The Sheer Joy of Mario Kart 8

mario kart 8 impressions

Over the weekend I played a healthy amount of Mario Kart 8 and I can firmly say that this is the most fun I’ve had with the series in a long time. This game feels like a perfect evolution for the series with new features that make sense and a lot of returning mechanics from the previous games that are implemented in clever ways. The new hover segments, where the tires on your vehicle turn sideways and you float a foot or so off the ground, manages to feel like an integral part of how you play in Mario Kart 8 and not just a new gimmick to put on the back of the box. Hovering turns the gameplay on its head, sometimes literally, and forces you to think differently, like purposely bumping into other races to get a speed boost instead of avoiding them.

It helps that Mario Kart 8 is an amazing looking game and even in local two-player splitscreen it still delivers a 60 frame per second performance. Across the eight different cups are 32 tracks, 16 new and 16 returning and all have been tweaked to take full advantage of the different modes of transportation. In one race alone you might be underwater, gliding through the air and hovering upside down. Mario Kart 8 keeps you constantly engaged by changing up the progression of the race so you never feel like you’re just going through the motions. The soundtrack is nearly fully orchestrated this time and is a huge improvement over the music of Mario Kart Wii. Continue reading The Sheer Joy of Mario Kart 8

Get Your Mario Kart 8 Details From This Weird Nintendo Direct

I’m not going to lie, I really like Nintendo Directs, but I feel like this one for Mario Kart 8 is like one of those Internet videos that people find really funny for some reason but I just don’t understand the humor (this is how I feel about Mega 64, for example). This is one weird Nintendo Direct, but we’re getting some hot Mario Kart 8 info so I’m down with it. It’s almost 40 minutes long, so make sure you’re sitting comfortably.

I think the most appealing part about this is the free game that you get for registering Mario Kart 8 with Club Nintendo, although there’s plenty of great stuff coming in Mario Kart 8 as well. The game looks fantastic and I’m really glad Nintendo is moving towards fully orchestrated scores and away from the mostly-awful MIDI tracks that plagued Mario Kart Wii. How is Mario Kart 8 shaping up for you? Pre-order confirmed?

Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference Highlights

XBox One

Well gents and ladies, E3 is here, which of course means one thing: time for press conferences! The big gaming show is about the only time of the year that I get excited to listen to executives throw a bunch of scripted marketing speak at me, since it (sometimes) means I’ll get to look at some new games — and, if it’s a really good year, maybe some new tech and a few new IPs as well.

So how did Microsoft deliver after all the hubbub they’ve caused in recent weeks with the reveal of the XBox One? Let’s find out. Continue reading Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference Highlights

Loving the Gimmicks in Mario Kart 7

mario kart 7 3ds

If there’s any constant in this universe, it’s the fact that a new Nintendo console will get a Mario Kart game. True, Mario Kart 7 did release in 2011 and the Wii U hasn’t even had one teased yet, but I’m enjoying the 3DS version and I hope that a few of the new innovations that get carried over to the inevitable Wii U title.

Mario Kart 7 added a glider and submarine option to every kart so occasionally, if the race calls for it, you’ll either be high up in the sky or driving around underwater. It’s a neat way to break up the pace of a race, even if some of the gliding/submerged sections do feel a little gratuitous. Additionally, while a lot of the courses function on the tried and true 3-lap circle course, Mario Kart 7 introduces continuous courses where you don’t see the same section of the race twice. It’s a great new way to shake up the racing in the seventh iteration of this long running series.

Unfortunately the Download-Play is a little lacking; people using that functionlaity only get to play as Shy Guy and can’t upgrade their karts with the new coin system, and they only hear the same music on every track. That said, Mario Kart 7 proves that this old warhorse still has a few tricks up its sleeve and is a worthwhile addition to any 3DS owner’s lineup.

Has anyone else played Mario Kart 7? Did you enjoy it? Do you want to see some of these changes when Mario Kart Wii U comes out? Go!

Pixel Count: Most Anticipated May Release

It’s the last day of April and with it comes Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, which is the likely winner of this month’s poll. Before that, let’s look at last’s month poll real fast to see who won: Injustice! The DC Comic fighting game won the hearts and minds of our readers in a somewhat anemic month. Did anyone play Injustice? I tried the demo and found it to be about what I expected, which is a lot like the last Mortal Kombat. Not like that is a bad thing, but I already got my fill of that a few years back.

So here’s what we have lined up for May, kids:

Pixel Count: Most Anticipated May Release

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Pixel Count: Free EA Game?

Well, now that EA has finally revealed the more-meager-than-most-would-like-list of games that are available as a free download to compensate for any hardships caused by the unmitigated disaster that is Simcity, it’s time to find out from our dear readers what game they are going to choose! I know some people were expecting more from this, such as perhaps choosing any EA game on origin, but come on: it’s EA. We’re lucky they haven’t convinced our banks to double-charge us for Simcity. The list is below:

What Free Origin Game Would You Choose?

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Review: Twisted Metal

Twisted Metal

Twisted Metal, one of the most iconic franchises of the PS1 era has returned with great fanfare. But after giddiness subsided, everyone had the same question: can a car combat game succeed in today’s world at a full $60 retail price? David Jaffe, creator and Internet instigator, clearly thinks so, as the addition of online multiplayer just might allow Twisted Metal to enter the current generation with guns blazing. Continue reading Review: Twisted Metal

GamerSushi Asks: Footing the Bill?

Trials Evolution

For some reason, an invisible price barrier lives somewhere inside of the part of my brain that processes money. This magical barrier keeps me from springing on downloadable titles, even when it makes a lot of sense to do so. Whereas Physical Goods Eddy is just fine paying upwards of $40-$60 for AAA titles, Digital Goods Eddy hesitates at the prospect of a $15 title like Journey. Or Trials Evolution, which is the game that I spent about fifteen seconds debating last night.

Trials Evolution, the follow-up to the hit Trials HD, released on XBLA last night to the squeals of ghost-beating track timers the world over. If you’re unaware of the mania that this game has inspired or what makes it so fun (as I was up until the last couple of weeks) — Trials Evolution is 2.5D platformer/physics racing game, wherein players control a motorcycle through ridiculously impossible tracks. The addictive part of the game isn’t just the sensation of negotiating through these Sonic-esque levels at the fastest speeds possible, but also from the way the game uses your friends’ times to taunt you. Glowing white dots that represent your friends race alongside of you, daring you to beat them even as you crash repeatedly.

The game is great fun, and the magical barrier in my head that keeps me from picking up digital titles was shattered more quickly than it normally is. It’s funny that even though I try to enter these things cautiously, there are certain factors that can make me foot the bill with almost no hesitation. For Trials, it was the almost limitless content (the game comes with a pro level editor, for instance, meaning that players will create their own ridiculous tracks), the replay factor that comes with competing against your friends’ times, and the number of unlockable races that come packed inside.

So what about you guys? What is it about games that convinces you to foot the bill? What games have recently made you ignore price completely and throw your wallets at the screen? Go!

GamerSushi Asks: Resisting That Urge to Buy?

Forza 4

One thing that I’ve found hard to do this Fall is resist the temptation to buy a new game every week. So far I’ve failed spectacularly in this endeavor because I bought Spider-Man last week and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record this week, and I’m seriously tempted to pick up Forza 4 as well.

The desire to get Forza mostly stems from some of the screenshots I’ve seen of the Autovista mode which look stunningly photorealistic. I’m not even a real big “car guy”, but I can’t resist those screenshots. They call to me, saying “look at these cars Mitch. Aren’t they pretty? You should pay sixty dollars so you can look at them any time”.

So far I’ve stayed my hand and with Batman next week and then the November to end all Novembers coming I might be able to hold off. I’m wondering if you guys have had a similar problem this year? Any titles singing their siren’s songs to you? How do you resist buying something you really want but know you should save your cash for a different game?

Sony’s E3 2011 Briefing Round-Up

playstationMicrosoft’s E3 press conference came and went and it was quite the Kinect fest. With Nintendo making an apperance tomorrow, Sony was primed to steal the show on the first day of E3. Let’s break down their presser and see if they made Microsoft look like a bunch of chumps.

Details are after the jump!
Continue reading Sony’s E3 2011 Briefing Round-Up

Behind the Scenes of Video Game Journalism

Video games writer

A dream that I’ve had for most of my life has been to get paid to either 1) write for a video game company or 2) write about video games. It combines two of the great loves of my life, which should be obvious from the career choices and their similarities. As such, I always find it fascinating to see behind the curtain a little bit for either career.

In this case, the peek happens to be the life of a video games journalist. Over at Kill Screen, writer Joseph Bernstein recently put up a piece titled Intern Affairs: Behind Closed Doors, which happens to be a series about the time he spent as an intern at GamesRadar. This particular entry covers the world of previews and handshakes between developers and journalists, and it’s actually kind of fascinating to see how the sausage is made, so to speak.

Bernstein basically shows the way previews are handled in some cases, and the gang mentality that occurs because of that as developers try to win you over. In the end, Bernstein even posts the preview he wrote as the result of this encounter, which happened to be for the game MX vs. ATV: Untamed for the Wii. I don’t think it necessarily exposes anything shady or surprising, I just find it interesting.

So what do you guys think after reading this? Does it jade you a little to what goes on behind the scenes at some video game sites? Go!

Source – Kill Screen, Image Source – PlatformNation

Rémi Gaillard Does Mario Kart IRL

If you’ve never heard of Rémi Gaillard, it’s time to educate yourself, fool. This guy is a French (and we all know that GamerSushi loves the French) improv artist who takes to the streets with various props and costumes and harasses people. While Mr. Gaillard has done the Mario Kart bit before, he once again hit the road in blue coveralls and a go-kart and the result is nothing short of hilarious. Go ahead and watch:

Don’t worry, no actual turtles were harmed in the making of this video, but I’m pretty sure that policeman had his feelings hurt. Hope you enjoyed this goofy little video on your Friday afternoon!

Getting Over the Level Hump

Gran Turismo 5

Trial Mountain. 52,000 credits. 4300 experience. Repeat.

That combination marked my last couple of days with Gran Turismo 5, as I tried desperately to get up to level 20 in order to open up the final batch of races, the Extreme Series. After toiling for quite some time to get to the desired level, the new set of races became available and I happily jumped in. Only to find that the race I really wanted to get to (which unlocks the Minolta Toyota Race Car, which would in turn allow me to complete several additional races) required me to climb yet another level. Needless to say, a great big “FFFFUUUU” was let out at this realization.

Situations like this are nothing new to me as a gamer. We’ve all spent time trying to get over the level hump. Or perhaps we’ve invested hours to get that one skill/perk we’ve had our eyes on since the beginning of the game. Regardless of the situation, it’s certainly familiar, and one that has inspired me to do bizarre things in the quest to level/skill up. This mostly happens on RPG’s, but I’ve done it on a few shooters as well, through the use of quirks or glitches (Halo: Reach’s target glitch, anyone?).

So what about you guys? What recent games have caused you to grind for that next level or skill? Do you have any strategies or tendencies that help you achieve your goals?

GamerSushi Asks: What Are You Playing?


It’s Super Bowl Sunday, so naturally that means it’s practically a holiday weekend here in the You Ess of Ay. Everyone gathers around the pigskin shrine to worship the gods of beer, brutality and testosterone. These gods require ritual sacrifices of meat and snack foods, apparently.

Regardless of your religious affiliation this weekend (go Steelers), one thing I’m sure we can all agree on is that many video games have been played. As for me, I’ve been tearing through Gran Turismo 5 like a mad man in the past week, with some 999 on the side as well as Game Dev Story. Up next after I’m done with these games are Little Big Planet 2 and another game I’ve had my eye on: Magicka. If you’re unaware, Magicka is a Diablo style adventure game that you can purchase on Steam, where several players battle together to link magic spells and decimate droves of enemies. It sounds like a blast, and is getting a lot of praise.

So, what are you guys playing this weekend? Who do you have in the Super Bowl? And have you heard of Magicka? Go, go, go (Packers)!

GamerSushi Asks: When Are You Finished with a Game?

Little Big Planet

December and January have been spectacular for me in terms of clearing out my gaming backlog. I’ve commented on it in posts before, but there’s something really satisfying about playing games and knocking more of them off the list, finally getting to experience games I’ve been dying to play.

Whenever I tackle gaming backlogs, I tend to shoot for low-hanging fruit first, unless there is some stellar title that I am just dying to play. This means I normally go for games that I hear are shorter (or easier) and won’t delay me as I try to move through the rest of the list. Playing through these is rather simple, since there’s a clear beginning and end to the experience. I tend to run into problems, though, when I get to games like the three I’m dealing with right now: NBA 2K11, Gran Turismo 5 and Little Big Planet 2.

As two of them are expanding sports titles with deep pools of gameplay and one is a charming (and really awesome) sandbox extravaganza, it’s going to be hard to determine when I’ve hit the “end” of those titles for me. I’m fairly certain I’ve had my fill of NBA 2K11, even though there are plenty of things in the game I’ve yet to sample, but I’m not sure.

So what do you guys think? How do you normally tackle these large games that never end? When do you finally set them aside for another game? Do you do it when you’ve sampled everything? When you’re tired of the game? Go!

Gran Turismo 5 Video Proves Real Life has too Many Jaggies

Gran Turismo 5 is out, and from all reports it’s amazing. I am dying to get my hands on it once it comes down just a bit in price, but until then, I’m forced to read about people being addicted to it (like Anthony and Nick) or watch awesome videos about it.

Take this official Sony video, for instance, which compares a run of the Nurburgring track in Gran Turismo 5 versus a real life run of the same track. Conclusion: real life needs better anti-aliasing.

Has anyone else played this that wants to taunt me with how awesome it is and how miserable my life is for not doing so yet?

The GamerSushi Show, Ep 12: Characters and Cameras

Epic MickeyIt’s the first week of December, so we’re bringing a brand new edition of the GamerSushi Show, back in our shorter and more frequent format. If we can keep rolling with this, you should see one of these bad boys each and every week.

In this edition, we cover a whole slew of topics, including a brief look back at 2010, and a look forward at the titles we’re going to be playing in an effort to close the year out strong. We also tackle the release of Epic Mickey, one of the Wii’s new flagship titles, and discuss the game’s virtues and a couple of its shortcomings, including third person video game cameras and why it seems so hard for developers to get it right. After that we tackle a new game from Nick (which Anthony dominates) and then take a look at Game Informer’s list of 30 Characters that Defined a Decade.

So, as you can see, just because things are shorter does not mean we don’t have anything to talk about. Once again, please go rate this cast on iTunes and subscribe with the handy links to the right. Enjoy! Continue reading The GamerSushi Show, Ep 12: Characters and Cameras

Be Warned: Gran Turismo 5 Takes 50 Minutes to Install

GT5 50 min install

Gran Turismo 5 is finally coming next week, and I’m seriously considering picking it up. On the podcast we recorded this past week (which will hopefully be up this weekend) I mention that my PS3 hasn’t seen use since Heavy Rain. I didn’t get around to playing Heavy Rain until April, but even so, that’s still a large amount of time.

Imagine my surprise when I get around to checking the Internet this morning and see that GT5 will take a whopping 50 minutes to install on my poor launch-day PS3. Not only that, but the game will take up 10 GB in your hard drive; 6.4 GB at first, and the remainder unpacks as you play.

In a bit of damage control, Sony came out and said that the big original install will not be mandatory, and that the game will handle it on the back end, should you choose that method. Basically, you can either load it all up front or have the game do some maintenance as you play.

This isn’t a Today’s WTF per se, rather more of a warning so you don’t freak out come Wednesday when you get the disc in your hot little hands. Now that you know about this, how are you feeling about GT5? Still excited?

Source – CVG and Eurogamer

Gran Turismo 5: Kevin Butler Steals a Car

There’s really not much left to say about the Kevin Butler persona, the man who acts as Sony’s VP of everything awesome and hilarious. It’s a brilliant marketing touch by Sony, and to me, shows that they really do understand gamers in this leg of the console generation cycle.

In this newest Kevin Butler spot, the executive is pumping up Gran Turismo 5, and stealing a car in the process. Does this mean that the game is real, finally? Really real? The promised release date at the moment is November 24th, which is less than a week from today. Perhaps we can finally hope.

The more I think about this game, the more excited I am by its release. I’ve loved every single GT game, and I think the thought of this one’s delays actually delayed my enthusiasm as well. But now that we’re on the verge of another one, I can’t stop thinking about it. Anybody else considering picking it up?

Transferring Franchises from East to West

Legend of Zelda

Japanese game development has had some bumpy spots as of late. The old school game dudes can’t seem to catch much of a break, and some would argue (and by that I mean me) that they are losing touch with gamers outside of their own country. I wouldn’t say that they are getting worse at what they do by any means, but there seems to a part of the industry that’s moving past them. So what about all those classic Japanese franchises?

That’s why CVG has put together a list of 7 Games Japan Should Give to Western Developers. I’m not entirely in agreement with everything they’ve got down on here, especially with Final Fantasy, which is just one title removed from being a really excellent series again. Likewise, they list Resident Evil on here as well, but Resident Evil 5 was a huge hit, a critically acclaimed game and was designed with many Western sensibilities in mind. Also, many racers should be striving to achieve what Mario Kart has done even in recent years. It’s hardly stagnant. Those aside (plus the really ridiculous names they’ve given the titles), I agree with the rest of the list, particularly Legend of Zelda.

Interestingly enough, we did a feature very similar to this last summer. So what do you guys think of this? Would you take those Japanese franchises and give them to Western developers, or leave them where they are? Go!

Source – CVG