Posts Tagged ‘Nintendo

06
Jul
08

Food of the Game Gods: Part 4/4

In the previous postings we’ve looked at the on-site and off-site culinary options offered at EA Redwood Shores, Ubisoft Montreal, and Microsoft. Now it’s time to visit the home of Mario…and I’m hoping there’s more than mushrooms on the menu.

Where: Nintendo of America in Redmond, Washington

Why I was there: I made my first trip to Nintendo almost exactly a year ago to work on the guide for Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. This was also the first time I had to play an entire game on-site, requiring a two-week stay. Fortunately, I had a mapper with me (David Bueno) who helped expedite the process as we fought (and mapped) our way through Samus’ latest adventure. But I wasn’t the only Prima author setting up camp in the Pikachu conference room last summer. Steve Stratton was there too working on Phantom Hourglass; later joined by Levi. On our first day, Steve showed David and I around, making sure we knew where to go for breakfast, lunch…or any other time we needed something to eat.

The Facility: Café Mario is located on Nintendo’s second floor, just down the hall from the employee store and museum. A line-up of culinary choices welcome you as you enter the cafeteria, including a large salad bar on the left and a number of hot and made-to-order options on the right. The dining area is reasonably spacious with plenty of seating options, even during the height of the lunch hour. Windows line one entire wall, providing plenty of natural light which complement the warm colors on the walls. More seating is available outside on a large patio. During E3 last year they setup a mini-E3 in the back corner of the indoor dining area for all the employees who couldn’t attend the real show. This allowed the employees (and even visitors like us) to try out some of the new stuff; Wii Fit was a big hit.

The Food: Operated by Sodexo, Café Mario offers everything from snacks to full meals, serving hot dishes daily for breakfast and lunch. While I never ate breakfast there, the smell of bacon, eggs, sausage, and hash browns were a daily temptation as I wandered in for my morning bottle of orange juice. Given my lengthy stay, I had plenty of time to explore the lunch menu. For the most part the menu is static, but signature dishes are provided on different days of the week, constantly offering a fresh selection for their regular customers. I sampled a few of the grill items (including the Luigi Burger) but quickly became attached to the salad bar and make-your-own sandwich counter. Pizza by the slice is offered too, which I often enjoyed with a side salad. No matter what I ordered, the damage rarely exceeded $5, which is a great deal considering the quality and quantity of food provided.

Alternatives: Nintendo is located in a somewhat isolated office park. So if you want to go off-site, you better have a car. Redmond Town Center is only a short jaunt up highway 520 offering plenty of great restaurants like Ruby’s Diner, Thai Ginger, Claim Jumper, and Desert Fire. A variety of fast food restaurants are located on Redmond Way too. During my stays (I was there a few weeks later for Battalion Wars 2) I never felt the need to go out for lunch. I could always find the variety I wanted at Café Mario. It seems most of the employees feel the same way. I even saw Reggie Phils-Aime loading up at the salad bar one day. So if it’s good enough for Reggie, it’s good enough for me.

19
May
08

Mario Kart Wii: Guide Creation Blog 3 of 3

As I was nearing the end of my stay at Nintendo, I made sure I mined Nintendo’s test department for all the information I needed to ensure a complete and accurate guide. Some of the most important tactical advice in the guide comes directly from the pro-gamers at Nintendo of America, Europe, and Japan! I was fortunate enough to witness amazing and often crazy Ghost Data battles between Nintendo’s continental companies, and use the insane Time Trial laps directly in the guide. For example, the very best racers posted their Ghost Times over the course of months, and I utilized these racing lines exclusively, so that you can try to meet or beat these amazing records! Not only that, but the recommended vehicle and rider is also shown, along with the time itself!

 

Have you found all the drivers and riders in this game? Check the guide out for all the info!

 

 

The information doesn’t just end there though; I made sure to explain just how to obtain every hidden character, vehicle, course, cup, and ending that the game has to offer. If you thought just racing through the Grand Prix mode eventually yields everything this game has hidden away, think again! Naturally, I also mention how every ground texture affects your speed, I give a complete list of every course enemy wandering around, from the waddling Goomba to the fearsome Chain Chomp. And let’s not forget the method of ensuring you get a Turbo Start each time, every time! As I unlocked all of the characters and vehicles, I made sure to give tactical advice for driving any combination of vehicle you could ever use.

 

But the fun doesn’t end with the racing portion of the game (and guide). The Battle Mode; pitting teams in arenas to pop opponents’ balloons or collect coins, is shown in detail, along with item locations and tactics for each map. Did you know you can actually steal balloons from your foes? You’ll know how if you pick up the guide! In the end, I came away from my stay at Nintendo dizzy, and not just because of the 12-hour playtesting I’d been doing for the previous two weeks; this is the most involved, most addictive, and craziest Mario Kart ever made. From the brand-new power-ups to all the modes both offline and on, I made sure to squeeze in every last tactic and place it into a guide that’s as beautiful as it is informative. 

 

Purchase the only Official Mario Kart Strategy Guide HERE!

 

05
May
08

Mario Kart Wii: Guide Creation Blog 2 of 3

As my time tearing through Mario Kart Wii continued, I began to experiment with the five different control types in the game. All of them offer excellent maneuvering for your kart and characters, and first in my hands was the all-new wheel, in which you slot the Wiimote. Although this gets tiring (perhaps due to my daily 12-hour marathon karting sessions), it’s also arguably the most fun, as you steer using the wheel as expected, and use the Wiimote’s d-pad to throw items back or forward. This is important, as accurate banana trajectories can win or lose a race! As I continued to test out the different gameplay modes, I also noticed that my Ghost times (which are saved after you complete a Time Trial race) were accompanied by a wheel icon; showing all your rivals just how hardcore you are!

 

Also hardcore? This INSANE shortcut through the craziest Rainbow Road course ever seen!

 

Although the Wii Wheel was one of the most novel ways to steer around the twisting turns of the 32 different courses, there were other options that were just as entertaining. My personal favorite was the good old Nunchuk and Wiimote combo, with the Nunchuk responsible for steering, and a quick flick of the Wiimote when you wanted to perform a Trick. Tricks are another all-new feature to this game, and you’re able to attempt one as soon as you hit the air from a ramp or other jump. Execute a Trick, and your character tries a stylish flip, or does the splits, before you land with a quick turbo boost of speed. This is another great way to gain the edge on your opponents! I also enjoyed the classic GameCube controller, which really allows you to enjoy a control scheme you’ll be familiar with if you played Double Dash.

 

As my time at Nintendo continued, I sped through and memorized more and more of the tracks. To ensure there’s more than enough choices for everyone, Nintendo has incorporated 16 “retro” courses; tracks like the classic Ghost Valley 2 from the Super Nintendo, or Peach Beach from the Gamecube, and mixed them into different cups. This allows you to retry pre-existing courses that usually have less in the way of jumps and bumps, or select the newer courses with more undulation. Of course, there are 16 brand new tracks to figure out as well, and all of them offer a ludicrously large amount of fun. Some are truly frightening too; try completing the all-new Rainbow Road without a major twinge of vertigo! As I continued to play the game, I began to unlock some truly spectacular secrets….

 

Next time: I finally get to grips with the real racing lines, and burst some balloons in the frantic Battle Mode!

 

Purchase the only Official Mario Kart Strategy Guide HERE!

 

01
May
08

Miyamoto, Your Times Most Influential

Doing my morning news read, I came across the Your Times 100 (whom readers think should be on the Top 100 List of Most Influential) I was surprised (and delighted) to find that riding into the number one spot was Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo fame.  He has apparently never appeared on a Time cover before and they have a list of pros and cons.  Check it out here!

 

(thanks kotaku!)

28
Apr
08

Mario Kart Wii: Guide Creation Blog 1 of 3

Back in early March, I visited Nintendo for what was perhaps the most intensive two weeks of kart racing ever undertaken. I was there to blow out all the courses, uncover the best racing lines, and unlock the hidden characters of Mario Kart for the Wii, waggling a plastic wheel judiciously in the process. The plan was theoretically straightforward; to offer up expert techniques for each of the game’s 32 tracks, and 10 battle arenas. We wanted you – the reader – to come away with something rather special; so we hooked up with 99 Lives Design; who helped create some of the very best Nintendo Power guides of the last decade, and got them drawing all the course maps, and designing the look of the guide itself.

 

Bullet Bill: An all-new power-up transformation allowing speedy recovery during a race.

 

After situating myself in one of the many conference rooms (mine, I think, was called “Donkey Kong”, as all Nintendo rooms are named after their characters), I began a meticulous playthrough of the game, and it wasn’t long before I realized Mario Kart Wii has a whole load more strategy and unlockables this time around. Having already authored the Mario Kart Double Dash guide, I was prepared for the technique known as “Drifting”, where you flick the control stick as you scream around a corner until blue sparks flicker from your rear wheels, but I was pleasantly surprised at the game-balancing changes have turned this technique into a really useful strategy. Then there was the subtle differences between karts and bikes.

 

This time around, Nintendo has added two-wheeled vehicles to the game, and these – quite simply – are brilliant to control. Although you can’t “turbo” out of a drift at quite the same speed as karts, they do offer an all-new technique that karts don’t have; the wheelie! Sacrificing quick steering in favor of a higher top speed, I was soon popping a wheelie along all the tracks with major straight-aways, and recording amazing lap times in the process. I made sure to mention which of the 32 tracks favors bikes over karts, and began to map racing lines showing exactly where the best places were to Drift, Mini-Turbo, and Wheelie. All of this before lunch; it took considerable will power to drag myself away from the game and up to Café Mario; Nintendo’s in-house restaurant, where I chowed down on a delicious Luigi Burger. After this power-up, I sprinted back to the game to uncover more of the tracks….

 

Next time: I skid at a break-neck pace around some of the all-new tracks, revisit old favorites, and check out Nintendo’s own record times for every course.

 

Purchase the only Official Mario Kart Strategy Guide HERE!

 




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