Wherein I provide a Nigma Box Update, discuss Nintendo’s Mario-related nonsense, and hot forklift action coming to an anime channel near you.
Before beginning this Rundown, I just want to make a quick announcement regarding September content for Nigma Box. On September 9th and 16th, I will be publishing my usual Wednesday posts and I will continue publishing Rundowns on Sundays and chapters of Psycho Bullet Festival: The Odyssey of Abigale Quinlan on Fridays for the foreseeable future. However, I am not going to be making my usual Wednesday posts on September 23rd and September 30th.
My reason for this is threefold. One, I have been working more hours as of late, limiting the amount of time I can invest in creating Nigma Box content. Two, I am undergoing genital area electrolysis on September 18th and will be recovering for several days afterward, limiting my productivity. Three, I am currently working on my longest Ramble yet, one that will feature a final word count of over 25,000 words. This Ramble, Natalie Rambles About Dragalia Lost, has proven to be a massive time sink to me, and in order to publish the article in a more readable format, I will be dividing it into chapters that I plan to release throughout the latter half of September.
Chapter 1 will be released on September 21st, Chapter 2 will be released on September 22nd, Chapter 3 will be released on September 23rd, Chapter 4 will be released on September 24th, Chapter 5 will be released on September 26th, and the final chapter will be released on September 30th, when I originally intended on publishing this post.
I apologize for this change in scheduling, and in order to make it up to you, my precious readers, I will be publishing Student Transfer Scenario Reviews – Part 6 on October 7th.
Back at the tail-end of March, a number of video game news outlets put out articles reporting that, according to various sources, Nintendo’s plans for holiday 2020 were based on releasing a litany of remasters for 3D Super Mario games. However, because Nintendo has been squirrelly as of late as they are trying to adapt to this pandemic and pandemonium filled year, they remained quiet on these titles… until this past week, when they dropped a Nintendo Direct with no preamble or pre-hype.
There were a bunch of smaller announcements made during this showcase: Super Mario All-Stars is coming to Nintendo Switch Online. Super Mario Bros. 35 is a Tetris 99 style Battle Royale for Super Mario Bros. 1 that will be available to Nintendo Switch Online members… but only until March 31st, because Nintendo hates giving away free stuff. And a bunch of merch is popping up all over the place, including a Game & Watch themed after and containing a playable version of Super Mario Bros. 1, which is a cool novelty for dorks who like antiquated tat.
However, the big announcements were limited to three, with the first being Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit. The title is an augmented reality Mario Kart game that uses remote-controlled RC cars with cameras attached to them, allowing players to turn their expansive and picturesque homes, or possibly just the blacktop at a local park, into a Mario Kart track. Items, other racers, and the usual trappings are available on one’s Nintendo Switch screen, and courses are made using designated checkpoint posts and by creating a course before driving on it. Up to three players, all of whom need their own Switch and RC cars, can join in this merriment, which is good, as Mario Kart has always been more of a multiplayer title.
Honestly, I look at this game and am immediately reminded of Nintendo Labo, as both of these offerings seem like they would make for fun weekend-long novelties, but lack the same replayability or overall fun factor of a more traditional video game. But I am sure that some people, most notably bored children who live in expensive homes, will find some enjoyment in this title when it launches on October 16th, where it will cost $100. Because RC cars with cameras aren’t that cheap.
Major announcement number Zwei was none other than one of the final anticipated Wii U ports in the form of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Which, based on the trailer and title, is going to be the original 2013 Wii U game with some technical enhancements and minor alterations along with a new undetailed side campaign or mode by the name of Bowser’s Fury. While I will probably pass on this game (I do not enjoy the momentum mechanics of 2D Mario games), I am glad that it is being brought forward to a new generation (in more ways than one) and that the title is coming out fairly soon, with a release date of February 12, 2021.
However, the title that I was most looking forward to, and am most eager to play, is easily the collection of 3D Super Mario games, dubbed Super Mario 3D All-Stars. The game is a compilation of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy, all bundled together in a $60 HD package, and while some minor changes have been made to this game beyond a basic upscale, these are more akin to straight ports as far as I can tell, with no major mechanical overhauls which, while a bit underachieving, is completely fine.
Now, I should be over the moon over this announcement, especially since the collection is coming out on September 13th was announced, but there are three major issues I have with it right out of the gate:
First off, Super Mario 64 is being displayed at 960 by 720, a 4:3 resolution, despite the fact that people have been playing the game at 16:9 for over a decade now, and the fact that the Switch should be able to emulate the game at 1920 by 1080. A goldarn Xbox 360 should have been able to do that much. However, I am not overly annoyed by this, because the reversed engineered PC port of Super Mario 64 is undoubtedly the definitive way to play it nowadays.
Secondly, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not included in this collection and was noticeably absent in the Direct itself. No reason was given as to why the game was omitted from this collection, and there exists no good reason Nintendo could give. The title runs on the same foundation of Galaxy 1, has been highly celebrated over the past decade, and was undeniably a mainline 3D Mario game. It has as much right to be included as any of the three games in this collection, and it is almost insulting that it is absent.
However, my third and biggest problem with this compilation is that it will only be available for a limited amount of time. According to the store page, the game will only receive a limited physical printing and will be removed from the Nintendo Switch eShop on March 31st, 2020…
… Nintendo as a company has a responsibility to preserve video game history on at least some level, and over the years it has been immensely frustrating how they only acknowledged their back catalog in a sparring conservative manner, only allowing some games to leave the vault and making many games realistically unplayable without the use of emulation or aging hardware. A decade ago, they were a beloved saint amongst all others as they made so many games available to new generations via the Wii Virtual Console, and adhered to the idea that future systems should be backwards compatible with an entire system’s library right out of the gate.
When they stopped doing this, it was a horrible loss for the medium as a whole and now— now they are taking some of the most successful, cherished, and important video games in history, putting them out there for one generation to revisit and for another to discover for the first time. I should be celebrating them for this act, but they have the gall, the audacity, the nerve to needlessly and egregiously give these games an artificial shelf life of 6 goddamn months?
Fuck you, Nintendo.
I love you to bits— I mean, I do not trust you more than a couple of inches, and I try not to expect much from you, but you are responsible for video games. You are THE reason why video games are video games as we know them. And I love video games, so even if I did not love your video games— which I do— I would still love you.
But no matter how ignorant, pea-brained, or much of a simpleton are, you MUST, NEED, and HAVE TO know that this is a bad thing. Do not manufacture scarcity unless it is necessary! And even IF this was all a marketing ploy to drive up sales, and you plan on releasing Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy as individual standalone titles on April 1, 2021… then my sentiment is still the same:
Fuck you, Nintendo. Do not drive up sales using fear tactics like that. That is not even stupid, and that is just evil, and I always considered you to be infinitesimally more stupid than you could ever possibly be evil. …But no matter what you do, you already won. I pre-ordered a physical copy of the game, spent $66.14 on it, and I do not regret that decision at all. Hooray on being part of the problem!
Next up on the itinerary is… ugh. The story of Shenmue is… not a pleasant one. It is the story of overambition, pushing a medium forward, and one man believing in his dream so steadfast that none dare to question his vision. All of which resulted in a clunky, revolutionary, and mundane project with exorbitant costs that failed to save a system that was basically dead on arrival. The title’s grandeur and uniqueness caused it to strike a chord with the video game zeitgeist and diehard Sega fans, but the game was an utter failure. 1999’s Shenmue failed to make back its exorbitant budget, and despite being a far better game, 2001’s Shenmue II failed to meet even a fraction of the original’s ‘success’. Because of this, the series was eventually shelved, and while promised projects aimed to keep the series alive, none of them manifested into anything.
Because the story of this story-driven game was left unfinished, and because of how tragic its development history can be perceived, people spent roughly a decade clamoring for a third Shenmue game until, at E3 2015, a Kickstarter was announced for the title, and did amazingly well. But by the time development concluded and the long-awaited Shenmue III was released in 2019, the reception was… extremely negative. Some could say that it is because the game failed to heed 20 years of innovation and was stuck in its rigid ways… but a more accurate description would be that the game doubled down on everything that sucked about Shenmue, failed to advance the story, and was rightfully a sales disaster.
While Shenmue IV was technically announced with the ending of Shenmue III, I am doubtful that people will give it another chance, and that people still care about the series after having 20 year long dreams be shattered so vigorously.
…But I could be wrong, since Crunchyroll, Adult Swim, and Telecom Animation Film are collaborating on a 13-episode Shenmue anime series. Which could be good, I guess. I mean, you could argue that Shenmue shouldn’t have been a video game in the first place, and that its story would better be executed via a television drama. So perhaps this will be a better way to tell the story of… what I’m guessing will either be a side-story or a recap of the first game.
…Yeah, that is about it for this week. Only two stories, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Until next time, see ya!
Header image comes from Yuutai no Mahoujin 3 ~Anoko ni Haitte Kareshi to XXX~ by Kouji and Minaduki Nanana.