characters with different abilities isn’t something new in video games, but Gooigi put a unique and fun spin on the concept, and came in handy on many different occasions!

Gooigi and Luigi.

Story-wise, Luigi’s Mansion 3 was pretty basic. That’s to be expected, though, and what story there was was done very well. These kinds of games don’t go all-in on big, believable narratives, and that’s absolutely fine. What mattered in Luigi’s Mansion 3 wasn’t really the story but the gameplay, and in that regard the game was an enjoyable experience.

Hellen Gravely was a King Boo superfan, and kind of a parody of a certain type of obsessive fan that I think we all see from time to time. Otherwise the story was a riff on a very familiar concept in the Super Mario series – a nefarious evil-doer has kidnapped someone special to our hero, and he must fight his way past the baddie’s minions, working his way up to defeating the big bad herself, in order to save them all.

Hellen Gravely, the game’s villain.

Trapping Mario and the others in paintings was itself a riff on the Super Mario 64 idea, at least on a superficial level, so in that sense nothing about the story of Luigi’s Mansion 3 was groundbreaking. What it did was put its own spin on a couple of existing concepts, then execute those ideas very well. As escapist entertainment it was perfectly enjoyable, and there was enough of a story to keep the game’s momentum going.

As someone who isn’t really into horror, what I liked about the setting was that it retained a spooky, creepy aesthetic, but kept things kid-friendly. I would wager that all but the most sensitive of children would be able to play and enjoy Luigi’s Mansion 3, and as a game to play in the run-up to Halloween I can hardly think of a better one! Striking the right balance in a game all about ghosts in a haunted hotel is a tricky task, and it would’ve been easy for the game to slip up and become scarier than intended. Luckily it avoided that particular pitfall.

I had fun with Luigi’s Mansion 3.

So Luigi’s Mansion 3 is an odd one for me. I failed in my mission to write up a full playthrough, but despite that I actually had fun with the game itself. The fact that it didn’t make for a good writing project is more to do with how I like to write and what I look for when it comes to writing up a full playthrough of a game. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is everything you’d want from a title of this nature.

I’ve been meaning to write this conclusion for a little while now, and October seemed like the right month once again! To those of you who tuned in for my Luigi’s Mansion 3 playthrough last year, thank you. I hope you enjoyed the pieces that I was able to write. Stick around, because I’ve got other ideas for playthroughs that – fingers crossed – will be more substantial!

Luigi’s Mansion 3 is out now for Nintendo Switch. The Super Mario franchise – including Luigi’s Mansion 3 and all other titles mentioned above – is the copyright of Nintendo. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Ten non-Nintendo characters who (probably won’t) appear in Mario Kart 9!

A few days ago I had a lot of fun putting together a short list of (mostly) Nintendo characters who I think should appear in Mario Kart 9 – whenever that game may come! As a follow-up, I thought it could be interesting to consider a few characters from outside of Nintendo’s walled garden who could also join the fun. If you’d like to check out the original list, you can find it by clicking or tapping here.

Mario Kart 8 and later Mario Kart 8 Deluxe pushed the boat out as far as the roster of drivers is concerned, including characters from outside of the Super Mario series for the first time, including Link from The Legend of Zelda series, Isabelle from Animal Crossing, and two characters from the Splatoon games. However, it would be a first for the series to include non-Nintendo characters!

Isabelle, from the Animal Crossing series, is a driver in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Although the Mario Kart games haven’t done so yet, Nintendo has proved itself willing to open up to other companies’ franchises and characters in recent years. We’ve seen Minecraft Steve, for example, as well as characters from the Castlevania, Persona, and Dragon Quest series appear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Switch, so I think that demonstrates a willingness on Nintendo’s part to think outside the box when it comes to characters in popular titles.

Whether it will happen, though, is completely unknown! And to reiterate what I always say: this is pure guesswork and a wishlist from a fan, nothing more. I’m not claiming to know for a fact that any characters listed below will appear in Mario Kart 9 – or even if such a game is currently in development. With the 30th anniversary of the Mario Kart series coming up in 2022 I think it’s possible that we might see a new game, but even that’s just a guess on my part!

With that out of the way, let’s jump into the list!

Number 1: Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega)

Sonic as he appears in Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020.

Of all the characters on this list, Sonic is arguably the most likely to crop up in Mario Kart 9. Not only is he a character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but there have been a number of Nintendo games over the last decade or more in which he’s been prominently featured. Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games in 2007 marked his debut alongside Mario, and since then the duo have appeared together in five more Olympic-themed titles.

It would’ve seemed unthinkable in the ’90s for Mario and Sonic to appear together; they were the mascots of competing companies! It was only when Sega retired from manufacturing their own consoles shortly after the millennium that Sonic appearing on Nintendo hardware was even a possibility, but he’s since become a mainstay. He’d make for a fantastic character, and having already featured in his own kart racer, he definitely knows a thing or two about driving!

Number 2: Pac-Man (Bandai Namco)

A 3D rendering of Pac-Man from 1999’s Pac-Man World.

Another character who appeared in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Pac-Man is a gaming icon from the medium’s early days. Originally an arcade game created in 1980, Pac-Man spawned a whole host of titles in a series that continues to this day. Though the games have no real story or plot, Pac-Man was arguably one of the first video game characters, and was, for a time, symbolic of the games industry as a whole. His simple design became iconic, and even today Pac-Man is instantly recognisable.

As with Sonic above, even a few years ago the idea of a collaboration between Nintendo and Pac-Man (short of licensing one of the games to their consoles) wouldn’t have seemed possible. But as companies continue to pool their resources and work together, it could make a lot of sense for both Nintendo and Bandai Namco (or should that be Bando Namcai?) to bring Pac-Man to Mario Kart 9.

Number 3: Fall Guy (Epic Games/Mediatonic)

Three Fall Guys seen in a recent Nintendo Direct.

If I’d been in charge of the development of cute obstacle course/battle royale title Fall Guys, I would have prioritised a Nintendo Switch release. Regardless, the title is finally going to be released on Nintendo’s console, months after it’s PC and PlayStation 4 debut. The Fall Guys themselves are adorable little jelly bean characters with a huge variety of costumes, and their cartoon aesthetic would fit perfectly with Nintendo’s long-running kart racing series.

The recent Epic Games buyout may complicate matters, but with Fall Guys coming to Switch I really feel it has a shot at being successful on that platform – especially if Mediatonic can get cross-platform play up and running. If the game is a hit, bringing a Fall Guy to Mario Kart 9 would be fantastic, and something Nintendo could absolutely consider doing. It would arguably benefit Fall Guys more, with the character’s inclusion serving almost as advertising, but that should just be an incentive for Epic Games to allow this crossover to go ahead!

Number 4: Master Chief (Microsoft)

The Master Chief in Halo: The Master Chief Collection concept art.

The inclusion of Minecraft Steve in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate shows that Microsoft is quite happy to work with Nintendo, and a number of their recent moves – like their partnership with EA – have opened up the possibility of further collaborations and crossovers with big games companies. With that in mind, could the Halo series’ iconic protagonist end up as a racer?

Halo games, as first-person shooters, are quite violent, so perhaps Nintendo would opt not to include such characters for the sake of keeping the game family-friendly. But Master Chief’s design isn’t aggressive or scary, and I think he could be made to fit. It would be a fun collaboration between two of modern gaming’s big powerhouses.

Number 5: Doom Guy (Bethesda/Microsoft)

Doom Eternal promotional artwork featuring the character known as Doom Guy.

Though visually similar in some respects to the Master Chief, Doom Guy has a surprising history with Nintendo. Not only was Doom 64 a Nintendo 64 exclusive in 1997, but last year saw a bizarre yet strangely wholesome internet-inspired team-up with Animal Crossing: New Horizons. In short, Doom Eternal shared a release date with New Horizons, and because of the polar opposite nature of the games, fans began ironically pairing up Doom Guy with Animal Crossing characters – notably Isabelle.

Nintendo could take advantage of the memes and jokes by bringing Doom Guy into Mario Kart 9. On the surface, maybe he isn’t a great fit for the series. But there’s nothing offensive about his character design, and if last year’s fan art showed us one thing, it’s that Doom Guy can be made to look adorable and cartoonified!

Number 6: Two Point Hospital Doctor or Nurse (Sega)

Two doctors and a nurse.

Two Point Hospital is a spiritual successor to 1997’s Theme Hospital, a classic of the “tycoon” genre. It was ported to the Nintendo Switch last year after releasing for PC in 2018, and has gone on to be a surprising success on the platform. As with many tycoon games there isn’t really one principal character to pick out, but a generic doctor and/or nurse could be a fun addition to Mario Kart 9.

One of the great things about Two Point Hospital is its cartoon aesthetic; a deliberate choice that mimics the title’s origins in tycoon games of the 1990s. That look just happens to be perfect for the Mario Kart series, which means a Two Point Hospital character would be a natural fit.

Number 7: A Palico (Capcom)

A Palico as seen in the trailer for Monster Hunter Rise.

I’ll let you in on a secret: the Monster Hunter series has never seemed like my thing. The latest title in the series, Monster Hunter Rise, is available for Nintendo Switch, but despite loving the visual style, the core gameplay of hunting and killing so-called “monsters” – which seem to be docile animals living their own lives not troubling anybody – holds absolutely no appeal to me!

Regardless, the latest title is a big hit on Switch, and Palicoes are cute little felines or cat-like characters that accompany the player character during the game. It seems like this kind of cute critter would be a perfect fit for Mario Kart 9 – even if I don’t personally care for the game they originate from!

Number 8: Zagreus (Supergiant Games)

Promotional art for Hades featuring Zagreus.

Hades has to be one of the best indie games I’ve played in recent years, and was recently featured in a Nintendo Direct presentation as the game is getting a full physical release (i.e. on a game cartridge) for Switch. It’s an absolute blast, and if you haven’t tried it I can’t recommend it enough – if you’re okay with a game in which you die over and over again!

Zagreus, son of Hades, is the game’s protagonist, adapted from the character present in Ancient Greek mythology. His anime-inspired style is… well let’s just say I’m not an anime fan. But as a character he’s interesting and fun to root for in Hades, and with some minor adaptations I’m sure he could fit in with the rest of the racers!

Number 9: Ori and Sein (Microsoft/Moon Studios)

Ori and Sein in Ori and the Blind Forest.

I’d almost forgotten that both Ori and the Blind Forest and Ori and the Will of the Wisps had been ported to the Nintendo Switch, but both games were a good fit for Nintendo’s platform and seem to have sold reasonably well. This entry is technically two characters, but they could be rolled into a single racer as Sein’s design might not lend itself to being an independent driver!

The Ori games are surprisingly sweet but also challenging in places, and Ori would certainly fit right in with the Mario Kart series from an aesthetic point of view. It would be great to see the Ori series, which already has a Switch presence, join up with Nintendo for an additional collaboration!

Number 10: Geralt of Rivia (CD Projekt Red)

Geralt as he appears on the box art of The Witcher 3.

Though I still haven’t played The Witcher 3 – or the prior two entries in the series, come to that – it’s held up as one of the best games of the last ten years, and protagonist Geralt of Rivia has since cropped up in a couple of unexpected places! Perhaps his next adventure could be joining Mario and friends for a go-kart race?

The Witcher 3 was one of the most ambitious titles to bring to the Nintendo Switch, considering the size and complexity of the game, but by all accounts it’s a solid port. A lot of folks have been enjoying taking Geralt with them to play on the go, and his recent appearance in Soul Calibur VI shows that CD Projekt Red are clearly amenable to collaborating with other companies. He would be a strange choice, perhaps, but a lot of fun nevertheless!

Bonus: Battle-Cars (Epic Games)

Promotional art for Rocket League showing two Battle-Cars.

One of the most surprising things in Mario Kart 8 was the inclusion of Mercedes-Benz car parts, as part of a deal Nintendo struck with the famous car manufacturer! We could absolutely consider other manufacturers or vehicles that would be cute to see in the next Mario Kart game, but for now I thought it could be fun if Nintendo could team up with one of the other top car games out there – Rocket League!

I’m atrocious at Rocket League and have been since the first time I played, but the game is a lot of fun. A buyout by Epic Games saw the title move to a free-to-play model, which has been good in some ways. There are a number of different vehicle styles, and any could be adapted to make a fun kart in Mario Kart 9. Perhaps three or four different styles would be enough so as not to overwhelm the title!

So that’s it. Ten characters – and one bonus set of vehicles – that Mario Kart 9 should – but most likely won’t – include!

Is a new Mario Kart title in the works?

If I’m right that Nintendo plans to do something next year to mark the series’ 30th anniversary, a new game would be top of the list. And in the spirit of celebration, bringing a whole roster of characters from across gaming to join one big Mario Kart party would be a great thing for Nintendo to do. Some characters that Nintendo has worked with in the past, like Sonic the Hedgehog, seem far more likely than others, but it would benefit practically every company involved in the games industry to allow Nintendo to license one or two of their characters. After all, it’s a fantastic advertisement for the game they’re originally from!

I’ve been a huge Mario Kart fan since I first sat down to play Super Mario Kart in 1993 or 1994, back when I owned a SNES. That title only had eight racers to choose from, and the series has come a long way since then – while managing to retain the fun. As games got better and I played the likes of Shenmue and Knights of the Old Republic I began to favour titles with a strong focus on story; there are few titles I considered fun for their gameplay alone. The Mario Kart series has always been one of them! Whatever happens next year, and whenever Mario Kart 9 may come, I hope Nintendo try to bring in some new and different faces.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is out now for Nintendo Switch, and is the copyright of Nintendo. All characters mentioned above are the copyright of their respective studio, developer, and/or publisher. Some screenshots and promo art courtesy of IGDB. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is the Mario anniversary game I should’ve bought!

Nintendo showed off two big projects last year to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Super Mario franchise: Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Perhaps pushed by the awful forced scarcity of Super Mario 3D All-Stars – which was removed from sale arbitrarily last month – but also excited at the prospect of replaying Super Mario 64, that was the game I picked up on release day. And it was an underwhelming experience; £50 not particularly well-spent.

Don’t get me wrong, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is okay, and for someone who’s never played any of the games included I could recommend it under some circumstances. All three games work, and there have been some very minor improvements to the way Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy look. But that’s all you got for £50 – three games, the newest of which is from 2007, slightly tweaked. Super Mario 64, one of my favourite games of all time and the title I was most excited to replay, looks pretty crappy in the 3D All-Stars collection, with a strange frame resolution that leaves black bars around all four sides of the screen. They couldn’t even get it to fit the screen top to bottom! Even an emulator can manage that!

The pretty crappy way Super Mario 64 looks in the 3D All-Stars collection is disappointing and a little offputting.

So I was unimpressed with the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection, and it’s the one game in the last couple of years that I genuinely regret purchasing. I broke my own rule about day-one purchases, and picked it up without waiting to see any reviews or gameplay assuming that Super Mario 64 alone would make it worthwhile. Given that the version of Super Mario 64 is itself underwhelming, the entire collection felt disappointing and was certainly very overpriced.

The other Mario game announced for the 35th anniversary was Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. 3D World had been a Wii U title, so this is a port, but Bowser’s Fury is entirely new. Even though it’s been out for a couple of months now I avoided picking it up. I don’t have an unlimited budget for video games – or anything else, come to that – and after my recent disappointing experience with Super Mario 3D All-Stars I was not overly keen on spending more money on another Mario title. But earlier this week I got a reasonable deal on a second-hand copy and decided to give it a shot.

Cat Mario is just too cute!

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is unquestionably the title I should’ve picked up instead of Super Mario 3D All-Stars. It’s superior in practically every respect. The Wii U gameplay has been perfectly ported to the Switch, and while it perhaps doesn’t look quite as shiny as Super Mario Odyssey, it’s a perfectly acceptable 3D platformer with a cute Mario aesthetic that matches the rest of the franchise. And the cat costumes are just so adorable – I’m a cat owner (I have four) and I love practically anything cat-themed!

Bowser’s Fury is a brand-new mode made for the Switch. To call it a “mode” is a bit uncharitable, as Bowser’s Fury could just as easily be a standalone game in its own right. Perhaps not a full-priced one, as it’s relatively short, but it easily stands up against other Switch titles in terms of how much fun it is to play. The new addition adds a lot to Super Mario 3D World, elevating the experience of the original Wii U title. And it’s fair to say that, without Bowser’s Fury, Super Mario 3D World on its own would be a harder sell – especially for someone like me who’s already played it.

Bowser doesn’t look happy…

Gameplay-wise, Nintendo’s expected high quality is present, with no major bugs, glitches, or crashes getting in the way. And I’m having fun playing Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, which I really haven’t been able to say about the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection.

Nintendo have had some great successes since the Switch launched in 2017. It seems clear to me, though, that the 35th anniversary of the Super Mario franchise was originally supposed to be bigger. Bowser’s Fury is really the only new game that’s been part of the celebration, and while we know that Nintendo suffered a lot of production delays due to the pandemic, that doesn’t account for all of it. Super Mario 3D All-Stars felt rushed; a collection cobbled together at the last minute perhaps because Bowser’s Fury wasn’t ready.

Promo screenshot for Bowser’s Fury.

Unfortunately, talk of a new or updated “Switch Pro” is hanging over Nintendo at the moment. Having ported over the main Mario games present on the Wii U, now could have been the time for the company to build on the successes of Super Mario Odyssey and now Bowser’s Fury, launching new titles in the franchise. With the 30th anniversary of Mario Kart coming next year, perhaps a new title in that series could be in the offing. But this rumour of a potential new console needs to be cleared up as soon as possible – fans need to know what they can expect from Nintendo in the short-to-medium term.

Bowser’s Fury takes advantage of the Switch’s hardware to do things that Super Mario 3D World couldn’t have managed on the Wii U. And that offers a pathway forward; an opportunity to build on its successes and develop new titles in the series for the current console. With the number of units sold rapidly approaching the numbers Nintendo saw with the Wii, shifting focus to new hardware now seems positively stupid. The Switch easily has four or five years’ of life left in it at the very least, and there should be many more games in the vein of Bowser’s Fury to come. I hope this talk of a new console or a variant which will have exclusive titles can be put to bed ASAP so Nintendo fans can focus on enjoying the current system to its fullest.

Cat Peach, Toad, Mario, and Cat Luigi.

For my money, Bowser’s Fury makes Super Mario 3D World worth the buy. If you weren’t one of the nine people besides me who owned a Wii U a few years ago, the base game is also great and will be new to you as well. On its own, Super Mario 3D World isn’t as good as Super Mario Odyssey, but it’s a solid title in its own right. The cat suits which are the game’s big new feature are more than just a visual gimmick, as the power-up they offer does change the way Mario (and the other characters) interact with the game world.

I don’t have any friends to sit down with on the couch and play Super Mario 3D World with. Wait, that sounds sad! What I mean is that the game offers a multiplayer mode for up to four players, and while I haven’t been able to take advantage of that for myself, if you have people to play with, you’ll get a classic-feeling Super Mario experience that can be enjoyed together.

I was left disappointed last year with Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Nintendo’s anniversary of the Super Mario series. But it turns out that I just bought the wrong game. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is an appropriate celebration of Nintendo’s mascot and his 35th birthday, and I’m glad to have picked it up.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury was developed and published by Nintendo and is out now for Nintendo Switch. The Super Mario franchise – including all titles mentioned above – is the copyright of Nintendo. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Yesterday’s Nintendo Direct – reaction

Nintendo struck gold with their Nintendo Direct broadcasts a few years ago, advertising their upcoming games straight to their biggest fans. Nintendo Direct broadcasts have become one of the premiere events in games marketing, and the format has been emulated by a number of other companies – especially with the pandemic forcing the cancellation of big events like E3.

Yesterday’s Nintendo Direct was the first major broadcast that the company has done in some time, though. Over the last year or so, Nintendo Directs have focused either on third-party titles being ported to the Switch or on single games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Animal Crossing: New Horizons. This one promised to be different, showing off Nintendo’s plans for the first half of 2021.

The pre-Direct spiel sounded interesting.

2021 is an interesting year for Nintendo. The company has often used the anniversaries of major releases as the springboard for themed events, and this year marks a number of such anniversaries. The Legend of Zelda was released in 1986, making this year the series’ 35th anniversary. Additionally, it marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Nintendo 64 – along with the 25th anniversaries of such classics as Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Wave Race 64, and even Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. As you may recall, I’ve never been all that interested in the Zelda series, but I was very curious to see if there would be any mention of the Nintendo 64’s anniversary.

2021 is also the 20th anniversary of the launch of the GameCube – and with it such titles as Luigi’s Mansion and Super Smash Bros. Melee. The Wii launched in 2006, making this year the console’s 15th anniversary… so you get the picture. There are potentially a lot of anniversary-themed events coming from Nintendo!

It’s Mario Kart 64′s 25th anniversary later this year.

My most recent experience with a Nintendo game was underwhelming. Super Mario 3D All-Stars was fine… but not great. Nintendo’s approach to only release the game for a limited time meant that I rushed to pre-order it, but on reflection I wish I hadn’t. The version of Super Mario 64 contained in that package is actually worse in some ways than either the original or emulated versions – it has a weird aspect ratio meaning that, whether you play in handheld mode or docked, you’re stuck with thick black bars on all four sides of the screen. It’s really offputting.

But we’ve drifted off-topic! I went into yesterday’s Nintendo Direct with cautious interest but no plans to rush into a purchase or pre-order. However, with Nintendo’s predilection for anniversaries and the rumours of news about Mario and/or Zelda, plus the fifty-minute advertised runtime, I was expecting at least something of note.

Senior Nintendo manager Shinya Takahashi presented yesterday’s Nintendo Direct.

There were a few points of interest, but nothing that blew me away. This kind of “event” broadcast can be a double-edged sword for Nintendo, because on the one hand there was a lot of hype and interest over the last couple of days – but that hype can come crashing down if expectations are not met. And while I would say that, from my point of view, what was shown off was perfectly fine, there was nothing spectacular or that felt like an immediate must-buy. Fans expecting to hear about Breath of the Wild 2 or a big Zelda or Mario event will have certainly come away disappointed.

So let’s get into the announcements that were of interest to me. First, Fall Guys is finally making its way to the Switch! I suggested way back in August when I first played the game that it would be an absolutely perfect fit for the Switch, and I’m so glad to see developers Mediatonic agreed. The Switch has an install base of some 60+ million players, many of whom are interested in this kind of fun, pick-up-and-play title. I’ve recently got back into playing Fall Guys just in the last couple of weeks, and I’m seriously considering getting the Switch version too. The only downside is that Fall Guys will require Nintendo’s paid Switch Online service.

Fall Guys is coming to the Switch.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is getting a number of Super Mario-themed items. This is something that fans of the game had been expecting; a Mario crossover had been teased as early as last year. But from what we saw in the broadcast the items look like fun, and they’re all very much on theme! Earlier Animal Crossing titles had Nintendo- and Mario-themed items included, so this is one more missing feature that has been re-added rather than something altogether new – but that’s been a pattern with New Horizons since it was launched. My first impression was that the items look very similar to those in Super Mario 3D World – the remaster of which has just been released for Switch. Perhaps that is not a coincidence!

I’ve never tried the Splatoon games, though they’ve always looked like fun. Nintendo opted to use Splatoon 3 as the broadcast’s big finale – I’m not sure how well that worked given that the game isn’t coming until 2022, and that it’s very much a second-tier series in the Nintendo library. But it looks like more of the same – another fun game in what is held up as a fun series.

Splatoon 3 was announced… but it isn’t going to be released for a while yet.

Speaking of 2022, there were several titles discussed or shown off that were coming either much later this year or not till next year. Ordinarily I wouldn’t remark on something like that, but the pre-broadcast statement (which you can see above) said explicitly that what would be shown off were games coming in “the first half of 2021.” Why set that expectation only to break it? If they had said “coming soon,” or something like that, there’d be no reason to comment. It just struck me as a little odd.

A notable port was that of battle royale first-person shooter Apex Legends. I’m not convinced Apex Legends will find a huge Switch audience, but if it allows players to sign in using their existing account then perhaps being able to play on the go will prove popular – as it has with other titles already. Hades, one of the best indie titles of last year, was already available digitally on the Switch but is now getting a physical release too. Hades was already a great fit for the Switch, and Nintendo’s console with its cartridge system is the one remaining place in gaming where physical copies of games are still widely popular!

Indie game Hades is getting a physical release.

Mario Golf: Super Rush is the latest in a long line of Mario sports titles, and looks like fun. Its Wii-like motion controls (using the Joy-con controllers) will surely win it some praise, and these arcade-style sports games are usually well-received, especially on Nintendo hardware. That was the only new Mario title announced. As for the Zelda series, after the director sought to reassure fans that Breath of the Wild 2 is coming along nicely, the Zelda series was treated to a remaster of Skyward Sword – which originally released in 2011. Not sure how well its mapping of the Wii’s motion controls to the Switch’s thumbsticks will work – but the option to retain the motion controls using the Joy-con controllers will still be present.

There was a strange re-release announced of 2005 Xbox/PlayStation 2 game Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse. I vaguely remember that game from the Xbox era – it has a fun premise but, if I recall correctly, was little more than average. So I was surprised to learn it’s being re-released not only for the Switch but also for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One!

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword can be played using motion controls.

And that’s it really. There were some updates and new characters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Hyrule Warriors, as well as updates announced for a couple of other titles. Nothing in yesterday’s Nintendo Direct was bad, but nothing really leapt out at me as being fantastic or a wonderful surprise. It was just… okay.

Therein lies the danger with hyping up an event like this. Nintendo hadn’t done a proper Direct broadcast in a while, so expectations were high for what may be announced. The pandemic has certainly slowed work in Japan – just as it has everywhere else – so it’s no criticism that they haven’t got more to say. That’s something I feel most people will understand. But given that there really wasn’t that much to say – and that some of what was shown off isn’t coming any time soon – perhaps there was a better way to do it than by hyping up a big broadcast like this one. I have no doubt that some Nintendo fans – especially those invested in Zelda and expecting something big – came away at least a little disappointed.

All titles mentioned above are the copyright of their respective developer, publisher, and/or studio. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.


You can watch the full Nintendo Direct broadcast below:

Super Mario 3D All-Stars is… fine, I guess

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Super Mario 3D All-Stars (and its three constituent games).

Tempted by the promise of replaying Super Mario 64 – which remains one of my favourite games of all-time – I overlooked Nintendo’s godawful “forced scarcity” business model and stumped up £50 for Super Mario 3D All-Stars. And the game is fine. All three titles work, and in the short amount of time I’ve been able to spend with them today, there haven’t been any glitches or bugs that would make me feel it was somehow unfinished. And there shouldn’t be – these games are between thirteen and twenty-four years old, after all.

Let’s talk about this business model, then. I mentioned this when I talked about Super Mario 3D All-Stars shortly after its announcement, but the idea of releasing a game as a limited-time only thing is a blatant attempt by Nintendo to drum up more support than it would otherwise merit. Removing the game from sale – even as a digital download – after a mere six months is just awful, really, and there’s no excuse for it.

Super Mario Galaxy is one of three games in the collection.

This is a shameless marketing ploy, nothing less. And Nintendo is playing right into the hands of scammer and scalpers, who are already selling copies of the game for well over its asking price on sites like eBay. This is something that will only get worse as time goes by and as the deadline for buying the game next March passes.

I guess why I feel underwhelmed by Super Mario 3D All-Stars is that the game could be so much more than Nintendo chose to make of it. There are small details in the games that have been improved – such as the text in Super Mario 64, which has been upscaled. Some of the in-game icons have clearly been polished too; gone are the rough edges where a lack of pixels caused a blocky effect, replaced by the smoother lines a modern title can deliver. Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy have been upgraded to be in 1080p widescreen.

Super Mario Sunshine is now in widescreen.

But that’s all. Super Mario 64 doesn’t even get the 1080p treatment, and isn’t even in widescreen, leaving weird black bars on all four sides of the screen when played on a television. Sunshine and Galaxy are at least in widescreen, and as more modern games to begin with don’t look quite so out-of-place.

The soundtracks are a something-and-nothing addition. All three titles’ soundtracks are included, but can only be played via the Switch. If you don’t mind having the console on and doing nothing but listening to music, perhaps that’s okay. If you want to listen to it in the background while working or studying, perhaps that’s okay. If you want to do other things or if you want to listen to the music while on the go, you can’t unless you bring your Switch with you – hardly something easily done while jogging or engaged in any number of activities. An mp3 of the albums would have been a far better offering – perhaps redeemable via a code. As it is, all three albums are stuck on the Switch.

The soundtracks don’t really offer much by way of added value.

Perhaps I rushed to buy Super Mario 3D All-Stars too quickly. Perhaps I was taken in by Nintendo’s decision to artificially limit the game’s availability. Perhaps… something. Because I feel like for £50, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is quite a big ask. In a way it’s hard to argue that I didn’t get my money’s worth, because I picked up a slightly-updated version of one of my favourite ever games, got the chance to replay a great game I only rushed through once in like 2002/03, and a game that everyone says is amazing that I haven’t played yet. Yet it still feels like a lot of money for these games considering the newest of the bunch is from 2007. Maybe PC gaming, with its Steam sales and heavily-discounted older titles, has spoilt me!

For somebody who got into gaming this generation and thus missed playing all three of these games when they were new, I would recommend Super Mario 3D All-Stars. These are not just classic Mario games, all three are classics of the 3D platformer genre. Super Mario 64 in particular is a piece of gaming history and well worth any Nintendo fan and indeed any gamer’s time. The problem is that in its current form it still feels like a piece of history – its outdated controls and unimproved visuals will be offputting for some players.

Super Mario 64 has weird black bars on all four sides. Not the best look.

Instead of releasing three titles in a bundle for £50, what Nintendo could have opted to do is to release them one by one after giving them a proper remaster. The engine used for Super Mario Odyssey a couple of years ago could certainly be repurposed, and the games rebuilt from the ground up akin to the work Capcom put into Resident Evil 2. A fully-remade version of any of these games would still have been a celebration of Mario’s past, and if they were to make all three they could retail for, say, £35 each or thereabouts.

Regardless, I knew what to expect from Super Mario 3D All-Stars. I can hardly say the game was not as advertised; it absolutely was as advertised. And again, for the price getting three awesome games – one of which I haven’t played in almost twenty years and one of which I’ve never played – is still good value, even if they haven’t been upgraded as much as I would have liked.

For Mario superfans, I think this is a must-buy. And for gamers who skipped these titles for whatever reason when they were new, it’s also a must-buy. For me… perhaps Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a shouldn’t-have-bought.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars is out now on Nintendo Switch, but will only be available until the 31st of March 2021. Super Mario 3D All-Stars is the copyright of Nintendo. Some screenshots courtesy of press kits on IGDB. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Some interesting Mario projects for the franchise’s 35th anniversary

The Super Mario Bros. 35th anniversary Nintendo Direct.

I don’t usually watch Nintendo Direct presentations, at least not unless I’m eagerly anticipating a title. I only own a handful of Switch games, as they often remain expensive even years after release. When I have a stack of unplayed PC games, spending £50 on a Switch game feels wasteful! This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Mario franchise, as Super Mario Bros. debuted in 1985. Though a 35th anniversary is hardly one of the “big ones”, rumours had been swirling for months that Nintendo would take the opportunity to do something significant in celebration of their most famous character and mascot.

Super Mario All-Stars, which features the original Super Mario Bros. as well as its first three sequels, was one of the first games I owned when I had a SNES in the early 1990s. I enjoyed playing through those games, and while the Mario series has never been my biggest fandom, it’s one that’s usually offered fun and well-made titles. Though I skipped the Mario Galaxy games, I’ve played many of the other mainline entries, including the recent Super Mario Odyssey.

Super Mario Bros. was released in 1985 – 35 years ago.

The main reason why I tuned in, though, was because there had been rumours of a remastered Super Mario 64 – perhaps my favourite entry in the series. I was at least a little disappointed that it hasn’t received an upgrade, as seeing that game with the visual style of Odyssey would have been spectacular in my opinion! But Mario 64 is coming back in its original form, bundled with Mario Sunshine and the first Mario Galaxy game as part of a collection called Super Mario 3D All-Stars.

The collection looks like a lot of fun, and being able to replay Mario 64 will be great. I’ve also only played Mario Sunshine once, in like 2002, so it’ll be fantastic to have a proper look at that game for the first time in a long time too. And as someone who’s never played Galaxy, perhaps now’s the time to give that one a try! But Super Mario 3D All-Stars comes with a stupid and artificial limitation – in true Nintendo style. I criticised Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the arbitrary decision to prohibit players having more than one save file per console, despite there being no reason for such a limitation. And Super Mario 3D All-Stars deserves all the criticism it gets for its forced scarcity business model.

Super Mario 64 might be my favourite Mario title.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars will only be available for six months. At the end of March next year it will be removed from sale – both physically and digitally. I’ve never heard of such nonsense as a digital download game being removed from sale. It’s arbitrary and it’s clearly designed to drum up as much support as possible by playing on gamers’ fears of missing out. Many people, myself included, choose not to buy games at launch because they’re often discounted (or available pre-owned) a few weeks or months later. Super Mario 3D All-Stars, thanks to its unnecessary removal from sale, won’t be in that position, and thus the only way for players to get a copy is to snap it up as quickly as possible. This is a scummy tactic from Nintendo – a company that, despite its family-friendly façade, is no stranger to them. Resellers will be loving this – copies of Super Mario 3D All-Stars will go for big money in six months’ time, and even Switch consoles with the game pre-installed will sell for a packet. Just look at how scalpers have been making money selling iPhones with Fortnite installed since the Epic Games/Apple fight. Something similar will happen in this case too.

It’s one of those difficult situations. I want to like this game, and I’m interested in playing it, but at the same time I don’t want to endorse or support a company that uses such an unfair and anti-consumer business model. Though I felt the same way with Animal Crossing: New Horizons I did ultimately buy the game… and I guess I will be one of the suckers who buys this one too. But I want to register my protest at its business model – which is so incredibly stupid. Nintendo won’t even see most of the benefit, as resellers and scalpers will take the profits. It’ll just screw over ordinary gamers.

It’ll be great to replay Super Mario Sunshine.

As it costs £100, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is a bit beyond my budget! But the concept is fun, and I can see this becoming a must-have Christmas toy this year. Augmented reality is a neat idea, but the applications I’ve seen of it have always felt like little more than gimmicks. And usually the nature of augmented reality either necessitates every participant using a single platform or makes the experiences one-person things. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is basically just a remote control car with a camera strapped to it and a few gateways to drive through, but the Mario Kart branding, and being able to race around courses in the real world, hold some appeal.

The only drawback I can see is that it’s very much a one-trick pony. And considering most people don’t have huge homes, there will be limited options for setting up a racetrack. Once those options have been expended, the toy will perhaps be cast aside in favour of others, and while that is the nature of toys, £100 for something that looks like a day’s worth of interest at best from the average child means it feels like poor value. Some of Nintendo’s gimmicks are just there for the sake of it, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, the single-use nature of Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit feels like it would be offputting except for Mario fanatics and wealthy parents.

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit looks gimmicky, but fun.

It’s encouraging to see Nintendo making use of the Mario Kart brand, though. I’m still hopeful we’ll see Mario Kart 9 on the Switch before too long; I even made a list of tracks that could be included a little while ago. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit shows that Nintendo is still making use of the brand, and that raises expectations – at least a little – of a new game perhaps being in development. The original Super Mario Kart was released in 1992; with Nintendo making a big fuss about anniversaries, 2022 will be that series’ 30th so perhaps that could be a good time for a new iteration? I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

The other big announcement was a port of the Wii U game Super Mario 3D World, which will bring with it what looks to be a new expansion pack titled Bowser’s Fury. I played this a few years ago, when I was one of about fourteen people who owned a Wii U, and while it was okay and I enjoyed the cat suits the characters can wear, I’m not in a mad rush to replay it so soon after its launch on that console. Nintendo have released some solid Switch titles since 2017, but they’ve also put a disproportionate amount of time into porting Wii U titles to the new system, and the result is that some franchises haven’t got the attention they deserved. Even Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a port – there are a few extra characters and the DLC included, but nothing about the game is substantially different to the Wii U version. The Bowser’s Fury expansion for Super Mario 3D World may make the game worth a second look, but we didn’t see a lot of it in the direct and while it absolutely could be great, it could also turn out to be insubstantial and a bit of a let-down.

Super Mario 3D World is getting an update and a re-release.

The final game worth mentioning is a very strange one – Super Mario Bros. 35 is a multiplayer competitive version of the classic game, played with 35 players in homage to the title’s 35th anniversary. Defeating an enemy will send it into another player’s game, and it looks like whoever racks up the most points per level wins. Or something. I’m struggling to see how this will be all that fun – Super Mario Bros. simply isn’t designed for something like this, and if the game sticks with the original level design I think players could be overwhelmed with enemies. I know multiplayer isn’t usually my thing to begin with, but even with that caveat this doesn’t seem like a game that will be a lot of fun!

So my dreams of playing Super Mario 64 in the engine used for Odyssey will have to wait for another day! The 3D All-Stars collection is tugging me in both directions right now: it looks like fun, but I’m upset at its crappy anti-consumer sales tactic. Otherwise, despite the pandemic, Nintendo has managed to pull out several fun surprises to celebrate Mario’s 35th anniversary. Not all of them will be to everyone’s taste, but even a casual Mario player should be able to find at least one title that they’re interested in.

The Super Mario franchise, including all titles listed above, is the copyright of Nintendo. Some screenshots courtesy of press kits on IGDB. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Ten of the best games… that I’ve never played!

After Star Trek, gaming and the games industry is probably the subject I write about most here on the website. I used to work in the games industry as regular readers will recall, and I’ve enjoyed the hobby for decades – though I spend less time playing these days for a number of reasons. However, with decades of gaming under my belt, and time spent on the inside, I like to think I can write about the subject from a unique perspective and perhaps even with some degree of authority. So let’s completely ruin that by looking at some of the biggest games and game franchises that I’ve never even played!

The entries on this list are games (and franchises) that I’ve heard almost universal praise for; these titles are undeniably good. However, for a variety of reasons I simply haven’t got around to playing them, or they seemed like “not my thing” so I never gave them a try. I’ll make an attempt to justify myself… but I’m sure you’ll agree that this seriously harms my “gamer” pedigree! There shouldn’t be any major spoilers because these are games I haven’t played, but we will be discussing some details. If there’s a title you want to avoid even the slightest chance of spoilers for, it may be safer to skip that entry and move on to the next.

Here comes the disclaimer: just because I’m not interested in these titles or haven’t played them doesn’t mean I’m saying that they’re bad. Look at the title of this list! These games are generally held in very high regard, so if one of your favourites is here and I’m being negative about it, please try not to take it personally. Our experiences are all subjective; we all enjoy different things. And that’s great!

So without further ado, let’s look at the list!

Number 1: The Pokémon series (1996-present)

When I was still at school in the late ’90s, Pokémon cards became a short-lived craze among some of the younger kids. I considered myself “too grown-up” for a silly card game like that, which was a pretty typical attitude among my teenage friends at the time! I did, however, receive a pack of the cards as a gift at one point – and promptly gave them away to someone I knew who was collecting them.

I also didn’t own a Game Boy at the time – though in those days they were available to rent! Do you remember going to a rental shop and literally checking out a whole console? But because I didn’t own a Game Boy – and could afford to rent one so infrequently – I never got around to trying out the first entry in the series. Since then, there have been eighteen mainline Pokémon games across eight “generations” that have come out on six systems, and a number of spin-off titles too, including Pokémon Go, which seemed to take the world by storm in 2016.

And I’ve managed to avoid playing any of them! Japanese-style RPGs aren’t my favourite kind of games usually – particularly due to their style of combat – and combined with Pokémon’s youthful style and seemingly ever-growing list of critters, it’s something that’s never seemed like “my thing”. The increasing number of creatures in particular feels a little daunting at this point, and the series has developed a lore over the course of almost a quarter of a century that spans not only the games but a long-running animated series as well. At this point, even if I were interested in the series, I wouldn’t know where to start!

Number 2: Practically every arcade game!

I grew up in a rural community, and none of the small towns in this part of the world had arcades, not even during the height of their popularity in the ’80s. The closest I got was a small “penny arcade” in a seaside town which had a couple of video games alongside claw machines, slot machines, and pool tables. On the odd occasion that I’d get to go to bigger cities in my youth, visiting a video arcade was never a high priority.

As such, I’ve only ever played a handful of arcade games, and even then not many times and not for very long. The one I can remember playing most is 1994’s Sega Rally Championship, which I was fortunate enough to play a few times when I lived overseas. But I missed out on the arcade experience that many gamers of my generation had, and I’ve never played the arcade version of titles like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Out Run, the Star Wars arcade titles, or Space Harrier. The closest I got to playing Space Harrier in an arcade was in Shenmue on the Dreamcast! Though this entry might seem like kind of a cheat for this list since I have technically played many of these games when they were ported to consoles or via emulators, the experience isn’t the same.

Because of my health, I’m no longer in a position where I can travel very far, nor would I be able to really use an arcade machine for any length of time (unless I could do so from a seated position). So unfortunately it looks like I’ll never really be able to have that arcade experience.

Number 3: Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)

So far we’ve looked at games I wasn’t interested in and games that were generally unavailable to me. Red Dead Redemption 2 is in neither of these categories. I could have played it upon its 2018 release on PlayStation 4, or after its 2019 PC release on my computer, yet despite being interested in its historical setting, I simply haven’t got around to doing so – at least, not yet.

As a history buff, a game like Red Dead Redemption 2 should be exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for. It ticks almost all of the boxes for things I’d enjoy – a single-player game with a detailed story, an open world with lots to do, and a fun historical setting. American history is one of my favourite fields of study (despite not being American), so there’s really no excuse for not playing this game, right? The only real drawback is that it’s a sequel (technically a prequel, despite the somewhat confusing numbering) and I’m not usually someone who likes to jump into a series that’s already in progress.

I’ve been interested in Red Dead Redemption 2 since it was released, for all of the reasons listed above, yet I just haven’t got around to picking up a copy yet. I think if I’d seen it discounted I might’ve, but on Steam during the recent summer sale event it was only 20% off, which still left it priced at over £40. I don’t have a huge budget for games, so that’s definitely one reason why I haven’t picked it up yet. Unlike some of the other entries on this list, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game I absolutely plan to get around to playing… one of these days!

Number 4: The Dark Souls series (2011-2016)

This entry could really be expanded to encompass a number of other titles besides the three main Dark Souls games which fall into that new pseudo-genre inspired by the series. “Souls-like” games are notorious for their high difficulty, and the three Dark Souls games pioneered and epitomise that. I respect people who play games for the challenge, and I’m sure it must be very rewarding to finally overcome a difficult level or boss after numerous attempts. However, I’m not that kind of gamer!

If you read my playthrough of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, you’ll recall I played on the easiest difficulty setting. I usually do this where possible, because in single-player titles I’m more interested in an engaging story than a challenge. The Dark Souls series deliberately doesn’t offer lower difficulty options, which is an artistic decision that I respect; I’m not going to argue that the game should go out of its way to accommodate players like myself. However, it means that it’s a series I have no interest in playing.

I’m not the world’s best gamer. Completing Jedi: Fallen Order and The Last of Us Part II on their lowest difficulty settings have been two of my big gaming accomplishments of 2020, and perhaps the most challenging games I’ve played have been rounds of Fall Guys! But I’m not really someone who seeks out a challenge. I don’t have the skill to be a top-tier gamer, nor the patience to play one game over and over and over again to “git gud”. If Dark Souls seemed like it had a genuinely interesting story underneath the difficulty, perhaps I’d be willing to try. But everything I’ve seen from the series looks like an incredibly generic fantasy world with hack-and-slash gameplay, so I don’t think I’ll be convinced to give it a try any time soon.

Number 5: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (2016) and Fortnite Battle Royale (2017)

I’m not really into competitive online gaming, at least not unless a title offers something genuinely different. Fall Guys, which I mentioned above, does fall into that category, but PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite really don’t. Both titles are in the action/shooter genre, and if I wanted to play a game like that I could choose from myriad single-player offline titles.

However, in both cases I have a great respect for what the games bring to the table. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds didn’t exactly create the battle royale genre, but it certainly elevated and refined it, and Fortnite is a phenomenon that the gaming world hadn’t seen since Minecraft. Both titles brought millions of new people into gaming as a hobby and helped the medium grow to the point where it’s wholly mainstream. I’ve touched on this topic before, but when I was younger, gaming wasn’t exactly a niche but it was certainly a nerdy, geeky hobby to be associated with, shunned by adults and self-proclaimed cool kids. The rise of titles like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite – and their ubiquity on practically every platform from consoles to phones – has meant the video gaming hobby has expanded far more than I would have ever thought possible a few years ago.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I’ll be tempted to try either of these games any time soon.

Number 6: World of Warcraft (2004)

Earlier, I criticised the Dark Souls series for feeling very generic and uninteresting in its fantasy setting. The same simply cannot be said of World of Warcraft, the title which arguably defined the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) genre. It has a rich lore and a deeply detailed, painstakingly crafted world, all of which has been built up over more than fifteen years with updates, patches, and expansions massively improving the game in that time.

From my perspective, World of Warcraft falls down simply because of its online nature. I just don’t enjoy playing with other people in this kind of always-online environment, and I find that interacting with other people is immersion-breaking. In a fantasy world, I need that sense of immersion to enjoy myself and have a good time, and as I said in the previous entry on this list, there are many single-player titles which offer something similar.

The longest I’ve ever stuck with an MMORPG was Star Trek Online, which attracted me for obvious reasons! However, even being set in my favourite fictional galaxy and having some enjoyable story missions couldn’t overcome the issues I have with this kind of game, and after struggling on with it for a while, I eventually stopped playing.

Number 7: The Final Fantasy series (1987-present)

As I mentioned when talking about Pokémon, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Japanese-style roleplaying games. The combat in particular is something I find offputting, not because it’s bad but there’s something about its slower, turn-based nature that I tend to feel doesn’t gel with an action-oriented title. The Final Fantasy games have always had this style of gameplay, which is one reason I’ve never been all that interested.

The second major reason why I’ve never jumped in is that the Final Fantasy series is complicated. There are sixteen “main” games (counting Final Fantasy XIV twice as it has an online and offline version), as well as dozens of other titles (perhaps as many as fifty if you consider mobile games and spin-offs). There are also films and other associated media, making the series quite daunting to get started with. While I gather many of the games are semi-standalone titles, there is a lot of background and lore that connects them and keeps the series intact. Maybe that’s a bad reason not to jump in, but coupled with the style of gameplay being something I generally don’t enjoy, it’s enough to be offputting.

Though I have owned several of the consoles that Final Fantasy titles released on – like the SNES – many of the most well-received entries in the series are or were PlayStation exclusives. As someone who didn’t own a PlayStation until the dying days of the PlayStation 3 (which I bought so I could play The Last of Us) I didn’t have access to most of the games released between the mid-90s and the mid-2000s.

Number 8: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)

The SNES was the first home console that I owned, but for many of the same reasons given above regarding my general dislike for Japanese-style RPGs, I didn’t play the only Zelda title released on that system: A Link to the Past. Nor did I play the Zelda titles on the Nintendo 64, Wii, DS, 3DS, or any other Nintendo console I’ve owned in the years since. I wouldn’t say I’ve deliberately shunned the Zelda series; it’s more a case of having other priorities and putting my money elsewhere.

I must be practically the only Nintendo Switch owner to have not played Breath of the Wild, as the game has been one of the system’s best-selling titles since it launched in 2017. Though I have been tempted to pick up a copy, especially if I could find it pre-owned or at a discount, I simply haven’t got around to it yet, as I’ve had other games I’m more interested in playing.

Number 9: Super Mario Galaxy (2007) and Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)

Ever since I received Super Mario 64 for Christmas in 1997, I’ve been a huge fan of Mario’s 3D adventures. I was even lucky enough to play through Super Mario Sunshine on a friend’s GameCube as I didn’t own the console for myself. Yet I skipped the two 3D Mario titles that were released on the Wii.

The Wii had one of the best Mario titles ever in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and I had great fun playing that game. But the two Mario Galaxy titles didn’t hold much appeal, mostly due to the level design, which consists of a number of spherical planets and asteroids to navigate. I found those environments looked incredibly confusing, and the Wii’s motion controls seemed like they would make that worse. With so many other titles to play on the Wii, which was a fantastic console that had a great library of games, I kept putting off playing Super Mario Galaxy. When a sequel came out I put that to the back of the queue as well, and I’ve just not got around to picking up either game.

I think I still have my Wii in the attic, so perhaps one day I need to get it out, dust it off, and finally pick up one or both of these games. In 2018 I had a great time with Super Mario Odyssey, so it’s clear that my enjoyment of 3D Mario titles hasn’t waned at all!

Number 10: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)

A couple of years ago I set out to play the famed Witcher series. Not wanting to begin with the third entry, I started with the first game – but I had a hard time getting into it and haven’t picked it up since. It wasn’t the world, the lore, or the story that I found offputting, but rather the mouse-and-keyboard controls. I’m so used to playing most action/adventure titles with a control pad these days that it was a bit of a jolt, and I’m surprised that a game from as recently as 2007 didn’t have any controller support on PC!

As a result, I didn’t get into the series and haven’t got to its incredibly popular and critically-acclaimed third entry yet. The Witcher 3 is many people’s pick for game of the decade or game of the generation, and I’m very interested to try it for myself. I own the game and both its expansions, so I will one day get around to playing it – once I’ve completed the first two titles!

The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings are supposed to take around 40 hours each to complete, so it may be a while before I finally get to this acclaimed game, but unlike some of the other entries on this list, it’s one I hope to play one day.

So that’s it. Ten great games and franchises that, for a variety of reasons, I’ve never played. Sorry if your favourite made the list, but remember that this is all one person’s opinion, and I’m in no way trying to argue that these games are bad. Some of them just aren’t my thing. If you love them or are passionate about them, great! Diversity takes many forms, including the titles we enjoy in the entertainment space. It would be a very dull world indeed if we all enjoyed the same things!

Hopefully this list has been a little bit of fun. If you’re new to the website, I write lists and articles on gaming and related topics often, so I hope you’ll check back for more in future. Until next time!

All titles listed above are the copyright of their respective studio, developer, and/or publisher. Screenshots and promo artwork courtesy of press kits on IGDB. Arcade machine photo courtesy of Unsplash. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Some great Mario Kart racetracks (that would be perfect for Mario Kart 9)

I was very fortunate in mid-2013 to attend a press event for the Wii U game Mario Kart 8. Well before the full game would launch in 2014 I got a brief opportunity to get my hands on the latest edition of Nintendo’s genre-defining kart racer, which scored me pretty significant bragging rights at the company I was working with at the time! The game blew me away with its improved visuals while retaining the exact same feel of playing a Mario Kart game that had been present in every iteration since Super Mario Kart on the SNES. Super Mario Kart, by the way, is one of two racing games I owned back in the SNES days – the other being Nigel Mansell’s World Championship Racing. I wonder if anyone besides me (and presumably Nigel Mansell) remembers that one!

So I’ve been a Mario Kart fan since the series debuted, and in that time I think I’ve played every iteration of the series. I didn’t own a GameCube in the early 2000s, but I played Mario Kart: Double Dash with friends when I was at university. I think that’s the only title in the series that I didn’t own at one point.

Box art for Mario Kart Wii.

Nintendo usually releases one Mario Kart game per console, and with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch at the moment – where it’s been one of the console’s best-sellers since it launched – perhaps there won’t be a Mario Kart 9 any time soon. But Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is really just a port of the Wii U game; it isn’t a title unique to the Switch. That provides us a tentative glimmer of hope that Mario Kart 9 may still be coming sometime soon!

Recent Mario Kart games have recreated tracks from older entries, changing and upscaling them to fit the new game’s theme. With that in mind, here are some of my favourite racetracks from past games that would be amazing to see return whenever Mario Kart 9 comes around.

Number 1: Kalimari Desert (Mario Kart 64)

Mario Kart 64 might just be my favourite game in the series. It had an amazing set of tracks, including the definitive version of Rainbow Road. But we’ll come to that in a moment! Kalimari Desert is a western-themed track, and while its skewed oval shape is pretty basic, it features a train constantly going around on its own railroad – which can be used as a shortcut if you’re willing to take a chance!

I like the aesthetic of the American west. The desert, the mesas, the cacti; it’s all here in Kalimari Desert. The track has been recreated twice already: in Mario Kart 7 on the Nintendo 3DS, and again in Mario Kart Tour.

Number 2: Vanilla Lake 2 (Super Mario Kart)

The Mario Kart series has some great snow or ice themed tracks. The first tracks to have this kind of wintry theme were the two Vanilla Lake tracks in Super Mario Kart. Vanilla Lake 2 isn’t an easy track in its original incarnation, with lots of obstacles and no clear racing line. It’s easy to fall into the large central lake with its jagged and uneven edge, and because of its basic square shape, Vanilla Lake 2 can be deceptively simple to new players.

The track was recreated once, but hasn’t been used since Mario Kart: Super Circuit on the Game Boy Advance.

Number 3: Wuhu Island Loop/Wuhu Loop (Mario Kart 7)

Beginning in Mario Kart 7, a handful of tracks were longer than others, and instead of racing three laps, players race from a start line to a finish line. For the purposes of the game, tracks like Wuhu Island Loop are still split into three sections – the sections replacing laps. Mario Kart 7 is a game I had a ton of fun with, and Wuhu Island Loop is one of its better offerings.

When I worked in a large office in the early 2010s, several colleagues and I would sometimes get together and use the 3DS’ wireless networking function to play Mario Kart 7 during breaks and downtime. It really was a blast!

Number 4: DK’s Snowboard Cross/DK Summit (Mario Kart Wii)

Another snow-themed track here, but this one is based on a winter sports resort. Toward the end of the track is a really fun section based on a snowboard half-pipe, complete with snowboarding characters and patches of deep snow to avoid! It’s brilliantly done, and while it isn’t the easiest track it’s a ton of fun.

DK’s Snowboard Cross (a.k.a. DK Summit in North America; Nintendo seem to love arbitrarily changing names!) has only been seen in Mario Kart Wii, which I think makes it overdue for a return!

Number 5: Rainbow Road (Mario Kart 64)

As I mentioned above, Mario Kart 64 truly has the definitive version of Rainbow Road. Everything about the track is perfect: its complicated layout, the clever placement of obstacles, and the starry, atmospheric background featuring characters from the Mario series lit up as neon signs. The music that accompanies the track is phenomenal too, making the whole experience strangely nostalgic.

Rainbow Road has been recently recreated for Mario Kart 8, but for some reason Nintendo cut it short and players only get to enjoy one lap instead of three. The original Nintendo 64 version remains the best, and I’d love to see it return in its true form!

Number 6: Animal Crossing (Mario Kart 8 DLC/Mario Kart 8 Deluxe)

With Animal Crossing: New Horizons performing so well and becoming one of the Switch’s top-selling titles, I have no doubt that Nintendo will reference it in some way if there is to be a Mario Kart 9 this generation. However, the Animal Crossing track featured on Mario Kart 8 (originally as DLC on the Wii U) was based on Animal Crossing: New Leaf. It’s a very sweet track that really captures the essence of the sleepy Animal Crossing village perfectly.

Like the Animal Crossing village it’s based on, the track has four seasonal variations and looks different in each. It’s random which one will be chosen every time a player selects the course, which adds another small element of fun!

Number 7: Mushroom Bridge (Mario Kart: Double Dash)

Having not been a GameCube owner (I had an Xbox instead in those days) I’m less familiar with Mario Kart: Double Dash than other entries in the series. However, one track I loved to play with friends was Mushroom Bridge. Toad’s Turnpike on the Nintendo 64 introduced traffic as moving obstacles to race around, and Mushroom Bridge is in a similar vein.

Because the other vehicles on the track are moving, it can be difficult to predict where they’re going, adding an element of complexity to the race. And it’s great fun to sabotage an opponent, sending them careening into traffic!

Number 8: Toad Harbour (Mario Kart 8)

At the press event I mentioned at the beginning of the article, Toad Harbour was the track I got to play for myself. I believe there was one other track available, as well as one battle course – but I can’t remember what those were! Toad Harbour was a great choice to show off the Wii U’s greatly-improved graphics – the course is bright and sunlit, and there’s plenty of detail in its San Francisco-esque scenery.

If Mario Kart 9 opts to drop the anti-gravity racing that premiered in Mario Kart 8, Toad Harbour could be a great choice to adapt as its one anti-gravity section is optional.

Number 9: Bowser Castle 3 (Super Mario Kart)

Super Mario Kart had some very fun and interesting tracks, despite the limitations of the SNES. Bowser Castle 3 (which I always thought was called Bowser‘s Castle 3, with an -s) snakes around like a normal racetrack for the most part, but then there comes a point with the track splitting in two. The jumps lead to a number of smaller islands in the lava, and there are several possible routes across, adding an extra element to what was already a fun track.

The music for Super Mario Kart’s Bowser Castle tracks was also great! The track hasn’t been seen since Mario Kart: Super Circuit, so it’s a great candidate to bring back.

Number 10: Lakeside Park (Mario Kart: Super Circuit)

Lakeside Park is a pretty clever track. The first lap is normal, set in a jungle beside a lake. The intimidating-looking volcanoes seem like just a part of the background… until lap 2, when the sky goes dark and the volcanoes erupt! Chunks of lava then rain down the track, peppering it with additional obstacles.

Considering this was a Game Boy Advance title, there are some pretty clever things going on in Lakeside Park. The track would make a wonderful addition to Mario Kart 9.

Number 11: Peach Beach (Mario Kart: Double Dash)

When my friends and I used to play Peach Beach, we rather immaturely called it the “cock-and-balls” track… because c’mon, what else could that giant rock formation possibly look like? It’s even vaguely flesh-coloured. I’ve known many animators and developers having once worked in the games industry, and I guarantee that was done on purpose.

But we’re off-topic! Peach Beach is a fun track with some interesting obstacles and different terrains to get stuck into, and although it reappeared on the Wii I’d love to see it back again.

Number 12: Shroom Ridge (Mario Kart DS)

Another track featuring traffic, similar to Mushroom Bridge above, Shroom Ridge was one of my favourites from Mario Kart DS. Weaving in and out of oncoming traffic is difficult to master, so I think this track would be perfect for a more challenging grand prix.

It’s also one of the few Mario Kart DS tracks that hasn’t been seen since that game debuted in 2005, making it due for a comeback!

Number 13: Maple Treeway (Mario Kart Wii)

Maple Treeway is a beautifully atmospheric track with an autumnal setting. It has a fantastic musical accompaniment too, and a couple of more challenging parts. There’s nothing too tricky, however, and I just adore the setting, the music, and the whole layout of the track. It’s easily one of my favourites from Mario Kart Wii.

Mario Kart 7 brought back Maple Treeway on the 3DS, but I’d still like to see it return one more time – upscaled in full HD!

Number 14: DK’s Jungle Parkway (Mario Kart 64)

DK’s Jungle Parkway was a clever track when it debuted on the Nintendo 64 – straying off its fairly narrow track onto the grass verge would result in being hit with objects from the jungle background, further slowing you down! This feature meant it was a challenge to avoid oversteering and understeering to stay on the track – and meant it could be a lot of fun to push an opponent off!

DK’s Jungle Parkway reappeared on the Wii, but that version made a couple of changes (the objects no longer hit you when not on the track, and the big jump across the river forces you to go straight instead of taking a chance and cutting the corner) which I feel took away its uniqueness. I’d love to see it back with those features included!

Number 15: Daisy Circuit (Mario Kart Wii)

A nice, straightforward track that takes players through a town at sunrise (or sunset), Daisy Circuit is a sweet little track set to another great piece of music. There are no major obstacles to speak of, though there are two sections in the middle where a fountain and statue must be circumnavigated. It’s a nice, easy track that someone brand-new to Mario Kart could pick up and have fun with.

Daisy Circuit hasn’t been reused since it was first seen in Mario Kart Wii, which is a great reason to bring it back for Mario Kart 9!

Number 16: Shy Guy Bazaar (Mario Kart 7)

The Mario Kart series has a few recurring settings for its tracks, so it’s great when we get something genuinely different. Shy Guy Bazaar has a definite Arabian theme – almost like something from Aladdin – which is a great spin on the typical desert-themed tracks of other Mario Kart titles.

There are some unique obstacles, and the track has some narrow and wide sections, allowing for varied race strategies. It was one of my favourites from Mario Kart 7 – but I always felt it was underappreciated!

Number 17: Wild Woods (Mario Kart 8 DLC/Mario Kart 8 Deluxe)

Another track that was initially available as DLC on the Wii U, Wild Woods is a ton of fun. As I mentioned above, many Mario Kart tracks follow one of a limited number of themes; Wild Woods is something altogether different with its “deep, dark woods” setting – which is reminiscent of some old levels from the Donkey Kong Country series.

Tracks from Mario Kart 8 seem like they’d be well-suited to be brought into Mario Kart 9, and I’d love to see Wild Woods back.

Number 18: Mushroom Gorge (Mario Kart Wii)

Mushroom Gorge is a gorge-ous track. See what I did there? With both an outside section and a section in a cave, there was already a lot of fun to be had, but Mushroom Gorge also introduces giant mushrooms to bounce on – getting the speed and angle right for your bounce is incredibly important, lest you fall into a bottomless pit and have to be rescued!

The track did make a reappearance on the 3DS, but its fun and unique bouncy gameplay would be great to bring back for Mario Kart 9 too.

Number 19: Choco Mountain (Mario Kart 64)

Choco Mountain in Mario Kart 64, as well as the earlier Choco Island tracks in Super Mario Kart, always seemed to be ignored by players in favour of other tracks. I’m not sure if it’s because of the fairly bland all-brown colour scheme, but that’s one possibility. It’s a shame, because Choco Mountain in particular is a clever track with some difficult sections and unpredictable obstacles.

Choco Mountain was seen in Mario Kart DS as well, but I think it’s a candidate to get an HD makeover for Mario Kart 9!

Number 20: Sunshine Airport (Mario Kart 8)

One of the tracks used to market Mario Kart 8, Sunshine Airport has a lot to offer. Mario Kart 7 had introduced gliding, allowing players to soar through the air, and Sunshine Airport takes that theme and runs with it. The airport setting has some unique obstacles, and as somewhere completely different to race around, it’s lots of fun.

I particularly like the aircraft that sometimes pass you while racing, even though I’m always worried that they’re going to crash into me!

So that’s it. A handful of Mario Kart tracks from past entries in the series that I feel would be great to see given an overhaul and an update for Mario Kart 9. This article shouldn’t be interpreted as me having any “insider information” from Nintendo that a new game is in the works! Just to be clear: I have no idea if Mario Kart 9 is in development, or if it will be released on the Switch. It’s possible that Nintendo may not release another entry in this fantastic series until they launch their next console – whenever that could be! However, I think there is reason to be hopeful of a new Mario Kart title. As I mentioned, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is just a port of the Wii U game, and aside from collating the main game and its two DLC packs, doesn’t really offer anything substantially new. Secondly, Nintendo has seemed more open to changing things up this generation, particularly where sequels to its most successful titles are concerned: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is getting a direct sequel, for example.

As long as Dry Bones – the best character in the whole Mario Kart series – is playable in Mario Kart 9, I’ll be satisfied with whichever tracks Nintendo decides to bring back!

The Mario Kart series – including all games mentioned above, as well as all individual racetracks, characters, and other properties – is the copyright of Nintendo. Screenshots courtesy of the Super Mario Wiki. They are used under the principle of Fair Dealing. For further information, see my copyright policy. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.