Building up the Super Mario empire
In 2015, Nintendo made countless fans’ dreams come true by allowing them the ability to create their own Mario levels with Super Mario Maker. Now, four years on, that game is getting a sequel, with new additions such as co-op stage-building and a single-player story mode in which Mario sets out to rebuild Princess Peach’s castle.
Like the prequel, Super Mario Maker 2 (¥6,458 for Nintendo Switch) lets players craft stages in the style of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U. This time, however, Super Mario 3D World has also been thrown in. Players can now create stages using the touch screen or the controller because the Switch can be docked to play on a big-screen TV. The stage-creation tools are also more sophisticated than before and even allow players to customize the auto-scrolling speed.
There is a two-player stage creation co-op mode plus another that allows four players to play each level together. For those who don’t fancy being creators and just want to play, the story mode has more than 100 original levels.
As with the original Super Mario Maker, players can upload creations to share and challenge others. Such Super Mario Maker levels can get really, really hard, so masochistic players can look forward to going up against some of the most difficult stages ever created.
Times not up for Yo-kai Watch
In 2014, Yo-kai Watch exploded in popularity. The franchise of games and toys launched a craze in Japan, with kids (and parents) lining up for hours to buy coveted Yo-kai Watch wristwatches. Since then, game-developer Level-5 has released a handful of enjoyable Yo-kai Watch games, anime and feature films. Yo-kai Watch 4, which was released late last month in Japan priced at ¥6,458, now aims to recapture some of that former glory.
This latest entry is a departure from the previous games. For the first time, it has a third person point of view (POV) instead of the overhead POV and there is a new combat system that is more immersive than before, ramping up the excitement levels for the big boss battles. The character designs in Yo-kai Watch have always been inventive and charming, but since Yo-kai Watch 4 will be released on the Nintendo Switch — earlier games were for the Nintendo 3DS — it’s set to be the best-looking one yet. The super catchy “Gera Gera Po Song” theme, which helped the anime become popular with kids, is also getting an update.
There seems no doubt that Yo-kai Watch 4 will help fans fall in love with the franchise all over again.
www.youkai-watch.jp/yw4 (Japanese only)
Time for a spirited showdown
Osaka-based SNK has created some of the best fighting games ever. Not just butt-kicking fisticuff games, but also great weapons-based fighting games — namely, the Samurai Spirits series.
Samurai Spirits, known as Samurai Shodown outside Japan, first launched in arcades way back in 1993. Its latest entry, titled simply Samurai Spirits, is the first main entry in the franchise since 2008.
Hailed as a reboot of the series, Samurai Spirits is set between the original 1993 game and the 2003 Samurai Spirits Zero (Samurai Shodown V), and it features many characters fans know and love, such as samurai hero Haohmaru, nature-loving Nakoruru and ninja Hanzo Hattori. New characters have now been added to the fray, including an envoy from China called Wu-Ruixiang, a huge saw-swinging shipbuilder named Darli Dagger and rogue samurai Yashamaru Kurama.
Samurai Spirits, priced at ¥7,776 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (download only), is also powered by Unreal Engine 4, making it the first time SNK has used Unreal Engine game creation technology. SNK fighters typically play extremely well and the company’s character designs were already among the best in Japan, so this new game offers some serious samurai eye candy. It looks all the more fantastic thanks to SNK’s decision to fill the screen with colorful graphics and fluid action.