Super Mario Maker 2 is packed with fun levels and player-made challenges. Enjoying these levels online with people on your friends list wasn’t possible, something that disappointed fans. A new update finally brings online matchmaking, allowing up to four players the ability to join up and tackle courses together.
Before today, Super Mario Maker 2’s online modes only allowed players to team with with a random stranger. You couldn’t form a party with your buddies and cruise through online courses. That’s changed with a new patch that brings both online co-op and online versus play. Whether that means racing through a competitive level or teaming up for a killer Kaizo challenge, playing with friends is much easier.
The lack of matchmaking was a point of contention with players who wanted to explore online with friends. Matching with random players was a gamble, and it wasn’t exactly clear when a fix would arrive. Since launch, Super Mario Maker 2 has received few patches, leaving players in a lurch when it came to requested features. This patch addresses a huge concern and also provides a list of “official makers” for easier perusal of courses. Players are also now able to use both touch controls and button controls when making courses in handheld mode. These tweaks aren’t drastic, but they help make Super Mario Maker 2 a smoother experience.
Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.
Founded in 2000, AlphaDream was originally known as Alpha Star and was staffed with people who had formerly been at Square, including former Square President Tetsuo Mizuno. The studio is best known for the Mario & Luigi RPG series. It was announced today that AlphaDream has gone bankrupt.
According to Yahoo! Japan, revenue was sluggish in recent years and development costs drove the studio into the red. As of March 2018, AlphaDream was 400 million yen ($3.7 million) in debt.
After releasing Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for the Game Boy Advance in 2003, AlphaDream went on to do four more main entries in the series: Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, and Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam. The studio also worked on the remakes Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions and Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey, the last of which is AlphaDream’s final game.
The Mario & Luigi RPG series was praised among fans—and for good reason. It’s a shame that the studio has filed for bankruptcy.
Clarification: 10/2/2019, 6:45 a.m. ET: This article has been edited for clarity.
It’s weird seeing the Microsoft Studios logo appear on the screen as I load a game on a Nintendo console. It’s also odd to have see my Xbox Live avatar and Gamertag displayed on my Switch screen. Everything else about about playing Ori and the Blind Forest on the Switch is pretty much perfect.
Moon Studios’ gorgeous platforming adventure, originally released in 2015 for the Xbox One and PC, is a very significant game for our family. It’s one of the first games we all played together. My wife and I would pass the controller back and forth on the couch while our twin boys, then four or five, watched until we got to the hard parts and the cursing begun. They knew those instances, when their parents would cooperatively bash themselves against Ori and the Blind Forest’s most challenging sequences, could last for hours.
Those tougher moments are what define Ori for us. It has the look and feel of a casual indie game. Wandering through a lush, hand-drawn forest as moody symphonic music plays, the mysterious hero white and glowing, like the negative version of a Limbo silhouette. While the mood and atmosphere carry throughout the game, Ori is anything but a relaxed stroll through the woods.
The rabbit-like hero jumps, swims, and eventually teleports through the forest of Nibel on a quest to restore the elements and restore the great Spirit Tree, facing fresh challenges at every turn. One sequence will test the player’s ability to perform precision jumps. A massive blast of energy that fires at regular intervals tests the player’s timing and patience as they scoot between safe areas. There are moments of respite, periods where it’s more about exploring and finding hidden secrets than weaving through deadly danger.
And then there are moments like the Ginso Tree flood, one of the aforementioned hard parts. Ori and the Blind Forest is punctuated by these lengthy, grueling platforming sequences that put everything the player has learned to the test. In order to restore the element of water, Ori must unblock the water veins inside the massive Ginso Tree. Doing so, however, causes water to quickly fill the once lifeless trunk, giving Ori less than a minute to climb to its apex and escape.
I cannot tell you how many times my wife and I attempted this sequence while playing the Xbox version in 2015. I can tell you it took me over a dozen tries on the Switch version, even though I was already familiar with the event. Behold my triumph.
The video above is taken from the Switch version of the game, which runs at a constant 60 frames per second in both handheld and docked mode. I was playing in docked, using one Joy-Con. That’s not how I normally play, but it felt really good in Ori for some reason. It felt exactly the same as the Xbox One version, right down to the warm rush of relief and accomplishment I felt when I unlocked the achievement for completing the sequence.
Seeing “Achievement Unlocked” pop up on my Switch screen is weird. Not quite as weird as having my Xbox avatar portrait and Gamertag in the corner of the game’s main menu, but weird.
Though it does connect to my Microsoft account, Ori Switch achievements don’t show up on my feed, and I could not tell you if they affect my gamerscore. It feels very cosmetic, just Microsoft Studios making sure I don’t forget where the game came from, as if I could forget.
A lot has changed in the four and a half years since Ori and the Blind Forest launched for PC and Xbox One. My wife and I don’t play games on the television as much, since that’s where the kids play their games and watch their YouTube videos. Hopefully we’ll be able to wrestle back the TV in time for February’s Ori and the Will of the Wisps. In the meantime, she and I have our own Nintendo Switches—mine original, hers Lite—and we rarely pass them back and forth. We are, however, still playing Ori and the Blind Forest, thanks to this very good port and Microsoft’s strange, continuing dalliance with putting its exclusive games on Nintendo hardware.
Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.
In 2005, Brain Age first went on sale in Japan for the Nintendo DS. The game, which had players solve math problems and more to judge the age of their brain, became a national sensation in Japan.
Brain Age was one reason why the DS became a must-have handheld. Now, in 2019, it’s back.
The new Brain Age allows Switch owners to track progress through their mobile phones, including the progress of family or friends.
Previously, the most recent Brain Age game was Brain Age: Concentration Training, which was released in 2012 on the 3DS. The games are based on the work of researcher Ryuta Kawashima. His floating head appears throughout Brain Age.
The latest entry for the Nintendo Switch is slated for release on December 27 in Japan. There’s no word yet of an international release.
I mean, I admire the passion! But you’re not thinking this through, for a number of reasons:
1) Pump your brakes. The internet can jump so hard and fast on things that it can squeeze all the joy out of them. Let the Goose breathe a little! The Goose is good and fun, but Untitled Goose Game is also a multiplatform release that’s been out for a week.
3) If you must ask the internet for the Goose to appear in Nintendo games, maybe Mario Kart or Mario Party are more appropriate? This may slightly undermine my above point, since they are both games that deviate from Goose Game’s core design, but they are also games for petty assholes, and the Goose is an asshole first and foremost.
4) You’re not thinking big enough! Asking for the Goose to appear in Smash is a reflex action, understandably born of a desire to see more Goose x Nintendo interaction, but we live in an age where Nintendo is letting Western developers get wild with its own IP (see Cadence of Hyrule).
I don’t want to see the Goose in Smash. I’ve constructed this entire post as an excuse to say I want the opposite. I want developers House House to be handed the keys to a Nintendo world/character and given the chance to work their magic with it.
Here’s my unsolicited pitch: Imagine the hijinx of Untitled Goose Game…but it’s Waluigi, who now has the Mushroom Kingdom equivalent of a YouTube channel, and he’s lurking around pranking Mario and Luigi and Peach and Toad and everyone else, ruining their days, wrecking their shit.
Imagine his goofy big legs trying to sneak through Luigi’s house, putting a bucket of water over a doorframe then rubbing his hands with glee as he saunters out the back door. Imagine hiding in the bushes as Toad walks past, carefully balancing a tray of birthday cupcakes, and at the perfect moment pressing a button not to HONK, but to WAAAAAAAAAAAAA. The cupcakes go flying, Toad shrieks, then cries, Waluigi jogs off twirling his mustache, laughing his ass off.
It would be the best. And everyone could stop asking for Walugi to be put in Smash because they’d realize that, like the Goose, he doesn’t need to be. He’d have his own place to shine.
Mario Kart Tour is a fine racing game. The graphics are lovely. The simple touch controls are fine once you get used to them. It’s overflowing with colorful Nintendo brand polish. Mario Kart Tour is also a free-to-play game with a microtransaction-fueled gacha collection mechanic and game options and rewards locked behind a paid monthly subscription. If that second part doesn’t bother you, you might have a good time with Nintendo’s latest mobile game.
“Nintendo games still don’t feel right on mobile,” wrote Gita Jackson in late 2017, commenting on the strange dissonance felt while playing games like Fire Emblem Heroes, Super Mario Run, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp after years playing the deeper console games in those series. Two years later, after Dr. Mario World and now Mario Kart Tour, and that dissonance remains. Games we’ve spent years playing on Nintendo consoles feel weird on phones and tablets. Especially when a game like Mario Kart gets turned on its side.
In part, I mean that literally. What an odd choice, taking a game we’re used to playing in landscape mode and making it portrait. The narrow screen makes it more difficult to see competitors coming up alongside your racer. It’s not a great view on my iPad. It’s even worse on my skinnier iPhone. Having played the game for a couple of hours now, I still feel the urge to turn the whole thing around in my hands.
I’m used to holding down the accelerator button as I race through Mario Kart tracks. That’s not what happens in Mario Kart Tour. Karts move forward automatically. All I have to do is tap left or right to steer (there’s a gyroscope steering option but it’s rubbish). It takes a while to get a feel for how and when to start drifting, and different kart models have their own handling profiles, but after four or five races it’s not bad.
As alien as Mario Kart Tour can feel at first, it’s not really the gameplay or screen orientation that makes it feel like the awkward cousin of a proper Mario Kart game. It’s the structure. It’s collecting stars awarded for achieving high scores in races to unlock new circuits. It’s tracks where certain racers have distinct advantages over others. Musician Mario, one of the special racers available during the game’s New York City-themed opening event, has a special power that grants him two Bob-ombs instead of one when he collects that power-up. Looking at his racer page, we can see which courses grant him three items per power-up box.
Certain racers having a distinct advantage over others in certain situations isn’t great. The game’s gacha feature, in which players can spend in-game currency for a chance to unlock rare racers, means that players who pay more have a better chance at having the right racer, kart, and glider combo to get maximum bonus points on any course they play. That’s verging on pay-to-win, even though there’s no real-time multiplayer in the game—currently, players race against computer-controlled ghosts with real players’ names attached to them.
Mario Kart Tour isn’t quite as greedy as it was during beta. The test version of the game Ethan Gach played earlier this year had a stamina/energy meter, one of the most obnoxious free-to-play mechanics, as well as premium currency called green gems that offered players better rewards the more they purchased. The launch version of the game lets you play all you want. The green gems are now rubies, and doesn’t seem to reward you for buying more of them. Instead, there’s a $4.99 monthly Gold Pass subscription that grants players better rewards for completing races (including extra rubies), exclusive vehicles and equipment, and access to more challenging 200cc races.
Is an optional monthly subscription better than earning rewards for buying currency? Not really. Especially when Mario Kart Tour launched just days after Apple Arcade, a subscription service with more than 70 high-quality, microtransaction-free games for the same $4.99 price. Apple Arcade is mobile gaming without all the bullshit. Mario Kart Tour is a Nintendo game with a big extra helping of bullshit.
According to app data website Apptopia, Mario Kart Tour shattered launch-day records yesterday, with more than 10.1 million installs across iOS and Android devices. The idea of a free Nintendo mobile game is an attractive prospect for many, many people. I wonder how long that will last.
Mario Kart Tour is available today on iOS and Android, bringing some portable kart action to phones and other devices. If you want to enjoy tough races with a faster pace, though, it turns out you’ll need to shell out some money.
Mario Kart games have always had different racing tiers. This usually means starting with the slower 50cc races before moving up to higher-speed races. In Mario Kart Tour, the 200cc tier is actually locked behind a subscription service that costs $4.99 a month. The 50, 100, and 150cc tiers are unlocked from the start. Nintendo outlined the program in a press release this morning:
Players can sign up for a free two-week trial subscription to the Mario Kart Tour Gold Pass by tapping the Gold Pass purchase button in-game. With the Mario Kart Tour Gold Pass subscription, players can unlock the extra-fast 200cc mode, obtain additional in-game rewards from racing and gain access to bonus goals exclusive to Gold Pass holders. Once the two-week free trial period ends, it will convert to a monthly subscription for $4.99/month, unless canceled.
A free trial is nice, but asking for a subscription to unlock additional game modes might be ambitious. Mario Kart Touralready has microtransactions that allow players to buy an in-game currency to spend on randomly acquired things like different drivers and kart parts. Nintendo’s mobile games have been hit or miss, with successes like Fire Emblem Heroes and stumbles like Dr. Mario World. It’s not surprising to see experiments in monetization, but it’s also hard to imagine anyone but the most hardcore players paying a monthly fee for speedier races.
Nintendo’s latest free-to-play mobile game, Mario Kart Tour, launches tomorrow on iOS and Android. Every two weeks the nickley, dimey racer will test players in tours, special races inspired by real-world locations. The first destination is New York, New York, where players can earn Musician Mario and Super Mario Odyssey Pauline as playable racers.
New York City, huh? Kind of the obvious place to kick off a world tour, but the course looks nice and the racers even nicer. Mario is decked out in a jazzy sort of suit.
While Pauline should probably be wearing a helmet or something.
The New York announcement comes courtesy of the first installment of the official Mario Kart Tour News. It’s hosted by Lakitu. You know, the jerk who drops stuff on your head in proper Mario games. This Lakitu is particularly charming, but he doesn’t fool me.
On September 23, 1889, Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo Koppai (koppai means “cards”) in Kyoto, Japan. Originally a playing card company, the company would go onto revolutionized video games forever.
When the company was first founded, Nintendo made hanafuda playing cards. It was only three years earlier that the Japanese government legalized the cards, which were a favorite of gamblers.
Today, hanafuda is often played during the Japanese New Year’s holidays by regular folks, young and old alike.
It is still unclear what the company’s name Nintendo (任天堂) meant to founder Fusajiro Yamauchi. The “leave luck to heaven” translation is most likely incorrect. You can read more about what Nintendo’s name could mean right here.
The top photo is a pre-World War II photo of Nintendo’s headquarters. On the far left is a photo of Napoleon, which is for the company’s Daitouryou deck. Well over a hundred years later, Nintendo still sells this Napoleon deck.
Princess Peach is powerful and not to be messed with in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. But I never expected that she was secretly carrying an assault rifle. Yet that’s what fans found when they dug around the files of Brawl.
YouTuber Oddheader recently released a video showcasing some secrets in video games that players and fans were never meant to find. Yet people found these secrets anyways because people have too much free time, I guess. Like the assault rifle in Brawl. It is a small icon that can be found in the game files for Peach. It is never used in the game, but I like to think Peach has it just in case. She is fighting people like Solid Snake and a giant monkey. Having a gun might be useful.
Another odd discovery is some hidden animations in Halo 2 featuring the Master Chief flipping off the camera while holding dual SMGs. That Master Chief fella is such a grumpy soldier.
The full video has more secrets that players have found. I wonder how many developers see stuff like this and suddenly realize that secret mistake or code they left in one of their old games might not be as hidden as they thought.