Youmacon 2012 Recap

As finals loom around the corner for me, I went with a couple friends to Youmacon the past weekend, and it was awesome! Here’s a small recap:

– My friend Mike’s rainbow radio.

– Circling the Renaissance Center 4 times before finally figuring out where to stop so I could go check in.

– Circling the Renaissance Center an additional 2 times to find parking. We got a fantastic spot!

– Detroit is a nice city at night. It looks awful during the day. And it was empty! There were a few homeless guys, but other than that, there was no one walking around except con-goers. It was a strange sight for someone who walks around Chicago almost every day.

– I forgot to bring Brawl, so I spent a couple hours looking for an ISO and downloading it, only to find that it didn’t work. In the couple nights that followed, we found that we didn’t have enough Wiimotes to play New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Mario Kart Wii kept freezing. At least Mario Party 2 and Smash 64 worked!

– Watching CPU’s in Mario Party 2 is hilarious. LOL.

– We waited 3 hours for pre-reg on Friday. The normal registration line moved faster than we were! On the flip side, I got over 30 passes in Pokémon just by waiting in line.

– When we found the casual game room, I went to go play Brawl, and cheered for some Link player who got absolutely bodied because of me. LOL.

– After he got up and I sat down, the kid who had just won (and told me when I asked if I could get in that he, “needed a challenge,” very rudely told me that I could enter my name at the character select screen instead of in the options, and I had to explain to him that I have my own personalized controls. I then proceeded to win.

– My friend Mike then sat down, and the kid told him, as Mike was entering his own controls, that his controls were fine. He was soooo salty that he lost to me the round before. LOL. I don’t like rude kids, so I went Mario, told Mike to go Luigi, and proceeded to absolutely annihilate him. Don’t be rude to ex-competitive Brawl players, son!

– We watched two godlike American Dad and Family Guy episodes.

– Room service for the Marriott is godlike. We got a pizza on a super-fancy table, complete with silverware and glasses of water! The pizza was the best food I had the entire weekend.

– I got an ice cream cone at McDonald’s, and the woman (who was clearly stressed out) gave me a huge-ass cone, and I accidentally said, “Holy shit,” as I got it, and told her that she made the best ice cream cone I’ve ever gotten, which I’m sure brightened her evening considering all the rude people she must’ve encountered.

– For the first time, I didn’t finish an ice cream cone from McDonald’s.

– LIVE ACTION MARIO PARTY!

– I participated in the dancing mini game and totally got jipped of winning my team 10 coins because the judge systematically kicked me and the other guy off, and let the two girls participating dance for another minute until making his decision. Next year I’m gonna bust out shit that’ll guarantee me a win!

– Hanging out with the Michigan Brawl scene was super fun. I wish I could see them more often.

– I beat some kid in Pokémon with just Sigilyph because he let me set up all 6 Cosmic Powers. He was mad. LOL.

– I need to make a shirt signifying that I’m not Ash Ketchum, but Slam Dunkum! I also need a B-Ball Pokéball to make the costume complete.

– Watching Marvel was hyyyyype! I gotta start stream monstering more.

– I think I should go to more panels. I only went to one: Live Action Mario Party.

– If I had a swag coach, he wouldn’t want me to tell people that I have a swag coach, so I do not have a swag coach

– SWAG!

– The Dealer’s Room was awesome, though not as good as ACen’s. Still, I got a sweet Youmacon shot glass and some sick art from Artist’s Alley. I didn’t buy anything crazy like I did at ACen, and I’m glad I didn’t. $80 for an Espeon plush? No thanks.

– It is nigh impossible to find Clannad merchandise, and it’s impossible to find Nagisa Furukawa. I just want one Nagisa plush, dammit! Is that too much to ask for?!

– On Sunday, I walked down 46 flights of stairs with my suitcase and backpack. My legs are still sore today!

– I bought 8-bit sunglasses and wore them inside and at night. During the car ride home, when the sun was in my eyes, I didn’t wear them. LOL.

And that’s it! Overall, the weekend was awesome. If I have enough money, I’ll definitely be attending next year!

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NSMB2 DLC 2 and more thoughts on Pokémon Black 2

Youmacon, Detroit’s premier anime convention, is happening this week, which I’m incredibly excited for. But, I already wrote about some do’s and don’ts at conventions last Spring, so I’m instead going to post my thoughts on Black 2 (as far as I am), and the new NSMB2 DLC that came out last week. Let’s start with Pokémon Black 2!

Pokémon Black 2

So far, I have 6 badges and am currently stopped at Cobalon (I’m going to RNG him with 31 IV’s and a good nature so I can EV him and hopefully use him in a team if I feel like it), and so far am loving the game.

When I make a team, I generally just look for a team that wasn’t a team caught in the beginning, and try to give myself superior coverage and the like. This time, I decided to copy the team the male protagonist of Black/White 2 in the animated trailer has, and so I have an Emboar, Lucario, and Arcanine (nick-named Slamboar, Dunkario, and Jamanine, respectively). Needless to say, Burgh was a piece of cake thanks to my having two fire-types. To top it off, I caught an Eevee (wild Eevee are incredible), and was going to give myself a Jolteon to destroy water-types, but the one I caught had a modest nature, so I turned it into an Espeon (my favorite pokémon). Coincidentally, I’ve never gotten an Espeon before for an in-game team, so it’s awesome to finally be using my favorite pokémon for the story mode. I normally nick-name my Espeon Anzu, but it’s male, so I named it Slameon. Coincidentally, the next Eevee I caught was Timid-natured, so I will be having a Jolteon soon! I got Genesect (named Genesect because I don’t nick-name legendary pokémon), at the very beginning of the game, and that’s my current team. I have a Ducklett that I use as an HM slave, but once I get the new dragon I’ll be using that on my team.

The game’s story is not too bad. The in-game scenes do not give the animated trailer justice, but I wasn’t expecting anything crazy. I haven’t actually really gotten too deep into the story. I’ve only encountered Plasma a couple times, although the old Plasma team in Driftviel city is pretty cool. Also, it’s AWESOME that you do bump into the other protagonist and that he/she has a purpose. I haven’t confirmed it, but I think she’s the subway boss for the Battle Subway singles, and if that’s true I’ll be really hyped.

Once I finally finish the story mode, I’ll put up my review where I’ll go more into the other cool little features, but those are my thoughts (and my team) so far.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 DLC 2

The two new courses for NSMB2’s Coin Rush are actually really good – they’re much more difficult than their two previous DLC counterparts (which are collect tons of coins and then a more competitive-oriented level). I nailed 30,000 on the first one without breaking a sweat, but the second one I just kinda ran through, but I found a few routes I can use to maximize my score. I need to find a good route for the first level, though. Stupid Boo Houses.

Just sayin’

REVIEW: New Super Mario Bros. 2

New Super Mario Bros. 2, according to most reviews that I was reading online, was sub-par compared to its predecessor, New Super Mario Bros. So when I picked it up and started playing with my brother, I wasn’t expecting too much, and what I got was something that, to me, was just as good as – if not better – than New Super Mario Bros.

Atmosphere (Music/Graphics):

This is the worst part of New Super Mario Bros. 2. The graphics and music are exactly the same as New Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. While those worlds, models, backgrounds, and music are all passable and allow you to enjoy the game, I was hoping for something a little different. Maybe a different song here and an entirely new level there. If you look at New Super Mario Bros. U, you notice that the style of the game is completely different in backgrounds and in actual models (except for Mario), and I was hoping they’d do something like that with New Super Mario Bros. 2. I mean, would it have killed Nintendo to put in a monochrome or all gold/silver world? That would’ve been cool!

Gameplay:

Where New Super Mario Bros. 2 excels is in its gameplay. I haven’t really played the game solo yet, instead opting to complete the game with my brother, but I would assume it’s still as fun as the rest of the New Super Mario Bros. series. The amount of coins is the only difference you’re going to see in gameplay, and while you’ll probably be obtaining a ridiculous amount of lives, the levels aren’t drop-dead easy, and trying to get as many coins as possible is harder than you think. But let’s talk about the co-op.

The co-op is, simply put, fantastic. Not only do you get a x2 coin bonus when both Mario and Luigi are on-screen, but the levels are just begging to be played in co-op. So far, there is only one level my brother and I found ridiculously difficult with two players, but other than that, every level has been awesome for co-op. In reviews, I heard that the camera is a gripe, but I disagree. My brother and I have been able to stay on-screen for most of our time playing, and when we haven’t, there’s the ever-omnipotent bubble to bring us back together. Many of the harder challenges in single-player (like getting to a specific warp pipe) is made simple in co-op, but it still requires a degree of skill to learn how to bounce each other around (especially when moving forward).

The camera itself will not only focus on Mario. If Mario dies, Luigi is the first to go through a warp pipe, or Luigi reaches the checkpoint first, the camera will switch to him (and vice-versa if the camera is on Luigi). Also, you can take the camera away performing a ground pound on the bro with the camera. Sometimes, the bro without the camera will fall behind and be caught in a bubble loop, but this has happened so few times that it’s negligible to really talk about. If you and your friend are roughly the same level of player, you shouldn’t be having any problems with the camera.

Aside from the co-op, there’s one extra feature that I am currently addicted to, and that is Coin Rush. Coin Rush is very simple – you are randomly selected 3 levels (the last always being a mid-point or ending castle), and you have 100 seconds for each level to get through it as fast as you can and collect as many coins as you can. As a gamer who loves to speed run, this mode is right up my alley, and I love it.

The best part is the ability to play as either regular Mario or White Raccoon Mario (which is a Tanooki Suit and Star combined). This lends itself to some rather interesting strategy – should you play as regular Mario or White Raccoon Mario? I’m sure some of you are thinking White Raccoon Mario, but you’d be wrong – regular Mario is usually the better choice, and here’s why: golden hoops. If you go through a red hoop, you have the ability to get 8 red coins – if you go through a golden hoop, then every enemy becomes golden and has different properties to earn coins (Koopas leave a trail of coins behind them, Lakitus throw coins, Boos spawn coins behind them and run away from you, etc…). As regular Mario, you can take advantage of jumping on Goombas and earning more coins with every consecutive bounce or following a golden koopa shell as it spawns coins after being kicked. Regular Mario has access to the Gold Fire Flower, which makes Mario’s Fire Ball turn everything into coins. White Raccoon Mario does not have access to those, and that really makes the difference in the amount of coins you can get. However, there are certain levels where White Raccoon Mario outperforms regular Mario.

Now, since it’s random when playing normal Coin Rush, this isn’t really something to think about – but when you start using Street Pass to pass along your best record (which you can save), you can challenge those records (meaning you play the same three levels they did), and that’s where picking which Mario to play becomes important.

New Super Mario Bros. 2, while really lacking new graphics and music, makes up for it with its incredible co-op and surprisingly deep Coin Rush mode. If you’re a fan of the New Super Mario Bros. series, definitely pick this game up.

Score:

Atmosphere: 5/10

Gameplay: 10/10

Overall: 7/10

Just sayin’

Was E3 2012 as horrible as it was made out to be?

E3, one of the big gaming events of the year, was last week, and although I had finals, I did take some time to explore E3 and what it had to offer. As I perused, I noticed that almost everyone held the same opinion about the event as a whole – that it sucked. And I found myself disagreeing. Ultimately, I think it’s because too many gamers aren’t critically thinking about what decisions each company has to make and because they were expecting big surprises, but I digress; let’s dive into the big three conferences, first:

Microsoft:

This was the worst conference according to popular opinion, and I do agree that Microsoft’s was under the bar. There was a lot of ‘apps’ being shown and not a lot of games – of course, there was Halo 4, Gears of War, and the like, but this is a problem that every company had – a lot of their games shown were of franchises that have been out for years. In short, they’re safe bets, but I’ll talk about why I don’t think this is that bad later. Besides that, Smart Glass looks cool – if they can pull something off with it next year I’ll be impressed.

It seems to me that Microsoft is trying its arrest to be that one system that every family wants to have – a true entertainment hub. Honestly, I think it’ll do fine – great, even – if it gets there. I think anyone can see why they’re trying to go for the ‘entertainment hub’ angle. If they beat Sony to the punch, they’ll pull out ahead.

Sony:

Sony’s was definitely better – a new God of War, Tomb Raider, Beyond, and The Last of Us all looked solid, and as you can see, a mix of some newer games. There was a lot about the Vita and ‘apps’, though, which disappointed a lot of people, but like Microsoft, Sony is trying to be a hub of entertainment for people. Sony’s style usually is, “take something and make it better,” so when you look at how Sony has developed, it’s easy to see why they’re trying to bring out new material to show that they can make better ‘apps’ than Microsoft and Nintendo. And they still had some great-looking games thrown in. The Wonderbook is a huge source of anger for gamers, but I found this to be fascinating. I realize that many hardcore gamers think this is trash, but look at the possibilities! Now, Sony has a way to compete with Nintendo for younger ages. In a market where Nintendo generally dominates the younger market thanks to kid-friendly characters like Mario and Kirby, parents may now decide to purchase a Playstation and Wonderbook instead.

It has to be good, so I’m not really sold, but it has a lot of potential.

Nintendo:

Because Nintendo is more of a first-party developer than a third-party one like Microsoft and Sony, it had a lot more on the line when it came to their franchises. What’s more, it had 3 conferences to cover everything it wanted to. I only saw the press conference and 3DS Showcase, so that’s what I’ll be talking about here.

The press conference, I thought, was just as good as Sony’s. The Wii U looks awesome, and I can’t wait to get my hands on one. What really jumped at me was Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Pikmin 3, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, and ZombiU. All of them look awesome, and because I am a huge fan of Nintendo, I do intend to purchase all of those games. The Super Mario’s looked good, and Nintendo Land looked interesting and fun. One of my problems with the conference was how long they took to explain one mini-game in Nintendo Land. It was really stupid. Besides that, Nintendo’s press conference, I thought, was good.

Their 3DS showcase was, for me, AWESOME. I got to finally see some real Paper Mario: Sticker Star gameplay, which I’ve been wanting for a long time, and hearing the New Super Mario Bros. 2 is co-op was a pleasant surprise. The new Castlevania game coming to 3DS looked nice, and they showed Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance with better trailers than ones I had seen before. The new Epic Mickey I did not care for, and it didn’t look very good to me.

——

All in all, I enjoyed all three conferences, which many people I talked to were surprised to hear. Many wanted something new and big. They wanted a huge surprise like Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs (which does look sick!) but instead got games that were, as I said before, safe bets. But that isn’t bad. Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony all laid their new cards (Wii U, Smart Glass, Wonderbook) on the table, and to complement that they laid out games that will, more or less, sell well. This allows them to work on new games and hopefully have some big surprises next year.

The 3DS showcase garnered a lot of disappointment because it only showed games we had already heard of and games releasing this year, and this is not just Nintendo – all three companies were getting complaints about this. To that, I ask – why would they show you something that’s going to be released next year? Wouldn’t that be something for another event like the Tokyo Game Show? Maybe next year’s E3? It just didn’t make sense to me.

While I was watching the 3DS showcase, all the comments were, “Where’s the new Animal Crossing/Zelda/Fire Emblem?!” Hey, guys, ever thought about them coming out next year? Why get gameplay for something that’s not going to come out for another year or two? That’s a stupid thing to do, in my opinion.

Just wait until next year’s E3 – that’s when I think all the surprises are coming. For now, I’ll be content with my Super Mario’s and Paper Mario‘s and ZombiU.

Just Sayin’.

P.S.: I would comment on the booths, but I wasn’t there. I heard all of them had way more games than showcased during the presentations, so that’s good to hear!