Nintendo Enthused: how Chase McCain won my heart and completely absorbed me into the world of Lego City.

Guys. I have a new obsession. And I’m not the only one caught in its grips.

I am absolutely in love with the new Lego City: Undercover game for the Wii U.

I let the game sit for a couple weeks when it first arrived.  I knew I wanted to play it, but wasn’t ready to start a new game just yet. So Memorial Day weekend, I finally loaded up the game and sat down to start the adventure. I played for well over 36 hours that weekend. 24 hours just to beat the storyline. Almost any time I was awake, I had the game on. And I still generally play at least 3 nights a week after work after finishing the storyline. That’s just how addicting this game is.

LegoCityUndercoverThe story follows Chase McCain, Lego City cop who’s returned after being exiled. The villan he’d put behind bars previously, Rex Fury, has escaped and McCain’s on the trail to put him behind bars again! Ok, so a lot more goes on that just that. The story is written fairly well, and honestly, there’s some great dialogue in this game.

For one thing, there’s some great references throughout the game, including some of my favorites to the Super Mario franchise. Not really a surprise, given that this is the first Lego title to be published by Nintendo rather than a 3rd party. Also, one of my favorite characters was one that insisted he was not Morgan Freeman.

Speaking of characters, you’ve got 8 main character types to play as, each with their own special skills. Civilian, Police, Robber, Miner, Astronaut, Farmer, Firefighter, and Construction Worker. Now that I’ve beat the main story, I going through and unlocking the remander of the characters and vehicles, and completing all the side missions. I won’t spoil things, but an astronaut riding a pig is totally normal. And as you’ll see below, there’s a lot to keep you occupied in this game.

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 9.58.56 AM(photo by Naramsin via Miiverse)

Part of me wishes I would have spent more time doing some of these smaller missions throughout the storyline game play, but since you have to unlock abilities, it pretty much guarantees that you’ll have to go back after finishing. And the Lego City world is huge, so you’ll spend a lot of time running around this open world game. I know there are some downloadable missions through actual Lego City purchases (like, the real life brick sets the game is modeled after), so I might be tempted to do that. Pretty easy to say I’d love for this storyline to continue. (So much so, I’m probably going to get the the prequel on 3DS.)

The gameplay sort of mirrors that of the Grand Theft Auto series, but you’re the good guy and there are no half-naked women for you to abuse. (THANK YOU.) You can however, run over people, luckily citizens of Lego City are mostly use to this. And you can, and should, go around destroying every possible thing you can. There’s something almost cathartic about running around as a miner destroying the city with a pick axe. Also, when you keep a good line of destruction with your vehicle, you can rack up multiplying bonuses for brick collection (see below). You’ll need to collect bricks and studs (basically coins) to purchase new characters and vehicles and complete super builds. With the city rebuilding itself constantly, it’s not too hard to do this.

5x bricks (photo by joshua via Miiverse) 5x bricks (photo by joshua via Miiverse)

Overall, this is a great game. Definitely family friendly, but one adults can appreciate too. Easily one of the best Lego series I’ve tried, and personally, I think it’s a great game to highlight using the gamepad for the Wii U.

I absolutely love it. Even if I sometimes suck at Chicken Gliding. Seriously, it’s a thing. Below was a particularly hard glide for me. Hate admitting it, but I probably spent an hour on this one task.

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 9.48.58 AM

But look at that scene. Look at the sunset. THERE IS A FREAKING GLOWING SUNSET AND IT’S BEAUTIFUL. I’m extremely thankful the developers weren’t just “oh, it’s just a Lego game, no need to go in crazy detail…” Just playing this game you can tell a lot of thought went into it.

In fact, so much, that after playing for hours and hours and hours, I now can’t do anything without seeing it in terms of Lego City and bricks. Lego City just has a little bit of everything, and I think that’s what makes it feel a little like home.

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 9.49.38 AM

Oh. And beware of sharks. Seriously. That first one scared the crap out of me.

The last two images were my own, taken during game play through the in-game camera.

Nintendo and Brand About Town provided me with this game as a thank you gift for hosting a Wii U party. I was not asked or compensated to write this post, and all opinions are my own.

#NintendoEnthused Weekend Update: Parties and game reviews

So we already past 2 months with the Wii U. And yes, each day a love it a little more.

Big highlights: Wii U Party!

On January 26th I hosted a Wii U party in my home. Two very awesome Wii U representatives came over to help facilitate. Nintendo also ordered my favorite bbq for me and my guests.

Since I live alone, I haven’t gotten a chance to play the multiplayer games on the Wii U. Nintendo Land has a lot of them. My favorites were Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, Mario Chase, and Animal Crossings: Sweet Day. New Super Mario Bros was also a lot of fun in multiplayer, though definitely chaotic at times.

Anyway, the Nintendo party was so much fun, I’m planning on doing them monthly.*

Game Reviews:

avengersMarvel Avengers: Battle For Earth
I received this game from Ubisoft through the UbiChamps program. I was excited about a fighting game, and one that has super heros? Yes, please. However, Avengers just didn’t live up to the hype. The game controls were awkward. When using the gamepad, you fight by selecting your move then tracing a shape. With the Wiimotes, you select the move with the d-pad then perform a move. You could probably get used to these repetitive moves eventually, but for me I guess I was looking for either button mashing or something closer to Wii Boxing. If I was a 7-12 year old boy? Yeah, maybe I’d give it more time.

epicmickey2Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
I actually won this game from a Disney blog. I’d heard good things about Epic Mickey for Wii, and was hoping to be able to just jump right in with Epic Mickey 2. There is a lot of cute story to this, well, more-so a musical than a story. I mean, it’s Disney, of course it’s entertainingly adorable. It took me a few tries to get used to some of the moves, but overall I’m very pleased with this game. It’s a nice casual game for adults, but I think younger kids would really love the story and adventure.

rabbidslandwiiuboxart1Rabbids Land
This was my first eShop purchase. Ubisoft had 6 titles for sale for a limited time—possibly as part of their attempts to make up for burning Nintendo fans hard with the delay of Rayman Legends. Anyway. Though I was hesitant to give money to Ubisoft for the time being, this title had been on my wish list for a while.

Honestly, it’s great. It’s a super easy concept, classic board game style party game. Similar to Nintendo’s own Mario Party, but with more popular style music, screaming, and awkwardness. The minigames are fun, and some even decently challenging. It could easily make for a fun game night—some games, some drinks, lots of laughing… it’ll be a good time.

LittleInfernoComingLittle Inferno
My first venture into indie games for the Wii U! The previews for this we great—darkly cute. But I wasn’t sure if I exactly got the premise of this game. However, it’s just as simple as the game seems to be. Buy things, set them on fire, get money, repeat! It is strangely addicting. And just to give it a little bit of a challenge, in case you want more than just watching things burn, there are combos to create as well. It’s a beautiful, simple, game.

Still to play:

Assassin’s Creed 3, ZombiU (yes, I’m still too afraid to play this game), and F-Zero.

On my short list:

Sonic Racing, Sing Party, Bit Runner 2, Zen Pinball 2

 

*February’s got canceled unfortunately due to crazy work weeks and stay-at-home inducing weather.

One month with the Wii U

So, as you’ll remember, I was eagerly anticipating the launch of the Wii U. So much so that I was first in line on launch day.

It’s been just over a month now with the Wii U, and can I just say… I love it. I am extremely happy that I didn’t wait on this purchase or for a campaign opportunity to eventually pop up.

photo_4

And in this short time, I’m sort of surprised at my growing game collection. I already have 7 games. Nintendo Land came with the deluxe edition, and I purchased New Super Mario Bros. U on launch day. My friends at Nintendo sent me ZombiU. Ubisoft, via Clevergirls, sent me Just Dance 4, Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth, and Assassin’s Creed III. And I won a copy of Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two from Disney, via Babble.com.

Now, I haven’t had much time to go through all the game yet… Right now I’m still working my way through NSMBU, and using Just Dance 4 for exercise and stress relief. After the holidays (and a quick winter tour on the east coast), I’ll explore the other games. I’m also looking forward to testing out the Wii U video chat with Jenn (or really, our cats will test it out)—something that I think could open the doors for a partnership with Skype. I have really enjoyed exploring the Miiverse—it’s a great way to chat with other players and get a feel for games prior to purchasing, and seeing the posts show up on the NSMBU maps is a lot of fun.

One big thing I didn’t necessarily expect was just how much my Wii U became the center for all entertainment. My TV remote? Packed away. I don’t use it any more. I can control everything from my GamePad. And now that Nintendo TVii is live, I could control my cable as well—if I actually had a cable subscription. This is one thing I brought up with the Nintendo of America representative who called me yesterday. Hopefully, we’ll see an option to not select a cable package. What this will do is let those of us with just Netflix and Hulu+ to integrate those two services into one menu. How awesome is that?! It also links Amazon Video too, so YAY MOVIES! (Now, it already integrates all these things into one menu, but since I don’t have cable, all those things I don’t actually have are in there too…)

Is the Wii U revolutionary? Maybe not. But is it completely awesome? YES. I sort of wish I could do more with my GamePad.

I think there is a lot of potential in this system. The possibility for apps—things that go beyond gaming—is just endless. Skype is just one. We already have YouTube (aka: CAT VIDEOS ON BIG SCREEN!)… Who knows, maybe an outside network email and an IM feature could be down the road. If the NFL ever wanted to partner with them to offer a subscription package? Sign me up!

So far it’s blended in almost seamlessly in my life, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the system progresses. And I absolutely cannot wait for game nights so I can explore multiplayer features… though the biggest thing will be, who gets the GamePad? (Yes, it will turn out like this.)

You can read more about Nintendo TVii and how Nintendo thinks it’s going to change how we think about television at Reggie Asks.

You can also read another 1-month review from my friend TOPolk.

I got the moooooooves like Jagger… – UbiChamps review of Just Dance 4

Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this post. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. #UbiChamps

Something I learned first hand this week is that it is pretty much impossible to be unhappy and dance at the same time. I was having a rough night, and though my friends were there to help, what I really needed was a distraction and some fun. So I popped a bottle of wine and put in Just Dance 4 on my Wii U.

After my first song, I was definitely feeling better. An hour, and half a bottle later… I was laughing, still dancing, and getting 5 star scores. Oh, and at some point I had lost my pants. (Hence why there’s no video/photos of me playing.)

Now, I’m not recommending you go get slightly drunk and lose your pants… but I am recommending getting Just Dance 4 for whatever gaming system you own. JD4 was actually the very first game I got for my Wii U. In fact, I got the game before I got the Wii U!

So the game play is pretty much the same—which is exactly want you want, an upbeat dance game. However, exclusive to the Wii U, Puppet Master mode. With this, a fifth person can control the gameplay and choreography moves on the fly.

Since I live alone, I haven’t had a chance to do this… But seeing how much fun my family had last holiday season with my Wii, I’m pretty sure this game will make it home this year.

My family and I are definitely not known for our dance moves. So this will surely be an entertaining time. Sibling rivalry is going to go to extreme hilarious means as I take on my brother in dance battles. Also, I predict my niece is going to kick all our butts across the board. (The fact the Umbrella by Rihanna is on there, yeah, she memorized that song when she was 3 and I’m sure she still remember the words.)

Thing that I’ve liked about the Just Dance series, it’s a lot of fun, but can also be included in a workout routine. And if you’re like me and holiday food—hello, turkey, potatoes, gravy, pie. omg pie—well, then more family fun also means dancing away to seconds, thirds, and even fourths.

Pretty sure you can guess which song I think you should start out with…

my quest for the Wii U

So, as previously stated, I could not wait for the Wii U to come out. The anticipation for Sunday was sort of making me a little crazy.

Saturday, I spent most of the day trying to distract myself. Which by late in the night meant cruising the #WiiU tag on instagram and following news on twitter. Watching the east coast and their midnight launch.

Sunday… well, that’s where this adventure really got started.

My alarm was set just before 6am. I had everything planned out: Target opened at 8am. I knew the crazy reroutes for transit, having 3 stations near me closed. And headed on my way just before 6:30am. In which, that whole transit thing didn’t work, so I flagged a cab and darted off.

I had checked the website last night, and this Target was supposed to have both units in stock. I get there and an employee told me they only had three—and I was the third person in line, WOOT. But they only had the standard models, no woot.

So I hopped in a cab and went downtown to the Best Buy at the John Hancock building. I got there around 7am. They didn’t open until 10am. I was first in line.

I got a few weird looks. At least one person asked if there was an event or if they were opening early. Nope. I was just waiting. At one point a manager opened the door with a confused look on her face. “Are you waiting for something?” “The Wii U. I’m just insane.” Since I had so much time to kill, I turned to podcasts. Mind you, it’s in the 30’s outside. I’ve got on jeans, boots, long sleeve shirt, fall peacoat, and a scarf. Not long after my hat and fingerless gloves.

By 8:30am, one other person joined me in line. About 15 minutes later, another. Both had been to the Target on State Street (not the one I went to); apparently there were only 5 in stock. Maybe 5 minutes later the manager came out, “oh, I thought it was just you.. hold on, which one did you want?”

By 9am the manager came back with bright orange reserve tickets. “They’ll be waiting at customer service. I don’t want you to freeze.”

So I promptly marched myself next door to Water Tower Place, and got me a large hot chocolate and a cupcake. More importantly, it was warm.

By 10:15am, I was walking into Best Buy, orange ticket in one hand, cupcake in another. I found the manager from this morning, “I hope you like chocolate,” and handed her the cupcake. From there I got straight up to the counter, picked out an extra game and Wiimote set*, paid and was on my way.

On the bus ride home, I couldn’t actually believe I had just gotten a Wii U Deluxe. After we were given our reserve tickets, apparently about 15+ people appeared and they rushed the door when it was opened. Not sure if they had sold out by the time I got in for mine, but the place wasn’t swamped when I came in.

I unboxed everything, got it all set up… and eagerly began exploring the system. Yes, you do have to spend some time setting things up and you do need to upgrade the system. But it really didn’t take that long. And the cradle and charging dock for the gamepad, very much worth getting. The Miiverse crashed a few times, but that’s just because there were so many people were trying to get on at once. As of this morning, it worked fine.

Netflix works from the get-go, with Hulu+, Amazon Videos, and YouTube coming in a few weeks—with it, Nintendo TVii.

A fair warning, as if you needed it… This is not the last of my Wii U posts.

I’ve got a friend helping me work out recording some game play. I will have reviews of various games, including the three shown above. And of course, just highlighting various features. Perviously I had a lot of my Nintendo news on my tumblr, but I’m moving some of that here. I’m reworking my plan for AdorkableMe just a little, and I want to include more Nintendo stuff because it’s something I love.

I’m super happy with my purchase, and am very proud to support a brand that I’ve loved for so long and has treated me pretty well. The only thing I’m sad about is that I won’t be home to play it this week! If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up and I’ll address them the best I can.

*I didn’t need to do this, but I decided I was going to give my niece 3 full sets of controllers instead of 2. This way they could all play together. So since I want to have friends over to play, I need at least 2 sets myself, hence picking up a new one.

Can’t hold my excitement: 6 days and counting til the Wii U!

The Wii U comes out in less than a week—this Sunday—and to say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement. Since I didn’t pre-order, I’ll be waking up early and heading down to Best Buy before they open just to ensure that I get one.

I’m getting the Deluxe set. Although, I prefer the white aesthetically, the Deluxe set—which currently only comes in black—also comes with 32GBs, docks & cradles, but also with Nintendo Land. That game alone cost $60—so with all those extras, it’s well worth the additional $50. Oh, and Nintendo’s doing a promotion that for every game purchased (including in the eShop), they’ll be giving you more eShop credits.

Now, I’ve giving my trusty and faithful Wii to my niece, along with a handful of games and Wiimotes. So I’ll be down to 2 Wiimotes, which means I’ll eventually buy two more so I can have a full set for multiplayer gaming. The Wii U doesn’t come with Wiimotes, but they’re all compatible.

There’s a lot of great titles coming out on launch day, as well as during the launch window. And I’m allotting myself ONE game purchase when I get my Wii U. While it’s hard to pick just one—with New Super Mario Bros U, Skylanders: Giants, Rabbids Land, and ZombiU topping my list—but I think I’m going to stick with the series that has never done me wrong: New Super Mario Bros U.

Now, I had a little time to play with the Wii U a few months ago. But there’s still a lot I’m curious about. The Mii Plaza has been renamed to Warawara Plaza… and I’m really interested in the whole Miiverse as a social network. And I’ve heard rumors of this network expanding to more than just the Wii U system, as in mobile. I’m curious about Nintendo TVii.

The Wii U is more than just a gaming system… it’s a becoming a lifestyle piece. It’s breaking through this stereotype of being for casual games by bringing on titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops, Ninja Gaiden 3, ZombiU, and Assassin’s Creed. But it continues with amazing multiplayer games like Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros U, and again, ZombiU. Warawara & the Miiverse, Nintendo TVii, multiple user accounts… There’s just a lot of features and I am personally impressed. I see no gimmicks here, just a really great system.

So as I count down the days (and, yes, eventually hours)… My challenge to any naysayer: get your hands on a system and try it out. Each game uses the touch screen Gamepad a little differently, and I think that’s great, but it means don’t judge the system based off one game. It’s a complex system, and I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised.

 Edit: You need to check out this article about how the Wii U will change your tv experience!

The reality of being a brand ambassador

Most of you know that I’m a brand ambassador. I’ve talked a lot about campaigns I’ve been involved in, events I’ve gone to, and products from the brand. However, I haven’t talked about what it’s been like to be a brand ambassador.

Overall, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I love my brand. I agree with what the company is doing, what they stand for, and am excited about where they are going. I love my “handlers”—they’re amazing and I enjoy working with them.

However, when you’re in a larger network of ambassadors things aren’t always yay-happy all the time.

I want to be clear in writing this that yes, I understand how amazing an opportunity I was given. I get things from one of my favorite brands for free—and I do not want to come across as some whiny entitle kid, that I’m in any way ungrateful. Being a brand ambassador is a huge honor for me. It makes me feel validated and valued by this brand that I’ve loved since I was a young child.

But I feel like these situations can lead to inter-network jealousies. We aren’t privy to what’s going on behind the scenes. We don’t know why certain people get picked for certain campaigns and others are left out. A lot of times I feel like I’m waiting for a date I really like to call me back. When I don’t hear from them, I wonder what I did wrong. I do not like feeling this petty. But I definitely do feel jealous.

We’re not getting gifts all the time. In fact, it’s more like 2-3 times a year. The events/parties are fewer and far between. I know a lot of factors go into what games and systems get sent out, and when and where they’ll do events. Budget is definitely a big factor in that. However, what I don’t always understand is the selection process for who gets what. Yes, it does frustrate me when I know there are ambassadors who are really only in the program because they want free stuff or they like the status of being an ambassador. And now, not only do I feel like I’m competing for attention from the mom’s with kids, but there are also guys in our network now. While I really like the guys I’ve met, the dynamics have changed. And the YouTubers? Yeah, I feel completely defeated comparing myself to them.

Will that keep me from posting and sharing this brand and my love for it? No. As I mentioned, I’ve been a fan of this brand since about kindergarten. I was the girl with a Zapper gun mounted on her bedroom wall. (But easily removed in case I wanted to do a little duck hunting…) My current decor in my home has a lot of elements and pieces from/tributes to this brand. There are a lot of awesome things coming out and I’m going to continue to share them and geeking out over them.

I love this brand. I will love this brand long past my time as an official brand ambassador—which hopefully continues for a long, long time. None of these slightly negative feelings is ever going to change my opinion or my affinity for this brand or the people I’ve worked with. My feelings of jealousy and questioning myself are things I have to work on in my own time. I trust that the agency knows what’s best for the brand, and I’m super appreciative of being a part of that vision.

edit:
I had a really good talk with someone from the brand today, and they cleared up a lot of things for me. The selection processes make a lot of sense, and sort of are exactly how I imagined they would be (once you’re able to think logically about it). Overall I’m still super happy working with this brand, and definitely feel grateful to be a part of this community.

my new Nintendo crush — the WiiU

So. Pretty old news that I absolutely love Nintendo. Not just the gaming systems, but the company too.

Well, the weekend before last, my friends at Nintendo and Brand About Town invited myself and a good handful of other ambassadors to the WiiU Experience that was visiting Chicago.

News about the WiiU has been out for a while, but not many have gotten a chance to try it. So Nintendo is touring their new system to various cities across the country for an invite only experience to try out the system and some of the new games.

The big thing with this new system is the Game Pad–the tablet-looking controller with a touch screen.

There have been a lot of skeptics of the WiiU. Even I wasn’t too sure what to think. I was definitely hopeful. And I’ve got to say I was delightfully surprised when I finally got my hands on it!

Each game utilizes the Game Pad differently. Some games barely use it, like Just Dance 4. Which, was tons of fun–I placed 2nd and 1st the two times I played. It’s pretty similar to the rest of the series, but just as fun. With New Super Mario Bros 2, the player with the Game Pad assists the other characters through the levels. Doesn’t sound all that exciting, but it was kind of tricky to place the blocks in the right places so my friends wouldn’t die.

Wii Fit U was a lot of fun. There’s a great balance game where you’ve got to run desserts through a banquet and not drop them. You watched your Mii run through the room on the TV, but you hold the Game Pad horizontal like a tray and you can watch your food items on that screen. (Though I recommend watching the screen so you don’t hit people and know where you’re going!) I personally liked the one where you shot water at mud-covered Miis. You utilized the Wii Fit board as a pedal for the water, and aimed with the Game Pad. Looking at the TV game you an overview of the whole game.

One of the great things? The Game Pad is surprisingly light. I found that when I was using it, it felt comfortable. Not bulky and overwhelming at all. At times I forgot I was holding this larger controller, it just felt natural with the game!

The game that surprised me, as far as my liking it–was ZombiU (by Ubisoft). I find zombies to be amusing, but most zombie video games are just a tad over the top in the gore department for me. This one’s not necessarily pretty, but it’s not too bad. I’ve got to admit I only tried the multiplayer mode. But it was fun. Humans vs. Zombies. I was trying for the humans (keyword: TRYING). It’s a first person shooter game, which I happen to secretly love… I’m just not that great at them. It uses the Pro Controller (which sort of resembles the old classic controllers). For me, it brought back all my memories of failing at Halo on the xbox. The walking is the same… use one circle pad to control where you look, and another one to walk… aka Erini looks at the sky and the floor a lot and walks in circles. The Game Pad is used to control the swarms of zombies. I gave it a good try, but after getting my face eaten off five times in a row, I passed the control on for someone else to try.

Anyway. The event was super fun. There’s still a lot of titles I didn’t get to try… and really, I’m just super excited about this system. You’ve really got to get your hands on it before you can pass any judgments. And try various games since they are all pretty different.

The event was great, just for getting to hang out with other ambassadors too! Rebekah was flown in, as was Lacey… and I finally got to meet Terence! It was good to see familiar faces from the Seattle trip too, like Melissa, Mikey and Sam. And of course my Chicago girls: Jenn, Rachel, and Jamie.

I was sad to leave early–during our amazing dinner, just before dessert. (But I was informed, my new friends Tessa and Kayla took care of that for me.) But I had a Steinomite show to go to, and though that day was busy, it was so much fun.

Now I’ve just got to wait until this holiday season when the WiiU will finally come out!

*Oh, in some more #NintendoEnthused news, I made the finals of the Mario Tennis Open 3DS tournament!

Game. Set. Match! (#NintendoEnthused Mario Tennis Open Tournament)

I’ve had a lot of Nintendo stuff going on this week. And it’s all been fantastic. Rather than try to tackle it all in one big post, I’m going to break it up into two. So I know you’re all dying to hear about my thoughts on the WiiU Experience, but that should hopefully be coming tomorrow.

Today, it’s all about Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS.

Having loved Mario Sports Mix for the Wii, I was excited to see what they’d do with Mario Tennis Open on the 3DS. Let me just say, I’ve only had this game since Monday and it’s already my numer two most played game. It’s a lot of fun.

There’s a slight learning curve with this, but they give you hints in the game. They’ll tell you how to use the “chance shots”–which are really like power shots. Not to mention, the touch screen has all the shot combinations right on it. So you can either hit the appropriate shot on the screen, or hit the corresponding button(s).

You can play singles or doubles, exhibition matches or compete in a tournament, or there’s also fun little special games like Ring Shot (hitting balls through coin rings to earn points before time elapses), and Super Mario Tennis (hitting balls against a screen to play through the original Super Mario Bros levels). Special games are key. It’s through the special games that you really earn coins. And coins let you modify your Miis.

 I mean, look at my little Mii in her adorable Bullet Bill dress, with POW Block sweat bands and racket. Not only does she look cute, but these outfits help improve my stats. There are also character costumes too, so if I wanted to, I could dress my Mii up like Yoshi. (Oh, and search for QR codes, because thanks to those, I have 6 more yoshis and Metal Mario as playable characters. You can unlock more as you continue to play through the game.)

The gyro motion sensors come into play in this game. And at first I didn’t think I’d like them, but really, they are key for doing well in this game.

Now, thanks to my amazing friends at Brand About Town, I’m participating in a Mario Tennis Open tournament. Round one was yesterday, and I was up against my longtime Nintendo friend & rival, Rachel. I thought for sure I was doomed. But miracle of miracles, this is one game I can beat her in, no blue shells required! (And thanks to Rach for being a super sport about it.)

Since I’m still in the tournament, I won’t give out any more tips. At least not until I win it all. (Granted, I’m up against my buddy TOPolk, so yeah, this could all be over by tomorrow night. He plays this game every night.) But this game was a nice surprise and I can’t wait to get more outfits and win all the cups! (Though maybe not in doubles–that was a bit tricky for me, especially to trust that my computer partner to hit the ball all the time.)

Anyway. This has been a great game. If you’ve got a 3DS you should check it out. Play tournaments against friends locally (and only one of you needs the game card!), or play strangers online in sets or quick “tie-breaker” matches.

Don your skorts. Put on your sweat bands. Practice your grunts. And get ready for a fun time. I know I sound like an ad, but this really is a great game and makes my top 3 list for the 3DS.

Nintendo Enthused: Just call me Tanook-Rini!

Last Thursday was a fun day for me. Not only did I have Reading Band, but I got a called that FedEx had a delivery for me! I love surprise packages. However, waiting all day and evening until I got home–which was around 10-ish, I think–was not easy.

I got giddy, and giggly, when I opened this up. I’ve been overly excited about the new Mario family titles coming to the 3DS. In fact, there were so many that I liked and wanted, that I just sort of lost track of them. (Plus, with my previous unemployment, games weren’t in the budget at all.) So receiving this amazing Super Mario 3D Land package unleashed some sort of bouncy school girl in me.

Now, in case you didn’t know, Brand About Town is simply the best and always send the most awesomest gifts. This one was no exception. Included with my new 3DS game was the mirror shown above, a Mario hat and mustache, and… my very own Tanooki suit hood! (If you follow #NintendoEnthused on twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen a whole horde of us suiting up.)

I’m in love with it. So much that I took it to work with me on Friday. (Which it came in very handy because it’s pretty chilly up there.) I think I’ve worn this, around the house, at least once a day so far. Also, I’ve been playing the game every day since I got it…

… and I’m now in the middle of the last world (World 8). I don’t think I’ve ever gone through a game this quickly. And I’ve been finding all three of the star coins in most levels now. I’m even going back to get ones I’ve missed. I truly hope that there are bonus levels past World 8, because I’m at W8-6 right now, and I’m not ready for it to be over.

I was talking with TOPolk on twitter, and we both agree that Nintendo got it right with this game. It’s not insultingly easy, but it’s not so much of a challenge people just give up. Now, there are nice little boosts Nintendo’s put in there if you are having trouble. Die 5 times in a level? Nintendo gives you a shiny, sparkly, white Invincible Tanooki suit. I’ve definitely used this more than once to get through something that was just getting to be frustrating. However, this suit won’t keep you from just walking/falling off the edge of the world. (Something I’m also familiar with.) Die 10 times? You get a P-Wing Power Up (something you might remember from Super Mario Bros 3–not sure if it’s made an appearance anywhere else). It takes you to the end of the level. I’ve never used it, and it’s only been offered to me once. Sort of reminds me of the Super Donkey Kong on Donkey Kong Country Returns… At least with the Invincible Tanooki suit, you’re still playing the game rather than watching the AI go through it.

This game is amazing. I highly recommend picking it up. Especially if you’re a longtime Mario fan. (I’m also happy Mario Kart 7 is coming out for the 3DS soon.) There’s lots of nice hidden surprises, and this has been one game where I’m actually eagerly trying to find them all rather than just trying to get through everything. And when you add in extra bonuses for StreetPasses, well, the fun never stops. Even if the Princess is never in the f*cking castle.

Fun Fact: The Tanooki suit is based off of a raccoon-dog, commonly known as Tanuki. And well, a lot of people think of the Tanooki suit as a raccoon or fox suit–but it’s not. Tanuki are a different family from the raccoon–though there’s been a lot of debate about how they should be categorized taxonomically… and well, yeah, not foxes. Those would be Kitsune.

Important Facts: The game, hat and Tanooki hood (a Red Wolf hood from Spirit Hoods–completely faux fur, btw) were all a gift from Nintendo and Brand About Town. I did not receive them in return for writing this, nor any type of payment. The opinions here are all my own.