Super Mario 3D Land Review

Mario Games have always been some of my favourites. Forever frustrated with the originals on SNES and NES consoles as well as the more modern yet undoubtedly less challenging iterations of everyone’s favourite plumbing based platform game.

There is a slight problem though, none of them have been as magical as Mario 64 was. Not one. I loved the Galaxy games, wasn’t incredibly fussed with Sunshine but none of them have touched Mario 64. That’s just an opinion, I think the closest to getting there so far was Mario Galaxy. I found that game pretty damn fun, I think I prefer the hub style to accessing the worlds in which the desperate aim is to collect stars and save that princess who refuses to stay un-kidnapped.

So Super Mario 3D land. I completed it Yesterday and it was a pretty good run. It has all the charm that a Mario game needs and definitely  plays really well. The story is run-of-the-mill Mario story. That foolish Princess has run off with Bowser again and the only chance of her being saved is by a fat Italian plumber running through worlds full of small brown creatures without arms but sometimes have wings. Never really did make sense did it? But in this rather strange world we live in it works very well and always has. The format of the game is a sort of cross between New Super Mario Bros. and the 3D games such as 64 and Galaxy. You select levels as you would in New Super Mario Bros. although the worlds are much more akin to those found in the modern console game.

The worlds are as you would expect from Nintendo, graphically beautiful and detailed but with a hint of familiarity. You’ve got your water world with disgustingly infuriating fish, you’ve got your desert worlds with cactus cats everywhere. There are 8 worlds in total and each level takes it’s own theme. Some original ideas in this iteration keep it interesting but I won’t spoil anything for those of you that haven’t played it. Is all you need to know is that it’s everything you’d expect from a Mario game in terms of design.

In terms of how much of a challenge it is,  the first part, not so much. This is something that has come to annoy me about modern Mario games they are becoming too easy. The original games would be offended at the thought of being as easy as New Super Mario Bros. was. This one is a little harder but if you actually die something like 5 times on one level you get the stripy leaf Tanooki suit that makes it virtually impossible to lose. It gives you the power to run into just about everything you want and watch it die instantly and hover around without much chance of falling off anything. I actually did everything I could to avoid using this and didn’t rely on it for one level entirely once. The normal Tanooki suit does come in useful when you are required to get as many stars as possible as some places are impossible to get to without the use of the suit. It is quite fun to play as Tanooki Mario especially seeing as the suit hasn’t been in any of the games for so long.

Then there is, once you’ve completed the game, you unlock the special worlds. Part of the game that offers insane time-trials and a much more challenging game. It’s much more frustrating and everything I look for in a Mario Game (except the hub, I like hubs). It’s fantastic fun, incredibly frustrating and overall a fantastic addition to the game giving it far more play time and great replay value.

The 3D effects on this game are far better than any of the other games I have played on the 3DS thus far. They compliment the gaming experience incredibly and make those really annoying nooks and crannies that used to be so hard to find on 2D screens so much less frustrating and it really adds to the game. There are sections of levels that are specially tailored to the 3D experience and they are great fun.

Overall it’s a great game, it’s a great bit of fun and an essential buy for those of you that want your favourite Plumber on the move with you on your 3D gaming console! This game was made to show off what the 3DS can really do and it really makes a good rob it! You’ve also got that being a 1st party Nintendo game it will hardly loose value over time compared to any other game!

Uni Life: The First Semester

 

Early in Semester one!

So I’ve been living in Kingston for a fair few months now, I’ve completed my first semester recieving three 1st’s and 2.1 in my first semester modules and am carrying on with my second semester modules in order to complete the year.

The first semester went fast so bloody quickly I can hardly believe It’s already over. I’ve learned a lot about Kingston, the university way of life and academic protocols that go with being in university. I’ve also learned a lot about London as a whole and on average spent about 2 or 3 days a week in various parts of the city other than this incredibly south borough.

Drinking a cocktail from a bowl with a spoon 0_o

 

When moving here I had an idea of what it would be like in terms of meeting people and making friends based on what other people I knew who have been through university have told me. I had only two friends from home that were nearby in London that were at least 30 minutes away on the train, one studying at LSE and the other at UCL.  I met the people I hang round with most at the halls socials at the start of the year and we all still chill together. The halls I’ve moved into are massively reclusive though, absolutely nobody leaves their rooms and the majority are international students who tend to stay in their respective cliques. It’s almost like those of us that hang round together in halls were destined to be friends because otherwise we’d all be sat in our rooms doing nothing. The whole meeting people thing doesn’t just happen at the start of university though. I feel like I meet a new person every week at the moment, when I go to watch the rugby I meet people, when I’m up at my friends universities I meet new people and when I go home I meet my friends new friends and it’s all a bit nuts but it’s great fun. I find myself going out on nights out with people all the time where I only know about 20% of them and by the time I’ve had four or five pints with them we talk like we’ve known each other for ever.

So there’s an incredibly sad paragraph on making friends for you. Might of put that there to slightly spite the majority of my friends who decided I wasn’t going to make any friends because I’m “hard work” (as they like to put it).

As for actual University and doing work is concerned it’s all been good so far. Obviously my first semester went very well in terms of grades and the modules have all been relatively interesting although sometimes I do get annoyed at how my degree seems like a combination of  Business and  ICT with a bit programming on the side. It is a bit more advanced than what I have studied before although the time I spent reading up on technology and computing out of interest is now stressed in modules as something we should learn. I do tend to lose focus in classes that are simply going over thinks that are implicitly stuck in my head. One thing that I wasn’t exactly 100% on when I first came to University is how keen they are on forcing you into group work with people you’ve never met and then reminding you how it’s essential for your future. It all works out in the end but I guess I’ve been lucky, I’ve seen people who’s groups have never turned up and left them confused and lost as to what to do for their work. It happens to everyone though, you all turn up, find it awkward and everyones in the exact same position so the only thing to do is get on with it.

In terms of social life I’ve come to learn that Kingston Oceana is the pits of the world and I have absolutely no intention of spending any time there in the foreseeable future. In fact Kingston as a whole is pretty dire in terms of clubbing and going out. There are a few pubs that are quite cool but they are relatively expensive. That is except for The Mill on a monday which is full of Satan’s worshipers and the bowling alley which is two for tuesdays. But that said, Central London is a trains journey away and clubbing there is absolutely incredible. I’ve been to Pacha, Fabric, Cable, Egg and countless bars and pubs around the city centre and they put previous clubs I’ve been to in Britain to shame. Fabric was once voted as the best club in the world and after some mental Dub and Drum and Bass nights in there I can see why. Pacha is the ultimate Ibiza super club that happens to have a venue in London which is perfectly fitting with my house obsession even if it is extortionate. As for Cable and Egg, they are a little less touristy and I’ve had some of my best nights clubbing ever in them. There are also some fantastic bars around the south that I have visited including round by Waterloo, Chelsea and Wimbledon. I’ve also spent a fair amount of time up in Camden and Islington as that is where my friends from home are residing throughout their first years.

Budget fun

That brings me on to money. Budgeting isn’t easy as a student, especially in London. It’s especially hard for me when I live in between two massive shopping centres and the closest supermarket is a Waitrose. I absolutely adore good food and I love shopping for just about anything so every now and then I’ve just got splash out. In fact I’ve taken a stance that I will spend money on one physical item that will last each month, whether that be an item of clothing, a game or books or whatever. So long as I don’t spend all my money on consumables then I’m happy.

This probably comes a bit late as I finished my first semester a month or so ago after being back to Wales a few times and taking my flat mate the once to show him Wales but I have actually been doing things. I now have quite a big year ahead as I have a holiday or two planned but the biggest surprise for me is that I have been Accepted into California State University for my next semester so shall be moving out to California for my next semester and shall not be spending the first half of next year here in the UK let alone Kingston. So I shall be moving back to Wales at the end of this semester with the intention of leaving a sleeping bag in my room in halls so I can make the most of London in the Summer as I have a 50 week tenancy here.

The year has been an absolute blast so far and there have been ups and downs but the majority of them have been ups and I absolutely love this City. California is the next step in this story but I shall probably post a bit more on Uni Life before I depart.

The Nintendo 3DS

red 3DS console

Nintendo announced the 3DS all the way back in 2010 and it wasn’t until Christmas this year that I actually came to own the device. I was a massive fan on the Nintendo DS and have owned absolutely every iteration of Game Boy Advance released in the United Kingdom and the majority of Nintendo hand-held consoles prior to that.

When it was first released, the Nintendo 3DS was pricey, in fact it was a whole lot pricier than any of the portable gaming systems Nintendo had ever released before hand at a staggering £230. That was more than the Wii was selling for at the time and it didn’t have anywhere near the power.

I remember watching the announcement and was absolutely astounded to see that Nintendo were again implementing a resistive touch-screen rather than the capacitive touch screens that have been adopted for just about every modern touch screen device on the market. The main feature was that it had a 3D screen and it didn’t need glasses but that really wasn’t enough to shift the consoles at a price like that.

By the time I was actually looking at purchasing the 3DS at it’s original price a lot of it’s functions had become clearer, it had Camera’s, 3 in total, they could take 3D photos and be used for augmented reality in games, something that I believed would quickly become gimmicky, even if Nintendo does have a history of making gimmicky things last. (Google: Wii) Another feature that was going to change the gaming experience was a built in gyro, similar to the ones used in iPhones and Smart, thought to be the biggest threat to portable gaming consoles.

When you actually look at what a 3DS is, it’s a heavily upgraded DS. People expected Nintendo to make something revolutionary just like they did when they released the Wii. The company that created the GameCube a console that couldn’t nearly stand up to it’s competitors single handedly changed gaming with the Wii and people wanted more. The problem is that the DS was absolutely incredible. Everyone had one, I even bought my Mum one and she would never use a gaming console but was happily swiping away playing brain training night after night. So there was absolutely nothing wrong with having a heavily upgraded DS right? Completely, the 3DS has been an absolute joy for me. There is still some very annoying bits to it, like how the Applications are just too simple. There is no reason why Nintendo Video should not allow me to search for videos at will rather than have random videos given to me when Nintendo sees fit.The Photo applications are fun for about five minutes as are the Augmented reality cards that come with the device. Although that’s not really the point, the point of a hand-held gaming consoles is gaming and with the addition of the analogue stick and the gyro the gaming experience is heavily improved with the 3DS. The added power of the system also makes the games look better, the larger screen is more vivid than ever and the option to turn 3D on and off is a welcome one.

Nintendo will always have a slight hold over me in the way that no matter what console they push out, it will be the only console that I will be able to play the latest Nintendo games on. Their 1st party developments are absolutely incredible and the same goes for the games on the 3DS. Super Mario 3D Land has been a blast thus far and Mario Kart 7 is absolutely incredible. I can only hope that Luigi’s Mansion 2 will be just as good as the first and all other releases for the platform be brilliant. Nintendo have cleared up their on-line issues with the incredibly annoying friend codes, they have implemented Mii’s on the device and will hopefully allow for great interaction with the upcoming WiiU console.

As for the 3D functionality, I have had an absolute blast with it. Every now and then I get a little pop-up telling me I should take a break but I’ve had absolutely no eye strain what so ever. The only slightly annoying thing about it is you move to much then your eyes need to re-adjust to the screen. It’s kind of good for me though because it’s encouraging me to calm down rather than be the hyperactive nightmare I usually am!

There is bound to be a re-release of an upgraded 3DS in the coming months that will hopefully have a better battery life, maybe be a bit thinner and have the same sort of subtle improvements that each iteration of the original DS had. I’ve spoke to many people about their opinions on the 3DS and some believe it to be a massive flop, some believe it to be the best hand-held they have ever owned and a fair few believe that there is no need for such a device when our Mobile Phones are becoming more and more powerful and better for gaming. It’s a viable argument as carrying an extra device round with you just to play a game on the tube or bus is a bit of a pain but I stand by the fact that Gaming is far better with a dedicated device. If I spend 20 minutes playing Angry Birds on my iPhone it’s even less likely to get through the day on a single charge. Not to mention any long period of gaming on the iPhone sucks.

Overall a fantastic device and I can only hope that the next games I buy are just as good as the Mario games I currently own!