Mario Kart 7

Ok, so it was my birthday yesterday and I got Mario Kart for 3DS. Here are my first thoughts…

This game is colourful, vibrant and full of life with absolutely beautiful visuals. I mean, there’s not as much to it as some games, but it’s a racing game, so there’s not much more than racing you can do with that. Mario Kart 7 goes back to the old days with different modes to play in. There is the normal grand prix, time trials and the fun but frustrating balloon and coin battles. There are also options for single and multiplayer.

In my first grand prix, the mushroom cup, I seemed to grasp the general controls quite quickly and managed to win the first 3 races. It all went downhill on the fourth however and my winning streak turned to disaster. One thing you can do on Mario Kart 7 is glide using giant kite thing attached to your car. The problem was, I did not know how, but I guess that what you get for not bothering to read up on the controls. Anyway, I couldn’t get past this one jump and came last, not even managing to finish! Luckily, my previous victories managed to secure me second place overall, so not bad for a first go.

Control of the car is relatively easy and there are some good choices in terms of speed and handling. I’ve only played a few courses, but so far they are creative and bold. My favourite has to be Wuhu Island Loop in the Flower Cup. I’ve spent a lot of virtual time on that island on the Wii and so to see it appear to race on was awesome. Cheep Cheep Cape in the Mushroom Cup is also interesting down to the fact you race underwater. I was also pleased to see the return of Luigi’s Mansion in the Shell Cup.

The music is of typical Mario standards, very jingly with a different track for each course. It gets quite annoying after a while, but I would have expected no less.


Back to Basics – The World of Pokemon

With the release of Pokemon Black and White 2 on the horizon, I wanted to take a look back at how it became what it is today…

In the Beginning – The Glory Days

And so it begins…

All remember that all important decision, agonising over which pokemon to choose to travel with? Without trying to sound like an old fogey, those were the days. That first battle with Gary is probably one every player remembers, as it is the first ever pokemon battle you take part in ever.

Red, Blue and eventually Yellow, must have been some of the biggest games of my generation when they came out back in the ’90s. The TV series was also great at this point, and back then, the games relied on the programme, where now they create more episodes to compliment a game. Most people my age would probably say this was the best generation, and while it was an absolutely outstanding success for the Gameboy, there were great things to come…

Moving to the Johto Region

I think the concept of there being new pokemon was an exciting one back then, where now we veterans seem to think that enough is enough. Although I agree that it is going on too long, I don’t know what I’d do if I were to find out they weren’t bringing out any more games. I’d be absolutely gutted to say the least. Anyway, we’re back in the past here and this generation also took off like a storm.

Personally, I always used to love Chikorita for its cuteness, but would nearly always pick Totadile. I had a habit over the years of going for the water type, especially in the original games so I could easily beat Brock. Gold and Silver were another great set of games with more vibrancy and more exploring to do, with the added bonus of being able to return to Kanto upon completion of the game. It also brought about new legendaries, new rivals and new things to do, even very small changes such as collecting berries and headbutting trees.

Generation 3 – Hoenn

Many despise this era as it saw Misty leave for good in the anime. The game, however, was really fun. It doesn’t quite fit into that classic bracket that the previous games do, but despite everything that annoyed people (e.g. no more team rocket), it has a really good story and honestly is probably my personal favourite. The pokemon themselves weren’t quite as good, but everything else was. Now you  could dive into the sea and explore the world underwater, now you could play as a girl or a boy. The developments here are possibly the most notable, with plenty of upgraded features to make gameplay that bit different again. Ruby and Sapphire also saw a huge leap in terms of graphics and its accompanying game, Emerald, had the added area that was the Battle Frontier. A true gem of a game, this one.

Other notable ways it defined pokemon gaming:

The Double Battle

The Secret Base

Diamond and Pearl

Generation 4 wasn’t as good as the rest, but I still thoroughly enjoyed playing it. We were faced again with yet another new band of enemies, Team Galactic, and we had yet another set of new pokemon. Still, a new story always means something different. I don’t have a lot to say about this one really. As bad as it sounds, I can’t particularly remember much of it without going back on it or looking it up. Nothing really seems to have stuck in my brain, although I seem to remember getting hours out of it and even going so far as to buy Platinum when it came out, so it must be pretty decent.

The Latest Installment

Not counting the remakes of the red/blue saga and gold/silver, this is the last generation of game to date, Pokemon Black and White. It is unique in that it does not have a third, supporting game that combines the elements and pokemon of the two others. I’m on my second play-through of this game now and I still don’t know what types certain pokemon are and finding a good strategy to beat them is tough as they tend to have stupid types like flying/electric so the ground type is pretty useless. However, the visuals are a huge step up and although the pokemon themselves are a downside and I was disappointed I couldn’t catch and train any old pokemon from any other pokedex, this generation is the biggest challenge yet in terms of tactics and still very fun with plenty of new elements and side attractions. Thankfully, as the series have gone on, the levels needed for the elite four have decreased. It always took me sooooo long to beat those guys back in the old days where this lot is pretty easy. I wrote a first thoughts review of Pokemon White when it first came out on another blog. Here it is for if you never got to playing this far on.

The Future?

What is to come is still unknown, but I’m sure looking forward to find out what’s going to happen next in Black and White 2 in the Autumn, and wouldn’t it be even cooler if we got a European release of Pokemon Conquest too, as some of the spin-offs from the main series haven’t been bad, one of my personal favourites being the original Pokemon Ranger. Well, only time will tell…

Which generation is your favourite and what do you hope to see in Black and White 2?


The Ace Attorney Saga

Ok, so the Phoenix Wright trilogy have to be one of my favourite sets of games, despite them being very hard at times (or maybe that’s just me because I’m not very good at logical thinking). The type of gameplay is unique and you actually need to pay attention and use your brain. I love how mysteries gradually unfold as new evidence comes to light and you’re always wondering who actually committed the crime, as your client is ALWAYS innocent. I’ve always had an interest in law but could never have the bother of studying it professionally (I tried that at A-Level – didn’t go down too well). Obviously the court system in the games is a little different to that in the UK, but still, I like having that power to catch someone out who has tried so hard to get off the hook.

Anyway, another part of the game I loved was the whole background story, which was developed in Justice for all and nicely rounded off at the end of the last game. I feel after Trials and Tribulations, when Apollo Justice was introduced, it just wasn’t quite the same. I mean, obviously development is key in any series of stories and it is probably a good thing that it didn’t just carry on as it was, but I’d really grown to know and love the regular characters. Still, it’s just what you’re used to I guess.

Then, one day, a new twist came along in the form of Ace Attorney Investigations, where this time, you took the side of Miles Edgeworth, the prosecutor, something that was yet to happen. Again, it didn’t quite top the Phoenix Wright games for me, but when I got into it, it actually wasn’t half bad and the new perspective was interesting as I’d only ever defended before. Admittedly, I’ve still never reached the end of this one, but I gave it a go, ok?

It has been heard that there is still a possibility of the sequel finally making it to the West, it having been out in Japan for a whole year. This has been suggested before, however, and we are still waiting for actual confirmation from CAPCOM. Still, we can hope, right? Of course, it’s not just the Investigations series that is speculated about. I am very intrigued by the crossover game Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright that is due for release on Nintendo 3DS. I’ll admit, I’ve not really played Professor Layton before, but I’m just wondering what on Earth this game is going to be like and I’d be interested to find out. Finally though, the most interesting bit of news of all has to be the fifth installment in the original Ace Attorney series, which was announced years ago but has only just come back into discussion this year. Looks like it’s not the end of the lawyers just yet…