Pick Your Racer

Pick Your Racer | Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

krismii
How’s everyone enjoying Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? Have you picked your favorite racer yet? Rachel and I have been spending tons of time on that game, having forgotten how much fun Mario Kart has been since we last dabbled with the Wii U version. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has all the DLC and unlocked characters that we had never gotten in the Wii U version, so it’s been fun testing out all the racers. We did, however, notice that since there are so many characters, we’re finding that we miss the simpler list of characters.

rachmii
In Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 8, I had a personal vendetta against Baby Peach. I don’t know why, but every time she was in a race with me she would always be tailgating me throwing the worst items she could. In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, there’s not much of that. The character roster is so big that we’ve noticed that most of the computer players aren’t even from the Mario universe. Or, they’re Metal Mario, Gold Peach, or Cat Peach… Still, we miss seeing the original Mario, Peach, Luigi, and Bowser running around.

krismii
Yes, we’ve noticed that there’s more “copycat” characters, if you will, in Mario Kart 8. Characters like Legend of Zelda’s Link or Animal Crossing’s Isabelle are unique additions, but having three different Marios or all seven Koopalings is a bit excessive in our opinions. They’re interesting aesthetics-wise, but Rachel and I miss seeing the original characters racing around with our characters. Out of the plethora of Grand Prix we’ve done, we’ve seen the original Mario in one, maybe two, of those Grand Prix.

rachmii
It’s definitely cool that they’ve added characters from other games, very similar to Smash Brothers. But it’s still Mario Kart and I personally think it would have been cool if they added a Goomba. I mean, if King Boo can drive without legs I think a Goomba could make it work without arms. Kamek also would have been a cool addition as well.

krismii
The additional characters from games other than Super Mario have made many people wonder if this will be the last Mario Kart… A better name for future installments may be Nintendo Kart or something along those lines. If we do want to stick to Super Mario characters, why not re-add Birdo to the roster? Or perhaps Diddy Kong to replace one of the half a dozen baby characters for more variety? Professor E. Gadd, known mostly from Luigi’s Mansion but mentioned in many others, would have been a unique addition.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
Oh, I would love to have Professor E. Gadd there! I’m sticking with my “villains” though. I wouldn’t mind having Thwomp or King Bomb-omb or Wiggler. These are pretty far-fetched, I know, but I think they’d be cool either way. Or Nabbit. He’s a bit weird, but he’d be someone different.

krismii
It’s strange that some of your favorites in this racing game seems to be the villains, like King Boo. I miss seeing you being Yoshi all the time, haha! I don’t know what it means when you’ve gone to being the cute, innocent character to one that’s always seen as a villain. As for me, I’m all for having Link in the game. He’s my main when I used to be little Koopa or Rosalina. They’re all different characters, and I wish the entire roster was just as unique.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
I’ve always liked Boo in general. I always got excited at the boo mansions in the games. Luigi is another favorite of mine and I think that’s why I love Luigi’s Mansion so much. I still, of course, have a soft spot for Yoshi, and he is one of my favorites. I decided to Switch (this joke will get old, but I don’t care) it up a bit. I was Luigi for one or two races, but I was drawn to King Boo. I love his laugh and the way his “tail” wags. Which, is similar to Yoshi, if you think about it.

What other characters do you think they should add? Who’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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First Impressions of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Double Jump Kris MiiAnother week, another Monday. Rachel and I got our copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch, and we spent a good chunk of Sunday night just playing it.

We really enjoyed it, even though the courses that we played were just the same as Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U.

 

Everyone seems to be playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe this past weekend, unless you were one of those folks who already has Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U with all the DLC. Considering Rachel and I only have the bare bones of the Wii U version of the game, we didn’t mind splurging for the Switch version. We pre-ordered it on Amazon, it didn’t come on Friday, Amazon apologized for the delay and credited our account about ten bucks, and it got delivered Sunday.

We both played a few of the Grand Prix mode, just on 50cc to get warmed up (and, of course, to collect the trophies and everything) and to test the few different modes of controllers. We first each used one half of the Joy-Con, finding it to be not too bad of a way to drive the karts, before both of us used a pair of the Joy-Con.

Rachel seems to prefer the one half of the Joy-Con method while I didn’t mind the paired Joy-Con. We do plan on getting the wheel attachment to see how well they work as well, but for now, we’re okay with each having the Joy-Con.

We did seem to have a bit of an odd time with the motion control and the manual steering at first, but we eventually got the hang of it. We both had a great time picking out different characters and karts to race with, especially the ones that had been DLC like Link (who looks like he’s having the best time of his life during the races and jumps) and Isabelle (who is just downright adorable).

We’re eager to explore all of the DLC courses — hopefully we’ll be able to play again tonight!

Do you have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? What do you think of it?

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Gender Tropes

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, everyone! I hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend. Going off of last week’s post about Healer Tropes, I thought I would share my thoughts on Gender Tropes. Remember, kids, sexism shouldn’t have a place in the real world or video game worlds!

When I was writing up my Fire Emblem Fates review, one of the biggest issue I had with the newest trio of Fire Emblem games was the treatment of the sister characters from the two quartets of the avatar’s siblings.

From Nohr was Camilla and Elise, while Hinoka and Sakura were from Hoshido. I felt that they got a bit pushed to the side after being created to be the cute healers and tough female warriors. It was the brothers that got more development, that were the wielders of the other divine weapons, that had stronger ties to the avatar character. While I enjoyed all the characters for the most part, I still maintain that it may have worked better if the royal siblings were cut in half, with one side having an older sister and younger brother while the other side had the older brother and younger sister.

Thinking back on my Healer Tropes post where I mentioned both Elise and Sakura, I also realized that the brothers also followed stereotypical male tropes as well. The strong older brothers are the leaders, Leo is the cool, calculating, aloof character, and Takumi is the brooding, hotheaded one. Many of the other Fire Emblem games have the older brother characters as the leaders, as the strong ones, while the women tend to favor gentler routes.

Case in point is the cover of Shadows of Valentia. Alm is with his sword, a fighter, while Celica is praying, looking much more passive. I wonder what would have happened had the game switched it up, with the woman being the more aggressive while the man is gentler.

With the brief introduction of the Champion characters in Breath of the Wild, I’m finding that they also follow typical gender tropes. While I personally haven’t met all of them in-game yet, plenty of Internet sources have given me a glimpse of the Champions’ personalities. Mipha and Urbosa are common female tropes, being the gentle, soft-spoken healer and tough, action woman. Daruk appears to be the jolly, father figure and Revali is the arrogant bad boy.

Mr. Panda actually made a comment on the Healer Tropes regarding how White Mages in Final Fantasy games are always female, and how he’s waiting for the day that they can be male as well. Something that I believe Fates did right was take off the gender-restricted classes, such as having a male Pegasus Knight and a female Fighter. It’s a step in the right direction to help combat the more common gender tropes found in video games.

There are always exceptions, of course, and I understand that gifting every video game character a full-fledged developmental arc within the game would be a bit time-consuming. However, as a gamer whose favorite element of a game is the story and the characters, I would like to see more characters having their personalities be based on their thoughts rather than their genders.

What kind of common gender tropes are in your favorite games? Any examples of games that break the normal tropes?

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Healer Tropes

Double Jump Kris MiiIt’s another Monday, and how I wish I could just continue to submerge myself in video game worlds, like Breath of the Wild. There are so many characters to meet there, from all the named NPCs to those who have a more direct role in the story. Yet, even with how unique everyone seems, there still seems to be those who fall into tropes and cliched formulas…

205px-botw_mipha_artworkOn our journey throughout Hyrule in Breath of the Wild, we recently reached Zora’s Domain, learning a bit more of the Divine Beasts and the Zoras role in trying to fight against Calamity Ganon 100 years in the past. The adorable Zora that we saw in the trailers was Princess Mipha, one of the Champions who had controlled one of the Divine Beasts to aid Princess Zelda and Link. From the Zora elders, we’ve learned that Mipha had been a kind, gentle healer.

While Mipha looks adorable and I’m sure I’ll love her character whenever we fully meet her in the game, I was a little exasperated at her following the typical healer trope in video games. Healers are, generally, small, female, and cute. Their main personality trait is either shy or cheerful.

The past few Fire Emblem games followed the same formula with the younger sisters of the main character — Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn has Mist, Awakening has Lissa, and the Fates trio have Sakura and Elise. While I thought their characters were fine and I liked them, I feel as if the healer characters following these tropes aren’t very memorable.

I preferred the healers who could not only heal but also pack a punch, who may have had a gentle bedside manner when treating wounds but also weren’t shy in calling their teammates idiots for taking unnecessary risks.

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Like Mirabelle and Brady from Awakening, ones who had sass with their class and a few different facets to their personalities. Jakob from Fates was another I liked, one who was loyal to the main character but didn’t take any lip from any other character. Princess Peach (rather, Princess Toadstool as she was known back when) as the healer in Super Mario RPG was fantastic as well — she heard about the trouble in the kingdom, wouldn’t take no as an answer in joining the party, and kept everyone healed while also tossing bombs at their opponents.

The trope works in most cases, of course, otherwise it still wouldn’t be around today. But I would much rather have a healer who breaks the tropes, a healer who uses most of his/her powers healing his/her own wounds, a healer whose staff breaks not from using healing spells but from walloping enemies on the head.

Are there any overused character tropes in video games you think could use some switching up? Any favorite tropes that you want to see more of in games?

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For the Love of NPCs

Double Jump Kris MiiBeing the hero of a video game is one of the best parts of playing. Many boot up a console to escape the real world for a while, to fall into a fantasy where you help to save the world.

Along the way, you generally meet many NPCs…

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Non-playable characters, or NPCs, make up the bulk of video game worlds. Generally, they’re there to help point you in the right direction if not to just decorate the scenery. Not many have lives, if you will, outside of being in a convenient place for the hero.

Then there are others who, for all intents and purposes, have a life outside of the hero’s role of the game. For example, there’s Malon of LonLon Ranch from the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. As Child Link, you meet her in Hyrule Castle Town and she gives you an egg that will hatch into a cucco (or chicken, for those of you who many not play the Legend of Zelda games) to wake up her father who is blocking your entrance to the castle.

Honestly, that’s really the only required interaction with Malon in the game. Any other interactions, either as Child or Adult Link, are optional.

Of course, the majority of players go out of their way to visit the ranch in order to gain Epona the horse later in the game. If you do go through with these interactions, you learn about Malon’s backstory, about her mother, her father, and the ranch’s farmhand Ingo. As an adult, she stays on the ranch despite the hardships of it being under Ingo’s control because she wants to protect the horses. She’s an NPC in the game, but she has a backstory and life just as the main character does.

She’s a hero of her own story, even though she doesn’t directly impact Link’s. I think it’s an awesome development for her part, considering she’s an NPC. To give that kind of depth to an NPC is one of the many reasons why Ocarina of Time holds a special place in my heart.

What do you think of NPCs? Do you have any favorites?

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Friday Favorites: Fates Characters

Double Jump Kris MiiFridays are wonderful, aren’t they?

Fairly recently I’ve been playing through Revelations, the third game of the Fire Emblem: Fates trio. Considering the game combines all of the characters from Birthright and Conquest, there’s tons of fodder for your army in Revelations. It can actually be a bit overwhelming, but there were a few characters that stood out to me as my favorites.

fefatessubaki4. Subaki

I was excited to see a male Pegasus flyer, to be honest. It was refreshing to see that the gender restrictions were lifted on the classes, and Subaki seemed to fit the Sky Knight class well. His calm persona and, admittedly, ridiculous need to be perfect amused me in his supports with the other characters, especially with Sakura, since he was her retainer!

3. Jakobfefatesjakob

Jakob is a neutral character, his loyalty lying only with the Avatar character. He’s of the Butler class, a new class that uses shuriken and daggers as well as staves. I enjoyed using the class, but Jakob’s snarky attitude paired with his effectiveness won me over to his character. He was always on the Avatar’s side, but had no problem speaking up and sharing his opinions with a side of sarcasm.

fefateskaze2. Kaze

Being the first ninja class character, the class reminiscent of the thief and rogue lines of previous Fire Emblem installments, that the players encounter, I already had a good first impression of Kaze. His character development and personality throughout both Birthright and Conquest, and his growing loyalty to the Avatar, gave him a spot on this list.

 

1. Camillafefatescamilla

Admittedly, I was a bit put-off by Camilla mostly because she was blatantly designed to be eye-candy for those inclined to ladies. There wasn’t much practicality to her armor (or anything at all, in certain shots) and her excessive doting on the Avatar was a bit… strange. She was a good unit, though, and her protectiveness of her siblings and “big sister instincts” made me use her more in the games. Hearing snippets of her backstory, of how her mother used her as a tool in the cutthroat world of politics, made me wish that her character had been explored much more than what we got in the final games.

What are some of your favorite characters from Fire Emblem: Fates?

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What Kind of NPC Are You?

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krismii
So the best part of playing a video game is being the hero and saving the world, right? Have you ever given much thought to all of those non-playable characters that help you out, like the innkeeper or the shop owner? It’s a little strange to realize that these pixel people exist solely for your characters benefit — even enemies, since you wouldn’t get stronger if you didn’t practice your battle skills. But if you weren’t playing the protagonist of the game, if you were an NPC instead, what role would you have?

rachmii
This is a tough one, I have to say. I mean, there are so many different varied NPC characters throughout so many video game franchises. So, you know what, Kris? Since you thought of this question all on your own, I’m going to let you go first in answering. Have at it.

krismii
Haha! I think I would be one of those NPCs that either helps the character with their equipment or animals. You know, perhaps like a smithy or a ranch hand. While I wouldn’t want to be a generic shop owner, I would like to help by forging stronger weapons or work at a stables where the hero can pick out a noble steed.

rachmii
Oh, stables would be good. I wouldn’t mind taking care of the animals. I think–and this is going to sound boring since I already am this–but I think I would like to be a teacher. I wouldn’t mind aiding the protagonist in their studies whether it’s weaponry, potions, or helping them figure out what to do next in their journey.

krismii
There are plenty of teacher-like roles in video games. You’d do well in those positions! If we were going by our day jobs, though, I’d probably be some sort of banker to help out with the hero’s money. I also like the idea of apothecary, or potion making. Imagine being like a witch or sorcerer, combining ingredients that the hero would probably find dubious, but it would help him or her out.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
I can imagine it and I don’t think I would do well as a witch or sorcerer. I feel like I’d be too clumsy and mess everything up. But then that would be my purpose, wouldn’t it? I’d be the comic relief!

krismii
You’d be perfect as a comic relief, haha! I know that I would not want to be one of those NPCs stuck in a rescue mission. If I can’t be part of the hero’s party, I’d like to be able to help out in another way.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
I agree with you on that. Though I can definitely see myself getting into trouble.

What kind of NPC would you be? Let us know in the comments below!

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