“Super Mario” takes you to a whole new level

Gamers who grew up in the 1980s may remember that the coolest part of the Nintendo game “Excitebike” was a design mode that let players make their own tracks. Imagine what it would be like to create your own “Super Mario” stages.

The Wii U title “Super Mario Maker” promises just that. Its in-game editor is based on “Super Mario Bros.,” “Super Mario Bros. 3” and “New Super Mario Bros.,” offering items from these titles that players can use to design new levels. Put warp pipes where you want them, add coin blocks or even up the number of enemy Goombas and Koopa Troopas. You can also try things that don’t exist in the original games, like hiding Koopa Troopas in coin blocks and customizing sound effects.

New levels can be shared online and the game is compatible with 50 Amiibo figures, letting players scan in other Nintendo characters and put them in the game’s Mystery Mushrooms. Amiibo-less players can randomly find other characters in these new mushrooms, too.

The editing process is intuitive and you can toggle through levels as well as between the different “Super Mario” games to see what your designs look like elsewhere. Expect players to push their options to the limits and share a whole host of creative and seemingly impossible courses.

“Super Mario Maker” is ¥5,700 boxed and ¥4,700 to download.


Racing sims get real

Racing sim “Forza Motorsport” fans have waited years for the wide range of new features being offered in “Forza Motorsport 6.”

Now it doesn’t just rain in the game, water collects in puddles that can cause cars to skid or hydroplane, giving drivers new obstacles to avoid. A new night-racing mode also provides players a tough course where drivers must contend with both light and shadows.

The familiar voice overs by Jeremy Clarkson, the former “Top Gear” host who was officially fired from the TV series this year, are no more. But not to worry, he has been replaced by two other Top Gear celebrities, Richard Hammond and James May.

Microsoft knows that some “Forza Motorsport” fanatics will buy an Xbox One just to play this, so its also rolling out a limited-edition that comes in blue similar to the new Ford GT on the game’s cover, and with 1 TB of memory — enough for the fiercest of virtual drivers.

“Forza Motorsport 6” will be released on Sept. 17 for ¥6,800, and the Xbox One bundle is ¥44,980.


“Metal Gear Solid” fans, are you ready?

“Metal Gear Solid” fans must be excited. “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” is finally here. “Metal Gear Solid 4” was a huge hit way back in 2008, wowing gamers with its exceptional graphics and gameplay. This new entry is poised to do the same.

“The Phantom Pain,” set in Afghanistan, during the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-89), continues the narrative of last year’s prelude game “Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.” An open-world game, players are given much more freedom than in previous titles to choose how they sneak about and take down enemies. It’s loaded with all sorts of details, little touches that include in-game horse poops and retro cultural references, such as the “Diamond Dogs” mercenary group named after the David Bowie album. The in-game map is also enormous — 200 times bigger than the one for “Ground Zeroes.”

“The Phantom Pain” looks to be Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima’s magnum opus. As far as games go this year, this is not to be missed.

There are a handful of special bundles available to buy, though the limited-edition premium package that included a life-size Big Boss bionic arm has, unsurprisingly, sold out.

Priced at ¥8,400, “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” will be released Sept. 2 on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.


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