Just a few hours ago, Nintendo announced that all Wii and DS online services were going to be shut down on May 20th 2014. And as per is the norm, the internet went absolutely ballistic. Nintendo’s forcing people to buy their new games they said! Mario Kart Wii and Smash Bros Brawl still have life in them say yet others.
But is this really a bad thing? I don’t think so, and hence here’s why I consider the DS and Wii’s online services going away potentially one of the best things to happen to the systems…
So if you’re still playing Mario Kart DS or Wii online, or involved in a bunch of Smash Bros Brawl battles against people from round the world, then those days are about to come to a screeching stop. Same with online play in the generation 4 and 5 Pokemon titles.
These services will end for good worldwide on May 20th. Keep reading to see a full list of every service and game getting the proverbial chop…
Well, this is a breath of fresh air, some actual sanity in the legal system! Yep, it’s now been ruled in a European court that Nintendo can only block stolen copies of games on their system, not hacking with other purposes or uses. This is according to an EU court ruling involving an Italian company (known as PC Box) who sells modified Nintendo systems with additional tech to get round the hardware encryption.
So what does this mean for Nintendo? Why do I agree with this ruling? Read on to find out…
Over his 20 years of starring in video games, Mario and his friends have faced some bizarre opponents. From murderous suns to pianos with a killing streak, everything from the normal enemies to the toughest bosses often end up being some of the weirdest opponents in the video game world. But even among this lot, some bosses go even further and end up making even the regular Koopa Troop look sane. Here they are, the ten craziest, strangest and most outright bizarre bosses in Mario history.
A good video game boss should be many things. It should be designed so it fits the level at least somewhat thematically, it should be a decent challenge to top off the level and it should generally be designed in a way that it doesn’t come up off as an utterly boring character. And hence why the Mario series has never been known for great boss battles, it usually succeeds at least at those basic criteria.
But it doesn’t always get things right. So these are the six most disappointing bosses in Mario history, six bland bosses that really felt like a let down after the build up of a whole level or even game. Let’s begin…
6. Harsh Possessor (Luigi’s Mansion 2/Dark Moon)
First on the list, the Harsh Possessor/staircase boss from Luigi’s Mansion 2. Why is he here?
Because of a few important things.
Namely how he and his mission are just completely out-of-place in the setting and add nothing to it enjoyment wise, and how the boss concept in general is just such a damn drop in quality from the first one.
I mean, boss 1 had you fight that spider in the Gloomy Manor Cellar, in a boss battle with multiple phases, different weaknesses throughout the battle and a level of difficulty and puzzle complexity that would make most later Zelda bosses seem simple by comparison. It was almost a masterclass in good game design.
Then, they follow it up with… this thing.
For starters, it’s a freaking staircase. In a mansion which until now has been predominantly themed around plants and water mechanics. What does this thing have to do with the setup? Absolutely nothing! Does it feel completely out-of-place? You bet!
Above: Oh dear! Call that staircase a boss? Surely King Boo can come up with better than that, maybe a bucket or perhaps a really nasty fridge! – Cranky Kong, paraphrased to fit the scenario
But even when you get over the lame theme, you end up realising that the boss just doesn’t even do anything compared to any of the others. The last one? Destroyed parts of the room, generated enemies, changed weakness, shot acid… the others in the game? Learn new things as you go along and keep the battle varied. This one on the other hand just fruitlessly lunges at Luigi like some wild beast, maybe shoots fire once or twice and jumps into the air at a ridiculous slow pace, upon landing becoming vulnerable to attack. People likely have more trouble with your average mini boss than this guy.
Add a boring mission design with an extremely tedious gimmick (don’t we all love randomly choosing stairs to climb and sliding back down upon making the wrong choice?), and you’ve got a huge disappointment of a boss and mission. It just doesn’t rank higher because it’s only the second boss in the game.
5. Topmaniac (Super Mario Galaxy)
Next up we have a boss who is pretty much expected on every ‘badly designed Mario boss list’ in history. Yeah, Topmaniac was never exactly a great boss character by any definition of the term (heck, he’s so pathetically weak Nintendo didn’t even bother putting him in the sequel like nearly every other boss in the game), but what takes the cake is his reappearance in a certain later galaxy…
Because you see, to a degree, something like Topmaniac (aka a pathetic boss that dies in three hits and doesn’t do a whole lot) is kind of expected in the first few worlds. That’s sort of called a difficulty curve, even if the design of Topmaniac himself was so poor that he ended up being about ten times easier than he probably should have been. What’s not acceptable (and what’s an utter disappointment), is something like him as a boss in a difficult level in the final world.
Cue the Dreadnaught Galaxy. One of the most badass levels in the game, this giant space station feels like it may as well be the Mario equivalent of the Death Star, reuses the epic as all heck Battlerock music and has you dodge a giant array of enemies, lasers, smashers and other traps.
And then you encounter Topmaniac in the third mission. What’s changed? Absolutely nothing! He still goes down in about twenty seconds tops, still has almost zero way to kill Mario easily and is still slow enough that someone could outrun him with merely a slightly fast stroll.
To add insult to injury, the comet mission is literally just doing the mission with him in it as a speedrun. Because absolutely anyone is going to take long enough against this guy to even remotely run out of time. Can someone tell me why this character even comes back as a boss so much in this title? What kind of idiot would seriously give most stars to the least effective of his underlings?
For being a joke that somehow manages a comeback about ten worlds later, Topmaniac enters the list at number 5.
4. King Kaliente (Super Mario Galaxy)
To understand why this boss sucked, let me refresh your memory in regards to what you had to go through to reach him. You’re on dome 6 out of 7. You’ve fought through multiple worlds filled with dramatic boss battles, and you’ve now battled through Bowser Jr’s Lava Reactor and are expecting something epic. I mean, the last couple of bosses you fought in these types of levels were Bowser himself, Bowser Jr and freaking Megaleg. So you keep going, expect an awesome boss fight just around the corner…
And you get a fight with King Kaliente instead. Not a difficult fight, one that’s basically identical to the one you had in Good Egg Galaxy near the start of the game. Okay, the platforms now a sink bit and the boss looks like he’s been thoroughly barbecued for a couple of hours, but the battle is pretty much exactly the damn same as something you did at least 15 hours earlier. In place of something actually FUN.
Above: How is this guy qualified to guard a Grand Star again?
Forget the Harsh Possessor in Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon, at least that came about after only the second mansion. No, to put King Kaliente as the main world boss in the second to last area in the game is pretty much like making Boom Boom the world 7 boss of Super Mario 3D World, an utter disgrace. Pathetic.
3. Dry Bowser (New Super Mario Bros 2)
Now as far as final bosses go, New Super Mario Bros 2’s wasn’t quite as terrible as people think. Okay, it’s not going to win awards by any means, doesn’t measure up to the battles in Wii and U and is just another giant Bowser ‘chase’ sequence, but it is at least a bit more exciting than the one in the last handheld New Super Mario Bros game and did take a tiny amount of effort to put together.
But then you get to the final boss in world Star. You battle through the world, get through one hell of a final castle and meet…
Oh cool you say, it’s not Bowser again and there’s actually a boss this time! This could be neat…
Above: It’s just like the old days, reusing the boss, changing its color and pretending it is completely new. – Cranky Kong
Then you realise he’s just a palette swap of Bowser, with the exact same attack pattern.
Okay, he looks different. His hammers have been replaced by identical looking bones and the platforms in the vertical tower portion are a tiny bit smaller. But that’s literally all there is to differentiate him. They were that damn lazy that they just reskinned the last major boss and called him brand new.
Hence why Dry Bowser from New Super Mario Bros 2 hits the third spot on this disappointing Mario bosses list.
2. Tiki Tong (Donkey Kong Country Returns)
And now, here’s the penultimate spot on the disappointing bosses list. Which goes to the Donkey Kong Country Returns main villain, Tiki Tong!
Why does he get listed here you may wonder? For one simple reasons:
He’s a bland giant head with hands boss with zero personality.
That’s all he is. The giant head and hands boss gimmick? Done to freaking death by Nintendo in so many other games:
Above: Just a few cases of the concept being done before…
But while his core gameplay design is certainly an overused one, there could have been a redeeming feature. Namely, he could have had an interesting design and personality that somewhat offset the generic boss battle. Did he? No way in heck. Not only is his design completely non threatening compared to most other Nintendo villains as a whole (King K Rool looks ten times cooler than he does), but he just doesn’t have a personality. He has no motives, no plan, no real reason to exist… he’s just there so the player fights someone at the end of the story despite getting no explanation to what’s going on.
Above: Truly an imposing, interesting design![/sarcasm]
All in all, a poor final boss and villain concept for an otherwise amazing game, and definitely worthy of a spot on this list.
1. Bowser (New Super Mario Bros)
Finally, after all those other entries, you’ve got this one. Bowser from New Super Mario Bros 1.
So why is he listed as the most disappointing boss ever? I mean, he does have Bowser Jr fight beside him…
Well put simply, he’s a boring final boss concept. For starters, the battle is literally just another bridge fight. Is there a chase scene like in New Super Mario Bros Wii, New Super Mario Bros 2 and Super Mario 3D Land?
Is there an epic battle against him where you have to actually fight? Like in New Super Mario Bros U or Super Mario World?
All you need to do is run under him when he jumps, and hit a switch. That’s it. You technically don’t even need to bother with Jr, he falls to his doom along with his dad when the switch is pressed. Heck, you don’t even get a great ending or defeat scene either, you just hear him hit the floor below with a thud, and see a tiny cut scene of Bowser Jr dragging the unconscious Bowser away at the very end of the ending cut scene.
Above: For a final boss, it’s kind of pathetic.
It’s just a complete and utter anti climax after that absolutely fantastic castle found before him. And compared to near enough every other ‘final boss’ in a Mario game, it’s just a boring, unoriginal concept which isn’t particularly exciting or epic and is only topped by a perhaps even more dull ending. So the final battle in New Super Mario Bros 1 concludes my list.
And there’s my list of the most disappointing bosses in Mario history. Do you agree with them? Disagree? Post your thoughts as a comment below or in the forums today!
When it comes to successful tech innovations in Nintendo systems, people have been a bit… critical of the more recent ones. Tablet controls haven’t set the world on fire, Augmented Reality has generally been seen as quite useless overall and the 3DS’ signature 3D gimmick itself isn’t exactly immune to criticism, with people saying the console has only really caught on regardless of said addition rather than because of it.
But compared to the ‘innovations’ listed below, the ones above look like an absolute masterpiece of hardware design. So here are five Nintendo hardware/tech innovation that never caught on.
5. LAN Functionality in the Gamecube
First and foremost on the list is a feature very few people have likely even heard of. LAN functionality? What’s that you may ask?
It’s the ability to connect multiple systems together in a Local Area Network, sort of like what’s done with PCs in a tournament or cyber cafe. And back in the days of the Gamecube, this feature was added to Mario Kart Double Dash and some select other titles.
Yeah, you heard that right. You could connect two Gamecubes together with a cable to play multiplayer across both systems with all the players on both machines playing together in one race. So you’d have two teams playing on one Gamecube and two teams playing on another Gamecube. It’s almost like a link cable for video game home consoles!
Above: The Nintendo Gamecube Broadband Adapter/Modem Adaptor used for this
But it never caught on. Perhaps because Mario Kart is kind of not a tournament/South Korean cyber cafe favourite in any way whatsoever or perhaps because shelling out for multiple Gamecubes wasn’t in anyone’s best interests, the feature pretty much collected dust throughout the entire lifespan of the console. It did also have uses in 1080 Avalanche and Kirby’s Air Ride, but again no one really bothered with it.
So for being a feature/function that got absolutely zero real use throughout the Gamecube’s entire life cycle, the LAN functionality comes in at number five on the list.
4. Gamecube to GBA Connectivity
Next on the list is a feature we’ve all heard of. Touted as a way to revolutionise games and to market the Gamecube and GBA as one, GBA/Gamecube connectivity was meant to allow players to play Gamecube games using the GBA as a controller, as well as use the feature as a way to sell both systems together.
Unfortunately for Nintendo, the amount of people who actually cared for this was extremely minimal, and the ways most games used it didn’t help much either. Oh cool, the Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker managed to use the feature for the Tingle Tuner. You know, for that absolutely massive group of people out there who wanted to play a glorified co-star mode with a guy who thinks he’s a fairy. And while Pokemon Colosseum did make some use of the feature as a way to transfer Pokemon to the game on the TV, it pretty much just used the whole thing as a glorified transfer pack.
Finally, the few games that actually used the feature in a clever way (think Four Swords Adventures or Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles) ended up being nearly completely unplayable because of it. Oh sure, the ability to connect four GBAs to give players a second screen for various things sounded good on paper, but it just didn’t work for the following reasons:
It was expensive. If your friends didn’t own GBAs and the necessary cables, you pretty much ended up about 300 dollars out of pocket in the process of buying the necessary equipment just to set up a game.
It was inpractical. Even if your friends DID own enough GBA consoles to go around, you had to hope they could all bring their video game systems at one time and somehow also bring enough cables to connect them to the Gamecube. In other words, you probably needed the early 00s equivalent of a StreetPass group just to get a game going.
The games were too long to make this practical. Okay, so you’ve got three friends who really like Four Swords or Crystal Chronicles and who own GBA systems and link cables. But now you’ve got the minor issue that both games were pretty damn long with plenty of levels and tough bosses to clear. So to clear this, you either needed to have three friends willing to have a week long sleepover (unlikely regardless of everyone’s ages) or you needed people who were all available at regular intervals at the same time (even more unlikely).
As a result of these things, the feature pretty much collected dust for most people. And I suspect the only people in the world who actually beat the likes of Four Swords Adventures as a team of four were either video game magazine/website writers working with colleagues or the one family/social group on the planet who just happened to own a ton of GBA systems and a Gamecube.
Above: If you actually saw this, you were in a minority. Only 250 000 people worldwide even bought the game, and maybe at best about 10% of that got through as a team.
And so for being a feature that had pretty much zero mainstream appeal or use, the GBA/Gamecube connectivity comes in at number four on the list.
3. Camera based Games
Another tech ‘innovation’ on the list that never panned out is the camera on any Nintendo system. Introduced as an add on for various consoles up to the 3DS and Wii U, the camera was meant to let games manipulate photos and appear ‘in the real world’, sort of like the old Eyetoy for the Playstation.
Where this all fell apart however is when anyone actually tried to play a game based around the camera. Why was this a problem?
Above: WarioWare Snapped failed miserably at using the DSi camera for actual gameplay purposes.
Because Nintendo’s cameras SUCKED at detecting movement properly or just about anything else required to make them a plausible input device. WarioWare Snapped turned out to be a bit of a failure because the controls didn’t work properly and generally weren’t fun to use, Spirit Camera on 3DS ironically worked best in a well-lit room despite being a survival horror game and in all, not one game managed to use the camera well.
Above: The camera worked so poorly it couldn’t even make a game that looked this bad work right.
So yes, the camera and the games based on make the list simply due to not being practical for use in any actual video games. It pretty much just ended up being used as a camera with no game related purpose, making me sometimes wonder why it even gets included in Nintendo systems any more.
2. The e-Reader
And now we get to a tech ‘innovation’ you all probably knew was coming, the e-Reader. Designed as a way of increasing GBA sales by letting people buy cards that could be swiped into the system to provide gameplay, it was arguably almost a prototype version of Skylanders or other setups like it. Collectible cards sold in packs? By Nintendo? What could possibly go wrong?
Above: Well, the Pokemon Trading Card Game certainly caught on…
Unfortunately for Nintendo, it wasn’t to be. The e-Reader didn’t exactly go the same successful route as Skylanders or the Pokemon Trading Card Game did, and ended up being one of their most miserable failures to date.
Above: The e-Reader. A clever but ultimately failing device.
Why was this? Well let me count the ways:
The card packs were fairly expensive for what they contained. About 6 dollars for a NES game in card form? With no save function or updates? Are you kidding? And Mario Party e cost about 40 dollars. For a ‘game’ which contained only a few mini games, some packs of cards and a physical board.
Despite the Pokemon tie ins, Nintendo never actually did the damn obvious and distributed Pokemon via cards. Think about it. You add e-Reader data to every single Pokemon Trading Card Game card released from now on, and kids will buy the device and cards by the ton. Imagine if every new booster pack brought you eleven new Pokemon you could scan into Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald/Fire Red/Leaf Green. Including at least one hard to find rare one. Or if you got the Pokemon with the moves/abilities listed on the actual cards. People will lap that stuff up! Instead, we got the odd trainer to fight, and some extremely pointless mini games. Nice work completely blowing your chance there Nintendo!
Above: Not what Nintendo should have used Pokemon e-Reader cards for.
It also offered interesting new levels for Super Mario Advance 4… but most of those never got released outside of Japan. Pity, the new items/power ups/enemies/bosses looked really cool.
Above: These awesome levels need to return someday… Big Boo and ghost houses in Mario Advance 4 is win!
For being a complete failure in the long run, and a device which should have been much revolutionary than it actually was, the Nintendo e-Reader makes the 2nd place on the list.
1. The Microphone (on any Nintendo system)
Finally, right at the end of the list, after all those other failed Nintendo hardware innovations… comes the microphone. Now, I know what some people will say:
The microphone didn’t fail! Current Nintendo systems have it and some games use it!
However, there’s just one problem here. The microphone has generally been useless in about 99% of situations it’s ever been used for. And what’s more, it’s had quite the history with Nintendo. So let’s recap.
First up, you had Nintendo’s microphone experiment for the Nintendo 64. You might know about this, since it came with a game called ‘Hey You, Pikachu!’ which had you talk to a virtual Pikachu and treat him like a house pet. It failed. Not only was voice recognition just too hard to get right back in the day (and even now to be honest), but it didn’t really sell too well and wasn’t even released in Europe altogether.
Above: One of Nintendo’s failed microphone experiments.
Said microphone also oddly went on to be used in one more game… the Japanese train simulator Densha de Go! 64. No, I’m not kidding. It was a game meant to simulate train driving complete with a train style controller that was released in Japan for the Nintendo 64, and was pretty much the most niche game you can even imagine. Just look at this thing:
The next attempt Nintendo had at implementing a microphone came with the Gamecube, where it was packaged with Mario Party 6 and 7 and used for a couple of pointless minigames.
Just like on the Nintendo 64, the microphone used for the Gamecube didn’t work too well either. Again, it ended up in extremely limited use, being used on for two Mario Party games and the extremely bizarre title ‘Odama’ (which also apparently used the DK Bongos).
Finally, the microphone gimmick was tried again on the DS. It worked a bit better this time around (being used for more than four games at least), but most of the uses for it were still a bit… questionable. Oh sure, WarioWare Touched used it for Mike’s story:
But while it did manage to work decently for a bunch of tech demo microphone games hosted by a karaoke singing robot, the other uses were a bit… eh. Brain Training used it for mini games, leading to a whole bunch of somewhat annoyed people annoyed that their accents weren’t being recognised properly.
Mario & Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story probably killed a few people by making Giant Bowser breathe fire when the player breathed in the microphone…
No seriously, that Fawful Express battle is just… ugh. The fact you have to do perfectly each time, breathe enough into the mic to potentially end up light-headed if you keep messing up and how the mic is used for your ONLY form of attack makes the boss an absolute pain in the ass. I remember at one point I literally shoved an electric fan next to the thing because of how annoying that was otherwise.
Worry no, broskis! That guy’s punch is no prob! Unless he spits fire, we’ll take ZERO damage!
And then most other games used it for the most pointless and annoying things you can imagine. Oh cool, blowing up balloons in Mario Kart DS’s battle mode! Real clever[/sarcasm]. Making the bloody engine start in Diddy Kong Racing DS. Yeah, that’s really fun… NOT!
And for 3DS games, the feature has pretty much been used for easter eggs. Like making the 3DS menu icons spin around or those dandelion seeds fly into the air in Super Mario 3D Land. Guess it’s a nice bonus, but it’s certainly not making much of a poor feature.
And so for being broken in many cases and generally becoming more and more pointless as Nintendo goes on, the microphone tops the list of the most useless, failed tech innovations by Nintendo.
Well, that’s the list. It’s not a conclusive list of failed innovations or features by any stretch of the imagination, but I do hope people enjoyed looking at those things that just never caught on.
Agree? Disagree? Post a comment below or in the forums!
It’s not been a good few years for video game companies. THQ went into administration and was torn to pieces, Eurocom fell after the failure of 007 Legends and even Epic Mickey devs Junction Point were shut down by Disney for failing to make the second game sell. Unfortunately, this string of company closures doesn’t end here. No, now minor DS developer Arkedo (makers of Big Bang Mini and Hell Yeah! Wrath of a Dead Rabbit) are also shutting down for good as well. Here’s what company co-founder Aurelien Regard says about the matter:
It has been decided to disband the team when there still was enough money to get good conditions for everyone, rather than replace permanent positions with interns and a bad atmosphere. As in any human matter, it is important to know when to stop, to get a clean situation. It is precisely because we did this at this time that everyone from Arkedo is still having a good time together, even after it’s officially over.
So on the bright side they’re not just chucking their staff out into the cold and keeping the money, they’re giving up now as to not let the developers end up in financial trouble and to not waste time and effort trying to stay open with a poorly paid skeleton crew.
Still, it’s a shame they’re closing down. Their DS games were pretty well received (albeit not million sellers) and they did have that spark of originality that the 3DS needed. Goodbye Arkedo, you’ll certainly be missed.
Yes, it’s another round of ‘emergency’ maintenance that’s coming next week, so you’ll be unable to access certain DS and Wii U games. There are two stages of this maintenance, stage 1 affects network services and Nintendo games and will occur from February 25th at 11pm to February 26th at 5pm. These are the things that will be down/inaccessible then:
Pokémon Black Version
Pokémon White Version
Pokémon Black Version 2
Pokémon White Version 2
And some more maintenance (for Wii U titles) will be between 4 and 5pm on Monday the 25th February. At this time, these services will be unusable:
Match Making, Ranking, etc.
NINJA GAIDEN™ 3: Razor’s Edge
WARRIORS OROCHI® 3 Hyper
So if you’re a keen Pokemon Black and White/Black and White 2 player, you’d better not have any plans to go on wifi next week, since Nintendo’s emergency maintenance is going to make that impossible for about half a day or so.
It will affect most online services, and will mean that the 3DS and Wii U Shop, Wii Shop Channel and DSi Shop will all be inaccessible. This will last from 11pm on Monday the 28th January 2013 to 5pm on Tuesday the 29th (Pacific Time Zone).
Here’s the list of services affected by this throughout the entire duration:
Nintendo DS Online services
Pokemon Black and White
Pokemon Black and White 2
Here’s the list of services that will be inaccessible from 5-6pm on Monday the 28th:
Wii U online multiplayer
And here’s the list that will be unavailable from 12pm to 5pm at that time:
Wii U eShop
Wii Shopping Channel
Sorry for the inconvenience this might cause, Nintendo are apparently just doing routine maintenance or something and need to take their shops/online servers offline for a few hours as a result.
Is it a new generation of Pokemon games or even just the first sign of a gen 6 monster? Or is it simply something much more minor like a new Pokemon form or a spinoff game? No one knows yet, but something important is definitely being announced next Tuesday, with the date of the 8th of January being mentioned on the official Pokemon Twitter channel too:
Pokémon fans, mark your calendars! Check Pokemon.com on January 8th for some big news!