Blog: 2020
Archive
December 15, 2020
WTMK has begun its annual Christmas-like music broadcast!  Tune in for all sorts of wintery musical goodness, while supplies last:

Link: WTMK: All Mario Radio
August 12, 2020
It's Mario & Mario & Green Mario in ...

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

The first (and only) crossover between the two Mario RPG series, Paper Jam featured Paper Mario teaming up with Mario & Luigi.  The excuse for this was that Luigi knocked over a magic book containing the paper Mario characters, resulting in Paper Bowser escaping and joining up with Bowser.  The two Koopa Kings then kidnap Peach (and Paper Peach), leaving it to Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario to save the day.

Paper Jam was developed by AlphaDream, the same folks who developed the rest of the Mario & Luigi titles.  The idea to add Paper Mario the game came when the team was trying to figure out how to change the basic gameplay -- Mario & Luigi games have always focused on the use of two primary attack buttons in battles, representing the brothers.  They wanted to use a third button, and while brainstorming ideas for which character to add to the team, the Paper Mario idea was suggested.  Paper Jam made use of a three button battle interface, allowing control of all three Mario brothers.  Paper Mario had some paper-themed attacks and moves, team up with the others for Trio Attacks, and the ability to attack using copies of himself.  Giant papercraft versions of characters were used in some special battles.

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam was released on the 3DS in late 2015 in Japan and Europe, and early 2016 in North America.

August 11, 2020
Summer of Mario: NES REMIX 2 02:00:46 PM CT [David]
Mario & Luigi & Link & Samus & Kirby & more get together to play in ...

NES Remix 2

In April 2014, a little over four months after the release of NES Remix, a sequel was released -- NES Remix 2, featuring a new selection of NES titles.  Complete challenges "remixed" from classic NES games: beat a level quickly, get a high score in 60 seconds, play through a familiar game segment with a twist (in the dark, backwards), or even help Princess Peach save herself from Bowser!

The challenge "remixes" were spread across twelve games.  The Mario related titles included Dr. Mario, NES Open Tournament Golf, Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, and Wario's Woods -- the remaining games were Ice Hockey, Kid Icarus, Kirby's Adventure, Metroid, Punch-Out!! (featuring a Mario cameo), and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

NES Remix 2 featured a few additional bonus modes.  Super Luigi Bros. was a Super Mario Bros., but with Luigi as the main character instead of Mario, and all the levels reversed.  Play through the game backwards, with Luigi's higher jumps and skidding landings!  If the first NES Remix was installed on the same Wii U, a special Championship Mode was unlocked in NES Remix 2.  In Championship Mode, players were tasked with completing a a three game challenge across Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and Dr. Mario, reminiscent of the 1990 Nintendo World Championships challenge cartridge.

Overall, many gamers might enjoy this collection more than the first, given that this collection focuses more on the later, more complex NES titles.  The game was released in a physical bundle with NES Remix as NES Remix Pack, which was also later released on the 3DS Ultimate NES Remix.

August 10, 2020
Almost a year ago, Ars Technica published a short story about Gary Kitchen's port of Donkey Kong to the Atari 2600.  The story is excerpted from the book Arcade Perfect: How Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, and Other Coin-Op Classics Invaded the Living Room by David L. Craddock, and provides an interesting look at the struggles of adapting an arcade game to the 2600's limited specs.  Read more over at https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/09/how-a-basement-hacker-transformed-donkey-kong-for-the-atari-2600/.
Summer of Mario: NES REMIX 03:55:22 PM CT [David]
Party like it's 1985 in ...

NES Remix

Play through remixed bits & pieces of classic NES titles in NES Remix for the Wii U.  This game was announced and released on the same day, December 18th 2013, and features "remixed" segments of a variety of different NES games.  Beat a level as quickly as possible, get the highest score in 60 seconds, or have Link save Pauline from Donkey Kong -- more than 200 challenges between 16 different NES games await.

Of the sixteen games, six are Mario related: Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong 3, Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros., and Wrecking CrewPinball is known for the cameo appearance of Mario and Pauline, Tennis features Mario as a referee, and Golf's main character is often mistaken for Mario.  The remaining games include Balloon Fight, Baseball, Clu Clu Land, Excitebike, Ice Climber, The Legend of Zelda, and Urban Champion.

The was later released in a physical bundle with NES Remix 2 as NES Remix Pack, which later saw a 3DS release as Ultimate NES Remix.

August 7, 2020
Summer of Mario: MARIO KART 8 03:38:29 PM CT [David]
Sliding around corners with Mario & friends in ...

Mario Kart 8

In 2014, Mario Kart 8 was released on the Wii U.  The biggest change in the game was the introduction of anti-gravity segments, in which bumping into other players actually gave the racer a speed boost.  Gliders, underwater segments, and customization returned from Mario Kart 7, while the Lucky 7 item was replaced with the Crazy Eight.  New items included the Boomerang, Piranha Plant, and Super Horn -- an item capable of destroying an attacking blue Spiny shell!

One of the biggest changes to the game was the virtual elimination of standard battle mode tracks.  Instead, all battles took place on standard race tracks, which made the battles a bit longer and less fun.

As part of a promotion, free DLC for three Mercedes-Benz cars were added to the game, allowing the racers to compete in oddly-realistic vehicles.

This was the first Mario Kart title to received paid DLC, in the form of additional race courses.  Two paid packs were available: "The Legend of Zelda x Mario Kart 8" and "Animal Crossing x Mario Kart 8."  The Legend of Zelda pack added two new racing cups (including tracks based on The Legend of Zelda and Excitebike), additional kart parts, and three new racers: Link, Tanooki Mario, and Cat Peach.  The Animal Crossing pack included two new racing cups (including tracks based on Animal Crossing and F-Zero), kart pieces, and the racers Dry Bowser, Isabelle, and Villager (from Animal Crossing).

In 2017, the game was released on the Nintendo Switch as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, with all DLC included and the addition of racers and tracks based on the Splatoon games.

August 6, 2020
Take it to the fridge with Cranky in ...


Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

After the success of Donkey Kong Country Returns, Retro studios was tasked with creating a new Donkey Kong platformer.  In 2014, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze hit the Wii U.  Once again, terrible things are afoot on Donkey Kong Island -- in this case, the Snowmads, who have covered everything with a layer of snow and ice.  Donkey Kong must save the day once again, by generally beating everything back into shape.

Donkey & Diddy Kong are the only heroes this time -- Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong are playable characters as well.  Cranky even gets to hop around on his cane, as if it were a pogostick!

Whereas Donkey Kong Country Returns used updated arrangements and covers of music from the original Donkey Kong Country, Tropical Freeze features all-new music by series composer David Wise.

In 2018, the game was ported to the Switch, with Funky Kong added as a playable character.

August 5, 2020
Mario & Luigi get squirrelly in ...

New Super Mario Bros. U

Bowser has kidnapped the princess again, and the Mario Bros. are back to save the day.  Up to four players can play together using Mario, Luigi, Blue Toad and Yellow Toad.  Boost Mode allows one player to use the Wii U Gamepad to add platforms and give the players small boosts as they play.

New Super Mario Bros. U has some notable changes and improvements from the prior games in the series.  A new power-up item, the Super Acorn, activates the Squirrel Suit, which allows characters to float across the stage or swoop up into the air.  Baby Yoshis return, this time offering a unique power based on their color (spitting bubbles, swelling up like hot air balloon, and more).  The game overworld map is one large map, akin to the one found in Super Mario World.  A new Challenge Mode gives the player a list of small challenges to complete for reward coins -- can you stomp all the enemies in a stage without touching the ground?  The fat, round Goombas from Super Mario World are back -- but now they have a unique name, "Galoomba."  Speaking of Goombas, Goombrats are introduced in this game -- small, Goomba-like stompable enemies that rather resemble persimmons.

Oh, did we mention that the main musical theme for the game is new?  Yes, it's a New Super Mario Bros. game that doesn't reuse the same "waah waah" theme!

Another notable aspect to the game is that it is the second Mario platformer to receive paid DLC.  While New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS received additional packs of courses, New Super Mario Bros. U received an entire "second quest" in the form of New Super Luigi U, a $20 set of replacement levels for the entire game.

New Super Mario Bros. U was released on the Wii U in 2012.  In 2019, it was updated and released on the Switch as New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.

August 4, 2020
It's our first summer of Mario title to not include Mario at all!  It's ...

Diddy Kong Racing DS

Help Diddy Kong and his friends save the island from the nasty Wizpig -- by racing in karts, planes, and hovercraft!  Collect rare Rare coins, shoot rockets, compete online, and free the island from the tyranny of the evil magic spacepig guy.

Released in 2007, this remake of the original N64 Diddy Kong Racing offers a few new features, but much of the core content remains the same.  Changes include four new tracks, two newly playable racers (Taj and Wizpig), tweaked races and music, and redone graphics.  In addition, two Rare cameo racers from the original have been replaced -- Banjo & Conker no longer appear, with Tiny Kong and Dixie Kong taking their places.  Online racing was available, and there is even a level of customization, with the player able to create some racing tracks using the touchscreen and recording sound effects for the races.

August 3, 2020
The creepy little Mario robots are back in...

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!

This is the second "Minis" game, and the third game in the "Mario vs. Donkey Kong" series.  Once again, you must help the minis navigate each level as they wander about in a Lemmings-like fashion.  Collect items, reach the exit, and occasionally face off against a boss.

What makes this game radically different from the first minis game (MvDK: March of the Minis) is that you have no direct control over the minis.  In MvDK: March of the Minis you could stop and start the minis, change their direction, make them jump, and so forth -- in this game (and in every following Minis title) the Minis march along automatically once you start them.  Instead of controlling the minis, you need to manipulate the environment as they mindlessly march along like... well, lemmings.  Create bridges and stairs, or lock off enemies behind walls.  The editing mode returns, allowing you to create and share your own levels.

While a unique game, the successors to Mini-land Mayhem didn't deviate much from the formula established here.  The game has shifted over from an action/platform/puzzler to a strategy-puzzle game, and the later titles kept to most of the gameplay established here.  While still fun, there's little to distinguish it from MvDK Tipping Stars, Minis March Again, or even Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge

July 31, 2020
A Real-Life Spiny (with pattern!) 02:51:28 PM CT [David]
You folks might have seen this before, but this is the first time I've seen a turtle wearing a crocheted Spiny shell sweater.

https://www.instagram.com/p/5FsAJ2P3t0/

The video clip is from Melissa Quartarone, based on an original Bowser sweater pattern designed by Jennifer Olivarez.

Link: Make It! Challenge #5: Crochet Bowser Sweater for a Turtle (pattern by Jennifer Olivarez)
Link: Turtle crawling around in a spiny outfit, courtesy of Melissa Quartarone
Hey, it's that Lemmings game with Mario characters...

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (Wii U) & Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars (3DS)

It's another Mario vs. Donkey Kong game by Nintendo Software Technology!  There's not much new this time -- the game offered an online component in which you could earn stars in the game and "tip" them to the creators of other levels, and a few new minis -- Mini Luigi and a "Cursed" Mini  Mario (with a monkey on his head).  The big new innovation is that the same game was released on both the 3DS and Wii U -- buy one, and you get a free download code for the other version.

The gameplay is essentially the same as in most the other Mario vs. Donkey Kong -- guide mini-Marios to the exit of the level, avoiding obstacles and collecting items.  You don't directly control the minis, instead stopping them and manipulating the environment to get them to the end.  A full level editor is included -- the "tipping" mechanic allows you to reward fellow gamers for their creations by gifting them the stars you've earned -- earning stars in this way helps unlock bonuses.

The game itself was developed using the "Nintendo Web Framework," which was supposed to make it easier for game developers to create new Wii U and 3DS titles using standardized, web-based technology.  The game also featured Miiverse support and stamps (no longer accessible due to the shutdown of the Miiverse).

July 30, 2020
Die, die, die, don't jump in ...

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Super Mario Galaxy introduced the Toad Brigade and its captain.  Captain Toad returned in Super Mario 3D World, where he was the playable character in a series of bonus game challenges, notable for his complete inability to jump.  Instead, the player had to move Captain Toad through a variety of obstacles and challenges, searching for hidden stars.

In late 2014, a year after the release of Super Mario 3D World, Captain Toad had his own game released on the Wii U -- Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.  The game use the same basic mechanics as the minigame, requiring players to send Captain Toad walking through compact stages on a quest for Stars.  Captain Toad was accompanied by Captain Toadette, who was just as unable to hop, skip, or jump.  The game's antagonist was Wingo, a large bird with a penchant for stealing stars.

While there were some short use powerups and items in the game (pickaxes that work rather like the hammers in Donkey Kong, and turnips that could be plucked & tossed like those in Super Mario Bros. 2), most of the game's challenges required walking through levels, solving puzzles to find hidden stars and gems.  Many of the levels were like 3D puzzle boxes, requiring the player to turn the camera and Captain Toad walks in and out of passageways.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was released in late 2014 as a budget title, retailing at $39.99 instead of the more typical $59.99 price.  It's a fun little game, and was later ported to the more successful 3DS and Switch platforms.  The latter two ports removed some Super Mario 3D World themed stages, replacing them with stages themed after areas from Super Mario Odyssey. Try it out!

July 29, 2020
Summer of Mario: MARIO KART 7 12:37:04 PM CT [David]
Mario & company drive karts in 3D, while trying not to snake in ...

Mario Kart 7

The first "true" 3D Mario Kart game, Mario Kart 7 introduced several new gameplay elements to the Mario Kart series.  Karts now come with gliders, allowing players to coast through the sky after large jumps; they can also drive underwater!  In addition, karts are now customized -- players unlock components (wheels, bodies, gliders), and can mix and match the components to adjust the performance of their kart.  Coins return to the series -- collecting them in a race boosts your top speed!  New items include the Super Leaf (spin and knock out your opponents with a Tanooki tail), Fire Flower (hurl fireballs at your opponents), and the Lucky Seven -- the Lucky Seven gives the racer seven items to use, spinning around the kart in a ring.

Another change is the introduction of longer courses: three of the tracks don't loop -- instead, the racers must complete multiple segments of one, long course.  Rainbow Road is one such course; the other two longer courses are derived from Wii Sports Resort's map -- Maka Wuhu and Wuhu Loop.

Trick boosting returns from Mario Kart 7 is a very solid entry in the series, offering traditional racing with Mario power-ups, a full battle mode, and online gameplay.  Developed by EAD, the game received a worldwide 2005 release on the 3DS.


July 28, 2020
Summer of Mario: SUPER MARIO MAKER 02:23:02 PM CT [David]
The Mario madness never ends in ...

Super Mario Maker

Make your own "Super Mario" levels, and play through levels designed by others, in Super Mario Maker.  Using a Mario Paint-inspired interface, drag and drop blocks, bricks, Goombas, and more to create the ultimate Super Mario Bros. challenge -- or try playing with power-ups and graphics from Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, or even New Super Mario Bros. U!  Once levels are published, they can be individually downloaded, or players can challenge them in the 100 Mario mode -- try to clear as many levels possible with just 100 lives!

While players can always play through the stages as Mario, the game features special support for amiibo figures.  While creating a course, amiibo figures can be scanned to put special Mystery Mushrooms into stages (although only while using the classic Super Mario Bros. theme).  Mystery Mushrooms transform Mario into different characters -- changing sound effects, background music, and the graphics, but retaining Mario's standard running and jumping powers.  Still, it's fun to play as Peach, Luigi, Bowser, Goombas, a ? Block, the spring/trampoline object, Toad, Bowser Jr., Silver or Gold Mario, the Super Mario Maker builder outfitted Mario, Yoshi, a Shy Guy, Wario, Rosalina, Sidestepper, Shellcreeper, Mario from Mario Bros., Dr. Mario, Mario in a kart from Super Mario Kart, Waluigi, Yarn Yoshis (green, pink, light blue, or "Mega"), Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Ashley, Fighter Fly, Cat Mario, Cat Peach, Frog Mario, the "Mario Trio" from Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Mario in Sky Pop from Super Mario Land, Captain Toad, Birdo, Daisy, E. Gadd, Statue Mario (from Super Mario Bros. 3), Toadette, Nabbit, Baby Mario, the Undodog, or many, many, many others (including Mega Man, Pac-Man, and Link.)  Mystery mushrooms can be unlocked through normal gameplay, and some Mystery Mushrooms can't be unlocked by amiibo figures at all -- you'll have to get them by beating the different difficulties of the 100 Mario challenge.

Super Mario Maker was one of the Wii U's best titles, and was later ported to the 3DS as Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS.  The 3DS ported lost the Mystery Mushrooms and online level sharing, but gained a special 100 level challenge consisting of stages made by Nintendo staff.


July 27, 2020
Summer of Mario: NEW SUPER LUIGI U 02:46:16 PM CT [David]
It's Luigi's turn to shine in ...

New Super Luigi U

2013 was the "Year of Luigi" -- and Luigi gets the starring role in his very own "Super Luigi" title!  Originally released as paid DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U, New Super Luigi U consists of all new levels placed in NSMBU world map.  Mario doesn't appear -- just Luigi, two Toads, and Nabbit.  Run, jump & stomp your way through the game to save Princess Peach.

Aside from starring Luigi, there are a few other differences to be found in New Super Luigi U.  All the levels are shorter and must be completed within 100 seconds.  Luigi jumps higher and "slides" a bit on landing, as do the other characters.  Every level features a "hidden Luigi" graphic. The weirdest change, however, is in how the character of Nabbit plays -- he runs through enemies without taking damage, and doesn't use power-up items, instead stuffing them into his napsack for bonus points.

While originally released as DLC, the game later received a stand-alone physical release, as well as being sold as part of the physical bundle New Super Mario Bros. U + New Super Luigi U.  In 2019, it was released on the Switch as part of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.


July 24, 2020
Mario & company play soccer, baseball, tennis, golf, and... horse racing, in the 3DS title...

Mario Sports Superstars

Like the earlier Square Enix developed Wii game Mario Sports Mix, this is an assortment of sports titles developed by a third party.  This time around, it's Bandai Namco and Camelot developing, and we have horse racing, a first for the Mario series.  The horse racing component involves not just racing, but a whole horse stable and care component, allowing you to decorate your horse with accessories and develop a bond.

Camelot developed the Golf and Tennis portions, which makes sense given their history with the Mario Tennis and Golf series.  Bandai Namco is responsible for Horse Racing, Soccer, and Baseball (having previously developed Mario Superstar Baseball and Mario Super Sluggers).

The game features support for its own series of 90 different amiibo character cards. Scanning a character's cards provides new gear or stat boosts, and the cards can also be used in the special bonus mode "Road to Superstar."  In this mode, players arrange cards onto a pinball/Arkanoid/Breakout/Alleyway-style playfield and smash bricks and items; beating the mode confers more bonuses.  If buying 90 different amiibo cards through randomly sorted packs isn't enough for you, the game also features more than 300 digital cards you can collect -- luckily, the digital cards can be purchased with in-game coins, as opposed to cash.

The amiibo cards haven't been used in any other title.




July 23, 2020
It's the Dr. Mario Bros. in ...

Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure

Drs. Mario & Luigi come to the 3DS!  Play using the original Dr. Mario rules, or try Dr. Luigi mode which plays pretty much identically to the new mode in Dr. LuigiVirus Buster returns as well, and there is an online mode.  What's new to the game is Miracle Cure Laboratory, a puzzle mode.  In Miracle Cure Laboratory, you have to eliminate a set number of viruses with specific guidelines and puzzle challenges -- while interesting, there are only about 50 unique puzzles.

Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure is a good overall compilation, but nothing amazingly new to the series.  It was developed by Arika, and released worldwide in 2015.



July 22, 2020
Robot Marios must navigate death traps in ...

Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move

The Mini Marios are back, and Mario needs to guide them through a series of challenging puzzle maps.  While part of the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series developed by Nintendo Software Technologies, the game plays nothing like its predecessors.  Instead of being an action platformer, or a Lemmings-esque puzzler, this game challenges you to complete a pathway through a map by placing tiles.  Much like the old game Pipemania, you must complete a pathway before time runs out, swapping out movement pieces across the board.  If you take too long, you lose.  Unlock additional Mini characters & bonus minigames as you play!



July 21, 2020
Summer of Mario: GAME & WARIO 11:53:32 AM CT [David]
Wario & crew on the Wii U in...

Game & Wario

Unlike the other Wario Ware titles, Game & Watch consists of a smaller number of more fleshed out minigames.  Using touch screen, motion, and standard controls, work your way through the twelve minigames to earn coins, which can be spent on a variety of prizes.  The focus here is really on having a weirdly wide variety of games featuring different playstyles.  Shoot down enemies in Arrow, snap photos of suspects in Shutter, race down the hill in Ski, assemble picture puzzles in Patchwork, bounce across the platforms in Kung Fu, create images in Design, fly Ashley through weird skyscapes in Ashley, drive & shoot UFOs in Taxi, and play a rhythm-based motion controlled pirate-themed thing starring Wario in Pirates.  There is a lot of variety (and weirdness) here.

Multiplayer games include Sketch (a bit like Pictionary), Fruit (one player hides while the others try to locate them on the television screen), Disco (a rhythm-based game involving tapping the Wii U Gamepad), and Islands (fling Fronks at targets).

If you want standard Wario Ware gameplay, there is an additional game -- Gamer.  In Gamer, you are 9-Volt, a child who is supposed to be sleeping.  You are in bed, playing WarioWare -- and you have to avoid being caught by your mother.  As you play through a series of traditional WarioWare microgames, be ready to instantly "fall sleep" and hide your system just before Mom pops in and catches you!

Game & Wario is a fun, weird collection that can only really be played on the Wii U due to a number of games featuring dual screen support.





July 17, 2020
So a new Mario game came out today...

Paper Mario: The Origami King

Once again, a fairly flat Mario must save the kingdom/world/universe against a non-two-dimensional menace.  This time, a evil origami madman is compressing and folding all the residents of the Mushroom Kingdom, and Mario must save the day!  Team up with a GOOD origami gal and fight the three dimensional forces of evil and chaos.

If you were a fan of the traditional Paper Mario games (the original and Thousand Year Door), I will say that this new entry feels more like a traditional Paper Mario RPG game.  The battles do feature a heavy puzzle element, but (for the most part) you can brute force your way through the battles as if you were playing a traditional game.  The music and oddball humor is intact, though.  I will say that I've yet to get bored while playing -- which is good, as I got tired of both Color Splash & Sticker Star half-way through each...

If you don't mind the game being a bit different, you'll probably enjoy yourself.  In fact, this is arguably the best Paper Mario we've had in years.

Back to more obscure stuff next week!





July 16, 2020
Summer of Mario: DR. LUIGI 06:23:26 PM CT [David]
Who needs experience in a doctor, when you have ...

Dr. Luigi

For the "year of Luigi," the younger Mario brother gets to star in his own Dr. Mario spinoff!  Battle the viruses (with different designs and colors than those in Dr. Mario) by dropping L-shaped Megavitamin packets.  These L packs feature four pill segments instead of the normal two, but the shape can make the game a bit more difficult.  If you'd prefer, classic Dr. Mario gameplay is available in Retro Remedy, and there is also an online mode!  Virus Buster returns from Brain Age 2, allowing you to drag & drop pill segments using the Wii U's touchscreen.

Developed by Arika, Dr. Luigi was released in the US at the end of 2013, and in the rest of the world the following year.



July 15, 2020
It's time to punch Waluigi in the face in...

GAME & WATCH GALLERY 4



Once again, the Mario characters star in recreations of classic Game & Watch titles.  Play faithful simulations of the original games, or try them with color, music, and Mario!  This collection features the largest number of Game & Watch games yet.  Boxing, Chef, Donkey Kong 3, Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong, Fire Attack, Fire, Mario Bros., Mario's Cement Factory, Octopus, and Rainshower are the starting games.  Do well enough and you'll several additional classic titles: Manhole, Tropical Fish, Mario's Bombs Away, Parachute, Bomb Sweeper, Climber, Safebuster, Lifeboat, and The Legend of Zelda.

Some of these titles were present in the earlier Game & Watch Gallery games, but the Game Boy Advance versions are much more detailed, colorful, and feature even more Mario cameos.  The collection here also help demonstrate the wide variety of jobs Mario has had: bomb sweeper, factory worker, ape tormentor...

It's worth noting that the classic version of Donkey Kong 3 stars Stanly, whereas the modern version features Mario.

Developed by Tose and Nintendo, Game & Watch Gallery was released in 2002.  This was the last Gallery collection released.
July 14, 2020
The 2D adventures continue in...

GAME & WATCH GALLERY 3



Once again, a selection of Game & Watch titles return.  Play through recreations of the classic Game & Watch Egg, Greenhouse, Turtle Bridge, Mario Bros., and Donkey Kong Jr. - in original mode, or with updated Mario graphics and sound.  If you do well enough, you'll also unlock classic versions of the games Flagman, Judge, Lion, Spitball Sparky, Donkey Kong II, and Fire (reversed)!

There are several Mario titles in this selection.  In Mario Bros., Mario and Luigi must work together to load up a delivery truck by transferring items between delivery belts.  Donkey Kong Jr. recreates the first stage of the arcade game -- help Junior climb up to rescue DK from Mario!  The unlockable Donkey Kong II is actually a recreation of the last stage of Donkey Kong Jr. -- Junior climbs chains to unlock DK's cage.

Developed by Tose and Nintendo, Game & Watch Gallery was released in 1999.
July 13, 2020
Mario and company reenact LCD madness in...

GAME & WATCH GALLERY 2



Play through simulations of the classic Game & Watch titles Parachute, Helmet, Chef, Vermin, and Donkey Kong -- earn enough points and you'll unlock an additional game, Ball!  Each games can be played in original mode, or in "Modern Mode" with Mario characters, music, and color!  This is one of the earliest Game Boy Color titles, and features fairly colorful levels while remaining fully compatible with the original Game Boy.

Donkey Kong is an interesting conversion: while the original two screen Game & Watch game is faithfully recreated in Classic Mode, the Modern version adds a few extra levels and characters.  Donkey Kong (wearing his red tie and looking rather similar to the version present in the Game Boy Donkey Kong) kidnaps Princess Peach in Modern mode, and is assisted by Koopa Troopas and Koopa Paratroopas.

Developed by Tose and Nintendo, Game & Watch Gallery was released in 1997 in Japan and 1998 across the rest of the world.  The game featured Super Game Boy frames and tinting.
July 10, 2020
Heritage Auctions appears to have sold a sealed copy of the the US version of Super Mario Bros..  What appears to have made this copy so valuable is the little plastic hangtab on the box -- only a small number of copies were sold in the hangtab version.  It's interesting to note that these weren't the first version of Super Mario Bros. to hit the USA -- the ones for the initial launches weren't plastic wrapped.

Heritage Auctions issued a press release last year when its owner purchased a sticker-sealed copy of a launch Super Mario Bros. for $100,150. (Read here).
Mario floats like a 3D Tanooki & avoids the stings of bees in ...

Super Mario 3D Land



For the first time, traditional Super Mario gameplay is merged with fully 3D worlds and levels.  Help Mario save the princess while stomping Goombas, kicking Koopa Troopas, hurling fireballs, and floating like a tanooki!  While the Super Mario Galaxy games brought back the Fire Flower as a time limited power-up, Super Mario 3D Land uses power-ups in the classic way -- and introduces new ones, like the Boomerang Suit.  The Super Leaf acts a bit differently in this game --  normal Super Leaf gives Mario a tanooki suit that can float (but not fly), while a stone Super Leaf gives Mario a tanooki suit that can transform into a statue.  It's worth noting that the game isn't only 3D in the gameplay -- it displays in a full 3 dimensions thanks to the 3DS, which makes it a bit easier to stomp on Goombas.

Luigi returns as a playable character, and even gets a different looking Super Leaf outfit -- grabbing one outfits him a fox suit, as opposed to Mario's tanooki suit.
July 9, 2020
Paper Mario: The Origami King is coming later this month, but the internet is already debating its merits.  The main question is whether the game falls closer on the side of the original Paper Mario and The Thousand-Year Door, or if the game is ultimately more like Sticker Star and Color Splash.

I'm hoping it's more like the earlier games.  I never quite got into the last two Paper Mario titles.  What about you folks?  What kind of game are you hoping for?
Summer of Mario: VS. DR. Mario 04:45:29 PM CT [David]
Pay-as-you-go healthcare hits the Mushroom Kingdom in...

Vs. Dr. Mario



During the mid 1980s, Nintendo released a new arcade unit -- the Vs. system.  This system was based on the NES, but featured games reprogrammed specifically for arcade play.  Vs. Dr. Mario is very similar to the home version, with a few differences.  You can only play on Normal or High speeds now (no slow setting), and fewer points are awarded.  Interestingly, you can't opt to play the game without background music -- the arcade version lets you select your tune, but offers no ability to disable it.

Dr. Mario was later released for the PlayChoice-10 arcade unit, but that was literally just the NES version in a cabinet.  Vs. Dr. Mario is fully converted to arcade play, demanding a quarter to start the game, as opposed to using a timing system.
July 8, 2020
Summer of Mario: MARIO PARTY 2 04:46:54 PM CT [David]
Mario & company learn the dark arts in...

Mario Party 2



Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Peach, Wario, and Donkey Kong are back to battle across all sorts of themed boards, as they compete in minigames to gather stars.  After a set number of turns, the player with the highest collection of stars wins!  Just try to get first place in as many minigames as you can.

Just like the first Mario Party, four players take turns rolling dice and moving around the board, completing actions, buying items, and visiting special squares.  At the end of each round, all four players compete in a minigame for bonus coins.  These minigames feature a nice mix of skill and luck based games, more so than some of the later entries in the series.  Players even have the option to duel!  Each themed map features Mario & crew wearing matching costumes (pirates, cowboys, etc.)

There are no "spin the joystick" challenges in this game, most probably removed after so many players injured themselves in the first Mario Party.  An interesting bit of trivia is that this game introduces "Koopa Kids" -- small enemies that somewhat resemble Bowser Jr. or Baby Bowser, but aren't.
July 7, 2020
A shoehorned-in Wario hurls explosives in...

Wario Blast: featuring Bomberman!



In 1994, Hudson Soft released Bomberman GB in Japan, the latest entry in the Bomberman series.  Nintendo picked up the publishing rights throughout the rest of the world and added Wario, releasing the game as Wario Blast.  Aside from the addition of Wario, the games are essentially the same.

As Wario or Bomberman, progress through eight worlds, blasting away enemies (Wario fights evil Bomberman clones, while Bomberman fights... Warios).  Kill all of your opponents and move on to the next stage, with bosses at the end of each world.  Make it all the way to the end, defeat the final giant bomb boss, and Wario & Bomberman will drive off into the sunset on their motorcycles.

Wario Blast features Super Game Boy borders and even a four player mode, assuming you have the SNES four player multitap.  Wario Blast's Super Game Boy frame features Wario leering over the playfield, whereas the original Bomberman GB had a blue Bomberman in his place.  Oddly enough, the game doesn't appear to support the Game Link cable.
July 6, 2020
Summer of Mario: TETRIS ATTACK 06:06:33 PM CT [David]
Yoshi takes over for Lip in...

Tetris Attack



Puzzle games were doing well in the 90s, and Nintendo had a popular Japanese game entitled Panel de Pon.  Rather than release a puzzle game with happy little fairies in the USA, Nintendo swapped out the protagonist Lip for Yoshi and released Tetris Attack for the SNES.  However, when it came time to release a Game Boy Panel de Pon, Nintendo released the Yoshi version worldwide.  1996 saw the release of Tetris Attack (a.k.a. "Yoshi's Panel de Pon") in North America, Europe & Japan.

Line up rows of blocks to make them disappear.  Play in Endless, Time Trial, Stage, Puzzle, or Vs. mode.  Help Yoshi battle against all of Baby Bowser's forces!

The game has nothing to do with Tetris other than the title.  In fact, it's possible the Tetris name is keeping this version from seeing a general rerelease, as Nintendo would need to relicense the trademark.  Later Panel de Pon games were released in the west with the "Puzzle League" name.
July 3, 2020
Summer of Mario: MARIO'S OPEN GOLF 09:08:59 PM CT [David]
Mario wears the red, white, and blue in...

Mario's Open Golf



In 1991, Nintendo released the PlayChoice-10 arcade system, which essentially allowed players to buy time (often 300 seconds per quarter) to play modified versions of NES games.  One of the games released for the PlayChoice-10 was Mario's Open Golf, a variant version of NES Open Tournament Golf / Mario Open Golf.  The Club House (for saving the game) is missing, but otherwise you can play as much Stroke Play or Match Play golf as you can squeeze into your budget.

The title screen for Mario's Open Golf features the same artwork as NES Open Tournament Golf, with Mario and Luigi flanked by Princess Peach and Princess Daisy.  (The NES game's instruction manual clearly shows Daisy in the artwork, whereas the game's title screen doesn't make it quite as clear.)

While the in-game art renders Mario's outfit differently, promo art indicates that Mario is wearing red and white striped overalls & hat, with a blue shirt covered with white stars.  This outfit later returned in Super Mario Odyssey.
July 2, 2020
Summer of Mario: DR. MARIO 64 04:48:24 PM CT [David]
Dr. Mario battles the Wario Land 3 cast in...

Dr. Mario 64



Mad Scienstein (from Wario Land 3) & Wario have stolen the Megavitamins, and Dr. Mario has to get them back!  In Story Mode, you'll battle against all sorts of characters from Wario Land 3, including the infamous Rudy the Clown, and evil... Vampire Wario?  If you're feeling more villainous, try playing through Story Mode as Wario (and face off against Metal Mario!)  There's also a marathon mode, as well as various multiplayer modes for up to four players.

Dr. Mario 64 was only released in North America.  Japan did receive port of the game in 2003, as part of the Nintendo Puzzle Collection.
July 1, 2020
Summer of Mario: WARIO LAND II 02:05:27 PM CT [David]
It's Wario's third adventure, confusingly named...

WARIO LAND II



Captain Syrup and her "Black Sugar Gang" have stolen Wario's treasure -- and Wario's ready to ram, stomp & hurl Gooms all over the place in his quest to get it all back! Unlike his first two outings (more on that in a moment), this time Wario doesn't use garlic to power-up.  In fact, Wario is essentially immortal in this game - he can't be killed.  Being hit by most enemies merely results in Wario getting knocked back and losing some coins.  Some enemy attacks do temporarily transform Wario into odd shapes, which grant special abilities: getting smashed flat turns Wario into a pancake-thin form than can slip through cracks, getting stung by a bee and Wario will puff up and float into the air, and those are only two of the many odd forms Wario can be mangled into.

Wario Land II is quirky for several reasons outside of its gameplay.  It's actually the third Wario Land game, following Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 and Virtual Boy Wario Land, and it discards the power-up system used by both of its predecessors.  Wario Land II was originally released as a black & white title in North America and Europe in early 1998, but not in Japan.  Instead, a Game Boy Color compatible color version was released in Japan and the rest of the world at the end of 1998.  Both the original and color versions feature Super Game Boy borders and color palettes.

An interesting trivia note: there is a penguin enemy that lobs balls at Wario -- being hit by a ball turns Wario into "Crazy Wario" form.  In that form, Wario stumbles around in a haze, randomly burping and generally being difficult to control; dunking Wario into a pool of water returns him to normal.  However, in the Japanese version, the penguin tosses bottles at Wario... which turn him into Drunk Wario.
June 30, 2020
Summer of Mario: FORTUNE STREET 06:04:54 PM CT [David]
What happens when you cross Dragon Quest and Monopoly with Mario? You get ...

FORTUNE STREET



Dragon Warrior III / Dragon Quest III featured a board game segment entitled Sugoroku / Pachisi.  Players rolled a die and moved along a board, collecting valuables and trying to reach the exit.  This proved popular enough that the designer of Dragon Quest decided to release an expanded, stand-alone board game on the Famicom.  Itadaki Street: Watashi no Omise ni Yottette was released on the Famicom in 1991, and was followed by several sequels.  Some of those sequels featured characters from the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series.  In 2007, Itadaki Street DS was released, featuring characters from both the Dragon Quest and Mario series.

In 2011, Itadaki Street Wii was released in the west as "Fortune Street," featuring characters and stages from the Mario games as well as the Dragon Quest series.  Gameplay is reminiscent of Monopoly, but with some differences.  Each game board has a cash goal -- the first player to accumulate a net worth equal to that goal, and then get to the bank, wins.  Players can buy property, collect rent, and develop property much like in Monopoly, but they can also acquire stock (which can raise in value as other players develop their associated properties).  Players can develop properties without owning an entire set, but owning a set allows for greater development than owning just a single property.

The Mario aspects of Fortune Street include both characters and stages.  Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Toad, Yoshi, Birdo, Donkey & Diddy Kong, Wario, Waluigi, Bowser and Bowser Jr. are all playable characters.  Mario themed stages include Mario Stadium, Starship Mario, Delfino Plaza, Mario Circuit, Yoshi's Island, Peach's Castle, Bowser's Castle, Good Egg Galaxy, and Super Mario Bros. 1-1.

Fortune Street is still the only Itadaki Street game to be released outside of Japan, aside from an Android/iOS spinoff.
June 29, 2020
Summer of Mario: MARIO'S PICROSS 04:06:24 PM CT [David]
Mario suits up for archaeologically-themed nonogram puzzles in...

MARIO'S PICROSS



In this Mario themed puzzler, you solve nonograms -- picture logic puzzles.  Presented with a grid, you must determine which blocks in the grid are to be filled in and which are to be skipped, based on the number clues on the outside of the grid.  Shade in the grid properly and you'll end up with a pixelated picture!

The Mario theme of the game is limited to his appearance in the top corner of each puzzle screen, with only a small handful of puzzles having Mario themes.
Mario's archaeology outfit ties into the motif of "chipping away" at the puzzles to reveal the hidden images.  There are 256 puzzles to be solved, and you can unlock a Time Trial mode.  The game also features Super Game Boy borders.

Due to the game's general lack of success, its two sequels (Picross 2 & Mario's Super Picross) weren't released outside of Japan, although Mario's Super Picross eventually received a Virtual Console rerelease on European Wii and Wii U systems.

Some of the music from this title reappears in the DS game Picross DS.  Mario's outfit reappears in Super Mario Odyssey.
June 26, 2020
Summer of Mario: YOSHI'S SAFARI 03:44:59 PM CT [David]
Mario shoots the bad guys with guns!  No, it's not Smash Bros., it's...

YOSHI'S SAFARI



Yoshi's Safari is a first person shooter starring Mario, played using the Super Scope 6 light gun.  Riding atop Yoshi, Mario runs through multiple worlds, blasting away flying Paragoombas, Paratroopas, and more.  At the end of each stage, you'll face off against one of Bowser's seven Koopalings -- but this time, they all pilot giant mechs.  Make sure to grab Mushrooms, Starmen, and other power-ups to help you along your way... just try not to shoot Yoshi in the back of the head.

The game's premise is that Jewelry Land has been conquered by Bowser, and that Princess Peach has sent Mario and Yoshi to save the kingdom and its rulers, King Fret & Prince Pine.  It's worth noting that this 1993 release was the first game to use "Princess Peach" instead of "Princess Toadstool" in the west, predating Super Mario 64 by three years!

The standard game only allows the player to shoot the blaster, with Yoshi automatically running through the stages.  However, two player mode does exist, and allows Yoshi to be controller on a SNES controller while the Super Scope 6 is used to fire, making the game a little more complex.

Yoshi's Safari is generally fun, but somewhat limited in gameplay.  Still, it is the only Mario first person rail shooter released by Nintendo.
June 25, 2020
Before Mario Maker, there was...

WARIO WARE: D.I.Y.



Like the other Wario Ware titles, Wario Ware D.I.Y. challenges the player to quickly complete a series of "microgames" without making any mistakes.  Jump over a single Goomba, tap left to stick out your leg at the last moment, or press A to stop a record on Wario -- each microgame is just a few seconds long and only asks the player to complete a simple action.  The challenge in Wario Ware has always been in keeping up with the game as you jump from minigame to minigame without a break, while unlocking all of Wario & his employees' software.

What makes THIS Wario Ware different is that you can now make your own games.

Wario Ware D.I.Y. provides players with a simple visual scripting program, allowing them to create their own microgames.  You have complete control over game logic, scripting, music, and graphics -- it even includes a Mario Paint-themed sprite graphics editor!  In addition, you can view and edit ALL of the microgames included in Wario Ware D.I.Y..

Players could upload their games to Nintendo's server, and download games by others.  Games could also be sent to the Wii's Wario Ware: D.I.Y. Showcase" and played on your TV.  However, the shutdown of the Nintendo DS online services means that none of this is still possible.  The game also features an achievement-like system: the player earns medals for completing various actions, and the medals unlock music tracks; however, without the online connection,  many medals can no longer be earned, locking away several of the songs.
June 24, 2020
While Mario & crew have seen a variety of spin-offs over the years, Wario's first starring adventure is worth taking a look back on.

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3



Hot off the success of Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Nintendo RD1 took the opportunity to release a platformer starring their own creation -- Wario.  As the yellow-clad anti-plumber, run and jump through levels, hurl your enemies to their doom, and find the hidden treasures.  Your ultimate goal is to gather enough treasure to build yourself a gigantic castle, and to do that you'll need to "liberate" the golden statue of Princess Toadstool from the Brown Sugar Pirates and their leader, Captain Syrup.

Like Super Mario Land 2, Wario Land features an overworld map with plenty of sublocations to explore.  Gathering treasure and coins is important, and you'll money not only to build your castle at the end, but to unlock hidden rooms, save the game, and even to use as a weapon -- at any point in the game, you can hurl your OWN coins at enemies to kill 'em.  Don't waste too much of your cash, or you might only be able to build a squalid little shack at the end of the game.

While this game is officially "Super Mario Land 3," it really serves as the first in the Wario Land series.  It does have more in common with the Mario platformers than later titles, though: power-up blocks provide garlic pots that act much as the Super Mushroom, upgrading "small Wario" into the full-size Wario we all know.  Further upgrades allow Wario to ram through enemies and blocks, shoot fire from his hat, or even soar through the skies -- the only other Wario game to feature this power-up system is Virtual Boy Wario Land.  In addition, this game features the weirdly familiar "Gooms" -- they look a lot like the Goomba (Galoombas?) from Super Mario World, and serve as the generic foe; hop on their heads to knock them over, and toss them at other enemies.

It's worth noting that Mario does make a small cameo in this game.  If Wario succeeds in defeating Captain Syrup's forces, Mario will fly in to carry off the statue of Princess Toadstool before Wario can collect it, waving as he flies away.

Yeah, Mario's kind of a jerk in this game.
June 23, 2020
It's time to look at another slightly lesser known Mario title...

GAME & WATCH GALLERY



Play through simulations of the classic Game & Watch titles Manhole, Fire, Octopus, and Oil Panic.  While that sounds somewhat interesting, what is more interesting is that the collection comes with modernized remakes of all the game, starring Mario and the other Mushroom Kingdom folks.  Help Yoshi keep brainless Toads from falling through manholes, watch the Mario Bros. as they rescue hundreds of Toads (and others) from a burning castle, collect treasure while dodging the wrathful arms of a giant octopus, and help Mario as he... stops Bowser from dropping burning oil on innocents like Yoshi, Luigi, and DK. Jr..  Bowser has mellowed over the years, it seems.

Developed by Tose and Nintendo, Game & Watch Gallery was released in 1997 across the world, but with different names in different regions.  "Game Boy Gallery" appeared in Japan on Feb. 1 1997, while North America received Game & Watch Gallery in May of 1997.  In Europe and Oceania, it was released as "Game Boy Gallery 2" as the sequel to an earlier collection of Game & Watch remakes entitled "Game Boy Gallery."

The game featured Super Game Boy frames and tinting, and a non-playable gallery of other Game & Watch titles.
June 22, 2020
Summer of Mario: YOSHI 06:26:51 PM CT [David]
Summer is officially upon us, and it's time to take a look through some of the lesser known entries in the Mario gaming universe...

YOSHI


Yoshi represents one of the odder Mario spin-offs.  In this "falling block" puzzle game, Goombas, Pirahna Plants, and Bloops fall from the sky, stacking up on four trays.  Instead of controlling the path of the falling items, the player can have Mario swap the trays -- any tray can switch places with the tray(s) sitting next to it.  Match two of the same enemies and they'll vanish, giving you points.  If you want high scores though, you'll want to AVOID matching like enemies -- instead, let the bottom half of an egg shell drop onto a platform and wait for a large pile of bad guys to stack up on top of it.  Cap off the stack with the TOP half of an egg shell and the entire stack will disappear (and a Yoshi will appear to give you bonus points).  There's no "end" to the game, but play long enough and you'll occasionally see a small cut-scene of Mario and Yoshi walking across the screen.  If that's not enough, you can always challenge a friend in the multiplayer versus mode.

Yoshi was developed by Game Freak (better known for Pok√©mon), and released in the USA for both the NES and Game Boy in June and July of 1991.  It had previously been released in Japan as "Yoshi no Tamago" (meaning "Yoshi's Egg") in December 1991, while Europe received "Mario & Yoshi" in December of 1992.