Tuesday, January 13, 2015

5 Life Lessons from the Nintendo 3DS

So the Nintendo 3DS is a great many things. From an enjoyable plaything to a portable time waster to a tool for taking surreptitious photos up women's skirts (in 3D!), it's given us years of fun. What most don't realise, however, is how many things it has taught us over the years. Important lessons: Fire Emblem Awakening gave us the harsh reminder that death is final. Super Mario 3D Land showed us the virtue of patience and perseverance. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire revealed that 80% of people in the world are assholes, and that said assholes often come equipped with Mega Rayquaza.

These are the most obvious teachings that it has bestowed upon us. But if you delve a little bit deeper, you'll find a hidden layer of gems that will make you wiser, bolder, and Vaiker. Allow me to bestow upon you the invaluable life lessons that the Nintendo 3DS has taught me, and, through the power of bold assumption, therefore taught you, too.

1. Animals are vapid, shallow people

In fairness, animals were never intended to be people to begin with. It's a crime upon both god and nature. But once that line was blurred, we were treated to a world of gossip, bickering and more lost handkerchiefs than an aristocrats' bender.

For one thing, how come nobody in this town seems to have a job, other than the unfortunate few who appear to actually live at their place of employment? If the one human resident goes missing for too long, he returns to a village overrun with weeds. Surely, the goddamn sheep could have done something to prevent that - she doesn't appear to have much else going on in her life.

Animals also seem to love letters. And sure, being sent a lovely letter from a faraway pal is a nice gesture, but if you have to ask a person standing right in front of you for a letter, it a) defeats the purpose, and b) is a clear indication that you don't have very many friends. Then, they can't seem to read the damn things anyway. You wanted to tell your close companion Bill to 'Throw caution to the wind as you embrace the changes riding on the breeze; a telltale whisper that brings forth a new era', but if you want the stupid ducky to decode it, you'll have to dumb it down to 'I like you. You have a good face. Here is a cherry.'

2. Any relationship is possible if you believe enough

Let's face it; you'll probably never get the chance to hang out with LeBron James and Emma Stone. At least, not until you turn on the 3DS and create them yourself, then you can be best buddies forever! You can even coerce them to date one another and get hitched. The resulting baby will probably be named Dexter. You may send him on a journey around the world. LeBron and Emma will be so proud. Don't ever tell any of your friends you did this. Unless LeBron James actually is your friend, in which case, you probably didn't read this far.

We all have our ideal partner waiting out there for us, somewhere, and we're often convinced it's some celebrity who would 'totally dig us if they just got the chance to meet'. You could either pursue this in real life with messy legal ramifications, or save yourself the effort, the emotional turmoil and the lengthy jail sentence by dating a Mii facsimile.

You may even learn something, after all. For example, once upon a time if you told me that Miranda Priestley from The Devil Wears Prada would consider romancing Topher Grace while he was inexplicably dressed as a farmer, I'd dismiss that as impossible. Now, I know the truth, and there is indeed love in the air.

...Though I'm mildly concerned about ramifications from her besmirched ex, Walter White. Topher's best course would be to tread lightly. Or beat Walter in a rap battle. That's always an option.

3. You will be rewarded for being attractive

In Pokémon X and Y, you're finally provided with the opportunity to customise the appearance of your trainer. You can give them silly little hats and hairstyles, and make your avatar seem really unique. Alas, they'll always have the same goofy grin on their face, and are perpetually locked in as a prepubescent child. I wanted to make my trainer an overweight Asian man with a mighty beard, but the option was not available to me. Maybe in gen 7.

One of the curious mechanics is that your wardrobe choices will actually have an effect on how people view you in the world of Kalos. Strutting the streets in a beanie and an old coat? You'll be paying full price for everything, and barred access from the coolest places like some kind of leper. Snazzify yourself up, and you'll be treated like royalty. When the cab driver first discounts your fare because of how hot you look, you feel flattered. ...And then, a little bit creeped out, because, like, you're eight years old or whatever. Don't get back in the cab.

And the less said about Mr. Bonding, the better. The mysterious fade out as he 'teaches' you is bad enough, but the fact that you have to look stylish enough in order for him to gift you with the final O-Power (which is, ironically, the power to hatch eggs) is simply cruel. Why are we not good enough for you anymore, Mr. Bonding? Aren't we pretty anymore? Why won't you bond with me?!

... Eight year olds, Dude.

4. Raising a Nintendog is much easier than raising a real dog

As the wise Milhouse Van Houten once opined, 'Dogs are outstanding!', and indeed, they are. They'll be your friends for life, giving you the unconditional love of a true companion. In return, however, you must do the following things: feed them, walk them, train them, clean up after them, and just generally take care of them. As though they were your hairy offspring.

Sound like too much work? Then grab yourself a copy of Nintendogs. For a fraction of the cost of one real pooch, you've now scored yourself dozens of puppies. And, yeah, some cats too, if you're some kind of sick freak.

Sure, you are supposed to do the same kind of things; the feeding, training and poop collecting, but you could just as easily not. On several occasions, I've left my Nintendogs unattended for months on end, but when I walk through that door, there they are! They're filthy and famished, sure, but they aren't emaciated corpses scattered about the living room, and the husky hasn't killed the pug out of hunger or boredom.

Plus, these dogs can make you money! Enter them in contests, fling a Frisbee off into the distance, and watch in amazement as your Jack Russell Terrier does an incredible midair flip before coming down with the disc in his mouth. Aww, little Mr. Pepper won you a trophy! Let's reward him by sending him off to the doggy hotel (read: the pound) so you can buy one of the more expensive dog breeds.

It's a cruel world in there, but I haven't been bitten once, so I can't be doing too badly. Besides, if Animal Crossing is to be believed, these dogs are about as intelligent as the Kardashians. They probably haven't even noticed.

5. Combining two people to see what their baby will look like always leads to tears

I think a divorce is the best course of action here.

Friday, January 9, 2015

5 amiibo Crossovers That Would Be Awesome

Nintendo have proven time and time again that they rather enjoy your money. Apologists may try to dismiss this concept, but ask anyone who ever bought the first version of a Nintendo handheld. After about a year, a better version is released, causing you to jettison the old one like it was a discarded tissue. A $150 tissue that your parents probably bought you for Christmas, no less.

Their latest foray into dollar gobbling comes in the form of the amiibos. For those unfamiliar, they are small, Skylanders-esque figurines that you can touch onto the Wii U gamepad to interact with certain games. The most fleshed out example so far is their implementation in Smash Bros. Place your cute little Kirby amiibo onto the gamepad, and voila! He's in the game, as an AI-controlled character that you get to train like a pet. You teach him, of course, by beating the everlasting shit out of him. In response, he grows meaner and more ruthless with each skirmish, while occasionally giving you presents and trophies. It's the Nintendo cockfighting you've always longed for!

In the case of Smash, there will theoretically be an amiibo for every single playable character, so start saving up now. Then, try and see if you will ever find a single other opportunity to use your Duck Hunt amiibo again. I suggest while on an actual hunting trip, brandishing it whenever your friend misses their target. Be warned, they might actually shoot you for this.

Some amiibos have also had interactivity with other games; Mario Kart allows certain figurines to provide your Mii characters with costumes, while the Zelda-related amiibos give you special items in Hyrule Warriors. And this is where things get interesting: how does one dictate which characters will be compatible with each game? The Mario cast were obvious locks for Mario Kart, but considering you can make your Mii cosplay as Fox McCloud, the alternative opportunities are limitless.

Here are some potential crossovers that would be undoubtedly awesome:

Mario in Wii Fit

For a man capable of doing backflips, springing onto roofs and literally jumping off of walls, Mario sure is a portly fellow. He must be doing some serious binge eating between each adventure. But we can help change things from 'he fat' to 'Wii Fit' by replacing the eerie monochrome trainers with Nintendo's mascot.

Besides, we've known Mario all our lives, we love Mario, we trust Mario. "Let's stretch-a our legs, wahoo!" Mario advises. And so, we stretch-a our legs. "Hoo! Take-a da deep breath." He instructs. Da breath has never been deeper. "Try to keep-a your center of balance within da yellow area - OK?" ...Actually, it's hard to picture that in Mario's voice. This coming from a guy who learnt how to play backgammon from Mario.

The only concern would be whether featuring the famous Jumpman would lead to people actually leaping on the balance board during mini-games. For the record, such a transgression leads to you being automatically booted from the game. That balance board sure doesn't mess around.

Mega Man in Zelda

Link's got all of the tools and the gadgets in the world, who else could have an arsenal wide enough to tackle the vast landscape of Hyrule? Why, Mega Man of course, a hero infamous for stealing the abilities of slain foes like Sylar from Heroes, or Jet Li in The One, or Zynga whenever they make a new game.

The point is, Mega Man has a tool for every situation. Need a melee weapon to mow through legions of minions? Equip the Flame Sword and lay hellfire in your wake. Can't reach that elusive Heart Container? Climb aboard the Rush Jet and zip over with ease. Faced up with a particularly nasty enemy with no apparent weakness? Use the Top Spin, and spin at them like a maniac to cause massive, inexplicable damage. Seriously, Shadow Man, you disappoint me.

And just think of all of the Zelda bosses you've encountered over the years. Sure, completing their dungeon would score you a sweet new weapon in the process, but how much better would it be if you could steal the bosses' own powers? From the Helmasaur King's mighty shielded noggin to Barinade's electrified jellyfish, the range of awesome tools you could have at your disposal is scintillating. Props to any person who activates Gyorg ability to turn into an angry fish. Because that's not quite as cool, obviously.

Pikachu in Metroid

Since their appearance as allies in Smash Bros Brawl, the Internet has embraced the concept of Samus teaming up with Pikachu. Perhaps it's because of Samus' colourful past of enlisting the services of local animals, or something far more complex, but a quick search reveals that fans have fallen in love with the unlikely duo. It also leads you to drawings and fanfiction that take you down the darkest corridors of the human mind, so there's that.

So far, amiibo implementation has never given you anything too hugely different from the typical gameplay experience, but introducing Pikachu as Samus' little adventuring chum could change all that. Imagine if certain areas were only accessible after the little electric mouse. If you could use his voltage to recharge certain weapons. If Pikachu could one-hit KO Ridley for no definable reason other than to bemuse us all. Would purists cry foul at the tie-in? Or did purists already bail out after Other M?

The juxtaposition of the dark, sinister world of Metroid and the cuddly little Pokémon is also an amusing image that could only be topped by the juxtaposition of Metroid with Wario. Would there have been as much fanart of a Samus/Wario crossover? I shudder to think.

Captain Falcon in Star Fox

The obvious route here is for the amiibo to provide aesthetic changes to the Arwing. And though it would no doubt be cool to travel the Lylat system in the Blue Falcon, they should take it further. Much, much further. I'm talking about replacing perennial wingman Falco with Captain Falcon himself.

Can you imagine it? The banter-heavy Star Fox universe improved drastically by Captain Falcon's completely irrelevant one-liners.

Fox: "Just what I need to see. Star Wolf."
Falcon: "Show me your moves!"

Fox: "Falco! Where you going?"
Falcon: "Falcon kiiiiiick!"

Fox: (upon crashing to his death) "Ahhhhhhhhh!!!"
Falcon: "YES."

Perhaps his inclusion could even make the game harder, as he occasionally rams into other ships, friend or foe, while screaming out "Falcon PAWNCH". You'd hate it until he started targeting Slippy, be honest.

The Villager in Mortal Kombat

Okay, so this one strays from the realm of Nintendo IPs, but we all know that the true malice of Animal Crossing's Villager is being limited by the games he's confined to. In a world of hell-bound sorcerers, zombified Shaolin monks, and whatever Mokap's deal was, the Villager would simply thrive. He collects bugs, he collects souls.

His shovel and axe make for obvious weapon choices, but the most exciting concept is trying to work out what his Fatalities would be. Whether he uses his fishing rod to tear a skeleton from its skin, or unleashes an army of angry tarantulas from his pockets upon hapless enemies, his visage would be remembered across the NetherRealm for generations to come.

Just... don't ask me what fighting style he would use. Surely judo would suit his short stature, but he doesn't appear to have great upper body strength. In actuality, he would probably only be able to punch people in the nads, and that technique remains the intellectual property of Johnny Cage.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


So, in the Ninja Turtles opening theme... What in the fuck is with the mysterious column of boxes that Splinter beats the shit out of? I never questioned it as a kid, but now I wonder what its nature was, and how any form of ninjutsu training can be based upon smashing it to (ironic) splinters.

You might not have asked yourself this, but you most surely cannot un-ask yourself now.