Super Mario Maker, Sky Rogue, and Stipple Effects

24 09 2015

Super Mario Maker came out two weeks ago and I’ve been having an absolute blast with it. The Mario Paint influence can be felt throughout the game; from the title screen having the same “mess with the letters to see things happen”, the Rocket eraser to clear a level, and a somewhat well-hidden Gnat Attack/Coffee Break minigame that even unlocks another version of Mario for you to mess around with via the Mystery Mushroom. There’s other stuff there of course (sound effects you can add also coming from Mario Paint in some ways) but if I went on and on about that we’d be here all day.

I could try to explain this, but I don’t think you’d believe me.

 

Super Mario Maker is a very comprehensive level editor so people can make their own Mario levels in one of four styles (SuperĀ  Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U). Players can place blocks, enemies, powerups, hidden powerups, coins, etc. etc. etc. to make their own take on Mario’s adventures or just make something really unfair and vicious if they want to keep making Expert mode really impossible . After you’ve made a level you then have to beat it before it can be uploaded for the masses to stumble through.

One of the neat things Nintendo did was go back and add things to game styles that didn’t necessarily have certain enemies when the game came out (example: Thwomps and Wigglers in the original SMB, as well as Airship tilesets for SMB and SMW, stuff like that). Another neat thing is that you are not necessarily limited by what Nintendo would do. After all, Nintendo levels didn’t have things like Spiny’s riding giant Goombas, or Bullet Bill Launchers that shoot Coins at you, or The ability to jump into a Koopa Clown Car and terrorize enemies from above. It’s this sort of expanded innovation that allows the formulas of Mario to stay grounded yet with room for expansion.

There are some downsides, of course. Nintendo doesn’t really have a good grip on curating all this user-generated content so popular level makers/YouTube personalities will always be at the top of the list while the rest of us struggle for attention. In addition, the Expert Mode of the 100 Mario Challenge (beat 16 levels with 100 lives) is nearly impossible at this point, with most of the levels in there being the kind of Kaizo-level insanity that only the obsessive can beat. That said, I’d imagine over time as people get more accustomed to what makes a good level, we’ll see less and less impossible stuff and more just plain challenging stuff.

Also we still don’t quite have everything from the four Mario games listed. Inclined surfaces like in Mario 3 and World aren’t in, nor is the Angry Sun from SMB3. But there’s already rumors of (hopefully free) DLC to add this kind of stuff, and Nintendo has expressed interest in expanding the toolset. I hope the game continues to do well so that it does.

I’ve also been playing, and modding, Sky Rogue, which is an Arcade flight sim that seems to mix a bunch of styles together, like Nintendo’s Star Fox, and Sega’s Wing War, as well as adding a slight Roguelike twist on it.


In Sky Rogue you select a plane, select your weapons, and embark on an increasingly dangerous series of missions launched from a SHIELD-esque floating aircraft carrier in an effort to defeat enemies controlling an archipelago of islands. It’s tough but a lot of fun, and I’m a big fan of the retro, low-poly aesthetic, reminding me of Sega’s mid 90s arcade games like Virtua Racing, the aforementioned Wing War, and so on.Combat is pretty tense, with players having to frequently dodge missiles while firing off their own on a variety of targets both ground and air-based; and of course since this has a roguelike element, if you die not only do you start back at day 1 but you also just might lose some of the new weapons you researched, so you have to weigh the risks and the benefits of taking such weapons with you.

The game recently got released on Steam in Early Access, and along with that also got Steam Workshop support, so that players can add their own planes, skins, and emblems. I took the opportunity to make a version of the de Havilland Sea Vixen jet fighter from the 1960s for the game, and because I’m a huge nerd I made a fake ad for it that you can see below:

The game still has a ways to go before it’s really complete but it’s definetely worth the $9.99 price tag and it’s a lot of fun. Feels very much like you’re in an episode of Macross or again playing something like Star Fox (specifically more like an All-Range Mode mission, but w/e)

Lastly I’ve also been getting back into doing texture works…which didn’t actually involve a lot of Stipple Effects but shut up I needed a third S for the title. I’m working on a texture and material pack for Unity which is going to be primarly of office textures. Things like carpet, cubicle desk surfaces, cubicle walls, and of course, drop ceilings

I’m especially proud of this because this is my first attempt in a long time of doing an emissive map for a texture and it came out great. Hope to have the whole thing done in a few weeks, time permitting.





Splatoon is the best Multiplayer game of 2015

19 08 2015

I figure if clickbaity titles work so well, why not? Anyway yes I’ve been playing a lot of Splatoon lately, and it’s probably the most fun I’ve had with a multiplayer shooter in a long time. And it’s made by Nintendo. How weird is that? I don’t know how it happened but in the last year or so Nintendo went from not having a clue how to do good online to figuring it out and putting out an amazing new IP that has taken off despite the lukewarm critic reviews.

I can’t really think of a shooter as colorful as this right now except maybe for Team Fortress 2 but TF2 still deals mostly in greys and browns for its environments, whereas Splatoon is colorful. Most of that of course is thanks to the large quantities of ink that both sides end up covering the playing fields in, but even the environments normally tend to feel lively (though Bluefin Depot suffers a bit from being a bit too rusty and brown in most spots). Even better, for Splatfests when the matches take place at night, everyone’s ink is bio luminescent which is super cool.

Aside from the graphics, the gameplay is also really good as well. Matches are fast because they’re all timed, so regardless of whether it’sĀ  a entirely timed mode (Turf War) or a mode that involves points (Splat Zones, Tower Control, etc.), the match will still pretty much end when the clock goes to zero. This let’s people quickly jump in and play a game, or two, and not spend any more than 10 minutes doing it. Other benefits in gameplay include no voice chat so people who think they deserve to have their horrible words heard by everybody cannot do so. This has also had the effect of creating a community that seems very light on any sort of terrible stuff even though this is a game with Miiverse support. Speaking of, the Miiverse stuff is integrated in a pretty cool way. If people draw Miiverse posts, they’ll show up in-game as grafitti art, signboard art, and also as art in the background of the splatfest hub world during Splatfest. It adds some liveliness to an already lively world. Plus some of these Miiverse artists are great

I also feel that with Splatoon, Nintendo has finally realized a multiplayer shooter ideal that they kind of started to get towards with Steel Diver: Sub Wars for the 3DS. The matchmaking system feels similar, as does the lack of voice communication and the rigidly timed (and fast) matches. The difference of course was that Sub Wars was not really advertised at all, wheras Nintendo went all in with Splatoon and knocked it out of the park. Maybe Sub Wars was a prototype for this kind of online gameplay, we’ll probably never know. Either way I’m glad Nintendo has created a great multiplayer shooter that can’t be destroyed by an awful community, and with them continuing to add free weapons and maps and modes to it constantly, they’re clearly ready and willing to support it for as long as they can.