Tag Archives: Shigeru Miyamoto

Pikmin, GameCube

Pikmin was released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2001 and was an instant hit with gamers.

Designed and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto, the first game in the Pikmin series introduces Captain Oilmar, an alien who crash lands on a mysterious planet and where he befriends small creatures called Pikmin who help him rebuild his ship.

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Mole Mania, Game Boy

This 1996 release on the Nintendo Game Boy is one of Shigeru Miyamoto‘s least known works, although it really is a hidden gem on the system and is well worth finding and playing now if you’ve never seen it.

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Super Mario Bros. 3, NES

Of the three Super Mario Bros. games released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, this 1988 release must surely rate as the best.

Directed by Takashi Tezuka and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto, Super Mario Bros. 3 really takes the Mario series to a whole new level, with new techniques, gimmicks, and secrets, as well as the usual high standard of finesse and charm.

Super Mario Bros. 3 forgets that Super Mario Bros. 2 ever existed and instead goes back to what made Super Mario Bros. so enjoyable to play. And that is: challenging, left to right-scrolling levels, and precise control over Mario (or Luigi – the two-player mode came back). In this game Mario could (for the first time) slide down slopes; pick up and throw special blocks; freely climb vines, and also fly, float, swim faster, and throw hammers (!) using collectable power-ups.

Individual levels form part of eight themed ‘worlds’, and a map allows you to choose which level to take on next (another new feature at the time), and although the game is still relatively linear it does at least give you the occasional alternative route. Plus: you can now see secret areas opening up on the main map, which is quite exciting (and something that we later saw expanded in the phenomenal Super Nintendo sequel to this, Super Mario World).

Super Mario Bros. 3 also introduces bonus mini-games into the mix and these allow the player to win extra lives or power-ups which can be used later during a level.

Playing it now, there is no doubting that Super Mario Bros. 3 is an amazing game that has stood the test of time well. In some respects it plays a bit like a prototype of the peerless Super Mario World, which indeed it is – a prototype of that game, albeit one that sold almost 20 million physical copies worldwide!

More: Super Mario Bros. 3 on Wikipedia

Super Mario Bros. 2, NES

The North American release of Super Mario Bros. 2 was controversial because it was not the same Super Mario Bros. 2 that was released in Japan – it was a re-skinned game; made into a Mario game, because the Nintendo bigwigs thought the original was too difficult for western gamers.

And the result is the game you see here. It looks like Mario from a distance, but when you drill down to it, there are quite a few differences. In this there is no two-player option. Players can instead choose to play each stage as one of four different characters – Mario (of course), Luigi, Toad (the mushroom), and Princess Peach. Each character can run and jump, and climb, and do all the usual Mario-style actions, but they also each have a unique ability. Mario can jump the farthest; Luigi – the highest; Peach can float, and Toad can pick up items quickly.

Also unlike the previous game: the player can explore both left and right – as well as vertically – rather than being forced to always move left to right. Enemies are no longer beaten by jumping on them. Instead: they can be ridden on by jumping on them. And if you do want/need to beat them up you have to throw objects at them instead.

Super Mario Bros. 2 contains twenty different levels in total, spread over seven themed worlds. Each world has different enemies, plus a boss battle at the end.

Although this version of Super Mario Bros. 2 has since gone on to be regarded as a bit of a retro-gaming classic, it is easy to see why it garnered some criticism at the time. It does deviate from many of the Mario conventions we’ve come to recognise, although it does retain the precise controls, cute graphics, and charm of the Mario series as a whole, so is well worth a play.

More: Super Mario Bros. 2 on Wikipedia

Super Mario Bros. 2, Famicom Disk System

Super Mario Bros. 2 was initially released on the Famicom Disk System in Japan in 1986, but was not released in North America or Europe in its original form, as you might have expected. It was instead decided that the gameplay was “too difficult” for Western gamers (and also the video games market in North America was undergoing a crash at the time), so Nintendo decided not to release it in English language territories – at least until it was later re-branded as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost levels – and released a different Super Mario Bros.2 in North America instead.

This ‘lost’ version of Super Mario Bros. 2 is just as insanely difficult as the legend describes. It plays very similarly to the first Super Mario Bros. game, but has a variety of new features that seem designed to trick you. Like black mushrooms. You learn not to pick those up quite early in the game… The level designs this time have been designed to make you tear your hair out too. Make one wrong move, and you’re dead. Some sections have easier routes, but these are often hidden and require Mario (or Luigi) to find a hidden block to open them up.

The whole game seems like it was designed with “professional players” in mind. This original, Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 is certainly not for beginners. Which is why it is so much loved by speed-runners and modern game pros now. It’s one of the toughest challenges in gaming.

The game sold over seven million physical copies in Japan in its first year of release.

More: Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels on Wikipedia

Super Mario Bros., NES

The successor to the 1983 arcade game Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. was released in Japan and North America in 1985, although it wasn’t released in Europe until 1987.

It is considered by many gamers to be one of the greatest video games of all time, and I wouldn’t want to dispute that assessment.

Super Mario Bros. was a gigantic leap ahead for Nintendo at the time, and it expanded massively on the ideas and themes of the original Mario Bros. (which was – let’s face it – quite a limited game overall). In this game Mario (or Luigi – if playing two-player) must make his way across a series of scrolling, platform-based levels; bouncing on the heads of enemies; collecting coins; picking up power-ups (such as mushrooms, which make you bigger; essentially giving you an extra life); and eventually sliding down a flag pole at the end of a level (the higher you slide down it, the more bonus points you are awarded). Occasionally you’ll get to fight a mini boss battle; or slide down a pipe into a secret area; or pick up a ‘Fire Flower’ (which allows you to shoot at enemies).

While none of that might sound very exciting by today’s standards, back in 1985 Super Mario Bros. was revolutionary. It revolutionised platform gaming with its precise controls and brilliantly-designed levels. It raised the bar in the entire video-gaming industry in 1985 – everyone who saw it and played it knew that it was something special. Something better than most leading arcade games could offer at the time… And it remains that to this day: a game marking the transition from the old style of archaic video games, and the new style of console games that were extremely high quality.

The original NES version of Super Mario Bros. sold over 40 million physical copies worldwide during its first run (29 million in North America alone), although many of these were ‘pack-in’ titles sold with a new console. Those sales still count, though, which made it THE best-selling video game of all time until it was usurped by (sigh) Wii Sports (and other games later on).

More: Super Mario Bros. on Wikipedia

Stunt Race FX, Super Nintendo

Released for the Super Nintendo in 1994, this cheerful racing game is another SNES title that employs use of the Super FX Chip – an extra co-processor inside the cartridge which enhances the console’s 3D graphics capabilities (the same chip, as used in Star Fox).

Stunt Race FX was developed by Nintendo EAD, with assistance from Argonaut Software – the creators of the Super FX Chip – and is a bit of a departure from the likes of Super Mario Kart (which was released two whole years before this game).

For starters: as you would expect – Stunt Race FX is presented mostly in 3D. The cars are [kinda] 3D; the tracks are 3D; the surrounds and menus are 2D.

There are five different modes of play in Stunt Race FX: Speed Trax, Stunt Trax, Battle Trax, Test Run, and Free Trax. Speed Trax is single-player only and requires progression up a series of three different classes, each containing four courses and bonus game (making twelve courses and three bonus games in total). Stunt Trax involves driving around four courses exclusive to this mode, collecting every star possible to achieve a perfect score. Again: single-player only. Battle Trax is for head-to-head racing, and splits the screen horizontally to accommodate two players. This mode can be played single-player, but the second joypad must be plugged-in (and left alone), for the computer-controlled car to activate (which is weird). Test Run is designed for beginners to practise, and Free Trax – which only unlocks after completing one of the three available modes in Speed Trax – is both for time-attacking, and also for practise on courses already completed.

The biggest criticism of Stunt Race FX is that the movement of the vehicles (and the screen for that matter) is relatively slow, compared to most other racing games. Obviously Nintendo had a limited frame rate they could squeeze out of the Super FX Chip, and it could be argued that they were trying to do too much too soon with this game. But I feel that the overall high quality of Stunt Race FX supersedes any perceived slowness. When you calibrate your brain to the controls and the frame rate, Stunt Race FX is a lot of fun. You know – it’s a bit like forgiving the slowdown in Knight Lore, because the game’s so good. And Stunt Race FX is a very good game.

Note: Stunt Race FX is known as Wild Trax in Japan.

More: Stunt Race FX on Wikipedia

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Game Boy Advance

Released in Japan in 2004 and everywhere else in 2005, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap was developed by Capcom and Flagship, with Nintendo overseeing the project. The result is: a fantastically fun handheld adventure game, with beautiful 2D graphics and captivating gameplay.

In The Minish Cap, Link makes friends with a talking, magical cap that guides him into a world of monsters and miniaturisation. A miniature race of people, no less, called The Minish. And – as Link explores and makes progress in the game – his powers increase, as does his arsenal of weapons and tools. Just like in every other Zelda game. And – just like every other Zelda game – The Minish Cap is packed with new ideas and game mechanics that make it a joy to play. The ‘Gust Jar’ is one such example: stand on a floating lilypad and shoot it in the opposite direction to which you want to travel.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the look of The Minish Cap. It has the visual appeal of something like A Link To The Past, but with a unique Capcom twist to it. The Minish Cap is a procession of beautifully-drawn (and incredibly colourful) pixel art, from start to finish, and really shows what the GBA is capable of.

Gameplay-wise: there’s little to fault. There are enough dungeons, puzzles, boss fights, and side quests to keep you going for days. Weeks even – depending on how much you like to take your time.

As Zelda games go, I would put The Minish Cap up there with the best of the 2D adventures. It’s a must-play if you like cute and colourful exploration games.

More: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap on Wikipedia

100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time on thekingofgrabs.com
100 Best Level-Grinders Of All-Time

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, GameCube

Intelligent Systems and Nintendo released this fantastic follow-up to Paper Mario on the GameCube in 2004.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is a nice improvement on an already great game. It’s a turn-based level-grinding RPG, with flat, paper-like characters running around a 3D landscape. As Mario explores he encounters set and random battles with various foes and can use gamepad moves and button prompts to enhance his attacks and buff his defences. He can also have companions who fight with him and each have unique abilities.

The Thousand Year Door – like its predecessor – is a superb example of a hardcore level-grinder, wrapped up in a Mario coating, and it looks amazing and plays absolutely brilliantly.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_Mario:_The_Thousand-Year_Door